by Aditi Kapil
Playwright, Brahman/i: A One Hijra Stand-Up Comedy Show
It's Wednesday morning in San Francisco.
Excited to meet all the artists, sink into focus, write a lot.
Tomorrow afternoon it’ll be my turn to read my entire play, beginning to end, for the group [at BAPF retreat]. That’ll teach me to write an hour and a half of relentless comedy. My abstract compassion for the actor who has to sustain this role over a performance will no longer be so abstract.
Still, it’s a hell of a way to start, if I was dancing around the edges of getting to work before that, I’ll be fully in it by the time I get to ‘end of play’.
Thinking about my goals for this workshop time. I have a few that are just about me getting the text up to speed:
1. I have this dangling thread of a metaphor/story element that I haven’t quite finished crafting. I know it’s dangling, I don’t need to hear from anyone else that it’s dangling, it will continue to dangle until I complete it. Once I’ve got it working we can maybe decide that it’s unnecessary and cut it, but it’s not really an option until then. So I want to craft that thread into the play this week, ideally before the actors come in the room, or it’ll just be sitting there attracting comments and questions that I can’t use because I’m already aware of the problem.
2. I’d like to craft a stronger opening to the play, I’m still searching for that balance of opening with my strongest comedy material, while simultaneously setting up all the story-elements of the play so I can successfully have a narrative happen. I’m obsessing about the opening. I’m close to figuring something out, just not quite there yet…
3. A lot of the play was written on a kind of stream-of-consciousness streak, the individual riffs could probably use some tightening here and there. This task can happen more gradually over the course of the workshop weeks, that would be fun, working with the actor and the director, andspeaking of which, very excited to have an actual stand-upcomic for my dramaturg! Bill Santiago, who I hope will call me on it whenever he catches me being lazy about the crafting of a bit, what a cool resource! Also just excited to talk about the play with someone who comes from that world of stand-up, sees through that lens, is accountable to that audience. I had a brief phone conversation with Bill and Jeremy Cohen (the director) before I left Minneapolis, and already there’s this amazing knowledge base and breadth of idea that wasn’t in my toolbox before.
4. So that’s all text, in the room with the actors I also have a fantasy that I can start to try to figure out how the music functions in the play. I know how the character of the musician functions, that clarified beautifully in the last workshop at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. So now an exploration of the relationship between the music that the musician is playing, and text, is due. Which could lead to the discovery that there is no particular relationshipat all, I guess, but it’s an element that bears exploring. Plus, Bill the stand-up planted some thoughts on this in my head that sent me straight to youtube, and now I’m excited to try stuff.
So that’s for starters. In my pre-process, mildly jet-lagged, kinda hyper-jazzed about this opportunity to work-brain, that’s where I think we’ll maybe start.
And maybe I’ll read the play out loud tomorrow and all these goals will be obsolete, replaced by new un-anticipated ones. I don’t think so though, I have a kind of clarity about this piece that I don’t always have in my work. Some plays I have to go in and just sort of feel my way around in the dark, but with this one I feel like if I can just stay loose and limber and on mytoes and open with all the amazing artists I have in the room, we’ll play and we’ll make a thing and that’ll be really good. Fun, even.
PS- and in response to George’s blog, yes, I’m with you, they’re talking to the audience.
For Tickets and more Info on Brahman/i: Click Here