Sam Shepard on Play Writing VI

January 5, 2015

Adapted from: The Pathfinder

By John Lahr, The New Yorker, February 8, 2010

Shepard-6The male influences around me (growing up) were primarily alcoholics and extremely violent. I listened like an animal. My listening was afraid.

I  just dropped out of nowhere. It was absolute luck that I happened to be there (NYC, 1963) when the whole Off-Off Broadway movement was starting. I think they hired everybody. It was wide open. You were like a kid in a fun park—trying to be an actor, writer, musician, whatever happened . . . . For me, there was nothing fun about the sixties. Terrible suffering . . . . Things coming apart at the seams.

I had a sense that a voice existed that needed expression, that there was a voice that wasn’t being voiced. There were so many voices that I didn’t know where to start. I felt kind of like a weird stenographer . . . . There were definitely things there, and I was just putting them down. I was fascinated by how they structured themselves.

When you write a play, you work out like a musician on a piece of music. You find all the rhythms and the melody and the harmonies and take them as they come  . . . . Break it all down in pairs. Make the pairs work together, with each other. Then make ’em work against each other, independent.

I preferred a character that was constantly unidentifiable . . . instead of embodying a “whole character,” the actor should consider his performance “a fractured whole with bits and pieces of character flying off the central theme,” . . . . to make a kind of music or painting in space without having to feel the need to completely answer intellectually for the character’s behavior.

Character is something that can’t be helped. It’s like destiny . . . . It can be covered up, it can be messed with, it can be screwed around with, but it can’t be ultimately changed. It’s like the structure of our bones, and the blood that runs through our veins.

(I was) dead set against revisions because I couldn’t stand rewriting . . . . (The plays) were chants, they were incantations, they were spells. You get on them and you go. Plays have to go beyond just working out problems. (They have to move) from colloquial territory to poetic country.

I hate endings. Just detest them. Beginnings are definitely the most exciting, middles are perplexing, and endings are a disaster.


Mystery Lady

November 23, 2014
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This photograph enchants me, and I know practically nothing about it. To begin with, who is the young lady? Back in the mid-1970’s, a friend gave me the picture because her mother was about to throw it out. At first it was the Art Deco frame that drew me. My friend told me that her mother “hated” the frame, and that the woman in the picture was her (the mother’s) great-aunt, and that she was a professional “acrobatic dancer.” That was it, that’s all my friend got from her mother. Now I was really hooked. The fact that there was a mystery attached to such a beautiful frame and such an interesting-looking—lovely-in-her-own-way—costumed woman, only made the package that much more intriguing.

 So I did a bit of research. I checked out Google Images under “acrobatic dancer” for the 1920’s and 30’s, and came up with some notes that I may develop later for an essay. For instance, the images I found ranged from vaudeville and circus acts to strippers to deformed people who toured theatrically at the time and were exploited as “freaks.”  Show biz people of every stripe, in other words, many of whom were social outcasts then. Which of course could also explain my friend’s mothers’ dismissive attitude.

 But I don’t care. I think this athletic-appearing young lady’s story deserves more development. If you have clues to her identity, her career, or just helpful research ideas, please get in touch . . .

Copyright © 2014, Jim Sizemore.

									

Halloween 2014 III

November 9, 2014

Hip Shots

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Copyright © 2014, Jim Sizemore

Halloween 2014 II

November 7, 2014

Costumes

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Copyright © 2014, Jim Sizemore

Halloween 2014

November 5, 2014

Dancers 

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Copyright © 2014, Jim Sizemore

The Music Scene

October 2, 2014

Screaming Females performing at the Bowery BallroomMarissa Paternoster, prone, prodigiously shooting shards of skronk out to the audience (Baltimore City Paper 10/1/14)

I sent this note to the Music Editor at City Paper: “In the photo Ms. Paternoster is ‘supine’ (on her back). If she were ‘prone,’ as the caption has it, she’d be playing her guitar face-down on the floor. Difficult, to say the least . . .”

The only reason I know this is that many, many years’ ago, during army basic training, I qualified on the M-1 rifle range from the “prone” (belly down) position. But I’m ‘way out of touch in this modern music world. Can someone please tell me what the word “skronk” means?

Today’s Portfolio

November 9, 2013

Halloween Hip Shots 2013

By Jim Sizemore

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The “Hip Shots” series of photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly,” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise is to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method the more frames exposed, the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting—a related series that may be arranged as a post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own images, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below.

Copyright © 2013 Jim Sizemore.