Monday, March 14, 2016

Hair Like the Sun - Working with Claire Mix

When I first began writing the script, I was all on my own. I created the first draft in a three-week span of intense and inspired writing. I'm proud of that first draft, because if nothing else it sold Claire on the idea that her mother's story could indeed be produced as a stage play. It also demonstrated that this play would treat her mother's story with the care and respect it deserved, all while ensuring that it was a quality play that audiences would enjoy.

Of course, I feel I should point out that Claire had no idea I was writing this play when I set out to do it. Writing the play had been her goal, but she'd never been able to crack it. She, by all accounts, hit the roof when she found out about it. I can't blame her. Not only was someone writing the play she's intended to write, he'd already produced a completed draft. It was stunning news, to be certain.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hair Like the Sun - The First Draft

This is a story about something that I wrote that you will probably never see: the first draft of 'Hair Like the Sun.'

I wrote that first draft in early 2013. It only took me about three weeks. I can be a fast writer when properly motivated, and this project motivated me. I watched Claire Mix's documentary and read her book in a day. The story immediately grabbed me and demanded I write it. I had no choice but to comply. (My fellow writers will back me up on the notion of being held hostage by a story.)

After three weeks, I had something. I was proud of what I'd accomplished in such a short amount of time. I was under no illusions that this was a finished product, you can't write a play in three weeks and not need revisions. That said, there's a lot in that first script that did survive to the final one. More importantly, it proved that Ruth's story could be told in a play.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hair Like the Sun - The Writer is Least Important

I've been mesmerized watching rehearsals of 'Hair Like the Sun.' I spent over three years with this script, but seeing it in the hands of actors, being guided by the director, make me feel as if I never really knew my own script. What I'm seeing, from the director's understanding of the script, to the actors' interpretations of the characters, goes far beyond my mere words. That's when I understand this harsh, but necessary truth.

The playwright is the least important person involved in the play.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the playwright is unimportant. After all, that's who created the play in the first place. No, it's not that this person doesn't matter, it's just that the actors, directors, set builders, costumers, and crew are more important. They are turning the words on the page into something magical. The make it real.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hair Like the Sun - Why this play matters

Today. March 1, is Super Tuesday. Millions of Americans are going to the polls as part of the process of electing the next President. One of those candidates, a surprisingly popular candidate, has spoken of Muslim Americans in the same manner people spoke of Japanese Americans during WWII.

There are those alive today who remember what life was like behind that barbed wire, including celebrated actor George Takei. While America came to understand the tragic mistake we made after Pearl Harbor, far too many forgot those lessons in the aftermath of 9/11. Those who forget, or ignore history are doomed to repeat it. We cannot let that happen again in our great country.