Hello, Everyone! Now, that our little web-site is nearing it's eighth (I both love this word, "eighth" and think it's disturbingly bizarre-looking) week of existence, I thought I would write to you and give an update on what I've learned from having a web presence. (Please, remember, I am not a tech-savvy guy, but I have great web developers and they've shown me that things like html and blogging are pretty simple. If I can do it, you can do it too!) So, in the month of October, I'm pleased to report that www.endofscene.com received nearly 2,000 hits from all over the world! I really had no idea that so many people in Portugal and Slovenia were looking for me! [INSERT DAVID HASSELHOFF JOKE HERE] A lot of the traffic came from people reading the blog and re-posting, so thank you 99seats for sharing my thoughts with your readers and also turning me on to some great theater bloggers in cyberspace. I love what Kristen Palmer, my former Interstate 73 compatriot is doing with Plays With Others, her blog, and I also really enjoy the playwright interviews that her husband Adam Szymkowicz is doing.
All told, I'm finding the Internet to be an good home for my work and a great way to get to know the work of others. (Yes, I just discovered the microwave as well, and I'm amazed by how fast I can cook a 20 lbs turkey.) There are so many barriers in this industry. By building a community and sharing ideas, we can advocate for a better world by advocating for writers and ideas that might not yet be on the radars of agents, theaters, publishers, producers, etc. To me, that's pretty exciting. So, if you like the things that you read here, please feel free to post it to Twitter, or Facebook, or ... whatever. You can hit the "+ share" button at the top or bottom of this blog. Eventually, I'll get a comments section on here for people to share their thoughts. At any rate, I'm very excited to be a part of this community!
Okay, so to perform my cyber-civic duty, I've decided to respond to a request from 99seats, for playwrights to "pull aside the curtain" and provide a little insight into the mechanics of the playwriting process. So, I am going to share my thoughts on ... THE BIG REWRITE!
Into every writer's life, a little TBR must fall. Through grad school and various writer's groups, I've had my share of struggles with TBR and I've seen a lot of writers struggle too. Now sometimes, we all get lucky and create something well-formed out of the box, but this is rarely the case. Plays are precious things that are difficult and emotionally-taxing to create. So, when we get TBR notes, writers often fall into the trap of doing some minor massaging, thinking that the things that made their plays confusing and distressing to an audience can be glossed over. This almost never works. Writers, if you've a.) written a work of high merit, that's b.) confusing and distressing to a reader and/or an audience that you trust, you must, must, must familiarize yourself with the soul-crushing, gut-wrenching, baby-kiling, brilliance cutting process that is ... THE BIG REWRITE!
In the plays section of the website I've posted the first and second draft of The Lynching of a White Man in Rural, CA [working title] in its entirety. This is a play that I wrote as a commission for Arena Stage and it required/requires TBR. I wrote this play while I was in rehearsal for my play Po Boy Tango where I had fallen in love with an ABAB dialogue/monologue structure.
Writing monologues for a character that is giving a cooking lesson works, but, using monologues to tell the story of a young man journeying through agricultural America didn't cut it. Why? The audience wants to experience what the character is experiencing. When hearing a monologue about what someone is cooking on stage, the audience is in the present. When hearing a monologue about remembrances from a journey, the audience needs to do the extra mental step of journeying into the character's past. This can be effective in small bits, but for half a full-length play, it's exhausting. I needed to turn all of these monologues into more dramatic experiences. So I created new characters and turned each monologue scene into a dialogue scene.
Below is a comparison of excerpts from each draft.
So, what do you think? Have I improved the script? I think I have. Sure, I've lost a little bit of poetry but the scene is much more active and I think Aaron's reasons for leaving school and going on his journey are far more clear. The next thing I'm going to consider revising is the ABA structure of the piece, thereby using structure to surprise the audience and keep it guessing. But, that's the next TBR!