From The Inkwell – Camp Gethsemane Character Development

M’k. So, I’m still plugging away at the second edition of my taking-way-too-long-daggum-it full length play, the one that tackles religion (Christianity), how I interpret faith, relationships and sexuality in a pretty big and perhaps somewhat provocative way.

While I’m way behind schedule, in that I wanted this done last month at the latest, it is at least still moving bit by bit. I’ve really been trying to take the many criticisms and critiques to heart, though I know this will still be nowhere near the perfection a better writer could make it move toward. It’s admittedly quite frustrating, reading and watching the works of far superior writers, knowing you’ll never match their level.

Anyway, one of the critiques I had was with the antagonistic character Craig. Craig Thompson is the man who runs Camp Gethsemane, supported by his church. Still, the camp is his child, so to speak, and he is extremely zealous in his desire to protect it and its mission, or the mission as he sees it. The problems most that read the first draft had with Craig were pretty communally shared, the biggest one and most agreed upon one being that Craig seemed too villainous and too caricatured. No one really understood why he snaps and gets physical. Nor did people understand why he even allows Gary, who is now Evan Carter, to teach at his camp when their views are so different.

Basically, I focused so much on everyone else in the story, including the character Emily (who is no longer in the play as an on-stage character, sadly), I kind of painted a picture of Craig in my mind and left it as a picture. But for a story to work, we need to understand him, at least a little. The difference between Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church and Count Frollo of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is that, with Frollo, we’re given a glimpse into his psyche, his reasoning for being so vile. Phelps is just a putrid sack of crap that exists to rile everyone up and generally be a hateful dude. No one understands why he’s such a tool, so he’ll never be as captivating and memorably evil as Frollo.

So, I ended up going back and writing a few new scenes, partly to flesh out Craig’s character and partly to give a more solid backing to the strong relationship Craig and Frank, one of the counselors, have. And also to explain why Gary (now Evan) is at the camp. All were lacking detail. And, as I’m trying to encourage myself to finish writing the last fraggin’ scene of the play, I’ve decided to let people read the first of two or three new (and therefore completely non-peer reviewed) scenes I wrote in this vein. And somehow, even with new scenes, the play has ended up about 15 to 30 minutes shorter (hopefully closer to 30). Anyway… please enjoy. Or don’t. I wouldn’t mind hearing feedback, though. I know at the very least the language could use some polishing, but I figure that’ll be focused on in the next (potentially final?) edit. (Note: We’ve already seen Craig onstage at this point, so his description isn’t included.)

——————————————————

Inside CRAIG’s office. CRAIG sits behind his large, neatly organized desk. There is a landline phone on the desk and a chair in front of it. CRAIG pores through his Bible when a young man enters. FRANK SINGER, a young man in his mid-twenties, is also dressed in a counselor’s outfit. CRAIG doesn’t look up when FRANK enters.

FRANK: You wanted to see me, sir?

CRAIG looks up from his Bible.

CRAIG: Ah, yes. Come in, Mr. Singer. Have a seat.

FRANK enters the room and sits down in the chair across from CRAIG.

CRAIG: I just wanted to let you know, we’re going to be having two different Bible Study classes this year. The leaders at the Church of the Mount have… requested that I allow the new youth pastor to participate in this year’s camp. Have you met him?

FRANK: Evan? I was introduced to him during the business meetings about getting a new youth pastor, but I haven’t sat down and gotten to know him yet.

CRAIG: Hm… I’ve not talked to him very much myself, either. But I suspect that the church is perhaps grooming him to eventually take my place running the camp.

FRANK: What? No. The church would never do that. This is your camp, you brought it into existence.

CRAIG: (Smiling, wistful.) I hope you’re right, and I appreciate your loyalty to me, Mr. Singer. It is, as always, a comfort. I suppose my worries could be misplaced. (Looks down at his Bible, running his fingers over the pages.) And if my eventual retirement and replacement is God’s will, then so be it. …we must all follow God’s plans. Whatever they may be… (Begins subconsciously playing with his wedding band, falls into a reverie.)

FRANK: …Mr. Thompson? Are you okay?

CRAIG: (Snaps out of his wandering thoughts. Looks down at his ring finger, pulls his hand away.) Sorry, I was lost in thought there for a moment. You can go.

FRANK nods and stands up. As he turns to go, CRAIG remembers something.

CRAIG: One last thing, Mr. Singer.

FRANK: (Turning back.) Yes sir?

CRAIG: Take some time to get to know Mr. Carter, would you? And let me know if you discover anything… well, anything you think I should know. For the smooth running of the camp. Something just seems… off to me about him.

FRANK: Yes, sir.

FRANK again turns and exits. CRAIG looks down at his Bible again, but seeing his hands, he puts his left hand in front of his face. He removes the wedding ring from his finger and looks at it, a somber look on his face. He grips it in his fist, closing his eyes tightly, before placing it back on his hand and returning to his Bible, turning the page and reading.

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