Into the fifth consecutive month of snow-covered Michiana, spring colors like yellow are rarely spotted. However, looking for something yellow today revealed several moving subjects that some were too fast to capture in a photograph. But the following stationary subject caught my eye among its friends.
Behind a stack of Shakespeare plays, in the company of John Patrick Shanley, Neil LaBute, and several others lies the text for a novel, Matthew Quick's The Silver Linings Playbook. Truth be told, this book, like a few others that were adapted for the big screen, I did not purchase until after I saw the movie. Sure, there are plenty of buffs and purists that swear on reading the books before seeing the film version, but I haven't lost any enjoyment either way. I just really, really connected with the story, so I bought the book on a whim on day at Target and read it shortly after. It was the first time a book moved me to tears like reading a play script could.
Spotting the yellow spine among the plays, with the box the Nook came in peering in from the corner of the photo, I had to reflect for a moment of why I still have so many books in print. Approximately 90% of the books I have on the shelf are theatre-related. Mostly plays, but there are also a few monologue books, and several texts on voice work, directing, and writing. But the question remains, "Why do I still have so many scripts?"
It isn't (primarily) because I'm sentimental, because I definitely am. And I know it isn't just me being a hoarder, because I can walk through my apartment without tripping over boxes or fearing piles collapsing on top of me. As many times as I've moved in the last few years, it has been quite a feat that so much has traveled with me. Moving is the best way to really decide what you want or need to take with you. So what really keeps me from donating them?
Because I'm not counting theatre out from my future.
I have a full-time job that I love at Old Navy. I've read handful of novels in the last year. I've seen one play in the last thirteen months, and read even fewer. But that doesn't mean I'm done with acting, directing, or reviewing.
The time just isn't right.
I went into some detail about my (relatively) long history with the theatre in the post from February's Day 27: In Love With, and although my moving out of southern California took me away from every single company and artist (save my wife) I had worked/networked with over a three-year period, I refuse to believe that my time with theatre has passed.
Writing a 50,000+ word foundation for my first novel last November for NaNoWriMo 2013 was a huge victory for me, but as many great successes do, it opens up a few more goals. "Winning" is defined as hitting the goal of 50,000 words before midnight on the evening of November 30th, and several other sparks were lit with that NaNo win.
- Writing a companion novel from another perspective.
- Take a subplot and develop that into a novel.
- Finish the novel, edit it, and pitch it for publishing.
And the one that carries the point I started a few lines up:
- Writing the story of of Juliet's Window as a play.
Reading novels has been a great experience in the last year, especially after spending so much time enveloped in theaters, reading scripts, developing prompt books, essentially all things theatrical. But to take this story I want to tell and mold it into a structure that I've spent years dreaming about, thinking in, and breathing seems like a beautiful next step.
In my Dramatic Theory class with Dr. Maria Viera at CSULB (California State University, Long Beach for those unfamiliar, or The Beach, or LBSU, or LB State) we had an assignment to take any book on an approved reading list and write a chapter (or chapters) as a scene for the stage. I took a portion of Chuck Palahniuk's Choke and had a blast bringing Victor to a live audience in my mind.
Having spent so many hours reading play scripts, breathing in dialogue, and picking apart stage directions, writing a book as a play would be a wonderful challenge to synthesize my newest love (writing) with a life-long passion (theatre) to create a piece of art for the world.
In this same class, Dr. Viera shared with us a view of Antonin Artaud from his text The Theatre and its Double, "No more masterpieces".
It's easy to understand through observing our films and musicals of today. So many films are now based on books, musicals are based on movies, television shows are based on books, movies, or musicals. The stories aren't new, they're just being told in new formats. There are simple structures that stories can be categorized in: star-crossed lovers, hero avenges death of loved one, coming of age, you know them. If you need a few examples check this article out about undercover Shakespeare in modern films.
That being said, the challenge in writing something "new" has been identified: everyone knows the story, I just have to make the journey interesting enough for the audience to follow along and empathize with the central character.
If/when I succeed, perhaps I'll request that jacket art incorporates a yellow spine so that it can stick out among the other books on the shelf.