Playwriting

Day One: What is not a Theatrefolk play?

30 Days of Development: Lindsay is writing every day for thirty days, and submitting every day for thirty days, and blogging about it every day for thirty days. Whew! Can she do it? Stay posted…DAY ONE

Writing: I recently completed a one act that made me go, ‘hmmmmm I think there’s more here.’ So my first writing job over the month will be to see if I can expand it. The main characters are two sisters and a brother. The youngest sister is recent national spelling bee winner.

Thoughts: I love the spelling bee, and watch it every year. I’m always fascinated (aside from the actual spelling, which amazes me) about the kids and their behaviour. How, unfortunately, it never seems surprising when it’s mentioned that so-and-so is home-schooled. The stereotype of a speller. The anti-stereotype. Behind the stereotype. It’s been in the back of my head for awhile to turn that into a play.

The big thesis for the play is ‘Outward appearance vs inner-significance.’ And there will be a group of “has-bees :)”: Previous spelling bee contestants, transformed into bees. And I’m also interested in the scientific myth that says bumble bees shouldn’t be able to fly.

This morning, I re-read the one act, making notes and wrote three conversations between each of the siblings and the has-bees. What is the outward appearance and inner-significance (and moreso the inner fear of each) This is what I’ll be doing this week, mostly writing bits of dialogue, creating a “what if?” question and answering it in dialogue, seeing if I can also work toward an outline. All pen and paper work. The best kind.

Submission: Full length adaptation of Leaves of Grass to hotINK in NYC. Note: many of my submissions are non-Theatrefolk related, so I’ll only comment further on them if they relate in some way. Like today…

Thoughts: I worked on an adaptation of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman this past year. My intention was to create a full length theatrical version of the poems for Theatrefolk. I love these poems. They are life in words. I find the civil war section (Drum Taps) especially stirring, to see a man live through a war (he worked as a nurse) and think war is one thing at the beginning, and quite another at the end. A primary source.

But after working so long on the script, Theatrefolk will only be getting a one act version of Drum Taps (hopefully by the new year!). And why won’t Theatrefolk be getting a full length version of Leaves of Grass?

Because, dear readers, Walt Whitman talks about sex. A lot. In wonderfully vivid detail. Even though he’s only got words to work with, he did quite a fine job with those words to scare the pants off (metaphorically, of course) a ton of people back in his day. Got his poems (his POEMS) labeled obscene.

Are they? Well, that’s a freakin’ huge generalization. Because he also talks a lot about democracy. And his love of country. And his love, then hate of war. And God. And the individual. And nature. And… do you see what I’m getting at?

Walt Whitman was a whole wack of things. He was (shock!) a human being. A complex, contradictory, arrogant, humble, laughing, weeping, angry, lustful, soulful, flesh and blood human being. And he desired to create poems that brought the human being to life. And so he did. And that means the whole human being.

Not just the nice bits.

Everyone is so concerned these days with making sure we present as nice and clean and we don’t yell too much. That we have people in power who have never done anything wrong. That teenagers never see, hear or talk about anything that might stir them up. (Don’t stir up the teenagers!!!) But that’s not human.

The ‘everyone’ in my life right now are administrators. And teachers who need to listen to administrators. And the thought of fielding phone calls about censoring Walt Whitman is beyond my sanity. And to self-censor (oh couldn’t you do Leaves of Grass without THOSE poems?) would be just as bad and just as wrong. So no go. Sorry Charlie.

Could be interesting though. War isn’t at all a safe topic either these days. We shall see what we shall see.

Well. That was wordy. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll run out of steam.

About the author

Lindsay Price

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