Moving On From the Motion Sickness

“Motion sickness.  It’s the price of rootlessness.  The only cure?  To keep moving.”

The above is some dialogue I learned once upon a time when I played a number of characters from ‘Angels in America’ a few years ago in an acting class at the U of R.  Last night, I once again found myself, up on my feet, moving and learning dialogue.  This time, it was a pitch, not a play that I was perfecting.

It’s funny how words on a page seem so eloquent when read, but sound so full of bullshit when said.  I had written a page and a half of content that I was working towards getting out.  But as I worked through it I began editing in my head, crossing shit out, moving other things around.  The structure is much better now.  I still have half a page to learn, but I got the tough stuff out of the way.  Hopefully I’ll have meetings set up next week so I can get this project moving.

I’m talking about The Mothers Day game of course.  It feels good to move forward with something positive after being kicked in the nuts really hard on Wednesday.  More than that, I feel like I’m really finding my place in this project.  It’s gonna be a gooder if we can get our funding.

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Man of the World

The sun came up this morning and I greeted the day with a shower.  In philosophy class we discussed the ontological arguments for the existence of God and I took it all in whilst eating a chocolate chunk muffin and drinking flavoured coffee.  I am now sitting in ‘Common Ground’ a coffee shop on campus, writing in my blog.

Some days its hard to figure out what my next steps should be.  I’m concerned for the health of a friend, I’m a bit numb over yesterday and I’m thinking about living in Vancouver for part of the year so I can spend more time with Jazzy.

I looked at apartments for rent, and for about $1,000/month I found several one bedroom units in downtown Vancouver.  Some even had an ocean view.  I am also interested in renting an apartment in downtown Bucharest for about $350/month.  This past July, staying in a hotel in Bucharest for three weeks cost over $1,000 so renting an apartment for a year at $4,200 really is a no-brainer.

Overall, I did the math on the cost of living a lifestyle in three different cities and the total came to just over $40,000/year.   That seems like a reasonable, sustainable amount of money.  Lots of people live on $40,000/year.  Instead of buying toys, I’ll buy plane tickets.  Furthermore, I believe my earning potential is higher than that, so my savings account will also benefit.

Of course, I need to green light a project before I can kick everything into motion.  To that end, I shall continue to plug away.

In the meantime, I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do today.

Corporate Shit

The business side of my industry can be cold and ugly.  Tax credit applications, interim financing deals, production insurance, labour agreements, and legal fees are as big a part of the creative industries as the content we create.  My preference is to let someone else handle the business affairs stuff so I can focus on the creative side of things.  But the truth is, I’m as adept at handling labour agreements, tax credit calculations and corporate shit as anyone.  It comes from over a decade of experience in this business.

Today is one of the corporate shit, legal affairs days.  I continue to learn from the mistakes of my distant past in this business.  Today will be a day of reckoning with one of those mistakes.

Ten years ago I partnered with someone to undertake the most ambitious project in Dacian’s history.  Despite my sincere best efforts, things went sideways.  I just didn’t have the business skills to navigate those waters properly.  As a result, the project has cost me over $28,000.  I find out today if it’s going to cost me another $18,000 to make it all finally go away.  I don’t have that kind of money laying around right now, but I will in a couple of months when InJustice’s tax credits come back to me.

In the meantime I am left to manage my headspace.  I can sit around feeling sorry for myself, firing bitter angry thoughts towards my former partner, or I can find a light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s only money.  I’m going to be around for a very long time, and I believe my potential to earn money over the course of my career will be many times what I’ve lost on this project.

And just this morning, as I sat down and gave this whole ugly chapter a good hard think, a thought came to mind that made me chuckle.  I think I figured out a way to make some money off this project.  Since I already own the rights to it, I might as well go ahead and try.

I’ve spent these past few days thinking about the good things I have in my life.  I live a simple, yet richly rewarding lifestyle.  I have really great people in my life.  I have a passion for living and a drive to create.

Money is simply a means to an end.  It should never be the end in and of itself.  Too many people forget to make that distinction, and because of that, it kicks them right in the gut and takes their life away.

Beat by Beat

The reading circle yesterday went well.  Hearing the play and collecting feedback afterwards allowed me to see the play from a new perspective.  Clearly, there is much work to do.

As it stands right now, the play is pretty good, but I have a lot of things to work on before it can become great.  I need to flesh out one major character, and distinguish two others from each other.  I also think I need to change the title.  The play needs at least three more scenes, expansion on others, and more action in yet others.  The first act timed out at 38 minutes and the 2nd act at 25.  Ideally, I’d like to get that to about 45 minutes and 30 minutes, which should be doable given the changes I need to make.

I’m still waiting for feedback from others before I get started, but having said that, I’m at a stage where I’m ready to completely tear it apart and begin piecing it together again, scene by scene, beat by beat.  I know what the story is now, I just need to rebuild its structure so it can handle the new changes.

Waiting

The reading circle for my play begins in 33 minutes.  I’m sitting on the couch in the theatre lounge, nervous as fuck.

I’m thinking of scenes I want to add.  I’m replaying moments from my life through my mind.  I’m thinking about questions I wish to pose to the cast and anyone else in the room afterwards.  I’m thinking about an email I just received about the play.

Later tonight, I’ll be participating in a reading circle with playwright, Cheryl Jack.  Her script is 67 pages.  Mine is 55.  I’m interested in how it times out.  I’m interested in how mine times out.  I’m interested in how both plays will ‘feel’.

Gerald Lenton-Young, an actor/director/professor and mentor just walked by, wishing me luck with the reading.  I guess a lot of people in the Theatre Department know about it.

25 minutes to go.  Guess I’ll start getting ready.  Wish me luck.

What to Do?

Today feels like a kind of ‘in between’ day.  I’m not really sure what to do with myself.  There’s certainly lots to do, but I just can’t bring myself to latch onto anything.

I had brunch at grama’s this morning in Moose Jaw, and I just had a nice long wander through the university.  Now I’m sitting on my couch, typing, and not getting any further with my mood.

I guess I’ll take some time to check in with myself and see what’s going on.  Maybe I’ll stumble onto a goal for the day.

Day

It’s Saturday morning in Regina and I’m sitting in the window of Atlantis.  It’s about 3˚ C and the sky is overcast.  There’s a young couple sitting down from me, planning their wedding on the cheap.  They’re talking about getting their wedding invitations printed at Staples.  Her best friend is sitting beside her talking about other details.

Victoria Avenue is quiet and a trickle of foot traffic is coming and going from the coffee shop.  The day feels like it’s just waking up, opening its eyes and stretching big.  It’s not in a hurry to go anywhere and it feels so good to have nothing but nothing to get started on, all day long.

The couple is figuring out the layout of the dance hall and its turning into a big logistical headscratcher.  The day hasn’t noticed, and doesn’t really care.  There’s a Rider game set to take place and there’s a dinner invite that it may yet check out.  In the meantime a cop just walked out of the store.  He’s the same one I saw yesterday.  I wonder what skeletons lie in his closet.

My thoughts turn to a kid on a bike who tried to bum a cigarette on my walk here this morning.  “I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t smoke.”  He just kind of nodded and rode off in circles, not very far, and about a minute later came back up to me and asked if I had any extra money.

I’m sitting in Atlantis and I’m wondering what spectacle the day might bring.

Moved

“Our appetite for story is a reflection of the profound human need to grasp the patterns of living, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience… To be entertained is to be immersed in the ceremony of story to an intellectually and emotionally satisfying end.”

The above passage is taken from ‘Story’ by Robert McKee.  He goes on to say that people go to movies, plays, and read novels, not to escape reality, but to live it vicariously through someone else, at its fullest.  School has fallen short and religion rings hollow for so many.  Story becomes the means by which people step out of their skins and explore humanity at its extremes.

I attended McKee’s story seminar a couple of years ago, and I picked up his book last night and started reading it.  I’m writing a play about my life and I’ve brought it to a place where it’s time to deconstruct it, look at its bones, and see it in its nakedness.  What more can I add, or take away to make the story stronger?  What ideas need to be fleshed out?  Where is the fine line between frivolous, and necessary?

I feel a great responsibility towards the audience to tell this story in the best way possible.  They don’t know me, and they won’t give a shit about me when they watch it.  They are there to be moved, and as with any movie or play they watch, their collective IQ rises 25 points just sitting there.  They’ll smell any signs of bullshit, flawed story telling, and shoddy character choices.  If I truly can move them, touch their lives in some way, I’ll have done my duty as a writer.

Yet at the same time, I am more than just a writer telling a story.  I am a human being doing much soul searching, looking inward, and trying to make sense of my choices.  The last three weeks have been intense.  The words poured out of me like water through a bursting damn.  All the shit stagnating deep inside me finally found an exit.  I felt a great change inside me.

And as I penned my final scenes, I met someone special.  The timing was almost cliche’.  I felt her influence at my finger tips as I tapped the keys of my laptop through the final scene.  I felt myself using words in new ways.  I felt yet another distinctive chapter beginning and ending in my life, both on the page, and in the world I see.

The Profoundness of Boredom

“Why is there something instead of nothing?”

That is the fundamental question penned by Martin Heidegger.  That question made him a giant in the philosophy world… right up there with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Lau Tzu, and The Buddha.  It seems everyone before him sought to describe the world we live in, and they all came up with interesting and profound ideas about that.  But nobody ever bothered to ask the question, ‘why is there even a universe in the first place?’

That really is the first question, the Fundamental Question as it has come to be known.  It seems to me, the very next question should be, ‘What does it mean to be human?’

Poets, philosophers, artists, writers, and lawyers have all attempted to answer the latter question in various ways.  Descartes is known for the statement, “I think, therefore I am.”  Some say it’s our ability to love that distinguishes us in the animal kingdom.  Others suggest humour makes us human.  I say that ‘boredom’ is the seed of humanity.

Think about it.  If we could just stare at the wall, eating, sleeping, shitting, and fucking without getting bored, we’d probably do that our whole entire lives.  We’d be like cattle in a field, just happy as shit, shitting all over ourselves.  But we don’t.  We get bored staring at the wall.  We can’t help it.  Our minds start to wander.

We start thinking about God.  We start thinking about who we are.  We start to think that we think, and therefore we are.  We think about the asshole who lives next door.  We think about creating art.  We think about the nature of the universe.  We think about ways to amuse ourselves.  Pretty soon we’re thinking about our feelings.  We’re thinking about our differences.  We’re thinking about changing the world… and sometimes, some people think that the world would be better off without people who don’t think the same way they do.

If I could travel back in time and have a beer with Rene’ Descartes, perhaps my influence would rub off on him.

“I’m bored, and therefore I think I am.”

More Betterer

Yesterday was undramatic, except for the drama part.  I finished my play on Monday night and I spent yesterday distributing it to my cast and trusted colleagues who might be able to provide insightful critical feedback.  The reading will take place next Monday and I’ve made a point not to go back to it until I hear more perspectives on it.  I feel like it needs more scenes to flesh out some of the themes, but I don’t want to dive in without giving it a good think.

I also spent the day researching theatre companies in Toronto, getting a feel for how receptive different companies are to new plays.  I will research New York next, and other cities after that.  I won’t be sending anything to them until the play is done done done and polished well.  Most of these companies indicated that they’ll need 3 – 6 months to read a play, due to the volume of submissions they receive.  I also intend to send the play off today to the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre for some dramaturgical feedback.

Indeed, I have reached one more ‘beginning and end’ for this phase of the play.  I can feel that in my bones.  Writing it over the last three weeks has been an amazing experience.  At times, I felt like I was channelling something bigger than myself.  Writers write and I truly felt like I was being me at my best during this period.

The next few months will see me at my more betterer as I dive deeper, gain more perspectives, and learn more about this craft.