I’ve been working on a thing recently. And by that I mean mostly thinking about working on a thing and not actually doing it.
But I have recently, through dramatically changing my approach to the project, managed to get the damn thing started. And it’s getting done.
Here was the problem. I pitched a thing several years ago. It included a full outline of what the thing was and a few specifics.
It wasn’t accepted that year, but I re-pitched the exact same thing the next year and it was. So now I had to make a thing that was very specifically mapped out over two years ago and while the concept still excited me the execution of it was done by a guy I now had two years of experience on. I didn’t want to do it his way anymore. But I had to.
Here is how I did it. Maybe this will be useful to you, maker of things.
- Started visually, rather than writing. I spent a good amount of time drawing stuff, characters, props, that kind of thing. I’m pretty shitty at drawing. But it was a new way to go at it. Made my brain work in different ways.
- Worked at it out of order. I’m generally pretty linear in work methodology, even when designing things that are non-linear in nature. I start at the start and work through to the end. This time I started in the middle and worked where I wanted to. I knew things didn’t make sense and made myself ignore it.
- No jokes. Yup. No writing jokes. This is pretty difficult.
- no stage directions. No getting bogged down in detail.
- all supporting characters just numbers. No naming them, no getting involved with them. Just making them be functional.
By applying these parameters to the work I was able to go from doing nothing but worrying about it to currently being about half done and moving forward at a decent pace.
Break old habits.
Get new ideas.
Make your deadline.
I end the show I’m touring at the moment with a straightjacket escape. I do the whole bit with a person out of the audience - innuendo aplenty, all that stuff and then perform the escape as a rather elegant metaphor.
Today I’ve got the girl up - her name’s Flo, or Fiona or Fee-o or something and I’m all “just heave, you’re going to have to hurt me, it’s ok, I like it” all that stuff and she’s kind of nervous and kind of weirded out but having a good time, but a weird time and a little bit hesitant - which is comedy gold - but eventually she heaves on it and the buckle bursts and the straightjacket breaks.
She is mortified.
I think this is hilarious.
For the first time ever in the history of performing this show I’m like “well, you’ve fucked the whole show now.” The buckle’s on the floor. Accusing.
This is the buckle for the arm strap mind - the essential component, the very essence of it being an escape. With no arm strap, there is no escape. It’s a guy undoing some buckles while pretending it’s hard.
I’ve got to do an escape, or - i wasn’t off the mark here - the show is utterly fucked. The whole thing has built to this point, without it, there’s no payoff to nearly an hour of material.
I survey the available resources and get her to wrap me up in gaff tape.
Show back on. All good. Pretty effective escape and the spontaneity keeps everything moving and people are still having a fun fun time.
The show finishes. I have 40 minutes until I have to start another one and no finale. I can’t do another gaff tape escape, not just “hey, here’s what it is.” It’s too weird and comes from nowhere.
I motor with two of the technicians to the university workshop.
Ï need a pop riveter! I’m saying and they nod and talk their tech language.
And a power drill to drill out the old rivets! ok ok ok they nod.
How long til the next show? 20 minutes they say and I plug the drill in and start trying to drill out the old rivets on the buckle.
They’re stainless steel and just get super hot. The leather of the strap that holds the buckle in place starts smoking…
A punch! Get me a punch! They rush back with a punch and hammer and I pop the rivets out with battering force, not before I’ve touched one while it’s still superheated and raised a massive blister on a finger.
Eventually I get four new rivets into the buckle strap, attached back onto the straightjacket. I leave a tech to clean up the massive pile of tools I’ve left as I sprint back to the venue to get the next show started. I have time to eat a piece of chocolate.
The jacket hold up for the show. It only has to do two more until the tour is done.
It better keep it together…
I have been watching the news, reading the papers and following various blogs over the last few weeks and have come to a sad and startling realisation. Were I given the opportunity to enter into a BDSM relationship with Prime Minister Key - with or without Bronagh - I would be forced to firmly decline.
Despite the world of experiences to be found in being John Key’s sub; the delightful power play, the wonders of being restrained and the dance along the boundaries between pleasure and pain, I could not in good conscience accept.
The reason is of course one of trust. When John is flogging me because I have been a bad slave, has tied a string with a 500 gram weight onto my balls to stretch them out, or has his fist in my ass because… um, just because; I want to know that if I say the safe word, he’ll stop, untie me and give me a cuddle.
But I don’t believe he would.
In the last election the NZ public decided to vote for a discipline based relationship. Some because they are masochists and like to be punished, others because they are sadists and figured John would share around his subs when he was done with them.
We chose it. It was consensual. We’re getting what we asked for.
However, when five thousand citizens march on parliament on the issue of asset sales that is the political equivalent of us saying the safe word. It’s time to take a time out, have a quick cuddle and make sure that everyone is still on the same page with what they really want.
And here is why I will never consent to one of John’s play sessions. Because I know that I’ll be sobbing “Poodle! Poodle, dammit! Poodle!” and he’ll just carry on grinning and reaming my ass with a fire extinguisher.
He has a mandate. Sorry New Zealand. You’ve been given a prime ministering.
Actually this isn’t really the behaviour of an elected official at all. It’s that of a king…
I write in sporadic little bursts. Stutters and jumps. constantly interrrupted by pacing about or looking out the window.
Even when I know what happens next i often can’t just write it down. I gotta mull it over. Stare out the window a bit. Give it some breathing room in the time between being an idea and being concrete words on a page.
I heard a pre-broadcast version of one of my radio plays. I was pretty pleased with it, but they cut the line “Do you have something inserted inside you sir?”
Pity, because it was pretty funny.
Some of you may know I have a play called Stag Weekend that I wrote with Brendon Bennetts It’s getting workshopped by Auckland Playwrights Collective and The Court Theatre.
That’s pretty cool. I guess i’m used to things moving forward pretty quickly, but stage plays seem pretty glacial in their development speed.
Things are weird.
I’ll let you know how they go.