Monday, May 30, 2011

To Begin Again

Lately, I have been spending plenty of time rewriting my autobiographical theater piece while simultaneously writing the screenplay version. I found that tackling the screenplay has forced me to attempt to tell the story using less words and more pictures. This has in turn helped me with immagining the play in a different way. The original piece which was first produced in 2006 was a one act play with a running time of one hour and twenty minutes. It was forty-five pages and was overwhelmingly reliant on my breaking the fourth wall to convey my thoughts and ideas of a given scene or person within a scene. As I told a friend, it was very much like Zach Morris in the Saved By The Bell program. That is something I only noticed within the last few months. My initial intension was to craft it in my own voice, but it was clear to many that there was a heavy influence from John Leguizamo's award winning Broadway shows. I was tickled when my friend, Rani, pointed out that it was very clear to see how my piece was influenced by Woody Allen's Annie Hall. At the point she made this comment, I had not yet seen Annie Hall. As a result, I made it a point to watch it and instantly, I knew what she meant. At the end of 2010 I began to rewrite the piece. I was most excited that I was willing to share new stories. These were stories I was not yet comfortable to share involving deep intimate moments especially with women. I shared many involving me and women in those 2006 performances which spoke to my insecurities, fears, and rejections, but I had not been ready to share ones which exposed even greater vulnearability. After those performances, I began to perform at schools, churches, and conferences where I tested out some of these. My friend and castmate, Madelon was so tremendous in helping me find my voice and comfort level to share these parts of my life and we both knew eventually, I would need to find a balance within to share these in my autobiographical piece. Another big shift in my telling my story was to not rely on breaking the fourth wall so much. I concluded that I needed to take my audience to a desired point in a scene and keep them there. I also needed to keep myself there so that my castmates could feel my emotions and play off of them. By turning to the audience to make a comment or share my feelings, I was taking myself out of the scene and doing a disservice to everyone especially my fellow actors. I was not quite sure how I could share my feelings with the audience without resorting to telling them directly. When I worked on the screenplay, I discovered how to do so. I was so excited that I rewrote the play. then after a few weeks, I went back into the play yet again and continued to carve out another draft until I had completed a two act 108 page draft.

I am so grateful to Facebook, twitter, and the internet because I have been able to find inspiration through other writers who have become my friends and whose work serve as wonderful resources on what greatness is and can be. One of those talented writers is Jen Knox! Having a chance to breathe again in between starting on my next writing project, I have been catching up on her blog posts and she is simply amazing. It is so wonderful to see how she communicates her honesty and truth through her creativity. I have read a few of her short stories and look forward to finally getting the chance to read her books. One is Musical Chairs and the other, which was recently released, is To Begin Again. That title speaks to me as I feel that I have begun again as I return to the piece which made me a produced playwright and an actor in a male lead for the first time. I hope everyone gets a chance to check out Jen's two books. You will be blown away by her talent.

Here is a link to the To Begin Again Amazon page:

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