This past Saturday evening, I had the pleasure of seeing Company One’s Workshop Production of Lauren Yee’s Hookman at the BCA. I say pleasure because as I digest my experience with the play a few days later, I recognize all that I learned from watching this wonderful new play in development.
This semester, I am enrolled in Lydia’s Adaptation course and am in the process of writing my own play. I, like Lauren Yee, am a young theatre artist creating work in a culture obsessed with Facebook. With that said, what struck me most about Hookman was the use of language. Watching the piece and listening to the short-hand dialogue, I saw and heard representations of myself and my friends.
While writing my own play, I have noticed I pressure myself to use heightened language. In my daily life, I never use heightened language, even though I consider myself a fairly articulate individual. Why then must the characters in my play live up to such high expectations? Why can’t I allow them to try speaking in the style I use in my daily life?
Watching Hookman, I was inspired to use the voice I know best in my writing. Although I don’t know the rest of Yee’s work, I would like to recognize the dialogue in Hookman as authentic. It’s what I hear in the world around me and I loved that about the piece. And although the vocabulary is limited to quick responses and “abbrev.’s,” the language still has the potential to poetically flow and serve a punch to audiences’ guts. I was moved by this piece of theatre and inspired to be true to my voice.
Since then, I have finally started trusting my voice in my writing. Although it may seem obvious to others, I’ve realized that my first play, and my first draft for that matter, does not have to be perfect (and it won’t be). Plays in development are a gift because we can interact with them. We can ask questions, change scenes, clarify words, etc. And this is the positive perspective that surrounded Company One’s production of Hookman that I hope to experience with my own writing some day soon.