Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Distractions in Paradise
It is beautiful here on the island of Bali. The endless soundtrack of chirping birds, croaking geckos, barking dogs, schizophrenic roosters and gentle breezes have replaced the otherwise urban drone of our daily lives in California. The serenity of our surroundings begs the convergence of story ideas for our play Rights of Passage. Ideas that have long been discussed between us. Many greater writers than we two, have foretold that beginning is the hardest part. We now understand what they meant.
Despite the tranquil beauty that embraces us here, we gravitate toward any distraction that will delay us from tackling the inevitable beast of burden - sitting down to write. Any excuse will do...Isn’t it time to eat again? My back aches, I think I need a massage. Let’s go for a walk to clear our heads. It’s too hot. How about we spend another few hours trying to work out how to operate Robert’s new “world” phone. Is it cocktail hour yet or perhaps time to eat some more?
And then the ultimate gift in distraction arrives. Ed receives news from San Francisco that a faulty sprinkler head went off -- cascading 300 gallons of water into NCTC’s main theatre. This is good for at least two days of play writing inertia as all energy becomes focused on Ed’s hyperabsorbed yet futile long distance meddling via the internet. Why write if you can obssess and worry instead? Finally, the miraculous staff at the theatre sends a unanimous e-mail message back that basically says get over yourself -- we’ve got the soggy situation here under control so relax and get your asses back to work on the play. Busted. It’s the jolt we needed. You can always count on your friends and co-workers for a reality check.
So for the past few days, we bite the bullet. We become highly focused and start to make big decisions about the overall framework of the play. Miracle of miracles, we even actually write an opening scene and begin to sketch out a variety of new storylines. It begins to feel as if we’ve crossed a significant creative threshold. Broken a barrier in our previously polarized imaginations and gained a storytelling foothold. Who knows if any of this initial writing actually makes it into the final play. But at long last, we’ve inched past just being in research mode.
After a year of traveling, conducting interviews, following international human rights reports, web surfing, and grant writing the rubber is beginning to meet the road. We are relieved and excited to see what’s around the next bend.
Photos: Ubud, Bali