Sunday, September 25, 2011

Independent Ink

One of the most exciting times was also filled with plenty of anxiety. It was writing my life story as an autobiographical theater piece. I had no idea where it would lead me or whether any theater group would even be interested in my story, but I wrote it because screenwriters and directors who were much more accomplished and whom I respected, insisted the play would open doors for me. Sure enough, months after writing my initial draft, a theater group in Chicago named the piece a New Play Fest winner. A year later, I was starring a production of the play. So many individuals from the theater and film world have been praising the theater piece and now the screenplay which I have also written. One of the people whose words I take with me always is writer, actor, director, monologist, author, and teacher, Robyn Okrant, who read a draft and said that she loved that I did not fall into the trap so many new young writers do when writing their life story especially when it is one of their early works. That is, painting themselves as a victim and heroic figure while not showing their many other sides. Robyn said there were times in my play where she felt I was heading down the road of an After School Special, but just as characters tossed praise my way and I painted myself as a victim, I'd pull the rug from under the reader and other characters and show a dark, mean, angry side to myself. It was quite a ride of emotions as just when people would fall in love with me, I would give them reasons to hate me. Another person who shared similar feelings was media personality and author, Jenniffer Weigel who attended one of my performances and talked about my ability to blind people from tears due to a heart wrenching moment while having them hold their sides which are hurting from laughing so hard all within the same scene. I find it a fun challenge to tell my story through play and film because while I am attempting to be true to the story, I am also allowing for the possibility that like in any other story, I can take some liberties to heighten tension and give actors plenty of material with which to play. I do the same thing with another of my theater pieces and films called Touch Of Rain. It too is based on my life. In fact, I like to call it, a fictional account of factual events. I do my best to tell this story of love, appreciation, and awakening brought into my life when a pulchritudinous princess walked in and brought me back to life! I respect the real life woman who inspired this story while realizing I have an opportunity to shape the story in a way to make it a wonderful experience for an audience. Since I rely heavily on my life experience, I am often amazed and impressed by those who also embrace their story and are willing to share it with the world. One such woman is Jen Knox. If Aaron Sorkin can work on rewrites for A Few Good Men twenty years after the play premiered on Broadway, then surely, I can continue to refine my story six years after it first made a splash in Chicago. Keeping this in mind, I am always fascinated at what I learn from Jen telling her story and her truth. I learned so much from reading this article in Independent Ink Magazine. I hope you will read it too. I hope you will take the time to also check out her blog.

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