Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sometimes you make advances. This process is like a hike up a constant grade. It's difficult to tell when you're climbing or simply walking in place and depleating your reserves of energy. I went to meet with some of my contemporaries tonight for our weekely discipline. We sit in silence and compose for at least two hours. It's meager, I know, but a beginning.

I started out at this craft more interested in the "write" I perceived in the job than the "wright". I'm learning that you have to be a playwright first, and a writer second. If a poet is a painter, and a prose writer is a sculptor, then a dramatist makes tables and chairs. Chris Herold down in the beautiful San Francisco Bay, who is the instructor that inspired me to dream the theatrical dream, calls a play a "structure of logic". It's built. And that means to make it stand you have to follow the logic. If you don't your legs collapse or your table looks like a wooden duck. In some ways this is comforting. You learn your geometry and the thing stays together. But it's a problem of material. When I sit down to write I have to fashion my play out of people's interactions. You won't find any angles or lines that are easily balanced with that stuff. So it's a matter of honing these observations down into blueprints that you can work from. Tonight I realized that becoming a playwright means constructing illogical objects and then infering the blueprints. Then you start to edit them. Then you make progress.

Why do ideas look like tripe one day and potential a few later? I've heard it stated that ideas come from the outside. That nothing is ever generated internally. I think that's inaccurate. Maybe they start with an observation. But that's not an idea. That's an image filed away in your brain. It's that point when that image decides to break out and run amok in your head that an idea is born. And hence you approve of them one instant--just as you compliment yourself on the state of your hair--and then you criticize them to all hell. That's a strategy to remember: keep what you put down, because there will be a day when you fall in love with it. That or you definitively acknowledge that it's shit. I was reading some of my monologues today. Here's one:

G: So do you drink gin? I always drink gin. Gets out the moisture. Don’t you feel too moist sometimes? I look in the mirror, at my runny, drooping eyes and I think I could use a martini. There is no better cure for the wet moments of life than an olive swimming in liquor. It’s like my head, bobbing there all green and listless. It’s done. Done with the struggles. Done with photosynthesis. It’s just floating. And the ocean is dry. It’s dirty. Icebergs drifting by. They don’t hurt. They don’t bring my olive down. I mean don’t you agree? Aren’t we too full of water? That’s all we’re made of. So much to cry out. I would like to stop crying. I would like to sit in a pool and be dry. That’s why I like you. I can see the cracks on your skin. I feel that you’re a desert. You’re Nevada. I would just run my fingers through your sandy hair and warm up. Do you mind? See. I was right. Just like a sandbox.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Well this has been a bust, eh? I'd like to say this could be a beacon from the Northwest, informing everyone else out there about theatre 'round these parts. That was the initial intention. But I can't. I realized something talking with one of the able bodied critics who already gives an indication of the fare in Seattle: I'm interested in producing this stuff, not reviewing it. I'd be committing artistic suicide, not to mention executing any opportunities to work with local companies if I spent time critiquing their shows publically. And I wouldn't be writing plays much, would I?

I had a notion that maybe I'd use this blog to document the pitfalls of trying to become a playwright, but Mac Rogers in NY is already doing that notably (slowlearner.typepad.com). Then again I have so far to go that my story might be interesting to the general public in its own right. What is my story? If Mac is a slowlearner, I'm an imbicile when it comes to the craft. I sit in front of my keyboard and wait as if a script is going to jump out at me from between the letters. I have monologues and scenes that are so inert I roll my cursor over them to see if I can set them moving. I've got no start.

They say that young playwright's lack experience to draw from. A classic example of "young" success is Michael Weller writing Moon Children at 26. And that was an anomaly. What am I supposed to do at 24? Amidst ground-breaking elections, suicide bombings, threats of pandemics and questions of torture and privacy I'm expected to write about college life or highschool perspectives. Of course I have a derth of wisdom. Of course cynicism has not set in. If I am going to break the empty face of the page with dialogue, though, I've got to be able to write about something important.

But I don't know if I have experience. All this shit exploding into my consciousness will seem commonplace when it's been cylcing repeatedly for ten years. Maybe then I'll see the trends and be able to pull thematic structures from them. Right now it's so visceral and immediate I have a hard time even keeping my hands from jittering. And that's not the coffee. I think the necessary difficutly for anyone trying to write a play now is that you can't simply, without some sort of denial and insularity, exclude the pressing matters that globalization has brought down upon us. The daylight on the American family drama is slowly setting, making way for something much more sinister--but with room for hope.

I guess there is potential for this blog. I'm going to dig my way out and write something. If it means that every day I sit with a blank page and scratch my head, so be it. All this noise and catastrophe brewing in my psyche has to produce something, eventually. I've never been a slow learner. Things just hit me when they're ready like the unpredictable onset of several glasses of whiskey. The plays will come. On the rocks.