Posts Tagged ‘Encryption’

“FEEHAN: Or maybe…maybe she does offer him a cigarette. And when he turns, she’s not sure. Maybe it’s him, maybe it isn’t, it’s been a long time, and whoever this guy is, he’s been beat up by the world, and this dame, she’s been beating things up, so they think, but they don’t know. He takes the cigarette, they smoke in silence.”

On June 2nd, I finished Encryption and then fell deep into preparation for the TCG National Conference. However, I managed to eke out some odd hours to work on a new play called Tidal Devices that I’m writing for Sol Crespo and Rachael Hip-Flores (they’re not lovers this time). Yesterday, I wrote 9 more pages to get past the half-way hump, and so it looks like I’ll have at least four new plays to work at the Flux retreat.

Encryption is an interesting play for me, closely mirroring Perse in structure mixed elements of Denny and Lila, but without quite reaching the darkness of those two plays (though it does get plenty dark). It is a more comic variant of the haunted, first-person narrative, meta-theatrical confessional story that I seem driven to write every few plays.

Tidal Devices is a deliberate break from that. As I wrote some months back, I want to push myself out of that comfort zone by writing through other people’s plays that I admire. The first attempt at that was The Fields of Blue and Glow, which grew out of my admiration for Johnna Adams’ Gideon’s KnotTidal Devices is inspired by Annie Baker’s The Aliens, and remakes some of that play’s structural and thematic elements. It’s been a joy to explore that kind of slower-paced naturalism and work against some of my default settings as a playwright, and I think it’s coming out well.

As per my last post, I’m also trying to record various activist things worth noting, both to encourage the practice in myself and perhaps make it contagious:


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Sometimes I like to think
that I am a small pot of water
and all my passing days
are the heat beneath me
and I am beginning to simmer
I am turning into steam
and one day soon I will become
the air: still myself, only everywhere.
Only what I mean
by water is my body and
by steam, I mean words, and
by everywhere, I mean

This poem came to me in almost this exact form while on the way for my late afternoon coffee.  It is in some ways a variation on the theme of the gorgeous ending of Song of Myself by the goodly Walt, and more directly inspired by Stanley Kunitz’s Passing Through: “gradually I’m changing to a word…” Still, I think there is something uniquely my own that I’ve been trying to say for some time that is now said exactly right in the poem above.

There was a reading of the thick middle of Encryption at the Reverie Writer’s Group, and I was surprised by how well it clipped along and held everyone’s attention. I think after DEINDE I’m extra-sensitive of my inclination to fully explore character and idea at the expense of plot, but at least after this reading, no one named a section that felt slow or unnecessary, even with my prompting.

Still, there was something that wasn’t feeling right about the play until seven pages this morning, when the emotional heat turned way up in a betrayal (or is it?) scene between Feehan and Lydie. I love writing the teacher-student relationship, and this one is increasingly rich. Now it’s all just dominoes until the end, and I may even finish it tonight, if I’m not too tired by the time I arrive home.

A new thing I’m going to try to live up to is chronicling some of the activism and political stuff I’m up to, which is mostly armchair at the moment. Some see no value in this kind of click-and-done advocacy, but for me, it serves two purposes:

  • While the value of signing petitions is nearly zero, it isn’t quite; and the cumulative effect of many almost meaningless gestures can be quite meaningful.
  • It helps create space in my busy brain for issues that I care deeply about but rarely give enough time to, and once they take root, even in this small way, they then are able to grow into more meaningful engagement.

So, here we go:

  • Egypt, in case you didn’t know, has been in a continuous ‘state of emergency’ since 1981. With Mubarak gone and the law expiring today, there’s a very real chance 188+ people imprisoned by the law may see some form of justice.
  • However you feel about Obama’s drone program (I love that keeps our soldiers out of harm’s way, I fear giving this much ease to executions), the Arab American Institute has a great essay on the slipperiness of their guilty-by-association casualty logic and how they choose targets. As robot warfare will only increase, I hope to explore these moral tensions in a future play.
  • Help the Human Rights Campaign pressure big employers like H&M into going on record about their LGBT-friendly policies. This campaign seems to be proof-positive that soft pressure can sometimes change corporate behavior to protect human rights.
  • Do you support the Carbon Pollution Standard? I would like you to, and so would your great-grandchildren.

All right, that’s good for now. Let’s finish this play!

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