Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Shape of Things

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Photo: Cactus Flower, Joshua Tree State Park

To celebrate Independence Day we went to Palm Springs on a short writers’ retreat. Since temperatures hovered around a blistering 105 each day it wasn’t too difficult to stay near the air conditioner with our laptop and bang out some work. Our primary goal for this self-imposed 5 day exile was to reassess our progress to date and to make further headway on our core storytelling structure. While there is still a very long process ahead for the making of the play, what follows is a snapshot of the shape of things for Rights of Passage.

After re-evaluating our winter 2009 sojourn to South East Asia, we have confirmed that the main story line in the play will unfold on the island of Bali, Indonesia. The golden rule of writing is to set forth with what you know. Having visited this unique and magical place 10 times in the last 23 years we have a solid understanding of the rich ceremonial based cultural traditions of Bali. This we believe, provides the perfect theatrical backdrop for our central character, a gay Hindu named Wayan, and his journey toward adulthood.

With Wayan’s personal rites of passage anchoring the center of the play we plan also to include simultaneous scenes that will momentarily suspend his journey at key junctures in the narrative. Expanding the storytelling in this way will accommodate comparative or contrasting LGBT voices and experiences from Africa, the Middle East, the European Union, Central Europe, Latin and North America.

The ongoing challenge, of course, is how to navigate and coordinate storytelling of such epic proportion. Writing aside, we’ve barely scratched the surface in our exploration of the use of media, puppetry, music, dance, and production design elements for the play. Truth be told, with such a culturally diverse pallet to work from, these decisions feel rather daunting at the moment. We expect, at some point, the characters in Rights of Passage will begin to assert their own control and provide answers to many of our questions. Still, it’s hard to be patient and trust that it will all come together in due course.

Our research continues to unveil so many stories aching to be told. The good news, at least for us as writers, is that we are finding more similarities than differences in the global LGBT human rights struggle than we had anticipated. While the continuum of progress is distinctly varied by region it appears that the root causes of LGBT oppression are eerily universal. There are indeed common threads that can be woven together to form the narrative of the play.

There is still much travel to occur, many interviews to conduct, and more than a few scenes to write. Such is the shape of things now and yet to come for Rights of Passage.

One of our aims is to incorporate the goals of the Yogyakarta Principles into the play. To find out more about them, click here:

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