A Night of New Works sneak peek! Coming to the Bryant Lake Bowl in July, Gamer’s Guide, from playwright Russ Dugger.
Hey all you tweeps, book-faces, and tumbl-buffs! When I was asked to write a blog about “Gamer's Guide” and my experience as a first time writer of plays, the first thing that popped into my head was: “Oh dear. This is going to get real depressing, real fast.”
Of course, in the end I relent. And I will attempt to keep this as free from my artist self-doubt and share with you something I experienced that gave me my most recent creative kick-in-the-pants. They come so few and far between that they seem so extra special that I am compelled to share.
Recently I watched Woody Allen's “Purple Rose of Cairo.” (Just to get this out of the way, you must watch it if you have not already, but do so now because I'mma be getting spoilers all up in this house.)
So as a quick summary: in “Purple Rose of Cairo” the main character, Cecilia, is living during the Great Depression. She has no luck with keeping a job, which she needs to support her deadbeat man-child of a husband who smacks her around when she “gets outta line”. Her only comfort is going to the cinema and losing herself in another world. That is until one of the romantic film characters notices her, falls in love with her and subsequently climbs off the screen to be with her. When the actor who played that character finds out, he leaves Hollywood to try to quell this potential PR pandemonium. The actor ends up falling in love with Cecilia as well and in the end she must make the choice: Fiction or Reality?
Whew! Didj'a keep up? Good!
Now here come the big spoilers: As any sucker for schlocky romance would guess she chooses reality.
But after a big to do packing up her things and leaving her husband for the upteenth time she returns to the cinema only to discover that her Hollywood hunk'a hunk'a Hero has left. Having completed his task of forcing his creation back onto the screen his job is done. And so is his play-acting for Cecilia. Cecilia goes back into the cinema and proceeds to lose herself in a new flim-flam film fantasy.
I couldn't believe my eyes. This movie has so much of what I find interesting about my piece. In “Gamer's Guide” I'm attempting to develop a character who is so enthralled with fantasy/ virtual reality they want little to do with actual reality and the relationships that come with it.
But what “Purple Rose” has that I hadn't really thought about was that the lead was confronted and forced to choose between these two realities. But neither was real. She had a choice between art imitating life and life imitating art! Imitating is not the same as Being. She was dealt a bum hand.
It never occurred to me that life imitates art simply because we want it to.
The late and oh-so-great Oscar Wilde believed that we perceive something as beautiful because artists have told us it is beautiful. It “did not exist till Art had invented" it. Life imitates art. Or at least we see it as art. Or choose to see it as art.
This does, of course, tie into the piece I'm writing. If I want the protagonist to escape the virtual in favor of the actual, how is she swayed? Reality is tough. Why else doe she spend all her time in a video game? Why else would Cecilia while away the hours at the cinema. Heck! Cecilia doesn't seem to escape at all! Why should my protagonist?
Then again, Cecilia being left behind by a false lover does seem like a pretty cold slap of reality. And she doesn't go back to her husband...at least we don't see it happen. Maybe it's all just a first step. Maybe that's all this play is.
A first step for the protagonist.
A first step for me.