Playwriting

The Art of Observation: My Favourite Places

Every writer, be it novelist, playwright, screenwriter, song writer and so on, should cultivate the art of observation. Observing the world through the writer’s eye is a concrete method for finding ideas or for simply honing your craft. Make the act of observation and then writing about those observations a habit.

My top three places for observing the wash of humanity are as follows:

One. The Burbank Airport.

Actually I believe it’s the Bob Hope Airport. Which is rather appropriate. There’s an old school, outdated but in a good way charm to the place. Run down charm. Not up to date but it doesn’t matter. Because you’re charmed. The baggage claim is outside. It’s charming. Perhaps not for those who use it regularly, but I don’t. So there. It was shocking to fly into because it doesn’t say La La Land at all. Quiet and more low key than I image LAX to be.

Add to the place itself is the potential for prime people watching. Particularly Hollywood types outside in the world. Stars walking around just like you and me.

Observations:

  • People at this airport take a lot of luggage with them where ever they go. A LOT. Like they have to be prepared to meet the queen. Just in case. You never know.
  • Seth Green is very short. Dude is short. And at the time traveled with a very tall woman.
  • Eric Estrada sitting in a Southwest gate area. Alone. In a canary yellow shirt. Looking very, very tired.
  • A woman on our plane had medical permission to bring her dog on the plane. But it wasn’t a seeing eye dog or anything, you know, helpful like that. It was just a tiny lap dog. Exactly what medical miracles was this dog going to perform? And what exactly did this woman have to do to get this medical permission? Only in LA….

Two: Las Vegas and also it’s Airport.

Vegas is an observation paradise. The wide range of folks. The blurriness at times in people’s eyes. The fashions. The very, very unfortunate fashions. Every single person who you pass in Vegas has a story. Sometimes they’re really sad stories. But that’s Vegas baby.

Last weekend on my travels I transferred planes in Vegas to my destination and then back home.

Observations:

  • The Thursday end of day flight out of Vegas is packed. Every seat taken. And there are only about five of us with all our wits. Southwest has different proceedures than other airlines, but really they’re not that hard to understand. Unless you’re wit-less. Or completely blotto. And can’t tell the difference between A, B, and C. How exactly do these people get dressed in the morning?
  • Sunday morning at the Vegas airport leaves me wide eyed. There are people passed out EVERYWHERE. Like they’ve been awake all weekend. The smell of booze reeks out of the pours.
  • Two women are in the bathroom spraying their hair within an inch of it’s life. That’s a lot of ozone. And why? If they’re leaving Las Vegas, for whom is all that spray for? And if they’re going into town, why are they still in the airport bathroom?
  • Sunday morning seems the wrong time for bedazzled clothing.
  • The sound of the slot machines hangs in the air like a smoke cloud. One more hit, one more, hit, just one more…

Three: Disney World.

One of my favourite activities in the whole wide world (if you ask me what’s the one thing I would like to be doing RIGHT NOW this is it.) is to sit on a bench at Disney World (doesn’t matter exactly where, but Epcot is my favourite park) and watch the different types of people who decide to vacation at Disney World. The families. The dressed up Japanese. The school trips. The cheerleaders. The very rich and the very poor. The mass of different languages, different accents, different races and cutures. Everyone travels to Disney at some point. I even saw a group of Tibetan monks checking out their picture from Splash mountain once. I’m always amazed at how some people have the wherewithal to tie their shoes let alone manage a trip to Disney. I’m amazed at how people treat each other (in both wonderful and terrible ways).

Observation:

  • A family on the monorail. The two children are in heaven. Giggling, talking, looking out the window. The little girl is wearing a princess dress. They interact with their grandparents who are also very happy. The parents sit on opposite sides of the seat. They neither look at each other, or talk to each other for the whole ride. When not speaking to their children, they stare stonily out their respective windows.

Everywhere you go has the potential for observational splendor. Where are your favourite places?

About the author

Lindsay Price