Friday, November 4, 2016

Steps One through Five

Step One:   Journalize the events and dialogue in your story.
This is a regular or systematic record or chronicle of incidents, events, dialogue, along with your observations and your character’s activities.   Kind of like outlining.   If you have accounting or bookkeeping background, this is a ledger or an account or tally.   If you are a secretary these are the minutes of a meeting.   (You could even look at it as a ‘diary’.)  (Yeah!)

Contrary to many directors, I like keeping Actor Directions in the script to help the actors with their character’s attitudes, nuances, et cetera.   Obviously, you don't need stage directions.

For your first radio play, try to keep the number of characters to less than three.  More than three characters can be quite cumbersome for a first timer.

Step Two:   It’s time to write your story.
Now that your diary is full: your story is unfolding, it’s time to write your story.   I am not going to tell you how and/or what to write about... just how to structure your story for use on the radio once it is written.

For the purposes of this course, I am going to use portions of my play “Zen and the Art of Making Par”, © 2006 by Thomas M. Kelly.

Synopsis:   Francis is a thirty-three-year-old Captain in the United States Marine Corps who will not admit that he suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome. It is common for people who have been traumatized to develop medical and psychological symptoms associated with the experience.   Francis and his wife divorced before he was sent with his Marine unit to Iraq. She, an engineer, was sent by her company to Iraq to rebuild bridges. On her way to the airport just outside Baghdad, she was killed by an improvised explosive device. On a leave from the Corps for rest and recuperation, he travels to Scotland where he has made plans to meet a friend for a round of golf at the birthplace of golf: St. Andrews, the Old Course. His friend sends his regrets. Francis is left at the practice tee where he meets an eccentric old man, Donal'.   On the first green they meet Santikaro, a blind East Indian traveler in search of truth.   The happenstance traveler, even though blind,is induced to become Francis' caddie.   Santikaro finds fault with each of the two players golf games, and their lives.   On the eighteenth green he disappears as nicely as he appeared.   They are left to rediscover the way to a meaningful existence.
3m Characters:
FRANCIS:   a thirty-three-year-old Captain in the United States Marine Corps.
DONAL':   a ghost (?).
SANTIKARO:  a ghost (?).

Step Three:   Break up your events and dialogue sets into Vignettes.
Vignette 1:   St. Andrews.
NARRATOR:   We are at St. Andrews golf course in Scotland.   It is mid-July, very early in the morning.   Francis is wearing Marine Corps camouflage pants and a t-shirt.   He looks silly with his black and white golf shoes.   He has taken off his sweater and draped it on his golf bag.   At the practice putting green Francis places his golf ball on the tee.   He addresses the ball.   With a grim, but concentrating look on his face, and never taking his eyes off the ball, he brings his swing back.
Vignette 2:   Enter Donal’.
NARRATOR:   Francis is about to swing as an elderly gentleman approaches from the woods behind him.   Donal’ is costumed in a kilt circa 1890-1900.   He speaks with a heavy Scottish accent, but can be clearly understood.   He carries a primitive golf club.   He is searching for his ‘featherie’.
Vignette 3:   A bit o’ dialogue and equipment discussion.
DONAL':   Are you sure you have not seen it, sire?
FRANCIS:   No, sire!   Featherie?   Red… featherie?   You’re knocking a … what is it?
DONAL':   (Matter-of-factly.)   A featherie, sire.
FRANCIS:   You’re knocking a… a featherie through Scotland’s St. Andrew.   The birthplace of golf?   A featherie?
Discuss Donal’s costume, his featherie, and Francis reason for being at St. Andrews, et cetera.
Vignette 4:   They agree to a round o’ golf.
FRANCIS:   OK.   A round?
DONAL':   Very well, Francis, a round 't'is.
NARRATOR:   They exit shaking hands to the first tee.  
Vignette 5:   Lights down.   End Act I, Scene One,   Act I, Scene Two   Hole No. 1 ― 376 Yards, Par 4.   Francis and Donal’ are standing on the First Tee.   Francis, his mouth agape, is overwhelmed by the perceived difficulty of the first tee.
DONAL':   It is a bit overwhelming, is it not, Francis?
FRANCIS:   Yes.   My god, Donal’, this is frightening.   It’s certainly not an Executive Course.
Vignette 6 through 62, or the end.

Step Four:   Selecting and lining up your Acts and Scenes from your vignettes and timing them for rehearsal.
Your record or diary entry should look like this:   
Sample dialogue:
Vignette 61   1:45   (How many minutes and seconds does it take for your actors to read the below dialogue?)
FRANCIS:   It’s obvious that you aren’t sober enough to finish the round, Donal’.   That’s not … what is your name, anyway?
DONAL':   Percy Adair MacKinsey.   Better known ta’day as Donal’ Blue.   I’m fit as a fiddle, Francis.   We’ll finish the round.   I’m at 69.   Oh… (Sheepishly.)   yes, honestly, Francis.   That little miscount back at nine was Donal’ Blue speakin’.   Up to his antics, ya’ know.   Where are you, Francis?
FRANCIS:   I’m at sixty-nine, too, Percy.
DONAL':   Ta’day it’s Donal’, Francis, Donal’ Blue.   Humor me.   It’s Donal’s' day.   Wo’ ya’ believ’ I almost had me an Albatross on the eleventh?   No?   Well, that’s ole’ Donal’ talkin’.
FRANCIS:   With a birdie, we could both make par.   (Francis looks around for Santikaro.)   Where...?   Did I show you a picture of my wife, Cathie?
Vignette 62
NARRATOR:   Lights down on to the 18th hole.
Closing music up slowly, 0:10
Closing music down slowly, 0:10
Ambient room tone, 0.5

Select your Acts and Scenes (sometimes referred to as soundbites, or cuts).   I prefer to call them what they are; Acts and Scenes.   In any event, select them considering what your characters are saying and the responses necessary to continue or advance the story.   You are trying to evoke a mental response in your audience (They are not watching, they are listening): “Ah ha!   She’s the guilty one, not him!”   Make your audience think by keeping something from them or telling them too much.
In my case,  in order to get my story on the radio, I have at least two episodes in store for me, with 67 Vignettes.   Time will tell.

Step Five:   Re-write for rehearsal and timing.   And here you thought you were finished.