August 24. . . Madness Dramaturgy and Prop Hunt

August 24. . . Madness Dramaturgy and Props Hunt

I get back to the long-delayed rewrite of Trio after seeing the Austin production, tightening some dialogue and smoothing out transitions. Making final changes on mural tour scripts – and now we’re measuring the murals as part of the process, making our third trip out trying to get the laser measuring tool to work.

This week I’m recording the St. Pete Arts Alliance’s audio tour of the 2017 SHINE murals with Eugenie Bondurant. In many ways, these audio tour recordings are like working on a play script – you only know what’s working and what’s not when you hear it aloud. I’m making adjustments to scripts as we go, simplifying language, cutting words and clarifying details – and despite our careful writing, fixing the inevitable tongue-twisters.

Choreographer Paula Kramer and I go on a props hunt for Madness – and get pretty much everything all in one go, as she cleverly suggests we try Creative Clay’s Arts Thrift Store.

I hadn’t been there before but Paula’s worked with Creative Clay and led us down a wide hallway covered with colorful, beautiful artwork to a room full of donated art and craft supplies – half-full gallons of paint, frames, instructional art books, a big box of rubber snakes. And a huge bunch of lovely cloth flowers and many, many bolts of colored cloth, exactly what we were looking for to create a garden made of dancers and frame our sun and moon balloons.

The Creative Clay folk are wonderful and welcoming. Their Thrift Store only accepts art supplies and craft materials, and it’s pay what you can. Paula insists we leave the box of rubber snakes. We head out with all we can carry and hope another artist will be thrilled to find them.

I finally get the chance to talk with busy dramaturg Dana Lynn Formby of Chicago Dramatists about Madness. She loves the script, and is full of excellent questions that hadn’t occurred to me – like what is the myth of the missing Flying Man? What’s the most difficult thing a character could part with, to put in the bucket and pay for a ride in The Dance Contraption? Why does Alan wind up transformed in an aloha shirt – does it have to do with the father he’s refusing to be like, and his changing definition of what it means to be a good man? What is the character arc for the dancers.

I’m glad that Dana loves the sound the play’s Drummer will make, when objects get put in the bucket – and suggests I use that even more.

As ever, her questions address depths I hadn’t realized might be there – and help me find answers that shape the script further.

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