Tag Archives: sesame street

He catches a ride on a friendly pterodactyl

Because most of the important things I’ve learned in my life can be traced back to Sesame Street.

I’m doing NaPlWriMo again this year (and you should too!), and while I do have a few ideas for full-length plays bouncing around in my head, I’m kind of at a loss of which one to start and where to begin. There’s a blog post on the site raising the question of what makes a play a play. When is something a play versus not a play? Whenever that question is raised, I always find myself back in Kate Snodgrass’s playwriting class and hear her telling us that a play, even in a format as short as ten minutes, needs to have a beginning, middle, and an end–that is, that it has to tell a full story. That conversation never fails to get this old Sesame Street song stuck in my head.

It sounds pretty basic, but when you have to sit there and think about something you’ve written and make sure it has those three distinct parts, it’s actually helpful advice. One thing in particular about the ending in a play versus a tv episode or a comedy skit is that at least one of your characters has to have changed in some way. Again, sounds basic. But when I was writing The Mouse, for example, the draft that went to KCACTF had a different ending than the draft that ended up in the Boston Theatre Marathon (and published). The feedback from the judges at KCACTF was that the current version was just a skit because the protagonist had decided to quit and find a job that took her seriously. In my mind, that was a change because she went from nervous and weak in the beginning to standing up for herself and going after what she wanted. But if her walking out signified not *enough* of a change, she needed instead to pull her boss onto her side and force him to see that she was necessary (even if in his mind she’s a necessary evil). It still kills me to have had to change the original ending because I loved that version. But was it a play, or was it a sketch-comedy skit? I ultimately went with the version that left it in “play” territory. But I’m still not 100% satisfied with the ending.

So it’s not always as “well, duh, obviously” as it sounds. In fact, the major problems with all of my full-length plays, no matter how far along they are, can be summed up by this beginning/middle/end journey:

End: The Prayer Bargain is STILL struggling with its ending. It’s like almost all there except for the one “crystallizing moment” that ties it all together and makes the audience have that “wow, this was a good play” feeling rather than the “ok, time to get home now” feeling. Maybe if I can put into words how exactly Molly and the rest of the family change and spell out what the beginning, middle, and end is, I can get the ending to work better.

Middle: Directive 47 has its structure all set in place now but needs some help figuring out what the events of the plot mean for each of the characters. Their journeys need to be more clearly defined. They all need to find their own friendly pterodactyl to fly away on. (Which–nuns flying on pterodactyls–that sounds like a much more awesome story than the one I’m writing, though it could also be interpreted as fundamentalist “world is 6000 years old” propaganda, and we wouldn’t want that.)

Beginning: Whatever idea I decide to focus on for Naplwrimo, I don’t know where I’m going to start. The song starts off with Seymour waking up… I don’t even know who my “Seymour” will be. Why is it so hard for me to even name characters in the beginning?

So there’s lots to work on. But I bought a Naplwrimo hoodie from their Cafepress store, so now I’m all geared up for writing, because I have a hoodie now, right? That makes it official.

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Filed under kids tv/film, playwriting, theatre

Like the theatre camp I never got to go to

It’s the weekend before I head out into the woods for a week on the Freedom Art Retreat! I’ll be joining a small group of playwrights, designers, and dramaturgs for a week of collaboration and creating. And also swimming. It’s like how when I was younger and I had friends who were going to theatre camp, only this time I actually get to go with them.

I got to meet everyone on Thursday night, which was really cool. I already knew Emily from school, and I’d briefly met a couple others at the Playwright Nights Out that I’ve gone to, but there were some people I hadn’t met before. It’s a really great group. I’m still nervous though. Like first-day-of-school nervous. What if they all become super-best friends and I am on the outside? haha. I didn’t have trouble making friends with my BU MFA class (unless they’re all just humoring me? ;)). But I still get nervous. The group is awesome though and I know I’ll be fine. I’m sort of half-joking about being afraid of them all going off and making friends without me. 😛 It will be fun. Want to see pictures of where we’re staying? Check out this post from the Playwrights’ Commons blog. ooh, pretty! yay!

I also got to go to the July Playwright Night Out meetup last week. It was good that I went because I missed the June one. I got to meet John Shea, another (far more established) Somerville playwright. That was pretty cool. He knew my mother’s Recreation friends, reinforcing the stereotype that everyone from Somerville somehow knows everyone else. And I met my brother’s playwriting professor from Stonehill. That was random and funny. Saw some people I recognized from the May meetup and met some new people who had been there in June who I’d missed out on meeting last time. I feel like I’ve been in super-social mode lately. It’s weird. I also got to see Matt & Ben at the Central Square Theatre last night. That was fun. Really funny. AND it technically took place in Somerville even though it’s all inside Ben’s apartment. It’s up for another week–you should all go if you haven’t! hehe. The only thing I’m sad about is that I’ll probably have to miss 1001 at Company One. This week coming up is the final week, and I’ll be away. And with all the picking up prescriptions and packing and doing laundry to do before Monday morning, I just don’t think I’ll have time. I’ve heard great things about that show and I really wanted to try to make it.

So yes, just a couple more days and then it’s off to “theatre camp.” I’m really excited about it. Hopefully I will get some really cool collaborative-y ideas and work done. I love the idea of collaborating on a project from the start. I think a lot of interesting new theatre is being created that way. Because Cooperation Makes It Happen. Why do I remember that song from almost 30 years ago? There’s something wrong with me.

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