Thursday 26 March 2020

Being Wilbur

First and foremost, he's a real pig. Who can talk. He prefers sleeping to all else except eating. He craves and creates love.

The danger would be in making him sound like me or some character or anyone other than himself. So to understand Wilbur I'd have to study pigs, as E.B.White had done. I'd have to watch them, smell them, listen to grunts, feed them. And let Wilbur's voice go from there.

As for Charlotte . . .

[photo of page on which Charlotte, chairing a meeting of barn animals, mutters and glares.]

That's as cranky as she ever gets. Her purpose in calling the meeting is to generate new ideas for her web and thus save Wilbur's life. The sage counsel of the oldest sheep is to appeal to the rat, Templeton, who can bring back bits of text from the dump. She convinces him to do so by appealing to his "baser instincts."

Thursday 19 March 2020

Both Wilbur and Charlotte

A while back I got an idea that continues to land as fabulous-plus: have a woman I know play Wilbur, and man I know play Charlotte. Both are veteran actors. They're married to each other. He's taller, more angular, more like a spider negotiating a web or descending on a thin, spun line. She's stronger, more compact, better at rooting and rolling and snuffling at scraps. 
These two would understand/create perfectly Charlotte's love for Wilbur, and his for her.
When I pitched the idea--more a casual lob than a pitch--she said, "Did you mean to cross the genders?" 
"Absolutely," I said. "Charlotte and Wilbur are beyond gender." Which I leave at that.
In making the pitch, I sent an alphabetized list of what both Wilbur and Charlotte do. Here are the first five items:

Act quickly when it matters most
Adore a little girl who believes in you
Aim to please
Be center of attention
Be grateful

Accept what is sure to come, but reach for more
Admit you’ll never get home again.
Be generous without limits, but impatient when necessary
Be invisible at times
Be matter-of-fact about who you are and what you do

Both Wilbur and Charlotte
Ask and answer questions
Be alone together
Be open to new words
Discuss stillness

In my imagination, the two actors and I would build the show from 

the actions out. Start with what the actors do, how they move. Let 

the story come from that.

Monday 16 March 2020

As I Sit Here in the Ugly Red Light of Rainbow Cinema 8 for Sorry We Missed You

I'm thinking of Charlotte's Web (Gerry's version) as fable for a troubled time. No need to allude much to Covid-19. The story already has that sense that current conditions, though lethal, will not last, or, that they mark one of those transitions we're heir to as citizens of this planet, this universe. 
I mean lethal: significant death, much of it harshly experienced.
It must be so, if the corresponding explosion of joy or realization is to reach us. 
Taking precautions, or not, vis-a-vis Covid-19 is not unlike the world of CW. There is threat, uncertainty and volatility in the novel and, as I sit here in the ugly red light, in today's world.
If so, Templeton, the amoral rat, likely gets a new title: Bearer of Disease. (He would say, bring it on.)
The intent of this version of CW might be for everyone viewing it to re-think our contemporary world.
And, as noted, it wouldn't take much to tip the audience that way. A line for Wilbur, one for the rat, a word from Charlotte or fragment of gossip at the Zuckermans' supper table might be enough.

Monday 2 March 2020

Daily Schedules

Ben Franklin:
5:00     Rise, wash and address Powerful Goodness.
8:00     Work.
12:00   Read or overlook my accounts, and dine.
2:00     Work.
6:00     Put things in their places, supper, examination of the day.
10:00   Sleep.

Jay Gatsby:
6:00     Rise from bed.
6:15     Dumbbell exercise and wall scaling.
7:15     Study electricity, etc.
8:30     Work.
4:30     Basketball and sports.
5:00     Practice elocution, poise and how to attain it.
7:00     Study needed inventions.

6:30     Breakfast. Skim milk, crusts, middlings, etc.
7:00     Breakfast finished.
7:00     Have a talk with Templeton, the rat. Not that interesting, but better than nothing.
8:00     Take a nap outdoors.
9:00     Dig a hole or trench and possibly find something good to eat buried in the dirt.
11:00   Stand still and watch flies, bees and swallows.
12:00   Lunchtime. Warm water, apple parings, meat gravy.
1:00     Sleep.
2:00     Scratch itchy places by rubbing against the fence.
3:00     Stand perfectly still.
4:00     Supper. Skim milk, provender, prune skins, etc.