Today I completed the first draft of a new full-length prnyc. How do you know when you complete the first draft? You reach a state of complete exhaustion and you cannot gone on. There is nowhere, in this milieu, beyond the last line. Life goes on beyond the play, as it inevitably will, as it must, just as life existed before the wisenheimer protagonist opened his mouth to piss off the bestial antagonist.
Of course, this is not the end of this process; in many ways only the beginning. Today it is a punctuation! Good enough to send off for feedback and the beginning of the process leading to the reading. How did this play begin?
A year ago I wrote a 10 min. play called WHITE NOISE; it played for eight performances at H-B Playwrights Theatre, Bank St, NYC, as part of “The Waiting Room” series. In the play an over-zealous New York PR guys puts the moves on a crazed marketing exec in the waiting room of a therapists office. They test each other for 10 minutes and resolve to meet, after the PR guy rants about his horrible boss nicknamed The Beast.
What if that guy actually went to work the next morning? I asked myself, on my way to work one morning, as the bitterly cold wind whipped around Riverside Park. I used the 10 min. play as the the first Scene and built on that for a full length play. The Play was called PUBLIC RELATIONS and we went through two readings in Donna De Matteo’s playwriting class. At the end of that process I realized that:
- I had no idea what this play was about
- There were too many characters
- The action was too diffuse
- There was no climax
- I failed to establish the language and rhythm necessary to carry this play
I realized that as long as I was tethered to the 10 min play the full-length play would not be able to find its own life. So I:
- Deleted Scene 1; started at Scene 2
- Deleted 6 characters; pared down to 5
- Compressed action time frame to 48 hours
- Wrote the ending first, then the climax
In other words, I took Lee Blessing‘s advice. Thanks Lee.