[THE SINGULARITY will receive its first public reading (followed by a talkback) next month in Kitchen Dog Theater’s new play fest. The theater is in Dallas, so I’ll be able to attend. You learn so much getting a script in front of an audience that I anticipate returning home with my head buzzing. Which is good because I think I’m about ready to start writing my next play, and I like having conflicting writing desires.]
Here’s how it usually goes. I have a flash of an idea for a script. It can be a few words, an image, an ending, a beginning or a title. I don’t write this part down because, if the idea is strong enough, my OCD brain will keep rubbing on it like a worry stone. Over time, which can be hours, days or months, this glimpse of a slip peeking out below a hemline will start to have a bit more legs. The characters will begin to emerge from the fog and snippets of dialogue will be tossed around like white plastic chairs in a tiny windstorm. I still don’t write anything down yet.
In fact, I don’t put words on paper until I’m ready to write the play. When that moment comes, it’s full steam ahead, all night/weekend, typing like mad…staring at the screen…talking out loud…delete delete delete…typing slowly…staring…typing fast again…blinking because my eyes feel like sandpaper…refilling my cup with coffee or wine, depending upon my needs at the moment. James tells me that I get crazy-eyed when I’m deep into a story, and that’s his cue to just leave me alone.
[My friend Lisa writes while listening to classical music. Her favorite used to be Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach. I tried doing that, but I kept imagining movie montages or that I was riding a bicycle through Central Park or shopping at Victoria’s Secret, and I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing. A lot of writers use music while they create (Albee also listens to classical when he writes), and they say it inflects their dialogue with a musicality. So I hope I can figure that out one of these days. I want to write with musicality and shit. I’m trying to listen to Yo-Yo Ma (no, YO mama) while writing this paragraph, and I’m finding it distracting. Press stop.
I’m back to my regular soundtrack. The freeway (which I pretend is the ocean), the whirring of my ceiling fan, the noise Dali makes when she jumps on the futon in my office (she farts pretty much every time she jumps up there – the curse of being a big, old dog), the birds chirping in the back yard, James tinkering in another part of the house, something clanking in the dryer. Perhaps this is my music, and I should be grateful to have it.]
The physical part of the writing goes on for a couple of weeks, usually. As soon as humanly possible, I pull together the actors I work with (and often write parts for) to have a reading with just me as the audience. After we talk about the work, I return to the computer for the next round of edits. And then the play sits until I can get it in front of an audience in a reading or production. That is followed by another (usually final, if a play can ever really be considered finished) round of edits.
So the reading in Dallas next month is a crucial step in the development of this play. And the timing is perfect – I’ve been thinking about the next play for months now and just last night (“in a dream”) the title occured to me. At this moment, on the Saturday morning of a weekend that is wide open and lacking in commitments, I have opened a word document that has a title across the top.
The journey begins again.