Monday, June 29, 2009

my brother's knife (or "how i learned to stop worrying and love the monacans")

first of all, the play's title is pretty bad ass. i've always thought so. it's been two years since mbk had it's first reading right here in virginia. well, i shouldn't say right here; it was in charlottesville, which is more like right over there, here in virginia.

whatever, it's been two years. title? still pretty bad ass. so that's first.

second: there's a scene in alien resurrection (** out of *****), the fourth sequel to alien(*****), where ripley, who is actually a clone of the original ripley from the first film, demands that she see the other clone ripleys that have come before her. she's taken to a room which houses multiple tanks containing all the previous clone ripleys that didn't quite make it. one of them is even still alive inside the tank! it's pretty creepy... ANYWAY, i'm reminded of that scene when i think of all the various incarnations of mbk over the past two years.

each new ripley clone was a vast improvement over the one previous to it. the same can be said of mbk. each new version is a little bit leaner, a little bit deeper, a little bit sigourney-weaverer. i've pretty much watched this entire process take place...well, save for an alleged reading at florida state university of which i was not part and of which we will not speak ::wink face emoticon::

in two years, the play has crawled out of the primordial first draft ooze and evolved into a snarling, predatory velociraptor of a script. watching the playwright/my former roommate josh mikel pour his subconscious out onto his pirated version of final draft and sculpting it into a living, breathing organism independent of himself has been nothing short of inspiring.

or, to put it childishly: he's pretty bad ass.

one thing i've definitely learned watching this whole thing go down: playwriting is HARD. jesu christo. i mean, there's all KINDS of things you have to do! have a theme, create compelling characters, give them cool things to say which please academics and jerks like me alike. every new revision, every dead end we hit in rehearsal which we have to bring up to josh, only serves to remind me what i learned back in theater school: it's all about the basics. you hear that a lot with regards to sports, but it's also true in theater. this still doesn't make shaquille o'neal a good actor, but whatevs...this whole summer has been somewhat of a refresher course in beat work, objectives, living in the moment, etc. square one, basically. and being surrounded by incredibly talented people doesn't really hurt either.
everyone's game is up (sports again!).

i don't want to give a whole lot away about my brother's knife, but if i were only to leave you with alien resurrection and a shaquille o'neal joke, i'd feel i cheated you. the full title is actually my brother's knife: a madison heights odyssey. my macbook dictionary says that an odyssey is a long and eventful or adventurous journey. well, with an hour-and-fifteen-minute running time, it's certainly not long. but we start at the top of the 5th street bridge and end in the dark recesses of a tortured childhood. how's THAT for adventurous?!

mbk is about coping with loss and the fatigue that comes with running from the past (or to it). kinda like the bluest water, which just recently closed. is there a running endstation theme here? (geoff, any time you need to talk, bro...anytime)

wayne howling wind is a noble monacan indian with a dark secret. when we meet him, he's tied himself up with his belt, ready to dive into the shallow depths of the james river. just before he takes the plunge, he's discovered by an amherst sheriff's deputy named deter, a loose cannon (always wanted to be called that) who quickly decides to be wayne's spiritual savior. he takes wayne back to see valerie, a local gypsy (not a gypsy, sorry...just "enlightened") who works as a psychic under the name madama helga. over the course of one evening, wayne and deter explore the underbelly of a whole range of issues, from cultural identity to the death of a parent to what it means to be a monacan indian (hence my joke in the blog title)

i won't say anymore about it, except that it's all pretty...bad ass.

walter kmiec


Joshua Mikel said...

Thanks, Walter. You bad ass.

Mahto said...

As a member of the Monacan tribe I really want to see this! It sounds awesome!