Since I last posted, I’ve been in perpetual ‘generating of writing’ mode… No time for anything other than an occasional tweet.
First up: Knitted.
In the ten-minute version I penned for ScriptWork’s Out of Ink Festival last year, after a one-night stand Piper turns a pair of abandoned underwear into a puppet. This puppet comes to life, and then Piper must raise it.
This is becoming a full-length play.
I liked the conceit. It’s present for me. Many of my heterosexual friends are reproducing, and some of my gay friends have also managed to figure out how to become parents, an intentional and expensive process. If you make the money a playwright/teaching artist makes and you’re single and gay and in your mid-thirties, you’re not going to accidentally end up raising a child. I don’t think that the solution to the epidemic of queer loneliness is to distribute random magical children, but I will say this: I am interested in making a story that is unique to the gay community that isn’t just about coming out or making jokes about bears and twinks. And a gay man having the issues of a single mother, well, that’s interesting to me.
I spent the latter part of the summer pushing out a rough draft. It needs a better title and scads of revision – and a workshop with people and puppets — but it’s on its way.
Icarus Livingstone Falls into the Sea
In the fall, I write a play for high school students. I knew that I wanted to do an adaptation this year, and so I presented a number of possible cultural products we could turn into theatre. We worked through various possibilities, and what had heat was the story of Icarus / Theseus / the Minotaur. It makes sense – these characters were necessarily young folks, as are my collaborators. I’ve already worked with this material via Fallout of the Sky; when I re-examined it with my students, I found that focusing on the stories of the young people made the most sense.
So Icarus’s father designed the labyrinth, and also helped the Minotaur come into existence. The Minotaur’s father – King Minos – is essentially rejecting his son when he locks up the Minotaur. Theseus, the guy who kills the Minotaur, learns how to do this from Ariadne, Minos’s daughter (and thus the Minotaur’s sister). Naturally, the world of the play is about examining these relationships. There’s a quasi-queer reading of the story here – the ideas of transformation and parental rejection and feeling ‘different’ from your parents metaphorically echoes the LGBTQ+ experience in the same way that The X-Men is a story about gay people. My staging isn’t leaning into these themes directly any more than the X-Men does. Future iterations could. In the meantime, I love both the script and the potential for it.
I finished the production draft three weeks ago now. More soon.
[More] Deleted Scenes From Fairy Tales
I usually commission a high school student to write the middle school play in the fall while I focus on the high school. I didn’t have the perfect budding TYA playwright this year, so I decided to return to the Deleted Scenes concept. It’s a robust creative container and allows for A LOT of student input, which I needed while I was writing the HS play. I managed to finish this play in a week and a half – holy crap – based on weeks and weeks of student devising. While I usually have a fair amount of student imagination in all of my theatre-for-teens, this is by far the most student-co-authored play I’ve had.
A few weeks ago, a woman who teaches theatre in a public school in a small Texas town contacted me for advice on getting work-for-teens out into the world. She had LGBTQ+ themes in her work, and a good deal of my work is with LGBTQ+ youth. I gave her my thoughts, but what made me livid was she told me that her bosses force her to cast her trans kids according to the gender the child was assigned at birth – not their identities.
Professional theatre world would find this atrocious. College theatre students would be in an uproar.
Theatre is one arena where a student could, theoretically, represent their identity without outing themselves. It could be a refuge for young people. It should be.