Nothing To Be Done (On Finishing a Draft)

Dear Reader,

Two days ago, at about 2:00 pm, I dispatched to Odyssey Theatre, on time, as promised, the second draft of Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia  and a mighty “woo-hoo” was heard on Havelock Street followed by an even mightier sigh of relief.

I had resumed work on Lysistrata  in earnest just after Labour Day in Charlottetown.  I completed the first draft by Thanksgiving (Canadian), got notes the end of October and produced this second draft in six weeks (less the two when I wrote the first draft lyrics for the new song in Double Trouble and further less the time in Jamaica when I said some nasty words about the whole process and went Red Stripe).  So the last two weeks have been push city.

If the pen is mightier than the sword, I would add the pen is also mightier than my left brain.  I tried, with as much effort and focus as I could muster, to resolve the ending of the play which has eight character arcs, and several themes, hurtling towards a runway that was about four to five pages long.  The planes had to land, one after the other, with satisfying dramatic thuds forming a crescendo of delight.  The planes had to land in a surprising way but in a way that made total sense. They had to surprise in an inevitable way.  If this is beginning to seem impossible it certainly seemed that way to me and without an ending you don’t have a play.  In fact, if you DO have a good ending, a host of erratum earlier in the play will be forgiven.  I am reminded that the cast of London Road (Canstage) were taught their music from the end of the song to the beginning so that the actors would be singing always towards more rehearsed material.  I am further reminded of Derek Goldby’s production of  Ton’s of Money (Shaw Festival) did not have a strong ending. Goldby solved the problem by staging a curtain call with the actors in character which was the hilarious climax we had all longed for.  He got a standing ovation and the audience left the theatre ready to call their friends.

All this is to say that, with a deadline looming, and not just a deadline for a reader but a deadline for a cast of actors, I had to stop “planning” and start writing and when the ending came it resolved itself amazingly well.  My tapping fingers outperformed my brain so completely that I was and am a little in awe because, well, where did that come from?  The muse?  Instinct?  All the heavy planning actually paying off sub-consciously?  Experience?  Who knows?  Colour me deeply grateful.  I will enter the workshop Monday with a sense that “all of this could work” instead of “all this could work except the ending”.

Note – the phrase “it works” or “this plays” is much more important in theatre than “this is good”.

I dwell now in the wonderful world of “there’s nothing more that I can do”.  The die is cast.  The card is played.  Much depends on Monday.

Have a great weekend.

David

Toronto

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