I think the Occupy Wall Street movement is amazing, and exciting, and historical.  And on top of that, it has a shining example of how Necessity is the Mother of Invention- something which I hope every theatre artists recognizes as fact.

I'm talking about the whole method of the group acting as a chorus, repeating what each speaker says, as a way to work around not being allowed to use bullhorns or amplification by the NYPD.  As I understand it, they have what is being called a General Assembly everyday, where people are given two minutes to speak.  Whomever is speaking will say a sentence or two, then the crowd nearest the speaker repeats what  was said in unison- sort of like a Greek chorus or something.  I've seen several snippets of them doing this on different news shows, and it's fascinating.  And by the look on the people's faces, it seems to be unifying them in their cause- which is probably not what the NYPD had in mind when they said no to any sort of electrical amplification.  It also makes what is being said more important than any individual speaker.

I have seen, in my experience in the theatre, so many examples of brilliance coming out of necessity- times when "happy accidents" occur which necessitate some quick thinking resulting in  better work.

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I once worked on a screenplay for Zeuss' Thigh Films written by a group of writers called "Places".  It was a sort of Rashomon like story about the final week of rehearsal of an indie theatre production in New York City, told from various viewpoints (Mick the actor,  Kate the actress, Jason the writer, Whitey the director, and Damiana the director).  Each writer was in charge of one of the viewpoints, and as such had final say in what their character did in all sections.   I had the section dealing with Mick, and in my first draft, I had Mick get yelled at by Damiana during rehearsals.  And Damiana, in that first draft, swore.  A lot.  Now, this bad case of potty mouth did not fit with Katharine Clark Gray's vision of Damiana, and as that was her main character,  I was told I'd have to change it as per the rules of this writing experiment.  What to do?  At first, as sort of a joke, I went through my draft and replaced all Damiana's bad words with the word "golly".  And it seemed kind of funny.  What if a person in this day and age, and in the vulgar land of indie theatre, used words like golly as opposed to words like fuck?  I kept the golly, and it was funny, and cool, and one hundred percent the product of dealing with an obstacle.

Here's some of the script:

Damiana goes through her notes, while the cast listens, jotting notes down in their script, nodding in agreement, looking at each other.  She looks at her notes, which are a jumble of hieroglyphic sketches.  Her eyes comes to a large skull, with the words “ WE’RE DOOMED!” written underneath.

Ah, yes. Listen up, people.

Damiana looks out at the cast.  Mick, late twenties, looks up from his notebook.  

I think we have something pretty special here. Know that this is going to be a great show.  Own it.

Mick writes in his notebook “worst show ever”.  He looks over to Kate, mid-twenties, and when he catches her eyes, makes a face, which makes her laugh.

Feel free to listen up, people.  Mick, what happened in the skeleton monologue?

There is a sudden hush in the room.  Everyone looks at Mick.  He feels the pressure.

Uh, I’m not sure.  I just wasn’t feeling it.

Damiana stares at Mick for a moment as if he were an idiot.

Golly!  That makes me angry!  Golly, Golly, Golly!  Feel it!  Feel it, for Pete’s sake!  How can you say you didn’t feel it?

The cast and crew laugh.  Kate draws a picture of a witch in her notebook screaming “FEEL IT, MUTHA FUCKAH!”.

This isn’t a joke, people.  It’s serious business.  Mick- no more excuses.  Find you’re feelings.

By the way, the other writer's on Places were Mike Folie, Steven Gridley, and Francis Kuzler.  These are all outstanding writers, and I encourage you to look up their stuff, see it on stage or screen whenever possible, and write them long, full of compliments, fan letters.  Yeah, and hand write them, so that the Post Office can get some work.

Also, looks like the date for the reading of Riddle Lost in NYC by Boomerang Theatre Company is going to be Saturday November 19.   I'll post more info when I have it.  I have to keep this short, as I am heading down to the Denver capital to witness Occupy Denver firsthand.


Mike Folie said…
Nice blog, Kell -- thanks for the plug!

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