Sunday, July 23, 2006

Feeling Saucy?

Feeling saucy? Wanna enter a nudist play contest? Go here to find out more. This is the same thing I did my hour and twenty minute writing project for, and Andrew crapped something out for it in five minutes a few months back. He's less surly as a playwright than I am. Of course, he's more of a theatrical Swiss army knife.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Scrapped my first idea for a play. Wrote a completely different play based on a conversation I had with a co-worker who wants a boob job. Titled the play "The Boob Job." Wrote the whole damn thing in an hour and a half. I can't post it here since it's supposed to be unpublished to be entered in this contest and I don't want someone's cousin to cause a stink and have me disqualified because it's published on some damn random blog page.

So here's the deal. If you want to read "The Boob Job," email me and I'll shoot you a PDF. It's a one act, just two scenes.

I barely changed the names. I may write another play, barely change the names in that one.
For-Profit Theatre

Andrew Rhodes is giving an insider view of the formation and management of a theatre company in Boston, Mass. About a month ago, he blogged about Non-profit vs. Profit, and the struggle between the two has recurred a few times since. Andrew would prefer to be in charge of his company, rather than being lorded over by "know bests" who would sit on a board of directors and tell him how to do his job. I can't say I blame him.

I'm not sure why theatre "has" to be non-profit. I remember going through, looking at the whole process to establish a non-profit corporation back when the wife and I ran Children's Theatre of the Ozarks in college. In the end, we kept it as a sole-proprietorship because we just didn't want to dump the tidy little profit we were turning in favor of a shot at grant money and the "prestige" of being "non-profit".

There was a time in this country when all theatre was for-profit. Of course, that was back when theatre was more mainstream entertainment (before movies, radio and television.) Oh, to be back in the days of vaudeville!

I think it's possible to recreate a solid, "mainstream" theatre experience. An entertainment value on par with all the other options available (movies, television, internet, etc.) People look at me funny when I say this, but the theatre is more alive than these other mediums. Theatre has the distinct advantage of an instantaneous positive feedback loop, which is a fancy way of saying "live performers". I remember a story about the late great Jack MacGowran, Samuel Beckett's favorite actor. One night during a performance of Endgame, an audience member heckled the cast with something like "This play is so boring!" MacGowran broke character, turned out and yelled back "Yes it is, but it took me a long time to learn these lines, so please shut up and let me get through them!" When was the last time a movie heckled back?

What stumps me is that people will pay $15 for a car wash, but would rather stay home and zone out in front of the boob tube or the laptop rather than go to the theatre for $15. Which has the greater chance of being life-enriching? Okay, L.A. is just shallow enough that a good wash and wax could be a spiritually moving experience.

It's all our fault, really. I have a theory that theatre is where writers now go to send a message. It used to be if you want to send a message, use Western Union. Now its "write for the theatre". Audiences have been clubbed enough times over the head by Susie B. Theme that they eye anyone who does theatre with a mix of suspicion and fear.

Interestingly enough, there has been a sort of resurgence of burlesque shows out in L.A. Scantily clad women dancing around provocatively apparently cancels out the fear of being preached to. Well I say we need to shuffle off the overcoat of "theme" and "significance" and revel in the thong and pasties of fun and . . . well, revelry. We need to give the audience more burlesque-type experiences. We need a freewheeling, belly-laugh, open-arms theatre. We need to transcend the norm and become showmen again!

Please note, I'm not saying we should focus on slapstick or melodrama. I'm not endorsing Cheesey Theatre. I think the mentality of playing to the lowest common denominator is what started the collapse of popular theatre. I'm saying we need to get back to what makes theatre unique and powerful: Life. If we can only reintroduce a living, vibrant theatre to audiences, they'll come back for more.

Wife

Do you want to see Saw III or The Cherry Orchard tonight?


Husband

Are you kidding? I love Chekhov!


It's not just a pipe-dream. At least, I hope it's not.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nipples McGee: The Musical

I'm a loser. I'm no further on "Nipples McGee: The Musical" than I was last week. Maybe I'll write more today. If only I could write music.

Nipples: (singing) I feel free now
Yes I do
I uncovered my hole for poo
I can show my boobies too
I am naked just like you

Dick: (speaking) Wow, that's great, Nipples. It seems that you've finally developed a healthy body image. Let's go play volleyball.

Yeah, I'm lost.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Reading Sonny

We did a live reading of Sonny yesterday. It was a small group, just four actors reading and a couple of listeners to give feedback. The feedback was consistent, person to person, and I agree with just about all of it.

Somewhere along the line, I learned a great way to handle feedback: Listen to everything each audience member has to say and nod your head politely. Keep a tally, and implement the advice that is consistently given. Discard the odd bit of advice that only comes up once or twice.

Sonny clocked in at forty-five minutes. With direction, tightening up the dialogue, the play would clock at thirty minutes. TOO SHORT! Fortunately, just about everybody in attendance yesterday agreed that the third act was far too easy, the middle needed a bit more fleshing out, and the stakes needed to be raised overall. The revisions and additions necessary to implement the advice could easily add another half-hour to the script. (I like my plays to run between and hour and an hour-and-a-half with no intermission. Intermissions make me nervious [more on that in a future post].)

It's important to get the words out of your head and into the mouths of actors. We spent a few nights on Torrid Affaire just workshopping the script. I wish I had done a reading first -- it would've saved time on down the road!

One of the readers suggested something that could turn this cute, simple little play into more of an event: Multi-media. The main characters are involved in animation, and reference it quite a bit. There is room for animated projections in the play to further illustrate certain things that come up in the dialogue. It's an intriguing idea, and I'll be taking it up further with the bloke who originated it (the very talented animator/puppeteer/actor Ron Yavnielli.)

The "gimmick" that I mentioned in an earlier post (Sonny's parents taking over for him at certain moments) was very well-received. My commitment to what could have played out as a trite device paid off! If only I had committed more to the actual plot of the play . . .

Overall, I'm very happy with how things went yesterday. There is much work to do on the script, but I'm taking a few days off from it. Time to regroup, make sure I know what the hell I'm doing, and then hop back up on the horse.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Letter "N"

Today's wit brought to you by the letter N, as in nudity, naked, nuts and nipples.

JOE: Wow, Sue. You sure do have some sizeable breasts on you. And those nipples . . . why, you should be in movies with nipples like those!

SUE: Thanks, Joe. I sure do love how you and the other men here are so accepting of my breasts and nipples. You've really helped me develop a positive body image. I now feel fully prepared to take off my bathing suit bottom.

All the men ad lib praise and admiration.

JOE: Sue, you sure are courageous. Why don't you, your breasts and your nipples join us for a game of volleyball?


What am I DOING? I have no idea. I should probably stop wasting time and just write the goram play.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I got nothing done on my play yesterday. It's actually a pretty generous time frame. Andrew Moore wrote a 72 page play in three weeks. Mine will probably be 15 pages tops. Instead of writing on my play, I tried to work out the stiffness in my dialogue. I want something that's funny and penetrating, not something that's too forced or too lame. Maybe I should throw away what I've got and just use this:

JIM: Wow, Bill. You sure have a tiny penis and even smaller testicles. It's so nice that you can feel comfortable here on the nude beach.

BILL: Why, yes, Jim. I do feel comfortable. My penis may be smaller than yours and my testicles may be the size of a couple pieces of popcorn. It's nice to be in a place where you don't have to feel self-conscious about your rather large but ropy and gnarled penis. Why, if we weren't at such an accepting place, I think you'd be called a freak with a penis like that.

JIM: Yes, Bill. My gargantuan penis and your micro-giblets make us quite a pair. It's nice not to be introverted and self-conscious. I love the nude beach.

BILL: Yes, Jim. I do as well. It promotes a positive body image indeed. Nude recreation is the best. Let's go play volleyball!

I guess as long as I end it with volleyball they'll at least read the whole thing before throwing it in the trash. It seems that nudists love volleyball. I usually just read at the nude beach, but hey, gotta play to my audience.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Family Friendly Giblets

I worked on my play for a few minutes yesterday morning between typing up a list of the unending dissatisfaction with SBC/AT&T's complete and total attempt at screwing my company with an enormous phone bill and going to lunch with an old friend. I think I have two pages, maybe three. I think it's going to wind up being one of those "sudden fiction" type one acts. You know, the ones that are over before you even have a chance to peel open that can of biscuits to hurl onto the stage during the blackout.

So far, I've had two beautifully witty moments. I'd love to cram in more, but there's no room with all the stiff dialogue.

MARY: I sure don't mind being naked. I feel good about my body.
SUSIE: I know what you mean, Mary. Why, I think everyone should be more accepting of public nudity.
MARY: Yes, Susie. It promotes a positive, healthy body image.
SUSIE: And did you realize it takes the mystery out of the sexual goodies and giblets so young people aren't so perverse and obsessive about those areas of the body?
MARY: That's a very good point. Why, as a nudist, I'm perfectly comfortable about sexual goodies and giblets. Let's go play some volleyball!
SUSIE: Okay!

Yeah, it's not that bad. I do have to be careful so it's totally family friendly, which means I can't have a naked chick slap some guy and call him a pervert for staring at her unusually large nipples. I don't even know if you can use the word "nipples" and have it still be considered family friendly.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

After scrawling my sixteen cents with a purple pen all over Andrew's second draft of Sonny, I started writing my play. I used the index cards and jotted down my fantastic idea. 'Wow,' I thought. 'I'm well on my way to being like Andrew Moore.'

Today I started actually writing this monstrosity that I hope will bring me at least $100 in prize money for what the courts like to call damages (time and money lost pursuing this thing). Within two pages I decided one of my characters was completely unnecessary and ruthlessly cut that b*tch out of the script. I started typing it in, all the while treating it like the bastard child I feel it may just become.

As a caveat, I think it's important for actors to try their hands at other functions like directing, producing and playwriting. I'm not saying they have to do it all the time. I'm just saying it gives one a greater appreciation for the work that's done off the stage.

I wrote a play for a class in college. It was fun but never produced. I was able to set up the freedoms, barriers and purposes for the play on my own, calling my own shots. Since this play is for a contest, I have to follow their freedoms, barriers and purposes. Since it's a one-act contest, I have to try to cram a story with a moral to support naturist (or nudist) activities or to support and cultivate a positive body image into maybe thirty pages. Great. Here's what I'm afraid my work will be:

JOE: So, you like being naked?
SUE: Yep. I also don't like wearing any clothes.
JOE: You don't say.
SUE: Actually, I did. Why don't you take off those pants and be comfortable.
JOE: I'm nervous. With all the beef hormones and fluorescent lighting, my body isn't what people want to look at on the nude beach.
SUE: F*ck those looky loos. Look at me. I'm a member of this fast food nation and I have no problem taking off my clothes. See. My bajingo is exposed for all to see. For Jeeves's sake, this IS the nude beach.
JOE: Wow. You're right. All of a sudden, for the sake of time, I realize that I don't have to be so bodycentric at the nude beach. I'll take off my pants, then we can play volleyball!

Okay, doesn't that totally suck? That's what I'm afraid of. My play's not that bad so far, but I only have one typed page.

No wonder Andrew Moore drinks so many beers.