Any writer will tell you the stuff that comes off their fingertips is an extension of themselves. I’m no different than anyone else in this regard.
Sometimes, though, the connection between the words and the writer’s core takes on a supercharge and runs with scissors through said writer’s soul. The following passage, from the script I wrote for the original stage/multi-media production, HE WHO GETS SLAPPED, was like that for me. So much of what I write is gone as soon as it hits the page. Released. But this passage sticks with me. Haunts me, even.
I suppose the underlying idea and feeling aren’t done with me yet. In fact, the whole reason this blog post exists is because they creeped back in today as I was contemplating a new TV series/pilot I’m developing with the MESSAGES guys. Well, “creeped in” isn’t quite accurate. There I was, minding my own business and trying to figure out the A plot for the pilot episode, when I was startled by a decisive knock.
So…”creeped in” isn’t quite accurate at all.
Alright…come on back in and make yourself at home. I guess we got some more business, you and me.
Excerpt from HE WHO GETS SLAPPED script:
The MAN stands at the edge of the circus set, watching the ACTOR stew in his misery.
MAN: I remember, when I was a child, my mother telling me that I could not attend a party for my best friend. I no longer remember the details. Why and whatnot. Memory is like that…
The ACTOR rises and slowly exits through the upstage curtain. At this time (and through the rest of the MAN’s speech) the screen shows a sepia-toned montage of the ACTOR and STARLET as Hook and Wendy from their Peter Pan days…rehearsing lines, falling in love. The MAN watches the montage unfold as he speaks.
MAN: Mostly cloudy. I didn’t throw a tantrum. But I buckled over, wracked with despair. My mother demanded to know what was wrong, and all I managed to get out were these words…it will never come again. A childish reaction, perhaps, but who is more in touch with the unvarnished realities in life than those whose senses are not yet dimmed by the gathering haze? It would never come again, and the knowledge, the brutal clarity of it, was simply too honest to bear. For in that moment was carried the most profound realization to my young soul–that each moment we live, from our first breath to our last, will only be once. And upon each step we make, the one before it is lost forever. Is it any wonder we all should not be so affected? Memory is malleable. We can mold it to our heart’s desire. Truth is cruel, and it mocks us as it slices through our souls.
On the screen, the ACTOR and STARLET kiss. The MAN can’t bear to watch it. He moves to the wall, touches the hash marks. He talks to the PROJECTOR as, on the screen, the ACTOR and STARLET snuggle…content.
MAN: Have you invited all these people here to settle a question? Is this memory? Or is it truth? Please…let it be memory. For in the fog, rather than being the Hook, and meet my bloody demise, let me be Pan, and freeze time and preserve the moment…when we loved each other last, before it was lost forever…never to come again.
The MAN falls to his knees, anguished, as the film returns to the screen.
© Please do not reprint or distribute without prior permission. All rights reserved.
Photo: the amazing Jim Coates as “Man” in HE WHO GETS SLAPPED. If you need an actor, hire him. If you need a teacher in the Alexander method, hire him. A great actor and friend. http://www.actsup.com
3 thoughts on “Let me be Pan”
This touches us all, but only a few of us are willing to linger in the pain of the realization and return to it like a hunger that cannot be satisfied. I wear a thimble around my neck that belonged to my grandmother who sewed doll clothes for my dolls and sometimes clothes for me. It is the only thing I have of hers except a few of those doll clothes. I had it fixed so I could wear it. I began to wear it every day when I made this very realization you are talking about. I knew it when I was younger, but until my mother and father passed from this life and I looked in the mirror and no longer recognized the face of the woman I was looking at did I remember my fondness for Peter Pan. I reread the book and Chapter 3 blew me away! I was wearing the thimble and so if became a memory and the unrealized “kiss”. Every day I am reminded that that moment is gone, and that one and then that one and the next until I close my eyes at the end of the day to drift away into Never Never Land. I have discovered a very sad paradox. As we age we live more and more in the moment for certain memories fade. Mostly the most recent things like names or where you put the keys…but it would be so great to have had this ability when I was younger and could apply it to my acting. Sadly, now memorizing lines due to that very memory issue makes that a problem. Oh, well…onward! Soak it all in.
Thanks, Bill, I sincerely appreciate your way with words and phrases, and also for your willingness to allow your written ideas to exist as fluid, organic, and malleable things, just like memories themselves. I most enjoy immersing myself in your expressiveness while I’m onstage in character. Playfully, Jim
P.S. Thanks, too. for your shameless plug of my services: http://www.actsup.com.
My dearest friend,
I read this and the post before it and I am almost overwhelmed with thoughts and memories. I am going to save most of it to share with you at a time when we are face to face, but I do want to share on True Life, my most prevailing thought, so that in 10 years, we can look back and laugh and marvel at my acumen (and prescience). I think it is time for you to start thinking about writing your “Great American Novel” (And by novel I know you are aware I am not restricting you to just that format….it could be a Screenplay or a Stage play). I have told you many times that I really think you have one (at least) in you, and I meant it. I look, and everything I see about you in your world right now is in alignment for it. You are wielding a mighty pen and it is speaking in a voice of both truth and nuance. The last ten years of your life have burnished you with a hard won gravitas but it has also gifted you a serenity of riches. I think it is time for you to put that in play.
You cannot imagine how much I miss you. You seem a half a world away. I was trying to finagle time off to sneak down and surprise you at the play opening, but the damn govt sequester crap has been effing up schedules at work for a couple of months…so for the time being..they have a “zero time off” policy going….grrrrr. I really do hope to get myself down to AZ sooner rather than later. ….at least for the time being, life, family, work, health and BENEFITS all seem to be getting in the way. I am hoping for a quick zip down just to get down to see you guys…but I am really hoping over the long run for something more permanent.
It stinks being this far away from you.
xox to everyone