I realize that I’ve neglected to tell you about the play/musical/sometimes it’s a screenplay that I’ve been writing since 2008. I’ve been writing on and off for the last 5 years. For me this was one of those ideas that hit me one day like a mini-van and I just couldn’t ignore it. I didn’t but then, life happened and I kept talking about it and not really writing it and then eventually tried with all my might to forget all about it. It is the story of 3 young-ish (they keep aging as I age) women – Chantellle, Amber and Francis – who escape from a mental institution in order to audition for an ‘American Idol’ type singing competition. I’m a little skeptical about putting the idea out there for all 63 of you. I’m slightly paranoid that the idea would get ‘stolen’ – but then again how can you really steal an idea? By stolen I just mean that my 5 years of work and pining and talking about the project would go down the drain with any money that I could’ve/would’ve/should’ve made from it. Anyway so now it’s a musical. I joined or was accepted into this ‘play-writing circle’ with Steady State Theatre. It’s nice. We meet every 2 weeks and do writing exercises. I’d like to post some of them.
Writing Exercise #1
I was given a scenario and I had to write a monologue based on it. The scenario was ‘woman has labor induced so that dying husband can see newborn daughter’
They say deep breaths do that. Thank you. I just wanted to say thank you. This is a magical day. I don’t want to you know — I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want you to remember me like this. I want you to umm (pained look on face from labor) – remember Valentines day of last year and I wore that hot red dress. Or, on our honeymoon in Barbados in that freaking hot bikini. I know this is selfish and vain and well it won’t matter but it’ll matter to me. Say at the pearly gates they as for a photo of your wife or something…I want Jesus Himself to be like ‘Goddamn!’ I’m sorry. Inappropriate . I love you. Thank you for this miracle. And remember me as hot. H-O-T! OW!…Oh…ok that wasn’t so bad.
Writing Exercise #2:
Using a lot of details describe your favorite place
It’s dark. The only light comes from the glare of the screen. I’m lounging comfortably on the couch. The couch is one oversized grey pillow that hugs me warmly. My mind is occupied with the familiar story lines and lives of characters I know too well. I pretend I have no idea what to expect from them. I don’t know that he’s going to sleep with her sister or that the evil queen will get away with murder. I am lost in narrative sea of pretty faces and hilarious repartee. It doesn’t matter the actual size of the room as long as the light and faces shine upon my eyes I feel at home. Who cares what’s going in the actual world I want to know more about them.
Writing Exercise #3:
Write from the perspective of your 12 year old or younger self.
I have my own bedroom people and it’s the best. The wallpaper is hearts in the shape of flowers. I have 3 windows with red blinds and these fluffy floral drapery that look like the top of an ice cream cone. Ok so my room may not be as cool as my brothers’ or sisters and I may not have a cd player or sega but it’s pretty awesome. But since this my room I can do whatever I want in here so I’ve covered up the wallpaper with magazine cutouts. It’s one big collage made of pictures of No Doubt, Backstreet Boy, 98 Degrees, Westlife. There’s another section with pictures of me and my friends, yes I have friends. There is a picture of me and Chelsea…one of me and Mona oh and look there’s Jacquie. The shelf holds my collection of Barenstein Bears books, Dr. Seuss oh and my favorite fairytale the 12 Dancing Princesses. The next shelf has all my Fear Street and Goosebump books I read. The floor is carperted. I have this other shelf ikea furniture thing – not sure what it’s called but when you turn it around it’s a mirror. It’s white. My bed sheets are Rainbow Bright and the comforter is an old one with Seseme Street on it. I know I’m 12 now so I should be past Ernie Burt and Elmo but I like it for nostalgic reasons.
Writing exercise #4:
Choose a character from your play and write a monologue telling about their favorite place.
My favorite place is the kitchen. I can’t get lost. I know where absolutely everything is. There are labels for where the spoons go and knives and what have you. There’s so much order to it. It makes sense to me. I like it when things make sense. Lots of things in this world do not even have the decency to make common sense and yet there stands my kitchen, cabinets and all making all sorts of logic. I am in control, in the driver seat, at the helm when boiling water. I turn the heat on and the water heats up and then it boils. The coffee cup to the left of the dishwasher can’t lie to me. Those knives sit there waiting for me to get them. I am an honest person in the kitchen.
We did a bunch more exercises but those are the ones I liked the best. I was surprised at what I wrote for Chantelle about the kitchen. The thing that I struggle with the most with this character is all her conflicting and opposite wants…how to make them clear and answering questions like is this character really suffering from a mental illness or is she just misunderstood? I’m interested to see how these characters evolve and change through this writing process. I’m excited.
Thanks for reading!