Putting it Together – Five Fifths
Putting it Together is my Monday “artist talking about art stuff blog”. The title comes from “Sunday in the Park with George,” the best (and possibly only) musical that is entirely dedicated to an artist talking about his art. Is that pretentious enough?
Sometimes you get exactly what you want and then you realize all the reasons you may not have wanted it.
The Minnesota Fringe Festival does a big fundraiser every year wherein they invite five producers to write one fifth of a familiar pop culture property. When it comes to writing comedy, pop culture parody is kind of my wheelhouse. I have been super hopeful that someday I would be asked to write a fifth because that’s my thing!
So this year, I’ve been asked to write a fifth. And when I got asked I was really excited and happy because, as I said, this is completely my thing!
The movie in question is The Shining and I love The Shining. Not in a crazy Room 237 kind of way, you understand. It is a great film that offers so many exciting possibilities for satire. Some of which haven’t even been featured on “The Simpsons!”
Many of which I can squeeze into the fifteen minutes that shall be mine to bend to my will!
What happens after that initial excitement about what I get to do, however, is the realization that I just agreed to actually do it. Then the doubt creeps in.
I know I said that this is kind of my wheelhouse but holy crap! This is a major fundraiser! It isn’t writing for The Guthrie or anything but in baseball/Fringe Festival terms, Five Fifths is kind of The Show. They ask really good writers and companies to be part of this event. I’d better not fuck it up.
So then it becomes something more than a typical writing project. It is an IMPORTANT writing project. It isn’t the sort of thing I can throw together in an afternoon.
But I throw most of my writing together in an afternoon! That’s how I write! I just start spewing words out onto the page until I feel good about the words! How do I write the way I write and still keep in mind that what I’m doing is IMPORTANT?
Importance, in this case, is an illusion. This show is a big deal, sure. However, I got asked to write for it because I’ve already written funny stuff and there is the assumption that I can, perhaps, do so again. If I spend all my time on worrying about how to write something better than I’ve written in the past, I can’t focus on writing something good right now.
I can’t compare myself to the other contributors to this event (they are all amazing) because that isn’t going to make it any easier for me to write my part of the show.
I’m not going to lie, though. I know all of these things and I’m still freaking out about writing my Fifth. What if the approach I has selected doesn’t work? What if nobody laughs? How do I create a bleeding elevator?
I have these thoughts all the time. I try to agree to projects that cause these thoughts. I don’t believe that I should be doing something in theatre if it doesn’t scare me a little bit. Safe is boring. Nobody ever got better by simply writing things that were the same as everything else they’ve done.
I’m working on writing my Fifth right now. After I write a page or two, I ask my wife to read it and tell me if it it’s funny. So far, I’m doing pretty well. I’m still worried, though.
I’m always worried.
But I’m more excited than worried.
Because holy shit! I get to make a bleeding elevator!!!!