In Which I Go Up to Eleven

JCF’s Christmas Play
Pages, 10/14/05: 5
Current Total: 31

After waking up this morning, I was a little shaky from having not had breakfast – and then I got this brilliant idea. While I was still in that state, I would practice my set for Tuesday night. My logic was that if I could get through it, it would be like trying to slog through if my stage fright didn’t totally subside.

So, with my wife and daughter busy on the floor below, I made my way through the songs I have picked out.

Later, on my way to lunch, my wife said, “Remember, when you get nervous your voice gets pinched and thin. Try to relax.” They had heard my entire practice, including the song I was going to do for my daughter as a mild surprise.

On the other hand, I thought that was a good thing. In the past my wife always said that my voice was too soft for the big, booming Jumbo acoustic that I play. So if they heard me while I was upstairs, facing the wall and away from the part of the house they were in, then I must be projecting. A good sign, perhaps.

Still, I’ve been through the set twice more today. Each time I find a bug or a weak spot that I work on.

In the meantime, last night while waiting to go onstage to arrest Anne and her family, I finished Act One Scene one of the Christmas Play. I still hadn’t worked out how I wanted the conflict to work out, but instead of trying to resolve it before I put fingers to keyboard, I dragged out an old writer’s trick that has served me well over the years: don’t worry about it and just start writing – something will present itself.

Sure enough, that’s what happened. As I was coasting to the inevitable and the conflict hit, I realized something extremely important – character A had a high emotional attachment to character B, while character B had absolutely no attachment to character A. This, along with the fact that I had character B do something to generate a laugh a minute or so earlier, gave me the tools I needed to push past the conflict without being overly dramatic and going to a blackout (like I’d thought about doing). It was natural, it flowed, and it led me into the original closing of the scene from a few days ago – now revised a bit.

A good night’s writing.

On the other side of the coin, when it came time to dress like a Gestapo agent, I realized that I’d left my costume at home. How that happened – and what I did to solve the problem – is a story for another day. Perhaps when it’s relevant to writing a play and not just being in one.

Listening: The Church, “Reptile” (via iTunes shuffle play)


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