It’s a Tough Racket

Mark Twain said playwriting is the toughest kind of writing there is. I saw Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Marathon C last night and it was a reminder how difficult writing a good play is. Like a lot of art, you know why it’s good when you experience it but it can be hard to pinpoint why it’s off when it’s not. The greater majority of the work was truly exceptional last night. I still need to sort my thoughts out about it for my review I’m writing for nytheatre tonight.

I put in a few hours today on a play called Milk. At this point, I’m not sure why I called it that. There is something very primal and basic at work here. Something not received that drives both of the characters in the piece. I think I began to get somewhere and had to stop today. There’s only so much that can come out at once, especially if you don’t know where it’s going. Sometimes I like to work with a plan and for other pieces I like to be surprised by what the characters do. This is a psychological piece. Getting deeper truths requires not knowing. I can always go back and fix. Need to press forward.

Hit a wall of resistence. Voices saying not to write about the subject matter. It’s no good. It’s been said before. It’s not funny or truthful. It’s embarrassing. You keep writing through that to something else. You feel the mind quiet with a little satisfaction. The demons have been fed and are going to sleep. The trick is not letting it go too long without coming back to it again or it gets harder to tackle.

I’m going now for the cringe-inducing table read of the pages from today. I find it easier to listen to people now. To hear the good and the bad. I’d like my urn to read “Chris was a real actor and a real playwright.” Lately, I’m not sure that’s what it would say if I were to suddenly depart. Lots more work to do.