Metaphor

Speaking of participating… I just submitted a play to the Toronto Fringe Festival’s 24 Hour Play Writing Competition.  Got it in with 41 seconds to spare!

We met under a steamy tent in ‘Fringe Ally’ behind Honest Ed’s on Bloor & Bathurst.  They gave us four objects/phrases that needed to appear in our play (to ensure we didn’t write the play beforehand) and then sent us on our way.  I bought a draft beer and helped myself to a seat at a table in their makeshift pub. I was right in the middle of all the action – people coming and going, talking, bitching, bragging, and sharing stories.  Wasn’t at all distracting.  Just plugged in my headphones and went to work.

I pounded three pages in 30 minutes before I left to take in another play with Sharon and Frank on Dupont & Spadina.  The time I took away from my writing to watch that play seems counter intuitive, but I felt confident in my ability to come up with something.  It’s not really about ‘time’ for me.  It’s about deadlines.  Too much time, and I get nothing done.

I didn’t even stay up late.  After watching the play with Sharon and Frank, I excused myself and began sketching out the story structure.  You see, I actually had no idea what my story was going to be about.  Took my four objects/phrases into account, put two characters in a room, put ’em in conflict, then stood back to see what the collisions would bring.

It was a real head scratcher to be sure.  The academic exercise of brainstorming possible inciting incidents was turning up nothing I felt inspired by.  There was no crisis decision in sight.  My climax was simply beyond me.  Back to the two characters I returned.  I put the story in their hands.  Pushed them further, faster – threw stuff at ’em and watched them squirm.  I learned a lot.  Went to bed at midnight with a quarter of the play written, and a good sense of where it was headed.

Today, with one hour to go, I still had no idea how the thing was going to end.  Four characters in a room together, balls-on conflict, and no clear way forward.  I decided to start a new scene.  Didn’t even bother ending the previous scene.  I needed an ending more than I needed a middle.  I knew that I wanted two characters in particular to be in that ending.  I had some loose strings to tie up and I had 49 minutes to do so.

With 17 minutes left, I had my ending.  Jumped back to the middle and figured out there wasn’t much middle left to go.  In fact, I could just ram it right into the end scene, massage the exits a bit, make some tweaks, hold my nose and send it off.

I wrote my final line of dialogue with 60 seconds to go.  Quick export to PDF and then sent my play in at 5:59:19 EST.

I called the play Metaphor.  I’m still not sure if it has a climax.

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