Spring Break. Reflection time.
The middle school play is finished. Ish. There’s always a mess, always something I have to figure out in rehearsal. Apologies I make to the actors.
We started devising around images and songs that the actors brought in. Emerging from this – stories of transformation. A rose that could kill or grant eternal life; a crow that grew into human form, something about ‘soul eaters’, wood that became a living puppet, and so on.
I fell in love with these stories. Some seemed to pull from Pinocchio or The Tempest or the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, despite these being unfamiliar to my students.
The systems of magic didn’t line up, however. I couldn’t compress everything into a singular narrative.
For years, I’ve wanted to use the La Ronde structure – short plays connected with a character passing along a ring to another character until we circle around to the first. My twenties was about making short work, but I stepped away because who other than David Ives made their career on short work? Even when I wrote fiction, the question was always about when would you tackle a novel?
And so this presented the opportunity to finally write that play.
[Yes, La Ronde involves people sleeping with each other. I didn’t talk about the source material when I wrote the play.]
Seven interlocking short plays. In each, a magical transformation. In each, a major character hands a ring to a minor character, who then has a story built around them.
And every night of performance, we’ll randomly draw which play we’ll start on.
Middle school usually invites camp. It’s a ridiculous time in life, after all. And we can parody adulthood.This play only dabbles in camp. Students who advocated for comedy instead found that their work bounced into melancholy endings. Dark fairy tales.
Okay. And what about titles…
I resisted one word titles. I wanted to steer away from Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, with which this play has much in common.
So. The newest middle school play is tentatively titled: begin anywhere, little one; spin the lonely world, and where you land is where you start
If I find another title in the process, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, okay, let’s lean into the sixteen word title.