Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cheerio...and Don't Forget to Write

Yes, it's finally happened. This week I made a final few revisions to "The Treachery of Images" and summarily sent it off into the great world beyond. What will become of it I do not know. My hope, of course, is that it lands at an Ivy League college, continues on to a staggeringly successful career, and generally makes a grand impression on all that cross its path, in turn making itself (and me) very proud. My fear is that it will crash and burn soon after takeoff, ending up on the streets, living hand-to-mouth and whoring itself to feed its ravaging heroin habit. Oh, the worry of it all!

But the truth is, I have absolutely no idea what the reaction to this play will be. It could be viewed as quite a downer, the subject matter being what it is. It's certainly pretty heavy stuff, with very little humor in it at all, and what there is is of the blackest and most acerbic kind. Furthermore, it contains just two characters and everything happens in real time in one room. On the other hand, it could be received as an emotionally charged exploration of a unique moral dilemma that any of us could (but hopefully never will) find ourselves embroiled in. It could be loved or's anyone's guess.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Rush of Ink to the Pad

A couple of years ago I had a short play of mine included in a festival put on by a group in Southern California. The theme of the festival focused on plays that broke with theatrical convention. I very much liked the concept of the show, and on top of that they were terrific people to deal with. Last year when they put out a submission call I was busy on another project. This year, however, I was not (well, in truth I was taking a little break from my long goodbye with "The Treachery of Images" - yes, it's still going on...I thought taking a break from it for a few days would be a good idea, giving me a fresher perspective when making my final pass on it). Anyway, I digress (something I'm quite prone to doing).

So I decided I would see if I could put something together to submit to them. Late afternoon on Monday I came up with an idea. A few hours later I'd all but finished the first draft. Yesterday I did a few rewrites and revisions, came up with a title I was happy with ("The Skewed Picture"), and sent it out into the big wide world via what used to be quaintly referred to as the "Information Superhighway." That's a very fast turnaround indeed. If only I were able to write every play so quickly - I'd be frighteningly prolific. It has happened before - every once in a while a play will just sort of pop out, as it were. But ususally it's a very long, involved process.

I must say, it was also nice to write something in my more absurdist/heightened reality style. I hadn't done that in a while, my more recent work being firmly rooted in realism/naturalism. I felt like a kid let loose in a toy shop.

Of course, whether the group in California will will want to include it in their festival remains to be seen. But in any event, I think this little play will have legs beyond that, as it's simple to stage, quirky and offbeat, and the age range for its two characters is wide open. We'll see.

I believe the actresses who'll be performing theatre on board a cruise ship fly out to New Zealand this weekend to meet up with the ship. I do hope their captive audience enjoys "A Familiar Face." If they don't, it's not exactly the ideal place to have that sinking feeling.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Long Goodbye

Yes, the parting is still in process. While most of the drafting I'm doing now is simply polishing and tightening, there have been a few places that I've felt the need to rework because I wasn't completely happy with them. It's been going well, but I won't be sending the play anywhere until I've got it exactly where I want it.

The one concern I do have for the play, other than people finding it to be a complete downer, is the length. It runs at about 52 pages. The general rule of thumb (which is often very inaccurate) is one page per minute. This would make my play too short for most theatres if taken on that criteria (or criterion, to be correct) alone. However, the play has a number of lengthy monologues embedded within it, not to mention the frequent pauses and silences that occur throughout, both of which should see it running at closer to 70+ minutes in my estimation (hope). If it doesn't, then that's the way it will have to be, as I will not pad it out for any reason. My own read-throughs seem to back up my opinion, but I guess I won't really know until I have a couple of actors giving it a proper going over.

Oh well, back to my goodbyes...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Farewell Scene

I've been working on a new play for the past couple of months (entitled "The Treachery of Images" - and yes, I stole it from Magritte), but I am now very close to finishing it. I know that after just a couple more rewrites it will be time to step away. I know this because I've started to reach the stage where I start second guessing things I was very happy with all along...a clear sign of rewriting for the sake of it. Many years ago, while at art school, I learned a very valuable old Chinese adage: It takes two people to paint a painting - one to paint it, the other to say stop. And so we must part. But, as always, it is with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I'm getting a little burned out from going over the same scenarios again and again, and long to start something new. At the same time, I've spent countless hours alone with these characters, delving deep into their lives and personal problems, taking their journey with them. We've been almost inseparable these past two months or more, and even when I wasn't with them, they were always on my mind (cue music). So there's always a little sadness when we have to part company, our once intimate relationship having run its course.

Perhaps not as sad, though, as the realization that now the real hard work it! Oh what fun that will be: the query letters, the 10/15/20 page dialogue samples, the mailing, the emailing, the waiting, the form letter rejections, the nibbles of interest, the waiting again, the hopes, the disappointments, the highs, the lows. In short, the...oh, what's the word I'm looking for?

Oh, yes...drama.