Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 2: I think I'm pregnant

I started my play last night, so by this birth metaphor, I guess I'm "pregnant". Whether or not it will take is a question still to be answered, but something has begun.

In Stuart Spencer's "Playwright's Guidebook", he speaks of writing the play you "have" to write, the story within you that is just waiting to be told. He tells tales of many playwriting students getting in their own way and hanging onto ideas that block that "real" story from coming out. So I keep asking myself, what story do I have to tell? Perfectionist that I am, I want this first play to be that story. But I don't know what that story is, and I'm not sure how to find it. Though of course I guess I do, and that's just by writing.

So where did I begin? I started with a character that I love who graced two of my short plays for playwriting class last spring and summer. His name is Frank, and he's 72. He's a taciturn, often crotchety old curmudgeon, but with a humanity that runs deep underneath. Frank was my grandfather's name. This character is not my grandfather, though he borrows a few traits like his penchant for playing solitaire and eating vanilla ice cream and graham crackers at 9pm every night. Frank was inspired by a fellow playwright in my class who is also an incredibly talented actor, Robert Frink, with a very distinct demeanor and way of speaking that I find delightful. (He will be featured in a performance of one of those scenes on Feb 6th and 7th - click here for details). I wanted to write a scene for him, which became two scenes. Everyone who has read or seen my short plays about Frank loves this character as well, so I decided he was as good a place to start writing as any. I'm not sure what Frank's story is yet, but there is something in there about loneliness and connection, something about a family that doesn't know how to give each other what they need.

I have a entire blissfully-free day stretching out in front of me to write and do a few other housekeeping things like updating my website (and nursing my boyfriend who is a bit under the weather). I'll be interested to see what happens to Frank today as I keep writing.


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