Tag Archives: Scriptwriting

Here’s What’s On Tap

16 Nov

Yes, let’s title with a beer analogy, because 2016 my friends. I think we can all agree this year has been a wash of ugly. (I still miss you Alan Rickman). Luckily in addition to beer, art-making is also a beautiful and highly effective coping mechanism.

This weekend, for the first time in a very long while I am performing in a straight dance show. No singing, no acting, just moving. The showcase is called I’d Rather Be Dancing. My piece is less than two minutes long, but I’ve already put in about five hours of rehearsal and here’s a lovely taste of what I have to show for it.

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I bet you thought it was going to be a cute dancer pose. ahHA. ah ha ha ha.

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There we go

If you’re not busy this weekend, come see me! My piece is a really neat contemporary lyrical/hip hop amalgamation. Showtimes are Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 8:00 at Dance 101 Atlanta. Tickets are only $10! If you’re looking for even more cultural entertainment, I highly recommend checking out my insanely talented buds at Act 3 in Violet, and over at OnionMan an original work called Cul-de-Sac, both in their final weekends.

While we’re on the subject of original works, I’m sure you’re dying to know how NaNoWriMo is coming along *snort*. So far, I’ve stuck to my goal of five minutes per day, and it does usually turn into more (my evil plan is working muwahaha). With wild extremes at both ends, I’m averaging about 45 minutes and 400 words per day. As a result, here at the mid-month mark I’m very close to being done with my short story and have about 40 (.doc) pages of the play. My current struggle is making each scene follow a logical set up without having the structure be completely naked and obvious (don’t you hate that?). I have no actual training or experience in play construction other than just reading and acting in them, and it’s harder than it looks.

For your entertainment, here are the summary blurbs I’ve written about my pieces.

All There Is (Play):

The Finleys are a work in progress. Winn’s long-time marriage is starting to feel more like a triathlon than happily ever after and Willa can’t understand why her childhood neighbor Sam is suddenly on her mind. Formidable matriarch Polly is white-knuckling her tenuous influence upon her children and the community without the support of her checked-out husband Ernie, even as her elderly father-in-law’s grasp on reality is starting to slip. Down the street, Sam’s fragile wife Laura seems ready to drag them both beneath the surface. It will take a national tragedy for this balancing act to right itself.

The Sieve (Short Story):

Gia and Leece are close as sisters. When Leece becomes a White Walker, a voluntary citizen honor guard tasked with a series of targeted peace-keeping assassinations every third year called the Sieve, their friendship will be put to the ultimate test. This is one girl’s story told through the lens of the other, exploring the nature of good and evil, the undercurrent of violence that exists in all of us, and the sacrifices we make for peace.

For those who are really invested in this, below is a sneak preview from the short story. It’s stumbling towards the unlikely genre of Literary YA fantasy, because that’s how it came out of my head. You may recall that the plot is based on a dream, and in that dream the characters were, in fact, young adults and the events were, in fact, fantastical. So you can blame my subconscious. At this point my biggest accomplishment of the entire piece is having worked in a word that T invented at age 2, but which I totally think should be an actual word (since it’s not in this excerpt and I don’t want to leave you on the edge of your seat – it’s lasterday).

Please bear in mind that this is a totally unedited rough draft. Sorry for any references that don’t make sense out of context. 

Hours later, as we filter out into the watery sunlight, Leece finds me. I recognize the violet layered gown she wears as the one I liked best from the Tiny Frock mock-ups. She’s had it readjusted though, with mauve wrappers at the arms and bodice that serve to make it both beautiful and warm. The ever-present white quilted jacket, which by all right should have made the effect gawky, instead makes it entirely original. Her increasingly haunted face does nothing to detract from this. She looks dazzling.

I don’t say this though. Instead I say, ‘We couldn’t afford a new gown this year. My brothers grew too much and needed new things.’

‘You should have said something. I would have given you one of mine.’

‘It’s too cold for any decent Mayfair dresses anyway,’ I say, and immediately regret it.

Leece is unruffled. ‘You did a lovely job today. Your solo piece was extraordinary, truly.’

‘It was only two lines.’

‘Oh, but they are the most beautiful lines of the whole song. And I’ve never heard anyone perform them that way. It felt like dancing.’

‘Well,’ a flush creeps under my collarbone and I try to resist the urge to scratch it. ‘I practiced a lot.’

‘Gia,’ she says, and stops walking, pulls my hand and leads me away from the flow of bodies moving toward the market fairway, where the celebration is tuning up. ‘I need to ask you something. A favor.’

‘What is it?’ I say warily. Her hand is sweaty. She drops mine and licks her lips, glancing sideways. We’re in a natural alcove created by a stand of lullapple trees. The lush buds which had burst into blossom over the past few days look stunted and shocked from the chill.

‘This isn’t usually done.’

I’m intrigued but I force myself to act nonchalant. ‘OK.’

‘You know tomorrow is Assignment day.’

I hadn’t known. Of course I know Mayfair marks the beginning of Sieve season. But I’ve never paid attention to this particular part of it. It seems like I’ve learned more about the Sieve in the past month than I gleaned from an entire lifetime. How blind have I been all these years?

‘OK,’ I repeat, feeling stupid.

‘I need you to get my assignment for me. Please.’

‘What?’ I couldn’t have been more shocked if she’d walked up and licked my face. ‘Am I even allowed to do that?’

‘Well…it isn’t the usual way of doing things, it’s true,’ her eyes skirt sideways. ‘But it’s not totally unprecedented. The Guide states that if a White Walker is prevented by earnest affairs from receiving his or her target assignment, a proxy may be appointed to receive the scroll.’

‘What earnest affair is preventing you?’ fire rises in my gut, sizzling the words on my tongue. This business has been eating our entire lives for weeks. When will we have peace? Haven’t I laid enough at this altar?

‘I…I can’t tell you.’

I stare flatly. ‘You want me to pick up your scroll – which is not ever done – and you can’t tell me why?’

‘I’m so sorry Gia. I promise I’ll tell you when I can.’ Apology shimmers off her like a road throwing heat. It’s absolutely suffocating.

‘Alright. Fine, yes.’

‘Yes?’

‘Didn’t you hear, yes!’ I have to get out of here. I feel dangerous. My fingers curl and stretch of their own accord. ‘Tell me what I have to do.’

Then she does.

All of you out there doing writing projects – it ain’t easy, is it? [she says, wiping away beads of sweat].

But despite the bruising and the sweating and the nightly crises of self-doubt, I’ve kind of been enjoying my time off from involvement in a production. P and I are planning a trip to Harry Potter World in early December (HELLZ YEAH) and I’m headed to the beach next week (HELLZ YEAH²), where I plan to huddle on a mermaid-looking rock wrapped in a blanket guzzling my decaf and write. like. crazy. I’ve even been doing a little cooking at home (don’t look so shocked) and will share an easy recipe in time for T-gizzle.

And not to worry, the stage is in store for the near future. I’m all lined up for my next gig in February, playing Alice in the stage version of Closer. Yep, it’s the stripper part, which should surprise absolutely zero people considering my track record of playing prostitutes and other morally bankrupt characters (is it the red hair?).

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Alice is considerably closer to 20 than Janie is, so this holiday season I will be accepting gift cards for Juvederm and Botox. Kthanks bai.

At least this one has deep, deep layers. Mark your calendars for February 9 – 26!

Working Title

31 Oct

There’s a slice of conventional wisdom that admonishes you to do something every day that scares you.

I’ve never been a big fan of this saying. I don’t believe that a state of perpetual trepidation is any guarantee of a more productive and fulfilling life. It pretty much only guarantees high blood pressure.

And yet.

There’s something to be said for challenging yourself in small doses. Calculated risk-taking, if you will. Most of us have a Thing we want to do, and for whatever reason–fear of failure chief among them–most of us do a whole lot of other things to avoid doing the Thing. Not to say that if you never pursue your Thing, or if you never make money doing it, your life will be incomplete. There are so many paths to contentment that it’s absurd to think that missing one means you’re doomed to deathbed regrets. I find that concept, like the one of a single soulmate, kind of illogical.

And yet.

There can be a lot of joy exploring something kind of scary that you always wanted to do. One Thing I’ve always wanted to do is write. Cushion Cut, and its predecessor Against Type, was started at least partially as a channel for this. I started writing in elementary school because I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read. As I got older, I wrote trying to get at some kind of universal truth, either observed or my own. There was a lot of terrible and delicious writing that came out of this epoch.

Today, I mostly see writing as an extension of my identity as a storyteller – a cousin of the kind of storytelling I do as an actor and in my daylight career. I’ve talked before about how I wrote two short plays — those are some of the only completed works in my canon. Everything else (that isn’t on this blog or graded) is in fragments. I attempted to write a novel in my early twenties that fell victim to outdated technology.  That was such a discouraging turn of events that I gave up on fiction for a long time.

And yet.

I guess the story has still been slumbering somewhere in my unconscious. Because when some friends invited me a few months ago to arrange a writer’s retreat, and I sat down to free write some ideas, it came back up. It had picked up a lot of other random debris snowballing towards my prefrontal lobe, but the essential core was still there, like an itch. That is to say, persistent and really freaking irritating.

So when we finally had the retreat earlier this month, and I started putting a scene together, it started to resurface. It felt good to be writing, and I’m not in a show right now, so the time seemed right to do the Thing.

So in honor of today’s horror-filled holiday, I announce to the world today that I am committing to participate in National Novel Writing Month.

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If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo, you should check it out. The premise is to write an entire novel in one month. Some well known works including Water for Elephants have come out of this initiative. 

I’ll be using the worldwide digital event to write a full length play (yes, I’m not technically following the rules but it’s long form fiction so close enough). The scary part isn’t really making the commitment, but telling people about it. Taking the chance that people are going to ask on November 20 – and 11th, and 6th – how that play is coming. And that I’ll have to either tell them about my story or make one up on the spot.

Speaking of cheating: I have a sidepiece. A couple of weeks ago I had a vivid dream, what I secretly call in my head an adventure dream. Unlike most dreams which don’t make sense and are hard to remember, this one stuck with me. It also had a clear beginning, middle, and end. The timing seemed too fortuitous to not to turn it into a story.

So as a warm-up I’m fleshing out the dream into a short story. It was supposed to be done today, but 17 pages into it it’s still sputtering out of my fingers. So I’ll be using NaNoWriMo, which starts tomorrow, to work on both pieces. Traditionally you’re supposed to have ambitious daily wordcount goals, but I’m rusty so my goal is very simple: to write for at least five minutes one one of the pieces every day. Supposedly if you take the time to write for even a few minutes, the human compulsion to achieve will kick in resulting in some actual progress. The idea is that, by December, I’ll be somewhere close to two sh!tty first drafts. It may never come to anything, it may never even see the light of day, but I will have done the Thing.

It’s not going to be easy. Unlike doing a show which forces you to be social, writing does the opposite. Not only is it a solitary activity, but it requires you to become completely immersed in a world that isn’t your own. Even the most normal person on earth can get a little bonkers digging around the confines of their skull for hours every day. And this may alarm some of you, but: I’m not really a normal person.

What I’m saying is, if I seem weird next month? Just give me chocolate and invite me someplace.

So what’s your Thing? Anyone other NaNoWriMo participants out there?