Huckleberry Hostel Commission: Day 38

When Alan Ayckbourn wrote The Norman Conquests—three interlocking plays taking place over one weekend in three different spaces around one house—he apparently wrote all three simultaneously, “cross-wise,” on three legal pads. The problem is, those plays don’t really work all that well. Round and Round the Garden, one of the trilogy and the next play in A.C.T.’s season, is good, but the other two don’t really stand on their own like Round and Round does. What’s more, I don’t think one really gets much more out of seeing all three than one would  just seeing Round and Round. It’s the same story, told in three different spaces: each has a number of extra details, but once you’ve seen one, the other two hold no real surprises.

With Huckleberry Hostel I’m interested in telling two entirely different interlocking stories, and yet I am less worried about them standing alone. They won’t stand alone: the audience will see one and then the other, like a two-act play. They just happen to switch rooms during intermission, and there happens not to be an Act I or Act II, but rather an Act “Dorm Room” and Act “Multipurpose Room.”

I started writing. Yesterday I posted a scan of a convoluted outline that has already changed since last night. I woke up realizing that it made little sense for the James character to be running all around the hostel; it should be the younger, more exuberant, more Puck-like Finn character who does that. So, structurally, wherever I had Finn in a scene, I swapped him with James. I don’t normally outline plays, but the traffic of this seemed to necessitate some planning. And it set up another sheaf of rules to work with. Breaking down plays into French scenes is a trick I’ve used when analyzing plays; but I’ve never started with a breakdown when writing. I like it. It starts with structural balance before language has anything to do with the play.

Breakdown of Morris Panych’s Girl in the Goldfish Bowl:

Sc 1. Iris Sylvia Owen [1 page] Sc 2. Iris [1.25 page] Sc 3. Iris Miss Rose [1 page] Sc 4. Iris [.25 page] Sc 5. Iris Owen [1 page] Sc 6. Iris [1.75 page] Sc 7. Iris Lawrence [4.5 page] Sc 8. Iris Lawrence Owen [9.5 page] Sc 9. Sylvia Lawrence [.25 page] Sc 10. Iris Sylvia Owen (silent) [.25 page] Sc 11. Iris Sylvia Lawrence [6 page] Sc 12. Iris Sylvia Lawrence Owen [4.5 page] Sc 13. Iris [.25 page] Sc 14. Iris Rose [3.75 page] Sc 15. Rose Lawrence (Iris hidden) [4.5 page] Sc 16. Iris [.25 page] Sc 17. Iris Sylvia [.25 page] Sc 18. Iris Sylvia Owen (parents ignoring Iris for most) [6 page] Sc 19: Iris Sylvia Owen Rose (Lawrence onstage “quietly freaks out”) [1 page] Sc 20. Iris [.25 page] Sc 21. Iris Sylvia [2 page] Sc 22. Iris Sylvia Lawrence [4 page] Sc 23. Iris Sylvia Lawrence Owen [.25 page] Sc 24. Iris Lawrence Owen [2 page] Sc 25. Lawrence Owen (Iris hidden from characters) [4.5 page] Sc 26. Sylvia Owen (Iris hidden from characters) [3.5 page] Sc 27: Iris Owen [.5 page] Sc 28. Iris [.25 page] Sc 29: Iris Rose [1 page] Sc 30: Iris [1 page] ACT I: 66.5 pages

Sc 31: Iris Lawrence [3.25 page] Sc 32: Iris Lawrence Sylvia [.5 page] Sc 33: Iris Lawrence [1 page] Sc 34: Iris [.5 page] Sc 35: Iris Rose [.25 page] Sc 36: Iris [.25 page] Sc 37: Iris Sylvia [.25 page] Sc 38: Sylvia Owen [4 page] Sc 39: Sylvia Owen (Iris hidden) [1.5 page] Sc 40: Sylvia Owen Lawrence (Iris hidden) [.25 page] Sc 41: Owen Lawrence (Iris hidden) [2 page] Sc 42: Owen Lawrence Iris [>.25 page] Sc 43: Owen Lawrence Iris Sylvia [.75 page] Sc 44: Owen Lawrence Iris [>.25 page] Sc 45: Owen Sylvia Iris [1.5 page] Sc 46: Owen Iris [.75 page] Sc 47: Sylvia (Iris hidden) [>.25 page] Sc 48: Sylvia Lawrence (Iris hidden) [3 page] Sc 49: Sylvia Lawrence Owen (Iris hidden) [.5 page] Sc 50: Lawrence Owen (Iris hidden) [3.5 page] Sc 51: Iris [.25 page] Sc 52: Iris Rose [1.25 page] Sc 53: Rose Sylvia [.25 page] Sc 54: Rose Owen [1 page] Sc 55: Rose Iris Owen [.5 page] Sc 56: Iris Lawrence [4 page] Sc 57: Iris Lawrence Sylvia [.5 page] Sc 58: Sylvia Lawrence [1 page] Sc 59: Sylvia Lawrence (Owen hidden) [.75 page] Sc 60: Lawrence Owen [1.5 page] Sc 61: Lawrence Owen Rose [.25 page] Sc 62: Owen Rose [2 page] Sc 63: Iris (Rose passed out) [.75 page] Sc 64: Iris Sylvia [2 page] Sc 65: Iris Sylvia Rose [>.25 page] Sc 66: Iris Owen [.5 page] Sc 67: Iris [.25 page] Sc 68: Iris Sylvia Owen [3 page] Sc 69: Iris [.25 page] Sc 70: Iris Rose [.5 page] Sc 71: Iris [>.25 page] Sc 72: Iris Owen [1.5 page] Sc 73: Iris Owen (Sylvia hidden from Owen) [.5 page] Sc 74: Iris Owen [.75 page] ACT II 47.5 pages

Iris: ~100% of play Mr. Lawrence: 56% of play Owen: 54% of play Sylvia: 41% of play Miss Rose: 16% of play

I am not writing Huckleberry Hostel cross-wise. Following the structure outline, I’m writing “Dorm Room” first. But I am taking notes for “Multipurpose Room.” Finn just left the dorm with a book; he will soon enter the multipurpose room with that book, which he will later reveal to contain the schedule for the next Mississippi River cruise. You see, his alcoholic pappy finally tracked him down and is after his money, so he’s gotta high-tail it out of there!

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