Finishing up a meeting where I read a new work submission with Amber, Trent and Intern Emily, the reading, accompanied by a recording of the score, disappointed on its expectation. But it was our first exercise of its kind for us sitting around the conference room table. We appreciated the non-fiction, biographical nature of the story and the dynamic of the conversation it stirred. As exciting as this was for us, the material softened, romanticized its subject, generic, quite out of touch with reality and its historical base and was void of psychological conflict, or any conflict whatsoever. The most difficult struggle one has is the one with one’s self. Making notes on the session concluded how little we knew the main characters and yet how we had learned more about the writers, their young, bright, first musical endeavor and their potential. The maxim refrained here is; the thing is to not play to results and manufacture a product. Create a process. In their attempt to please a commercial, populist, mainstream audience, I wonder how pleased they are with this themselves. What is not in evidence is their fascination with this subject. The big note for them is to write about what it is they see of themselves in this story. Can they dramatize what it is that has drawn them in to work so hard on it? The work as it exists now is a simple narrative, a telling of the story and rather uninvolved except for wanting approval for it, wanting it to be good. It’s typical of how writers get in their own heads, second guessing what other’s will want of it and fitting it to the formula of a well written piece. Everything may be check-listed except yet it is not compelling or suspenseful. It does not ring true. Why did they sit down to write this? What is it about this story that grabbed them? Do they realize it is more about how they see their own struggles, their own humanity and vulnerability? The key is always self-discovery. Identifying how they wrestle with their own psyche is the path to discovering the true form of the conflict rather than it fitting a formula for “success.” That’s what makes it original, unlike anything else, non-derivative. It is your own story. No matter what you’re writing about, you are always writing your own story. The same applies to acting. Instead of trying to get to what the director wants, get to what you want! See your Self in the part. Your Truth. Directors as well are most relevant and effective, purposeful, universal, when they are most subjective, personal, revealing of themselves. I’m remembering Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics in “Move On” from Sunday in the Park With George:
“Anything you do, let it come from you.
Then it will be new.
Give us more to see…”
Love & thanks,