Diane here with a quick introduction-Lorena Diaz from our PlayLab 2 was gracious enough to serve as our guest blogger for the March PlayLab 2. Below is her blog…enjoy!
March Play Lab
People at Play Lab:
It’s 7:21 and we’re still chatting. Not usual or unusual for this group of Latina women.
Stories of Internet love, properly using the moon to your advantage and the business of writing and putting up our work in the coming weeks are told.
I love Play Lab.
Mishelle is back and it’s nice to have her. She’s spunky and deep and her writings have been missed. It’s been a month since we’ve seen one another and last time we got together there was a snowstorm. Only a few of us were able to make it out so this March Play Lab is a real treat since almost everyone is here.
Our assignment was get a newspaper article and write a scene based off of it or inspired by it.
Wendy goes first because she thinks what she wrote is shit. She refers to the 3 part series of articles from the Chicago Sun-Times about Latino musicians doing their thing and how they talk about JLO instead of the local musicians. Who are also Latino. Her scene, by the way, is hysterical. This raises great dialogue at the table. Being Latino is not a new mainstream thing; it’s a growing niche. That’s what we feel about it, and we are really tiring of being Latino and trying to work in the industry, just to have the “industry” tell us we don’t look Latino enough or we should be more like J.Lo and Penelope Cruz. Wendy’s scene deals with this in a fun abstract way- I could easily see this as an awesome sketch on Saturday Night Live. Can you imagine? SNL doing a scene catered to Latinos.
Now we move on to Petrucia. Petrucia speaks and writes Portuguese. She’s Brazilian and her musings are ohhhhh so sexy. Today she wrote a scene inspired by the natural catastrophes that are happening in Brazil. She wrote this scene in Portuguese and has transcribed it in English for us. Her story is about a few bourgeois couples that go out on vacation together in order to work through some issues and while in the process of doing so they get stuck in a natural disaster. Part of what’s so brilliant about Petrucia’s writing is that she doesn’t write to the confines of a stage; yet you can easily see her work onstage. She writes to write and she paints her world. Her human drama in what she creates is so well executed, even in a first draft. Wendy comments that her characters always jump out of the page and we all agree. Petrucia, who lives with plays in her head waiting to be written by her, has a nice long awesome story to develop through this one little wonderful scene inspired by an article in the paper.
Diane is up. She says it’s time to depress us. (Hahaha) The article is about a Naperville rapist by the name of James R. Willard. Her scene is indeed dark.
Diane is very good with this tone, she bounces between comedy and dark drama with incredible ease and childlike delight. She writes a scene that takes place in the 80’s. I can’t tell you too much more about the plot because what she’s ultimately writing is a piece that has a tone or theme of the Twilight Zone. Remember the show? Major mind trickery. Diane has been diligent to her theme. Every month she brings a new piece that explores her original theme over and over again, each time more layered and complex and an exciting reveal. I’m jealous at her diligence. I wish for the discipline in my own writing. Diane feels there are things to clear up. Group reading is good to throw ideas to in order to expand your original concept and keep you close to it when you’re feeling like straying a little. We all collectively love it and are excited to see all the pieces together.
We break briefly to come back to Yolanda telling us news about a national award she won for “Brown Girl Chronicles”. The American Educational Research Conference awarded it to her. We are indeed among great talent. It occurs to me that it has taken a little over a year, meeting once a month, for us to finally feel real comfort around the other. We celebrate our success and share misery in our tragedies. It’s a commitment to want to write and an even greater commitment to want to share it over and over again with the same group of people. The work is worth it though-where else can you get this level of support and mentoring on your piece? It’s never been negative, always positive and challenging. All collaboration should be like this.
I go next. My inspiration comes more from a collection of articles I’ve been drawn to over the last few weeks as well as the last few months. Gay Rights. Brad Pitt also said something very curious once at an awards show. He said that if a bunch of people got together and said straight people weren’t allowed to marry other straight people then he would be fighting for their rights instead–mostly because it’s about civil liberties and not about right and wrong sexual behavior. Since I deal with almost everything through the eye of comedy, I wrote a scene about turning the tables on society and having two parents very upset to discover that their son is straight. It was cathartic writing it and I’m curious to see how it will play in front of a crowd. The girls seemed to dig it and I received some great pointers on how to make it stronger.
Kristiana brings us some new stuff. She’s brought an article in from BBC News about a US female soldier being found guilty of indecent exposure after she took part in a mud wrestling party at the largest military prison in Iraq. She’s pulled from the article very well, writing a scene about 2 characters, one a female private and the other her boyfriend. Kristiana is also very good about writing the voice of her characters. Some of us have strength in characters, others in plot; Kristiana has strength in the human drama. She wanted to write something about a female soldier without it just being about a female soldier getting raped. After all, there’s more to it then that anyway. Kristiana also excels at writing characters without preconceived status. Any one of the characters she writes can do just about anything at any time. Which is (part of) what makes her writing so exciting. I refer to it as her “Christopher Walken character writing technique”. Kristiana has inspired me to take another look at the world. I tend to pull things from a very topical perspective. She likes to dig in there and see how many layers of thinking exist. I really dig that and have borrowed the insight when dealing with my own writing. Now when something inspires me in any way, I dig and dig for all sorts of different perspectives on the topic. This way I can come from any angle and feel confident that my characters might stray from even their own ideals. That’s true to life anyway.
Onward with Mishelle. Her article was pulled from her sister’s Facebook page. The article was about Chelsea King who was found in San Diego dead and sexually assaulted. She went out on a run at the lake and a convicted released sex offender was the one who killed her. It seems the story gets even weirder when the bones of another girl who went missing a year ago shows up as well soon after they find Chelsea’s body. Mishelle was inspired by how these girls’ lives are intertwined through their death caused by the same person. Her scene is inspired by these girls. A fantastical scene emerges- as is consistent in Mishelle’s writing. Provocative for sure. She flips the tables on us. I like it. Her theme is a little taboo but I love this! I love anything that takes something people have their mind set on, especially in regards to death and smudges it with little ink filled fingers of taboo.
Yolanda is last but not least. She has chosen to bring in her 10-minute play submission. Good solid scene. Yolanda has been consistently bringing in really funny material. Grounded in real solid characters she likes to play in the absurdity of relationships between the characters. Dialogue is always so great, that we struggle with telling her to trim it because so much of it is funny. But alas, everything could always be tighter right? We hammer this truth over ourselves over and over again and happily reach conclusions on ideas with one another. Yolanda has ease with beating out her scenes clearly even in a first draft. It’s funny, she is usually prone to saying something she’s written is “so-so”; but honestly, it’s usually pretty hilarious.
The end of the night comes around and we’re sent home with new inspiration.
Until next month. Write.