24 Hours to Ulcers – Part 2: In Media Res

So, off we go.

The names are drawn from the hat, and I’m in yellow team.

YELLOW TEAM Writer: Martin Lindsay Director: Christine Ellis Actors: Sarah Christiner James Donnelly

We have a theme: “I can never unsee that” – courtesy of Blak Yak emeritus Jarrod Buttery.

“And the topic is … oh for f*&ks sake, Jarrod.”

8pm to 9pm:

Designated meet time with the cast and director to knock ideas about. Frankly, the topic left me a little blank, but funnily enough,  a few randomly associated items and topics were enough to pop something vaguely feasible in mind.

Ask my actor and actress about their skills and boundaries, and fortunately they’re pretty broad-minded types who shouldn’t shy from getting close and personal if needed.

Nonplussed tech guys remain nonplussed

Chat with the tech team about what’s available and the effects that might be used. Sepia wash for a flashback? Perfect! Director comes up with an interesting set addition to play with perspective. Nice.

Okay, that’ll do. Off I go.

9pm – 10pm:

Rush home to write, discover I’ve locked myself out. Doh! Roam around the 24 hour IGA shopping centre fomenting ideas till my girlfriend and daughter get back from the movies. Not a great start…

10pm – 11pm:

Have finally made it into the house. Debrief about pros and cons of Beauty and the Beast and Emma Watson’s performance in same. Distracting discussion about if the beast is a cursed Prince, where the hell are the king and queen? Quality time with girlfriend.

10:55pm, finally pick up laptop, open blank word document, then update live blog, carrying on my writing tradition of blogging about the writing process far more than actually executing the writing progress. Okay, scene 1 …

11pm – 12am:

A page and a bit done, a wine poured, lava lamp is flowing, cat and girlfriend put to bed. Things are sorta happening at last.

Aims: Keep the dialogue under control – it’s a two hander, so fifteen odd minutes is potentially a lot of lines to learn. Internalise – pointed looks, guarded reactions, Pinteresque pauses of mysterious intent. Chuck in some story hooks, set in questions for the audience to want to know the answer to. Who are these people? Where are they? What’s happened? Stop blogging.

12am – 1am:

3 pages. Then with the magic of double-spacing – 4 pages.

Okay, it’s getting there, though not quite in the way I was expecting. I *think* it’s funny, just in a more visual way than anything dialogue wise. Strangely sensual. Very slow burn. Will need to be played deadly serious for best effect.

Is it possible to do a murder mystery with only two characters?

Whodunnit? I dunno, I make these things up as I go.

1am – 2am:

Okay, 7 pages in and I couldn’t help but put in some sound and lighting effects. Did want to keep it simple, as we only have a short tech rehearsal and the lads have plenty on their plate across the night. Will try to make the cues easy to spot.

More sultry sensuality, in a film noir style. Almost needs a smoky sax in the background. The cast members are going to be awfully well acquainted by the end of the Project.

Hmm, probably two more “flashbacks” to write, building to some sort of conclusion/revelation. That could require some seriously angsty pacing about.

2am – 3am:

Angst alert. Getting near the build-up and climax, and I’m still pantsing it with an ending still not in mind.

Though the styling has been done, with a little tangent in getting Word to change my hanging indent -argh!!

When blocked, fiddle with the format I say.

The cover page has been added with all the details so far … and a title based on a lame pun – so situation normal there!

It’s turned out a bit more “serious” than I’d normally expect of myself. A hotbed of emotions and betrayals. As I type this, the next little direction is springing an idea. Which is a relief!

Actually, blogging along with it has made for a useful periodic break. My writing group does 25 minute pomodoro sessions, so I’m doing about 25 minutes writing per hour, the rest of the time tweaking, formatting, basic editing, and of course, blogging.

Back to it. Time to tango …

3am – 4am:

That word … ooh ooh … E – N – D, the End. How can three letters mean so much?

That inkling of a next direction previously mentioned became a path to an ending.

And with a surge of typing, I got there.It did mean an early joke had to go, but it was a pretty cheap one so no great loss.

Gotta love the “pantsing it” method of writing, it really is a legitimate surprise with where things end up, usually organically. I did actually joke about such an ending earlier, little knowing it would end up a viable solution.

It’s quite a different play to what I was expecting, but I think it’s a more interesting piece then a bunch of jokes in an odd situation. Buggered if I’d want to act it though!

Okay, now to tidy it up. Better make sure the front half doesn’t contradict the second half, place any Chekhov’s guns and red herrings, and look for any glaring plot holes that the late hour and the third glass of wine might have obscured.

Bit concerned about the amount of lighting cues, but there’s a lot of flashbacks – can’t really tell a whodunnit without them though.

4am – 5am:

My candle doth flicker and fade…

Some tweaks and polishes, and the inclusion of a line that I’d almost forgot and would have been most annoyed to have missed.

Then a hunt for some sound effects. You’re in an odd place when you’re trying out various toilet flush sounds at 4:30am. Near enough is good enough at this stage, I’ll hopefully trim them in Audacity tomorrow.

The question is, just power through now and polish up the script with tired brain, or just bundle it up and let the director make changes where needed. Will two hours sleep actually help?

Hmm, haven’t thought of ominous intro/outro music. Nah, that’s for discussion with the director.

I think the deed is done, email the troops, prep the usb stick and time to catch some zzzz’s.

5am – 6am:

Searching for a usb stick, … searching, searching, … then finally (!) sneak my way to bed.

6am – 7am:

Cat repeatedly jumps on and off the bed until finally pitched out and the bedroom door closed.

7am – 8am:

“Shouldn’t you be up by now?”

Oh crap, pressed alarm off button instead of snooze.

8am – 9am:

Somehow manage to be on time. Somehow manage bed hair despite barely an hour on the pillow. Yes, I am still in the same clothing as last night.

Christine the director arrives and secures one of the better rehearsal rooms. USB given for scripts to be printed. Page 3, and I’ve neglected a lighting cue. Rush to get the cue reinstated before multiple copies made.

Walk-thru the script with the director’s fresh eyes and my tired eyes looking at what is essentially a first draft. Meh, coupla typos, but it’s otherwise pretty close.

Ended up with minimal props, no furniture, bit of tech. There’s a few “time periods” going on structure-wise, but lighting cues should fix that.

9am – 10am:

Actors roll up, I explain my motives and aims, then sit in for a read-thru. Yay, they’re laughing at what I hoped they would and get the film noir slow burn style. And the added-at-the-last-minute line is a winner, and is pretty close to my favourite.

At last, I can walk away and consider some sleep.

Oh, except for that intro/outro music by 1pm tech rehearsal. Groan!

Back to the internet … but otherwise, apart from some emergency gophering, the writer’s job is done.

NEXT EPISODE: It’s show time.

This entry was posted in Community Theatre, First Draft, Independent Theatre, Perth Theatre, Plays, playwright, Theatre, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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