Rewrites and Moving On

4 am my time and zooming with the other west coast: a table reading with amazing people willing to give three hours of their time, energy and trust to someone who hasn’t had a staged production for adults in over twenty years.

More than a little overwhelmed with appreciation. But still my awkward self.

I have a few days now to change the ending – I’ve had two alternatives in mind and it is hard to be completely satisfied with either. Shakespeare by definition is over-the-top. Plot devices and dead bodies. Knowing how not to try to “improve” Shakespeare, while adapting for a contemporary audience isn’t easy.

Then there is the “lag” in Act 2. I didn’t notice it myself because the actors took a break after Act 1, and I felt they were just wriggling back into the play. I suppose that is why we need other people to listen and give their point of view, too.

I asked the actresses if something felt too modern – language or context – and someone mentioned the fact that a character has been off at school. It was interesting because, yeah, that was pulled from the original – and Lear isn’t even Shakespeare’s only play to have characters “just returned from school” – but it doesn’t matter. If it feels incongruous to the audience, that is all that matters. A play isn’t a history lesson. And you can’t annotate a performance.

I’m finding it a little bit difficult to settle down and actually finish the rewrites. Yes, of course, the whole act of editing is a little bit anticlimactic (especially now, since I know I won’t get to see the production), but it’s also difficult to force myself to do because I don’t have a next-big-thing lined up. Not even a next-little-thing.

This has been a joy. And while it is a tiny thing in the big world, it’s something whole and satisfying. It has kept me going through three extremely difficult months.

I have written “for” people before, who have casually said they would put up my work, but then once I sent it to them, I’m not even sure they read it through. Radio silence.

Maybe this is what makes an amateur? The dedication to work blindly with no promises, and nothing to serve as a safety net for your ego? The tolerance for radio silence and the drive to go on.

The other day I read an article by a well-known playwright who was complaining about the way the huge theaters in London were treating their big name playwrights. He said the radio silence was unacceptable. (Not quoting).

So maybe, just maybe, having what it takes to carry on despite everything (or nothing at all) should be the source of pride for the amateur.

I will finish the rewrites and the edits, and I will start again from nothing to make something new. Hell, there are comets and asteroids flying through the emptiness of space. It’s just the nature of the universe: the oftentimes uselessness of just being. Where do we get the audacity to think we’re entitled to more?

4 Replies to “Rewrites and Moving On”

  1. I am starting to appreciate the rare moments when I “put myself out there” without what you call a safety net. These events are more touching than faint praise for an expected gesture. I love the idea of still having an inner necessity for writing something mostly for myself.

  2. How do we invite people to respond? (The hidden part is… so they will respond. But that part is the part we need surrender, isn’t it?)

    We deserve being here. Doesn’t answer anything. But it’s a good place to stand.

  3. “Maybe this is what makes an amateur? The dedication to work blindly with no promises, and nothing to serve as a safety net for your ego? The tolerance for radio silence and the drive to go on.” …dunno, Ren, maybe this is what makes an artist. Carry on despite everything.


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