Friday, June 19, 2009

How the idea came to be

I always had my mind set on writing a political satire. At first, my idea was a 'Breakfast of Champions' inspired story about a group of future archaeologists who uncover the remains of a quasi-ancient civilization, the Akirema. My intent was to satirize our current pop culture and consumer product obsessions using an abstraction technique, strongly influenced by anthropologist Horace Miner's satirical 1956 essay, 'Body Ritual Among the Nacirema'.

Because the intent was to be scathing, but humorous, I changed the name to Akirema, or "Amerika" backwards, the 'k' of course, a nod to fascist regimes.

I did not write that story, I just couldn't wrap my head around exactly what I wanted to attack or how to make it "stage-friendly." Around this time, I remembered a story idea I had about two car insurance agents who try to one-up each other by doing more and more fraudulent modifications to the cars in order to insure a sale (think Matilda Wormwood's father in Dahl's 'Matilda').

Being strongly influenced by the Brat Pack lit movement of the 1980s, and 80s culture in general, I decided to make write a play about aspiring yuppies.
It went through a variety of changes. The first draft, 'An American Con' (homonym of 'Unamerican con') involved the land grant scam and ended with the two men being arrested, but sure that "the system would take care of them" - being the rich, white men they were. I had a money laundering element in there, but the concept was apparently too much for an audience to take in within 10-15 minutes, so that was cut.

The final product was a coke/alcohol induced testesterone driven frenzy between two business partners who become suspcious of each other.

The dialogue was slightly arcane. I used a lot of cliches and yiddish insults, inspired by 'Goodfellas' (one of my favorite movies of all-time) and Ellis's dialogue. The coke use, among other things, was a nod to the 80's yuppie subculture I wanted to emulate, only the play is set in the present.

Overall, I'm proud of the script and all the feedback I've received points to it being one of the most well-written plays performed in the production, which is great.
I hope to do something like this again, and hopefully keeping up this blog will inspire me to go for it.

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