Monday, October 18, 2010

Fringe and Process Response #1

Safiya Martinez
CW 602—professor Conboy
Responses to The Fringe One-Acts

After seeing three one-act plays at The Fringe, I realized that I responded most to The Ballad of 423 and 424. I felt that the dynamic between Ellen and Roderick was established effectively at the beginning—Roderick as Ellen’s struggling neighbor, Ellen as Roderick’s slightly beleaguered love interest. We later discover that Roderick has Aspberger’s. Roderick clearly is infatuated with Ellen, and she is dealing with her own bouts of loneliness and loss, and these issues were some of the reasons that the characters had a hard time connecting initially .
I felt that the writing and direction moved the pace along beautifully. The tensions created in the cat-and-mouse game between Roderick and Ellen was at once believable, heartbreaking and hilarious. There were surprising moments sprinkled throughout the play. When Ellen brought over the Easter meal, I thought for sure the characters were going to connect, but of course Roderick became shy and retreated to his apartment.
An interesting part of their dynamic was that the characters went back and forth between needing one another—the kind of interdependence that develops over time between people—and running away due to fear of intimacy and the scariness of expectations. I particularly enjoyed how the play ended—on the note of openness and possibility for both characters. Perhaps there may be a future of some kind of Roderick and Ellen. Or maybe, the possibility of a nurturing friendship is really at the heart of this engaging work.

Safiya Martinez
CW 602—Professor Conboy
Response to In-progress work

2. In addition, do a one-paragraph summary of the piece you're working on in class. Just try to sum up how the piece is developing for you. How are the characters and stories developing. What do you see as the opportunities for more exploration in the piece. Where do you think you're having problems?

I am working on scenes that are intended for a one-woman show based on my life as a first-year teacher in New York City. The piece see-saws between two perspectives: life at school, the teachers’ personal life. In the world of school, I embody different characters, mostly students. In scenes and monologues I act out student fears, anxieties and frustrations. I also seek to give voice to their hopes and innate intelligence. I am working on new sections to bring my own voice forward, and these have been some of the more challenging scenes to write. Interestingly enough, many of the characters to emerge initially were male voices, and it’s been a lot of fun getting in touch with what makes a middle school boy tick, and dramatizing that for the stage.
I also had a great time with Vanessa, a character who is a thirteen-year old girl in the seventh grade. She has, in my opinion a lot of righteous anger at the world, at her school and at the boys in the school who in some ways, do run the show. At this point, what I want to work on is finding my story arc. I have been working on this project for nine months, and have lots of scenes. Several of which fit well together, but I still don’t have the more elusive component: the thematic or structural glue that holds them together. I hope that as I continue to write, some of the opacity I’m dealing with at this stage in the writing process clears up a bit. However, I remain excited and ready to move forward with these stories.

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