Well, it seems that my attempt at National Novel Writing Month has pretty much failed. It’s gone as well as my attempts to find employment have, in fact. Quite miserable in that sense. However, I think I’m doing well with Vegan Month, considering my favourite foodstuffs tend to be cheese-based. Lactose discipline in action, right there.
…Except it’s really, really difficult. I’m fairly fussy anyway, but it’s now at an absolutely ridiculous level.
But still, I’m keeping to this for as long as I can.
The main problem with participating in NaNoWriMo is that I can end up very unfocused. For example, I wanted to spend as much of today as possible adding onto a new(ish) project- I’ll get back to that- but instead, I’ve used the day mainly watching old martial arts films, buying Pepsi, drinking aforementioned Pepsi and adding more scenes for my play, If All Else Fails, End With Jazz Hands.
Do you want to see a little bit?
Promise not to show anyone else?
This is the first draft for the start of the first scene. Different coloured font refers to the notes for actors, directors and technicians. Oh yes, this is being done properly.
[ANDY and LISA are stood on the ‘stage’ as everyone else files in. ANDY is scribbling down some notes, which LISA keeps reading over his shoulder, prompting him to hide it/glare at her. All other actors/actresses/technicians etc. come in- some alone, some in small groups, chatting, putting bags down etc. EUDORA swans in unaccompanied, and makes an obvious show of ‘warming up’, making sure people are watching.]
ANDY- Erm, guys?
[No response. Everyone continues to chat, get ready etc]
LISA- I’ll get them. [YELLS] IF WE COULD HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE?
[Everyone wanders over to the ‘stage’ area, as ANDY finishes up with his notebook.]
ANDY- Erm, thanks LISA. Ermm…yeah…hi everyone. Today’s quite important, as we’re gonna try and work out what kind of show we should put on for our summer dates. (flips through notebook) At this stage, I’m totally open to suggestions- within reason- so if anyone has an idea, please put it forward. Anyway, yeah, as well as us, I’ve also managed to get someone from the Actor’s Guild to sit in for a while, maybe even take part in our production. I don’t know him, I don’t think he’s famous but he’s professional so he’ll know what he’s doing. Might be able to learn something from him. (Checks watch) He said he’ll be here at 11. Any questions?
EUDORA- Yes, I’ve got one. Why exactly do we need a so-called professional actor? Surely we have enough talent here already? [Obviously referring to herself]. Surely this…interloper will steal focus?
ANDY- No, not really. The point isn’t a ‘star factor’- if I wanted that, I’d have tried for someone off the telly-
TONY- Ooo! Wolf! Easy one to start with.
EUDORA- Excuse me?
TONY- Y’know- Wolf! Used to be in Gladiators! He was the baddie but everyone liked him. You must remember?
ANDY- Getting off-topic there, but yeah- I could have spent half an hour on the phone and got someone who didn’t win in a talent show. The point is getting a reputation as a real independent company. Hence a professional actor from the Actor’s Guild.
EUDORA- I’m a professional actor. Stage AND screen. (Checks around to see if anyone is impressed. They aren’t.)
ANDY- Look, an extra sat on a park bench in Silent Witness doesn’t count. Neither does one crowd scene in Les Mis. And no offence ERIN, STEVE, neither does a pantomime.
ERIN- At least we DID something on stage!
STEVE- Had lines and everything!
ANDY- (Reconsiders) True. Good point, I take that back.
LISA- Anyway, if we can make a start? I thought it would be a good idea to do some warm-up exercises before this professional turns up. Do you think it’s a good idea, ANDY?
ANDY- Hm? Oh, ermm…yeah, if you want.
LISA- Right. I thought it would be quite fun to do some team exercises. So first, I want you all to limber up, shake everything loose. Come on now!
[LISA and EUDORA warm up with great gusto. Some others make half-arsed attempts, others don’t do anything.]
STEVEN- (aside, to TONY) Hey, it’s Mr. Motivator/Johnny Weissmuller? Hulk Hogan?
[TONY sniggers, EUDORA glares]
LISA- I heard that, STEVEN. Yet again, you bring the standards down. Now warm up. Both of you.
[The half-arsed warm ups continue, while JASON, an actor, walks in. He is late, again. Nonchalant, sunglasses on, texting, drinking a can of soda. He looks hungover, which is reflected in his movements. LISA glares at him, but he doesn’t notice.]
ANDY- Alright JASON mate? Heavy night?
JASON- (Sighs) You don’t know that half of it.
ANDY- Any luck?
JASON- Oh yeah- you know that girl who works in the bookstore in town?
ANDY- Ooooh the one with the Mia Wallace haircut? Yeah, Pulp Fiction. Another easy one, there.
[JASON doesn’t say a word. He doesn’t need to. ANDY knows immediately. High-five.]
LISA- When you’re quite finished, Casanova/Alfie/Hefner? What works better here?, we’ve ACTUALLY started here. It would be quite nice if you were to join us…
JASON-[Still to ANDY] Oh shit, sorry. I’ll tell you later on, yeah?
ANDY- Yeah man, we’ll have a cig later, tell me then.
[JASON joins the group, next to ERIN and STEVEN. More effort goes into drinking soda than ‘warming up’.]
LISA- You know, it’s always more helpful if the DIRECTOR was to join in, and maybe, I don’t know, take control of his own group? What do you think, ANDY?
[ANDY shrugs, and joins in with the absolute least amount of effort seen.]
ANDY- (Eventually) Right, that’s enough.
LISA- OK then, some group games. Now, I want you divide yourselves into two groups. [No-one really moves] Now, if you don’t mind?
[ANDY says nothing, but wonders how LISA has taken control of the group. A few listlessly move toward one another- ERIN and STEVEN are joined by TONY and TECH, the DANCERS side up with KATHLEEN and RAB. ANDY and JASON stay together, but notice who’s left (LISA and EUDORA) so separate quickly to the other groups. EUDORA remains alone, but makes no attempt to join up with anyone. She is her own group.] The dancer’s names are BRIONY and EDWINA. Think EUDORA/LISA, but scaled back a little, actually pleasant enough but would like the group to be rather high-brow, which puts them at odds with others on occasion.
LISA- Oh, this is utterly hopeless. Right- everyone line up across the stage. Now!
[Everyone lines up] Think PE/Sports day team-picking.
LISA- Right, two groups. Andy and I will choose, and I’ll go first.
[LISA makes the point of exaggerating choosing someone. Emotions range from ‘desperate to be picked first’ (EUDORA), through to cannot be bothered (TONY) and pisstaking (STEVEN, ERIN, JASON). ANDY looks about as enthusiastic as someone in a coma.]
LISA- I’ll pick……………..EUDORA.
[EUDORA looks like she might as well have won an Ocsar.]
STEVEN- (Mutters to ERIN) Surprise bloody surprise there. Thick as thieves.
[ERIN slopes over to ANDY, who nods at STEVEN- “you’re next”.]
LISA- Well then…I’ll go with……….KATHLEEN.
[KATHLEEN, relatively enthused, walks over.]
LISA- BRIONY (one of the DANCERS), if you will?
[The unpicked cast begin looking to each other more- it’s getting a little more desperate- you can see who no-one wants in their group.]
[JASON begins walking over, before quickly going back for his drink]
LISA- EDWINA (other dancer)
[All that are left are TONY, RAB and TECH (nickname is BOXY. Real name never referred or mentioned) RAB is by far the worst actor in the group- inability to remember lines, stilted and wooden. A true cornucopia of talent]
LISA- You have to pick someone, ANDY.
ANDY-……TONY, I suppose.
[TONY gives a look to RAB and TECH- “yeah, I wasn’t last. Ha.”]
LISA- Ugh. Well, I’ll go with-
TECH- -Actually, do I have to do this? It’s just I’ve got a couple of new lightboxes to set up and I should try and calibrate that fader desk. I’ll just be over there (motions towards ‘tech area’) if you need me, but it’s just something that needs doing?
ANDY- (penny drops who LISA, EUDORA et al will be lumbered with) Yeah, that’s a good idea BOXY- if you can get it all sorted now, we can get straight on with setting up and trying things out. You know what you’re doing?
TECH- Yeah, shouldn’t take long.
[TECH wanders across to ‘tech area’. LISA realises what has happened, and who she’s stuck with]
ANDY- YOU have to pick someone, LISA.
[The groups are complete. (Nearly) everyone is satisfied.]
ANDY- Hang on, before we start can JASON and I just nip out for a few minutes? You guys start and we’ll join back in when we get back, how’s that sound? Good? [Goes to get jacket, puts it on, pulls packet of cigarettes from inside pocket] (To JASON) Right JASE, what happened?
(Both begin to leave)
JASON- Right, well I started off with Mike and his girlfriend, we went to see The Raveonettes/Pavement?/Sonic Youth? Another cool band– they had a spare ticket- her flatmate had pulled out, so they offered it me. So after that, we decided to stay out- it was fairly early ‘cause they don’t do long sets y’see, but when we went to the Tesco down the road for some cigs and I needed a cashpoint, there was this girl who I recognised, so after I got served, I risked asking her if I knew her. She said she works in a bookstore in town, and I was only in there yesterday- she served me! THIS CONVERSATION MONOLOGUE ONLY CONTINUES UNTIL ANDY AND JASON ARE OFF-STAGE. AS SOON AS YOU ARE OFF, STOP TALKING OR AT LEAST FADE OUT. DON’T RECITE THE WHOLE THING.
LISA- (to herself) Cretins. (Suddenly brightens up again) Right everyone, the warm-up SHOULD be fairly simple. Now how many of you have seen West Side Story?
That’s as far as I’m willing to divulge. But I’m actually working this to a (relatively) strict time limit. I know when I’m aiming to have it finished for. This should work.
This is the ‘ideas sheet’ I made, which explains each of the characters and their relationships with one another. No, I’m not showing you it properly:
I’ll save the other project for another time- it also includes a mixtape!