Onsite Theatre Commission: Day 5 (+Playground)

I checked out House & Garden (which I guess is their official name when they are spoken of as a pair?) from our library. Have I mentioned the conservatory has its own library? I have haven’t I. Easily one of the most amazing perks of the job. And I am in with the head librarian. I’ve got three books on Canadian theater that I am going to recommend he acquire. Amazing.

Anyway: Ayckbourn’s House & Garden is now in my possession. I should be rereading his Round and Round the Garden, which is the next play we’re doing after Vigil. Actually, I should be reading The Norman Conquests, the trilogy of which Round and Round is the third play. But, in fact, if I read any play this weekend it is going to be Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park, which our dramaturg really likes. Our dramaturg really likes well-crafted naturalism. He lent me his Christopher Shinn anthology and I was surprised how much I really like well-craft naturalism. I am really enjoying Clybourne Park as well. There is something really impressive about no-frills, human drama in which there is nothing extreme or extraordinary about the circumstances but the stakes are subtly very high. Some lessons I need to learn for the Hostel Play.

But, in fact, I probably won’t read any play this weekend because it is Playground Weekend! Playground every month gives the 36 playwrights in their writing pool a topic. That topic is to inspire a ten-minute play. That ten-minute play is to be written in a weekend. Of the 36 ten-minute plays, they pick 6 to produce. I was going to skip this month. I’ve got enough on my plate. But then they gave us the topic: Origin Story. Muthaf-insonuvamonkey’suncle’s#$%^&%#@! Come on! How am I going to pass that one up?

Origin Story: In comic book terminology, an origin story is an account or backstory revealing how a character or team gained their superpowers and/or the circumstances under which they became superheroes or supervillains.

My immediate thought was to experiment with this story I have had in my head since Chicago called Overmen, in which a superman-like character lands in another part of Kansas, not idealized Kansas, and is brought up in an unhappy household in which the wife abuses the husband. I started the research on husband-abuse. Really interesting and very upsetting.

But if I am going to do Playground this month, I should somehow be working towards the Onsite Commission, no? Is there a way to write 5 origin stories, one for each of the five characters in the Hostel Play? I mean, yes, of course there is; but is there a way to converge those five origin stories to craft a ten-minute play out of them? Oupff. That’s a trick.

Especially when this weekend is really supposed to be about finishing up Alice. So much to write. So little time.


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