Ha! Glad this got found, I was so bummed it didn’t get allowed online. Oh, the law. Anyway, holy shit this feels like a long time ago. And since we’re on the subject, please indulge me to thank my friend Michael Rooney who worked tirelessly getting me ready to do this thing. He’s also the choreographer behind the 500 Days of Summer dance sequence, so yeah clearly he’s pretty fuckin great.
Alright people, I suggest finding a way to save this as soon as possible just in case NBC finds me and destroys me.
I don’t know how to do it.
I know, rationally, that it makes me a better writer. I know. I know. I know. I try my best not to let my feelings show publicly when I hear feedback. I think I’m generally well-behaved on that account. Even when I know the criticism is right, it still hurts. And leaves me confused. Of course creating anything is leaving yourself vulnerable. Maybe the trick is not to show anyone what you’ve created until perhaps a good six months later, when the emotional rawness has faded and any criticism you get is not directed at you, but at the you of six-months ago.
But it’s so difficult! All you want to do when you create something is share it with EVERYONE. Shout it from the rooftops of the world. Let everyone in and have them love you.
Of course it’s stupid. I didn’t say it wasn’t. It’s just how you feel.
Corollary: I don’t know how to re-write. I don’t know how to edit. I don’t know what makes something ‘good’.
I do it- but I don’t really know what I’m doing.
And that’s why I study and work. Because hopefully I’ll figure these things out one day.
That was what my classmate Megan said today, as we pondered our complete manuscripts. Today we turned in the first full-length of our MFA program, which we all consider our first drafts. Incomplete, messy, but desperately personal.
When Angus (Fletcher, who we took a Dramatic Analysis class with) talked to us about first plays vs. second plays, it was very reassuring. The first play is easy- it’s great fun, superficial, done done done. The second play- we get ambitious. We try and bend the rules. We start exposing parts of our selves, stripping back flesh almost. And it gets difficult, and confusing. But that’s because we’re getting better. Growing pains.
The first full-length play got me into the MFA. The second one, that I wrote this semester- in the last three weeks of it- surprised the hell out of me. When seeing The Glass Menagerie a few months ago, I wondered if I’d ever be able to write something like the sweetly yearning and deeply erotic subtext between Laura and Jim. And to my incredible surprise, I wrote a play overnight which was nothing but that- so much so that my classmates said it embarrassed them to be in the room when it was being read. I mean- awesome.
So personal, so messy, so confused- it’s my unfinished soul, and the thought of someone grading it, even my professor, makes me twitch. But time to let go. And move on to the next one, which hopefully will give me as much ridiculous crazy joy as this one did.
We had a wonderful ‘final’ consisting of lunch at Royal Tea in Culver City with our MFA Screenwriting peers, our professor Velina Hasu Houston, and guests Dominic D’Andrea and Luis Alfaro. What an amazing soul Luis is. He talked about the ‘muscle’ of writing- it’s all muscle. It’s practice, practice, practice. Doing it every day, even when you don’t feel like it. And writing to find the great idea- writing to find that idea. Structure comes after. And finding great ideas through service.
I can be proud of myself. Now to pack for home.
Last night we saw the reading of our 2nd year colleague Kirsa Rein’s play ‘My Body Was Made For This’. These staged readings are always an incomplete experience, and I sometimes wonder how useful they are (as opposed to a full-fledged production effort- readings merely concentrate on the words, whereas I feel a play is a whole lot more than just its script) but I feel like we may have received some useful insights just as the audience.
Her play was warm, quiet, touching, funny, beautifully read- but I remained emotionally disconnected from the main character till the very end when I realised a huge revelation about her character. The information had been mentioned in passing halfway through the story but it completely went over my head. Had I know this information about her, I would have been so much more invested in the story, on tenterhooks about her decisions and choices.
What we tend to do in the first drafts are late reveals. We have fun with the buildup, and take our time with it, but that’s because we- as authors, as playwrights- know all the secrets. The audience doesn’t. And we are making them miss out on precious time where they could understand the character on a whole other level and really identify with them- be completely present with them on their journey.
In the process of dramaturgy, as Oliver Mayer mentioned in the talk-back, it’s almost always advised to move the big reveals up as early as possible.
Maybe this is different for plays as opposed to screenplays/movies, where we often wait for the ‘big twist’ or ‘big reveal’ in the third act. But movies are plot-oriented- plays mean the deepening of an experience, of empathizing and accompanying a character on a journey. The more information we have about them, the better we can understand them, and the richer our time in the theatre will be.