Kleene Star (kleenestar) wrote,
Kleene Star
kleenestar

In Which Han Ong Kicks My Ass

Last night was my first playwriting class and, wow! The class was full of impressive and high-powered people: directors, media executives, working actors, theater professors, and the like. Twelve of the fourteen students were women, and I really liked the dynamic that created. No one seemed hesitant to speak up, despite the wide discrepancy in ages, experience levels, backgrounds and the like. And Han Ong! He’s a great writer, but no one mentioned he’s also a great teacher! And - though I probably shouldn’t admit it - extraordinarily charming and really cute.
In any case, I wasn’t too intimidated at first, because I was one of only three students to have written a play before. I figured that might get me somewhere, or at least prevent me from looking like a fool. And then Han Ong kicked my ass.

We did a twenty-minute monologue-writing exercise, where we were supposed to envision one of our characters and write in their voice. If we came in with a concept, we were to flesh out that concept; otherwise, we would start a new play. So I took my concept (Anne Sexton, time travel, the usual) and wrote one of the core monologues, where this guy is trying to convince Anne Sexton not to kill herself. I thought it was pretty good - a powerful moment, and not portrayed badly given the twenty-minute constraints.

Then we got our crit, and ow. He said he liked the premise, and then tore me a new one. “He’s talking like the blurbs on the back of a book cover” is the one phrase I remember, but it went on from there. I need to make his language more idiosyncratic, his passion for Anne Sexton more specific, his motivations more hidden. He did say that last was also a strength, that I was able to be so raw and forthright with the character, but overall I left feeling like I need to start completely over, maybe ditch the character, maybe leave this particular monologue until I have a better sense of who he is, maybe just learn to write.

Fail faster, fail better, right? That’s what I’m telling myself today, anyhow. Whatever I write next week can hardly be worse.

Actually, I think it’s a good thing, even if it’s a little painful the first time around.  The whole point of taking this course is to learn what I don’t already know about writing. I just need to plan to have a thicker skin next time. :)

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