I miss the NY Neo-Futurists.
The time I spent with them was the most productive artistic period of my life. While in the show, I was writing 2-10 minutes of performable material per week. While that may not sound like much, imagine being tasked with creating scripts ready to be produced for a New York audience every week. It's Herculean to say the least when you consider that these folks not only help run the company but also have day jobs because theatre doesn't pay the bills.
You may ask yourself how this is possible. It's because I was supported by a group of individuals so dedicated and so talented that their collective creative output can only be described as a juggernaut.
"Right." you say. "But what does it look like?"
Let me walk you through what a normal my Neo-week looked like.
# The Neo-Week
My Neo-week actually begins after the Saturday night show. That's when we add up the numbers that were rolled by the volunteer audience members (I'll get back to that at the "end of the week") so we know how many plays need to be cut. We, then, discuss which plays get cut from the menu. Now, in my day, this could become quite a lively discussion--full of politics, counting of weeks, judging a play's success, and feelings--oh the feelings!
Then, after the bloodletting--I mean cuts--we review the surviving--I mean remaining--plays; and ask a simple question: What does the menu need? The answers could be a simple as dialogue or something personal. It could be as complicated as audience participation or something that changes the way we look at the space or time travel. Then we sometimes ask another simple question: What does the menu not need? Usually, monologues, line plays, long plays, etc. Then, we scurry off.
Sometimes I hung out and drink with the cast, friends, and the occasional audience member who hangs about.
Sometimes I went home and slumbered.
Sometimes I'd go write with the energy of the show still carrying me.
Regardless of how I ended Saturday, all my writing for the show happened on Sunday. If I didn't write after the show, I'd start writing the second I woke up. Because of the way my life was structured back then, if I didn't write on Sunday, I didn't write at all. When I wrote I used everything I collected during the week: props, pictures, ideas, bits of dialogue. Anything. Everything. Make it all into plays. Plays. Plays. Plays. I wandered around my life as a strange collector of material. Taking notes. Buying nick knacks in the hope that I could make something from it like an off-kilter inventor.
I was working a 9-5. So my weekdays were spent there.
Monday and Tuesday nights were nights I'd either have off Neo-Futurism or days I'd concentrate on Neo-admin duties.
Then, Wednesday would roll around. With it came rehearsal. (I hear tale the kids have rehearsal on Tuesdays.)
We'd pitch plays, pick plays, rehearse plays, and scatter.
Thursday night, along with any free moments throughout the day and on Friday, were all about memorization. Everyone has their own tricks. I actually learned a trick from an interview with Will Smith. During his first days as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, he was so nervous about not knowing his lines, he'd memorize the whole script. In the early episodes you can actually see him mouthing other people's lines. Memorizing an entire script isn't as hard as it sounds. Also, it helps your writing. You really learn how other people construct plays by committing the whole thing to memory. I liken it to art students one sees museums imitating the masters.
Friday night, we'd meet up at a rehearsal space at like 7 or so, run lines, rehearse movement plays, finish props, and divvy up duties in the space (rolling dice and selling tickets, writing name tags, handing out menus, hanging the numbers, setting the clock, etc.)
Then, off to the theater. Where we would wait. And wait. And wait. And wait for whichever show had rented the Kraine until 10 to leave. Most of the time it was fine. Sometimes they'd be awesome and already be out. Once, when I was conducting (that's Neo-speak for "your week to be stage manager") we had 10 minutes to tech (aka work out sound and light cues with your awesome theatre tech) 4 plays (or 8 minutes worth of material). I told them they had each had 2 minutes. I also did a lot of shouting to make them stay on task. Sorry about that, kids.
We, then, throw open the doors and let the show begin. If you've seen the show, you know this part. At the end of the show, we'd have an audience member roll a die. Remember that bit for later.
After the Friday show, we'd clean up as quickly as possible.
After we got out of the space, some people hang out. Me, I needed to rest. So I'd go home and crash. Saturdays would be a mixed bag of various things--personal, day job, Neo.
We'd meet a little later on Saturday, 8 or 9 if memory serves. We'd go over notes, run lines, whatever we needed to fix, and assign duties again.
Then, we'd do the show all over again. Finally we'd have an audience member roll another die.
After the audience has gone and the space cleaned, those of us whose run in the show can go. For those of us still in the show that is when, in my opinion, the Neo-week ends--er--begins--you know what I mean.
# Nostalgia Redux
I miss the burning-on-both-ends, breakneck, hurtling-into-the-abyss pace. Sometimes I miss it the way one misses a lover. Sometimes I miss it like a good friend. With age, most of the time, I forget. Sometimes, I am in it, like I am now; and it's palpable. However, the second I step out out of rehearsal and onto the streets of New York, I remember why I left this city; and I go home.
Next production journal: Fear