The focus of this blog has shifted. Or maybe the better word is expanded, now that summer semester has started and a new class–the dramaturg/playwright relationship has started. I’m not sure I’ll ever call myself a dramaturg, but no doubt I’m a playwright. And right now I am in probably the worst places any writer finds himself. Blocked. Frustrated beyond belief. Mad as hell.
I’m working on a play that’s about three-quarters finished–too far in to just chuck it aside.Can’t do that anyway because this play is an integral part of the classwork I’m now doing. And it’s actually coming along really well. I feel like a rock-climber who has navigated up a particularly steep and perilous wall, and now finds himself–stuck. But there is nowhere else to go but up. But how? All I see are overhangs blocking my way.
I try logic. What is the next logical next step for this character. This happened, this happened, it’s only logical that this will happen next. That doesn’t work. So I try illogic. If you’re trying to figure out human behavior, the first thing to do is throw logic right out the window because humans aren’t logical. Logic is just a construct of the Greeks to make sense out of this reality called life. (And dare I say, if you want to write new theater, you have to throw out the old ways of viewing life, which means logic is one of the first things you jettison.) But illogic doesn’t work even though you’d think it would because in the world I’ve set up, logic is a rather iffy issue anyway. But worse, illogic really doesnt’ take us to a real dramatic place.
Did I mention deadline? The pressure to actually have something substantial written by Tuesday is hanging over my head.
It makes you (me) mad as hell because I know I can do this. I go back to the original idea of the play. Why did I write this play to begin with? I know the answer to that question, but even that doesn’t help because plays, like all pieces of creative work, have lives of their own. They start out one way and you merrily follow them along until they are wildly off track and then they look at you and say, you’re the playwright, get us back on track. And the playwright says, well, I was just being open. I was being organic. I was following you. The play responds, tough noogies. We’re lost and doomed and it’s your responsibility to find our way back, and if you don’t do it I promise to drive you insane.
Which is what Turtles is doing to me right now.
I’ve written out the characters’ needs. What do they desperately crave and that will show me the path. Nope.
And here’s where I am. It’s not even a crossroad. There is no road in sight right now. No path.
And here is where I laugh. In some circles (although not all) when I say I’m a writer the response is generally interest. Oh cool. No, it’s not cool. This is why so many warnings are given to new writers. In just about every So You Want To Be A Writer How-To book, there is a warning in the foreword that basically says being a writer is sometimes pure hell, and you’re absolutely mad to pursue the life. Today I would agree.