great drama

Update on the one-act play challenge to which I challenged you all, and challenged you good: to which you responded equally good: I mean well: I mean, I mean ‘well’: I mean, never mind.

For those who aren’t familiar with the one-act play challenge, it went as follows: give me ideas for a one-act play. Wherever possible, I will use the ideas and present all y’all with a play based on the astounding creative alchemy that happens when your brains and my brain get together. I figured it would be fun and easy.

It has not been easy, although fun poured forth aplenty from the fun pitcher in multiple gallon lots. For some reason I looked at all the ideas, all of which were great ideas, and I thought: I don’t know how to make a play out of this stuff. I discovered that I didn’t want to write an extended joke or a series of absurd vignettes mocking the conventions of theatre. I wanted to write a genuine play, with memorable, affecting characters, strong emotional arcs and a powderkeg of a finish. Wha-boom. Most of the suggestions were jokes themselves, or complete vignettes on their own. I wanted verbal objects that I could place on a stage and weave some characters around.

I realized that I couldn’t just sit down and do something satisfying right away. The whole thing had to ferment a bit in my mental carboy. Then, when I realized that my mental carboy was defective (stopper problems), I sat down last Sunday and wrote a bunch of stuff. I was sitting in a coffee shop so crappy and depressing that I needed something to divert my attention from the horrendous murals and the "no table games allowed" signs.

If this challenge can be said to have a winner, then the spoils go to Deron, who provided the framework of a time-travelling incestuous odyssey about a scientist who goes back into the past to have sex with as many people (ladypeople, that is) as possible in order to streamline the modern gene pool. Because the scientist has an incest fetish. And this is the best way he’s found to make everyone in the present more genetically similar to him, and therefore more appealing. Or sexx-aaay, as Deron put it.

I doubt this pitch would pass muster even in a roomful of Rocky Horror freaks, but this one presented the most material, and it was, perversely, the closest to my sensibilities. I've also included Miss A's desire for a woman with an affinity for salmon cream cheese, Ehme's hankering for Godot-esque dialogue, Sven's suggestion of cats named Jorge and Jack Splat, Sexeteria's request for a deus ex machina, an anonymous call for doppelgangers, and a few other bits and pieces. I've tried to leave no one out entirely, except for the Tragical History of the Life and Death of Cloudesley, which may feature as a prop. So here’s a summary of what I’ve got so far:

In an overgrown lab in a jungle at the end of time – at least, the end of humanity’s time, its last sad vestiges having reached a destiny as dead-ended as Eloi and Morlocks – live the tidy Dr. Wilder, the bearded Dr. Savage, and their daughter Charlton. Wilder and Savage are clones of the original doctor, an absent progenitor whom they discuss every now and then – is he out there somewhere in the jungle? Somewhere in the past? Wilder is intent on cracking the lost secret of time travel in order to escape from the jungle and find something approaching civilization. Savage is a bit more introspective, dedicating his time to taming lions (Jorge and Jack Splat) and genetically engineering the local flora into producing passable coffee. Their daughter Charlton is a strapping young man and a poet without a literary tradition, which leaves him free to experiment. He’s fallen in love with one of the sports who live in the nearby valley. The name of Charton’s love interest is Beckham, a young woman in a loincloth getup who speaks a crabbed language reminiscent of my cruller interview post.

Over the course of the play the characters learn a lot about each other, a little about themselves, and everyone gets to share a few laughs (except for Beckham, who bites the head off a fish and mutters “marine, marine” as she chews). Along the way, certain questions are dealt with – will they ever get back to the past? Will the original scientist, that absent referent, show his face? How about the lion taming and the coffee thing? The bold experimental poetry and ripped abs of Charlton? And what’s with a wild woman named after a male soccer player eating a fish raw? I don’t get it.

It sounds gross.