Saturday, January 26, 2013

Double Heart: In Verse

Our lively company.

Lisa had us on our feet last night. Two days of table work and now we're blocking. Yes! Welcome to the outreach tour. We open in seventeen days.

Verse is a game. I don't know much about poetry, and am hardly any kind of Shakepearean scholar, I just know what comes naturally to someone who like Shakespeare, reads it, reads about it, directs it and has occasionally performed it over the course of two decades. But that doesn't make me a scholar, those people are nuts.

When Stephen Sondheim released the first part of his two-volume work on his work, Finishing the Hat, I heard and saw him on Terri Gross and Stephen Colbert to talk up the book. When asked how he writes lyrics, the first thing he said -- before getting into how he thinks, or what he feels, or what it means -- he said he uses a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary. 

This was a revelation to me! Even now, knowing what I do about writing, I assume that it's all supposed to spring fully-formed from your forehead. Using a dictionary? That's like cheating or something, you're supposed to already have all those words in your head already.

Sondheim said he also uses alcohol, but that doesn't work for me, it makes me go to sleep.

And so, for three weeks last April, I had my thesaurus, my rhyming dictionary, the history of human endeavor, and ten fingers to which to count da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM.

Of course, I would never have thought I could even attempt to write a play, even a short one, entirely in imabic pentameter if it were not for the work of Kirk Wood Bromley. During the 1990s and early 21st Century he and his company Inverse Theater created acclaimed modern verse plays with such awesome titles as Lost Labors' Loved, The Bangers Flopera, Want's Unwisht Work and The Death of Don Flagrante Delicto

Ray McNiece is Johnny Freeman.

Bad Epitaph produced his great history play The American Revolution in 2004, a work which takes the towering figure of George Washington off his pedestal to show him as a real person. References in this work alone include nods to Henry V, Othello, Macbeth, and every clown in Shakespeare crossed with Zonker Harris in the character of Johnny Freeman; coward, super-patriot.

I am not saying my work compares with Bromley's, because it does not. What I am saying is, his audacious example said to me, Please proceed, Gov'nor.

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