In preparing my submissions for several contests here in town, I started revisiting my plays I had written for 31 Plays, 31 Days. (I've kept them available on my site to read).
I've revised Palynology, A Town Called Opportunity/A River Called Solitude (now a combo), Lighthouse, Apoplexy, Salvage and some others that are a kind of experiment. A friend of mine suggested I take a look at several plays and see if, perhaps, they could be culled together into a single play. These plays are:
The thing that brings these 5 plays together is having characters who all have semi-undefined and ambiguous relationships with each other. I used Fodder as the main skeleton, folding in each of the other plays and ending up with 3 characters. I found this amalgamating of these plays to be, on one hand, very exciting and, on the other hand, very troubling. In good playwriting, each character should have a distinct voice and vocabulary and speech pattern based on her past, her environment, her culture, her relationships with the other characters... If it was relatively easy to bring these plays together and turn 10 characters into 3, to take different roles and give them to different characters, (in some cases within the same scene, changing sexes, reversing roles), then had I done my job in the first place? Or had I created 10 generic characters with no real pasts or personalities? I did have to change a lot of the language, however, since things started to seem out of character, but the question remains: how distinct were the characters to begin with?
I don't want to be too hard on myself about this since, you know, each play was written over the course a single day, so I forgive these rush jobs. Sometimes you have to go to the quarry to mine some stone before you are able to chisel it into something with true form and specificity. That metaphor makes me feel better.