Friday, October 17, 2008

Revisiting "Nona"

It's amazing what a few small tweaks can do. I'm now really happy with this show and looking forward to having more people come see this.

One of the biggest challenges we all had with my entry, "Nona," is that the climax of the short story was (is) damn near unstageable. Without giving too much away (although the plot is public knowledge), the climactic scene is simultaneously cryptic and dealing with what seems to be the main character's internal mental meltdown. He's basically being simultaneously seduced and consumed...sort of. Hell, even the Wikipedia entry only says, "he encounters a possibly supernatural force." Well, yes. That's pretty much the best I (and Pete and a few other people in the company who read the story) could come up with.

Possibly a supernatural force.

I certainly didn't picture the climactic scene in the story in any linear, cinematic or theatrical way when I read it.

So, when I was originally working on the script, I will admit there was a small temptation to just Lynch it all up (so to speak) and leave it all up to Patrick (the director), Jessi (the eponymous Nona and "possible supernatural force"), Jeremy (the protagonist and narrator), and the audience to fend for themselves. It was a small temptation, but a temptation nonetheless. And fortunately, I didn't succumb to it. Exactly.

Actually, I think Patrick and I may have been a bit too literal and straightforward with the scene on our first try out. In other words, we had our loverboy protagonist confront a straight-up monstrous supernatural force (turning Jessi into a straight-up ghost-demon hybrid).

And, of course, 99 times out of 100, the unambiguously "monstrous" approach leads to snickers from the audience in a live stage play.

(Okay, bitches. You can all say it with me: "Duh, James.")

So, after first weekend, when we realized that that wasn't the best way to go, we talked about what to do. We had no intention of completely reblocking, rewriting and redesigning the show (actually it was an impossibility), but at the same time, I didn't think that was necessary. All it needed (in my estimation) was a few small changes.

So after changing some of the blocking, one prop, two lines, and one sound cue (we didn't do any massive overhauling of the show, we really just tweaked a few very small things), the climactic scene now has more of the ambiguity that King's original story has, which I think makes the play substantially more disturbing (at least to me; I found myself being genuinely creeped out watching the play last night). We brought some minor elements from Lynch's and Miike's work (as well as a small nod to the Greatest Horror Film Ever Made: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) to make it much more eerie and make it much more our own.

I love the way we were able to change that scene in "Nona." I hope people enjoy it as well (well, "enjoy" being a relative term).

Unfortunately, due to the stipulations in the contract with King's people, we can't videotape this show, so we can't do some sort of "before and after" comparison and contrast. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it. Or just come see the show again.

Mucking it all up,

James "Ruckmaker" Comtois

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