Although you have stated that we should feel free to come talk to you about the script and general concerns with the play and that Tony has approached you in order to make sure this is the case, I still feel that I'd rather submit my concerns via letter form because I happen to communicate better in this matter. I would like to make clear that the following points and ideas I will bring up are entirely suggestions, and even though these views are my own, I happen to know that other youth company members have expressed similar opinions in these matters. I only ask of you to seriously ponder on what I am going to write, and if you decide that my words are invalid, then that is your choice and I will respect your decision.
I will start at the beginning of the play, and comment on various parts that I think could be further improved upon. I am not suggesting that you rewrite the entire thing, because I understand that is impossible at this stage in the process. However, sometimes there are lines that can be slightly altered to correct the currently somewhat senseless content of some of the scenes/dialogues/monologues/etc.
I think that your choice to open the play with this scene is a good one. My critique is only on two specific things. #1) In the entire speakers panel questioning thing, absolutely no one asks anything about bi/pansexuality. In fact, the entire show mentions nothing about these sexualities. There are a few scenes I can see this easily being added into (which I’ll mention when I get to them) and this is one of those scenes. Even one line thrown in “Isn’t being bisexual just being confused or greedy?” – I know this is a cliché line-but anything like that could be thrown in without a major change in the scene and it would help this general opening part represent the stories that exist within the cast… those told and those kept within our heads. I don’t know.. I guess it just amazes me that out of all the queer youth in our cast that identify as bi/pansexual, no stories or mentions of the topic ended up in the show.
The only other comment I have on this scene is about some of the scripting. My friend and I were talking about this, and I just have to ask why this scene about a gay panel at a school was turned into a commercial for the outreach show. It’s not that I mind that it was changed to that (even though she does), but the way it is said is perfectly cheesy. Perhaps Rebecca will be able to save the line with good acting. But what exactly is up with the “or are they scandalized?” I don’t know.. for some reason, I think this wording does not fit in with the scene and will confuse the audience. Maybe it will be funny. Were you going for a laugh there? I guess it could be funny. I’m sure you know what you’re doing.
Oh- and one more thing about speaker’s panel- I know that some of the Tara part was based on my Transgender poem. Now, I understand that for artistic purposes you all have the right to change the content of the submissions in order to create a flowing play. But- I just want to make sure that you understood what I was writing about.. because it seems like it’s scripted so close to being right then goes off. And- that’s fine with me- but I’m—just offering suggestions- here’s just a rough idea on how I would make that part of the scene sound: (page 4)
Chris: What do you mean?
Tara: Well I think your definition is too simple for transgender. I think that’s what it is for you, and that’s okay, and maybe for a lot of people. But I think transgender is a lot more complex.
Chris: Okay, here we go.
ques1: I don’t understand.
Tara: like me for example- I don’t really associate with either gender
Q1:but you’re a girl.—I don’t understand.
Tara: that’s what you see. That’s my sex, not my gender.
Ques1: But you wear girly clothes. You wear makeup. You’re obviously a girl.
Tara: Makeup and clothes don’t make up a persons gender. Besides, there are days that I wear masculine clothing with no makeup, and I would suppose that in your definition that would then make me a boy.
Ques 1: No… Listen.. we all know you’re a girl. Just look at you. I think that you’re just confusing being a lesbian with being transgender—or something.
Tara: That’s my sexuality, not my gender.
Quest 1: Whatever.
Tara: gender is a lot more than what things look on the outside. And many gender ideals are constructed by society anyway. (pause.. everyone stares confused) Okay—let me put it this way… you’re a boy (/girl), right?
Ques 1: Yea.
Tara: and – besides your biological sex, how do you know that you’re female (/male)
Ques 1: I don’t know. I just do.
Tara: … well then, you do understand...
(transition into inside out)
(or… something like that…)
Alright- enough talking about that scene. Onto the next one…
Inside Out: good poem. Obviously written for show, overuse of title a bit, but- I like it anyway.
Purple Noose: The only thing I have to say about this scene is something that a large portion of the youth ensemble have mentioned/discussed at one point or another since the script had been giving out. The scene starts out fine and dandy, but since the “why do they hate me now?” has been removed, the entire plot doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I know that the “why do they hate me now?” Is completely supposed to just be suggested by the rest of the scene and the acting… but since this is a young kid we’re watching… I think it would make all the difference if at the end of the scene before all the sudden out of nowhere Max asks the principal if he can go the bathroom, the scene ends with something along the lines of…
Teacher: really, class. Now, Max, could you come here please? Are you okay?
Max: I feel disgusting.
Teacher: Max.. you don’t look disgusting. But because your lateness has been disruptive I am going to have to send you to the principals office.
Student: because he looks like a girl! (laughs)
Teacher: you know what, you can go there too.
(transition to principals office)
Student: you really do look like a girl.
(principal enters, student continues to stare and chuckle.. but tries to stop this when the principal begins to talk to max)
Principal: Max… honey.. what’s wrong?
Max: (crying) why do they hate me now?
Principal: Huh? Who hates you.
Max: (tries to talk but cannot stop crying)
Principal: Max- why don’t you go to the bathroom and get some Kleenex and then come back here and we can talk.
Max: okay (he leaves sobbing.)
Student: can I go to the bathroom? (principal gives previously known as troublemaker student a mean look.)
Bathroom scene: This is one scene I feel the need to make just a bit of comment on. Having been part of this since scene since the beginning, I have seen it go from being one thing to something far far away from where it started. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing… but there are a few things I will ask- not for a response- but because I just wonder if they have occurred to you as of yet. If they have and have been bounced off as unimportant, than I apologize for being repetitive.
1) Einne Meenie Minie Mo… suddenly this just does not go… : Once upon a time in a far off land, the bathroom scene was all about the problem transgender people faced while trying to go to the public restrooms. Hence the decision of the Einne Meenie. Then, it somehow morphed into a bunch of monologues barely related to gender (not really relating to anything relating to the show…) with just one (magic door opening) monologue at the end by the token trans person. Back on to the topic of the eenie meenie.. I think the tag dance/game thing is quite cute.. and I do like how it runs throughout the scene.. but without at least one monologue mentioning how choosing which restroom to go into is so difficult that sometimes it’s like a game of “eenie meenie etc”—kind of… uhhh… this scene has fallen apart and I’m terribly sad to see that because it has so much potential. Yet at least point #1 can be fixed by just adding that line within a monologue somewhere- preferably the beginning.
2) I’m still confused over why these particular monologues stayed in and others were deleted. I realize that there were too many at first.. and something had to be cut.. but- I guess what I feel is missing is the original point of the scene… the reason it got created in the first place—(remember the poem.. option A, option B, etc.) Not that we should or have to put the poem back in… but for it to make sense, either put a little more back in about trans issues or get rid of the eenie meenie.. because- I just don’t think the audience will get it. I know I wouldn’t.
3) Just curious- where did that last monologue come from? Did a youth submit something about the Murray Hill International Drag show last minute? Or perhaps this is a message brought to us from our sponsors?? Honestly, I think the story about the trans person in the train station was a lot more powerful (and definitely gave me something to think about) and –since it was a true story- wasn’t so… forced. Hmm- I guess the whole transgender person coming in at the end of the scene like he’s separate from all the “girls” and “boy” just deeply bothers me. I know that Ethan also feels somewhat uncomfortable with the way this is arranged. And… I don’t know.. maybe it’s just me (and a few other youth cast members)- but the scene… and the way the scene is arranged has almost become completely offensive. I don’t want it to be cut- because I really really like the scene and think it should be in there. And I have faith it can be saved. If you care to listen to- at least- those who have been involved in creating the scene and script it so it makes sense.
Jamaica story part 1: I think that the Jamaica story is one of the few scenes in the play that unquestionably belongs. The scripting is done well and I have no complaints. And I’m not just saying this because I’m in the scene. –Oh— There is one thing I have to say.. but it’s not really a bad thing… I just am having trouble with the way my “welcoming david to America” line is scripting because it is written perfectly for a Jewish mother (and I have been struggling to avoid sounding like one.) Of course- this might just be because I’m a bad actor. But… “david.. david- my precious nephew.. etc’ – that’s such a jewish mother thing. (really- this is a lighthearted comment… no reason to change it…) but I’ve just been wondering.. do other people actually talk like that? J Oh—wait.. I did have one brief comment. I get confused at the dialogue in part 1 where there is the long pause and suddenly david starts talking about how they fooled around and it wasn’t so great. It might just be me.. but the time lapse (or lack of time for anything to have happened) is utterly confusing.
Poem caught: This is a really fabulous poem.. and for a while I did have a problem with all of the poems being in because a lot of them didn’t relate to sexuality. I felt like the only reason they got put in is because they make the play seem more diverse. It’s the token non white scene. But—because the cool as a cucumber story is so natural and.. is actually one of the few stories that actually remained intact.. I can’t bare to say anything negative about it at the moment.
Relationship dance: Last I saw, it was good. I’ve got no clue what it’s like now… but I’m sure it’s fine.
Parents: As the offical “coming out” scene of our show, this scene starts out great and gets lost somewhere in the middle. From my understanding, the two separate relationships here (mother/son, father/daughter) were actually taken from one story and split into two. For a while, there was a part with the mother/son screaming at each other and the father/daughter making up in the end. I know that I’m the mother in this scene, but I’m honestly not saying any of this because I want more lines. I just think that this scene can be so- SO much more… and – maybe I’m biased because I had such a similar situation when I came out to my parents… but I think the reason I’m so opinionated about this scene is that some of it is so universal.. but then parts aren’t. And for some reason.. I think that this scene should be left in that universal mode… and the fact that we’re trying to show two different relationships is great.. but then these two relationships end up being basically the same. Mostly, both kids get kicked out. Both come out as gay. One apparently never comes back.. the other returns and suddenly the father is being nice and trying to work things out. Not that this is impossible- because obviously it came from a true story. But I think that there must be a way to include another story to show the universality of the situation.. but then also show the difference. Just to give an example, I will briefly run through the plot of my particular coming out story (which happens to fit into the one being told easily)—My dad called me into the bedroom one day, began to question whether I was dating this girl (I hung out with her so much… I guess it was obvious)—I told my parents yes- I told them I was bisexual and that I was dating Jess and they began to scream at me… “we will not encourage this kind of behavior—you are not to see her outside of school.” Finally, broke down and told both my parents that I wasn’t really dating her.. that I wouldn’t see her again (I knew I was lying.) They didn’t kick me out or anything.. instead I ran upstairs to the bathroom and took 8 sutafed because I hated myself so much for lying to them. I was so scared and although I didn’t want to die.. I just wanted to disappear. That night I e-mailed the substance abuse counseler at my school who happened to be the advisor of our GSA. I wrote her an 8 page letter about everything.. with only literally the first paragraph mentioning anything about the pill-taking. The next day, my dad is driving me to school and as we approach the building he says to me “listen… I don’t want you to be surprised so I thought I should tell you that we were called in for a conference today at your school. At 10:00.” – I got out of the car shocked with my heart beating. I was so scared they were going to show my parents the letter. I barely was able to get through my morning classes. When I finally went down for the conference, my parents and the substance abuse counselers were already sitting around a round table dissusing me. But when I got there, my father managed to change the topic of discussion to me not working up to my potential in school. In the end, they didn’t show my parents the letter.. but they suggested I get counseling. That night I told my gf that I needed a “break” and ended up taking 8 sutafed again.. but this time all at once. I just sat and cried for a long time. I didn’t want to hurt my parents or my gf.. but it was inevitable. I wasn’t even concerned with hurting myself- after all that.. things got better. I decided my parents couldn’t control my life and I asked my gf back out. –
Anyway- I just told that story because I know it would fit in with the scene well- it doesn’t matter to me if you use it… I’m just throwing out ideas, and with this Idea I figured you might need a story to see what type of thing I’m talking about.. so- there it was.
Story about my mother: Decent with a good ending.
Androgyny: cute monologue.
Waiting room : This scene is pretty good. I’m still not sure what I think about the smoking gun monologue being thrown in at the end… but as of now I like it there.
Jamacia #2: see part #1
La Llorona: An amazing monologue. I’m not sure how it fits in the play… but I like it so much that I actually don’t care if it fits.
Cool as cucumber #3: good.
He said- I said. Okay. If you take any of my suggestions from everything I’ve written on these pages, I ask that this is the one you most seriously consider… He said I said is supposed to be about a “female” having an argument with her bio-female “male” boyfriend. (Somehow) The line that said “you being a transgender person and all” or whatever it was, was cut from the show. Suddenly, the scene became about a girl who dates girls and calls herself a lesbian dating a boy. That isn’t what this scene is about. This scene makes absolutely no sense without that line. I know the person who wrote this and she agrees. There is no reason Charlie cannot play a trannyboy and that the line could be put back in. Do you have a reason you took this out? Please, please consider changing this back. Because taking it out was not just editing a story for the artistic purposes of creating a play- it was making a new story.
Jamacia Scene #3: no problems here.
The end: Please do not take any of these suggestions as things I feel you have to do. I would just like to get my imput into your head so when you make decisions you might think about something I suggested and realize that it makes sense. Or- maybe you won’t. But at least I tried, right? Thanks for your time.