Guest Blog post by Errol, one of our co-playwrights for Sidekicks, a part of Sidekicks and Secret Identities which opens on October 17th. Wait, that’s only a little over a week away!
I’m a playwright.
Well, I only have one play but I like the sound of playwright. I didn’t know why it was spelled with a ‘wright’ but then I remembered millwright, and shipwright, and Phoenix Wright. Any relation I have to Phoenix Wright is alright if you ask me.
Truth be told, I’m a musician. I am part of a geeky musical duo called Debs & Errol. We sing about geek things. But no super heroes. We need to rectify that.
Anyway, I thought writing a script would be similar to writing a book.
First off, things are written in script format…
Manda found a wonderful program called Writer Duet that not only does all of the script formatting automatically, it can be written online and shared with other people to collaborate. We love it! Now I can see where Manda has changed my dialogue again and I can change it back.
Secondly, things you write down on paper sometimes sound exceedingly stupid when spoken in real life. Why is that? Why can’t we envision real conversations in our head? Thus there is this thing called “Workshopping”.
Actually, I don’t know if it’s a verb or not. No idea. However, when you workshop your script, you get people to read through it. And then you can change the script to make it sound more natural and not like the characters are learning communication methods from an instruction manual.
Thirdly, actors and directors take your written word as infallible. If you put a comma in a sentence, their assumption is that comma is for a REASON. A symbolic, esoteric, most important reason. In reality, I throw Oxford commas in because English standards scare me with all the arbitrary choice! And now, because of my habit of drawing comics during high school english, my plays will suffer because the actors adhere to every text that appears in the script. Well, what would happen if I throw in something like π or ♬ or even ɷ? What will you do then, hunh?! What will you do then?
Now, how do I write plays, or sketches, or web series? I mostly write with Manda. She’s better at grammar than I am.
Manda and I have a tried and true method. We set up a scene. We improv that scene. Manda writes everything we say down because she remembers things (most importantly, she remembers that we should write what we say down). Once we have the script, we read through it again, I change all my lines, and Manda rewrites it. In the end, however, we get something we both like.
Originally, Sidekicks was a Web Series. We had to cut the series from six episodes to four. And although I am awful at recalling lines, I am very good at cutting text in scripts. There is something cathartic about that. It’s like spring cleaning. Except you’re throwing out babies. There are some things I had to cut and Manda would wince every time. Maybe it’s because I cut her stuff. I kid.
This brings me to something else I wish to talk about: acting.
I acted one of the roles in Sidekicks and I learned I don’t want to be an actor.
Don’t get me wrong, acting is an insane amount of fun. And when I’m on stage, I am super passionate about Totoro!
Wait. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that.
I meant to say I’m super passionate about performing. (But if you know me, it’s also Totoro. Muscle memory kicks in sometimes).
However, I dread hearing, “Let’s do another take.” I am happy with one take. I am happy with two takes if I messed up the first take. I am happy with three takes if I’m not involved in any of the takes and I can just play games on my phone.
I understand we need different shots and angles, but I can’t guarantee I’ll remember my lines, let alone perform them the same way. And sometimes, Lyf, who directed our web series version of Sidekicks, would give me a direction but by the second take I would have forgotten what that direction was.
Now, you may be thinking I’m digressing. And I am! But there is a concise TL;DR:
You learn all sorts of new stuff when you do things not in your normal sphere of creativity. Will there be an insane amount of work you did not anticipate? Yes. However the experience is worth it. Even if that experience is mostly, “I will never do that again.”
Hah! Fortunately, I hope to write more plays with Manda! Acting, on the other hand, I think I shall pass on.