Onsite Theatre Commission: Days 12-16 (Huckleberry Hostel)

It's Not Easy Being a Superhero by Esparta (flickr)

You blink your eyes and five days pass! Friday night, I finally saw Inglorious Basterds and was shocked at how well-written some of it was. I thought it was just an action flick, but that first scene . . . wow! And then a weekend of seeing Chalk Circle before it closed on Sunday, hanging out with friends in the evenings, planning the wedding during the days. Yesterday was the final Monday Playground of the season. I didn’t realize it was the last one. My play was sadly not picked, which doesn’t typically bother me, but the topic this month was “Origin Stories,” and there was very little superhero representation in the 6 plays that were picked. The one play that actually featured superheroes as characters was satirizing (albeit effectively) the whole superhero genre. Very disappointing! There are a lot of serious issues to explore through superheroes!

Many of the playwrights in the pool have already turned their attention to the “festival,” in which the artistic team of Playground picks a number of their Monday Playground favorites to produce more fully. This is not something that was (or really is) on my radar: for me, the assignments are over so the season is done. I was doing Playground because it forced me to write and it did that really well and now I am writing without it. Mission accomplished! I was asked by some of the other playwrights if I would apply to do it again next season, and I think I will . . . it’s hard to become a part of a community over just 6 Monday nights spread out across 6 months, so I’d like to give it another season for that reason if nothing else, but I’m really hoping that I don’t need it as the crutch I needed it to be this year.

Unfortunately, not much movement has been happening on the Hostel Commission. I still have yet to compile the information some of the actors have sent me about themselves, much less respond to their kind communications. I did continue reading House & Garden and learned another important secret to how it works: secrets! There is a lot of lying and deception going on in Ayckbourn’s not-as-sexually-repressed-as-it-seems world. But now I need to turn my attention to Ayckbourn’s Norman Conquests or I’ll fall behind prepping for our next show, Round and Round the Garden. Hopefully, I’ve learned enough!

Luckily I have done one big Hostel-related thing since I last reported in: had a lengthy conversation with the director. I first started doing theater in 7th grade because my best friend tried out for the musical the school was doing; I didn’t want to be left friendless in woodworking club, so I went with him to the second day of auditions and got a part. I kept doing theater throughout high school, even when he didn’t, because it was a really amazing way to make meaningful friendships. Studies have been shown that making something together brings people together faster/closer than most other activities. I continued to do theater in college for the same reason . . . and somewhere along the line (first semester freshman year) I realized I like analyzing plays too.

Now theater is about the analysis and about the contextualization of dramas (and sometimes about the writing of plays), but it is still a lot about the people. The director of the Onsite Commission and I went to college and then grad school together. We’ve worked together enough for me to know that when he’s directing a play that I’m writing, I’m not even going to bother writing in stage directions. He’ll do what he wants, and it will probably be a whole lot better than what I had imagined. We haven’t spoken since in a couple years because neither one of us are particularly great at correspondence. I love that his project is reconnecting us, and that we picked up right where we left off.

Many good things came out of that conversation, not the least of which is a title (which Onsite needs for one marketing reason or another)

Huckleberry Hostel

Simple. Elegant. Self-explanatory (the location of this site-specific piece is the Huckleberry Finn Youth Hostel), and yet oddly compelling. Could be a chuckley comedy . . . or it could be a dark commentary on prejudice in our country as an allusion to one of America’s most banned novels. I don’t usually title my plays until the end, but this title is actually intriguing enough to me that it is becoming rule #10 and, just like I did when I picked up Alice in Wonderland / Through the Looking-glass for the  Alice project, I immediately went to Half-Price Books to pick up a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I am particularly interested in Twain’s female characters (if there are any significant ones . . . I barely remember the book) as being potential starting points for my female characters. I am much  less interested in setting up a modern Huck / Jim relationship . . . but who knows!


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