Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You Gotta Have Heart...and a Good Memory

That stuff there on the left...yup, that stuff that you are straining to read...really not worth it. Those are some of my notes from last week's Heart-A-Rama writing meeting. Today, I get to dip into my memory bank and withdraw as much I can recall about what we were intending. This writing business is tricky, but our group works together nicely. We haven't had any flair-ups yet. I always enjoy a a little creative angst driven confrontation. Maybe they'll oblige me next time.
We're still hammering away at the musical, and need two or three more meetings to finish. We have all agreed on where the plot is going, so now, by pooling our varied ideas, we need to figure out how to get there. To recap briefly, HAR's theme for 09 in fairy tales. Our musical is a Frog Prince meets the Bachelor sort of idea.

Karen has been writing with our group for about ten years. She likes to keep us focused on the literal end of thing - always concerned about the audience's perception of what we craft. I must say that this year, she is obsessing about the proposed roundabout. Whenever we are stuck for a line to get us to the next section of the plot, she suggests working in something about a roundabout. We keep her around because she brings her rhyming dictionary to each meeting, along with yummy treats.

Chris is our devil's advocate. Most of the time, we are just happy to have an idea, any idea. Chris wants to explore our ideas, poke holes in them, figure out why they will or will not work. Sometimes, we end up abandoning ideas as a result. His other "contribution" is his overwhelming desire for sub-plot. We keep telling him it's HAR. Sub-plot is far too sophisticated for our purpose, and certainly more than we can handle as amateur writers. Ironically, he also enjoys a good sight gag - and reminds us that a cleverly placed banana peel can go a long way.

Our musical expert, Connie, has a great challenge before her. We each lobby for using our favorite artists' music in the show. For Chris, it's the Kinks, for me it's Jimmy Buffett and Patsy Cline. I don't even want to entertain any thoughts about Karen's favorite...which I believe is Barry Manilow. Can she be serious about that?

Anyway, Connie does her best to steer us in new and fresh directions; she forces us to expand our musical palates. Essentially, she prods in the sweetest voice you have ever heard; we don't even know that we are being bullied. Poor Connie is painfully aware that the rest of us couldn't keep a beat, or apply appropriate musical accents come hel...well, you get it. She is forever pounding out rhythms with her feet, her fingers, her pencils. It's all the same though. A beat is a beat, no matter what instrument the poor girl uses. or how loudly she stamps and pounds. We just don't get it, and still, we are writing the HAR musical... and enjoying every minute of it.

Since I'm not revealing full identities, I can also tell you that Connie gets a little sassy sometimes. I can always tell when she has some naughty bit rising to the surface. She gets pink, then red, then she smiles. Finally, there is a charming little giggle and she announces, "I just had an idea, but I can't tell you because you will think bad things about me." Eventually we pry it out of her, and try to use some iteration of her tantalizing tidbit.

As for myself, I try to stay logical about what will translate from page to stage. My staggering lack of directing abilitiy plays nicely into the fun but not-too-polished effect we want the final show to have. Basically, I type up the scripts, and plan rehearsal time. I am just glad that I get to hang around with these people.

We have HAR censors, you know. We turn our scripts into a steering committee in early February, right before auditions. They read and discuss. We keep our fingers crossed that nothing will be x'd out. We try to monitor ourselves when we write, but there are always a couple lines we worry about. Sometimes they can be toned down in the delivery, but that's tough for the committee to know until they actually see the show on stage.

So, that's that. The process is pretty straightforward. We'll keep chipping away until our assigned parts of the show are done. Anything more I would write about that would be repetitive, so I won't get back to you with HAR news until we move into the next phase, which will be auditioning. BUT...if we have one of those angst ridden writing blow-ups, I'll be sure to cover that for you.

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