15 September 2014

That Moment When Hindsight Kicks In

A few months ago my church congregation asked me to direct what we call a Roadshow. A Roadshow is a skit that people from the congregation put on-no professionals and usually little to no budget. Traditional elements include rewriting song lyrics Weird Al style (preferably older, popular music from musicals and such), comedy, choreography which may or may not turn out on performance, and as much cheese as you can pack into thirty minutes.

Back in the day (when my older sisters were young) each congregation would travel around to the other congregations and perform-thus the Roadshow title. There was judging and prizes and everything.

Well, there are no prizes anymore, and we only perform once, but the cheese, songs and iffy choreography run rampant through our skit. We got assigned a modern day retelling of David and Goliath. The man in charge came up with the idea of doing The Younger Games. The elevator pitch is, "Fifty years of rivalry between adults and children comes to a head when the scrawny, video game playing Dave moves to town and the other teenagers sucker him into going up against Big "G" in the 50th anniversary of the Rivalry Games."

Let me point out that I have exactly ZERO stage experience, barring my own roadshow 25 years ago which consisted of parts of The Music Man, and one time I played in the pit for Guys and Dolls. Also 25 years ago. So I have no idea what a director is supposed to do. Lucky for everyone, we have lots of great people who come to help. I owe them all more treats.

So my lack of directing skills may add to the cheese factor.

However, my writing experience has influenced a few things. Mostly additions to the script. The original script was great. My writer brain grabbed a hold of it and started to ask questions about characters, motivations and plot points. Suddenly there were all sorts of extra lines about how the original rivalry started as well as what the punishment is for losing. And the kids always lose. Plus, shoulder angels. What could go wrong?

Well, among these extra lines is the pivotal moment of the show. Dave asks about what games get played at the Rivalry Games, and one of the kids says, "Any game with physical activity, we get to choose."

This is key. This line leads Dave to the inspiration for using a Dance Dance Revolution/Angry Birds/Tetris game as the challenge for Big G. (I'll post pictures next week, it's kind of epic).

Last week we were practicing, and the kid who is supposed to say the line above sort of mumbled it and said it as fast as he could. I stopped the practice and said, "Hold on, the audience has to hear that line. It is the single, most important line of the play. If they don't hear it, then it doesn't make sense when Dave (with the help of a big voice from above) figures out which game he can use and still win."

I got a few puzzled and blank looks, but a few other eyes lit up and I could tell that they were readers. We've all had those moments when our minds go back through the story and that fleeting second that felt like natural conversation comes back with the clarity that says, "I should have seen that before!"

This often happens to me during James Bond movies. In one of them I saw some huge, tree cutting machine at the beginning and I was like, "Bond is totally going to have to fight that at the end of the movie." I was right. Sometimes I'm way off. But either way, authors put clues for the readers. They're important. Readers get 20/20 hindsight, so give them something to look for!

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