This account was written for theater class. Posted for its comic merits.
|In recounting my experiences and inspirations with writing this scene, I shall begin at the beginning, which, nine times out of ten, is the best place to begin an account, and is always better than beginning in the middle and splitting in two. Of course, the “beginning” itself is debatable. I cannot confidently say that it did not begin when I signed up for Jason’s class back in December. Or when I was first interested in theater. Or college. Maybe it started twenty years ago, when my parents were bored and there was nothing on TV, or when the same happened to their respective parents before them, or so fourth back to the monkeys.
Who knows? I won’t bother with philosophy, though; I’ll be basic and simply start at the day that Jason assigned me to my group.
The first question was who gets what job. I chose the playwright’s position because of my predilection for writing. Next question: What’s this thing gonna be about? Everyone pitched his and her ideas. Maybe we could write about spring break? No. Won’t be topical after too long. What about the news? The news tends to blow up insignificant stories in lieu of more important issues (some celebrity just sold something to help someone who was hurt in some accident somewhere – neeeeeeeeat . . .). Uh-uh. Olympics? Nein. And a multitude of other ideas too uninteresting for me to note . . . or even actually remember.
Finally the group settled on something solid: a nudie bar. (Ah, college! Ye are a hotbed of cultural stimulation!). Well, it was a good idea, and topical. The Show ‘N’ Tail was and had been fighting for a good location. As of our choosing to dramatize the nomadic club, it wanted to open next door to a ballet studio. Well, I beamed! One could easily dramatize something so ignorant as that. I practically did not even have to write. That jackass was a living Human Comedy!
As it turned out, it was not easy to dramatize. I did not write one damned word for nearly two weeks. I would sit in front of my laptop and try cranking out anything, but what’d I wind up with? Goose egg! And how hard is it, really? I mean, a five minute piece: it should take an hour, right? Well, when you are a literary narcissist, the storytelling equivalent of a protective mother cat, the simplest writing is deliberate and even nerve wracking. I cannot just give mental birth to characters with little regard for what will become of them like an NBA star enjoying an on-the-road one nighter. I need to connect with the characters, and for a miserable fortnight, I felt nothing for any of them.
Fast forward to crunch time. I was caught between a rock and blessing. The rock was that class was in a day and I anticipated facing my group with nothing resembling a script to present to it. The blessing was my ability to perform at my best when a deadline is ticking away right in my ear (actually a curse – I cannot perform a quarter as well with plenty of time to work with, but that is immaterial right now). Now or never, self! Come the hell on!
I do not know if that was the moment at which I thought of a cast of characters I connected with or if I was simply desperate enough to fool myself, but I plucked up a group of word puppets that proved agreeable. Then I wrote . . . and wrote . . . and . . . wrote. That day, I got in all of the writing I ought to have been getting in since being assigned playwright. I cranked out a monster scene that was twenty pages long, that featured eleven characters, and that was set in two distinct locations. It was not even a scene; it was Gone With the Wind, abridged!
Ah, well. Make it big and then pull it in. Great. But hell! What a chore I left us! It was like being given The Coast of Utopia and having to turn it into Breath. It was an effing epic scene!
No griping! Stop it, kid! You can do this! Your group is capable! If you’re too intimidated or too attached to your little brain children to nix ‘em appropriately, let the group do most of it. They’ll not be attached. Okay. So I cut a couple pages’ worth of spit-takes, one-liners, extended dialogues and what-have-you. They cut about five more pages of the same superfluous stuff, plus my strikingly multitudinous uses of the “fuck” bomb and other charming such words. Those wonderful monsters shore Yu Zhenhuan into a shiny, manageable Bruce Willis. Now that’s a five minute scene!
My non-vocalized sense of loss seeing some of my favorite parts excised was brief. By then, the fact that I was not going to submit this thing to Paramount Pictures was clear to me. I finally understood that this scene was not meant to be self-satisfying. I was writing it as a short project to be performed by people who lacked the time to memorize that much dialogue. Snip, snip, snip! All fine by me. I’m a big boy now. Me no whine about it. (Came of age about seven years late . . . Whoa boy!)
Hitherto, my report has been so far from serious that the light from serious would take five billion years just to reach it. I am very sorry, Jason. But please understand that you cannot tell me to write something and green light that it can be informal. I’m weak! It’s my Achilles heel!
Ah, well. I’ll keep the conclusion linear:
My writing the scene for our project has been bumpy and untimely. However, I have had the experience of being a playwright who can only sit helplessly, gritting his teeth and consuming fingernails by the handful as his work gets edited in cold blood. I have learned to accept what can and cannot be used in a piece when I am not the only party with an opinion. The experience will stay with me in my hopeful career as either an actor or playwright. For someone who learns to accept that things will not end up like he wants them to will be prepared to sit in a leaky, gray studio apartment in Avenue Z, making just enough money to be poor by appearing as a half-line walk on in an off-off-off-off-off-off-off-Broadway neo-classic-non-conformist retro rock musical written by someone no one has ever even seen.
Well, it was almost straightforward. I am honest, though. I will remember what I have done and learned.