Five Years, Lord Willing

Where are you and where are you going?
P_K
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by P_K » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:22 pm

Late, but, congrats on completing and submitting your play. I agree with your therapist in that now that the work is submitted you are, in fact, a playwright. Though, whether you are a good playwright remains to be determined ;). As such, while I agree on that point, I understand the reluctance to associate completion with achievement. An artist's work exists for his audience, so it is hard to feel accomplished without some feedback that indicates anyone has gotten anything out of it.

There are two levels of achievement here, then: the first being the creation of and submission of a play, and in doing so becoming part of the theater community. You certainly achieved that. But the second, more elusive, level comes from the reception of your work, the feeling of affecting humanity (however small a group) in some way. Depending on what your goal was with the creation of your work, how accomplished you are feeling with its completion and submission will vary. Though in either case you should certainly feel accomplished. You submitted a play (and you didn't curse even once ;)). Though perhaps I am conflating "acceptance" and "accomplished" here; that is how I understood what you were speaking of at least.
Jason wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:23 am
(4) The final 5% excruciating difficult yet most rewarding;
Indeed. I understand that the last 5% could be more appropriately labeled ∞% due to the nature of a work never really being done; the artist has to decide it is finished. How did you decide your play was complete?

Jason
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by Jason » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:45 pm

I think you make a valid point: accomplishment does not equate to accomplished. I accomplished something which has subjective value. I am not accomplished.

The only caveat, and I am not applying it to me, is that critical reception is based on criteria that is fluid. Look at the Nobel Prizes awarded for literature. How many writers don't you recognize? How many do you say WTF? Rudyard Kipling? Pearl Buck? How many writers have been omitted that deserve one? Did Philip Roth not get one simply because he was an asshole and a misogynist?

From my understanding, a play is never complete in the sense that a book is once it is published. Tom Stoppard supposedly follows productions of his own plays and is constantly making revisions. At this stage, I can still make changes because I am just trying to obtain a reading, not a production. So there wasn't a sense of finality. That being said, I "finished" when I began making changes that were detrimental and quite frankly, I was just sick of it. And I moved onto the next one, which is 40%? complete. You get your whole life to write your first one. Then, not so much.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:19 pm

Philip Roth was awarded the (lifetime) Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2002 by the National Book Foundation.

Jason
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by Jason » Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:33 pm

Which I'm guessing he threw across the room when it was announced that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature.

P_K
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by P_K » Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:27 pm

That's fair regarding the fluidity of reception criteria. I'd like to think that there are certain elements universally recognized (in any art form) as skillful/praiseworthy/good. Relatability, nuance, persuasiveness, impact, come to mind; but, I can see how these characteristics could all depend on the time period and the audience so perhaps you are right in that it is completely fluid. That might also partially explain how some artists go unrecognized during their lifetime only to receive critical acclaim after their deaths - "ahead of their time" as the saying goes. That said, artists do not produce in a vacuum, and some even produce with a target demo in mind, so it's tough to imagine them not knowing the current state of their art form and audience to at least have some idea of what would constitute as critically or publically deserving of praise. But I'd understand if the work was not produced exactly to satisfy those "knowns" as that could be rather restrictive on the creative process. Comes down to what one's goals are, I suppose.

Gotcha. I have practically zero experience with plays so that's all new info for me. Pretty cool that you can iterate on it as you see it performed. I'd imagine that would help a great deal with revising.

That stopping point makes sense haha, especially considering you had another project lined up. Understanding that there (most likely) will be other projects is something that I need to come to better terms with. Part of my reluctance to start with a similar endeavor (other than making the time and potentially just lacking the creative energy, discipline, etc.) comes from having too much attachment to the idea I have right now, and not wanting to muck it up. Realizing that my first will probably be bad no matter what (how else can you improve?) and just acknowledging that there will be other ideas/projects would help in motivating actually beginning. Still I cannot help but think "But I like this idea so much, I don't want it to suck!"

Is your new project of a similar style/setting/theme or is it a pretty big departure from your first?
Last edited by P_K on Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jason
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by Jason » Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:14 am

I live outside NYC and these seem to be the play du jours being served:

(1) Aftermath of young African Male shot;
(2) Immigration;
(3) Sexual identity;

Its not as though I don't have an interest in these issues, I just don't have anything unique to say creatively about them. That is part of the fluidity I am referring to. I am not topical in that regard. It's like a job I guess. Just because you are a good programmer, doesn't mean this work environment is the best place for you to be a good programmer. We are all in need of the right venue.

The new one has nothing to do with the first one.

Improving in anything is rewarding. Arthur Miller said there is a difference between good writing and good play writing. One is a talent. The other is a craft. And speaking to the topic of changing times, I do not believe we live in a world anymore where an avuncular Jewish playwright can gain the stature required to bang the pre-eminent sex symbol of his generation.

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FBeyer
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by FBeyer » Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:09 am

Jason wrote:
Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:14 am
...
(3) Sexual identity;
...
Scifi books are starting to fill up with new alien races that have 5 genders that switch at random times. Sentences these days read like:
'shimmer quick and shimmer often, friends!' the boy said with practiced pomp. Xyr silver skin was heavily dusted with glitter, and the pulsing blue in xyr cheeks indicated xe took pride in xyr role that evening.
Actual mo'fuggin' quote from a tremendously popular scifi book. I must be getting really old, 'cause I did not see, nor appreciate, where that shit came from!

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:58 am

This trend is also apparent in modern literary fiction. For instance, I recently read a scene in which a late 20s male is concerned about revealing his somewhat pudgy mid-section to his rather assertive new female lover, and he consoles himself by noting that her last lover, with whom he is acquainted, is even more pudgy.

Jason
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by Jason » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:20 am

My thread = my pretensions:

"The theatre should be treated with respect. The theatre is a wonderful place, a house of strange enchantment, a temple of illusion. What it most emphatically is not and never will be is a scruffy, ill-lit, fumed-oak drill hall serving as a temporary soap box for political propaganda."

Noel Coward

And this from a guy who loved penises other than his own.

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FBeyer
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by FBeyer » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:56 am

I honestly don't know if:
  1. That was the most eloquent way someone has ever told me to shut the fuck up, and take my shit elsewhere
  2. or if we agree on the absurdity of a political topic.
Well done, I'm so confused I might even get confused about my gender.

Jason
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by Jason » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:40 am

#2

No need to tuck and run.

Augustus
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by Augustus » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:40 pm

FBeyer wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:09 am
Actual mo'fuggin' quote from a tremendously popular scifi book. I must be getting really old, 'cause I did not see, nor appreciate, where that shit came from!
The worst part is it's treated as a major part of the plot. You get page after page after page of gender identity crap, and the real plot gets pushed to the sidelines.

The thing that I find so confusing is that people seem to find their identity in these mundane attributes. Gay is an identity, transgender is an identity, skin color is an identity. I don't get that at all. It's like saying my freckles are the most important part of who I am, or you can't understand me until you know the distinct smell of my farts. Ideals and principles are so much more important, and interesting.

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daylen
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by daylen » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:54 pm

People like to think they are unique. The internet challenges that view. So the solution is to find several dimensions upon which they are a minority and identify with the intersection. Hence intersectionality.

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daylen
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by daylen » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:54 pm

Ideals and principles take time to develop. Humans have an innate sensitivity to differences in skin color (*), and sex is obviously a major subconscious influence.

(*) Studies show that flashing a picture (for less than a tenth of a second) of a face with a different skin color activates a person's amygdala even though they do know what they saw consciously. Humans spent a great deal of their evolutionary history in tribes where outsiders were a major threat.

Do not let civilization fool you; humans are still animals.

suomalainen
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by suomalainen » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:04 pm

Augustus wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:40 pm
The thing that I find so confusing is that people seem to find their identity in these mundane attributes. Gay is an identity, transgender is an identity, skin color is an identity. I don't get that at all. It's like saying my freckles are the most important part of who I am, or you can't understand me until you know the distinct smell of my farts. Ideals and principles are so much more important, and interesting.
People find identity in their jobs, hobbies, all kinds of "dumb" things. Especially if you're not in the majority, it's understandable that you would identify with what makes you (think you are) "special" or "unique". We all want to belong to something; we all want to find our place, our people (i.e., how many people say something like that about this forum, for instance?).

And to push a little on your last sentence, in what sense do you use the word "important"? As @daylen points out, evolutionarily we are still just animals and have many hard-wired tendencies that are "important" in the sense of their power to direct/influence how we operate. I take it you mean "important" in some value-based sense, which is more of a social construct than plain biological reaction, meaning it's second-order and therefore less "important" in how humans actually work.

And ideals and principles aren't that interesting. Like skin color, they're mostly minor variations of the same things. And unlike skin color, an individuals ideals and principles are susceptible to even rapid change.

Augustus
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by Augustus » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:58 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:04 pm
Okay, so let me use a simple example. Let's say someone is a woman, someone is black, and someone is a man. How do you feel about that? What does it make you think about those people?

To me, each of those statements tell me nothing about the person, ergo, they are not important attributes. Their ideals and principles, their character, their actions, all are much more important and worth discussing. Legends and folklore discuss actions and great deeds. It is not an action or a great deed to have or not have a vagina or a skin pigment.

suomalainen
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by suomalainen » Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:17 pm

Counterpoint: let's say someone is a republican, someone is a democrat and someone is a libertarian. How do you feel about that? What does it make you think about those people?

People aren't solely defined by one thing and being a woman or black or gay in a society historically governed by white male protestants DOES say something about them. It doesn't say everything, and maybe it doesn't say anything by itself, but together with other things, it fleshes out the picture. It can provide context.

Meh. Actions and so-called great deeds are overrated. Tell me the greatest thing your great grandparents ever did. What's the greatest thing you or your neighbor ever did? But, sure, to the extent "important" to you means "worth discussing", sure fine, I agree it's more interesting to discuss someone's actions than it is to discuss someone's gender or skin color. To me, it's much more interesting to discuss why people do the things they do than it is to discuss what it is they did.

Anyway, sorry @jace to pull your journal off course. Congrats on writing something and putting it out there.

Jason
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by Jason » Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:47 pm

lol @ "off course". Have you even bothered to read the shit on this thing? And thank you.

This is the broadway play and playwright of the moment.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/09/thea ... arris.html

It's all just too much IMHO.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by EdithKeeler » Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:01 pm

To me, each of those statements tell me nothing about the person, ergo, they are not important attributes. Their ideals and principles, their character, their actions, all are much more important and worth discussing. Legends and folklore discuss actions and great deeds. It is not an action or a great deed to have or not have a vagina or a skin pigment.
Yet for some people, a person’s skin pigment or gender or sexual preference tells them EVERYTHING they need to know about a person: “he’s black so he’s <insert perjorative stereotype here>, she’s a woman, what does she know, he’s gay so he’s a sinner, etc.” I think being out, loud and proud is an attempt to undermine those stereotypes that people ascribe to others.

And why not be “out” about it? On the one hand. I get annoyed—I couldn’t care less if someone’s gay or not. On the other hand—I’ve never had the experience of being looked at askance when I bring my partner to the company Christmas party. My old boss was gay and never felt like he could bring his partner to the Company Xmas party; he kept his partner’s picture in his desk drawer because of his bible thumper boss. Why should he have to do that when everyone else has their “appropriate” gender partner’s picture on their desk? Is he flaunting being gay by putting it out there? Or maybe doing what everyone else does? Or maybe telling other gay people in the office it’s okay if they display their partners’ pictures?

My friends’ kid is trans. The kid started to transition at a really young age (middle school). My friends are not flaky crunchy granola types—they are Conservative Jews and this was a big, big, big deal. Their kid is doing great, and the family handled it really well. For the kid, being trans is a huge part of his identity because it’s colored his whole life, including what college he went to, how things were handled there, how things were handled with his religion (bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah?), and what bathroom he uses. They came to visit me when the whole “bathroom bill” stuff was going on. We were in a restaurant and the kid had to use the restroom. I’ll never forget the look of angst on his mom’s face when he went to the toilet—will he be hassled? Will he get beat up? Will it be ok?

I think when you’re outside the “mainstream” all those identity things make a difference. Not because they actually make a difference—because they don’t—my boss was a great boss, my friend’s kid is a great kid—but because a lot of people THINK they make a difference.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Five Years, Lord Willing

Post by EdithKeeler » Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:03 pm

Jason, I’m curious about your writing schedule. When do you write, how often, how much time do you spend “marketing” (ie, gettingvit out there)? Congrats, by the way!

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