Monday, January 08, 2007

'Every page must explode, either by profound heavy seriousness, the whirlwind, poetic frenzy, the new, the eternal, the crushing joke, enthusiasm for principles, or by the way in which it is printed.'

-Tristan Tzara

Monday, December 18, 2006

To undertake the study of fantasy brings an ineluctable sacrifice of some valuable practicalities...let me tell you. For instance, reality, existence. About six months ago I was in a car accident involving logs, the dark of night and an unavoidable dreamstate. One would hope that to access your creative well you wouldn't have to sacrifice the bucket, but sometimes the car wants to crash. Before impact, for about two hours, I hovered somewhere on the edge of my psychic lake where I could dip my fingers in and let ideas run through that had been occluded from me for months, if not years. Suddenly pieces fit, trajectories were visible, I had plans! I'm lucky if I get back there in my less perilous daydreams.

A word about creatures: the magic of any character is in their apparent (I stress that) and gripping reality. Their power stems from how deeply you believe in them. So no one--especially not those fantastical creations--should be auxillary or abstract. Everyone--human or not--needs depth.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A play--a good one--is like a pressure cooker or a broken elevator (you all know the game)...these people you've created need to be kept together--no matter how much they ask you to let them separate. Your drama is in the moments they are forced to share. The longer they interact (which means what, "act between"?), the better chance you have of potent effects.

Dialogue corresponds to the pinnacles and pits of our daily experience. Though other encounters, with art or the wild or our own minds, can be brilliant and satisfying, they never parallel the humungous devastation, frustration or jubilation we take in from dialogue.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Part of drama is stretching people. You write them out like a fishing line and stretch them as far as you can before the pain on your finger tells you that they're no longer human.

Language in the hands of characters becomes:
*a weapon
*a tool
*a shield
*a diversion
*an aphrodisiac
*a fuse
*a salve

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Things you don't often see in plays, but should:
*Model spacecraft
*Toy factories
*Swarms of insects
*Gorilla suits
*Characters who are puppeteers
*LEGO architects

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Alright. You will be as surprised as I was: someone wrote an article about my play. It's in the context of a Washington school's attempts to deal with bullying. The piece is called "Bullying Takes Center Stage at Poulsbo Jr. High". If you're interested, it's archived on the website for the North Kitsap Herald.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Adventures in Commission: Epilogue

I'm listening to some hot funk music right now. Real cool.

Saturday provided my first chance to see Witness in action. There is nothing to prepare a writer for that out of body experience: a play in the hands of actors. Well of course, chime in Derrida and Barthes, "it doesn't belong to you anymore--is not of you." Well, shit. Admittedly my only other reference points were stagings where I was in control. In those cases the script never left my hands, effectively--I channeled it through the cast, but it was still my project. On Saturday, in the cozy twilight zone of the zoo auditorium (yes, my play was performed in a zoo auditorium), I was just another audience member. This was exacerbated by my unavailability for rehearsals. I listened to the initial reads, and then had to be fed questions and emendations via the interweb.

You'll remember that Witness is my short play addressing the complex organism that is bullying in middle and high school. I wrote it, and as the lights dimmed even I was skeptical about how realistic and potent it could be. Not the best omen for a show. The first line was delivered, and then it dawned on me that I had written a play. A play is not the same on the page and in the performance space. All that potential that has been enscribed (if you were successful at all) has to be delt with, and when that went down this weekend the familiarity I felt was more like reincarnation than reunion. I knew that the bases for all of these choices were my words, but the whole structure erected upon them was foreign.

So here was my play, which had seemed the last time I read it--and even when I heard it read--to be on the inactive side, lacking palpable rhythm, convoluted. With actors, not so much. There was a quickness and meter to the dialogue that I humbly report was compared to Mamet by one of the actors, and for the most part I found it to work truthfully. The matter of what they did with Ms. Plant is my only real contention--she is a social scientist (maybe a bit eccentric or overly-methodical in her expression, but rational and sane nonetheless), but in this production she became a mad scientist or close to it. She was a loon, and that didn't achieve the necessary contrast to Mrs. Fox, the old-fashioned teacher that relies on authority more than community.

In regards to Witness there aren't seats that need filling, and my reputation will not be enhanced in any dramatic fashion by exposure, so I could sit back and appreciate the production without concern for audience response. I gathered that only half at most were walk-ins, with the other fraction being accounted for by friends and family of the cast and company. I did notice that the show is maybe not as funny as I anticipated--that or the actors aren't comfortable enough in the text to draw out the humor, I can't tell which. My Hamlet joke--yes, I put a Hamlet joke in there (in a play for teenagers, you've got to hit them with some Shakespeare)--got laughs, and my attempt at bad high school poetry was actually kind of moving, which is what I wanted. The audience did seem consistently engaged--and there were teenagers in the audience, if only a few!

I have to be proud of this. It may be flawed, and it may bespeak my age, but I completed the process and I have a production that's playing at times to audiences of five hundred or more. Time for the next step.

Oh, did I mention I received my first check in the mail about a week ago. I am officially a paid playwright.