Tag Archives: William Shakespeare

I Can’t Stand Modern “Art”

This is a bit of a rant I had recently, and one I’ve had over the years in various capacities… It’s probably the single issue I’m most close-minded about. I hate that I’m so close-minded about anything, but if there’s something to be close-minded about, I guess this is decently innocuous.

It starts with a rant about poetry. I cannot stand e. e. cummings. His total disregard for the standards of the English language itself denigrate the communicative purposes of the written word. But he isn’t even close to the worst offender in poetry, not in my mind.

Back when I was a freshman in college, I took a class called “Arts in Tuscaloosa.” It was an honors class that was supposed to cover my fine arts credit. We met twice a week, once in small groups of 10 or so, and once with the entire class of 50 to 100 kids. My roommate was in the large class with me. That class was very fond of modern art. We had to, as assignments, go and experience art, food, culture in different ways and turn in responses. Those responses could be written, but they had some really ridiculous requirement banning the use of adjectives, I believe, in those responses. They could also be creative. I went for creative and sketched. I’m not the best sketch artist, but I tried. I put effort into it, was clearly creative… still couldn’t get above a B- for my work. Meanwhile, my roommate decided to see how little effort he could put into a response. We saw a dance show together, “Dance! Alabama” in fall of 2006. He went to PowerPoint and created a slide with a light to dark blue gradient, the words “Dance! Alabama 2006” aligned right at the top, and three crappy ClipArt dancers at the bottom. He got an A+, and I refused to return to the class ever again.

Not so great for my grades, perhaps, but whatever. That class annoyed the crap out of me.

As you might guess, they were quite fond of modern art and modern poetry in there. In our large class lectures, we would listen to a guest speaker each week. The only one I remember was Hank Lazer. I remember because I hated his poetry. He told us in the class that, basically, poetry could be just random words you find on the street amalgamated together. As an example, he had a “poem” that had a random paragraph from the Alabama Code of Law every other stanza.

I hated that poetry and I hated the assertion that random words thrown haphazardly onto paper, words not even necessarily your own, could create poetry. That’s not poetry, that’s a word collage, and not even a well done one, not with his descriptions. He didn’t talk about why you used the random words, he talked like you just throw your hand into the hat and pull out something random.

Beyond poetry, modern art annoys me further still. Look at this thing about a piece called “Three Blank Canvases.” Just three canvases, painted white. Or three canvases with what looks like sections of a science textbook printed on them. If these things are defined as art, how does art have meaning and worth? Is this blog I’m writing art? Is a photograph I take of my cluttered work desk art? And what about performance art? If someone burns all their possessions on a street corner, is that art or someone that needs new stuff/therapy? Is it only art if we just call it art? Where’s the line drawn? If a guy rapes a woman in public, but calls it performance art, is it? What if it’s consensual sex, is it art then? Is self-immolation art if that’s what someone calls it?

Part of the problem is that art loses the artist’s meaning in the eyes of the viewer. The audience determines something’s artistic value and meaning. So, some people can find things beautiful and perhaps even “artistic” where I might rant and rail against it. But I think there needs to be a line, parameters drawn. You can find it beautiful or thought-provoking, but that doesn’t mean it’s art. Sitting at the piano doing nothing for four minutes and 33 seconds isn’t music, John Cage, it’s just silence and laziness. I swear, if anyone “performs” that piece near me, I’m jumping on stage to do my own song and dance, and they can’t stop me because I’m part of the “ambient noise” then.

It’s frustrating to me to think of the great artists like Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt… I think of writers like William Shakespeare and Robert Browning and Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath and William Wordsworth… Musicians like Beethoven and Mozart and Bach… Many of these people, these artists, had struggles. Van Gogh suffered from depression that led to his suicide. Plath had the same problem. Michelangelo nearly went blind painting the Sistine Chapel. Mozart had various problems, some of which likely stemmed from his being bandied about at such a young age. Beethoven was deaf.

I’m not saying personal struggle is necessary for artists, but these artists struggled in their own lives and in their works. It took effort, caused pain, took time. Their art had purpose and true devotion poured in, whether you enjoy the final product or not. And that’s something I just don’t see too often with modern art. I know I’m a bit of a heretic among my artistic and culture-loving friends for saying this, but there is so much in modern art that just doesn’t seem like art to me. Maybe Plato was right and there is an objective form for beauty or art. Or maybe I’m just narrow-minded. After all, many of the artists I named were branded heretical for pushing the bounds in their days, going largely unnoticed or deemed unworthy to be considered artists.

But that’s my thoughts.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Breaking The Leg – “Julius Caesar” By Improbable Fictions

As I explained yesterday in my post, today is a staged reading of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

Tonight at 7:30 in Room 205 of the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library on the University of Alabama campus, Improbable Fictions is presenting a staged reading of “Julius Caesar.” You can read more about it here on the Facebook event. I’m in it, playing Cinna, Second Citizen and a soldier of Octavian.

This is my second time performing with Improbable Fictions, my fifth time working with the core group that has made up Improbable Fictions and The Rude Mechanicals for the past couple of years. It’s definitely a group worth supporting. It helps expand classic theatre to the public that has let the classics fall behind. It’s a good group with talented people, a group that allows for many to act that would otherwise never do so, or even direct when that’s not a typically available option. In theory, IF would potentially also do staged readings of original works. At least, I assume a staged reading by IF is what Nic Helms was referring to when he told me he’d be willing to set up a staged reading of “Camp Gethsemane” when I finish it. Hopefully, I’ll be done in two weeks with the second draft. Which, hopefully, is far better than the first draft.

All I have left is the final scene… having written out one of the characters that featured heavily in the final scene, I don’t know exactly how to handle it. What I do know is that it will be a far shorter scene, with the final cut being around 7.5 to 9 thousand words. Hopefully, that’s enough to put it around an hour and a half of run time. I seriously want this show performed. If it gets good enough reviews, maybe I can self-publish and take it to other cities.

Maybe. Who knows? At times, I feel my dreams are far too big, far bigger than my talents, at least. But, y’know… maybe, just maybe, I can move forward with my writing. After this one’s done, I’ve only got… Oh, like, 15 more projects to write. Fun times.

…Sorry, distracted from my point. Come see “Julius Caesar” tonight. If you don’t know about the plot… well, it’s about the murder of Julius Caesar, how it happened and what the fallout was.

Tagged , , , ,

Wrecking A Car Is Bad

I suppose it had to happen eventually. What’s the statistic? One of every eight people gets into a car accident? I think I remember one of those Allstate commercials saying that years ago.

I left work late today and headed straight home to eat and grab my clothes/costume for rehearsal today.

Oh, to explain that part: Tomorrow night at 7:30 in Room 205 of the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library on the University of Alabama campus, Improbable Fictions is presenting a staged reading of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” You can read more about it here on the Facebook event. I’m in it, playing Cinna, Second Citizen and a soldier of Octavian. So, that explains the rehearsal part.

…anyway, on my way home, at the last lighted intersection before my apartment, light went green, I turned left, car hit me in the passenger side. It was my fault, there was no green arrow at that intersection, and I simply didn’t see him sitting at the light, likely distracted by something, and he didn’t see me turning, also distracted.

His car was relatively unharmed, fortunately. I’d hate to severely damage someone’s car when it’s my fault. My passenger side has about a four foot scrape and dent, sadly. My insurance will pay for it after the first $100, but I’d’ve preferred it to just not happen. I didn’t suffer any whiplash or anything, we were going maybe 10 miles an hour at the time… yet my body has decided to feel randomly sore. It kind of sucks.

So I’m not really in much a mood to think about politics or anything meaningful to say, other than to say wrecks suck. Sorry. I’ll get back into it later.

Tagged , , ,

From The Inkwell – “Tormenting Tantalus” And Adapting “Macbeth”

So, I’ve been working on assignments as my friend David Bolus gives them to me. It helps encourage me to actually, y’know, finish my projects. The last finished product is the one act play “Tormenting Tantalus.” Which may have a name change to just “Tantalus.” Or perhaps even “T.” I dunno.

Anyway, I talked about the play at least once before, but I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it since its completion. Part of a planned mythology trilogy, “Tantalus” is the first play, one that delves into what could drive people to a level of madness that leads to infanticide and cannibalism.

…yeah, if you don’t know the story of the mythological figure Tantalus, this play will seem WAY out of left field.

I have finally figured out which figures will be covered in the trilogy, though, which is exciting. Tantalus, Prometheus and Orpheus. All rather tragic stories. Some tragedies far more violent and abhorrent than others, of course, but each has a story to tell. A story that was, perhaps, left to the listener to discern. That’s how it feels to me, at least. And these plays, when complete, will hopefully tell my version of that story.

I really like religion in all its forms. If you can’t tell. My first two completed works of theatre deal with Christianity and Greek mythology. And my next original work will hopefully be “God’s Playlist” before I head back to hit “Prometheus.” After that, then I take a break from the religious overtones and write my screenplay for “The Tribe.”

…that one has more of a cult feel than a religion feel.

…yeah, one day I’ll write about something else.

Anyway, currently, I’m adapting William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”  (because there are so many others) into a 15-minute screenplay. Why? Because the short story format baffles me. My first short story was 36 pages long, and could have easily been much longer. The shortest thing I’ve ever even conceived is “God’s Playlist,” a 15-minute movie. Of course, filmmakers don’t see that as short at all. And after discovering it can take a week to film for a two-minute movie, I suppose I can see their point.

When I told David this, he gave me the assignment of writing a 15-minute screenplay. It could either be an original story about Emily from “Camp Gethsemane” or an adaptation of any other work. Then he said the word “Shakespeare.”

And, of course, being an idiot, I chose that one. The first act of “Macbeth” has been boiled down into three pages. The second act, the one where King Duncan gets murdered, is a single page.

I feel really weird doing this.

Still, I’m four and a half pages in now, nearly a third of the way through. With it due this Friday, I think I’m making good time. It should be an interesting final product.

But, back to ACTUAL final products… sort of. “Tantalus” is now in the peer review and edit phase. So far, only one peer has reviewed it, but others have it in their possession. And if the workshop/reading for “CG” goes well this weekend, there may be others interested in my work. Which is all pretty awesome.

…the point is, last time I wrote about “Tantalus,” I gave you the intro as it was written. There were some changes in description and such, but it remained largely untouched. Now, I give you the next scene. A scene of normalcy and happiness. …you just know that ain’t gonna last.

——————————————

The BOOKKEEPER watches impartially. This is his duty. The story must be told. As he watches the events unfold before him, the DENIZENS of this story come onstage, carrying the items to set the scene. They seem wracked with constant fears and pains. They are the ones moaning for their eternities, trapped in the hellish punishments, designed specifically for them. Dressed in rags of grey, they are hunched over, twitching and moving unnaturally. They look to be falling apart. The MAN does not notice them, but does move out of the way, going to the far corner to put on his tie. The DENIZENS do not moan now. They simply do as the BOOKKEEPER has instructed. They know their duty in this story. They bring out a small, square table, a kitchen chair, some mail, a briefcase. They set the table cattycornered in the corner, putting the chair near it. The briefcase and papers go on the table. The DENIZENS head back offstage, shuffling silently, as the MAN finishes tying his tie and heads to the kitchen table. After the DENIZENS leave, the lights come up, normal, bright, cheery. The BOOKKEEPER remains at his post. The MAN sits down at the table, looking through the mail. The WOMAN comes in, carrying a plate of toast, bacon and eggs and a cup of coffee.

WOMAN: Morning, sweetie.

She sets the plate and cup on the table, avoiding the mail.

MAN: Good morning, love.

The two share a kiss. The MAN reaches for the coffee as he reads the letter he is currently holding. The WOMAN sits at the table next to him as he takes a drink.

WOMAN: Today’s the day they’re giving out that promotion, right? Are you worried?

The MAN sets down the letter, turning and smiling at the WOMAN.

MAN: Maria. Dear. There’s no reason to worry about these sorts of things. Either I’ll get it, or I won’t. Besides, you know it’ll either be me or Kenneth that gets it, and we both promised that, whoever gets the position, we’ll put in a good word for the other. So no worries.

The MAN kisses MARIA, then returns to his breakfast, piling his eggs and bacon onto his toast and eating. MARIA rolls her eyes and stands, standing behind the MAN and sliding her arms around him slowly. The MAN sets his breakfast toast pile back on the plate, caressing MARIA’s arms.

MARIA: You know, Jacob… it would hurt to get a little worried about things once in a while.

JACOB smirks, looking back at her.

JACOB: You want me to stress out and be more worried?

MARIA: Well, sure. It’s healthy sometimes. Shows that you care what happens. That you have some passion for what you do.

JACOB raises an eyebrow.

JACOB: I’ll show you passion, missy.

JACOB spins MARIA into his lap, growling in a playful, sexy manner, closing in for a slow, deep kiss as MARIA giggles and moans softly in pleasure. Such playful moments have an end to them, however. The BOY comes rushing in.

BOY: Daddy, daddy, daddy!

JACOB breaks the kiss with MARIA and smiles at her. She smiles back, leaving his lap and straightening her outfit out. She heads off to get PETER some juice. JACOB reaches down to pick up the BOY and put him in his lap.

JACOB: Heeeeey, Peter! Hungry for some breakfast?

PETER smiles and hugs his dad around the neck. JACOB smiles and kisses the top of PETER’s head before turning him around and lifting him again.

JACOB: Let’s get you sitting in the chair… there you go.

JACOB slides out from under PETER and lets PETER sit in his chair. PETER starts devouring the breakfast left over from JACOB’s brief affair with the meal. MARIA returns, holding a sippy cup with some juice inside. She puts the cup on the table near the plate, and PETER grabs at it eagerly, drinking from the cup as though he had been dying of thirst. JACOB takes the suit jacket off the back of the chair and slips it on. MARIA goes to his front to straighten his tie. Everything is perfect, happy, wonderful.

MARIA: I hope I’ll get to see that passion later, stud.

JACOB: You know you will.

They kiss. True love. Clearly, they care for one another. JACOB grabs his briefcase and quickly pecks MARIA again.

JACOB: Love you.

MARIA: Love you, too.

JACOB ruffles PETER’s head. PETER waves at his dad, still ravenously devouring the last bits of the breakfast left for him.

JACOB: See you later, kiddo.

PETER attempts to say goodbye, but his mouth is filled with buttery, crisp bread, fluffy egg and salty bacon, which proceeds to spray forth back onto the plate in small amounts. MARIA squats down and wipes at PETER’s mouth with a napkin.

MARIA: Swallow then speak, Peter. And have a good day at work, sweetie!

JACOB: See you tonight!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Breaking The Leg – “Twlefth Night” By The Rude Mechanicals

Okay! Because ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF ANY POLITICAL IMPORTANCE HAPPENED TODAY, and because I said I’d dedicate today’s post to this, I’m here to talk more in depth about the show I’m in.

Yesterday was the opening night of The Rude Mechanicals’ “Twelfth Night.” One of the three Facebook events can be found here. We will be performing at the Park at Manderson Landing on Friday and Saturday, with pre-show music starting at 7 and the show starting at 7:30. As always, the show is free, but donations are nice. Tonight, the show will be at Wintzell’s Oyster House in Northport/Tuscaloosa. It will have a $15 cash pay-at-the-door with proceeds going to the West Alabama Aids Outreach program. Inside, there will be a free buffet and a cash bar. Come by and see if there’s room.

Last night, as I said, was opening night. In spite of the triple digit temperatures that have been hitting Alabama all week, we had a pretty decent turn out. I’d guess around 50 or 60 people came to see the show. And we got some good laughs.

…now that I’m writing about this, I don’t actually know how in depth I can get. I play the Officer, a minor role that manages to drag out some good laughs… I can’t tell you why, though, without giving a gag I suggested for the show away. It’s a pretty amazing gag.

“Twelfth Night” is a comedy of errors, mixing up two twins and a whole lot of romancing, in the Shakespearean style of love. Meaning everyone falls in love in, like, three days. It works, though. It’s a good show. Maybe not so well known, but there are some great humorous moments, both intellectual and physical.

You can also see the poster for our show on my friend’s Improbable Fictions blog (the name of which comes from this show).

Come support amateur (but good!) theatre/arts! It’s free. What do you have to lose?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Death Of An Artist – Nora Ephron

First, my obligatory plug (which I missed doing yesterday… argh!): Tomorrow is the opening night of The Rude Mechanicals’ “Twelfth Night.” One of the three Facebook events can be found here. We will be performing at the Park at Manderson Landing on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with pre-show music starting at 7 and the show starting at 7:30. As always, the show is free, but donations are nice. On Thursday, the show will be at Wintzell’s Oyster House in Northport/Tuscaloosa. It will have a $15 cash pay-at-the-door with proceeds going to the West Alabama Aids Outreach program. Inside, there will be a free buffet and a cash bar. That one is RSVP, however, and may have been filled… if it’s not, though, I’ll let you know as soon as I know!

Now that that’s done… As many of you know, I am a writer.

Gasp! Shocking to find such statements on a blog. Especially one that dedicates itself to being nothing but words (and occasionally links to things that are more than words).

Anyway, I’m a writer. I write for pretty much any medium. I’m not necessarily that great at writing in any of them, but I’ll write poetry, journalistic articles, prose, plays, columns, screenplays… whatever. As of late, plays and screenplays have been the more focused points of my interest, partly because I am an actor and want to be on stage and screen, and partly because I feel that may be where I can make the most impact with my writing. And, y’know, money, if I do well enough. Also, I like the idea of possibly pulling a Matt Damon and writing myself a role to find fame (even if he wasn’t nearly as off the list as I am).

So, today, after rehearsal, when I heard that fellow writer Nora Ephron had died, I was a little saddened.

See, in acting, we are told to steal from the best and learn from the worst. Personally, I think that’s also true of writing. Both writers and actors should constantly be reading new material. William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, William Inge, Sam Shepard… on and on and on. And, outside of the stage, there have been some great writers for film and television that you can read and learn from. Understand what they see in life, in character. How do they interpret love? How do they take on religion? How do they tackle language and casual conversation? Sure, taking everything you read or see at its word isn’t the best idea. Research is important. But finding inspiration and ideas, solutions to your writing problems, inside the works of others is something every writer should do.

My play “Camp Gethsemane” was influenced by George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan,” as well as some Shakespeare and musical style choices. My current play, “Tormenting Tantalus,” I find is clearly, though unintentionally, influenced by Neil LaBute’s “Fat Pig” and Edward Albee’s “Everything in the Garden.” “Fat Pig” is a play I stage managed for and “Everything in the Garden” is perhaps my favorite play, one I’ve read over and again. I draw from the themes and ideas I read and came up with during those readings or viewings.

Ephron, as many may know, was a famous screenwriter. She received three Oscar nominations for her screenplays for “Silkwood,” “When Harry Met Sally…” and “Sleepless in Seattle.” She also wrote the screenplay for “Julie and Julia” and “You’ve Got Mail.”

Now, to be honest, I’ve only seen “When Harry Met Sally…” and “Julie and Julia.” And part of “Bewitched.” That one wasn’t her best, certainly. And some may recall that back in January, I had some things to say about “When Harry Met Sally…” that weren’t precisely glowing… But I did enjoy the movie. It was well written. I just thought the core concept was flawed. But many agree with it, so who am I to tell them they’re all ridiculous? I will anyway, but hey.

Ephron was a talented writer. One that I could stand to learn a lot from, especially when writing female characters and romances. Those are two of my weaker areas. But, beyond that, Ephron created entertainment that brought joy and good feelings to many.

One day, I hope to be at her level, able to truly give to people a glimpse of art in my words. Rest in peace.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sing, Sang, Sung – “Who Needs Sleep?” By Barenaked Ladies

Man. I am burning all three ends of my candle. I had to create a third end just to burn it. But, hopefully, this week will be my last week of extreme wall-to-wall activity for a while. Because this week is the week The Rude Mechanicals perform their second summer play, William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” One of the three Facebook events can be found here. We will be performing at the Park at Manderson Landing on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with pre-show music starting at 7 and the show starting at 7:30. As always, the show is free, but donations are nice. On Thursday, the show will be at Wintzell’s Oyster House in Northport/Tuscaloosa. It will have a $15 cash pay-at-the-door with proceeds going to the West Alabama Aids Outreach program. Inside, there will be a free buffet and a cash bar. That one is RSVP, however, and may have been filled… if it’s not, though, I’ll let you know as soon as I know!

Anyway, that’ll be fun. And I’m actually in the show after three stage managing gigs. Have lines and appear in two scenes and everything. Yay.

…Sorry, excitement is more exhausting that I can really muster fully right now. Starting July 1, I’ll finally be done with theatre for the first time since… March 25. Three full months of non-stop theatre. Two of which were stage managing, not the easiest job in the world. Of course, then I’m turning around on July 7 to audition for “The Voice” in Memphis, Tenn. I doubt I’ll get anywhere with that, but there’s not much to lose by trying.

Point is, I’m exhausted and need sleep. But I’m never going to get it.

Which is where this song comes in!

From my favorite Barenaked Ladies album, “Stunt,” “Who Needs Sleep?” is this strangely upbeat ditty about insomnia and coming to terms with it. Or, rather, hating it profusely. Which I do. But it’s something I can’t ever seem to avoid. So, with a bonus acoustic solo in-the-bathroom version, here’s the song. I’m off to do laundry instead of that sleeping thing, because sometimes insomnia is required by the things we do during the day.

“Who Needs Sleep?” – Barenaked Ladies

Now I lay me down not to sleep
I just get tangled in the sheets
I swim in sweat three inches deep
I just lay back and claim defeat

Chapter read and lesson learned
I turned the lights off while she burned
So while she’s three hundred degrees
I throw the sheets off and I freeze

Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts is
That I won’t sleep
I countdown, I look around

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

My hands are locked up tight in fists
My mind is racing, filled with lists
Of things to do and things I’ve done
Another sleepless night’s begun

Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts is
That I won’t sleep
I countdown, I look around

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

There’s so much joy in life,
So many pleasures all around
But the pleasure of insomnia
Is one I’ve never found
With all life has to offer,
There’s so much to be enjoyed
But the pleasures of insomnia
Are ones I can’t avoid

Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts is
That I won’t sleep
I countdown, I look around

Hollah hollah hollah

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Full Life Is A Happy Life?

I’m going to argue that the statement creating my post’s title is, from personal experience, not necessarily true… at least, not if “full” refers to the calendar. Things are, per usual, busy busy busy for me. We’re about a week out from our opening night for “Twelfth Night,” we being The Rude Mechanicals, and stage managing isn’t exactly the most laid back job in the world, even for a severely low tech amateur Shakespeare company.

Of course, The Rude Mechanicals and my actual job aren’t the only things that keep me busy. I’ve decided to already start in on my next work of writing, “Tormenting Tantalus.” It’s a show I’ve made mention of before, briefly, that will in theory be a one act play, but potentially part of a three part mythology trilogy. They can be performed as separate pieces, or as one go, and I know how to do the set up. I’ve had “Tormenting Tantalus” as a concept in my head for years now, about as many as “Camp Gethsemane,” but unlike that play, I’ve never really actually written anything on it.

…and now I have. And thanks to my friend David Bolus, it’s going to likely be super creepy and not a feel good play even at all. I mean, the cannibalism and infanticide make me guess that much (it IS the story of Tantalus, guys), but the setting and writing style I’ve adopted for the play certainly aren’t helping either. I’m a little worried about myself, actually. If writing it makes the author frightened, does that make the author a wuss, or is it legitimately kind of creepy at that point?

I vote for both.

Anyway, when I’m further in, I’m sure I’ll drop an excerpt. My writing style is so freaking different for this play than it was for the play I just wrote. It’s really kind of odd. Like, seriously, two different people are writing it.

And now everyone reading this thinks I’m psychotic. …eh, I’ve had worse thought of me.

This isn’t a play that will likely be performed any time soon… if ever… but I still want to write it. And by it, I mean them, because I want the entire trilogy. Once I figure out what the third part will be.

If you have a suggestion from Greco-Roman mythology for a gruesome, depressing tale that could be modernized, let me know. And please don’t say “Pyramus and Thisbe.” Shakespeare took care of that one twice over. I’m looking for a story that’s missing the “why” component. Why would Tantalus kill his child and feed him to the gods? Why would Prometheus risk his life for humans? Those.

…this is a long way of saying that I don’t have much to say tonight. Sorry. I don’t have much to say tonight. Except goodnight.

Goodnight!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Not Much To Say Today

I always hate posting these posts. But it’s true. I don’t really have anything to say. Ray Bradbury died, which is no good, but that’s about all I have on that. In political news, the one thing I saw that caught my eye through the day was a teenaged radio host being a prat about gay people and likely being ultimately hypocritical… but I feel I’ve covered that topic a lot in the past month. Or week. It’s been brought up several times is my point.

And I’m also trying to devote some time to the final drive toward finishing my play. I thought it’d be done last Saturday, but that doggone internet game “Paladog” distracted the mess out of me. Still, I like the symbolism of finishing tomorrow or Friday. I looked it up on Wikipedia… The 63rd Tony Awards were held on June 7, 2009. That was the first (and only) Tony show I watched all the way through. It was a Sunday, and the next day was Vacation Bible School, which I was volunteering for at my church. That was the day the idea of “Camp Gethsemane” hit me, and on June 8, I started to write the characters and plot.

It’s been three years, pretty much to the day… and I’m definitely going to finish this first draft either tomorrow or Friday. No doubt in my mind about that. If not tomorrow, then I will cut myself off from the internet on Friday until it’s complete.

It will still need polishing, I’m sure. I have no idea if it’s any good. When you read William Shakespeare and Henrik Ibsen plays, you tend to doubt your own writing abilities. Plus, this is my first play. There will be editing needed. Things cut. It sits at almost 80 pages, which may be waaaaaaaaaay too many when everything is said and done. Possibly. But the first draft is almost done. After that, I can hold a workshop/reading of the play, allowing me to hear it from the mouths of others and get a sense of timing for the show. Get some opinions as well. And then I work it and work it until it’s production ready.

After that? We’ll see. So goodnight for now, friends. Hopefully, tomorrow I will have some happy news.

…and if not then, then Friday. I refuse to let the significance of the date pass me by.

Tagged , , , , ,

Breaking The Leg – A Theory On Names In Plays

I’m writing this while sitting at the final dress rehearsal for The Rude Mechanicals’ “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” running tomorrow through Saturday at the Park at Manderson Landing off of Jack Warner Highway (or River Road) at 7:30 (pre-show music starts at 7) in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The show is free, and we even have bugspray to offer up. Come watch.

Now that I have the obligatory plug out of the way, during our working of this show, the director and I noticed something very interesting. In the writing of the show, William Shakespeare included many several different fairies. They’re kind of important. There’s Oberon, Titania and Puck, of course. But there are also Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed. Oh, and Fairy.

Just Fairy. No name is actually given. And in our cut, it’s also the only name that isn’t written in all caps. It seems like old Shakespeare didn’t feel like giving that first fairy to appear on stage a name, despite that fairy having a decent number of lines and an introduction for Robin Goodfellow, our good trickster Puck.

There are several theories we tossed about as to why Shakespeare would have left out a name for this character. Did he write the character in last minute, sort of as an afterthought? Did he just need a throwaway role to give someone in the company, or a random relative that wanted to be an actor?

Of course, as I’m the Stage Manager for this show and have very little to do during the actual run of the show (take attendance, call late people, help set up lights, set the stage for the opening, work the lights once or twice and help our Snug get into his lion costume), I happen to have quite a bit of time during the show’s performance. And, of course, I’m spending that time writing my play (and this post, but ignore that). It helps that there’s no internet.

Anyway, in my play, I have four unnamed roles: Camper, Delinquent, Girl Delinquent and Store Owner.

The first three are total throwaway roles. They each have one line and are pretty much in there to remind the audience that there are more people at this camp than the ones that actually have names. Their names are never mentioned, and they sit in the background of every other scene they’re in.

The fourth one, however, has an entire scene. In the opening of Act III, Store Owner and Craig, the guy that runs the camp, share the entirety of the first scene. Store Owner is no throwaway role. It’s very important, particularly to the revelation of Craig’s character and beliefs. Yet he is never given a name.

I went back and thought about it. Why did I never give Store Owner an actual name? I’m not trying to open a role for casting, and it’s certainly not a scene I hadn’t previously planned out. I had that scene planned out for a long time. Of the three scenes I originally wrote, it’s one of the two that made it into my current version of the play.

But I realized: Store Owner had no name because no one said it.

No one ever says his name. Craig is the only person to talk directly to Store Owner, and while he calls Store Owner names, none of them are his actual name.

There is a device that some playwrights use wherein they leave the names of the characters completely vague until the names are actually said. In scene descriptions, the names are things like MAN and GIRL until they eventually have their name said. And I think that’s what happened with my play, in a way. I never do the GIRL suddenly becoming EMILY thing like some playwrights do, but I apparently don’t give names to characters whose names are never said. Do I know why? No. Not really. But it’s what seems to happen.

And, hey, if it lets me pretend I have at least one thing similar to Shakespeare’s style, I’m cool with it.

Tagged , , ,
Advertisements