Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Succubus Goes Before the Fall

I can not tell you the shear, unadulterated, intense joy that is hearing your words spoken by intelligent, joyful actors. It is overwhelming, exhilarating, and delicious. I sat behind a green curtain in the dark in the lobby of the New Langton theatre listening to my silly silly play, and I felt insanely and stupidly in love with my own words. I admit it. I felt unadulterated joy in my own accomplishment. In the dark, by myself where no one knew, I congratulated myself every time the audience laughed or giggled or sighed or sat stone silent listening. Is it a perfect play? No. Is it even a good play? I don't know. But I had a good time. I was proud of the actors who made these silly characters come to life. I was delighted at the fight scenes and the choreography and the costumes and the lights. It was honestly like I'd never been to a theatre in my life and I was introduced to some new magic every few minutes. I don't have time to be humble here, I'm proud of myself and this thing that came out of me. Maybe in a few weeks I'll think logically about the show and the reception and what I heard and saw...but this high feels so good. So ridiculously fabulous. I am walking in the clouds. I am sailing through calm waters. I am floating on air.

It's no wonder so many successful playwrights are assholes...You can't feel this self congratulatory and not be a little bit of a jerk. It is an incredibly vain act to have your own thoughts played back to you again and again and again.

And now I can say I am a produced playwright. Pride and Succubus Summer 2008 produced by Thunderbird Theatre Company, San Francisco

Friday, August 1, 2008

Firstsih Draft

No, it's not done. It's no where near done. But I feel comfortable with calling what I have a first draft. It sort of falls apart in a couple of places and it is now officially the longest think I've ever written (158 pages), but that shouldn't be important. Especally since I see it loosing at least 50 easy.

But, here is a preview. You may never see this monologue again. It's something I wrote to help me write, and I'm not putting it here to do anything other than to prove to you I've put something on paper.

(David alone on stage.)

DAVID

When will it be over? I felt the pressure in the air drop so fast my ears popped and it wasn’t until that moment I could hear, really hear, the whole world breathing in and out. And, God, it was so hot. I went to the news room where everyone was going to wait it out, and we talked about water and food for two days and some of them had brought their families and they were bringing out cots and blankets and listening to the radio. Mandatory evacuation. Mandatory evacuation. And someone in the back of the room, the back of my mind, laughed and said “Yeah, right.” And I asked when will it be over? And no one said anything. And then the winds came. Slowly rising, but it was already the worst thing I’d ever been through. It was already so awful I wanted to run away. And everyone around me were talking about other hurricanes like they were ex-girl friends they had restraining orders against. But they survived. And whatever doesn’t kill you… And whatever doesn’t kill you… And maybe they were strong enough for this but I…I had never survived something like this…not this. And I only thought again and again and again and again…When will it be over? And beneath us the building shook and swayed and the windows warbled and the noise…the noise was so loud. A screaming, urgent, insistent, demanding thing wanted in the building. It wanted revenge for a million wrongs. And at that moment, I knew this storm with my whole self. It was a lost child tormented and misunderstood, ignored and unloved, grown into an adult and seeking to prove itself. It was a lover who had never been touched with kindness and now touched the only way it knew how. It was an ancient unreasonable hate, stirred and prodded and starved and then thrown into a ring with a like hate. I knew this storm and I knew it was not something you survived. It exploded the windows and brought the river and the lake into our laps. It broke all the trees and tore down the beautiful shutters. This fury battered and shook and broke the city under its immense catharsis. And every second, every moment, I thought “God. When…when oh God oh God when…when will it all be over?” As the cry of the winds died down the screaming of the city rose up. On the radio a woman called out “I lost him. I lost him. The water took him away.” A man spit with the fury of the storm itself, “No body is coming. No body is coming. We’re all alone out here and no body is coming.” And quietly…so quietly… “I think they all died in that house. The water came up too fast.” We waded out into the soup until it was at our chests and we could go no further. And the water was rising. I heard a scream from a house near me and we swam in. But I…I froze and lost my breath when I realized we would all be trapped in that house. The roof couldn’t be punched through and the rising water would push us all against the ceiling. The broken bottles and bits of window and wood from the house and kitchen knives and everything that was good and was life was floating in the water and turned into weapons that could rip our skin from our bones. Our breath our flesh our selves would be caught up in that house and so I watched better men then I rescue those from within. And I thought God, when will it be over? And still we went further out into the neighborhoods and to the streets we had so recently reported. And I saw families on top of roofs dieing from heat, dehydrated and scared. So much fear. And betrayal. They had trusted blindly, unfailingly, that they would not be left to die. And in these first few hours after the storm…nothing was certain any more. Not God, not love, not family, not New Orleans, not life. I remember being in a boat, taking people off of roofs but there was no where to go. Babies crying and mothers fretting. And old people. So many old people. And there was no where to go. There wasn’t enough room in the boat, there wasn’t enough land to put them, there wasn’t anything and always always always the water was rising. When will it be over? When will it be over? When will it be over? The sun came up and it went down again and up and down and still there were more people and less water and less food and the heat, had it ever been so hot in the history of the world. And no where to go. And the dead…the dead lapped at the side of our boat, where swept against the sides of houses, tangled in the branches of trees. The last word of each dead man, woman and child was an angry suffocating stench that screamed to be seen and recognized. But there were still so many living to be harvested from their roof tops still. Still. And I thought I would give the world to live forever in the fury and anger and power of that storm than to have ever seen this. This destruction. This death. This fear. This hate. This betrayal. This fear. This fear. This fear. This all consuming horrible horrible fear. You don’t survive this fear. Death is calling out your name. Death is banging at the door. Death is standing at your shoulder. When, when will it all be over? What ever doesn’t kill you…When will it all be over?

Fear and Other Intangible Obstructions

There is a woman sitting not far from where I am. She's beautiful and reminds me of my mother in the way she shows off her large breasts without it seeming tacky or ridiculous. She wears silver and red in such a way that makes her seem a little like a gypsy. I don't mean that it's overwhelming, it's exotic and natural all at once. She has a pile of brown curly hair on the top of her head. She's local, she knows people who walk in and there is surprise when they meet, but not the surprise of "Oh my goodness what are you doing here." It's "Oh, my goodness what a coincidence." She's local, but she also has an accent. It's almost Irish or Welsh. I've seen her in here before, and I know she's a writer. I know because she can stay in that chair, at that laptop, for a long time. Periodically she looks around as if she's looking for something specific, a person to walk in, a cat to sit on her lap, a book in the air; then she turns back to her work as if the interruption never happened. She makes faces as she types. Just every now and again, and just ever so slightly. Sometimes it is a subtle triumph, sometimes it's as if she saw someone in an ugly dress walk into the room and she feel sorry, sometimes it looks like a silly spelling mistake she can't believe she made.


She usually sits by the window or moves to the window spot. She drinks an iced tea, always pulling the straw to the corner of the mouth. She shakes the ice when it gets low, then stares at her computer, her fingers moving slightly over the touch pad, scrolling through her work, reading and rereading passages.

And I wonder what she is writing. Sometimes I imagine it's a romance novel, but not just straight romance. She's a genra writer. She writes historical fiction romance or romance with vampires. The kind of stuff I look down on. But she has nice sun glasses and a nice computer and a nice cell phone and she's usually here in the middle of the day like I am. So I assume she supports herself on her writing. This also leads me to think romance writer, freelance magazine writer, successful blogger...I guess it could be anything. It's silly of me to make assumptions. I still lean toward romance novels. But maybe my fatal character flaw is my vanity that invents things to look down on because secretly I am jealous. In my tragedy, I spend weeks in this coffee shop with her, toiling over my overly verbose and ridiculous plays, all the while looking down at a fellow writer who finds success and later buys the coffee shop and then gives the old lady at the end of the counter charity coffees and listens to her go on and on about how the business wouldn't know a good play if it smacked it upside the head. She'll laugh and pass another coffee.

I want to ask her so much what she is writing, but I don't want to break the spell and I don't want her to know I'm writing presently about her. She's a character right now. The sum total of my anxieties. Especially now at this time when I feel so very close to the end of my script. The first draft anyway. I feel so close, and I feel like I could have been this close so much sooner. I've wasted time, and what I've written isn't worthy of the time I've spent on it.

Please, please, please say nothing. Don't tell my that you're sure it's fine that I'm a good writer and blah blah blah. I'm not fishing, I'm mumbling on the internet. I'm being over dramatic in a chat room. I'm being honest about what I'm feeling. It's a feeling that will pass. I'll read over what I've written in it's entirety and the work will begin again in earnest and I will feel good about it. I'll know where the fixes should be and what can be done. But for now. For now I'm tired and everything seems like a hard push against a big ancient rock.

Oh, I'm starting to talk in territory that hearkens back to earlier writings about my disbelief in writer's block. But I'll tell you what I think, it's like baseball or some other sport or gambling. If writing happens, then I try to recreate the circumstances that created that writing. They way I sit, where I sit, where the sun is, the time of day, the noises around me.

I like to write with bad tv on. Movies I don't particularly like, but have seen over and over again. Gray's Anatomy is really great. Law and Order is good too. A specific album playing on loop for a specific project is also good. My feet up and the lap top in my lap. A deadline pressure. Late at night. A coffee shop pepped up on caffeine. 3:30 on the dot. Tea next to me. Lemonade next to me. A cat in my lap. I often write when I'm waiting for something else or when I'm avoiding something else. If I need to write, it's amazing how clean I can get the house. If I need to make a phone call to someone I haven't ever spoken to or haven't spoken to in a long time, it's amazing how much writing I can get done. If I'm going out with friends and I told myself I'd get some work done before they came to pick me up, it's good to get ready to go early and sit and write while I wait. It's good if they are running very late too. I used to write poetry on my pad when I was a waitress, sometimes I wonder if I want to write poetry I shouldn't get a job at a greasy spoon.

But then again I can't plan it all too much or it will all go awry. I could end up having watched four disks of Gray's Anatomy and wrote only a half a scene or a bad monologue. I could end up sitting on the bedroom floor with my lap top with my clothes half on and half a play is written in the space of ten minutes. I could stay up until 5:30 in the morning only to find the urgency of the muse at 6:00 when I've given up and started brushing my teeth. I could be in the coffee shop only to find myself wondering the forests of celebrity gossip never to return again.

Oh fickle fickle self. I was hoping on this trip I'd teach myself some discipline, but it occurs to me that I've never heard of anyone teaching themselves to be disciplined because undisciplined people really can't teach themselves anything at all. Which leads me back to wishing for an addiction of some kind, an imposed discipline, that I could do mostly when I write.

Or I should just write and see what happens.