Last Thursday was my final Play-writing workshop session. The session was held in-person at the Silo Theater head office in the city & was a welcome change to the regular Zoom sessions. The goal was to have a 10 page script table read by actors. There was no writing exercises or talk about writing concepts; it was to see where each of us are at and figure out how does our words sound spoken.
At the session, I got to meet a few of my fellow students as well as our instructor Ahi as well as see the world they inhabit as part of the theater. In my previous post, I said how I don’t feel like I belong in this workshop because of my inexperience with theater. The table read session was another reminder that I was still a rookie in this area but I didn’t come out of it feeling like I had wasted my time, I came out of it a little bit proud.
At the beginning of the workshop, I had promised that I would attend each and every single session. I resolved to commit to a 100% and I did. The sessions were sometimes full of things that I didn’t know anything about. For example, there was brief mention of ‘Character is “Earth”‘ or ‘Character is “Fire”‘ and how does that reflect one’s writing. I didn’t hesitate to ask what does that mean ( Earth = Grounded, Fire = Quick temperament )
Throughout the workshop, we completed plenty of exercises which helped me understand what I am writing and how it is supposed to read like. We were told not to consider theater budget or number of actors, we were told just to write. Finish that first draft, send it out to the contacts and figure out a way to get it seen by public. In the last two weeks, I have been getting up half hour early every day and writing for a good 20 minutes before work. Even if I remember nothing else from this class, I will always be grateful that it pushed me to figure out a writing schedule.
There was 1 other thing mentioned that has stuck with me: Ahi said that every single one of us is a person of colour. Every single work we write, even a single word we write is an achievement. Our stories, whether it reflects our culture or not, are hardly ever told and now we as writers have to tell our stories.
It was in the second session that each of us had to talk about the concept of our story. I noticed everyone’s writing had cultural elements in it. Almost all fellow students were second generation immigrants. Their stories did revolve around finding their place in their culture, the dissonance they felt against their parents’ generation.
My writing didn’t. In fact, I don’t feel like I need to find my place at all with my writing. I hardly ever have any references to my culture in my writing. I realized I am not writing to find my place or find myself, I am writing because … I have stories to tell.
Now onto the last Thursday.
The table read session was an absolute blast. There was joy in hearing other writers’ words. To hear words crafted so perfectly & delicately that not only did they advanced the plot but also had a rhythm to them. The actors voicing each character with a unique timber. There was one script that I couldn’t stop smiling as I heard it, it was absolutely perfect. I told the writer that I want to see the whole play now.
If I ever don’t make it as a writer, I think I would absolutely love to attend more every table read simply to witness the energy in the room.
I was lightheaded prior to attending the session, I am sure I had a headache because of it. The idea of having my work read out loud by professional actors is daunting. I didn’t want to attend, I wanted to take a sick day but I knew I had to do it. It was difficult to know what voice the characters I am writing could have, what accents they could speak with or whether they would shout when angry or grind their teeth when angered. They could speak really quickly or slowly. It was only when my words were read out loud, I didn’t have to imagine what they could sound like. I didn’t pay attention to the grammar, I think I just closed my eyes and tried to think if this is what I imagined my characters to be like. I think they did.
While everyone insisted that my script was good, I couldn’t help but feel the coarseness in my writing. It lacked certain emotions & was at times bumpy as compared to others, all of whom are seasoned theater personalities. However, for my first attempt, this was something I could live with.
I have already submitted the same draft for a Proud Asian Theater’s writing mentor-ship. I have a short story competition deadline coming up by the end of the month, which I haven’t even started yet. I don’t know how am I going to complete that.
This workshop felt like progress. I am proud of the fact that I actually did something with my writing, attempted a new form & actually showed it to others. I don’t think this will be the last thing I ever attempt.