Today, I finished the second draft of my full-length play “Incommunicado”. Hopefully, I will do only one more to tidy everything up and it will be ready to be submitted.
Today, I finished the second draft of my full-length play “Incommunicado”. Hopefully, I will do only one more to tidy everything up and it will be ready to be submitted.
This has been a great learning experience for me. The main challenge throughout this process has been to not only be diligent in progressing on it, but also to ensure that everything is tied up neatly and that the reader will know why anything happens.
The themes, if you can call them that, are honesty, personal courage, self-control, controlling one’s life, and probably several more. I am sure someone will see some that I do not.
I wanted to keep the cast at three characters, but I had to increase it to four so that there would be more action and tension by introducing a villain of sorts. Not a true antagonist who opposes the protagonist throughout the play, but a character that appears only briefly but nonetheless has a major impact on the storyline.
Anyway, I hope to have this completed before long and I will start submitting it around and maybe start looking for an agent. I am not certain what I will tackle next. I have two novels near completion, but I have the bug for writing plays at the moment, so I may resurrect my original full-length play called “Centaurs” that has been languishing in the background for a few years now. Having completed “Incommunicado” may give me some ideas on how to finish “Centaurs” which has a similar storyline.
Watch for the next issue of The Chamber coming out May 6. Great dark stories and poetry as always. I haven’t finished selecting all the material yet, but so far here are the contributors: Alan Catlin, James Mulhern, Peter Michael Bush, Janelle Chambers, Patrick R. Wilson, Hareendran Kallinkeel, Cecilia Kennedy, Kate Bergquist, Damir Salkovic, Jessica McGlyn, and Prithvijeet Sinha.
I estimated the number of pages I have for my play “Incommunicado” a few days and discovered there are only 45, which makes a performance of about 45 minutes. I want to do a full-length play of 90 minutes, which means I will need about 45 more pages. So, I am only halfway done. The real trick will be to add 45 pages of quality material vs. filler/crap. I believe in leaner, muscular writing, keeping the text to as few words as possible while giving as much meaning to each word as possible. This gives impact to the writing and makes it powerful. There are only three characters: Quinn, Cassie, and Ruth, but most of the dialogue is between Quinn and Cassie. There is not a lot of action in the play, so I am banking on having deep, fascinating characters, but I don’t want this to be overly intellectual. I want the average Joe in the street to appreciate what is going on. That makes the play more marketable and will attract a broader audience.
Quinn, by the way, is Quinn Gallagher, who is the protagonist in two of my short stories: “The Scent” and “The Slightest of Indiscretions”. I would post a link to “The Slightest…” but the website is down right now. You can find it along with several of my other stories on https://fictionontheweb.co.uk. Both of these are included in my short collection of relationship-based stories in The Scent and Other Stories.
I am close to finishing the first draft of Incommunicado. The writing has gone well over the last few days. Hopefully, I will have it done by the end of this week…
I am close to finishing the first draft of Incommunicado. The writing has gone well over the last few days. Hopefully, I will have it done by the end of this week.
I want the play to be around ninety minutes, as this seems to be the average length for a modern, full-length play. To lengthen it, I took some notes in which the protagonist, Quinn, is speaking and molded them into a monologue. Originally, I think I had intended them to be the basis for dialogue between Quinn and the other characters, but I am not certain. They might have been intended to be used as short monologues to be placed at various points. It has been a while since I wrote them.
In any case, last night I was working on a scene in the dead center of the play, in which I wanted to show what was going through Quinn’s mind. I decided the center of the play would be the appropriate place for one long monologue. Now, I will go back and keep paring the monologue down to about five or so minutes in length and keep it relatively fast moving so the audience’s attention doesn’t wane. I will also give Quinn a few things to do that will have some symbolic meaning and will keep the motion/action going on the stage. It’s important for the audience to know what is going on in Quinn’s mind at this point, as I have already revealed what is going on in the head of the other main character, Cassie. Knowing these two things will be important for impact during the final scene between Quinn and Cassie.
As regards the draft poster used as a graphic below, there are only three characters in the play: Quinn, Cassie, and Ruth, a friend of Cassie’s. The poster below shows Quinn and Cassie (theoretically–the photo is from Pixabay and is in the public domain; I have no idea who the models are). I think I will develop an alternate poster that shows Ruth as well. The relationship between Quinn and Cassie is the focus of the play, but Ruth plays an important role as she helps provide background to the story and provides a different perspective.
The play is a complete departure from my original concept, which was to have only one character, Quinn, who would be in a room in a bed-and-breakfast struggling with whether to take up drinking again after having given it up for a year. That inner struggle within Quinn is still present, but is only a part of his background and is no longer the focus of the play.
As you know, over the last few days I have been working on a play titled “Incommunicado” that I haven’t worked on in over a year. Yesterday, I was toying with an idea for a possible poster, should the play ever be produced. My draft is above. Let me know what you think. Does this poster tell you enough about the play that it would make you want to see it?
I am finding that toying with possible book covers for my works helps keep the writing fun and gives me a moment to contemplate the essence of the work.
As you know, over the last few days I have been working on a play titled “Incommunicado” that I haven’t worked on in over a year. Yesterday, I was toying with an idea for a possible poster, should the play ever be produced. My draft is above. Let me know what you think. Does this poster tell you enough about the play that it would make you want to see it? Are the colors bright enough and the design distinct enough to capture your attention should you pass it on a street?
I found that one unexpected benefit of drafting this poster is that it made me think about what exactly would be a good tagline for the play. To do that, I have to boil the play down to its essence, which I had not contemplated previously. So now, I have a core idea to which I can adhere to maintain the play’s focus and unity.
Just a quick note. Today, I have been working on a play I started a couple of years ago and put away when it started getting complex and I started to run out of ideas. Yesterday, I thought I needed a break from working on Lycanthrope and also that I need to publish something. I haven’t published anything of my own in a while. So, I recalled a few unfinished works and I remembered this one (I call Incommunicado) being close to being finished…
Just a quick note. Today, I have been working on a play I started a couple of years ago and put away when it started getting complex and I started to run out of ideas. Yesterday, I thought I needed a break from working on Lycanthrope and also that I need to publish something. I haven’t published anything of my own in a while. So, I recalled a few unfinished works and I remembered this one (I call Incommunicado) being close to being finished. So, I started working on it and the ideas started to come. I won’t say much about it other than it is a sort of dark romance/drama set in the present-day Gila Mountains of New Mexico. I finally have it sketched out from beginning to end. So now, I have to cut out some dialogue and mold it into shape.
The one thing that confounded me when I last worked on this was that I couldn’t come up with a good ending. The one I had for it was too similar to the ending of another play that I am working on (called Centaurs), but I couldn’t come up with anything else.
I finally realized that one major problem I had was that their characters were too similar. Now, I have found a way to vary them and have the entire play basic conflict arise out of their inner natures. Now things are flowing. Hopefully, I will finish this soon and can start submitting it.
On Sunday, I watched Equus (1977) starring Richard Burton and Peter Firth. This is a powerful movie.
When I first heard about Equus, I thought it would focus entirely on the character of Alan Strang, an English teenager who blinds six horses and is sent to a mental institution by the courts. However, the movie (I have not seen the play, though I have started reading its script) seems to focus more on the character or Dr. Dysart, the psychiatrist who analyzes Alan Strang to find out his motives for blinding the horses in the stables where he worked. In short, he was insane, but what made him insane?
I won’t go into a lot of detail about what Dr. Dysart finds or how he finds it, because that is the mystery to be solved. Watching how both these characters change is fascinating. The movie analyzes both, perhaps giving a bit more emphasis on Dr. Dysart. I think this is because Dr. Dysart represents an educated audience looking into the soul of Alan Strang. What Dysart finds effects him deeply just as I think it effects an audience deeply, because what Dr. Dysart finds makes him examine his own relationship to the world and to God as well as reflecting on his own existence. At one point, Dr. Dysart begins to so intensely understand Alan’s viewpoint that Ithe tells Mrs. Dysart that he actually envies Alan.
Both the movie and the play were written by Peter Shaffer, who won a Tony award for it and for his following play Amadeus, which was made into a much more successful movie than Equus.
The movie was directed by Sydney Lumet. An interesting difference between the movie and the play is that the movie is staged very realistically in offices, homes, a stable, etc. but the the play’s script has the stage set in a very minimalist, in a sense, abstract fashion. I would love to see a performance of Equus. The minimalism would keep the audiences mind(s) focused on the characters and their interrelationships and not on the set or on anything that is peripheral or tangential and of no importance to the narrative.
I have to wonder how Peter Shaffer developed the character of Alan Strang. He wrote an exceptional portrayal of a madman and how he became mad. I understand that he based the play on a news article he read about a young Englishman who blinded six horses and then started loo,king into that story. That character is brought to life vividly by Peter Firth. I have to ask myself as well how Peter Firth developed his portrayal of Alan Strang. The ideas of Shaffer and Firth on this character seemed to mesh wonderfully for an awe-inspiring performance.
It is interesting to note that, in one sense, this movies shows how the change in one man stimulated the change in another man.
I am no actor, but to me the acting in this movie was top-notch. Richard Burton gave a performance that on par with his performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Peter Firth played Alan Strang.
All in all, this is a fascinating movie with strong performances that reach deeply into the characters’ souls and will very likely reach into the souls of the audience as well and cause them to reflect on their own existences just as Dr. Dysart does.
I have done a lot of public speaking in my day. From 1985 to 1996, public speaking was one of my primary duties in my career as a naval intelligence officer. From 1998 to 2007, it was one of my primary duties working for the Interpretation division in Padre Island National Seashore.
In 1997, when I had been only a short time out of the Navy, I lived in my home town of Frankfort, KY, where I was trying to establish careers as a photographer and a writer. Neither was going anywhere initially, and, long story short, I joined the National Park Service. While living in Frankfort, I happened upon an opportunity to do the head shots for a small, local theater group. I became friends with them and before I knew it, was playing roles in two Tennessee Williams one-act plays, which were performed on the same nights.
The first was the role of the porter in “Portrait of a Madonna“. I did have some dialogue and I seem to recall doing well at the role, though the play ran for only a few nights over twenty years ago. Here is a production by the Chicago Actors Studio, if you would like to see their version. Ours wasn’t taped to my knowledge.
The second role was as Winston Tutwiler, the husband/drunk in “Lord Byron’s Love Letter“. My role consisted almost entirely of sitting on a sofa and being inebriated. I am not certain if I had any dialogue. It was fun though. I drank a considerable amount at that time, so I was a natural to portray a drunk, though I didn’t drink any for the role. If I recall correctly, I portrayed this role before my first appearance in “Portrait of a Madonna”. I was in a hurry to dress in costume before walking out on stage, and being naturally absent-minded, I forgot to zip up my fly! As soon as I made my entrance, I was to head to a sofa and flop down, half-heartedly listening to the other characters. It was then I noticed my fly being open. But realizing that this is not an uncommon occurrence among drunks, I stayed in character and blatantly zipped up as if it had been planned all along. I think I got a few giggles out of the audience. Here’s one performance of it. I don’t know who is performing in this video. My role was that of the guy in the green shirt.
I found acting to be a lot of fun. I would love to do it again. The stage is really quite addicting. That’s probably why I have become fascinated recently with writing plays.
I have completed two small plays and I am currently working on two more.
The two completed ones are adaptations of my previously published short stories “Murder by Plastic” and “The Last Sane Man“. Both should be around ten minutes on stage. I am looking now for somewhere to have them produced.
The next up in length is one called “Incommunicado”. I have developed a different vision for it than I have had previously. I conceived of it maybe a year or two ago. It was originally about a man named Quinn Gallagher (yes, the same Quinn Gallagher as in my short stories “The Scent” and “The Slightest of Indiscretions”). In this play, Quinn has gone off to a ghost town in New Mexico’s Gila Mountains to write and celebrate being able to drink again after being on the wagon for a year after a DUI. He intends to stay drunk for the weekend. However, he finds he has enjoyed being sober, and this conflicts with his desire to drink again to escape life’s problems. One way is easy but ultimately self-destructive, while the other means tough self-discipline, but is ultimately more productive and rewarding. I originally thought of this more of an extended soliloquy, though I see now that I will have to bring in one or two of the local townspeople to add action and bring in more perspectives. I hope to have this play last about thirty minutes. I am shooting to have this done by the end of May.
The last and longest play I am working on is entitled “Centaurs”. It is about a man and a woman who are having an affair. Both are married intellectuals, but they find their intellectual sides conflicting with their animalistic desires. They have decided to keep this relationship purely physical, but they find themselves falling in love. I intend for this play to be about 90 minutes in length and be three acts with a lot of audience involvement.
I will try to update this website regularly about my stage work.
Probably most, if not all, my long-standing friends will be shocked tonight to find out that I plan to attend a performance of “The Vagina Monologues” tonight at the San Juan College Little Theatre without being goaded into it at gun point y my wife.
I have long heard of this play, and this is my first opportunity to see it. The first reason I am going is to satisfy my decades-old curiosity. The second reason is to learn more about the Theatre and the craft of playwrighting. As you may know, I am working on a play of my own entitled “Centaurs”, therefore I am taking every chance I come across to see a play.
I intend to write a critique of “The Vagina Monologues” within the coming days and will post it here.