The 8x10's, again
The first play I ever had read was for a contest called the Fairbanks Drama Association 8x10's: 8 plays, each (ostensibly) 10 minutes long. The contest is only open to Alaskans, so the number of entries is tiny compared to national contests, which is certainly one reason I've been accepted every time I've applied (16 times, I think.) I submitted my piece for this year's contest earlier this week (and many thanks for Dawson Moore for printing it out for me while I'm down here in Valdez. Have I mentioned that they make you print out and send in 5 copies? Is there any other play contest in the universe that makes you do that?)
My play this year came from a weird place: a dream. I usually don't remember my dreams, but for some reason enough of this one stuck with me that I was able to sculpt a play out of it. In the dream, I'm driving down the highway when I have to skid to a stop because there's a car stopped in front of me right in the middle of the off-ramp. I get out to take a look, and discover that the driver has stopped and hung a mirror up on a post, and is using it to practice telling his dad that he's dropping out of college. And that's about as much as I could remember.
It doesn't make much sense, but man is it theatrical. What I ended up with was an 11-page magnum opus about a conversation between a shiftless 19-year-old who wants to start a racket smuggling Kinder eggs, and a middle-aged father who doesn't want his daughter marrying her Venezuelan boyfriend because he thinks the guy's just after a green card. Meanwhile, his being stopped on the off-ramp is kicking off a small offstage riot. It's all rather weird, but it feels very of the moment, in a way that most of my plays aren't. I'm happy with how it turned out, especially considering I wrote the whole thing in like 2 days. I'm worried it's a bit too edgy for the venue - it's not particularly edgy at all, but FDA doesn't exactly embrace controversial topics. But I also think this one probably has a life beyond FDA.