This is a a bit of an update to a previous post about being out of my comfort zone in which I talk about a play I'm writing for middle school young women (Persephone UNCUT) and another I'm writing for children (Cowgirls Don't Ride Zebras). Persephone is the very first play I've written with a specific performance in mind. Yes, I write plays expecting (and hoping) they will eventually be performed, but this one had a timeframe guaranteed before the play was even started. I'd finished a draft of the play in a single week in November (A week minus planning and such. The physical act of writing took a week.), and set it on the backburner to let me have some distance before starting a second draft.
In the meantime, I came across the Writer Emergency cards created by screenwriter John August. If you haven't checked out his website and his really cool podcast (Scriptnotes), please do. The Writer Emergency cards are designed to give you a chance to look at a "problem area" of your play from a random, different angle. I'd been running into issues with the first scene of Persephone, so I went to the deck. I shuffled. I drew a card. I turned it over: "Fight the Giant." The exercise of the card is to explore the question: "What would happen if your character met the antagonist right now?" My initial thought was: "What? In the first scene?" That meant I'd have to revise the entire timeline of the play. So, I did it. I inserted the antagonist, Aphrodite, into the first scene and realized that one character was completely useless now that I made the change. The character, Myrrha, existed solely to overhear Persephone and Eurydice dissing Aphrodite, but if Aphrodite is in the first scene, that means that Aphrodite could overhear herself and Myrrha was not necessary to the scene. Myrrha was also in a later scene, again overhearing something and reporting to someone, but she really had no other growth or action. So, she was gone. Sorry, Myrrha. Thank you, John August.
Now, I'm concentrating on Cowgirls, reminding myself that I'm writing for children. That's not to say that I can't work the way I normally work, but I have to remind myself that I can be goofy. I took my son to see Go, Dog, Go at CATCO is Kids. It was adapted from the book of the same name, which surprised me since, if you've read the book, then you know it has no distinct plot. It's made up of many vignettes and scenes of dogs of different colors in different numbers having different experiences such as being in a boat at night or being asleep in a bed or, as is represented on the cover, driving cars. My son, Jack, went into Jack-serious-mode, which he gets when he eperiences something. He stares intently at what's happening, very rarely giving any reaction whatsoever. He takes it all in. He really enjoyed the show (we know because he asked to go see it again every day the following week). I was completely overthinking this children's play. It doesn't have to have a plot per se; it can be a theatrical experience. So, I moved from my plot-heavy pirate play idea to my original idea of a duck who wants to be a cowgirl, but doesn't have a horse, so she goes to the zoo to find an animal to ride. That's enough of a plot. I'm writing the play for Jack, so it needs to have music. And humor. I want him to stare intently at the stage and then beg me to take him to see it again and again. If all goes well, then he'll get the chance next year or the following year through CATCO is Kids. I asked him to name a bunch of animals at the zoo, so I'll have to credit him for helping me write it. What are you working on, my fellow theatre makers? Have you written a play for kids? Any tips?
Enjoy yourselves and, as always, be excellent to each other.