Friday, June 25, 2010

hey all! welcome to my new, potentially fruitless attempt to promote my upcoming play, "You Are Not Special!"

it'll all be happening at the usual place for these things - Late Night Theater at Beowulf Alley, and you (and you! AND YOU! AND ESPECIALLY YOU) can look forward to it in late September.

so, the purpose of this blog here - aside from the obvious attempts at web 2.0 synergy or whatever - is to hopefully give a little bit of insight into the process of how a play goes from script to production, with my own entertaining witticisms and bon mots thrown in to make things less dull and pretentious. and this blog won't be the only thing we'll be doing once we're actually in production, make no mistake. we're going to have videos and cartoons and other fun stuff leading up to our September premiere to get all of you jazzed and excited to come out and see the show.

so, then, what's the show all about, you're probably wondering? i won't go too into detail about that stuff; for one thing it's dreadfully dull to listen to a writer try and condense his project into a sales pitch and for another thing i'd like to avoid spoiling anything about the story, such as it were. instead, though, i'll tell you a little about how and why "You Are Not Special!" came into being.

so, after "I'm Sorry I Liked You" became kind of a big deal in the small but noisy Tucson community theater scene, of course it became apparent that i needed to think long and hard about what my follow-up project would be. Josh - the director of "I'm Sorry I Liked You" and my close friend - and i bounced a few ideas around for a little while, exploring a few concepts including one that would've been a spin-off featuring one of the characters in the show. well, those ideas obviously kind of fizzled out and Josh began acting and directing on his own (kudos to you if you saw "I Count Time By How the Body Sways" which was superb) and i got crackin' on what i was sure was going to be my most magnumus opus-est of all magnum opus-es: "The Petey the Pirate Show."

"The Petey the Pirate Show" was going to be a goddamn vile, outrageous variety show, a collection of short, filthy sketch comedy bits i had written that were segmented between an overarching story about Petey the Pirate, a bedraggled, ornery, sad-sack recovering drug addict and former spokesman for Chesterfield cigarettes who was hosting a cheesy sketch show to reclaim his former glory. oh, and Petey was a puppet. yes. we did one reading of the script, and it was an unmitigated fucking disaster. first of all, nearly 20 pages of the 65-page script were mysteriously lost, a result of malpractice and, i assume, cowardice on behalf of the deaf and rather rude Kinko's employee in charge of printing out the damn things. oh, and the script itself sucked too. like, really badly. people liked the sketches i wrote, but they hated Petey. apparently, people think that a puppet character who feels remorse over divorcing his wife after she had a miscarriage is depressing. who knew?

so, with Petey dead, i decided to crawl back into my wheelhouse a little bit. or, wheelhouses, i guess. i started to work on two separate scripts - "Songs for Cynthia Braddock" and "You Are Not Special!" and in the interim, the sketches i wrote for Petey got shortened and adapted to fit into the sketch show we performed in March, "Grendel's Mom," in case you caught that.

"Songs for Cynthia Braddock" was my attempt to try and write something less bitter, more hopeful, playing as sort of a romantic comedy but without any of the usual bullshit. and what i mean to say is, it didn't work. i wrote about six drafts of that script before i realized that it was too slight, too innocuous, and too... uninteresting.

"You Are Not Special!" didn't exactly fare much better, though the painful process of realizing that it was shitty was at least a lot quicker. i barfed out a draft of that show literally overnight, as my co-workers who witnessed my bumbling sleep-deprived antics the next day can attest. "You Are Not Special!" was so depressing and dour and misogynistic that i promptly decided to never show it to anyone, ever.

but, over time, aspects of those two failed scripts managed to stay with me. specific scenes in some cases, but there were things and ideas and characters in those shows that were literally percolating in my brain for months. i still really liked "You Are Not Special!" as a title. "Songs For Cynthia Braddock" had an interesting, fully-realized lead female role, something i'm certainly not very good at writing and therefore something i need to put to good use. and now, after several months and many failed attempts and several sleepless nights, well, here i am, talking to myself on a blog no-one will probably read.

so, there's a bit of the backstory. in a future post i'll describe a bit more about the conceit of the show itself in a bit more detail. but for now, enjoy this little piece of concept cartooning i drew up for the show a little while ago.