A coworker recently learned of my performing career and the rekindling of my writing enjoyment. He has a play he’s been working on and wanted my input on how to get it staged or filmed and asked for my opinion on the script. After he handed it to me, he checked back several times to see if I was done. Clearly, this meant a lot to him and he was seeking further validation than whatever he previously obtained from his friends. Pardon the Quantum Leap reference, but “Oh boy!” My initial thought was that it was so rough I often couldn’t understand what was occurring. The script turned out to have many typos, multiple “possible” stage directions (in case he wanted to change his mind), and even what turned out to be just notes for his further review. The play is supposed to have multiple acts set in different locations and maybe ends as a musical. It’s a bit unfocused wouldn’t you agree?
The much younger me wouldn’t have known how to handle that situation. The younger me might have laughed, but would have handed it back and just tried to be polite while giving non-specific feedback. Today, however, I didn’t shy away from any detail, good or bad. I led with a suggestion that he read his script aloud so he could identify his typos or syntax errors and gain some clarity. We discussed theme, character development, dialogue/parsing exposition, the honesty of the scene, the usage of music for mood versus storytelling, and more. Not once did I tell him, “This is what you should do.” It was always, “Have you thought about this?” Or, “What if you tried that?” It was all very open and nurturing. I don’t say these things to toot my own horn, I say them because I feel I owe it all to my sketch and improv experience over recent years.
Had it not been for performing with Monkeys With Hand Grenades and Tantrum, I wouldn’t have been afforded the exploration into the aforementioned elements. I also wouldn’t have been introduced to the wonderful writers I met courtesy of Hallmark. Whether they knew it or not, discussions with them (even casual ones) provided valuable insight that I still bear in mind each time I sit to write. I have two words to say to all of those people. Thank You.
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