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...more or less dealt with.

I have twenty pages of my draft of The Diamond in the Window, and three more pages of notes on the parts I haven't been able to write yet. It's sort of a big messy ambitious failure, but that's why we call them "drafts" and then opt to rewrite them over and over. This play is going to have to be so physical and probably I'll have to collaborate with choreographers and puppeteers (and we all know how well I collaborate with others) if I ever want to actually stage it. I've never written anything remotely like it.

The good news is when I get back to writing for grown ups it'll be ridiculously easy. All the scenes take place in the drawing room? Awesome. I need a road, a tree, and two dudes? Fucking rad. Two guys in a California house working at typewriters? That's really it? Oh, and a million toasters. Well, I think I can handle that.

(Speaking of which, Sam Shepard is supposed to come hang with us playwrights at some point this year. You'll know when that happens because my blog will devolve to something like OMG ZB + SS 4EVR!!!!!!!)

The best thing in the draft so far: a firey speech from Louisa May Alcott. That's right, I got to write a speech for Louisa May Alcott. Presumptuous? Probably. Exciting? Most certainly. And it allowed me to make the female characters more active (it's always seemed weird that a children's book by a female intellectual privileges Thoreau and Emerson's philosophy over Alcott's activism and ambition). Super exciting.

lucky girl

Oct. 21st, 2007 05:49 pm
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So this week was busy. Yesterday Hodge and I went to see  Fefu and Her Friends, a really intriguing play by Maria Irene Fornes. I thought it was bizarre and incredible both. There was an argument afterwards about whether or not it was a feminist play, which I thought kind of a stupid argument since it comes down to a semantic issue (i.e. you have to answer what feminism is before you can decide if this thing fills the criteria, and good luck with that). Besides which, the play has an active discourse about women in the thirties struggling wildly with their roles as educated and impassioned beings who are still controlled by patriarchal forces. Whether or not the play didactically answers how they should live, it is much more about how they do live, and how they interact with the forces of their lives. That's the best kind of feminist play, if you ask me. I definitely wished [personal profile] te_amo_azul, the watermark feminist in my life, had a chance to see it with me.

Anyway, the other totally awesome thing that happened this week was the lecture at the Ransom Center. Because guess who came and gave a talk about Arthur Miller? Tony freaking Kushner.

Yup. I was in a room with the most important living American playwright, talking about one of the most important dead American playwrights. And it was awesome. He is probably one of the best intellectual/artistic lecturers I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Besides that, I've spent the week writing scenes from A Diamond in the Window and trying to finish this stupid S.I. story (it's getting close but I'm just not sure how I want to end it). Also all the other reading and nonsense. I've been doing a lot of collage, which is something I like to do when I've written myself into a corner. Cut and paste is just plain therapeutic (plus putting your faith in the magazine gods gives you a chance to make some connections you might not otherwise have made with regards to a story that isn't working).

The cough and sinus infection are still there. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, so hopefully it'll stop slowing me down soon. Otherwise things are pretty much ducky.
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Soon I will post about how orientation has been going fine and how the people in this program are awesome and how I'm surrounded by people who can have conversations about Beckett and Kushner and the Simpsons and The Neverending Story and comic books and Mary Gaitskill and Monty Python and Michael Chabon and so on and so on...and also how my graduate advisor once shared a cab with Mary Karr, David Foster Wallace, and Jonathon Franzen and how he didn't mind when I shrieked "You are SHITTING me?!?" after discovering this fact. 

For right now I just want to mention that in addition to my intro seminar and my fiction workshop, I'm also taking playwriting for youth. I sat on the fence about this once, since I don't see myself as a kids' writer. But the more I talked to the teacher, the more excited I got about it (she has so much respect for youth, resents that people think that "youth theater" is somehow less artful than mainstream theater). And then when I talked to Hodge he pointed out that I'm always talking about children as aesthetes, that I talk nonstop about how certain books and shows and movies affected me when I myself was young. That I'm obsessed with the kind of storytelling that's both fun and smart and beautiful and engaging. So now I'm really, really excited by this prospect. He's right. How many times a week do I have the Hinson-Miyazaki-Barrie-Carroll-Leguin-Dahl-Silverstein-fill in awesome children's storyteller here-rant? How many times do I complain bitterly about the patronizing quality of a huge pile of movies and books for kids? This is an avenue I didn't anticipate exploring, but now that I've got the chance it seems like it was more or less made for me.

Of course I'm going to have to cut down on swearing and sex jokes, but I think I can still talk about murder and mayhem. After all, Lemony Snicket has paved the road ahead of me.
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We had a phenomenal time in Ashland, in spite of my being sick. It was pretty much everything I wanted in a weekend. The plays were all incredible.

The Merry Wives of Windsor was the first thing we saw, and I think my favorite. It's one of the more raucous and ribald of the plays, and it was played with lots of great over-the-top physical comedy. The costuming was really fun--it wasn't done with loyalty to any particular period but rather with a sort of general whimsy (bright colors and fishnet stockings and crazy hairstyles). It was all done sort of with a nod to the sitcomish situational comedy of the piece, complete with wacky music for the interludes and lots of pratfalls. It was energetic and wicked and very cleverly done.

The next day we did two--The Importance of Being Earnest and Cyrano de Bergerac. Importance was of course hilarious, as ever. I always end up a little exhausted by the constant zingers and one-liners, even though I laugh at every one; I'd imagine it's a little like being at a party with Oscar Wilde and listening to him crack wise all night and talk shit about other people. Fun, but maybe draining. And Cyrano was incredible, all the more so for being such a hard play to pull off. Marco Baricelli, the actor who played Cyrano, was possibly the most impressive performer we encountered (can you imagine how hard it is to impart dignity to a character who not only is a little ridiculous in the writing itself, but is also now a bit of a cliche?). It was a beautiful play and of course I cried a lot. That was also the play that had me thinking the most afterwards, and maybe if I'm feeling perky later and have spare time (an increasingly rare commodity) I'll jot some of said thoughts here. But for now this will suffice.

And then the last play Lovescats and I saw was Two Gentlemen of Verona (Drawgirl and her mom saw King John, which they liked but thought less well acted than the other things we saw). Gentlemen was enjoyable but flawed. They made some staging choices that were really fun, and some that didn't do it for me (for example, staging Verona as Amish country, which seemed to me a metaphor they didn't think out entirely), but they did a good job making sense of the incredibly problematic ending. They also characterized the bandits as contemporary punks and goths, which made for a good time. And Valentine was fucking hot when they gothed him up (who isn't?). 

A very satisfactory weekend, all in all!


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