Theater Masks

Theater Masks

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yesterday is gone...

We got to see Merrily We Roll Along, Sondheim's infamous backwards moving flop, in the movies tonight. I LOVED it. It was incredible to see a show I first saw some 15 years ago at Brandeis in a whole new way. I still have a couple of little quibbles with the book (as a writer, I have an issue with the idea of planting things in the script that only make sense to those who'd seen it already), but overall the show is pretty brilliant.

I will say, that for once, I caught EVERY lyric - even a couple I hadn't heard despite listening to the cast album numerous times. One of my favorites that I'd always heard but never "heard" was during the song "It's a Hit" when Frank and friends are celebrating their new huge hit show. "It's a hit/it's a hit/it's a palpable hit." I've heard the song dozens of times and never made the association with Hamlet and how perfect the lyric is for that moment.

I also love how Sondheim put the reprises of the songs first. When Beth sings "Not a Day Goes By" it's a bitter, sarcastic song filled with anger - though every lyric makes perfect sense in the moment. The "first" time, which comes in the second act, is sung during her wedding to Frank and is filled with love (and, in typical Sondheim style, counterpointed with Mary's disappointed longing).

The cast was fantastic at aging themselves backwards. I loved how Frank's voice got higher pitched and Mary's entire body language became more awkward.

It was just a really special event to get to see this production from the other side of the Atlantic tonight. I can't wait to see what else Fathom events can come up with!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Story Idea

Last night, Caitie and I were talking and I stumbled on an idea for a story that I'm not sure I could write, but someone with more of a talent for romance might be able to write. If you're interested in taking up the idea, let me know! Here it is:

A girl is born thinking that she has an imaginary friend. She can't see him, but she can hear him talking. She doesn't always understand what he's saying or why he's saying the things he's saying, but she just accepts it as her friend being strange. As she gets older, the voice continues. Others tell her that she's got a rich imagination which advances to "you're crazy." She still hears the voice, almost incessantly. She learns to shut the sound of "him" talking out, to pretend that she can't hear him.

The voice fades to the background, almost like it's just a part of her subconscious. She doesn't actually listen to it, but it's still there.

She gets older. In college one day she meets a guy...and she realizes that the voice she's been hearing all along are HIS thoughts. Somehow she has a connection to him that she's had since birth. She instantly falls in love, feeling as though she's known him all along.

That's about as far as we got. This brings up a huge range of questions -- does his behavior mirror his thoughts? Does he act differently from what she would expect? How would HE react to her being able to hear his thoughts? Does he like it? Is he horrified and wants nothing to do with her? Does he develop his own form of telepathy? Does he pretend to? If the book is something other than a romance, could he be a psychopath who somehow shields his true thoughts from her? Is she insane and only thinks she's hearing his thoughts? If it is a romance, what are the implications of this scenario? Does she lose the power when she's around him?

I don't know - not sure where it could go but it certainly seems like an intriguing thing to explore. I'm just not so sure I'm the right author to do it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Bunch of Questions

Watching Breaking Bad has led me to think about the way I act sometimes (and by extension, how my characters behave). I'm nearing the end of season four, and Walt is clearly turning into a bad guy. He acts on instincts, doing things that he clearly wouldn't have done before the cancer and drug dealing etc. He gives in to things that most likely he (and by extension us as an audience) would never do. For example, when he was supposed to return his son's car because it costs too much, he instead went for a joy ride and then proceeded to blow it up.

It got me thinking about the way I act, the way people I know act, and the way my characters act. Do I give in to my instincts or do I censor myself? Do I allow myself to say and do the things that I know in my better judgement are probably not wise? Do others? Do my characters? Or, do I go through life with a censor, keeping in some of my darker thoughts? I think the answer to that is that yes, of course I do. We all do, don't we? It makes me wonder how others behave. Do they censor themselves? And if they do, what kind of thoughts ARE they censoring that, if they were to make them known, would hurt/offend me or others?

It's a lot of questions that may seem obvious, but as a writer, it makes me wonder how those thoughts that pop into our heads daily and then are immediately squashed affect us. Do religious people ever have thoughts that are clearly atheistic and then squash them? Do people who claim to not at all be racist (and indeed don't show those traits at all) have those thoughts and just ignore them - or do they genuinely not have those ideas in their minds? Are all people as twisted inside as I am, do those thoughts simply not occur to them? Do Republicans actually believe some of the nonsense they say or do they convince themselves to believe certain things (same with Democrats, I suppose, but my bias is showing).

I don't know what all this means, but it's definitely something to think about as I'm writing. Could those dark thoughts that creep in at the most inopportune moments have an impact on behavior - and if so, could it change the whole direction of a story?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Two. Two. Two posts in one day!

Check it out!

Breaking Bad

NOTE: Here there be Breaking Bad spoilers through season two.

Caitie hates that I started watching Breaking Bad. I have to say that up front. She says I'm turning into "one of them."

I have one episode left in season two now, and I have to say, I'm becoming "one of them." I've heard that it's the best show on television. I can't say I necessarily agree with that yet (though I've also heard season three is where it really takes off), but I will say this - Walter White is one of the most interesting characters I've ever seen on a tv show. Here's why.

I've always had a thing for villains. The Wicked Witch fascinated me as a child, and I'm still in love with that movie. I always wanted Darth Vader to win (Luke is boring!) and don't get me started on the Disney bad guys. Who wouldn't be interested in Maleficent than Sleeping Beauty or why Gaston is such a jerk versus, well, ok, Belle is pretty awesome. Still, my point stands. Villains rule.

Walter starts out as a pretty normal guy. He's a teacher, a husband, a father, and he has cancer. He seems like a guy who's pretty much done everything right and was dealt a crappy hand. Over the course of the first two seasons, he starts to descend into his villainy - killing rival dealers, working the system, and, in the last episode I watched, letting Jesse's girlfriend choke to death on her own vomit.

Flashes of his "evilness" come out at unexpected times. The scene by the pool when he pours his fifteen year old son tequila shots was fascinating. You knew he was wrong. Hank knew he was wrong. Walt Jr. knew he was wrong. Somehow, though, Walt couldn't see his own villainy. He couldn't see that what he was doing was wrong and he was terrifying. It wasn't until later that he regretted it, and he tried to make amends by apologizing to everyone involved. Because of his condition and his previous history, he was forgiven.

Watching a character descend into villainy like this is riveting. This is in no small part thanks to Bryan Cranston's portrayal, but what draws me in is the writing. The show is accessible and gripping, and I can't wait to see where it's going. The dialogue is crisp and the characters are so well defined that nothing they do SHOULD come as a surprise. The reason this works is that the depths of evil Walt will go to are unplumbed yet. There's always farther he can descend, and I have a feeling he's going to go way lower than what I've seen thus far. As Walt says, "There's rot."

I have a feeling before I'm done there is a chance (sorry Caitie) that I may well agree with those who proclaim it the greatest show of all time.