April 12, 2016

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Very Good Play

My leap for Leap Year, 2012, is to write a play.
Must write play before end of world.

Several years ago, our local public radio station did a profile of the Roc-A-Jets, an all-girl rockabilly band, circa 1959 Baltimore. At the time, I said to myself, "That story would make a great musical." I didn't forget about it, but I put the idea on the magical Shelf of Great Ideas that Will Never in a Million Years Actually Happen.

A whole series of events aligned recently, prompting me to take that idea off the magical shelf, including:

As with most "the stars are aligning" experiences, passivity would have meant returning my Great Idea back to the dusty shelf, along with many wondrous, time-saving objects which I have never patented.

I had to:

  • Tell Aaron Henkin how great I thought the Roc-A-Jets segment was and that it would make a great play.
  • Tell Lisa Wilde that I was thinking of writing a play, but my drama skills were rusty.
  • Sign up for play writing class, send the check.
  • Call the Roc-A-Jets to set up an interview. (Almost didn't happen. The number sat on my bulletin board for weeks, inching closer to the dreaded Shelf.)
The next exercise for Liz's class was writing "a very good play." We were supposed to do 3-5 pages, as with the bad play.

The best part, for me, was that we had to include frequent use of a specific word. That word -- the opposite of the funny word we'd used in our "bad play." (You can read my bad play here.)

My funny bad play word was "pamplemousse," French for grapefruit. Uh...

Opposite from France on the globe is New Zealand. Fine. There's no real opposite to "grapefruit" or "fruit," so I chose a vegetable native to New Zealand, puha.

Puha is a bitter green that grows wild. Supposedly, you can't find it in stores. It's a Maori staple. The way the taste is described, I imagine that it's somewhat like broccoli rabe, a little bitter.
Puha flowers look a lot like dandelions.

My "very good play" takes place in a Victorian bed and breakfast on a New Zealand beach. A couple has come to renew their wedding vows at this exotic location. The pleasantly bitter taste of puha becomes a metaphor, in my short play, for marriage.

The play's not very good, which was the point of the exercise (don't try too hard, you'll only mess with your head and write like crap). But I'm happy with that puha metaphor.

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