Sunday, May 15, 2011

Clandy and Meavon, Hooked on the Junk

On a cruel and glacial Monday morning after receiving [Some Cool Prize], a thirty-something playwright (we'll call her A) is feeling inexplicably down as she contemplates the meaning, the fear, the QUESTION. What now?

She could...
1) bang out a few full-length play pitches that would someday blossom into thought provoking and wildly successful full-length plays, rocketing her into euphoria and infamy!
2) procrastinate until the fear generated by not banging out a few full-length play pitches gnaws away at her conscience and personal dignity, leaving her a broken shell of a woman.
3) do something totally stupid and potentially embarrassing that could possibly be just the little pick-me-up she's jonesing for.
...Ding, ding, ding! Sad, but true. She is hooked on the junk.

Now, our strict liability clause restricts me from divulging her connection, but I can say this--you can find anything on the internet.
Minutes later, in the bowels of the internet, or maybe just her email contact list, the thirty-something playwright junkie does something desperate and previously unthinkable...

Hey, B. It's A.

I'm a little low, if you know what I mean, and I have a proposition for you. If you're down with it, maybe you and I could
tag-team--a daily play-writing blog. Here's how it might go. We decide on two characters, a circumstance, a locale, etc. and we each write one line a day, playing off of what the other has written. In the end, we might both be totally satisfied, or we might have a hot mess on our hands.


A, The recently crowned [Some Cool Prize] winner

...and hit SEND.
Moments later, in the bowels of that same internet, or maybe just his email in-box, another thirty-something playwright junkie (Let's call him B) takes the bait. This is how it is with junkies the world over.
Dear A,

You're on! I get to collaborate with the [Some Cool Prize] winner? How could I say no to that offer? And just last night with my friend I was sharing how my prose writing has resurfaced but I need a little jolt for stage writing these days. I'd appreciate the "obligation."

Let's play!

B, Kind of a Big Deal, though not the [Some Big Prize] winner

And likewise hits send. Resulting in the brave and pitiable actions you will eventually witness if you have not yet gouged out your eyes. I'll give you a moment to do that, if you'd like
Right. Eyes still in? (damned rubber-neckers.) Meanwhile...

Dear B,

I propose the following elements for later consideration.
1) Larry-40s-a roofer-lives with his mother-a cat lover
2) Stephanie-20s-a kleptomaniac-manic and bubbly
3) Doris-60s-a school bus driver-cantankerous-collects Franklin Mint celebrity dolls
4) Henry-20s-a compulsive liar-stutters
5) Helen-40s-a recent widow-has taken to drinking

1) A late-night drive through window in a sleepy small town
2) A slowly melting glacier
3) A coat check room
4) A lonely breakfast table
5) A broken down car in a rough neighborhood

incident/problem: (I'm going to hold off on suggesting these until we decide on the other elements... mostly because I can't think of anything.)

1) sock puppet
2) stapler
3) mirror
4) brick
5) shoe box

1) tittle
2) nomad
3) liquid
4) soap opera
5) ferret
I showed you mine. Now you show me yours.


Character/situation/place (I don't mind your ideas about thinking of these separate, but for me to see the character I had to see where they were.  Completely open to taking these characters and putting them in different places):
1) Eva (sixties, widowed, son and daughter both live far away) she goes to a bookstore for a reading but on the wrong night and there is no event
2) Terry (forties, single, younger sister died when he was young, he had conversations with her in his closet as a kid and on his return visits to his home) set in the home the day his father is moving away
3) Katie (late thirties, lawyer, lives life fast, falls in and out of love faster)
4) Philip (late twenties, sex worker aspiring novelist with three unpublishable manuscripts having received dozens of rejections for the same reason "characters seem one-dimensional")
canvas bag
(can't think of any right now)
A BART train, stuck underground, during LONG delay
under an awning during a hail storm
late night in an empty diner
uneventful tour bus ride
A bookstore that has book readings (characters go expecting a reading, but it's the wrong night)
Okay, I must get back to grading papers.  If I may, I think that this should be included in the blog--the entire conversation beginning with your first.  What do you think?
Thanks for getting me going with this.  Can I admit how nervous I am.  Usually I only have myself to bother if I write myself into a wall, but now I'd be responsible for ANOTHER person's frustration.  I'm going to try to focus on the positive now though.  This could be a lot of fun and exactly what I needed.  

YOU'RE nervous, B? I think I just peed a little... Anyway, we can use 
clever pseudonyms like Clandy and Meavon. Nobody will ever suspect that 
we're those playwriting hacks from the Internet!

I'm off to work.
Later on we can blindly choose our characters, place etc. and agree on a
general trajectory. Have fun grading. Or just fail them all and go to 
the beach.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The beach sounds fun...and I do have tenure...  But no. 
How do we choose the people, the place, the issue??? Since you're the [Some Great Prize] winner, I'm going to let you make the first choice and I'll make the next choice until we're stuck with having to write a line of dialogue. Sound fair? I'm thinking we should set this up all on our blog page and not bother anymore with these emails. :-)

Have a great day.

The Meav


Dearest Meavon,

How do we choose? I thought you'd never ask. I wrote all of the character suggestions on slips of paper and drew at random for both of us.
You will write for:
Terry-forties-single. (His younger sister died when he was young. He had conversations with her in his closet as a kid and on his return visits to his home)
I will write for: Stephanie-20s-a kleptomaniac-manic and bubbly.

I think since we both had mirror and shoebox as props, we should use those two.

Your job now is to write all of the place suggestions on slips of paper and blindly choose one.
Also, you should choose the "word" that might come up. If you have ideas now you can enter them into the mix before choosing. And then... we're ready to roll.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------And so it begins...

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of "Clandy and Meavon, hooked on the junk


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