Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Collaborating kick start

The Kymeras' show at CAN*CON (Evelyn: A Time Travel Love Story) is coming up fast. We met up this weekend to run through the first real version of the show and figure out exactly what order things would go in.

I'm in an interesting position in this process. We're expanding a poem of Sean's into a full show. Marie and Ruthanne are filling in details of the narrator's story. I was given pretty much anything to do on my part, and in the first meeting it was suggested I could fill in the other voice - that of the narrator's wife. That way the two "characters" are voiced by poets while the narrative details are done by the storytellers.

But that meant I had to go home and write some poems about a very specific thing, in a very specific voice. It was tricky - I wrote a lot of fragmentary pieces which I then stuck together, or picked up and expanded. My character is only in the story in a strange, sort of disjointed way, so I wound up writing her voice in a series of short journal notes and fragments of letters and thought processes. Her speaking, in her mind, to either her husband or herself. When I brought them to the second meeting I thought I had a bunch of crap. But then we started shaping the story up, and it started to take a form with our four narratives interrupting each other and interweaving. We went off so the storytellers could craft their bits and Sean and I could tinker with our poems. Sean wrote a longer, more satisfying denouement and cut the poem into sections that could be interrupted by story. And I poked at my little poem fragments and couldn't really see how to make them into anything else.

But then this weekend we met again. I still just had my little fragments, and one full poem that I was happy-ish with. But magic happened. As we started the rough runthrough - Sean reading his intro, then Marie walking us through her story framework, and me reading out the poems I thought would go in various places - things started to fall into place. I still only had my fragments for the second half, but while people were reading through their parts I started crossing stuff out, drawing in arrows, reshuffling everything on my page. Between me and Ruthanne - covering most of the second half of the show - we rearranged the stuff I'd written, fit in in between Ruthanne's short vignettes, and suddenly there were all these resonances bouncing around between the different voices and threads of the story. I could actually see how the bits I'd written related to each other, where they could fit together into more coherent wholes.

And suddenly I felt more like writing than I have in a long time. Having some other brains around to bounce things off of, yes, but more importantly, working with those other brains on an actual collaboration got my brain engine rumbling. And I remembered, again, how much I like working with the Kymeras.

Good news, by the way: you can now buy a day pass for Saturday evening at CAN*CON, so you can come for just the evening's shows, including Evelyn.

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