I’m extra super excited that Hard Knocks is back. What’s that you say, oh artistic- sports-eschewing-one? It’s an HBO show about the pre-season of an NFL team. This year it’s the Miami Dolphins and it’s the bomb.
Right, you say, I’m out of this blog post. Football? Really? Come on. Call me when you’re over this “sports” thing.
But wait! I say, ask me WHY it’s the bomb. Go ahead. I’ll wait. I’m waiting….. Ok.
Hark Knocks is the bomb because not only does it show a team getting ready for the season, it focuses on character, and story. Ah ha! See, I haven’t been tossed to the ground without a helmet by a 300 pound Tackle. I’m interested in the character and story. In the first five minutes of this year’s first episode there was a Rookie getting all set up, unpacking for training camp, talking about how excited he was, how he was there for the long haul…. cut to the coaches meeting discussing same said player and how he was going to get cut that day. He didn’t even get to wear his pads. That, my friends is character and story. And, the Dolphins are a struggling team. They are pretty much close to the bottom of the barrel. Their need, their fight, their journey is going to be fascinating to watch. So, not only is there character and story, there’s conflict. Can I ask for anything more in my entertainment??
I first saw Hard Knocks a few years ago in some hotel room some where and was fascinated in the struggle, the drive, the failures. The humanity of the game. I said to Craig if football was like that, I’d totally watch it. Two years ago the Hard Knocks team was the Jets, who basically came across as a boys frat club. There’s a much different tone thus far in the Miami Dolphins locker room. The head coach is not friends with his players, the way that Rex Ryan seems to try to be. There was a great scene in which Joe Philbin had an awkward conversation with Chad Ocho-Cino-back-to-Johnson to tell him to calm his antics down, or else. (it has since come out this week that Miami has dropped Johnson off the team)
So to bring this full circle into playwriting, if you can find the humanity in something – an activity, a character, an event – you’re going to find a way to connect to an audience. For me especially when writing issue plays, or historical based plays, finding the humanity (rather than spouting statistics or dates) is always my ticket in.