Monday, June 27, 2011

Screenplays and Sam's Club...

I love going to the theatre in this new play I'm doing, The Interlopers, Gary Lennon, playwright, directed by Jim Fall. Mostly because I have a small role. Used to be, the last two plays I've done, in fact, I'd start to get all tense and surly around four in the afternoon because I knew I had an evening of warfare in front of me. In both pieces I literally never left the stage. In this one, however, I do my quick scene with some wonderful actors, a big, long, fourth-wall-breaking monologue, and that's pretty much it. I spend the rest of the show backstage texting and bothering the other actors.

But that's not it, entirely. The real reason is I love hanging out with this group of actors. They're a lively, smart, funny bunch. Everyone gets along famously and there are no marauding egos prancing about making everyone nervous. Other actors reading this will know what I mean. Everyone's a pro.

Before heading off to The Bootleg (where we're doing it in downtown LA) Angie and I decided to visit Sam's Club to pick up a few essentials. Actually, we really wanted to get some flea medicine for the dogs and maybe some hot dogs. Two hours later my wallet was shy about 20,000 bucks. Or so it seemed like.

Incredibly, I'd never been to a Sam's Club and I was unprepared for the vastness of the place. Afterwards, my wife observed that I was now a 'genuine suburban husband' because of the trip, but I didn't really take it in because I was still trembling from the beating my credit card had just taken.

I can certainly understand why people are attracted to Sam's Club. Everything there is sold in bulk so as to insure less expensive prices. The problem is one starts to get a little loopy from all the 'savings.' For example, we bought enough hamburger to feed the entire city of Fargo, North Dakota at 7 cents a pound. Or something like that. I mentioned casually to Angie that I'd like a jar of dill pickles for the burgers...we got one that weighs approximately the same as a Ford Flex. We had to borrow the store's dolly to get the dill pickles to the car and when we did it tipped to one side like the Flinstone's car when the ribs are delivered.

My wife decided we needed some dish detergent. So we purchased a bottle roughly the size of the Statue of Liberty. We did, in fact, get some hot dogs. The smallest package we could find. Four hundred hot dogs at a penny a dog.

In any event, we finished up the Sam's Club adventure and then drove home with our emergency lights flashing. We had to drive on the side of the freeway because the car would only do about 14 miles an hour at top speed. Plus we had all that hamburger bungee-corded to the roof. And the goose neck trailer we rented for the hot dogs was bothersome.

Angie said, "Well, we've got all this meat, why don't we invite some friends over for a cook out? Who would you like over?" I said, "How about the citizens of Kenya?"

On the plus side we're stocked up until the 2016 elections.

I like Sam's Club, I've decided. Angie's family has been going there for some twenty years (that's where she got her 'membership card.' One has to be a 'member' to get in. As a new member I had to learn the secret handshake. It's sort of like being in the tri-lateral commission for people who live in mobile homes).

Back to the screenplay today. I've been attacked by the dreaded insomnia again and part of the reason for that is the screenplay. So many ideas. I watched a fascinating old interview the other night with the late Billy Wilder. His advice to the writer was to never explain in narrative form the POV of each shot. Just tell the story through dialogue and let the director do the heavy lifting. Problem was, Wilder himself directed most of the stuff he wrote, so I don't quite trust that advice. I don't know who will be hired to direct this piece, so I'm taking no chances. Of course, whoever it is always has the option of simply ignoring everything.

The thing is, writing for the screen is all about the image as opposed to writing for the stage which is all about the words. Words, in a perfect world, are the least important aspect of writing for the screen, it seems to me. Hitchcock once said the perfect screenplay would have no words whatsoever, only images that told the story. Not silent film, but images and sound to tell the story. It's something I try to keep in the front of my mind as I work.

In any case, it's another glorious day in Southern California. Another day to create and bask in the sunlight. And, oh, we never did get the flea medicine. They were out.

See you tomorrow.

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