Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

Copy Red Leader.

Update: the great Thanksgiving Day decision has been taken out of my hands by the significant emotions of family change. Donna and her family decided that it might be nice to make this Thanksgiving dinner an immediate-family-only event, as it will likely be the last Thanksgiving before the family welcomes a new member (Donna’s eldest brother is getting married next October). For what it’s worth, the conversation that was had in regards to the ongoing culture-clash ugliness was productive and necessary, even if the immediate event being discussed is no longer a relevant source of tension. And it’s not that I received an un-vite…I was asked on more than one occasion how I felt about this decision. I replied that it made perfect sense to me that Donna’s family would want things this way; symbols of this sort are larger than the possibility of hurting my feelings, and my feelings aren’t at all hurt because I know it’s not personal. And furthermore, Donna knows that I had already told my parents I would be going, regardless of their reactions, and that if they wanted to make a fuss about it, I could easily remind them that they are getting me for four-and-a-half days next week.Watched The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Special Extended DVD Version last night with friends. The process took a little over four hours, with intermissions, popcorn breaks, and a slight delay resulting from the second disc having a series of bad smudges on the playable area. The movie is still great, and the new scenes are illuminating, particularly of the characters of Boromir, Gimli, and Aragorn. However illuminating, though, the pacing is often compromised for these scenes, so this release is best where it is, on a home DVD.I’m setting up yet another audition with the Neo-Futurists, although not at all for the same thing…this wouldn’t be for “Too Much Light,” it’s for a piece that Chloe Johnston is putting together for their primetime slots. We’ll see how that turns out.

Last night I wrote a one-minute monologue for Donna that I’m actually quite proud of. Allegedly taken from the unwritten–and indeed, unplotted, unimagined, and in no way about to be written–play “Number Two Pencil,” the piece is a comic rant from a third-grade English teacher to a student’s mother, during a parent-teacher conference. It’s the first thing I’ve done since college that I can describe as abjectly silly; the closest I’ve returned to my Durang phase (which is not a phase I’d wanted to leave behind).

In my life, now, I have created two alternate playwrights for myself and created at least three unwritten plays written by them or myself. Three of my short plays were done for a five-play show that also featured two works by Marc-Anthony Macon (who has recently discovered me and will soon be creating an LJ of his own), and I, not feeling comfortable with the show, “Hostages in Holy Water,” [1] being just the Bilal-and-Marc-Anthony-Show, created the nom de plumes “Neil Garrison” and “Hector Frye” as the authors of “The Playwright’s Bullet” and “Plan B.” This led, to my surprise at first, to some confusion. It hadn’t occurred to me that just because I and the production staff were well aware that I was both Neil and Hector that nobody else would realize the same. Two such incidents:

1) I, as myself, was the director of “The Playwright’s Bullet.” A quick word on how I direct my own plays, when I have done so: I enter into a fully committed split personality, one being the director and the other being the playwright. I feel this is necessary for the benefit of the script–as a playwright, I fear becoming defensive and closed off to possibly much-needed script improvements as suggested through rehearsal. As a director, I have often ranted disparagingly about myself as “this hack playwright, what on Earth was this guy thinking, etcetera etcetera” to my own and I thought to my cast’s amusement. I would pretend that the playwright and I “needed to have words.” In any case, two weeks before the show, my cast suddenly asked me when they’d be meeting the playwright. “Hello,” I said. This is what happens, boys and girls, when you leave out such piddling details as your true identity.

2) “Hostages” was set up with an intermission after the third play. The first, “Waxing Chad,” was written by Marc-Anthony, the second, “A Good Excuse,” was written by myself, and the third, “The Playwright’s Bullet,” was written by Neil Garrison and directed by myself. “Plan B,” the fourth show, was written by Hector Frye. Goofball that I am, I created false biographies and directors’ notes as if both Neil and Hector existed and had bibliographies of their own [2]. What this led to, I discovered later, was that my friend Amelia left after the intermission, thinking that I had no other shows in the production [3].

As such, I have decided that Neil and Hector may only be resurrected in the event that I need to leave the country suddenly. [4]

When I go back to my parents’ place on Wednesday, I will be able to drive through the newly-reconstructed Lower Wacker Drive, which is being reopened tomorrow for traffic. For those unfamiliar with Chicago, Lower Wacker is a tunnel that runs underneath the city, and is perhaps the most interesting, and arguably one of the most convenient, ways to leave or enter the city by car. Nearly two years ago, the city of Chicago decided rightly that Lower Wacker required renovation, and now that renovation is complete. By many accounts, Lower Wacker is now better-lit and organized, which is both a blessing and a shame. The old Lower Wacker twisted a little, and had several points where a two-lane road suddenly merged into a single lane. In other words, it allowed one the visceral thrill of pretending they were making a run on the first Death Star. You’d speed through the tunnel at 40 mph, zip past a car here and there, merge into the single lanes, and when you’d look in your rearview mirror–understand, I’m glad this never happened–you felt a small part of you want to see the Ford Escort behind you hit the pillar, careen off the walls, and explode, while you grinned and yelled “Take that, Imperial Scum!”

But no more. Yesterday, I got on a swing set and noticed that it was making me a little queasy. Between that and the new Lower Wacker, it became clear that some things you just can’t get back from your youth, no matter how long ago it was or wasn’t.

[1] This title means nothing. When our production company, Planet Slushy Productions, was out advertising for Quad Day, people kept asking what our fall show was called. Eventually, one of us just strung together the phrase “Hostages in Holy Water,” and the title stuck. We tried to create all sorts of rationale, about people trapped by faith, or somesuch, and eventually decided to say Hell With It.

[2] In the director’s notes for “The Playwright’s Bullet,” I gave a paragraph analysis of the themes and motifs inherent in Neil Garrison’s plays, best exemplified by “Phoenix Cube” and “An Iceberg in Eden,” and began with a line from “Iceberg” as a sample of Neil’s concerns as a playwright. Why yes, I am crazy. Thank you for asking.

[3] And before anybody says anything, I will point out that I disapprove highly of such practices, and said as much to Amelia afterward. A night at the theater should not primarily be about supporting people involved who are friends of yours, it should be about the theatre you are going to see. [5]

[4] Seeing as how we have a brand-spanking-new Homeland Security Big Brother, by tomorrow, this LJ will be monitored by Ashcroft and Company. Note to the DOJ. You will never catch me. You will never hold me. My innocence cannot be destroyed, and if you try I shall do nothing to you or the citizens of this country in tenfold. Muhuhahahaha.

[5] Despite being an editor and English enthusiast, and despite my familiarity with the Chicago Manual of Style, one of my personal stylistic quirks is that I use different spellings of the word “theater” depending on how I’m using it. For anybody who cares, in my lexicon, “theater” is the place you go, “theatre” is the art itself.

Current music: MP3 list, Nine Inch Nails, “The Becoming”

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This entry was posted on November 25, 2002 by in Chicago, Movies, Plays, Politics, Theatre, Writing.
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