Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lounge Cowboy

So, I had a couple of long conversations today about my show, Lounge, trying to get the motivation to get the first draft of the text done, so that the first showcase of it will be ready to go the first part of February. So, in the next two months, you will probably get me analyzing what I'm doing, how I'm doing it and why. Some of it is for your benefit, and some of it will be for me. Sometimes it seems that I've isolated myself so completely from the theatre community, that it will really have to be a one-person-show. I'm even going to do my own tech, work it in as part of the show. However, I do think it is a solid plan, and I'm far enough ahead of the idea to know that it will work. I was always pretty good at having a feel for what will work, and even though the labor I know is ahead is making my head spin a little, I know once I get past level 3 or 4 on the motivation scale, I'll have a show up. In every show, for me, there has to be a point in which I have the moment of clarity, or the click, where in spite any obstacles, the show will go up regardless. Although the click hasn't happened, the writing is starting to work, and I think the stories are pretty interesting.

Of course my interpretation of a lounge singer is probably far different than what many of my audiences' imaginations will conjure up, but I'm sure they will be pleased at the end result. Here, I will write about the process, both to keep my investors knowing what is going on and to hopefully, create a buzz about the show. Ten songs. Ten stories. Cowboys. Poets. Singers. Brawling. Too many beers. Bukowski. Barry McGwire. Boots. Hats. Women. Theatre. Fires. Most people have been to a lounge show and heard a good lounge singer, or been to a piano bar and eaten dinner to the sounds of Hal David and Burt Bacharach. Each song is usually interspersed with some funny story or anecdote. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The difference with my show will be the content of the story. Because it will be story as theatre. Story as how songs effect. Story of woe, story of laughter.

I did just discover that the show I did the summer of 2011 in the Red House Barn which was a compilation of stories I had collected from doing Bohemian Cowboy for two years is gone. Although I did it more improvisationally and worked from notes, all of those notes burned up in the fire. As life moves on, I'm realizing just how much I did lose to that damn fire. There was about two months of notes in that batch. I suppose, though, writing them again and remembering will help develop them into something more refined. It did tell me that I could put together a show from the remnants of that show. Bohemian Cowboy was over three hundred pages of text, of which I used fifty-three pages. That's to give you an idea of just what goes into a script. I usually have a structure laid out before I start, but the majority of what I write doesn't get into the final script. In fact, most of my favorite parts often don't get in because they may be good stories but they don't fit the overall story. Some writers call that 'killing your darlings', but I don't kill them completely, they usually end up somewhere else if I'm patient, they might find themselves later in a play, or I might take a phrase and make a song out of it.

Look, this is how it could begin. Right now I have three different beginnings, but I know what the stage looks like. There are two guitars, two stools, a table for accessories, a wardrobe rack, a pa system, and maybe a couple of props.

"I was doing a show in a little town in Torrey, Utah one night at a place called Robber's Roost. It was a beautiful stage. I had my pickup parked in some trees and was warming up the guitar in a chair in front of my tale gate while my brother was doing some last minute arranging with the lights. The sun was just going down and a bout ten minutes before going on, the wind started to kick up and I could feel them all there. And even though they were all dead, they were my family, so I let them stay. Now, Dad, he walked himself out into the desert a few years before and we never found his body, but he was there that night. My aunt, whose the definition of a saint in the mormon church, and I swear, sometimes I went, anyway, she was scared to pieces that we could not find his body in the vast desert because she couldn't figure out what would happen to him when the resurrection came, being out there in the desert and all. I said, Aunt Renon, I'm sure if God can resurrect all of those bodies that are still laying out there in that western desert, he can probably pick up Dad too. And since I could feel him there that night, I didn't think there would be much of a problem.  My Grandpa, Clyde, he was there too, just off in the edge of the trees, if you see any pictures of him he never stood near the others—he always stands off by himself, but he was there. And Aunt LaRae was there, and Grandma too. It was a good show, and in the middle of the show, I was sure that Butch Cassidy and the boys were there too, it being Robber's Roost and all… this is the first song I learned. I sang it with my Dad, at a dance when I was four years old.  When mama and daddy used to go to the dances, they would park the old buick out in front of the gym and tuck us into bed in the back seat with four or five blankets. But we didn’t' sleep, we looked through the windows and listened to that cowboy music coming through the gym doors. We watched the cowboys head out to their trunks for a shot of whiskey. I supposed eventually we did go to sleep, because mama would wake us up about ten minutes before we got to Salt Gulch, which was our home then. When I turned four, I was allowed to go into the dance and sing with my Dad…"

(sing Java)

So, although I just wrote this and don't know if it will go into the show, this is the process. All of this is delivered while I'm getting ready, putting on jacket, tuning, watering my throat. And the stories relate to the songs. Does that make sense? Do you like it?

By the way, the bucking shoot in the picture I'm standing in is from the Boulder Rodeo Grounds. I rode a bull or a horse in that rodeo for thirteen years. I started riding in that rodeo when I was twelve. A couple of years after I got married at twenty one, I told my wife I wanted to try making a living riding for a year and we'll see how it goes. She said, "If you do that 'we' won't be doing anything, 'you' will be doing it on your own. I rode my last bull when I was twenty-four. She left anyway. The last three years, although it was just a small town rodeo, I placed all three years. We had rodeo in our family. We even had a bull that belonged to my Aunt, that no one ever rode but Merril Taylor. It was called Nethella's Bull. These are the stories I grew up on, the life I saw, the bruises that i wore on my body. That was my favorite hat, it was well worn in...I lost seven hats in the fire and nine pair of boots. That fire set me back quite a spell. I couldn't turn on a stove for a couple of months. I lost an uncle and a cousin, both in trailer fires, it runs in the family. Maybe I broke the cycle, from death in a fire, maybe. 

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