Alternative title: “I’m sorry that this play is slightly anti-feminist”. Namely in the realm of slut-shaming, but we’ll address that later. Small Actors is one of those stories that I cam up with the title first. Sometimes that works in my favor, a lot of times it doesn’t, but this one I was actually going to use in case Untitled Insanity Project didn’t work out. I wrote this play last April for Script Frenzy 2011, and once again I won. I have actually read this one since I’ve written it, and I don’t remember it being nearly as bad that time as I saw it this time. In fact, I liked it last time. Maybe it’s because I’m reading these back-to-back, but this one kind of sucks.
So, what is the plot? Well, it takes place backstage of a high school auditorium during a drama club production (once again, kind of meta). All of the characters have very small parts in the play, which is why I’m able to have this happen backstage and not onstage or between rehearsals or something (of course one could say there are no small parts there are only…you know the rest…). So, Bambi, it turns out, is dating three guys at the same time: Arnold, Dirk, and Robby. The main plot is that Bambi is trying to decide which of the three guys she likes the best and will be her boyfriend…yeah. I say main plot because I have a couple sub-plots as well. Bambi’s friend Tabetha just broke up with her boyfriend Stanley because he cheated on her multiple times (once with triplets, which everyone seems to know about and brings up a lot) and now Tabetha is lusting after Arnold, who already asked out Bambi. Meanwhile, Stanley is trying to get her to take him back. And on top of that, Bambi is also lusted after by Lily. I went into this story and I said, “I’m going to make the most complicated love triangle ever” and judging by this paragraph, I came close.
So, basically Bambi is a little bit of a Mary Sue. A little. I mean, she’s not terrible, she has flaws (she can’t say no to anything, which got her into her situation in the first place), but they just don’t feel real. And that’s the main problem I have with this. I don’t like the characters. In fact, the one I like the most is probably Stanley, and that’s just because he’s the one with the most personality, even if he’s a pig. And Lily, I guess. The problem with Lily, though, is that she’s the most pro-feminist character in the play, and she’s sort of the stereotypical butch lesbian, which is kinda bad. And I think I remember saying to myself, “This can be misconstrued so easily” as I wrote her lines, but it doesn’t matter.
Something I do like about the play, though, is how it flows. I actually storyboarded about 60% of this play out (more than I’ve ever done, because I kind of like to be spontaneous with my writing) and it shows because the plot, while complicated, does flow well from scene to scene, where as Untitled's plot just kind of fell apart halfway through act one and then dragged its own bleeding corpse to the end to collapse.
Honestly, the writing isn’t all that great. There were a few points where I could tell I was just padding out page-length, and the characters dialogue, while it sounds like high-schoolers, kinda sucks. And I’ve realized while rereading both of my plays that I’ve used the same joke four times across two plays.
*Character asks really obvious question or notices something that’s kind of obvious*
SNARKY BASTARD: What gave it away? Was it *really obvious thing*?
For example, in Untitled:
CONNOR: So do you speak French?
HARRY: What gave it away, was it the understanding of French?
And in Small Actors:
BAMBI: Have you been drinking?
DIRK: What gave me away? The beer?
Yeah. That’s pretty much up there with Chandler’s “Could X be anymore Y?” from Friends in terms of writing that’s kind of funny at first, but gets really stupid upon repetition (even though he only said it, like three times in the whole series), and it will now be endlessly parodied by the writers (me). I think I’m going to try to work in into my next play. Kind of like a signature. Also, I actually somehow quoted Mean Girls before I’d even seen it (“I have a big, lesbian crush on you!” is a line in my play, but it’s sort of played to the same effect). Really, there was only one line I really liked:
BAMBI: No! Girls love it when guys die for them!
BAMBI: Romeo and Juliet, Titanic, The Notebook, girls love dead guys!
Something I’ve learned about myself while reading this. I can write some really misogynistic bullshit when I try to. And not just the whole slut-shaming thing that peppers the story, because that was unintentional. Here’s an example. For very contrived reasons, Arnold was told that Bambi is anti-feminist or something (normally here I would say, “I don’t know, I didn’t write it”…but I did…so…yeah, I don’t get my own play.):
ARNOLD: I don’t know, Bambi. Women are supposed to be seen, not heard.
ARNOLD: It may be the twenty-first century, but that doesn’t mean we have to act like anything’s changed for women.
ARNOLD: Don’t pretend you don’t like it. I know you do. (This isn’t at all better in context)
Of course he gets a good telling off after a bit more and that’s not really what he’s like, but I actually cringed at some of the stuff I wrote. And there’s a (very unsexy) striptease that’s only purpose is to have her not want to choose one of the guys…it’s complicated. I feel that I should apologize to women in general for writing these things.
So, final thoughts. Things I liked:
- The flow
- The plot, kind of
- The setting
Things I didn’t like:
- The characters
- The writing
- The plot, kind of
So, yeah. I didn’t enjoy this one. Though it does prove how much I’ve changed in the past few months. I didn’t even realize. And once again I can not stress enough how much some of that dialogue isn’t how I feel now, because if I said it anymore, it would sound like I’m trying too hard. I’m sorry.
So, tomorrow we’re going to look at my second unfinished attempt at writing a novel for NaNoWriMo!