I will return to my previous Honeycombing and day-naming tomorrow (and hopefully with greater regularity) but I am for the moment happy to report that I wrote End of Play on Lightning Walks earlier today. Cue the happy-sad chorus!
I’m pleased to have completed my Play a Month only 14 days behind schedule, but mostly I am happy that this play, and the people in it, exist. There is a fair amount of rewriting and researching to do before it is ready for production, but it is not too far off what I imagine as its final shape.
Lightning Walks began as what I thought would be an easy first play for the Play a Month Group: three characters, each telling their own version of the story. I was picturing Mike Mihm, Rachael Hip-Flores and Lori Parquet in the roles, as it often helps me to write towards particularly talented actors. Then, the play twisted in my hands and became something larger and more complex. Now, there are extended physical/musical sequences, long naturalistic scenes and highly stylized scenes, complex chemistry and myth, and parents playing their own children.It will take some fine tuning, but I’m very happy with this first draft.
Here is a monologue near the end from Sally, the middle-school daughter of Jack who is planning a big secret protest with her best friend, Tanyah. For a touch of context, she left off living with her Mom because her Mom suffered from bone-crushing depression , an illness that appears to live in Sally, as well, but Sally is better at fighting it off. When that depression visits her, she calls it a visit from Mom. There’s a lot more context that would give this monologue richness, but for the sake of time, here it is alone:
SALLY (to the audience):
And I hate lying to my Daddy. He doesn’t have anyone else, you know? I mean, he has his work buddies and his drinking buddies and his football buddies, but those are just buddies, they’re not friends. I feel like maybe I’m his only friend, and that makes me sad, and seeing him around the house, with no job, tinkering with everything, it’s like so crazy sad that I can’t, like, sleep, you know?
And when I can’t sleep, that’s when Mom comes to visit. She comes to visit almost every night now. And I don’t know, I don’t know how to feel, cause like during the day, I’m with Tanyah and everything is like protest! awesome! but then it’s night, and Mom comes to visit and she wants me to live with her, and you know, maybe I kind of want that, too. Maybe I want to be so sad I can’t do anything. It would be so easy to be so sad.
I don’t know what death is like, but what I think it’s like, is like, cool. Maybe 55 degrees, you know, when you might wear a sweater but not a jacket, and if you take your sweater off, you can feel that cool on your skin and it gives you goose-bumps and you shiver in a good way. I think it’s always cool in death, and I think the air is like water there, you can swim in it, like you can fly only it’s really just swimming. And you can’t fall, you can only float, that’s like what everyone loves to do best, climb up tall bridges, cause death is like full of bridges, and you climb up and jump off and you float slower than a feather down, with that peace where you’re like only aware of being aware, people in death float for like thousands of years and never get sick of it, it’s like the cool thing to do.
That’s how I fall asleep, cause Mom loves to float, and so we fall together, and that’s like the best case scenario with death, right? Like finding someone you love to float with, cause then you can take off your sweater but if you hold each other you’ll be that perfect balance of goose-bumps and warm.
Yeah, OK, so I’m like really weird, sorry, sorry. Anyway, it doesn’t matter cause Tanyah and I are doing awesome stuff here and when we take down Chemstar, which we’re totes going to do, I won’t need to thank about floating at all. Day of the protest, y’all!
Yeah, so, this play kills me a little bit, which I think is a good sign. I tried to read this to Heather just now and couldn’t quite get through it without all that’s underneath those words catching in my throat. Hopefully, it’ll still feel that way after a week and everything isn’t so close.
I’ll be rewriting this play through Flux Sundays, Propulsion Lab and the Lark Playwrights’ Group. And now…on to the next play. Who knows, maybe I’ll finish it in a few weeks and be back on track.