Even before language existed as we know it, stories were told. They may have been acted out, they may have been danced out the way bees tell how to get to the best pollen fields, but they certainly had a place in primitive societies. As civilizations grew and speaking became the preferred method of communication, stories became an integral part of societal interaction. And the best stories take bits and pieces and weave them into a totally new narrative – often combining elements of horror, humor, and the humdrum in order to make a more powerful statement.
Most of us have imagined embarking on a months-long adventure to exotic places, exchanging our familiar routines for immersive living beyond our comfort zones. Television producer, director, and writer John Marshall lived the dream in 2010 as he, his wife, and their two teenagers traveled and volunteered for six months in a few countries. Marshall’s 2015 book, Wide – Open World, is a plain-spoken, no-indignity barred account of his family’s good and bad experiences of low-budget travel and high-intention goals of helping others abroad while renewing their familial ties.
Sometimes my job is very easy. I get to go see theatre and tell you all the great productions to go see. Right now it’s my pleasure to tell you that if you want to properly invest your time and resources, you will want to check out David Mamet’s American Buffalo, the latest production for Quill Theatre being held at TheatreLAB’s basement theatre (300 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219).
The oldest form of theatre starts out with the phrase, “Let me tell you a story.” For me, that’s where it all begins. The story dictates the characters, the story is the action, the story defines the conflict.
When I hear that we – the audience – are going to witness a one-person show, I admit I am excited by the possibilities. Whether it is a one-character show like The Belle of Amherst written from the point of view of poet Emily Dickinson; or a multi-character more recent work by Danny Hoch or John Leguizamo, I can’t wait to see it.
Back in the day when I was teaching people how to write, I used an exercise I called “Act Four” in which the students would write what happened after the play ended. It helped them connect with characters and look for ways to build a dramatic arc.
In a series of books, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson flip that premise on its head and write about what happed BEFORE the story of Peter Pan. How does Peter and Captain Hook become mortal enemies? Where does Tinkerbell come from? How do the Lost Boys come to live in Neverland? And why does that alligator chase Captain Hook so diligently?