Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Actual Work and Progress in Process

I just wanted to make a few notes about the joys of writing and working in the theatre as a writer. As far as my ambitious and all consuming project that is right now egotasticly (yes, that is how I meant to spell it) called "The Untitled David Copperfield Project." I'm working on a few scenes and a few monologues, but right now it's all pretty sketchy still. I have a pretty solid beginning that I have to force myself to not work on and just push through to latter acts. Anyone who has ever written a multiple act play knows the torture and torment of this. When a student asks me what is the difference between an act and a scene I usually say it has something to do with a dramatic emotional, story or setting change. Something so big has happened that just changing scene is not enough. It's like the difference between a new paragraph and a new chapter. Or if you think of it episodically, it's the difference between when our character was young and when he got married as an adult. The shift is usually pretty big. A mini climax has just happened and the characters have to deal with the change. Often that means re-evaluating their choices and plans so that their meta-goal can be accomplished. An act break is where a "Stay tuned" or an intermission happens. But the break is so big that writers often have to shift focus and re-evaluate choices as well. It's almost like starting a new play, just with the same characters. After Batman is punched, knocked out, tied to a large saw and everyone leaves him to die...what happens? Maybe other writer revel in this part of the process but it's one of the hardest for me and that is where I am right now.

The best way to get over this hump (push the envelope) is research, research, research. Reading up on everything that has anything to do with the subject matter at hand. Who are these people? Where are they? Where do they come from? What do they want? In my case it's looking at homes in the French Quarter and the Garden District. It's reading up on architecture and blues poetry. It's reading and rereading Dickens and Williams. It's reading about current events in New Orleans and about Katrina and the aftermath. It's reading about other interesting things like the Ursllines (an order of nuns in New Orleans) and Mardi Gras. It's g\oing to restaurants and ordering local favorites and traditional dishes. It's being in the heat of the day and writing bad poetry about it. It's going through my CD collection and looking up songs that fit with my themes. It's looking at local and popular art of the time. It's looking for the key to the second act door. And often it is writing a lot and knowing most of it will be thrown away.

But in the midst of all this my first full length production, "Pride and Succubus" is in rehearsal. I'm fortunate enough to be included on some of the best emails on production matters. This tread on props I think is one of my favorites so far:

From Kimberlee (Prop Designer)
I'm going to go over the prop list and send e-mails to everyone appropriate very soon, but here are a couple things that have occurred to me, just off the top of my head.

- JA's pen is described as a quill. Color me stupid, but is that historically accurate, and do we care?
- The chair - is that a breakaway chair, or somehow able to be broken away?
- Do we still want/need bats/chains/pipes/other sundry weapons for the JAS?

Additionally, I've gotten one reply to my call for techie help. I forwarded the contact info, but I don't know if she's done anything. I don't exactly know that she's got any technical prowess, but hands are hands, and I'll follow up with her.

Also, I have a costume contact; a lady who works with both the Dickens Faire and the Renn. Faire. As soon as I get the okay to forward her contact info, I will do so. She should be very helpful!

On a final, saucier note, I had a thought last night at rehearsal, but I didn't want to say anything until I was even a tiny bit sure I could actually make this happen. As a Renn. Faire participant, I have an odd assortment of connections, and I happen to know a gentleman (strictly speaking) who does some marvelous things with wood. One of his spec ialties is a wooden dildo. I was informed that a certain stake was to be considered Lizzie's "favorite" and I thought it might be... funny... to modify this design into a combination dildo cum (pun intended) stake. It's a simple matter of sharpening the tip into a point, and am fairly certain he can do it, in the range of $20-30. Thoughts? Shock and Awe? WMD's?

Till next time,

Kimberlee

From Sang (Co-Director)
Wow... phallic stake... well, its certainly been alluded to. I'll check with Max/Elizabeth (Faith) on this.

I don't think that bit of anchronism matters but right now, Rana asked to purchase the book and pen so we'll see what she comes up with and change if necessary.
No breakaway chair - that's been removed (sorry Claire).
Kai - I believe you have the new amended Society weapons. Please confer with Kimberlee. FYI, the pipe we saw in Hakeem's shop costs $10.
Thanks for the update Kimberlee!

From Max (Lead Director)
You have my attention, but I think I'd need to get a better idea of what it would look like first. I worry about it not looking sufficiently vampire-lethal and about it looking like she masochistically uses the spiky implement internally - but I'm all for sight gags! Wait! Do you mean have the handle end (shaft, yes, I know) have the rounded, knobby tip and the other side have the spike? That could work for me.

JA is living in the present, somehow interacting with both the characters and the actors who are portraying them. She will transcend anachronism.

I was unaware that we had completely dropped the breakaway chair and can certainly be okay with that as long as someone tells me what it was replaced with - or, I suppose, just dumps it back on me to find another way to end that scene.

HEADS UP: There will likely be some new prop needs arising from the fights left to be choreographed, specifically those using "black magic". Ideas are still forming and we'll let you know as soon as we do what it is that we want/need.

Thanks!
- Max

From Kai (in the role of Darcy and Fight Choreographer)
Aye, the JAS weapons are now solidified, and pared down to three: 1) a femur, which we have; 2) a (tobacco) smoking pipe; 3) a croquet mallet. We don't have the latter 2.

I'm on the fence about the phallus stake - it would certainly be amusing, but I'm not sure the laugh would be worth the distraction, and $20-30 could be used for other props. I was thinking more of a handle/grip than a... toy, but would be overruled if majority feels otherwise.

Speaking of stakes, there were two stakes made for the photo shoot. Does anybody have a bead on those?

Kim, an update on the holy water. I've taken a closer look at the fights in 5.1 and I think Lizzie should have two instead of one. Vial size/type should be small-ish but visible - maybe test tube kinda thing. In 4.1, she will be using one on Darcy, which could perhaps be hidden in her cleavage. Dorie, any thoughts on how she can carry two vials in 5.1?

Dorie, regarding Lizzie's stake holster, the throwing stakes will be fairly small in diameter - I think 3/4". I can measure this tonight at rehearsal, but wanted to touch base with you on that before you constructed something for thicker stakes. Again, this should hold three throwing stakes that lie at an angle, rather than parallel to the floor. Length is negotiable - you, Kimberlee and I can have a separate conversation about vials and the holster, if you like.

Woo!
-Kai

Test tubes marked with crosses. And the plugs should be in the shape of pope-hats! (Which, according to wikipedia are called "mitres". I wonder if you cut the fabric with a mitre saw...)

Sorry, I need more sleep.
- Max

Oh... god...

-Kai

Note: I have no idea what the "black magic" is, but I can't wait to find out. I'm not bothered by the absence of the breakaway chair, but I wonder what they will do with the lines in reference to it. I don't know what they will do with the stakes, but again I can't wait to find out!

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