I'm currently working on three projects: a screenplay with my writing partner, a play that will (hopefully) be performed at the Columbus School for Girls, and a play for children. Two of them, the screenplay and the children's play, are a bit out of my comfort zone. I have written screenplays (my writing partner and I have written two others together), but I'm still not comfortable with them. People talk about how a play is verbal and a screenplay is visual, but is that it? For me, a screenplay feels like writing prose or a novel, but writing a play feels like, well, writing a play... Or maybe more like poetry. In a screenplay, you have to completely show every detail possible and make sure that the reader can see your characters and settings with great clarity. Writing a screenplay feels like I'm writing stage directions in an O'Neill play. I don't write O'Neill plays. So, stretching my detailed action lines and descriptions has been a great exercise. I still feel as though I'm not myself when writing a screenplay, that I'm wearing some kind of skin over my skin as I write. Maybe that will change with practice, but, for now, that's what it feels like.
The children's play comes from an experience my son had seeing Revenge of the Space Pandas by David Mamet as performed for CATCO is Kids here in Columbus. My wife and I thought that he'd enjoy it. He was almost 2 at the time and is pretty adventurous and enjoys interactive things. However, the play spooked him. The lights and sound was a bit too much for him and my wife had to leave with him. The director, the kind Joe Bishara (who directed the reading of my play Books & Bridges), found my wife and Jack in the lobby and comforted him. Joe even invited Jack into the booth to watch the show, separated by the glass.
Joe and I had lunch some time after that (Jack had turned 2) and he asked if I'd be interested in writing a play that could be possibly performed in the future by CATCO is Kids. He said that Jack's reaction to Space Pandas made him wonder if I could write a play that would be enjoyable for kids Jack's age, something that he would enjoy and not freak him the hell out (my words). So, I'm in the midst of wondering what story could I tell that this kid who loves (seriously, LOVES) Thomas the Tank Engine and Abby Cadabby and Daniel Tiger and running and jumping would enjoy. That pic is from his birthday. Thomas was actually in Ohio. On his birthday. It was amazing. It looks like we're in front of a green screen, but no, Thomas, ("Real Thomas" as Jack calls him), is really there!
Here are some things that I know the play would have to entail:
I've written a couple of children's plays before, but those were exercises. They weren't ever planned as something to be performed. Actually, I've also written some plays that were performed on Christmas Eve for family services. But this play is different. This would be a 45 minute play, not a 7-10 minute play. I'm out of my comfort zone on it, but I'm excited to try it. I have a couple of ideas, but they're not quite fully cooked.
I'm, at the moment, concentrating on the Columbus School for Girls play: Persephone (Not the title). I've laid out a lot of the plot and have even written some really awful jokes that may or may not make it to the first draft. Oh, and there's at least one Eddie Izzard reference. So far.
What are you working on right now? What are you struggling with? Are you out of your comfort zone? if you are, be brave and take some hot chocolate. It's getting cold.
Take care of yourselves and be excellent to each other.