Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I wish that I could accurately write an evil laugh.

If I could, then this post would have been called "More Developments- Wha ha ha ha, WHA Ha HA Ha Ha". It's not very good. The laugh, I want something like that laugh at the end of Michael Jackson's "Thriller". I'm not even sure why I want it, I just do.

Fury is building. The other night at one of our red wine and giggle director/writer sessions I said to Alice "This would have been a whole different play if it had been called 'Furry'". We giggled a bit, at that point we were pretty "relaxed". I then related a story about a person in an animal costume that made Alice laugh so much she cried. Gosh that was enjoyable.(I just googled "Furry Suit" and the results were so disturbing that I had to modify the search straight away).

Hi Di Ho Children, don't let my black soulless eyes freak you out!
That koala there is slightly better, but I still got a two faced kitten picture. No, not a duplicitous feline, a kitten with TWO FACES.

We are not up to our fourth session and the showing date draws ever closer - I am trying to not let that alarm me as there is nothing to gain from being alarmed by it. We will have what we have on the day. That's a type of mantra for me at the moment. The real truth is that there is so much potential stuff that we could show that it's overwhelming and I am DEEPLY thankful for Alice who is like a majestic freighter cutting her way through the ice to the Antarctic. In this case freighter could also be "tiny little blonde lady", cutting could be "decisively choosing", ice could be "all my goddamn words" and Antarctic could be a cold, cold place. It actually is cold there, so I'm told.

Improvisation is addictive to watch. To watch really good performers apply their creative brains to some clear and simple direction is simply mesmerising. These actors are working for up to 30 mins at a time. This is long form impro or scene creation and it is intense.The number of ideas they present to me is both wonderful and terrible, not just the things that they come up with but also all the associated ideas that spring into my mind. And then there is Alice's vast cranium to deal with as well.

Better a forest then a desert, she says as she gets figurative on your ass. (She is me).

Barren, empty, hot.
Fecund, fertile, wet. That's me in the middle all upset about how great this is.

I have been writing a great deal and discarding. Sometimes I write up a scene and know that it's just for me, or for Alice and I or for the actors, but not for general consumption on the stage. Writing is funny like that - I often write scenes and know that it is something I just needed to see, it has no further application then to simply show me something. If only to show me that this idea is not possible, or that it's for another piece of writing. My scenes are so sweet sometimes:

Bridgette: Writey write writey write writerson...
Scene: Ahem..
Bridgette: Typity type, character says this thing and then.. hmm?
Scene: (polite cough) We didn't want to interrupt you, because we know that you are busy.
Bridgette: (glancing at fob watch) Yes, yes, quite alright.
Scene: Well, we think that perhaps, you might be finished with us.
Bridgette: Finished?
Scene: Yes, you see, although we are really rather lovely, we're a bit off topic. Do you see?
Bridgette: Well, I was working my way back to the main...
Scene: Oh yes, quite, but it's like this, there are other scenes that are probably much better suited to this moment. Whereas we are funny and a bit irreverent, but also out of place.
Bridgette: Oh I see. It's just that you are so...
Scene: Oh yes, we know.. yes, we are. But.. another play, as it were.
Bridgette: Do you think?
Scene: Yes, we think so.
Bridgette: Well then.
Scene: Don't get disgruntled and have a bath, just keep going. Start on the monologues.
Bridgette: Alright then. Thank-you for that.
Scene: Don't mention it.

My scenes are like this dog. Stoic, long suffering, occasionally  ridiculous, with tentacles.
They're polite aren't they? I know. So, yes they tell me and then I have to listen. That's the writers job, after all, to listen and distil and interpret and document. And eat chocolate.

We are the point now where we need to have some actual stuff on paper so that the actors can relax and just laze around reading lines. So that, of course, means that I have to do some real work. It has not been hard at any point to write, the only real difficulty has been in finding time. But the words have come easily and strongly - the characters have something to say and I hope that I am letting them say it the right way.

That is a poster folks. For the showing. Christina Costigan designed that - she's a pretty awesome chick.

In news just to hand Gabriel is getting an Optimus Prime transformer for his birthday. I expect his head to explode with delight and I will be sorely disappointed if it doesn't. It has 42 bazillion moving parts and takes 15 hours and an astrophysicist to make that transformation happen. Consequently the toy will live at Daddy's house. 

It's big. How big? Ok, let me get a comparison for you.

Bigger than an orange! Well, how big is that orange? It could be a small orange.

Bigger than an orange and a banana! Well that's not a helpful comparison, those fruit are subjective in mass and proportion...

Bigger than a small parrot ok? Happy now? Suffice to say that Skywalker was surprised to find himself on top of the box. But no more surprised than usual.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Development on "Fury" begins - (alternate title - Letting the drama flow)

It has been such a build up for me to this point. Gathering the actors, applying for funding, finding the right director, replacing actors as they became unavailable, finding rehearsal spaces, finding more rehearsal spaces because the first place are idiots, and then... of course - starting.

We began the development of Fury last Thursday (31 May, 2012). I am going to do my best to give you an idea of what developing a work in this manner is like. It is new to me. For those of you who don't know my writing style, I tend to get an idea and then quietly work away at it in my attic (kitchen table) with my half burned candle (15w enviro globe). This is how I wrote "Killing Jeremy" and it took three years people. Yes, three years. I also wrote a couple of one act plays, about 30 short plays and sundry monologues with this method. It worked for me.

I then got the idea for "Rhonda is in Therapy" and I wrote about half of it and thought "Perhaps I could develop it"! It was like a light appeared through a window, shone on my head and angels sang. It really felt like a revelation!

Me, and the light - what a great moment that was..
I applied for the RE Ross Trust Award and on getting it, realised that I would actually have to write the rest of the play in DEVELOPMENT. I had to admit then, that I didn't really know what that was - as a playwright. I forged on.

I got four excellent actors and a wonderful director into a room and went about writing it. The only thing was, that I basically did exactly the same thing that I always do, except now I had walking dolls to do my bidding! Hurrah! I wrote and they performed, it was much more like a rehearsal then a development. I wrote the play, and I was happy with it, but I didn't develop the play with the group - I hadn't really learned how to do that. It's a skill, actually, and you need to be taught. That said, the play was made - and that is the outcome you want, no doubt. All up Rhonda took me 2 years to write. And I'm still drafting. Plus, and let's be clear about this, those actors and director are so good that they shaped the way that I thought about the characters and allowed them to live and breath in a way that simply would not have been possibly with me in my attic alone with candle etc. So it was a step in the development direction.

And now Fury. When I applied for funding for Fury I had written 9 pages and a synopsis. I had a strong idea about what I wanted the play to be about - and the material was compelling - but I felt, or rather sensed that I was going to need help. The idea for Fury came in 2010 (I blogged about that on July 8th, 2010), and I wrote a bit and talked a bit and then tried to get funding. I didn't get any funding - I went to my room, slammed the door and refused to come out.

I iz angry. I iz not coming out!
In the meanwhilst I produced a short play season a season of monologues, wrote some short screenplays and a bunch of other stuff. Then suddenly funding came. I am very lucky that there are people that believe in my writing and what I do and they support me and tell others about me. The money meant that I could start the process for Fury. But WHAT did I even mean by that? I really did think about this long and hard. I knew that I needed to enter into the next play with a different process and a different energy.

Last year I saw a production called "A Stranger in Town" - this was the result of a development between writer Christine Croyden and director Alice Bishop. I vaguely knew her - she's mates with my good mate Wayne. A Stranger in Town had a lot of visual elements that I loved, transformation of space and time and objects - elegantly and economically done. I also heard a lot of great stuff about Alice - people said she was very NICE!

I am shy though and don't like approaching people I don't know. Then providence struck. Or, rather, Wayne. Alice designed the set for "The Fallen Tree", a play that I acted in (and Wayne directed), earlier this year and we met and I tentatively asked her if she was interested and she was. And she is REALLY NICE. And she was pleased to be asked. It was awesome.

Almost as awesome as this. 

Once Alice was on board the process became clearer straight away, she works in this style a lot and has a fast, creative and clever brain - she and I think very similarly - it really was a pleasure discovering this. Once Alice and I met a few times and talked about what the development could and would be like I felt myself relax into a very pleasant state. I just knew that this working relationship would be good and I knew that she cared about the drama as much as I did and that she would work as hard I did. These are all unusual things. Because folks, I care a lot and work very, fucking hard.

Me. Caring and Working.
We have talked a lot, Alice and I, we have discussed the concept, structure and theatre of the concept. We have laughed and thought and gathered ourselves. And now the development process has begun. We are working with:
  • Christina Costigan
  • Tiffany Davis
  • Verity Charlton
  • David Kambouris
  • Daniela Farinacci
  • Rama Nicholas. 
These are very good actors. When you get these people in a room together along with Alice Bishop then what happens is very impressive. When we met on Thursday we all talked about bullying, about what it meant to us and what we had known and seen. The conversation was wide ranging and interesting. Then the gang improvised - it was incredibly funny, sad, exciting and engrossing watching them transform into a group of teenage girls. Amazing how quickly those habits can return and with them, all the behaviours. For me, it was an exercise in observing - I watched and listened (and filmed). My brain was already distilling conversations into dialogue and moments into scenes, it's hard for me not to run ahead.

At the end of the night I could see how this process was going to show me the play, how the play would be revealed to me. I was quietly and smugly excited... Alice and I met on Tuesday night. In the meantime I had written three scenes and deleted others. I was sewing it up, NO DOUBT. High five for me! YEAH.

Alice politely popped my balloon with her observations of the text and the process and I realised that I was in the grip of learning another lesson. Bah! another lesson!? 

OMG! Like, What?
Here is the next lesson. I don't have to decide right away. That's it. I can shape things and then re-shape them. Yes. I know it SOUNDS simple! Don't mock me. I like to finish things, I don't like loose ends, I want to hit goals! There is another slightly more in-depth lesson, and that is that I am working with Alice and she is my partner in this process. So I should wait for her loch-like depth of experience to influence me. I can't stop writing scenes, but I can stop wanting them to be perfect. Alice is very patient with me.

We have our next session tomorrow night, and I am, frankly, suffused with warmth and excitement at the possibilities that we can explore.
If you google "Suffused with excitement" you get this groundhog.