Friday, September 19, 2008

Brainstorming…or…90% of what you throw at the wall won’t stick.

Oscar Madison: Now kindly remove that spaghetti from my poker table.
[Felix laughs]
Oscar Madison: The hell's so funny?
Felix Ungar: It's not spaghetti, it's linguini.
[Oscar picks up the linguini and hurls it against the kitchen wall]
Oscar Madison: Now it's garbage.

Ideas are like the plate of spaghetti that Oscar throws across the room in the movie The Odd Couple (or is it Linguini?).

Not all of it is gonna stick.

Most will fall to the floor and you'll have to pick it up.

But one or two strands of noodle will cling to the wall like a Jackson Pollock masterpiece.

It’s pretty accurate that 90% of what you write (or create) is going to be crap. The trick is, and this is where the rewriting part comes in, to only show the good 10%. Keep writing then cut. Write some more, then cut. And so on.

And don’t tell anyone about how many bad ideas you had before the good idea so that you can pull off the illusion that you are some kind of genius like Mozart.

I’ve been a bit busy lately working on the fall “show” aka 7 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT. We're still in that early phase of collecting and creating material based on our research and our questions. I firmly believe that’s how most good plays begin their original impetus—with a question examining the world or human nature.

It's a wonderful place to be, free and open, and really you can go in so many different directions.

Later we'll have to make actual choices. Making choices is much harder...


Last week we created points of view of characters each with a firm YES or NO on this question:

“Was it necessary for the U.S. to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?”

This is a big question and not one easily answered. It is not the main question of our show, by the way, but one worth exploring. The characters the actors created via a behavioral exercise each had personal and philosophical reasons (all plausible and all justifiable) and from within this work, stories began to arise. Now some of the work we did was just to get started and although most of that material may not make it to the final presentation of the performance two months from now, we got a lot of brilliant little things to start working from and to begin a fuller dialogue about.

What we discovered from the exercise was that:

1) this issue is far more complex than a simple yes or no answer can give (which is good)


2) this catastrophic event in time affected not just those in Japan, but all around the world.

This one device has changed the world.


And it still shapes political powers today.

But we never think about it…Never contemplate the 27,000 warheads in the world, of which 2,000 of them are ready to launch.

Right now.

Any minute.

It’s like living in a straw village under a volcano. Waiting for the top to blow.

But I’m getting off track.

The point is we’re still “playing” with the play-dough in our rehearsals. We’re bringing stuff in and seeing if our spaghetti will stick to the wall or not. That’s what life is like for the earlier days of creation.

Perfection is not the goal. Good and bad is not really an issue. We just want to throw some ideas around. We need to play. We expect some good stuff, some brilliant stuff, but probably a lot of stuff that's not so great.

We may try an exercise or an idea and it will totally suck.

Because eventually we find those little nuggets of gold. And when we find them, we’ll use it for all it’s worth.

So tomorrow we have another long rehearsal and we’ll see what we can discover.

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