A Character’s Conceptual Reality, Composing, 29/08/2014

A break from the anarchism, which has been simply depressing, as you could probably tell from my last post, which indicated how little we’ve progressed (and how much we’ve probably backslid, given the bleak, Thatcherian individualism that has permeated our society) in the last hundred years.

I spent a good chunk of today taking care of the bureaucracy for my new retraining plan in Sheridan College’s Corporate Communications program, an opportunity to land a solid, well-paying job with an environmentalist group, or a publisher, or a film company, or a lobby group on behalf of affordable housing in Ontario. I want to use a career that’s typically called public relations to help people and make the world a better place. I think that’s a reasonable request of the universe.

Of course, that career path won’t stop my creative pursuits in philosophy, fiction, and scriptwriting. Basically, it will allow me a virtuous way out of the relative poverty I’ve been stuck in for the past two years while my creative work can continue. I spent this afternoon in a meeting with my director, Mel, about our upcoming play, You Were My Friend.

As I polish the script over the next few days, we’re preparing for the auditions for the two parts, which will take place in a couple of Sundays. I designed the parts so that the actresses will not only have fun doing them, but be challenged and impress their audience. I wanted the characters to be crafted such that they follow an idea which I think is essential to most quality literature and drama.

One of my favourite eras of cinema is the social realist era of
the 1970s, and Five Easy Pieces was one of the best of those
films, easily the most influential on my own work.
First, they have to be neither particularly heroic nor villainous. Both of these women have virtues and flaws. One has a powerful sense of optimism and hope, a basic faith in people to be decent, despite having been kicked around by several people who were very close to her. Yet this is also her flaw, as it leaves her still vulnerable to being manipulated by others, and vulnerable to the harms that the world has in store for us all generally. One is an insightful pragmatist, able to see reality for what it truly is. But she doesn’t have the sense of hope to fight against the foregone conclusion of defeat. If they can combine their virtues properly, they’d be practically unstoppable, friends for life fighting together against a world full of petty micro-injustices. Because I’m a terrible person and I like to make people feel depressed, it doesn’t quite work out that way. They’re both the protagonists, each of their stories illuminating and colliding with the other. In that sense, they’re people.

That’s the essence of what I think of as social realism, art that articulates the singularity of human personalities and the essences of how we live today. The play itself isn’t purely realist in that I never strive for verisimilitude. There are scenes where telephone conversations that happen across town merge into the same apartment, where characters make revealing remarks in Shakespearean (or Underwoodian) asides to the audience. But the people and the world they live in are real, because they’re ours.

The characters also embody so much of the experience of my own generation in the modern world. We work hard and intelligently in difficult circumstances, but too often remain trapped in the bad situations we were in before. And all too often, we don’t really understand how it could be anything but our own fault, unable to perceive the aggregate association of individuals interacting so that so much is ruined, but it’s impossible to apportion intentional blame to anyone, even sometimes when someone actually does commit a terrible act.

But that would be spoilers. You’ll just have to see the play in November. Or audition for it – write me at the Twitter account along the side here, and you’ll get a pm back with the address to apply. I promise you’ll love it.


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  2. Hello. This is the same person who messaged you about a request for the audition: in case my email did not show up, it is: mynee.mo@gmail.com