Monday, May 12, 2008

Ruling Three


Thanks to everyone who came to see our show. We weren't sure how doing a 4pm Saturday-Sunday show was going to work for us. It worked out fine. I'm not sure our numbers would have been much different if they were Friday-Saturday at 8pm. We had a great turnout this past weekend and actually made some money. Much better to get a check at the end of a run than have to write a check.

Thing I done learnt:

- Taking your time pays off. Our pieces were more detailed and our show felt more complete than many others we have done.

- Even if you're just one of the writers, it's an ensemble and all collaborative. Incorporating and owning feedback will strengthen your scene. And if you absolutely think it won't, you might be in the with the wrong group of people.

- No matter how much attention you pay to the script, you still have to pay attention to the production details - marketing materials, tech, props and costumes, performance.

- It's fun to work with great people who make you laugh. It's not fun to work with assholes and not worth the time.

- When you are in a shared space, be considerate of others. Stick to your scheduled time, don't rush others off the stage by setting up your show as they are trying to break down a show (unless they ran over their time), don't mess with the lights, leave things as good or better than you found it.

Next Saturday, we'll close the books on this show and start planning for our fall production.


Last Friday's Columbia College show went well. I'll post the script to the play this week as well as my piece from Greatest Stories. The 10-Minute play I wrote last semester for the festival has been accepted by Chicago Dramatists for their 10-Minute Play Workshop. This is turning out to be a good resource for generating short works. I have already submitted Friday's piece to another local short works festival.


Greg Wendling reminded me of an old writing assignment I used to do that based on an improv exercise. Basically, you start with two people on stage in a set relationship and a third person enters, turning that relationship on its ear. The 24-Hour Play Festival reminded me of this assignment. In any three-person scene, it's likely that the story will always shift between two people being against one and the scene ending either in victory for the protagonist(s) or all three joining together. In my scene, I made all three characters like each other. It took place in an office and it would have been easy to make the boss the oppressive bad guy against the co-workers fighting to keep their spirits. The set relationship is the boss and a steady employee. The sweet and lovely new hire is the catalyst to a shift in the dynamics. I still felt I needed a bad guy or two and they exist offstage and appear through one-side telephone conversations. I guess you could argue I wrote a five person scene and just shifted the dynamics to three against two. Maybe I did. Get off my back. Go write a sketch or something.

A good way to approach this is to brainstorm a list of ten two-person relationships. Be specific. Instead of just "co-workers" make it "co-workers at a KFC." Then do a second list of ten of who the third person coming in to the scene could be. Consider the likely possibilities - boss, third co-worker - and consider the not so obvious - health inspector, mysterious customer, somebody's mother, the ghost of Colonel Sanders, an angry chicken. I'm not saying to go with the not-so-obvious, just saying consider it as a possibility. You'll either strike gold or affirm your first choice.

The important thing to consider is the quality of the initial two-person relationship and how does the introduction of the third character change everything.


On Friday, I asked...

"Three teenagers in Houston, Texas have been charged with abusing a corpse because they did what?"

40% said "Used someone's ashes for kitty litter"
- If it's pine-scented and clumps well, I'd try it.

20% said "Took turns, you know, doin' it"
- "Your peeling back lips say no, but your dried snapping bones say yes!"

No one said "Ate someone's liver"
- They were too young to purchase the required Chianti at the liquor store.

40% got it right with "Made a bong out of a head"

According to The Houston Chronicle, Kevin Wade Jones Jr., 17, appeared almost indifferent as he relayed the bizarre description of his and two friends' activities at an Humble area graveyard, plice said.

Now, Jones, Gonzalez and a juvenile whose name has not been released are each charged with abuse of a corpse, a misdemeanor. All three were arrested last week.

Houston police believe the teens disturbed the grave of an 11-year-old boy who died in 1921.

Jones claimed he and his friends used shovels to dig up the body and removed the corpse's head with a garden tool, Adkins said. Jones also revealed he and the other two boys took the severed head to the juvenile's home, where they used the skull as a "bong" to smoke marijuana, the officer said.

And yet no one is affirming the ingenuity of the boys. They are finally applying all they have learned in shop class. Well done, lads!

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