The Civil War was a struggle between the collective will (the Union) and what was deemed the greater good for all (no slavery, no succession) vs the individual will (freedom for states to continue with slavery, to succeed from the Union) as a means to get to the greater good. The struggle between these two principles will always go on, and they go on today. In 1861, when the Civil War broke out, the stress of the conflict in society (combined with the inadequacy of the the political machinery) made it impossible to peacefully reconcile the opposing forces of these two principles, thus war.
This play is not so much about Union over State or individual over the collective as it is about the two principles, part of a whole, striving for an “ideal”, being at the heart of the creative process. —the American Dream being the “ideal” when it comes to the Nation and Transcendent Beauty on stage, when it comes to the little theatre company. As with all dreams, it is ultimately unattainable in any absolute or complete sense due to the limitations of physical reality. But, it all being neither this nor that, there is something that stands between—what of long lasting value is only accomplished through love; everything else comes and goes.
The Scenario Wall for The Whitman Piece. The smaller sheets on the bottom are for each character—their journeys. Characters that have been cut since this picture was taken back in February or so: 1. Julia—a sort of Kali figure. Six children with five husbands in seven years. Wife of the playwright, Danny. 2. Raphael—the Ensemble Member most politically active and most determined to turn everything into plays about “issues”. 3. Anne—super crystal flower child. Ensemble Member.
They went because of too much overlap with other characters or because we couldn’t go down all those avenues and get the play in in less than three hours—which was a goal. Julia I miss. But what’s got to be has got to be.
Another Whitman Piece Workspace: Diligently working away back in the converted Greenroom at Touchstone. On the shelves are quotes and ideas drawn from Leaves of Grass that might fit into the dialog. Two weeks until rehearsasl begin for the September 11 Staged Reading.
How I remember who’s in the scene, where they’re standing. It’s kind of fun moving these little names around as they engage—until someone comes along and spills their coffee on them.
The play is moving towards the culmination of its second draft. The first draft was read April 9, 2010. Christopher (C. Shorr, the Director) consoled me saying: ”I know, I know, at this stage it’s like cutting with a chain saw.” Something like that. He’d just been through a final draft reading of his Clytemnestra’s Daughters that was a stunning success. Right now, I’m trying to finish up Act III, last scene before the imagined intermission break.
Audio post - Played 10 times
This is an excerpt from Whitman’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed — the brainchild of Jerry Bidlack and myself, recorded back in 1994 or 1995 I’d guess. It’s a single take, live. Jerry’s doing all the keyboard and sound work on the fly. It was this piece that made me think of doing something that would feature a “play within a play” about Whitman.
Little Pond — January, 2010 After conceiving of the piece over a period going back to 1992 and the Ensemble agreeing on producing the work in Spring of 2009, I began to put together the Scenario (on large butcher paper) over the Christmas Holidays.
In the beginning, there’s always a bit of groping, bumping, and knocking over of things (hopefully not to a painful degree) until one finds the lights. I haven’t quite found the light yet.
If you’re interested in art, if you’re interested in theatre, this may prove to be a rewarding journey; this blog, at least this initial part of it, is to let people in, to be a part of, the act of creating The Whitman Piece, a Touchstone Theatre Production—a play for thirteen actors, musicians and chorus about…; well, let’s not get dragged into that quite yet.
I’d say it’s going to be messy, and a lot more like building a house or digging a ditch than anything sexy or profound. At least, that’s what it looks like from here, sort of on the bottom of things. Still, I think the experience of the play will be deepened by following its growth. You tell me.
Over the next few days, weeks, I’ll be posting and drawing your attention to these pages. Please forgive me if I, by mistake, step on your toe, or accidentally do something that has unfortunate or unintended consequences. Just tell me when you think I’m off (or on), and I’ll adjust. Welcome to the creative process.
Page 3 of 3