Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Meat and potatoes

Although we had a smallish meeting last night, with just 10 people attending, we had some of our meatiest discussions of the year. And that's because we had some impressively meaty plays. We read five plays in all.

We opened with the beginning of Tim Phillips' relationship drama, The Many Men of Tara. In it, a woman is pursued by an actor, a professor and a doctor, although in this early scene, much of the interaction is with a dog named Amadeus. The audience agreed that the play was fun and that the dialogue meshed and flowed very well. One audience member suggested that Tim tweak the actor's monologue at the start of the play to make it foreshadow more.

Next up was the first half of Chuck Cabell's one-act philosophical drama, Restless.  Here we have three men who died in different centuries trying to figure out whether they're in heaven or hell. The dialogue was fascinating and made some interesting points made about how heaven and hell might both resemble large bureaucracies. However, some commenters warned Chuck about getting too preachy.

We followed that with the end of Sue Bachman's relationship drama, Taking It All Back. It's based on a real-life couple she knew who broke up and then reconciled after the husband cheated on the wife. While one scene didn't seem to go anywhere, people thought that the tenuous agreement the couple settles on at the end was quite powerful and beautiful in its honesty. Special kudos to Buck Buchanan and Mary Sprunger-Froese, who squeezed every ounce of emotion out of the final scene.

After that, we read some more of Grant Swenson's science fiction comedy The Earth Experience. This play takes place in a future century when the Earth is turned into a planet-wide amusement park. In these scenes, the scientists tasked with overseeing the planet discover that their boss added code to launch an extinction event, only to conclude that the Earth is the greatest incubator ever, nurturing life no matter what's thrown at it. Everyone felt that the characters were well-drawn and that the story moved along at a nice clip.

We finished up with the beginning of my dog-themed mystery very tentatively titled Sherlock Bones. Here we meet the three doggie detectives: a lazy bloodhound, a by-the-book German Shepherd and a hyperactive terrier who's afraid of everything. The audience thought the set up was well-done, giving us a strong sense of the detective's personalities while providing plenty of laughs. Much of the discussion centered on the character of the dog catcher and what role he should play in the story.

The meeting ended around 9:10, and the writers all went home with lots of ideas for improving their works.

I hope to see you all at out next meeting on Monday, July 11!