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Hamilton and Safe Spaces

Recently, the Vice-President Elect, Mike Pence, attended the multiple award winning, critically acclaimed musical Hamilton. According to reports, upon arrival the VPE was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers from the audience. There were points in the show where Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics and music caused the audience to respond in such a way that actors had to pause and refocus. Afterwards, during the curtain call, the cast addressed Vice-President Elect Pence voicing their concerns and their desire that the Trump administration remember them after telling the audience not to boo Governor Pence.

The President-Elect responded on Twitter with this message:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!</p>&mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/799974635274194947″>November 19, 2016</a></blockquote>
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As this blog goes out, many angry Americans are rating the Hamilton show as a 1-Star show and #BoycottHamilton is trending on Twitter. The point of this blog isn’t political. It isn’t about the Hamilton’s cast message to Vice-President Elect Pence nor about really about President-Elect Trump’s tweet. It is about the idea that theater is a “safe and special place”. theater can be a place of entertainment, but it isn’t solely a place of entertainment. Theater is also a place where ideas are challenged, where people are challenged. Shows like The Crucible and The Hairy Ape are designed to make people think within the context of theater. Even seemingly “safe” shows like Oklahoma, The Music Man, Wicked and Hairspray present ideas to challenge the ideas and notions of the audience. Look at shows like Rent, Angels in America, Dog Sees God, Book of Mormon, the list goes on and on.

So lets get rid of the idea that theater is a “safe” place, but it is a “special place”.

 

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The Monday W.I.P.: A Reunion

Last week, I talked about procrastination and how it was affecting my work. This week, I actually have work to report on, a new ten minute play called A REUNION.

Writing more ten-minute plays is one of my goals this year. I stated back in early September, that I wanted to write one new ten-minute play a month. At the end of the “year” I would have twelve original works that could be performed in one night (120 minutes approximately). Imagine something like ALMOST MAINE, which is a full length play that incorporates a series of vignettes all focused around one town.

I don’t have a “theme” for my year of ten minute plays nor am I looking for one. I like to see how a theme develops over the course of writing instead of forcing my writing into a theme that it may or may not fit into.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well Today is the first of October and I am happy to report that i have written, not my first ever, but my first play in this twelve month experiment.

Entitled A REUNION, it is an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s A RUINED MAID.A RUINED MAID is a poem that Hardy wrote almost entirely in dialogue. Due to this feature, the poem lends itself very well to drama in my opinion, but has never really been dramatized (to my knowledge) outside of Seymour Barab’s 1981 opera skit of the same name. I’m not suggesting I’m breaking new ground here, far from it, just a wonder why it has never been done.

My version is updated, with characters named Melia (from the original poem) and Martha, who meet by chance at a small bistro in a large, unnamed city. Melia isn’t a prostitute or a gentleman’s mistress as it is suggested in Hardy’s original work, but rather a woman whom society views as “ruined” in another way.

Here is just a peek at Reunion.

                                                                           

                                   ACT I                                   

                                   Scene 1                                 

                    At rise we see the outdoor seating area of a small     
                    bistro or cafe in a large city. A wrought iron         
                    fence surrounds the dining area along with a bench     
                    on the far SL side. Several tables are all on the      
                    patio, but all are vacant save one. MELIA sits         
                    alone at this table, sipping a coffee. Melia is a      
                    young woman, in her mid 20s, with very short hair.     
                    She has piercings (maybe her lip or eyebrow or         
                    "snake bites"), is very "rock and roll or maybe a      
                    "hipster". She is seated in front of a small           
                    computer (a Mac obviously), hard at work.              

                    MARTHA enters from SR. She is a contrast to Melia,     
                    although the same age. Where as Melia is clad very     
                    much in urban hip fashion, Martha’s dress is quite     
                    the opposite. Cheap cloths, made from cheap            
                    fabrics. She has long hair compared to Melia’s         
                    short. Where one is blonde, the other is brunette.     
                    Where one is short, the other is tall. Martha is       
                    clutching some plastic shopping bags, clearly          
                    labeled MACY’S, along with her purse with all she      
                    has. She is clearly afraid of something. Is it the     
                    big city? Is it being alone? Or is she simply lost     
                    and overwhelmed? She pauses and looks around           
                    again, then lets out a big sigh. She tucks her         
                    bags and purse under her arm and struggles with        
                    unfolding a map, but a wind gust comes up and          
                    blows the map free from her hands. She starts to       
                    chase it, but one of her Macy’s bags begins to         
                    slip free from her arm and she stops to grab it        
                    and watches as her map flies away.                     

          MARTHA                                                           
               oh Fu...dge!                                                

                    She sighs and sits down, dejected. The bags she        
                    had been so fiercely protecting, she places at her     
                    feet, no longer even caring about them.                

                    Melia has been watching this, with a bemused           
                    expression, but as soon as Martha speaks, Melia’s      
                    expression changes. A confused look. Almost asking     
                    herself silently "do I know this girl?" Melia          
                    leans forward.                                         

          MELIA                                                            
               Martha? Martha Kunstler?                                    

                    Martha looks up, confused and looks to the strange     
                    woman seated behind her. Her eyes wide.                

                                                           (CONTINUED)
          CONTINUED:                                              2.       

          MARTHA                                                           
               Melia Hardy!                                                

                    Melia forgets her coffee and her work, Martha          
                    forgets her fears and her bags and they embrace,       
                    reaching over the railing to each other and            
                    embracing.                                             

          MARTHA                                                           
               How long has it been? 5 years?                              

                    Melia smiles, her eyes flashing a little as she        
                    does the mental math.                                  

          MELIA                                                            
               Almost, graduation was the last time I saw anyone back      
               home.                                                       

          MARTHA                                                           
               You haven’t been home in 5 years?                           

          MELIA                                                            
               why would I go home, there was never anything for me        
               there?                                                      

          MARTHA                                                           
               Didn’t you miss your friends or your family? You know I     
               see your mom every Sunday...                                

                    But before Martha can continue, Melia cuts her         
                    off.                                                   

          MELIA                                                            
               They kicked me out Marti