“Play! Have fun with it!”
That’s what I was told at the first session of my latest writing class, “Writing Contemporary Creative Nonfiction.” We were asked to partner up with someone, find a couple items we had with us and use them as props to create and act out a play.
I paired up with a young guy in my class who had a coffee cup to offer as a plot device. I pulled out my work badge, with it’s old photo of me with shoulder-length, blondish hair and a label of IS (Information Systems) underneath my photo.
Our assignment forced us to face a methodology and genre that my partner and I didn’t know what to do with. But we gave it our best shot and came up with a play about a conversation between coffee cup and IS badge. Coffee cup was actually very eloquent, almost Shakespearean, while IS badge (me) was simply angry (imagine that)…
“I hate people! Well, not really people. I hate users! They use and use and use! I can’t take it anymore! I’m getting in my car and driving off the end of this ramp!” I yelled as I pushed my badge the length of my eye glass case and off the end, crashing violently to the table top.
My partner and I discovered during critique (yes, there really was a critique of our plays) that there was not much action to our story, although there certainly was conflict.
At the time, I found this exercise annoying.
In hindsight, I can see the value in throwing aside ‘the usual’.
Doing something outside my comfort zone.
Seeing how doing a familiar thing in an unfamiliar way felt.
Not taking things so seriously.
Trying to goof around like we did when we were kids,
before we became so self conscious and afraid of looking silly.
The hardest part of the exercise was making suggestions that I thought my partner would think were stupid. Perhaps they were stupid and he did think so, but why do we care so much?
Does suggesting or trying something stupid
or, a better way of putting it,
trying something that doesn’t work,
make us stupid?
It makes us risk takers!
Experimentation is a way of rewriting ourselves.
Rewriting well-worn beliefs.
Things we’ve accepted as the way it is.
Toss out that shit!
Make it fresh.
See it differently.
From under the table or across the room.
Do it differently.
With your eyes closed or wearing mismatched socks.
Squeeze the real and unreal out of the observable moment.
Solidify it, then tear it down to pieces.
Lift the skirt and look underneath the obvious.
Find depth and color and the stuff that’s rotting in the back of the refrigerator.
Make a complete and utter fool out of yourself!
Every chance you get…