Monday, July 20, 2009

After the Staged Reading: Rewriting "Total War"



A couple of weeks ago, I completed the latest set of rewrites to Total War. It was an intense bit of work that began with a trimming of both the longer passages and more philosophically dense passages and an extension of the more character driven drama, trying to expand upon some of the ironies that Thomas Garvey noted during the talk-back session at the end of the April 26th staged reading.

Another important structural element was seeing that each of the five acts had their own themes, and that an epistemological question dealt with in the first act did not need to be reintroduced in the fourth act except in the most oblique manner.

Trudi Goodman, who had also been in the audience, had some interesting notes about the derivation of the Yiddish slur, "shiksa" that also managed to find its way into the rewrite.

Mikey DiLoreto's reading of the character of Donald was somewhat unexpected and caused me to rethink the character to a point where I recited the mantra of "Donald is the type of guy who..." whenever I worked on a scene in which he appeared.

The final stage of the rewrite was helped along by the sudden arrival of summer weather in the first week of July, during which I could spend some time on my back porch along with my modest garden of basil and mint plants with a copy of the script, a pen, and a large mug of coffee, proofreading, and cutting unnecessary repetitions. Every twenty or thirty pages or so, I would get out of the sun, and type up those changes.

The result is a draft with a stronger ending (oddly enough, revolving around the same three characters), more character-based drama, and a shorter page count.

The next staged reading is booked for the evening of October 11, once again at Outpost 186, but I'm going to wait a few weeks before I start putting a cast together. Afterwards, I will see what else I need to change.

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