Revolving doors fascinate me. As an inquisitive nine year old, they were the most adventurous entrance to a building I could possibly imagine. I craved the the thrill of pushing through a giant glass rotary, the exhilaration of jumping out just in time before the next door closed off my escape. It was a man-powered machine of monstrous size.
For whatever reason, my small town in Florida didn’t fashion revolving doors in its general architecture and, like snow, they are became part of a my own mythology. Even though completely explainable, to me they were magical.
Yes, I was that kid who started a list of things that I will “some day” experience if I was lucky enough. Riding in a taxi, making a snowman, having my first kiss…
As soon as I grew up, I set off the explore this wild untamed world. I rode my first taxi in London. I built a snowman on my college campus lawn. I enter work every day through a revolving door. And I shared my first kiss on a warm summer night with the same man, who two and a half years later, got on one knee for me.
Life hasn’t disappointed my youthful dreams and I my heart can hardly imagine the adventures to come. I can’t wait to spend it with the man of my dreams.
Love you Michael,
When fleshing out a play, even at the beginning stages, keep a picture of the stage in mind. With theatre, you have the unique ability to use the physical/tactile world to say what words can’t. The right set can be just as theatrical as your favorite climactic dialogue (don’t shout me down yet. Just hear me out).
I once had a professor describe theatre more akin to poetry than anything else. The more shows I see, the more convinced I am of this fact.
There are obvious limitations to what you can do on a stage verses what can be done on a green screen. But there are aspects of theatre that can never be portrayed in a movie.
Let movies do what movies do best.
Leave the literal world to the big screen. If you want to literally see a winged Pegasus fly over a mountain, don’t demand the stage director to strap actors to a pulley system and swing them through the air. Watch the movie.
But if you want to be immersed in a stage that extends to your very seat, go to the show.
Consider your space – or lack of space – when writing a scene. You can say “I hate you” with an toy gun better than superlatives. You can change scenes with a lighting queue quicker than shuffling actors to a new set. You can terrify the audience with darkness easier than the perfectly delivered lines you came up with.
Let your stage be a poetic canvas. Use the space for irony and suspense. If you are fresh out of ideas, give your play to a painter and ask them to imagine the world that it belongs in.
Possibilities are endless. Have fun with it.
First drafts can be tricky. On the one hand, I am a big fan of Anne Lemott’s “shitty first draft” to get words on the page. On the other hand, if I pile inciting incidents on top of outlandish plot twists – working off of hunches and strong personalities – I sometimes find my characters painted into a corner.
This is exactly what happened with my recent script. Working through the second scene, I wrestled with “means to an end” dialogue written for the sake of plot progression and sudden character mood swings to spice things up. This made my characters’ speech feel forced as I used it for place fillers to the next plot point.
That’s when I started writing dialogue from the middle.
Instead of starting from the beginning and writing to the end, I took a step back to just imagine the characters. I pictured their motivations, their fears, their speech cadence and started writing a dialogue in the middle.
No leading series of events, no ultimate goal, just a simple conflict. Put your characters in a car, lost in a road trip. Or start a dialogue with a character saying “So you have decided then?” and let them hash it out.
I could finally navigate around my predictable outline of events and really explore the scene. Not sure if it will end up in the final draft, but it’s a good place to jump in.
Listening to one of my favorite radio programs, Studio 360, I heard a critic describe a musician’s musical influence in a way I had never considered. I instantly fell in love with this idea: Don’t imitate great art, absorb it.
Reviewing the iconic American musical score, Appalachian Spring, the critic explained that composers such as Philip Glass, inspired by the piece, used Appalachian Spring’s melody and structure in his own work. “They don’t imitate [the score], they absorb both vision and ambition.”
So many times I have plugged my ears and drowned out the influence of great classic pieces of literature as I wrote my own work lest their genius voice manifest itself in my own play.
I must not be copycat.
I must be entirely original.
I must find a story that has never been told.
First off, that is impossible. It’s easy to get caught up in the passion to tell the next new original story and listen to the crowd go wild. But this is immature thinking and excludes you from a community of writers both present and past.
Instead of writing your virginal script alone in your upstairs tower – waiting for prince charming Muse to steal you away – take your literary romantic affairs and absorb it into your own work.
Make love with the greats poets and writers, scandalously and often.
You may realize, as I did, that it is much easier to show your artistic influences proudly rather than rival them.
Listen to the entire broadcast here.
I found this video called “Girl learns to dance in a year” and as I watched her time laps from day 4 to day 365 I was absolutely transfixed. Her final performance was not only remarkable but it was so striking a progression that it was all I could do to stop watching it over and over again.
Even now, I had to stop and watch the whole thing again.
What I tend to forget when I see a great achievement or an outstanding play that moves me to tears, is all the little steps that happened from inspiration to curtain call.
She wrote on her website “This isn’t a story about dancing, though. It’s about having a dream and not knowing how to get there — but starting anyway.”
How she did it? She allowed the dream of dancing to consume her motivations. Slowly, day after day, as practiced and became single minded in her eventual goal.
I remembered all over again that each step I take is indeed taking me somewhere. I just need to make sure I am pointed in the right direction.
No matter how fiery the start or exotic the end goal, don’t let the middle discouraged you.
My boyfriend, Michael bought me a matching pair of hand blown recycled glass coffee mugs Tuesday in response to the pleading look in my eyes. It was an early birthday present. Place them with my rather extensive collection of other assorted coffee mugs and tea cups that I had been curating for years. I realized that, yes, I have more coffee mugs than plates, bowls and drinking glasses combined. You never know, if the entire city of Atlanta decided to stop by for tea, I need to be prepared.
For those that do not understand why someone would have 30+ assorted coffee mugs stuffed in every kitchen cabinet of my one bedroom apartment, realize that drinking coffee throughout the day is a purely emotional experience. And just like a girl cannot own too many dresses, you cannot be satisfied with a “one coffee mug for every occasion” lifestyle. Eventually you just get bored.
Let me give you guilt free permission to buy one more set of coffee mugs. It’s perfectly worth it.
Hundreds of office workers remain trapped on floors two through fifteen after four shafts elevators caved in. Two days after the freak accident, rescuers have resorted to cutting a new elevator shaft through the middle of the high-rise building in order to construct a temporary elevator. Firefighters hope the makeshift elevator will be able to descend each white-collared worker down to the safety of the lobby floor.
Albert Eisenhower Fire Chief received the call late Monday afternoon reporting a massive elevator caved in downtown Atlanta under the increasing weight of its cargo. Soon after rescuers arrived on the scene, they realized that the stranded office workers were unwilling or unable to walk down the open emergency stairway.
This morning, emergency personnel have resorted to desperate measures and began the task of cutting a new elevator shaft through the office building to allow the workers above a way out.
At the same time, rescuers are sending food and supplies up the broken shaft by tying inner office envelopes to canaries and flying them to the above levels.
Reports show that the stranded workers have survived so far on snacks from their floor vending machines and filtered water fountains. The workers are also rationing packets of Folgers coffee to keep awake through night watches.
Earlier rescue attempts include using life sized paper airplanes to glide the office workers safely to the ground or loading survivors onto large pieces of cardboard and sliding them down the ten or so flights of stairs. There were even talks of shutting off the power and water in order to coax hungry workers down the emergency stairway.
So far all attempts have been unsuccessful.
Despite the situation, the overall moral of trapped workers seem high. Vine videos show the workers spinning in office chairs along with Instagram pictures of their favorite cups of coffee.
One office worker tweeted: “I always knew this day might come. Every morning when those elevators closed to take me up to the seventh floor, I wondered if I would ever see the lobby floor again?”
As rescuers cut the new elevator shaft, firefighters have also resorted to carrying workers on the lower stories down the perfectly usable stairway.
“We don’t have the manpower to carry every sorry paper-pusher down the stairs,” says Eisenhower. “Sooner we get this new shaft built, the sooner our boys can go home.”