Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Structural Plan, Monologue Project

I’ve been visited by the muse. This is how I have structured my show. 

Imagine …. You’re going to a monologue festival. You’re in your seat and it’s getting close to show time. Five minutes before the show is to start, a person from the Festival comes downstage centre, quiets the audience, and says, 

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Monologue Festival. We’re about to begin. But before we do, I’d like to make a surprise and counter-intuitive announcement: Could you all please take out your phones. Please, everyone who has a phone, take it out, and if there are people around you who don’t have access to a phone, please let them share your screen with you. What matters is what you hear, more than what you see. I want you to go to YouTube. (Pause.) Okay, everyone on YouTube? Okay, here’s the address of a very short film. 

A sign is made visible or projected that says:  Scene One: YouTube: 

This is the video they will see.


Holding the sign, or while the projection is visible, he continues:

The movie that you see there, it’s a minute long, is an essential prelude to one of the monologues that you will see tonight.”

Then he leaves.

After a few minutes the lights go out and the show begins.

Then, somewhere in the line-up of the Festival, I will do scene two of my very, very short, three-act play. And, at the end of my monologue, I, or someone, will hold up a sign, or the sign will be projected that says:

Scene Three: YouTube:   https://youtu.be/F0G_xS_xzgU

This is the video they will see.


This use of video adds an interactive element to the show. It’s now a mini-mini three-act play. The pre-show announcement will get people talking and thinking about my bit before the show starts. It’s vital that the audience know how bad my speech can be. The knowledge gives the fluency in my monologue more power. 

My speech switch has four speech speeds. (How’s that for a sentence. I wrote my first tongue twister, and a tongue twister written by a man with a severe speech disorder.) Mute. Bad Stutter. Slight stutter. Fluent. Those are my various speeds. The video captures bad stutter.

I’m really stoked now. 

When I submitted, I felt I didn’t deserve to be included because my script wasn’t theatrical, and it’s a theatre festival. So, when they accepted me, in our video chat I told them that, and that’s what I’d be working on for version number two. I think I’ve done that in spades with this video and interactive structure.

My script is good. I’m happy with it, but I want to keep revising until I can read it aloud and not want to change something. When that happens, magic is going to happen in my brain. I’m going to be going to the festival confident, not afraid.

These are words in my script:

I worked in theatre, and failed at acting,

But I got good at audience attracting

By being me on stage, and telling stories

Telling truths and allegories…

Making people laugh and cry

Making my friends wonder why

A man so shy

Liked oratory.

Am I deluded, or is this not a pretty good ten minutes of entertainment? Option #1 or Option #2? Comments? Plus, the question at the end, softened by a sincere message of gratitude, makes a point about the experience of my community. (And gives me street cred in the stuttering community. Stud stutterers will be throwing themselves at me.)

The confidence I have in the script, with the videos, will help me with the delivery.

Creativity fueled my life. I worked in the arts, wrote professionally, including one screenplay and one decent one-man show. I taught at a university of fine arts and design. And then, with FND, it all ended. I finally have a studio and I use it as a warehouse. So, putting this bit for the festival together has really made me happy.

BUSY!!!

I’m in the thick of it again. I’m working up newsletter #2 for the clinic and making more ads for our doctor recruitment campaign. Plus, I’m working on the monologue every day. That’s why this post is late and short. I’ve a ton to do. I thoroughly enjoy working on the monologue. I keep finding ways to improve it, much to my delight and amazement. 

And speaking of the monologue, I heard from the festival.  It seems that they are aiming to stage it in May now, so they want the finished script revisions by the end of this month. Choosing May is good news; I have lots of time to memorize my script. I expect to send them my revision by the end of this week or early next week.

It’s a gloriously sunny day. The sunshine fills me with hope for better weather and thoroughly excites me. I’m looking forward to my afternoon walk with Sheba.















Monday, February 6, 2023

Two Dreadful Shocks

 Saturday was, as planned, a day of rest. I felt myself to be fully functional; I felt fully recovered and full of oxygen again. And this morning, I feel even better. My technician said that I’d need a few days for my heart muscle to recover from the two weeks of constant electrical stimulation from my pacemaker.

It felt very good to have a second day with nothing to do. I cherish those days when my only duty is to walk Her Highness. And today is another day of rest. We went on the big community dog walk together and then I came home to read and to do a little clinic work that is overdue, but I also plan to go through my monologue aloud for the first time. I’m getting very close to having it ready to send to Holdar and Tony.

In the morning, I got an email from my Gilbert. I’d written to him because our connection has suffered as a result of my move to Gabriola. I hadn’t been in touch for quite a while. Gil was a student when I was a teacher and we became friends because he was the leader of the school’s outdoor club, and I became the club sponsor. He’s a terrific guy! Well his email shocked me. 

He’s a geologist, so he is often out in camps doing exploration for mining sites. And in late 2021, he was attacked by a bear. It pinned him to the ground with a firm grip on his left thigh. His camp colleagues tried to help him, and the bear turned on them so they fled, and then the bear went back to Gil. Finally, Gil’s chums shot the bear.

Poor Gil has had a lot of care and physiotherapy since. He is still in recovery. I was just so, so shocked to read of his plight, and then late yesterday afternoon, I got a call from Bruce. He called to tell me that our friend, Mo, had died.

Mo (Maureen) was part of my theatre posse: Sue, Susan, Ruth, Bruce, Suzie, Bob, Edd, Stevie and I have been meeting on Zoom regularly for ages. We once got together physically regularly, but in these later years, with me over here, Bob in Toronto and Ruth in White Rock, we switched to Zoom. We are long-standing theatre friends. 

About 10 days ago, Mo fell down the stairs in her house. This was an accident we all saw coming, because Mo had MS and was overweight, but she did not want to move. She loved her condo and her neighbours. The fall fractured several vertebrae, so she faced a long and painful recovery, we knew, but we expected her to recover, so today’s news was totally unexpected. I am, we all are, depressed as Hell.

It's a cliché, but it seems unreal that she is gone. I’m so sad, and so shocked. Rest forever is peace, my dear Mo.

In the evening, I turned on the TV and it didn’t work. So, most reluctantly, I got the TV that was in my studio and never, ever used, and swapped it out. Of course, it wasn’t easy. It took me ages to figure out how to get the sound to work, but after an hour of jiggery pokery, I got it working in time to take in All Creatures and Vienna Blood.

I couldn’t really pay attention. I. kept thinking about poor Mo. I so sad for so many, many friends. None of us expected this. We’re all in shock.















Sunday, February 5, 2023

R&R Days

Saturday was, as planned, a day of rest. I felt myself to be fully functional; I felt fully recovered and full of oxygen again. And this morning, I feel even better. My technician said that I’d need a few days for my heart muscle to recover from the two weeks of constant electrical stimulation from my pacemaker.

It felt very good to have a second day with nothing to do. I cherish those days when my only duty is to walk Her Highness. And today is another day of rest. We went on the big community dog walk together and then I came home to read and to do a little clinic work that is overdue, but I also plan to go through my monologue aloud for the first time. I’m getting very close to having it ready to send to Holdar and Tony.

I have a very relaxing week ahead. I have no clinic work to do and no appointments. It’ll be nice and gentle, warm (for Winter) and wet. 















Saturday, February 4, 2023

Recovery

I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday. Fred and Ethel took over the couch for the entire day, leaving only for lunch. And Her Highness lay underneath my legs, as my feet rested on the pillow on the coffee table, close beside the fire. The sun disappeared as the wind picked up, bringing the clouds expected to bring days and days of rain. It was a perfect day for reading.

I didn’t post, I didn’t go into the village to fetch my prescriptions, I just read and napped. Things still aren’t correct. However, regardless of some loss, I’m. far better than I was for those two weeks. 

When I got the pacemaker, I thought: Well, that’s the end of my heart problems. I thought the pacemaker was a medical panacea. Now it seems to me that now two things can go wrong: My heart and the pacemaker. Now two things must work perpetually.

I felt down all day yesterday. I felt mortal. It’s become part of being me. I have a list of questions for my next meeting with the technician. One of them is to ask her what caused the problem, my heart, or the pacemaker. 

When I got into her office last Wednesday, all my built-up anxiety had me burst with a description of my shortness of breath. I was full of anxiety. And then I was zooming with relief when I heard her say, “I think I see something.” And then there was a long period of her working with the computer to make changes to the programming of my pacemaker. Then I took the walk and climbed the stairs. And then came a barrage of medical jargon, rapidly and sincerely.

I absorbed and understood the clear and simple explanation of pacemaker assistance went from 9% of my heartbeats, to 100%. And she repeatedly referred to my having had a second block. They don’t feel any different to me, a heart attack, and a block other than, in my experience, the blocks are very, very mild compared to an MI.

I’ve lost confidence in my heart/pacemaker partnership. I feel twice as vulnerable to cardiac disfunction than I was before getting my pacemaker. Death feels much closer. I’m not afraid of what will be—except, of pain. I’ve had a game-changer experience.

The last thing I asked the pacemaker technician was what a block was, but we got sidetracked and I didn’t get an answer. Yesterday morning, I got an email from her.

A third-degree, or complete, heart block is where there is no transmission of electrical pulses between the AV node and the ventricles. There are two sub-types of third degree heart block: Congenital - where the condition is present at birth, and acquired, where the condition develops as a result of heart damage. (This is what [I] have.)

A third-degree heart block can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which are life-threatening. This type of heart block is usually regarded as a medical emergency and may require immediate treatment with a pacemaker. Acquired third degree heart block is a common complication of heart disease, particularly in older people. It is estimated that 5-10% of people who are over 70 years of age, and have a history of heart disease, will develop a third-degree heart block.

The most serious types of heart block respond very well to treatment with a pacemaker, and deaths that are caused by these conditions are very rare.

She told me to read the last sentence twice. 

I got her email after returning from my walk up the Ricki Ave. hill. I feel much, much better but not as good as my pre-block condition. But I walk at a quicker pace, and I can breathe through my nose. When I was short of breath, I had heaving mouth breathing.

My relief and joy uplifted me, as did the sunny skies during our walk.

I went through my script again. I even did a good bit of it aloud, so it has come along quite a bit further. I will go through it twice aloud next. And I imagine that it might change more after the festival people read this version. Their feedback is welcome.

Now comes a period of intense work. I am going to start memorizing it. And I’ll do it at least twice a week until it’s produced to keep it alive in my memory.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, when we arrived at our new family home (I was four years old), we drove up a steep driveway and leveled off at the top where was revealed—a theatre. In fact, it was a garage, but I saw immediately how the doors could work for scene changes.

What I love about this festival and monologue is, it bookends my childhood plays. Theatre was the passion of my life. I’m feeling good about doing this in the festival. 

There are what I call ‘breaks’ in the monologue. For me, it’s not really a monologue because I vary the rhyme and rhythm. I make shifts, so the monologue becomes a series of units, or bits, strung together. I skipped units in some performances when I did a show called Knock Knock. So, I might make a unit list and leave it on the desk (I want as a set piece).

A significant challenge is before me. Here goes. Saying it aloud begins today.

This morning I felt like my old self. It feels very, very good.

When I went out to chop wood on a damp and overcast morning, I was thrilled to feel how warm it was (9°). I’m glad the cold is gone again. I chopped wood and brought it into the house feeling completely normal and very, very happy about that.

I plan to just read and relax, and to go through my monologue out loud at least once today.