Those who follow my Twitter stream know that I have been working on a play. I started on it toward the end of August, 2008, writing a variety of scenes in no particular order or overall understanding of just what the play was going to be about. I had lots of ideas, so I tried to get them down as much as I could. The last thing I did was write a summary of Act 1 and some general ideas about the play as a whole.
Knowing the realities of the school year, I decided that I would use the month of August to work on the play. This would give me the time during the school year to effectively teach and do research. It would also give me the months of May, June, and July to work on more professional endeavors. An unanticipated benefit is that it has allowed me to think about the play off and on over the course of the year, refining ideas, coming up with new one, and so forth.
For the last two weeks I have been working on the play pretty much non-stop. It has been an exciting process. It’s the first play I have seriously worked on since the one act play I wrote for my Master’s thesis. That play was called The Salon (and it shall remain hidden from the world). I had some half-baked half-researched ideas in the late 90s. This one is called Shingles. The play employs the word “shingles” literally in terms of the things that are used on roofs as well as the disease Shingles. But it is also a metaphor for pieces that make up a whole, or a patchwork. There is a significant amount of anachronism.
Only one scene that I wrote last August appears in Act I—and that scene has been significantly revised based on conversations I have had with a Iraqi now living in the US who for 5 years worked as a translator for the Marines. I am quite grateful for his help. How I was connected to him is an excellent example of the power of Twitter. A few weeks ago I tweeted that I was looking for someone who might be able to help me translate a few lines. I received numerous responses, the first of which came from @bigmotaha. We DMed a bit. I emailed him my draft. He left a message on my work voicemail, sharing his ideas. We emailed a bit and he then put me in contact with a friend of his, Z.S., who was a translator. Z.S. and I spoke a few times on the phone. He helped me better understand what happens in Iraqi when houses are raided. We also spoke about some of his experiences (which would make for an incredible book.) He translated the English into Arabic and back into English transliteration.
I have decided post the play online as a PDF and on Google Docs for a limited time for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that I don’t really have a local audience to bounce ideas off of. As a result, I thought I would see if I might be able to create a kind of virtual workshop online (my only reader, @wendyjs007, who helped me quite a bit with the medical lingo, is biased and knows me too well). I’m open to (and really want) any and all comments that you have.
I’m quite excited about where the play is heading and I’m excited about the possibility of talking with you about it.
PDF version of the play.
Google Docs version, which allows for in-text commenting. Note that some formating was lost when uploading the document.
Update 6:36 pm: I just finished re-reading a printed version and I see there are a few typos. I’ll update the documents later today.
Update 8/15/09 6:38 pm: I have updated the documents.