Playwriting

Always Be Learning

One of my favourite movie moments is Alec Baldwin in Glengary Glen Ross (“First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.” ) He also has a moment where he clearly states that sales men should “A- Always, B- Be, C- Closing.” It’s something I say often, changing it around to fit what I’m doing. Always Be Writing ends up in a number of my workshops, and I smile privately to myself at the connection. I know no one knows what I’m referencing. And yet, I smile. Which may freak people out. I’m not sure.

So this week I’ve been saying this salesman credo changing the last word from (you may have guessed already) Closing to Learning. A-Always, B-Be, L-Learning. I learned a great lesson this week.

Last week I had a fabulous workshop for one of my plays. 3 days, 30 students, really engaged, school is going to do the play in the fall, all round great. And I had plans to repeat the play at a second workshop this week. The night before I start second guessing. Why repeat myself, what am I going to get out of this, what if it doesn’t go well, what if I’m wasting my time. I was exhausted, I was cranky and it didn’t help to get up at the crack of dawn. Next day, I’m still second guessing, but going ahead. My heart sinks when I walk into the class room and there are six students. Six. How can I work with six? How is this going to work? Why did I get up so early? Ugh what a waste of time.

Well, shame on me for thinking that. And kudos to me for not giving up, for forging ahead. If I had given up, I wouldn’t have had the chance to hear sections read with totally different voices. I wouldn’t have latched on to a fantastic tone for a character based on how one of the students read. I wouldn’t have seen the shape of the piece more clearly when the stage wasn’t full. I wouldn’t have learned something new about the work.

A-Always, B-Be, Learning. Once is never enough with a play in progress. There’s always something to be gleaned, something to be learned. It’s up to me to learn. It’s up to me to not give up. One more time is one more opportunity to make sure the piece is exactly right.

My next favourite movie moment is when Cameron is sitting in the car in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “This is ridiculous, ok I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go. What – I’LL GO. ” That rhythm ends up in so many of my plays….

About the author

Lindsay Price