Monday, October 17, 2011

Killing Characters

I have this play, THE MELTING POINT. And when it started it had like 9 characters. Then I wrote and re-wrote and cut and revised and then there were 6. Two were dead. They were named Joanie and Mike. I liked them though, they were kindof sad late-20 somethings in dead-end jobs, dancing around getting together for a date, by the end they did. But, their short story didn't get kept as the play's story came into the fore.

Then there was Imogene. A 50 something friend of two other 50 something ladies. The school social worker, coincidentally. Lonely for her sons who moved away and never called. She was a master at making nice. As the structure of the play took over, she receded further out of the picture, she became extraneous. In the beginning she was the third witch, this chorus of mothers raging against their abandonment in the suburbs - but, really, the play's about one family's estrangement - not three, so she - well - she left in the last draft. Theater is a brutal form.

And now there are Five. And they all have to be there. Even the one who you could argue with me about cause he's not in the family and really, does he change? Nope. But he's not going anywhere. Cause he's part of scaffolding that got permanently attached to the building. The others? They got dismantled once the play was built.


Now I'm writing this play, part of the Commissioning project. Thank you so much Blue Coyote, the kick in the ass is helpful, always.

And I did a draft...and there're some characters who I don't know what to do with...I don't know if they belong. In fact one of them gets shot in the middle of the play. In a play that is not about shooting people. I'll tell more about what it's about as this blog goes on - but it is NOT about shooting people. So, maybe I had him get shot - suicide by cop actually - because I knew he had to go... or maybe in the next draft I'm going to need to find the way to get him to stay. I think I want him to stay. His name's Mike too, a much more screwed up guy than the first Mike, and he brings things out from my head... I know I won't get there without him, but I don't know if he'll be discarded scaffolding, or if he'll move in as a cross beam. It's early in the writing, the best time, I don't need to decide.

- Kristen Palmer

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