I attended June’s Writing Show. It centered on writing compelling plays.
I attended June’s Writing Show. It centered on writing compelling plays. I do not write plays, but I enjoy the shows and meeting new writers and catching up with friends. As it turned out, much of what the panelists discussed could be applied to any form of writing and the panelists were enjoyable to listen to. They were author and actor Irene Ziegler, and playwrights Douglas Jones, Marta Rainer and Bo Wilson.
A memorable moment for me was when Jones, appropos the topic of stage direction, recounted a David Mamet monologue involving two characters. With exacting detail, the speaker described how he wanted his deli sandwich prepared – spread the mustard with a spoon, slice the meat this thick, stack the ingredients in this order. The only stage direction was that the speaker held a gun.
Since I had missed the last Writing Show, I made sure to come to this one, especially since it will be on hiatus next month, returning in August.
Before I get to the main event, I’ll mention that I renewed my membership with James River Writers , and was rewarded with a mug (pictured below). Also, during intermission I spoke with Steve from Fountain Books who manned the bookstand at the back of the auditorium. He sold me on purchasing the novel Let the Right One In, written by John Lindqvist (now a motion picture written by John Lindqvist). Though very dark and disturbing, Steve enjoyed it thoroughly. What interested me was that it involves a vampire and I’m ever on the lookout for quality vampire novels since I’m writing my own. Among the scores I’ve read over the years, only a few have been enjoyable for me. The last two I’ve read were The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and Fledgling by Octavia Butler. They were excellent and hopefully Let the Right One In will make a positive trend. I’ve put it at the top of my reading list.
Since I had missed the last Writing Show, I made sure to come to this one, especially since it will be on hiatus next month, returning in August. Given the topic — stage and screen writing — I didn’t expect to be as interested as I was. Typical of these monthly events, the speakers were first rate. The panelists included the bearded storyteller Clay Chapman, writer/director Bryan Doerris and screenwriter Megan Holley (Sunshine Cleaning), with Michael Cordell moderating (his debut in this capacity, I think).
More so than previous Shows, the panelists really engaged each other in conversation, countering, underscoring or querying what another panelist just said. At one point, Mr. Doerris lamented America’s waning love of theater. He cited that less than nine percent of Americans attended a play last year, though they have a hearty appetite for cinema.
At this point, it occurred to me perhaps a reason for why people prefer movies over plays. Movies are effortless. They explain it all to you. There isn’t much left to the imagination. In theater, all that’s needed are the actors and the audience (Mr. Chapman’s point). Stage performers engage the audience, thus each performance is unique. With little scenery and props, if any at all, the actors speak, gesture, direct their eyes, move about the stage in ways that can make the audience believe they’re in a pub or on the moon. Their minds fill in what’s unheard and unseen. Much like books.