THE WHITMAN PIECE

A Touchstone Theatre Production

Written by
Bill George

Directed by
Christopher Shorr

Movement by
Cathleen O'Malley

Stage Manager
Emma Chong

In collaboration with
Moravian College Theatre

The Chronicle is bits and pieces--photos, back story documents, video and confessions--documenting the emergence of The Whitman Piece from little more than a notion of the mind, through it's various incarnations, workshops, readings, and finally to its first public staging April, 2011.

30th December 2010

Post

Winnie-the-Pooh

Spent over eight hours working on the script today, working all of Act I.  Five scenes, each scene three, four times.  The work goes on and on.  

When I was in Third Grade, I think it was, my teacher had us take a “nom de plume”.  I chose, forgive me, Winnie-the-Pooh.  I thought that that was a particularly clever, aristocratic and sophisticated name of which I was quite proud—that I was familiar with such exalted literary figures.  I remember writing my first creative piece, signing it with big letters—WINNIE THE POOH—and handing it in, confident of its brilliance.  A few days later it came back with a C, maybe it was a C+.

That one experience is something, strangely enough, I’m still trying to overcome, but at least I know I’m a bear of little brain, that the only hope for me is work, work, and more work.  

The final public reading (only public readings, really) are January 20 and 21 at Touchstone Theatre.  7 p.m. on the Thursday, 8 p.m. on the Friday.  Come on down to Pooh Corner.  

8th November 2010

Video

Yury, Christopher, Cathleen and the gang working the Finale of The Whitman Piece with Workshop participants from the Moravian College/Touchstone Theatre Collaboration.—Moravian College, November 7 (Russian Independence Day) 2010.

4th November 2010

Photo with 1 note

"Otro loco enamorado!"—not Javier’s character type.  
November 3.  Moravian College Theatre.  Friends sit around the table and help pick apart the Javier characer—his language, his character, his back story.  —particularly want to thank Professors Hugo Ceron-Anaya and Sandra Aguilar-Rodriguez.  I owe you all big time.  I knew I was ignorant, but I didn’t know in how many ways.  

"Otro loco enamorado!"—not Javier’s character type.  

November 3.  Moravian College Theatre.  Friends sit around the table and help pick apart the Javier characer—his language, his character, his back story.  —particularly want to thank Professors Hugo Ceron-Anaya and Sandra Aguilar-Rodriguez.  I owe you all big time.  I knew I was ignorant, but I didn’t know in how many ways.  

29th October 2010

Post

Thanks

Bill,

Came by your blog. And am grateful. Writing, rambling, rumbling, through the first draft of Diabetes of Democracy, too. Great to see someone else’s process. Love the tape. :)

Best wishes.

Un abrazo,

Karimi, Robert

14th October 2010

Photo with 2 notes

BAD HORSE has Squishified my Play!         (Don’t miss Dr. Horrible;  it’s a delight.)

BAD HORSE has Squishified my Play!         (Don’t miss Dr. Horrible;  it’s a delight.)

13th October 2010

Post

Not So Late Night Ramblings on Squishiness and Bad Horse

I’m somewhere in the midst of draft three, and it feels like the play is squishy. Push it in here, it pushes out there;  work on this section to get definition and texture, turn around and it’s all melted together into a glob.  Advance this character, these other three diminish.

In the beginning of the writing process, I included everything plus the kitchen sink—it was all possible.  Then some huge decisions needed to be made as the play tried to focus.  And now, still, three drafts in, major plot lines are emerging, banging into each other.  There doesn’t seem to be enough play to glue all the stories together.  It’s three plays in one.    

And the rhythm, the rhythm!  Where is it?  I’m hopeful it will emerge if the story will just settle down and gel.  

I’m at my desk at Touchstone, 7:42 p.m.  Downstairs it’s Dr. Horrible’s final dress. I’ve been drafted to take Bad Horse to and from the stable.  (Yes, there is a live horse in this production.  Thank Christopher Shorr and his secret desire to own a horse.  He’s taking it out on us.)  

Too tired to work on Whitman, I write here (where I don’t worry about the consequences, sorry.)  But on squishiness, not much to say really, other than, that’s where it’s at with Whitman right now.  That’s where it’s at; it’s all Bad Horse.

30th September 2010

Post

The evolution of the text…

Below is a primitive example of how my writing evolves.  I’m a great believer in letting lines be worked over a long period of time, eroded by the forces of ever varying consciousness, nervousness, and a kind of soaking or tasting.  Eventually, one stops tweeking (a lot), and things are sort of done.  Zak, an apprentice in the Concord Theatre Company has a closing line at the end of Act I, Scene 1. In the first draft, he had no line at all.  At the end of the scene in:  

July 2010, Draft 2, the line appears for the first time:

ZAK

Hocus Pocus

It is only we shadows, blinded by the illusion of our own existence, that, without leaving a trace, come and go. 

Early September 2010 –two months later:

ZAK

Halloweeny

It is but we shadows that, blinded by the illusion of our own existence, entangled in the conflicts of our convoluted egocentricities, having come with marshal and festive noise, blood and clench-ed oath, now trailing but ghostly echoes of laughter and tears, forever in silence, go.

October 2010—two months later:

ZAK

Be not afraid!  It is but we shadows, enchanted by the illusion of our own existence, entangled in the conflicts of our convoluted and blinding egocentricities, having come with marshal and festive noise, blood and clench-ed oath, trailing but echoes of laughter and tears, that now forever in silence, go.

December 2010—two months later, the character, Zak, now called Tony:  

Tony

Halloweeny 

OOOoooo… The eternal stage!

Mo

Stop it, Tony!

Tony

Be not afraid!  It is but we shadows, enchanted by the illusion of our own existence, entangled in our convoluted and blinding egocentricities, having come with marshal and festive noise, bloody and prayerful oath, trailing but echoes of laughter and tears, that now forever in silence, go.

All exit carrying various stuff. 

MO

Word up.

February 9, 2011  Two months later, after the January public reading, when everything is getting hammered down.  It is now Act I, Scene 2.

TONY

Halloweeny, inspired by the magic of a 4 by 8 platform and trying to impress Catherine. 

OOOoooo… The eternal stage! Be not afraid!  It is but we shadows, enchanted by the illusion of our own existence, having come with marshal and festive noise, trailing but echoes of laughter and tears, that now forever in silence…go.

All exit carrying various stuff. 

MO

Word up!

30th September 2010

Photo

Work on the Third Draft begins.

Work on the Third Draft begins.

12th September 2010

Photo

Scott Heist’s handsome photo of the play reading process.  Everyone was very kind.  It is true that you invite your closest and most critically adept friends to come and listen to the script being read so that they can tell you what’s wrong with it—and what they liked.  But it’s what’s wrong, what needs to be done, that is most in our minds.  Twenty Four hours later, I’m feeling a little better.

Scott Heist’s handsome photo of the play reading process. Everyone was very kind. It is true that you invite your closest and most critically adept friends to come and listen to the script being read so that they can tell you what’s wrong with it—and what they liked. But it’s what’s wrong, what needs to be done, that is most in our minds. Twenty Four hours later, I’m feeling a little better.

12th September 2010

Video

So.  First reading with friends—down.  One more public reading to go.  I am deeply grateful for all of the help in this work.  Still many loose ends to pick up and communications to take place.  Work on the third draft begins in two weeks.  

5th September 2010

Photo

First reading is this Saturday, September 11.  The image here is of Gary Minyard who has graciously agreed to read the part of Danny.  
 Here follows an excerpt from The Graveyard Scene from  Act III, Scene 1:
The Ensemble, in an attempt to draw attention to their new work, plan a publicity event in a local graveyard.  Danny, the playwright, losing his mind and not aware that they are acting out a scene from When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, thinks they are burying his son.  

First reading is this Saturday, September 11.  The image here is of Gary Minyard who has graciously agreed to read the part of Danny.  

 Here follows an excerpt from The Graveyard Scene from  Act III, Scene 1:

The Ensemble, in an attempt to draw attention to their new work, plan a publicity event in a local graveyard.  Danny, the playwright, losing his mind and not aware that they are acting out a scene from When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, thinks they are burying his son.  

5th September 2010

Quote

With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn;
With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour’d around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—Where amid these you journey,
With the tolling, tolling bells’ perpetual clang;
Here! coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.

DANNY
(Screaming.) No! Hold off! Stop! Don’t… (The music comes to an abrupt halt.)
He’s not dead! You fools. Get away. Get away from him. Open this.

CHADD
Danny! (Chadd tries to stop Danny and he clocks him.)

JB
Whoa, whoa, there Danny.

DANNY
Get the fuck away. (The coffin is entirely his now.) Don’t touch me. Don’t touch this coffin, do you hear me!

CHADD
O.K., O.K., we won’t touch it.

DANNY
Get out! Get out! (He throws Ann.)

CHADD
Stop it! Danny! O.K., we’re getting out, just don’t hurt anybody.

MARY
Danny!

DANNY
You too, Mary; don’t get in my way.

MARY
No one’s going to do anything, Danny. It’s alright.

DANNY
It’s not alright! It’s not alright! You’re burying my son, can’t you see that? And he’s not… He’s not… …Garland! (He’s trying to pry the top of the coffin off.) Garland! Do you think you can fool me? Oh, you laugh! You laugh! Do you think you can stop me? I know what you’re doing! You think you can bury him when I’m not looking? You don’t know. You don’t know my child. I know my boy, and he loves me. He loves me, alright? Open this up! Now!

JB
Just step back Danny.

DANNY
This is my son you’ve got here! My son! You’re not putting him in the ground. You’d kill him; you’d kill me too, if you could, wouldn’t you? Don’t say you wouldn’t. (He gets the lid off…it’s empty. Long pause.) It’s empty. (Silence.)

JB
Danny? (Silence.)

MARY
Danny? (Silence.)

FRANCIS
(Coming forward through the crowd, offering Danny a cigarette.) Hey, Danny…smoke? (Danny looks up.)

DANNY
Yeah, sure. (He slowly climbs out of the grave with a hand up from Francis, takes the cigarette.)
I thought they were burying Garland.

FRANCIS
Yeah, we know.

MARY
Wha’do you say I take you home, Danny?

DANNY
O.K., thanks.

MARY
…get a cup of tea.

CHADD
(In a whisper…) You sure that’s a good idea?

MARY
(Waving him off.) Shhh. Get Beau. I’ll meet you back at the theatre.

— The Whitman Piece (Draft 2.2)  Act III, Scene 1  The Graveyard Scene

4th September 2010

Question

Anonymous asked: Are there parts open? How would someone audition?

Simply contact us.  bill@touchstone.org or cshorr@moravian.edu.  We’ll also be doing a public reading in January that will take less time to work and would give us a chance to see you in a part.   

4th September 2010

Question

Anonymous asked: Will there be a performance during school hours that our English class can see after we follow your progress on this work?

The performances are in the evenings of April 7, 8, 9, and 10, and an afternoon performance on the Saturday.  If you’re interested, we can arrange a special performance — assuming there’s enough interest — or we can have you come to a rehearsal.  Most rehearsals will be in the evening because we’ll be using a number of community performers.  

3rd September 2010

Photo

My work station in Rhoscolyn, Wales.  Spending an entire week with Bridget’s beloved family, the one source of contention was laptops!  I couldn’t stop working on this second draft of the play and have it ready for the upcoming September 11 reading without dedicating at least two or more hours to hacking away every morning.  It was fun (for me) though.    

My work station in Rhoscolyn, Wales.  Spending an entire week with Bridget’s beloved family, the one source of contention was laptops!  I couldn’t stop working on this second draft of the play and have it ready for the upcoming September 11 reading without dedicating at least two or more hours to hacking away every morning.  It was fun (for me) though.