Working on a new play for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Working title is Project | Hope, although I’m “hoping” (ha ha) that changes by the time the play is presented in April. It might not, which will be fine, but the working title describes a concept, and I’m hoping that soon it will be more of an actual story, rather than simply a concept.
Hope is not an easy topic to write on, talk about, or think about. That’s the biggest piece of learning for me so far. And it’s also a topic that doesn’t inspire the happiest of thoughts or memories for people. The first draft of the play consisted of 60+ pages of interview transcriptions culled from interviews conducted by the students that I worked with at UNC-Charlotte, as well as three interviews that I conducted. The students selected the pieces from their interviews that they felt were compelling and needed to be heard by an audience, and then I further vetted those selections, along with my own, piecing together a script. The first reading of that script revealed a number of things, the most important being that the entire piece was too heavy. However, the search for ways to lighten the load of the topic has not been easy, and I continue to struggle.
I’m also now writing a frame for the play and using the interview transcriptions in a way that I’ve never done before. It’s truly painful. I feel like I’m betraying all of the work I’ve done before. My past work with interviews has been rigorously faithful to what was uttered by the interview subject. This project is forcing me to push against my own boundaries and beliefs about form and content. I get angry. My chest tightens. I feel sick. I stall. I have lots of ideas in my head, lots of images, lines of spoken or typed text. It’s just not coming out so easily. Start the Pitocin drip, people.
Here’s what I do know. Hope is slippery. Hard to pin down. Hope is also not as happy a concept as I thought. Now what that means for this play, I don’t know.
For the play, I know that book shelves have stories and secrets that lie deep behind the books sitting on the shelves. Knowledge goes deeper than anything trapped in a book. It’s just about finding it. What lies behind the traditional knowledge, knowledge that we sanctify and hold up as truth, is often more important than tradition.
Follow along here. I may post more. But thanks for reading all the same.