Tag Archives: writing

I Wrote A Little… 

8 Aug

So… ‘member that time I bought that blank journal under the pretext of filling it with writing exercises to get me actually creating real wordsmithery again,  versus whatever the hell you wanna call this blog thing? 
… And,’ member how I have like 15 of those journals just sitting in my house, because of serial journal-purchase-syndrom, still waiting for words to be put in them,  and still totally empty, or long since converted to “show-research-journals?” 

… Cuz, ‘member how, (like dusting my house), I totally operate on a best-intention basis, but then often fail in my goals because I don’t wanna dust, potato chips are delicious, and facing a blank piece of paper with proper punctuation, plot, and sentence structure is really hard work? 

Well, chalk one up for me, bitches!  Cuz, I dun wrote me a story. 

It was Sunday. The place: my bed. I had just finished coughing myself awake,  and lay there re-exhausted from my efforts. Thinking to myself, “Well, I don’t even care what time it is…I’m so not getting out of bed after all that,” I decided to hide my apparent misplaced weekend-lay-about-in-bed-all-day guilt, by grabbing one of previously described blank journals and popping up my autoprompt app. 

…Hating the first two offers on demand, I took the third, and started scribbling long-hand, for what I assumed would be about fifteen minutes. 3.5 hours,  eleven pages, and a giant caffeine headache later, I realized that I’d just completed the mutherfucker, and really needed a damn cup of coffee (or 12.)

…Because,  that’s the way time works when I’m actively “Arting.” Sketching, researching, line-learning, blogging, or writing…once the juices get goin’,  I seriously cease to notice the present reality surrounding me. I’m told that I come by this honestly as an inherited trait. Apparently my great grandmother would start painting in the morning, and still be at it late into the night,  with only a depleted sleeve of saltines and empty glass by the canvas as proof of any pause for even sustenance. Which I completely understand, and could “see”  with multiple empty stomaches and/or late night writing sessions on whiskey turning into early morning hour alcoholic tendency accompanied by dry Cheerios by the handful,  direct from the box…which doesn’t really count as morning alcoholism because technically, I  hadn’t gone to bed yet, so it was still just really-late-yesterday o’clock, and anyway stop with that judgy-look,  just because you like to hide your morning alcoholism in disgusting tomato juice…!

…Anyway…where was I going with all this? Oh yeah: I wrote a little, this weekend. On like, a real thing. And it’s all pencil-scratchy, with horrendous spelling, and some of the words I can’t even really make out entirely because even stone cold sober, my creative writing comes out looking like a ten year old,  arthritic physician wrote it, but still. It’s mine. I haven’t reread it since…so,  it’s prob’ly terrible. But, I did it. I said I was going to,  and: there it is. 

… Only,  don’t get too excited though. I have no real intention of dusting, or giving up my post rehearsal junk food. It’s about “baby steps,”  people. And at 3.5 hours, I’ve already clocked overtime in good intentions this week. 

… The rest is just gonna have to hold its damn water for a while. 

~D

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Some Early Sorkin

24 Dec

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I am festing “Sports Night.”

…It is my first night off for the Holiday, we start tech for “Arcadia” on Monday, which is, (coincidentally), when Corporate takes up residence in my office lobby again for a week, and top brass shows up the next. Just in time for Opening.

…I’m saying: this is the last breath before I suffocate under a mountain of stress, but even knowing that…I’m cool. Cuz I’m sipping on Christmas whiskey (as in ” a present” not “vintage” or “flavor”), and am watching one of my favorite writers, with a newly favorite cast, hinting at shadows of what is to come in all our futures.

I’ve always loved Sorkin, but it’s been a complicated relationship. Like many of his characters, he is an elitest, Ivy-League-educated, smarmy, asshole. But I can’t help liking him. Cuz talent is fucking sexy.

…Just so happens,  I have read and seen his plays, his master television works are quotable yearly fested go-tos,”American President” is one of the first of five DVDs I ever owned, and I have had countless conversations on character trait shares and cross indexing ‘tween all his works.

…’Cept this one.

…Because his Freshman effort is the last I have seen, and only, which I don’t own. Which is strange, and inexcusable, but “fact.” I know that whether I like sports or not, I would still be intrigued, cuz: it’s his. But for whatever reason, it has stayed an illusive missing piece, until my newly anointed Theatre Hubby and I got talking the other day (as we constantly do) and I mentioned my egregious error.

…So, he’s fixed it.

…I am blazing through his complete collection copy, like a house on fire…acknowledging the nods which will be addressed in Sorkin’s latter works, enjoying his spin this round on his particular formulas…and (possibly due to the math and patterns of “Arcadia”), really picking up on the specific algorithms of his life’s writing…like a thesis. You see how “this” character here, would later inspire “that”…his ever evolving ensemble troop of actors, is already well mixed and (though younger), well seasoned. The themes he will continue to deal with, the moments of contrast he will continue to play with, the dude-chick in upper-middle management power, the surly but lovable asshole…the liberal-with-a-cause, the unrequited love angle, the massive missunderstandings and false suspecting. The witty, nerdy, sexy, neurotic. The lion-hearted patriarch. It’s all there…even from the beginning.

…Which blows my mind…because even in its infancy, this was a cut above all the rest. Even the death of the unfortunate (but period-consistent) live audience laughter, was put to rest, well before say, M*A*S*H’s was. Because this wasn’t a comedic sitcom. It was not…even in the 90’s king of comedy years of “Frasier,” “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and the rest…to be labeled as such. This was “theatre”… on television. And it seems that once they “got” that…all worked in it’s smooth, undulating, quirky way.

…Which is why it keeps getting canceled as well…because it doesn’t fit the “box demographic.” Sorkin requires you to listen, participate, and think. These are not (sadly) the things a television audience wants to do at the end of the day. They want to be “entertained.” And because Sorkin is a playwright, who makes film and television, his audience base is unfortunately the people who can’t tune in and up the ratings. Cuz we’re busy creating our own, on show days.

…So when we HAVE time, we fest. We feed, like thirsty vampires, on his creative blood.

…And it is delicious. And heartbreaking.

…Because we cannot seem to keep his work solvent and Prime Time , alone anymore. Which is a giant fucking shame. Because his gifts from politics to art to humanity to romance, are fucking brilliant. He’s that guy I’d love to antagonistically fight with and make love to, for like eternity. And in this: I am not alone.

…But the point is: to KNOW his work so intimately, yet be introduced to it’s beginnings at the end, it like a timewarp in evolution of art and politics of our time. He was so forward-thinking, yet so constructively challenging. He knew what we needed, but not how we’d get there. He built archetypes not within boxes, but hovering just outside them, and like Tennessee Williams, has spent his career perfecting the through-line of imperfection, within these archetypes.

…But, in the beginning it was different. It was younger, fresher, less “loaded” with bogged down realworld, shit.

…Which is almost heartbreaking. Because nearly every episode begins with an establishing shot of two buildings in New York, which we had always (until now) taken for granted.

My God, how much has changed for all of us, since then…

…Anyway, this is all to say, “Thanks, Bernard, for the brain and emo toys.”

Love,

That Hannah Chick.

~D

It’s Cute, How I Thought I Knew Some Stuff

3 Jan

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Tonight was the first of what I will refer to as “The Lady B Sessions,” so called, as it is a project in which my dearest former Mama (Lady Bracknell) and I (her former Gwendolen), collect her fifty years of theatre, polish it up bright as a new penny, and build it into a one-woman show.

After shooting her a 70-question Q&A sheet a-la “Inside The Actors Studio” for prep, I arrived with pad and pencil in hand, stayed thru dinner, dessert, and tea…until, I finally kicked myself out of the poor woman’s house, 5.5 hours later.

…From this, I have exactly one page of written notes and the original question sheet print-out, with zero minutes of what I’d planned to record digitally.

I am a lousy documentarian, all of a sudden.

…Which is super inconvenient, when you are starting research on a one-woman show…

…But it isn’t all my fault.

I blame Ezra Stone. And Sara Seeger. Also Opera stars: Dorothy Kirsten, Richard Tucker, Anna Moffo, Sherrill Milnes, and Marilyn Horne.

…I blame Rogers & Hammerstein, Gilbert & Sullivan, Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, and Offenbach…as well Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, Richard Nash, Michael Cristofer, Alfred Uhry, and James Goldman.

…I blame The Metropolitan Opera, Polish theatre tours, La Boem, downstairs Czechoslovakian dinner-swaps, music theory, Amelia Earhart, WWII, original snapshots of major film stars from the late 40’s, Concerts in England, theatre in Germany, Holocaust Memorials, the American Airforce, and Betty Buckley.

…This is but a grain of what makes up the entire freakin beach, which could only fit in the first five-and-a-half hours conversation about this one woman’s life.

Her Mentors, her costars, her roles, the people she’s met… across fifty years: Solid gold.

…The more I listened and gaped with my mouth hanging open, and head nodding in reply, the less and less I felt sufficient to share table and tea with her, never mind the stage.

I was frankly hypnotized. For over five hours.

THIS is what a career in theatre means…even though she claims to have “never really gone pro.” If THESE are the stories, the people you work with, the memories you make, even without a Union Card under your belt…I feel ever so much more secure about my artistic future…lemme tell you.

…Provided (of course) I’ve got the “it” which is required to keep going. Which she so obviously does…to the point of brain-spinning brownout.

My mind has absolutely no idea where to start, how to filter this information between what she laughing refers to as, “only the good and interesting stuff,” and “other”…and fit it all into a neat and sleek little 90-minute or less package.

Fifty years in Opera and Theatre…from American soil to Europe, and back again. I’ve acted with this woman on stage, ate from her plates, sipped her tea…and she’s entrusting me to help collect all her memories into a piece worthy of the grande dame she doesn’t even realize she is.

…I gotta tell yuh: I used to think I knew some stuff. But that was like six hours ago. I know better now.

These two feeble pages of notes, are laughing at me as my brain circles back to Blackheath, Mobile, Frankfurt, Seattle, New York and all the places in between.

…How in the hell do you fit 50 years of that into an hour-and-a-half?

…And when in heaven’s name do I get to go back, and hear more of it?!?!

-D

Giggle Bubbles

9 Mar

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Acting is a weird profession.

…What other one on the planet requires you to be other people, embrace and empathize with serial killers and monsters, partake in voyeuristic fake sexual activities, and fuck with your mind and emotions on a continual basis as “part of the job?” 

Maybe an undercover cop. 

That’s about it.

…But what’s even more screwed up, is the fact that this seems perfectly normal to us and aside from a few character-inflicted hangovers, can come and go in any combination or variety, multiply even as needed, simultaneously, and then go cold turkey dormant at the drop of the hat…sure leaving a few mood swings in their wake, but other than that, fairly harmlessly.

…I mean, we do shit on a stage that puts people behind bars for life, sends them into lockdown therapy, demands suicide watch, and lands them on the cover your more unsavory pulp-newspapers and magazines. Pretty much on a continual basis. Then, two hours (or sixteen) later, we go home, pop a beer cap, and eat some pizza, like nothing has happened.

I don’t care who you are, that’s just fucked up.

And we’re, you know, just sorta used to that.

…But every once in a while, it does kinda throw you.  You’ll do a role a little too close to home, or something will get into your head a little too deeply, and it becomes more difficult to divorce yourself at the end of the day. 

…Sometimes you have that Christopher Reeves-Somewhere-In-Time penny moment, when you become suddenly distracted by the most innocent of things and it rips you out of your happy little acting bubble, realizing that it’s all fake and you are you, and the delicacy of the moment is completely shattered…scrambling helplessly to hold onto the last tail end of this projected truth so you can do the job that people in the seats, right now, staring up at you, are waiting for you to do.

…And sometimes you’re just artistically sideswiped and get the giggles.

Epic giggles.

Inappropriate-can’t-hold-your-shit-together-for-the-life-of-you giggles.

There is no cure.

This is the kind of thing where you so suddenly realize the total absurdity of the situation you are in and that this is your life, and this moment needs to happen because people and their jobs and careers are depending on you…which should put enormous amounts of significance on it all, you would think…but doesn’t…because it’s all riding on the right timing of a burp, or how fast you can drop trow, or how much tongue to use in this kiss, or even just delivering a line which has some double meaning to you and your scene partner, and so now neither one can look the other in the eye at all, when it comes time to say it.

Giggle bubbles.

…I’ve just hit one.

I am currently sipping coffee, on break from reading a script. It is not a comedy. In fact it is the most far flung from it. I keep expecting with the next page turn that it will invent a new apocalypse, strain of disease, or drug O.D.

…It is a one-woman show, containing several characters undertaken by the single actor. I will not be responsible for the acting portion of said piece, I will be the stage direction usher, for a dear friend, who will be.

…This all comes as part of a gig for one of the Universities, in their writing department. A script writing and development class has come full circle and they have brought in a few professional actors to stage read the shows for the playwrights, so they can take notes on further changes and workshopping needed before launching them out into the world and publisher’s doorsteps.

…There are several scripts and all of the actors split time in role sizes and stage directions, as “cast” by the facilitator of the gig. None of the actors have read the scripts, or know the roles until the final edit has trickled in and been forwarded. Of the four pieces I’m in, this is the only one I’ve received thus far. And it is a masterpiece of definition in being a new work by a new playwright.

What does this mean?

…People are told to write what they know, write what will catch your attention and draw an audience, know the audience you are writing FOR, and/or make a statement or impression that will stay with you.

…Because of this, there are many, many, many plays in this world riding the soap opera wave of personal tragedy with shock-theatre gimmick, attempting to assail you with either a deluge of tears, pissing anger, sexual enticement and/or whatever performance art involving a dude taking a dump on a five-dollar-bill while dressed as a mime, falls under.

Classic new playwrighting syndrome.

…And this particular script has it all.

I seriously can’t keep a straight face while reading.

This poor woman central character is emotionally pushed through so many events in 30 pages, and had so many orgasms while doing it, that it’s like a theatrical version of Rasputin. She’s been hypothetically, stabbed, shot, gutted, run over by a car, a bus, a train, thrown off a plane in flight, survived a couple of world wars and her dog just died.

…I’m only on page 13.

…I had to take a break.

…From laughing.

My fucking stomach hurts.

…Now, I’m not intending to be “mean,” this is just one of those instances I was talking about before…when I realize the total absurdity of what we do and how we do it, and what we are asking the audience to do, by trusting and coming on this journey with us…which (literally in this case) is about every sexually erotic and explicit deed and curse word, with every broken down junky personal tragedy you can throw in there, in an explosion of screaming in your face offensive, yet autobiographical who-de-haw, that I’ve read in a long-ass time.

And this Wednesday, I will be it’s narrator.

…At some point I will need to actually face an audience, with my dear friend, and support her, as she undergoes fucking herself, the audience, and the English language all to hell.

…And I need to do it with a straight face.

My job is just cocking weird…is what I’m saying.

~D

Ode To A Line Run

17 Aug

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Lines. 

Running them ad-nauseum, just to make sure that they stick.  Mini pockets that don’t. For any number of reasons. 

…In this case: quick-succession repetition.

Pamela Edwards (the Brit), has a habit of repeating what she and other people say, forty or fifty times, but in slightly different orders.  Remembering which one we are on, gets tricky.  Also: the “one-worders.”

…This is an actual thing.  It’s not the proper name (prob’ly), but it’s what I call them.  They happen in Mamet, and comedy, frequently…and in farce, they run rampant. Mostly to show awkward social skills and sexual tension.

When you put someone who repeats things constantly (only in slightly different order each time) in a one-worder situation, you get something that looks a little like this:

(…Actually, you get something that looks a LOT like this…in that this is directly from the script.)

Hannay: That’s alright. Well —

Pamela: Well–

Hannay: –we ought to be–

Pamela: Yes —

Hannay: –going I suppose.

Pamela: Mmm.

Hannay: Right. Um —

Pamela: Yes?

Hannay: Which —

Pamela: What?

Hannay: — room are they staying in?

Pamela: Who?

Hannay: What?

Pamela: Who?

Pamela: Those two men?

Pamela: Sorry?

Hannay: The two men you overheard?

Pamela: Staying in?

Hannay: Mmm.

Pamela: Well, they’re not.

Hannay: Sorry?

***

…Believe it or not, these kind of lines aren’t the easiest to get.  Not only because you are telling a story about nothing, and have the panic situation of cutting the other guy off in time…(often having less than one word in order to remember what yours is again), but also the fact that if you fuck up at any point in the sequence, it all goes to absolute hell in a handbasket.  The beat-structure HAS to be the way it is written, or it’s like throwing a stick through the spoke of a bicycle, going at full speed down a heel.  Crash and burn, baby.

…And I guess the lesson I learned today, (while picking metaphorical gravel out of my bloodied hands, knees, and face), is that I have some more work here to do.

By the third section of this repeated dialogue style, I had completely lost any sense of rhythm, in utter despair of constantly fucked with word repetitions, and the final clip in my one-wording cue-a-thon turned into this: (Actual lines in quotes.)

Prompter: “Well…”

Me: Yes?

Prompter: No, “well.”

Me: “Well.” Yes?

Prompter: No.

Me: What?

Prompter: “Well…”

Me: And I said, yes.

Prompter: No, ‘yes.’  Just “well…”

Me: What?

Prompter: It’s just, “Well.”

Me: Mine?

Prompter: Yes.

Me: So this time it’s just, “Well…” and “Well.”

Prompter: Yes.

Me: Okay, so take it back to the beginning.

Prompter: That was the beginning.  “Well…”

Me: “Well…you’re a free man…”

(Long pause.)

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: Yes?

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: What? Line?

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: No, not ‘cue,’ my line.

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: I know that’s next, but what is my actual line?

Prompter: “…ANYWAY.”

Me: What?  Read the whole thing to me.

Prompter: “Well…you’re a free man anyway.”

Me: Oh, it’s the end of the line this time.  Cuz it began it before, the last time…

Prompter: Right.

Me: …Followed by…?

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: No, I know, I get it.  What’s the next cue.

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: “Right” is the cue.

Prompter: Yes.

Me: Can we go back?

Prompter: “Well…”

Me: “Well.  You’re a free many anyway.”

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: “Saved the country too.”

Prompter: “We both did that.”

Me: “Not really.”

Prompter: “Anyway…better be um–”

Me: Yes?

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: What?

Prompter: No, it’s “Right.”

Me: Which one?

Prompter: The first…one.

Me: So it’s Yes, Right, What…?

Prompter: It’s, “Right.” “What.” “Quite.”

Me: “Right.” “What.” “Quite.”

Promper: Then, “Yes.”

Me: THEN, “Yes!”

Prompter: — Right.

Me: THERE’S where it was…I knew a ‘yes’ was somewhere in there.  So, cue at the top of the one-worders again?

Prompter: “Anyway…better be um–”

Me: “Right.”

Prompter: “D’you want to–”

Me: “What?” 

Prompter: “Nothing.”

Me: “Quite.”

Prompter: “Better be going.”

Me: “Yes.”

Prompter: “Got the decorators in and — you know…”

Me: “Certainly do.”

Prompter: “Well — bye.”

Me: ” Bye.”

Prompter: …And scene.

Me: FUCK YOU, PAMELA EDWARDS, AND YOUR DIALOGUE WRITING TEAM!

Prompter: Want to run it again?

Me: Not even with a bottle of Jameson in my hand.

Prompter: So…a break?

***

…So this was my break.

I guess.

…Obviously have some more work to do.

…So, I guess I’ll go back to doing it. Then.

Think kind thoughts for me…

~D

Art According To Sylvia

15 Aug

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…Am seeking a name for m’new Lit blog.  Thought I’d start with some quotes from the brilliant and famous…and several hours later: here I still be.

…Reading.

No kidding, if you’re disenchanted with the creative process of words, in the least…you should pop on over to this page, and it’ll cure it for you.

Meantime, I’m still trying to rip myself away, and focus on the new house I’m trying to build for my new Group works.

…So I’ll go and do that then.

…But not before first leaving you with this:

“…Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath

So, there is that.

Now: stop making excuses, and get to work.

~D

Sleepy Times Shakes

30 Jul

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Can’t. Keep. Eyes. Open.

…Spent my blogging time working on a guest writing piece for a theatre company.

Conclusion: It’s weird writing for someone else. Going back to academic essaying legit vs the SWAL voice I’ve been talking in for the past year: also weird.

…I really need to branch out more. Like, in general.

Meanwhile…how about that Julius Caesar?! Shakespeare: a real ballbuster, am I right?!

~D

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