Looking back

by Jennifer Bobiwash

Re-writes. Where to start? A few years ago I wrote and performed a solo show. It took me a few different classes to finally figure out what all this writing was. Several notebooks and class 10-20 minute presentations saw me writing the same story several different ways, with different locations to start from and how many characters where in the play. Then, when opportunity presented itself in the form of a 6-month solo show class I was in. A show finally complete and submitted. And then presented. A few times. But recently I got the opportunity to present it again. But just as my point of view changed over the years of trying to get it done, so did the play. I dug the script (version 6) off a lost thumb drive and noticed a few things would have to change if I was to perform it again. Armed with a new dramaturg and director the re-writes began. I had just taken a class on dramaturgy and tried to look at my play with new eyes. I’ve been part of a theater company that presents new works and is always working dramaturgs so I’d had plenty of opportunity to be in the room and watch the work. After this class, I looked at my play with new eyes and finally understood the questions that a previous director had asked about my work. What is your play saying? What do you want the audience to take away after watching? I’d been able to answer the question previously, but couldn’t put it into action. Maybe I didn’t want to. Maybe I wanted to do it my way, I don’t know. I also realized the importance of having a Native dramaturg. There was no need to explain cultural references and explain the joke. The point I was trying to make was clearly seen and understood. But because it was virtual, how would I know what message the audience walked away with?

But having an opportunity to revisit work was a gift. A few years had passed since versions 1-4. Version 5 was a college presentation and gave me some thoughts to work towards in version 6. When the day came to present the piece, I stood on the empty stage, walking through the movements and characters, running lines one last time. Again I realized how personal the story had been. I thought I made the necessary modification, but the story still got to me. Hitting me in new places as I shared my story to the empty theater. The pain of the outcome of the story still sat with me. Why had I agreed to do this? Again. The words were lost me. This story I have lived with was gone. My head blank. I had to keep reminding myself why I wanted write. Or better yet, why I wanted to write and what stories did, do I want to tell.

So I’ll leave it at that, to ponder until we meet again. What stories do you want to tell?

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