Saturday, August 16, 2008

Arlecchino Am Making Polenta

After getting the play that I'm currently referring to as "Total War: The Overly Ambitious First Play By Ian Thal" (though I'm toying with the alternate title of "Papers in the Snow") to the point where I am seeking staged readings, I have decided that I enjoy being a playwright, and I am already trying to figure out which of many projects that I could work on, I should work on. Even more importantly: How do I start on any one of them?

Sometimes, when confronted with too many creative options after finishing a project, it is easy to not know what to do next, and it is easy for an artist to feel without purpose. So yesterday, I took the improvisation I had developed with inspiration from Dario Fo's La Fame dello Zanni ("The Starving Zanni") and typed up a one-person one-act play, "Arlecchino Am Eternally Ravenous."

Immediately after, I made polenta with gorgonzola. I feel much better now.

Photo by Shannon O'Connor

On With the Process!

It was in May that I last gave a progress report on the play I have been writing (and rewriting) and that was an overly dense self-analysis of my writing process.

Even as I was allowing friends to read the 97 page draft, I began my own rereading process and immediately discovered that despite my belief that I had written a piece with a three-act structure, it actually had a five act structure, with the second and fourth acts contaning the catalysts that make the beginning, middle, and end of the story different from one another.

I also discovered a terrible number of typos: enough that I felt the need to apologize to the friends to whom I had entrusted sample copies. So, again, pen in hand, I went page by page, correcting errors and rewriting dialogue. By the time I had typed up my corrections, the 97 pages had become 103 pages, and I sent new copies to the friends who asked if they could give a look.

One friend wrote back and urged me to move on to staged readings. We agreed that any further rewrites require the involvement of actors and other theatre artists, that this listening process is what is needing to transform this text into a performable script. So that is my new mission.

I've submitted to a few local groups who are openly soliciting new plays, and have had some positive response from one (though not yet a commitment to a staged reading.) However, I am still learning to navigate the Boston theatrical world, and it isn't always clear what avenues are open to a new playwright who is unaffiliated with a university. How many doors are open to me of which I am unaware? Is it beneficial for me as an artist to attempt a staged reading beyond the Boston area? How many readings will I need before they cease to have value? Will any of this lead to a production?