Archive for the Writing Category

An Education…

Posted in NYMF, Writing on September 11, 2010 by darylfazio

I write stuff down. I hear it in my head. Sometimes I even read it aloud. If I keep it in the script, it means it sounds good. To me. Because I know where I’m coming from.

The actors and director who don’t live inside my brain don’t have the benefit–or curse–of knowing where I’m coming from. And, thus, they expose the cracks in the wall, the chinks in the armor, and the out-and-out holes.

And that’s a good thing.


Shine, Kitty, Shine in rehearsal...fear and isolation...

Because if it ain’t honest, they can’t do it. Not well. And these are professionals. And they insist on doing it well. Thank God.

Today, we worked on scenes and, in the process, character (here’s a drawing of Jillian in SHINE, KITTY, SHINE; the red neon glow is imaginary at this stage). Kitty, Toni-O and Edward showed me the delightful nuances of their getting to know each other. They made me look good, because they took the lines on the page that were just words trying to be funny or advance a story, and they gave them a soul (which reminded me again why I write plays and not fiction–because I love that moment when it’s a collaboration to make a person whole). Some things I realized when I was writing the scene; others the director, with the actors under his watchful eye, SHOWED me. Goosebumps? Yes, please.


A sketch by Adinah...

Added into the mix were Adinah Alexander (who made this completely surreal drawing of a cat-person while working the subway scene) and Tim Warmen, as mother/homeless woman and father/homeless man respectively.

The homeless couple took on layers today that I never anticipated–in addition to us deciding that Kitty is the only one who hears them, Tim also suggested (and so it was played with in the scene work) that the three of them become this distorted but oddly close family unit.

The script was quite fluid during that work. A lot of little edits happened today, either out of improvisation in the moment, or out of discussion. It was easy to rewrite, because it was honest. And motivated. And rich, rich stuff.

And to avoid getting too touchy-feely or overly precious and self-congratulatory, I thought I’d mention that at the end of the day, the ensemble, when told during SMELLS LIKE ART to be dangerous and pull focus, improvised a crack-filled orgy that also involved hair-braiding, and it’s forever seared into my retinas.

Director, Chad, had a response something like this: “Uh. I’m not too sure about the hair-braiding.”

Ah. Collaboration.

“snowed-under” day

Posted in NYMF, Writing on September 8, 2010 by darylfazio

I had a Sophie’s choice (what? too soon?) today where it was either rehearsal or play catch-up with the real world. I chose the latter, since I’ve been footing some of the bill for this show myself, and folks gotta get paid. However, I also did some rewrites that give me a sense of satisfaction. Most notably the end speeches by Dr. Bore and a streamlining of Kitty and Toni-O’s first meeting. Jeez, I can be long-winded. I don’t mean now, I mean…in…the…script. And…maybe now.

The report from heir director is that the first day of staging went off like firecrackers. DJ, our choreographer, made I BLEND IN into a sort of physical ode to the ordinary, so that Kitty could, well, blend in. I hear things about brushing teeth and walking dogs. And some choreo that was so enthusiastic, it had the women worried about a wardrobe malfunction. Costume designer, the incomparable David Zyla, texted from Los Angeles (and, one presumes, the set of the soap opera he costumes; note my tone as I try unsuccessfully to avoid sounding star-struck; the fact that he got Armani Exchange to donate all the duds for the art students might also have something to do with it) and gently put those concerns to rest. I’ll get to see all this movement for myself on Sunday when they do a stumble-through of that scene plus the other four they’ll stage over the next few days.

On to SMELLS LIKE ART tomorrow, starting off with a “character chat” with Zach Clause, our Toni-O. I love chats.

You know what rhymes with chat? Rat. And I saw one running up and down the exterior window frame of a restaurant I was dining in on 9th Ave. Now THAT smells like art.

Read it and weep.

Posted in NYMF, Writing on September 7, 2010 by darylfazio

We read it. The whole thing. Sang it too. No weeping. From start to finish.

The entire cast was in the same room today. Reading and singing and not weeping. It was a beautiful thing. Not the show yet, since this was the first time reading the thing at all for a few of our cast, and there’s a helluva lot happening in this musical at all times. But the promise it holds makes me feel like I’m running through a field of daisies. And perhaps being pursued by a human-sized copy of the libretto with little feet sticking out from the bottom of the plastic black binder.

So, yeah, mixed feelings. Great ones about the cast, chosen by me and Chad and Aaron and DJ (our choreographer) with such care and thought, so we could watch talent and fearlessness oozing from their pores. Tim Warmen, you’re a beast. Josh Powell, holy smokes. Zach Clause, you break my heart and bust my gut simultaneously. Cyrilla Baer, there are no words. Marla Mindelle, if I were drinking milk while you were singing, it would be coming out of my nose. I could go on and on and on and on. But won’t just yet.

The new Act II opener is a winner (guttural “uh”s make anything good, don’t they?), for sure, though. And the whole piece is feeling sleek and trim.

The flip-side of my feelings aren’t bad ones, just questions. We have some work to do on those art gangs (did I mention there are gangs in POPart who worship Michelangelo, Rothko and O’Keeffe and use that as a reason to confront and rumble with each other? does that give you pause, dear reader?) to get them to fit more snugly into the proceedings. And I’m wondering also about the epilogues.

The work is the point, of course. The actors are clearly ready to bring everything they’ve got. It humbles me, and it makes me damn-well responsible for ensuring the libretto can take it over the next three weeks and six performances.

And if there’s any weeping (and maybe a little peeing), let’s hope it’s the kind that’s squeezed out by way too much laughing.

Real people playing fake ones…

Posted in General, NYMF, The Cast, Writing on July 20, 2010 by darylfazio

I was an acting major as an undergrad. I survived the degree but washed out of the real-world part. It ain’t no place for sissies. Pros, I bow to you and kiss your toe ring.

Now I find myself, for the first time, on the other side of a professional audition process. And it’s not just intriguing from the former-auditionee perspective, but also from the writer one. Because I created all these fake people, and now we have to choose flesh-and-blood ones to “be” them.

It’s daunting and life-altering. So much talent (we’ve all heard the statistics of the actor-to-job ratio; you actor people, honestly, please don’t ever get a CAT scan, because then we’ll find out you all have brains that need to be studied by science, and live theatre will go the way of the dodo bird). So many expectations, on either side, of what and who this is we’ll be making. We don’t know who you are yet (callbacks will be on us in a heartbeat). But here’s to what we’ll learn and who we’ll meet. It’s the best part of this theatre thing.

I can’t wait to bake a show with some real (crazy) people.

Extreme Script Make-Over

Posted in Music, NYMF, Writing on July 15, 2010 by darylfazio

Okay, maybe not that extreme. But after insight from our dramaturg and a few creative pow-wows with director, Chad Larabee, and composer, Aaron McAllister, we have a pretty different structure and a couple of new songs. Case in point: I have written a new Act Two opener called BREAKTHROUGH. We wrap up Act One with MELTDOWN in which Kitty, you guessed it, melts down while being serenaded by Homeless Man and Woman. In BREAKTHROUGH (which has no tune as of yet–stay tuned…heh-heh…it’s percussive, hard-edge lyrics though–I was inspired by some vintage Blood, Sweat, & Tears), Toni-O and Edward lead the other students in announcements of the wonderful discoveries they’ve all been making in their artwork. While Kitty. Has none. Brief excerpt:

EDWARD
(bad-ass-like)

WE GOT SOME TECHNIQUE.
WE BEEN STEERED AND CONSTRUCTED
‘TIL THE SISSIES WE WERE
HAVE BEEN AMBUSHED, ABDUCTED.
UH!

That’s the big-ticket item. BLOW-BY-BLOW has gone away, and there’s a SHINE, KITTY, SHINE reprise now, which I’m kind of loving.

And right this moment, as I type, Chad sits in the Equity Principle Auditions for nine hours finding us some dazzling talent to help the love flow even more freely. (insert song cue here)

Waiting? Working? Whoring?

Posted in NYMF, Writing on June 20, 2010 by darylfazio

A little of all of those.

Waiting for rehearsals. Still a couple of months away. But can’t help wondering about the whole experience. Living in New York that long. Meeting the actors and making the show into something. Changing the very fabric of space and time. And eating a lot of Zen Palate (look it up).

Working on the script. Talking to our dramatug, Lisa Timmel, for the first time tomorrow morning. Making notes right now about questions to ask. Never had an “official” one of these before. Hope I don’t come off like an amateur.

Whoring around for money. My high school chorus teacher just handed me a check, and after I wanted to hug and kiss her all over, I felt sort of…like…a…money slut. God knows I should never be a producer.

“Paint by the Numbers”

Posted in Writing on November 24, 2008 by darylfazio

…is the name of the new song to end Act I, a melt-your-face-off ballad. The kids leave “Art is Your Rock”, inspired, minds set on success and somehow, in Kitty’s case, determination to be famous. And, of course, we realize she’s completely misguided.

EXCERPT, p. 40

KITTY stands in front of her bureau mirror, staring at herself and slowly replaying the choreography from “Art is Your Rock,” still holding the paintbrush. She gets more and more excited as she practices.

KITTY
Who knew I could actually look good? (beat) This place is a how-to for success. All I have to do is exactly what I’m told, and I’ll go to SHoHo. And I’ll be somebody! And nobody will ever have to know I’m a fraidy-kitty inside.

Her voice suddenly changes as she steps into a different light and begins to speak self-importantly into the paintbrush as though it’s a microphone.

Individual lights illuminate TONI-O, smoking a cigarette and leaning against a stoop, and EDWARD, reading a copy of AWE (Art World Enquirer). Both boys stare into space as they dream their own art world dreams.

Thank you all for coming to my gallery opening. These paintings are everything you asked for: they match your couch, they make your neighbors think you’re cultured, they don’t force you to confront your inner emptiness with uncomfortable symbolism, and they have a guaranteed 500% resale value after my tragically early death from an accidental asbestos overdose. I know there are so many other places you could have been tonight, but you chose me. You chose me.

Behind KITTY are projected media images and news headlines of her as famous artist—hand in the camera of the paparazzi, award ceremony acceptance speeches, guest appearances on Charlie Rose, plastic surgery rumors on the cover of the Art World Enquirer (AWE), a painting selling for $10 million at Sotheby’s, etc.

Lights down on TONI-O and EDWARD as KITTY starts to sing.

Song (#8)—“PAINT BY THE NUMBERS”
(singing to her imaginary gallery audience with genuine excitement)

YOU FOLLOWED MY WORK
TO THIS PLACE WHERE WE KNOW
I’M SPECIAL, IMPORTANT,
THE TOAST OF THE SHOW.
WHO CARES IF I PAINTED
FROM DEEP IN MY GUT?
THIS ART MAKES ME FODDER
FOR HEADLINES AND SMUT.

YOU CHOOSE THE COLORS,
THE BRUSH STROKES, THE SIZE.
I GIVE YOU THE PORTRAIT,
YOU GIVE ME THE PRIZE.
I FOLLOWED THE RULES
LIKE GOOD POP ICONS DO.
MY WORTH AS A PERSON’S
DETERMINED BY YOU.

I’LL PAINT BY THE NUMBERS,
NO TEARS, SWEAT, OR BLOOD.
I’LL PAINT BY THE NUMBERS,
NO RISK OF A DUD.
I’LL PAINT BY THE NUMBERS,
WEAR FAME LIKE A GLOVE.
I’LL PAINT BY  THE NUMBERS
TO EARN ALL YOUR LOVE.

ART IS MY WAY TO NEVER LOOK BACK,
TO FOCUS ON FORTUNE, DEVELOP A KNACK
FOR FENDING OFF QUESTIONS ABOUT WHO I AM,
TO PAINT PRETTY PICTURES, BE POPULAR, GLAM.

I’LL PAINT BY THE NUMBERS,
NO TEARS, SWEAT, OR BLOOD.
I’LL PAINT BY THE NUMBERS,
NO RISK OF A DUD.
I’LL PAINT BY THE NUMBERS,
WEAR FAME LIKE A GLOVE.
I’LL PAINT BY  THE NUMBERS
TO EARN ALL YOUR LOVE.

KITTY raises her paintbrush in the air triumphantly.

I’LL PAINT BY THE NUMBERS
TO EARN ALL YOUR LOVE.

EDWARD crumples his copy of AWE and throws it in the trash. TONI-O puts out his cigarette.

Lights out.

End of Act I.