Thursday, August 30, 2012

Woffer Lynne Elson: Writing at the Audience

It was what I expected and more.  I knew I'd write and nibble on something chocolate with many crumbs ending up in my crotch.  I knew I'd have onlookers while I fished them out of my crotch.  Luckily no one was there as I did that.

I agonized over what to write before I came to the event.  I thought it would be more exciting to watch a new play come to life.  So I wanted to start a new one.  But honestly, I am in the middle of rewrites of a play that is going into production soon and so my heart was in that place.  After planning a whole new play's outline on the train over to NYC (from Princeton Junction) about a girl who is shrinking from all the toxic products she uses and consumes-- I sat down at the Drama Bookshop and took one look at Martha Graham (who is in my play A Blessed Unrest) and went to work on editing the full length. 

Many stopped to look, but it is hard to understand the play, get into the characters, if only looking at a few words in correct format, you know?  So they only looked a few seconds, made a weird face and then moved on.  The only people who really read what I was writing were playwrights involved in the project themselves.  It was fun meeting them and chatting about writing, about process and the rituals Micheline came up with beforehand really added to the fun of sitting down to write.

My favorite part happened close to the end.  I had finished my rewrites and was distracted by a friend who came to visit.  When I told her that no one was really stopping to read, she suggested that I write directly to them.  I thought about that before but I was a little chicken to be so bold.  She got me started and off I ran-- Attached is what I wrote during that time.

I wrote directly to the two guys standing outside the window.  I was trying to write their story, what  I thought they were like.  They were laughing and enjoying it.  I tried to guess their names and soon they were using the backwards letters of the "Drama Bookshop" to help me guess their names, either that or drawing the letter in the air.  It was a little game.  So much fun.
So this play is dedicated to my new friends, Kelsey and Mario.  Thanks for the inspiration for the new play guys.  I'll keep working on it.


I would definitely do this again, especially to quickly make the audience into active participants.  That's my kind of theatre!

Thanks for the opportunity!

What Lynne was writing in the window...

What do you think I’m writing right now?  Do you think it is about you?

It could be.

Hmmmm.

So keep watching.  It could be about how you’re looking at the screen right now.  Waiting to see what comes next. 

Hi.

So what comes next? 

OUTSIDE THE DRAMA BOOKSHOP
By Lynne Elson

(A guy walks by wearing a red shirt and carrying an empty water bottle. He takes a break and smokes with his friends.  He takes another puff.)

What’s your name?  Joe?  John?  Joey?  J—no?  K?  Kevin?  Keith? 

Oh! Okay Kelsey, this play is for you:

                    KELSEY
So guys, what should we do now?

        (His friends shake their heads and shrug their shoulders.)

                    KELSEY
We’re in Manhattan man,  Let’s do something crazy!

        (His friends nod.)

                    KELSEY
Okay, okay—what should we do? 

        (He checks his phone and googles—things to do in NYC.)

                    KELSEY
I got it!  Let’s go into the drama bookshop and get audition monologues and randomly go to some audition and then become super famous and move to LA.  Dudes, I’m serious.

        (His friends shake their heads and start to walk away.)

                    KELSEY
I’m serious!  Okay, fine.  Let’s go back to work.  Fine, but I still want to be famous!  How ‘bout we go get Starbucks and make a plan.  You know I was a good writer in school.  Let’s make a movie.  I got ideas, son.  Tons of ideas. 

        (Kelsey’s friend named…)

 Mike?  Mark?  -- What?  Oh-- Mario

        (MARIO shakes his head.)

                    MARIO
Kelsey, you can’t write.  If you write a movie, I’ll eat this can I’m holding.

                    KELSEY
You’re on.

                    MARIO
Okay.  Right. 

                    KELSEY
You’re gonna be sorry.  Get read to eat this aluminum can.

                    MARIO
Whatever.

                    KELSEY
I’m serious.

                    MARIO
Dude, you never finish anything you do.  What makes me think you’re gonna finish a whole screenplay?

                    KELSEY
I got skills, yo.  Major skills.  Just been keeping ‘em under lock for now.  You know—waiting for the right moment.  And the moment is now.  I need some paper.  Who’s got paper?  And a pen.

                    MARIO
I’m outta here.  You’re never going to be famous.

                    KELSEY
I need paper!  Oh wait there’s a piece of newspaper on the floor.  I’ll use that. 
        (to lady passing by)
Excuse me, do you have a pen?  I’m going to be famous. 

                    MARIO
I got one.  Here.  Let’s see genius.

                    KELSEY
Okay, okay—how do you start a screenplay?

                    MARIO
I don’t know.  Fade in or something.

                    KELSEY
Fade in:

A street corner in Manhattan, outside the Drama Bookshop.  The streets are getting filled and there’s lots people talking, hanging out.

THEN There is an explosion. 

                    MARIO
Wait, wait—you can’t start a movie out with an explosion.

                    KELSEY
Why not?

                    MARIO
Because—you gotta learn about characters and stuff first.  Like you know—the first five minutes is the most important.  I heard that somewheres.

                    KELSEY
Where?

                    MARIO
I don’t know.  PBS.  That’s why I hate missing the beginning of movies.  Start with a girl and guy.  A break up or something.

                    KELSEY
How about there’s this girl standing on the corner looking into the Drama Bookshop and this guy gets thrown out the window, crashes to the ground in front of her feet and it is love at first sight.

                    MARIO
Yeah, whatever.  Yeah—write that.  You’re crazy, you know that? 

                    KELSEY
You’re crazy.

                    MARIO
I’m outta here.  You coming?

                    KELSEY
Nah, I’m gonna sit and write.

                    MARIO
Whatever.

                    KELSEY
See ya! 

        (KELSEY sits on the sidewalk and writes his screenplay.  People bump into him but he is so focused that he doesn’t care.  Lights fade as he smokes and writes.)

                    ***The End***

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