by Sharon Mortz
I am writing a play – my first -- and as a new writer, I am a naïve enough to hope it will be produced. One reason I have so much faith is that I live in San Francisco where there are more theaters than Chinese restaurants. There are the big, electric, star-studded productions in huge, regal theaters as well as medium-sized, lower priced, but still excellent theater. Since I started my investigation several months ago, I’ve discovered small theatres that seat 15 to 20. This is where I’ll start my play pandering.
I was editing my play this morning, when I took a break and picked up The Writer magazine. I have a backlog of “how to write” magazines and I encounter a new, sparkling idea every time I peruse one. Like a pan handler discovering gold, I read and sift through pages. Am I a prospector or procrastinator? This morning I stumbled upon an article that suggested inscribing bits/phrases/words from an article/play/story in progress on 3X5 cards and play cards. Shuffle and deal then fill in the interstices. I love twists in my stories and my shuffling netted a surprise ending that I don’t think the audience will predict.
Another practice to loosen creativity is the “wild and stuffy” exercise. I love this idea. It’s freeing. Set a timer for four minutes and write as stiffly and prudishly as you can. Four minutes of genteel pomp resulting in exceedingly stuffy. When the timer goes off, set it again for four minutes and write wildly, loudly and outrageously. Obscenities are allowed. My pen goes wild and I release anger, passion and furious fervor. When the timer goes off, go back to restraint and respectability.
For fun, I may go through my magazines and cut out words in various fonts, paste them on paper like a movie ransom note and see if new ideas emerge. Could this be another twist in my play?