Playwriting

Notes on a Workshop – Drum Taps and Beauty and the Bee

The day begins with damp grey weather. Where’s the Florida sunshine? It was nicer in Buffalo….

Beauty and the Bee is up first. The theatre is alive with noise, groups working on different sections. The Bee Muses get on their feet, they want to use that energy. I love the sound of positive noise! Lots of first reaction laughs.

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The first act group read is great! Everyone loves the Dad in the tree moment. Fantastic energy.

I’m very happy.

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The second act is hmmmmmm. And…. hmmmmm. The script needs something. Cuts. Oxygen. Hmmmmm. More salt. Can some of the first act be merged into the second? Hmmmmm.

Drum Taps is an adaptation of the Walt Whitman poems from the larger collection Leaves of Grass. I love Whitman and I am fascinated to see how this goes. Sometimes I create whole ‘What if’ worlds in my head – what if I theatricalized Walt Whitman, for example – and there’s always a moment of, will it work? Am I crazy (well, yes) Is this theatrical at all? Will it crash and burn?

And add to that, it’s all well and good to have this world in my head, but unless it works on the page and someone not in my head can translate it into live theatre it’s useless.

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We start a bit wobbly. The after lunch confusion fog. The fact that it’s not as clear, or modern, or funny as Bee. I mean, it’s 1865, it’s poetry, and it’s about the civil war.

I’m not sure I can think of anything less ‘fun.’

A couple of pokes with the cattle prod, um I mean a couple of encouraging words, and we’re off. Clarify that character. Don’t say that line in that monotone poetry voice. Pull the words out of you like you’re ripping it out of your stomach. Who are you? Why are you here? You are a human being.

Yell like a charging football team!

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And….. it works. I’ll be damned, it works. The pictures in my head, alive. The words, alive. The moments, alive. It works, whee! (insert picture of dancing playwright here) Alive!

Walt Whitman is, and I imagined he would be, thearical magic. It’s absolute magic.

It’s… Whoa! And… Damn! And.. Goosebumps!

This is exciting.

And, and, and, they like it – hey Mikey! My little gaggle of teenagers like Whitman. They’re inspired by Whitman. They want to continue working on Whitman. 1865. Poetry. Civil War.

That is really exciting.

Six hours…. is way too long for both teenagers and brain fried playwrights. We call it a day after five. That’s plenty to see what I’ve got and see where I have to go.

All in all, a great, great, day.

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About the author

Lindsay Price