Archive for Collaboration Posts

Shaping Our Lives – Lessons Learned from Eyebrows & Play Scripts

 

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”

― Joshua Becker

What do eyebrows have to do with a play script…and more importantly, what do they have to do with you?

I was looking in the mirror the other day and it occurred to me (not for the first time) that I scarcely have any eyebrows left.

I’m not the only who has noticed this. In the summer, a friend (after one too many drinks, mind you) commented that I looked “rather like an egg.” With such candid friends, who need adversaries?

Anyhoo…last week I paid a visit to my hairdresser and she offered to wax my brows.

“NO!” I cried. “I have nothing left to wax. I already look like an EGG!”

“Trust me,” she said.

So I did. A few strips and several plucks later, she leaned back from her handiwork and smiled. “Voila!”

I looked in the mirror and low and behold, I had eyebrows again.

By removing the “peach fuzz” (her words not mine; 14-year-old boys have peach fuzz, not 50-year-old women) from around the actual brow, she’d given shape and clarity to my eyebrows. They were still thin but at least you could SEE them.

Maryanne in Saviour play workshop, Jan 2019

Fast forward a couple of days and I found myself in yet another workshopping of my play script, Saviour, throught the Alberta Playwrights Network. The last time my Big Fat Greek Play Script had been workshopped by professional actors, it was a whopping 143 pages. That bad boy sized script would translate to more than two and a half hours performance-time.

Ugh.

This time around, however, I was heading into the workshop with a 119-page script…better but it still needed a good trim. My goal is to get the script to about 100 pages (which would translate to approximately one hour and forty-five minutes performance time).

Thankfully, this workshop was only 3 hours – versus the 8-hour workshop I had in 2017. This meant that after the actors had read the script out loud, there was limited time left for discussion. So what little discussion we had was very focused and succinct…and therefore extremely helpful to me, the playwright.

L to R: Col Cseke, Kathryn Kerbes & Trevor Rueger in Saviour workshop at APN, Jan 2019

 

Kathryn Kerbes reading the part of Virginia Woolf

 

L to R: Trevor Rueger & Val Lieske reading Saviour at APN, Jan 2019

I left the workshop with a very clear idea of what had to be cut and what sections needed clarification. I went home and, while it was still fresh in my mind, immediately made the rough changes on the actual printed copy of the script. The next morning, I sat down at my computer and started making the changes in the word doc.

And voila! My Pleasantly Plump Play began to shrink even further…and low and behold, the essence of the play emerged.

Just like the brow trimming, it was only by removing the extraneous bits in my script (that I had been unable to see) that my play began to take shape.

My challenge to you (and me) for 2019

What extraneous bits could you trim from your life? Are there any habits, behaviours, attitudes, beliefs, thought-patterns, relationships or activities that you could delete (or at least cut back on) that might help give you more clarity about your purpose?

Just as it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees (or the eyebrows for the peach fuzz), so too can it be difficult to live up to our potential when we are being pulled in a dozen different directions…many of which are likely NOT helping get us where we want to go.

If the shape of your life is not quite as you’d like it, I challenge you to trim a component (or two) that is no longer serving you. And I shall do the same 😊

Related blog by Maryanne

Perilous Playwriting – Let’s Air Some Dirty Laundry Shall We? 

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life.

published in Change, Collaboration, Creativity, Dreams/Goals, Playwriting, Writing by Maryanne | December 6, 2017 | 4 Comments

Write On – Exploring What We Know May Teach Us What We Need to Learn

 

MA writing in Anacortes, WA

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

– Anais Nin

Greetings from Victoria!

My apologies for not getting a blog written last week. I was on Orcas Island (San Juan Islands) in Washington state and the power kept going out. And when the power was on, I was madly writing The Neighbours play script – now tentatively titled Bungalow by the Sea.

The good news: I made tremendous headway on the play over the past two weeks – thanks in huge part to Lynne Karey-McKenna, an actress and director who is helping me develop the script. Lynne also has a background in psychology, which is turning out to be rather handy.

Lynne reading script

Getting the key scenes in place has been relatively straightforward since the play is based on my real-life experience of living next door to noisy neighbours on a busy street. There’s no shortage of comedic scenarios to draw from…blaring music, spectacular arguments, boa constrictors in the shed, bandsaws, an old fridge in the yard, power washers, raging bonfires, leaf blowers, nail guns, rats in the crawlspace (mine), trucks roaring by, etc.

The sound tech is going to LOVE producing this play when the time comes!

The not-so-good news is that trying to determine the main character’s (“Josie”) motivation for putting up with the noise and madness for seven years has been a little…uncomfortable, shall we say.

For who in their right mind would STAY – when they don’t have to?

It’s a good question…one this particular playwright is in the midst of trying to answer.

I am (obviously) a firm believer in the old adage: “Write what you know.” I like this advice not because it’s easier to write what we know – but rather because writing what we know has tremendous potential to teach us what we need to learn…if we can get out of our own way.

But writing, of course, isn’t the only way to explore potentially useful lessons that may be hiding in a difficult life experience…or, perhaps more importantly, our response to that experience.

MA & Lynne by fire at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island

Working with Lynne on Bungalow by the Sea is helping me do just that – kicking, screaming and arguing all the way, of course…rather like my former neighbours. But there have been an awful lot of laughs, as well…for good ol’ “Josie” is quite the nutty character herself 😉

As for life on the road?

Ahhh…plenty of valuable lessons being offered up here, as well. As an example, I am learning (whether I like it or not), to be flexible. This has never been a strength of mine.

I am a planner…I like things to go according to plan. I love order. I need to be organized.

Hah! All of this has now officially flown out the window of my jam-packed CRV.

For as a friend recently asked (in a kind way): “Uhhh…isn’t the point of a Bohemian adventure to NOT plan every detail and just go with the flow?”

In theory, yes. In practice, this micro-manager has some adjusting to do.

Here are a few more photos from my travels over the past couple of weeks:

Lovely shot of dusk at Eastsound on Orcas Island

 

Waterfall on the way to Mt Constitution, Orcas Island

Great shot of Sadie & her pal, Monte, in Anacortes, WA

 

Wow…poor old Garfield didn’t fare so well after Sadie & Monte got a hold of him 🙁

 

My writing assistant slacking off by the fire…again!

A note about WWOW…

So that I can focus on my road trip and bigger writing projects over the next few months, I will be sending out a WWOW blog every second Wednesday, instead of every Wednesday.

See…look at me learning to be flexible 😊

Related blogs by Maryanne

It’s Never Too Late to Revise – Lessons in Creative Collaboration

It’s Never Too Late to Revise – Part 2

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life

 It’s Never Too Late to Revise – Part 2

 

Lynne, MA & Theresa on boardwalk

Theresa, Lynne & MA on boardwalk, Sidney, BC

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

As I mentioned at the end of last Wednesday’s blog, It’s Never Too Late to Revise, after Lynne and I had finished with The Neighbours play script, Theresa arrived and the 3 of us began working on The Widows play script.

The Widows was actually staged as a play – for one performance only – back in 2008 in Abbotsford, BC. It was a bit of a trial run and turned out to be a phenomenal learning experience for me, the playwright.

Lynne directed that performance and Theresa was one of the actresses in it, so having the two of them read the most recent version of the script out loud for me last November was extremely helpful. But it wouldn’t have been if I had much of an ego left.

I wish I could say that after listening to Theresa and Lynne read The Widows, I clapped my hands in delight and said, “Right then, it’s good to go! Let’s get this baby entered into a Fringe Festival.”

Nope.

Unfortunately, my annoyingly candid and intuitive response was: “That was actually kinda boring – and I’m allowed to say that because I wrote it…about twenty times now.” 

Sigh.

Now don’t get me wrong: the story itself isn’t boring. The potential for The Widows to be an excellent play is there: the characters are interesting (they’re based on me and my incredible friend, Jackie!) and the situation the characters find themselves in (stuck in a hotel room while traveling through India) is perfect.

What is missing is action in the present – happening on stage – versus the two characters simply talking about past events, even though those past events are certainly dramatic (at 24, Jackie lost her husband to a drunk driver when their daughter was 2 months old; my husband died as the result of a preventable fall at unsafe workplace when we were both 32).

Theoretically, I knew this was a problem during the many rewrites done in the comfort of my own head. But it wasn’t until I heard the play read out loud for me – and the subsequent brainstorming with Theresa and Lynne about possible solutions – that I was finally able to grasp what needed to be fixed…and how.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– Joseph Campbell

For just as it is never too late to revise, in fiction or in life, so too is it important to be able to let go of the life – or the play – we have planned, so as to be able to live – or write – the one that is waiting for us.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”

– Henry Ford

And so, back to the drawing board I went with The Widows. But first, after all that hard work of collaborating, Lynne, Theresa and I headed to the local pub on the Saturday night to blow off a little steam…let our hair done, if you will.

I did both 🙁 and after far too much wine and not nearly enough dancing, I spent the next day pretty much passed out on my couch – leaving my houseguests to entertain themselves. In other words, there was no creative collaboration on Sunday; just a great deal of sleep and water.

This rewriting-with-the-door-open business is proving to be an awful lot of work – and, of course, highly effective.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the playwright of Saviour. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of theJohn Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here