Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My first paying writing gig.




I was eight years old. Probably inspired by Spanky McFarland from the Our Gang comedies, I told some of the other kids that we should put on a play. It was mid-summer and a enough of them were bored enough to go along with me.
             That summer I wrote two no-act plays. One was a WWII drama and the other a monster movie. I wrote the roles of the Nazi and the monster for myself to play. Getting to die at the end is an actor’s dream, right? Well, I thought so. It was an excuse to ham it up anyway.

             The theater was the next-door neighbor’s basement. We lived in a neighborhood of row homes. The stage was the basement steps. I limited the cast so as not to take away from our potential demographic; a captive audience of kids numb with tedium many of whom who weren’t allowed to cross the street without permission. Admission was a nickel and there was only one performance of each play.
            Both plays ended in violent climaxes, of course. And I recall I managed to put in some “guy” humor in crosstalk exchanges. I was aping the writing in Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World. Poorly, of course.
            I can only recall one line of dialogue. Our damsel in distress in the monster epic had to say, “How dreadful.” She really sold it. That line got the biggest reaction, the girl’s mom exploding with laughter in the kitchen above us.
 
The box office was enough to buy me a couple of comic books (the basis of my entire childhood economy) but I found the whole experience not worth repeating. I'd gone as far as I could in neighborhood theater.

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