Now Add an Eerie Touch of the Supernatural

Having digressed religiously yesterday from my intended subject of my second long play, Magick, weʼll return to the track today.

This scan is of the original poster — my design but improved and rendered by (I think) Donna née Thola

Magick came out of the summer after Janet and I married in May (and had to cancel our still-becalmed honeymoon/vacation in Bermuda — after four or five postponements by the then-travel agent to adjust for many snow days — because our then-superintendent couldnʼt count to 180, and so we had to add five extra days of school as May began, which is how we ended up honeymooning in romantic, exotic Minneapolis). We were living in the little apartment on Maple Street then, and I spent the long dreamy days of summer reading all the books I wanted to read, of course, and also tomes on black magic as well as writing my then-newest play. The black magic was research, of course.

I donʼt know what possessed me to decide to write another long play, besides: probably attempting to impress Janet, getting really quite mad at televangelista mendacious power-seeking (and Herr Robertsonʼs normal wild irrationality and self-promotion — whatever happened to the virtue of humility?), thinking about social pressures and popular girls (Tina Fey is such a Janey-come-lately), pondering Judaism, investigting Kabbalah and black magic (I actually bought a little black paperback entitled Necromicon at a strange and tiny little bookstore in a strip mall on Highway 20 West in Dubuque — and still have it… somewhere, oh Great Cthulhu — and the spellchecker appears to know the word “Cthulhu!”), and learning about Janetʼs little sister Dianeʼs childhood imaginary friend Collywather. Plus a lot of other stuff.

Somehow all that boiled over into a second play, this time set in Michigan, in an imaginary small town, Grayport (fans of the Hardy Boys may catch the allusion), which a newly divorced young mother, Joan Aubrey, has come to open a used bookstore in an abandoned church (which owed much to my growing familiarity with Peace Pipe Playersʼ Kirchhoff Theater here in Maquoketa, and which I actually imagined as the exterior of that bookstore and where I fantasized about filming a screenplay version of this play) owned by the local wealthy Jewish guy, who also happens to be a Holocaust survivor. Protagonist Diana Crane works at the bookstore, where she interacts with: her little nemesis, Donny Carter, a comic-book fiend (whose parents happen to be religious-right nutballs); Mark Ramsey, a science-fiction-reading young man (the romantic interest for our intrepid heroine); and the newly divorced bookstore ownerʼs young daughter, Karen, who has strangely developed at thirteen an imaginary new friend called Collywather.

The imaginary friend involves the school counselor, Madonna Nietzsche (a little personal life joke involved in that name as well as a philosophical allusion), who was a noticeable advance on the rough draft version I had created for Speak No Evil of a goofily liberal, jargon-addicted Educator-with-a-definite-capital-E. But a group of very popular and Eighties-style ValGal-lingo-spouting girls who despise Diana (a mutual assessment) but enthralled by visions of themselves as witches (how punny for me), become fascinated with Karen and Collywather (who they imagine is some kind of supernatural being, perhaps, to their excitement, a demon). The leader of this awful group of snobbish “gels,” one of whom is Donnyʼs misled older sister, got named perfectly Storm Darroway (a Poul Anderson allusion/nametheft).

This was supposed to be my own version of the Magick logo, doodled back in 1982 during idle moments when I should really have been writing — but copied from the 1998 version of the script, which I think was a scan of the 1982 poster…

Like Speak No Evil, the play covers quite a lot of time, in this case from before school starts in late summer through the night of Halloween, when the witch girls try to perform a demon-summoning (with rituals taken from my research! chillingly enough), but are fooled and foiled by Diana, Mark, Karen and Donny. A major element of the plot(s) concerned Donnyʼs parents becoming obsessed with the bookstore being an evil influence on the community and summoning a local televangelista underling to create a campaign against smut and perdition in town, culminating in a rally to “Close Down the Devil” (only to be quelled by the actual televangelist, Slim Jim Thompson, who thought the publicity wasnʼt the kind he wanted associated with his Power Hour broadcasts). —I hadnʼt at that time encountered the drive-in theatre gone-Crystal Cathedral preacher guyʼs Hour of Power, so the echo is purely coincidental (and wholly appropriate).

Somehow, as August waned for me in real life, I still hadnʼt finished my script (if I am remembering correctly). And then personal tragedy imposed its savage weight as my mother, who had been ill with cancer for a year but valiantly persevered to be at my wedding, died over Labor Day, while the whole family was home (Old Threshers time, of course, for you knowledgeable about Mt. Pleasant). I really donʼt know what the school did as I was suddenly gone for a week (or what kind of lesson plans I didnʼt create; I wonder the same thing about the horrible week just before Christmas a year later when my father died). I do know that in those pre-volleyball-as-a-school-sport days we didnʼt have to hold auditions for the fall play (which was slated for just before Halloween that year) until the middle of September because we could rehearse three or four evenings a week then (not so after there were three or four evenings of volleyball games each week until mid-October).

Rehearsals are a not even vague memory for me, although I think we actually had quite a lot of fun. I know the crowd really got into their start-of-Act-Three (I hadnʼt yet learned to divide long shows into just two acts for one intermission) rally scene. I even thought up funny, repulsive names for each of those characters. Ah, those were the days when we had thirty and more students on stage for our productions. Now there arenʼt even thirty in a graduating class at Andrew

And just because I donʼt have any photos from my Andrew shows until the 21st Century — outside of yearbook B&Ws — hereʼs the PPP production of Sleeping Beauty, scanned in its frame from our basement

It was an exciting production with a really fine cast, and Diane was shocked and thrilled when she first heard the possibly supernatural imaginary friendʼs name (Janet and I  and had kept it a secret from her until the show). I had also appropriated and expanded upon some of her unique and memorable neologisms and turns of phrase for the witch-girlsʼ slang and chatter.

Magick premiered during the narrow window of a few years when I experimented having more than one public production of a play (Friday and Saturday nights, October 29 and 30, 1982), an experiment that failed because rather than enlarging our audience, all we did was cut the normal crowd roughly in half each night. Both crowds seemed delighted with the show, however (as was I), completely — to the best of my knowledge — overlooking the swipes at religious-right televangelism and orthodoxical narrow-mindedness.

I was so pleased with the production that we redid this play. It is the only full-length show of mine that I have tried twice — except for the long version of Sleeping Beauty which I wrote/revised for Peace Pipe Players so we could transform the ship set for Anything Goes into a castle (thanks forever, Jean Buchner! — for that and My Fair Lady and…) for a summer production; it became my final fall play at Andrew.

Anyway. Magick played well both times (and the girls sixteen years later, in 1998, had a great time recapturing the then-fading and not-yet quite-refashionable mid-Eighties. The sets were fantastic both times (my design idea brought to life by Steve Lucke and his art students, including great faux stained-glass windows that were still surviving (for the most part) when I left the Andrew sets/props/costume stocks a year ago. We also purchased shelving for the books in the bookstore (one set throughout, the interior of Sanctuary Books) both times — in 1982 from my own pocket, thus providing the new household with some bookshelves, and in 1998 for metal storage shelves that are still going strong in the Andrew Drama storage areas.

The books on the bookstore shelves were mine both times (including the dozen or so titles named in the script, such is my Belasco-like dedication to ultra-realism — a statement which you should, please, read with the intended irony). The books and possibly the language of the popular girls are the only things that really date the show, to my mind. I really should get the Magick script into the proper order to ship off to play publishing companies (once this Census job wraps, of course).

—By the way, I spelled it M-A-G-I-C-K for no good reason except to look good, having appropriated that spelling from Aleister Crowley, who wrote one of my resource books (not knowing then that the particular antiquated spelling I enjoyed would become in this perverse era overbreaingly popular and inextricably linked to follow sex…)

And thatʼs the not-so-quick version of how I developed a second three-act play. Thanks for your time and (I hope) interest.

I had originally intended to explore the genesis of all the long plays I wrote, but weʼll see if that plan survives the weekend.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Magickal Monkey Madness

Joe Cocker had a song on his third studio album back in the day, as the kids like to say (note the deliberate imprecision of that phrase, “back in the day,” by the way — any time whatsoever from the past, yesterday or ten thousand years ago, could be “back in the day”— the same kind of intentional vagueness and incomprehension of truth or reality that led to the mistaken perceptions I wrote about yesterday) titled “I Get Mad.” (That self-titled album came out while I was in college, also by the way, in 1973. I still have my vinyl copy, available for sale as a rarity and antique — sighing sadly — if anyone wants to buy it.)

I do. Get mad, that is. And sometimes getting angry is very productive for me. Like yesterday.

Getting angry also gave me (and Andrew High School) a whole quartet of full-length plays for fall production.

I scanned the 11x14-inch poster in pieces to provide some visual interest for this post, and you can see the effects of age on this thirty-year-old relic

I wrote my very first three-act play because I got mad at Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggert and that other televangelista con man with the excessive eye-make-up wife (Jim Bakker and spouse Tammy Faye, I now recall by name). And the second play, too. (Letting me watch daytime television during the summer can be an issue for falsehoods I dislike.) I tried artificially inducing such anger when I wanted to write a third one. And the fourth (and so far final) full-length play dropped into reality because I got angry about how kids treat each other at school.

The first long play was originally entitled Lower Than The Angels while I was writing (the pros call that a “working title”). Somehow, about the time I finished it and sent it off to the Area Education Agency for duplication just before auditions in the fall and the start of school, a much more memorable title hit me — Speak No Evil. Although I lured you all in with my reference to writing from anger, the actual inspiration for the play was an experience of genuine delight — reading Carl Saganʼs Dragons of Eden, which I did at the International Thespian Festival in June, 1978 (along with several Poul Anderson Polesotechnic League and Flandry novels). Among a thousand bazillion other things Saganʼs little book got me thinking about, one provoking issue was teaching apes to “speak” through American Sign Language, novel and successful experimentation begun in the early Seventies. That species-shattering idea, crossed with some really awful experiences watching Godʼs self-approved, deluded Little Reactionary strut his pseudo-stuff on The 700 Club in the summers of ʼ79 and ʼ80, got me writing, and the resulting play was ready for practice and production in the fall of 1980.

Writing that play was one of the major joys of my life. I recall the composition period (which I did originally longhand! I wonder where that notebook is today…) as pure excitement, imaginative bliss. I even wrote to the original real-life experimenters, Drs. Allen and (the late) Beatrix Gardner, for information and asking their permission to refer to them, Washoe and their work in the play. Lost somewhere in my chaotic files are the reprints of their papers that they sent me (and which I used in finalizing the typed script) along with a request to see my finished play. I hope I had the nerve to send them a copy (today I donʼt remember, and I have always been shy and unsure of myself).

Former Andrew art instructor Steve Lucke did the poster art, using my suggestions, but he devised bananas for the title logo. The ape is signing C for “cup” while her cap nods to the overly liberal counselor, and sheʼs reading her Bible, albeit a rather thin one. For nearly twenty years we made our play posters uniquely eye-catching by hand-coloring them, an activity most Andrew drama veterans will probably recall — perhaps not with fondness…

Speak No Evil features a classic American TV family in Oklahoma (a state I selected because the Gardners sent their original experimental primate, Washoe, to a chimp refuge there, where she taught her children some signs — indicating that she truly understood language and communication) — mom, dad, daughter and son. Trouble erupts when the daughter (our protagonist), inspired by her young biology teacher, decides to do a science fair experiment teaching sign language to a chimp (played by a human in mask and costume — I still have the then-$40 ape mask I bought with my own money through the mail for the show).

The unrevered Rev. Robertson entered as an organized reactionary religious group in my play (imaginary, by the way) that dreaded the inclusion of “evil-ution” in the school curriculum. At the time, thirty years ago, I feared that my literary swipe at stodgy scaredycats — terrified of truth, the long-dead Darwin and the future — was already out of date (how little did I dream that fear and cowardice — and perhaps the unchecked influence of tradition-pounders like Pat — would reduce so many to just that inverted, terrified, knee-jerk and unreflective opinion). However, most of the story emphasized science and reason, so the religious right was a pretty minor issue in the play. The left even got clouted through a jargon-spouting liberal school counselor who mealy-mouthed her way around the problems of the play.

Conflict centered on the disruption of raising a chimp in a family home, frustrations of the experiment distracting our heroine from her boyfriend, and the chimp not seeming to develop any skill or interest in signing. Ultimately the chimp “spoke” out of jealousy when her mistress and the boyfriend started kissing, and in the end all worked out well for science and rational reality. The show played smoothly and strongly before an audience, too (possibly owing more to a very talented and ingenious cast than my script or direction).

—And thatʼs the story of how I wrote my first full-length play, a comedy of science and poor manners.

One running gag in the play involved ignorant people calling the chimp a “monkey.” When you combine that reference with the title of my next play (tomorrowʼs post), you get my corporate monicker, as the title of todayʼs post suggests.

I would like to thank you all for sending the WordPress official count on my blog over 20,00 hits recently!

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

The Rest of the Incompleteness

Yesterdayʼs post was the first few pages of a never-completed spring play idea (never finished partly because I never decided what fairy tale we were going to mangle once we concluded the sort of nonsense you are about to read and did read yesterday).

If you recall, the rowdy members of a bad audience were getting called upon to become the play (r1, I believe, indicates the lead Rowdy). We left you at a PAUSE…

ANOTHER SPRING PLAY (continued)

one more (unfinished) blurt in a series of twisted tales from folk traditions

by John Randolph Burrow

[Pause]

You’re not moving.

Neither are you.

I was waiting for you.

I was waiting for you.

Come on.  This is stupid.  Let’s all go.

[ROWDIES and some AUDIENCE members go up on the stage, crawling under the curtain.  The LIGHT CREW laughs.  Voices come from behind the curtain.]

OK.  We’re here.  No one else is.

Where’d they all go.

Who knows?

r1  [peeking under the curtain] Come on, Mike, where is the cast?

[Gym lights start switching off.]

r1  Hey, the lights are going off.

What?  —Let me see!  —They are!  —Wait.  What’s going on now?

[The CURTAIN begins to open.]

Who’s doing that?  Go get him.

[STAGE LIGHTS come up.]

Mike!  Delbert!  What are you doing?

LIGHT CREW  The play just started!

ROWDIES  What’s going on here?

LIGHT CREW  You’re the play!  You were right all along.

ROWDIES  What do you mean we’re the play?

LIGHT CREW  It’s some nutty idea Burrow had.   “Found theater. “  He explained it to us in drama class.  He stole the idea from highbrow music.  Some guys in modern classical music, they just show up at a concert hall and do nothing, and whatever noises happen to happen, that’s the music.

ROWDIES  And people pay money for this?

LIGHT CREW  You did.

ROWDIES  Oh yeah?

LIGHT CREW  Yeah.

ROWDIES  Well, what if we don’t want to be the play?

LIGHT CREW  You already are.

ROWDIES  We could sit back down.  What about that, smart guys?  We could just sit back down, and what are you going to do then?

LIGHT CREW  Uh . . .

ROWDIES  What if we just leave?

I’d do that.  I wanted a part in this play, at first, but he only offered me garbage.  I don’t feel like being your  “found drama. “

What about costumes?  What about make-up?

You’re not getting me to wear any make-up!!

Me, either.

ACTOR  [coming onstage] Okay, guys.  You can relax.

Relax?

ACTOR  Yeah.  We knew this was a really dumb idea.

[Other ACTORS drift onstage.]

OTHER ACTORS  Yeah.  It was really stupid.  Pretending to practice.

r1  So what happens now?

ACTOR  It’s over.

ROWDIES  Over?!!

ACTORS  Yeah.  It was like really dumb.  Don’t worry.  It’s over.

r2  So what are you going to do?

ACTOR  That’s it.  The play’s finished.

ACTORS  We discussed it at  “practice.”  Whatever happens is what happens.

ACTOR  Well, it happened.  It’s finished.  Let’s kill the lights.  Curtain!

r1  Now wait.

ACTOR  What?  You want a curtain call?

No.  We can do this.   I wanted a good part.  Back in March.  He didn’t give me one.  Now I can have a really big role.

Yeah.  Me too.  I didn’t have time to practice, but I wanted a part.

There’s nothing to it.

Oh, yeah, easy for you to say.

You’ve all been onstage before.

I don’t want anything to do with it.

It’s easy.

Says you.

Hey, if they’re going to . . . call it off . . .

How hard can it be?

I mean, really . . .

They’re all looking at us.

Come on, what do you say?

ACTOR  What?  You’re going to do a play?

Yeah.  It’s easy.

ACTORS  What play are you going to do?

We’ll do like he does.  A fairy tale.  All we need is a story.

ACTORS  You’re nuts.  This isn’t what’s supposed to happen.  You’re supposed to get tricked up here, look like fools, and sit down.  It’s like a joke.  You’re not really supposed to do anything.

Yeah?  Well, we’re up here now.  We’ll do what we want.  [to audience] What do you say?  Want a play?

AUDIENCE  Better than going home!

See?  Now all we need is a story.

Three Little Pigs?  —Too dorky.

Little Red Riding Hood?  —Be real.

Snow White?  —Ever heard of Brick Red?  We did it.

ACTOR  Um . . . if you’re interested, I have a book.

“BOOK TITLE “?

A kid’s book?!

ACTOR  At least I read.

Who cares?  Has it been a spring play yet?

ACTOR  No.  He was going to adapt it this year, but . . . you know …

ALL  He wasn’t inspired.

r1  Okay.  We’ll do it.  I’m the storyteller.

Why you?

r1  Because I want a good part.

ROWDIES  What about us?

r1  I’ll tell you your parts.  Come on, let’s get started.

Sound familiar to some of you (former students and spring play veterans)? It probably should, although this exact beginning was never, of course, used. —Did anyone notice some real students got their first names included (which should date at least  revised version of this abortive opening)?

Obviously I was losing interest by the portion todayʼs post represents. I havenʼt even assigned speakers yet for most of the lines.

In a long nutshell, though, you do see most of my favorite gimmicks and tropes: using everyone in the play—actors, crew, even the actual audience, self-references galore, mocking me…

Maybe Iʼll provide something of value tomorrow… (I hope I do.)

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Unfinished Business

Too busy to post real stuff… (I warned you about these two posts, today and tomorrow, yesterday!)

Hereʼs something unpublishable because itʼs only the beginning of a spring play that never went anywhere (and I stole the idea it expresses at least twice anyway). I think I wrote it sometime about the mid-Nineties…

ANOTHER SPRING PLAY

another in a series of twisted tales from folk traditions

by John Randolph Burrow

As the audience enters, no programs are distributed.  As curtain time passes, the house lights do not dim, stage lights do not come on.  Nothing happens.  The light crew seems to be getting a little nervous.  The audience converses.

AUDIENCE  What’s happening here?  —Where’s the play?  —What’s going on?  —Are they going to start soon?  —Are they going to give us a play or not?  Come on, you guys, where’s our play?  —We paid good money:  let’s have a play.

ROWDIES  We want a play!  We want a play!

LIGHT CREW  Look at those guys.  What do they think they’re doing?

ROWDIES  We want a play!  We want a play!

HEAD ROWDY  Hey.

DENSE ROWDY  Hey what?

THIRD ROWDY  Hey!

DENSE ROWDY  Hey what?!

HEAD ROWDY THIRD ROWDY FOURTH ROWDY FIFTH ROWDY  Look!

DENSE ROWDY SIXTH ROWDY  Look at what?

HEAD ROWDY  Them.  They’re looking at us.

DENSE ROWDY  Huh?

THIRD ROWDY  Looking at us.  They’re all looking at us.

SIXTH ROWDY  They are!

DENSE ROWDY  Look at them looking at us.

FIFTH ROWDY  You want something?

FOURTH ROWDY  What’s your problem, huh?

HEAD ROWDY  How come you’re bothering us?

AUDIENCE  How come you’re bothering us?

ROWDIES  You!!?  You’re staring at us.

AN AUDIENCE MEMBER  Only because you’re making so much noise!

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  Yeah!  What do you think you are?  —The play?

ROWDIES  Maybe we do.  What’s it to you?

AN AUDIENCE MEMBER  Plenty.  Maybe if you’d shut up, they’d start.

THIRD ROWDY  Yeah, right.  No little play until the bad little boys shut up and keep quiet, huh?

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  Maybe.

HEAD ROWDY  Hey!  Then we’ll be the play.

AN AUDIENCE MEMBER  You made a rhyme there.   “Hey, we’ll be the play. “

DENSE ROWDY  Huh?

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  You made a little rhyme.

DENSE ROWDY  Huh?

AUDIENCE  Hey, we’re the play.  It rhymes.

DENSE ROWDY  Huh?

AUDIENCE  Rhymes!  —The words sound alike.  Hey . . . play.

ROWDIES  Hey!  So where is the play?  Huh?  —Hey, lights guys, when’s this play going to get started?

LIGHT CREW  Who knows?  Maybe it’s another clever and original opening.

DENSE ROWDY  Huh?

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  It’s the spring play.  They all start weird.

DENSE ROWDY  Huh?

AN AUDIENCE MEMBER  Don’t you remember?

HEAD ROWDY  Nothing more than three minutes ago.  —But if this is the cute and original beginning, something’s wrong.

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  Now you’re just being modest.  —How long have you guys been practicing this?

DENSE ROWDY  Practicing what?

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  This!  This routine.

THIRD ROWDY  This is no routine.

HEAD ROWDY  We’re not the cast.

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  You’re not the cast?  Uh huh.  Right.

THIRD ROWDY  We’re not!  You see our names in the program.

DENSE ROWDY  Program?  What programs?

HEAD ROWDY  I didn’t get a program.

THIRD ROWDY  Me neither.

AN AUDIENCE MEMBER  No one did.

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  That’s odd.  There weren’t any programs.

ROWDIES  How come we didn’t get programs?

AUDIENCE  What?  Do you think we know?

FIRST ROWDY  Yeah.  I do.  You’ve been in plays before.

AN AUDIENCE MEMBER  Not this time.  He didn’t have a script before try-outs.

SECOND ROWDY  He never has a script by try-outs.

THIRD ROWDY  But there’s usually programs.

FIRST ROWDY  You guys.  Lights.  What’s going on?  How come we didn’t get any programs?

SECOND ROWDY  Yeah, Pick.  When’s this play going to start?

HEAD ROWDY  Don’t look now, but we’re becoming the play.  There’s more of them watching.

THIRD ROWDY  [pause] Of course, we could be.

HEAD ROWDY  Could be?  Could be what?

THIRD ROWDY  The show.

DENSE ROWDY  Huh?

THIRD ROWDY  We could be the show.

DENSE ROWDY, FOURTH ROWDY,  FIFTH ROWDY, SIXTH ROWDY  Us?!!  Yeah, right.  Be real.

HEAD ROWDY  Get serious.

DENSE ROWDY  I dunno.  We gonna get somethin’ else?

[pause]

HEAD ROWDY  Don’t look like it.

THIRD ROWDY  So . . . .

DENSE ROWDY FOURTH ROWDY FIFTH ROWDY SIXTH ROWDY  So?  So?

HEAD ROWDY  . . .  So . . . why don’t we be the play?

DENSE ROWDY FOURTH ROWDY FIFTH ROWDY SIXTH ROWDY  Who?

HEAD ROWDY THIRD ROWDY  Us.

DENSE ROWDY FOURTH ROWDY FIFTH ROWDY SIXTH ROWDY  Us?

HEAD ROWDY  Why not?  Everyone’s watching us already.

DENSE ROWDY  They are?

AUDIENCE  Yeah.  We are.

AN AUDIENCE MEMBER  And I’m getting a crick in my neck.

A THIRD MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE  Why don’t you either shut up or move it onto the stage already?

ROWDIES  Us?

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  No, your twin brother . . . the one who got the brains.

AUDIENCE  You guys want to talk so much, why don’t you do it from the stage?

ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER  Or are you scared?

THIRD ROWDY  I’m not scared of nothin’.

LIGHT CREW  Except good grammar.

HEAD ROWDY  What was that?

LIGHT CREW  Nothing.   We were just wondering if we should put the spotlight on you . . . stars.

THIRD ROWDY FOURTH ROWDY FIFTH ROWDY  Watch your mouth.

DENSE ROWDY  Hey, you guys.  How come the show hasn’t started yet?

LIGHTS 1  Don’t ask me.

ROWDIES  We’re asking.

LIGHTS 2  When the curtains open, then we put on the lights.

ROWDIES  So when’s the curtain go?

MIKE  When the gym lights go out.  Like always.

ROWDY 1  So what are we waiting for?

LIGHTS 1  For the gym lights to go out.

HEAD ROWDY  So why aren’t they?

LIGHTS 2  I don’t know.  Maybe you should go find out.

ROWDIES  Maybe we will.  [pause] —How about it?  —Wanna go with me?  —Up there?  —Sure.  —What can they do?  Kick us out?  —We paid our money.  —Wanna come?  —Yeah!  Why not?

[Pause]

To make something valuable of having you read this garp, observe that you do get a look at my creative process in play writing here and tomorrow. Notice that I focus on the dialog (by tomorrow the words over who says them) and have almost no stage directions. This is not because I think I am Shakespeare (I do not think so), who used precious few stage directions himself, but because I knew when I was writing that I would serve as the director and could invent business and movements in rehearsal (which, by the way, I believe is like Shakespeare, who knew heʼd be involved in the productions of his shows, too).

I also just let the words flow, worrying about who said what later (especially after I had actual actors involved). thatʼs the point of the dashes in the ROWDIES lines, dividing the words among different people, whoʼs who just not yet assigned.

One thing keeping me too busy to post intelligently—besides being at Andrew subbing nearly every day of the week lately—was that I awoke at 3:30 AM yesterday to travel to Ames to see my brother Paul receive the most prestigious award the Iowa State Education Association can bestow… Possibly I will tell you all about the experience later.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.