Writing for Geeks

ChloĆ« Whitehorn, author of “Wasting Time,” featured in this year’s Simian Showcase, shares a few of her thoughts:

If you knew the cake was a lie before you even started, would it have made the journey less rewarding?

I’ve always disliked being a spectator. Sure there are some things worth just watching for pure entertainment. Some sports, Survivor, dance movies, people in coffee shops. But when it comes to stories I’ve always preferred mine to be engaging, requiring me to think. Films/TV/theatre that lay everything out and expect me to wait for the inevitable bore me. Worse yet are the shows that spoonfeed audiences and have those “did you see what we just did there” moments. My biggest pet peeve in life is having my intelligence underestimated and I always feel personally offended watching something pander to the lowest common audience member. So naturally as a playwright I try to write theatre that challenges audiences and requires them to mentally engage in their entertainment.

Which is why I was so enticed by the idea of writing something for Monkeyman. In a world where most theatres are trying to appeal to the broadest audiences out there, Monkeyman has decisively appealed to a specific population and said this is who we want to make theatre for.

Geeks. A branch of the population society has classified as intelligent people with interesting interests. There are many types of geek, but they all share a trait. A deep, sometimes obsessive, knowledge of their subject matter, whatever that might be. And in the case of Monkeyman audiences that includes an interest in theatre.

I’ve said before that I don’t write for audiences that need to watch Memento backwards to get it. Probably because I like messing with the convention of time in theatre. It’s one of the best ways to slowly reveal information to an audience in a way that allows them to piece together the meaning to reveal the mystery. I also love watching stories that unravel like that a second time through and seeing how the playwright gave us all the information we needed and left it up to the audience to figure out how the pieces fit together.

So when I wrote “Wasting Time,” I wasn’t going to write a random rumination on time travel. I set out to write something that would challenge the audience, require them to mentally engage with the play in order to really understand it. Like unlocking a puzzle or a game. If you were to just lookup the walkthrough online, sure you’d definitely finish the game, but you’d be missing the point.

I’m thrilled to be a part of this year’s Simian Showcase and to have been given the opportunity share my geeky mind fuck with an audience that appreciates it.

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