Toiling Furiously in the Lab

So where you been, Patterson?

Don’t ask.

The simple answer is: frightfully busy. I realized that, following last year’s ridiculous burst of productivity, I’ve have at least three plays still languishing in notebooks waiting to be typed up. (I write first drafts in longhand. There’s a couple reasons for this, one being I like to write in cafes far from phones, dishes, or other interruptions, other than fending off people asking for change or trying to sell hot goods. I also type about 75 wpm, which is great for office work, but it means I go too damned fast. The pen slows me down, gives me time to think.)

So I’ve been typing up plays. I’ve also been working on my angels+demons photo project. I started it last year with the idea that it seemed an amusing premise–have some theatre colleagues channel their inner demigods and shoot the various resulting angels and demons with the same lighting plot and background to give the series continuity. What’s happened has been a startling success: the shots are turning out great, and when I put a new call for models, I was deluged and became totally booked through mid-May, when I have to put it aside to do what looks to be my last show as a producer (though never say never). More on that when we get closer.

Ironically enough, I seem totally bereft of new writing ideas. I was feeling the itch the other day and thought, oh, I’ll just start and see what happens, if I get any voices and follow where they take me. It’s worked before–I’ve gotten a couple of interesting plays out of the process; it’s also sometimes led to false starts and abandoned projects. This time, an hour’s worth of “work” produced: “Lights rise on a bare stage.”

So I think I just have to leave it alone, which means I’ll probably have a new idea tomorrow. The ironic part is you have to keep working at it, even if it gets you nowhere, to find something, but finding something sometimes means looking away from it enough for the unconscious to let it bubble up into the light. Tricky process, creativity.

So I’m also putting submission packages together, doing the necessary work to get plays in front of theatres, and I have a bunch of plays floating around out there now, doing whatever it is they’ll do (mostly get bounced). But it’s important to feel like you’re in the game. And, once in awhile, some absolutely crazy shit happens, like a theatre writes or calls you and says: we want to do your fetid little play…we haven’t lost enough money lately. Working to get a new batch together to send Monday–might as well wait until the postage comes up so the SASEs will make their way back sans postage-due.

Plus I’ve been enjoying spring–May and June are the months when my garden bursts into its hammiest glory, and it’s just a pleasure to get home from work and see what’s transpired over the day, it sometimes happens so fast. The clematis jackmanii is already up to the roof. The ants are crawling on the peony buds. The bluebells are belling blue in azure swaths. Lots of annual poppies are coming up from seed, as are the blue nigella and adobe-flowered yarrow. Put in some new ornamental grasses this year, and took out a new swath of lawn out front, planting miscanthus, spirea, salvias, and cistus. The cistus planted last year have spread monstrously and are studded with buds, and, speaking of studs, this one oriental poppy out front, which blooms brilliant orange with a black throat and purple-black anthers, must have ten thumb-sized buds on. I predict spectacle.

And that’s the news from planet Splatterson.

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: