Friday, February 19, 2010

The professor on his date, coughing fruitily



I am not very impressed with myself tonight.

Should have been writing the play but wasted two hours surfing the web. And that can belong to the devil.
Successful people finish things. Im having trouble finishing the play...Surfing with a glass and the devil.

Gordon Lightfoot:
I can see her there in her satin dress
In a room where you're dioing what you don't confess.


Memories of Celia.
...Get down to professorizing, Professor.
Write your damn play!

And so, I begin. Rough draft. Goes like this:


Ah, how we anima-haunted men like to put on the dog.

The Sixteenth Century Shakepearean outfits, the pantaloons, the Marquis boots, the big, inlaid wood, somehow pregnant lute in one hand , cigarette in the other, coughing, perhaps a little fruitily,smoking too much, hoping not to go off into a coughing fit that would scare away the damsel in front of us.

The professor is an accomplished phoney. He knows all the ins- and -outs of intelligent women, prefers intelligent women, in fact, because he could say cutting things to them and they would get it, these qualities picked up from a mother who should have been locked up, beating the little boy professor with an ugly stick so he would know something of the world. Women run the world, dontcha know. Thre is no defence against them. But they have one weakness, a big one: They fall in love.

And so this evening, the professor has somehow lured Celia into his office-apartment in Newmarket ON, the back of which is a bedroom. The professor is something of a renovator. The room had just been redone. The professor is trying to make it into a bachelor's apartment.

It is this bedroom that the professor has lured Celia into (or did she lure him?--She had come to his studio's back
door, wearing a long white broom skirt tonight No jeans to pull off. No fumbles like the last time when he'd dragged her half way across her bedrooom trying to get her skin-tight jeans off... No comedy of errors tonight. No mistakes.


And so we come to ACT IV, Scene 3 of our play, THE FIRE IN BRADFORD


Scene: We are in the bedroom portion of the professor's studio apartment. There are two doors to the place and Celia has entered directly from an alleyway into the professor's bedroom. The professor notices that she has long sleeves to her gey silk top. Fitting somehowShe has lovely arms. Yet long sleeves. Long sleeves of late. The professor is rally a dreamy guy a tad
dyslexic, comes from being in a war. But like a colour-blind furniture maker or an illiterate waiter, he is otherwise very savvy.

Celia seems flustered, hurried. As he greets her at his back door, she answers his embrace with only one arm, the other up against her little bicep under the green sleeve.It's as if she is trying to conceal a wound in the crook of her arm.
The meetingj is slightly awkward

CELIA
( In her slightly musical way):
Hellloo.

PROFESSOR
Hi lady.

CELIA
Hey What's that on your cot? A lute?

PROFESSOR
Tipple, actually. It's a lot like a guitar. I'm trying to learn to play it.

Celia is still standing, just inside, the door not yet closed behind her. She closes the door, but it is plain to the professor that she is favouring the inside of her left arm.Very awkwardly, she takes off her long, fake-fur coat.

PROFESSOR
(helping her in and putting the coat on chair):

You seem a little defensive.

CELIA
Celia( rather suddenly):

You are too observant.

PROFESSOR points to a typewriter in a corner, on its raised stand:

Comes with the territory.

PROFESSOR( to Celia, who is wondering where to sit. He motions to the cot:

Sit here.

PROFESSOR

A little white wine? I fear I've had a bit already.

Celia indicates yes. He has a little Lazy Susan liquor cabinet that hed liberated from some garage sale. He goes to it, pulls out a bottle of Bright's Catawba, a really cheap Canadian wine, tries to hide the label and pours Celia a drink into a rather heavy goblet from the Salvaion Army. He offers the goblet to Celia. She is sitting a little tensely, knees together on his cot. She is now clutching both arms, a little akimbo. The professor sits next to her, causing the cot to sag a little. He had observed previously that Celia, though very petite, was very heavy when physically lifted, as he remembered from past carry-ons-- like a possessed person. They sit very clos together. Celia is physically hot.

PROFESSOR

Woo. You are hot, and I don't mean skateboard talk.

He touches her shoulder. She pulls away a bit, rises and takes a chair across the antique coffee table from the cot. The professor is sitting on his cot, the little guitar by his side, almost riding into the hollow they had made in the cot.

CELIA
(indicating to the little instrument)
Play me something.Can you?

Professor (sotto voce, and starting to grin) Does a cat have a tail?

He picks up the guitar, plays a few medieval progressions, easy, as they are mostly in A-minor and D, and begins:

With a hey, ho the wind and the rain
A foolish thing is but a toy
For the rain it raineth every day
For the rain it raineth every day

But when I came to man's estate
With a hey ho, the wind and the rain
'Gainst knaves and thieves
men shut their gate
For the rain it raineth every day.


Music in BG: The refrain is picked up by medieval recording, by Medieval Baebes, an English baroque singing group. UP

Lights dim, to dark.

Lights: Up.

The heretofore nattily dressed tweedy professor is now in full Elizabethan regalia, replete with chancellor's hat, tunic and pantaloons and hose, buckled shoes. Celia is transfixed.

Music in BG by Medieval Baebes now down, to fade. Professor does a natural segue and goes on to sing:

But when I came alas to wive
With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain
By swaggering could I never thrive
For the rain it raineth every day
For the rain it raineth every doy.


The professor now segues to an instrumental from the same period, Greensleeves, the ongoing deadly intrigue between Henry VIII and Anne Bolyin.

"Alas my love, you're mean to me, to treat me so discourteously."--but the professor keeps it strictly instrumental.

Celia is looking at the professor, rapt.
He puts down the little guitar for a bit and kisses her right on her mouth
He puts the tipple away, like a pianist in a painting, and they embrace. This they keep up for a long while, until the professor finally unhands Celia and says:

PROFESSSOR
Whoo. I'm feeling a bit woozy. More wine?

CELIA
Oh yes. Oh, yes please, offering him her glass.

They drink their wine, both on the couch now. Celia is beginning to check her little gold wristwatch. A little nervously. The professor goes to embrace her again. She draws back a little, starting to reach for her fake fur coat, which is sitting on a chair.

CELIA
"I've got to go now.

PROFESSOR: Go? We're just getting started.

CELIA
I've got to go. Lief is in the house all alone.

PROFESSOR
Screw Lief. You are my woman, goddamit!

The professor notices that Celia has now become fidgety again.

PROFESSOR
You have a temperature. You are very hot. Are you all right?

Celia is about to reach for her coat again.

PROFESSOR
(upset now):
You do this every time. You come to my place cranked up on something, get me all hot and then you take off!

CELIA
(herself a little angry now):

There are things about yourself you can't see. Your heavy drinking and chain smoking, for example.It scares me sometimes.

PROFESSOR
My drinking and chainsmoking? And what are you doing up there with Lief in Bradford?
I'dsay it's like a parady on an old country song: "Silver Chains and Golden Needles."
CELIA


What's that supposed to mean?

PROFESSOR
You're needling it.

CELIA
Lay off!

She now has on her coat on and is moving toward the door.
PROFESSOR

Well "
lay" you too! And if I had another drink I wouldn't put it that gently.

He follows her out the door. Presently there is the cranking sound of a Mustang starting up. The professor has a good look and there seems to be a man alongside Celia as she goes to drive away. He is wearing a white leather hockey team jacked with numbers on it. It is not Lief.

The professor closes the door, gulps down his drink and turns up the Stones again on the Stereo.

MUSIC:

I saw her at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was going to make her connection
In her glass there was a footloose man.

Music: Fade.

The professor reaches into the cabinet and pulls out a bottle of Jack Daniels. He takes a huge swig from the bottle. He takes the tipple by the fingerboard and smashes it against the cot.

Lights, dim


............end Act IV, Scene

18 comments:

the walking man said...

PROFESSOR points to a typewriter in a corner, on its raised stand:

Comes with the territory. <cliche


One part I liked as too cool was the fade and back to light with the professor in 15th century dress but then as the scene ends how does he get back into 20th century clothes or is he confronting Celia in tights? The swain transported back and forth in time because of his rapture over the woman?

Is this the first time that Celia is introduced to be riding the needle or is it implied or spoken of earlier?

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

All good points, Mark.

My intention was to take the play from beginning to end, but I seemed to lack the energy...So I just sort of fooled around with a draft act of the play, almost at random--just to say that I worked on something. I will now write it from beginning to end so that it is in sequence.
...Send you the completed thing for a boo, but it'll take time, as I explained in my email.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this act.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Michael Koerner once again. Thanks for allowing me into your web space once again


Thought for Today:

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ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Ah, my old alma mater, the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Anonymous said...

"Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilarating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never!"--A Peculiar Treasure (Ferber's autobiography), first published in 1938.


This message naturally made me wonder all over again whether I'm an amateur or a "real writer." Back at the beginning of this year, I was sure I knew the answer. I even posted to this blog on that very topic ("Coming out as a writer"). All writers are familiar with this idea, that writing is hard work, that the quality of your prose is directly proportional to the amount of sweat and suffering that went into producing it. The more readable your novel, the better constructed it is and the deeper its meaning, the harder you must have labored. As Red Smith observed: "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and open a vein."

But things have changed. I don't mean that writing has miraculously become easy. Just because most of us sit down at a computer instead of a typewriter hasn't made the creative process any less challenging, although it has done wonders for editing and revision. And certainly the modern writer's precision tools for time-wasting, the Internet and computer solitaire, are a vast improvement over the blunt instruments previous generations had to make do with: a bottle of bourbon and a pack of cards. But I digress.

No, what has changed is the peripheral stuff: the publicity, the marketing and the whole process of being a "professional." There are so many of us writers, working very hard at making a living from this marginal occupation, that some of us have become...drudges, wage slaves. Just last year, I went to Daniel Silva's book party for his tenth novel, The Secret Servant. (How did I crash this event? I happen to have spent the first twelve years of my life in the same apartment building where his wife spent hers). Daniel had the kind of bash that a writer like me can only dream of: a blow-out at his in-laws' swanky Midtown apartment, a real crush, dozens of free copies blithely signed and handed out. When it was my turn in line I asked Daniel how it was going, although I already knew the answer. "Great," he answered in glum tones. This was a tired, world-weary laborer. It's a seven-day-a-week job, you see. This party is just lost time from researching and writing the next book. When one book is extruded, another one must enter the pipeline. He can barely afford to take a bathroom break from the assembly line for fear the entire factory will shut down. Now, barely a year later, his next book, Moscow Rules, is ready to roll.

I know, I know. I should have such problems, you say. I've said it myself. But there are different kinds of ditch digging, after all. Digging to unearth a priceless archaeological relic or a fossil of a heretofore mythical extinct species is a far cry from digging the trenches for the gas lines or the highway. A treadmill is still a long walk to nowhere, even with the illusion of a computer screen showing us an enchanted forest or an unspoiled beach. Daniel Silva, along with many other successful novelists, is locked into that death march to success that has turned a creative, anarchic, "bohemian" existence into just another rat race.

Now, writing is the "fun" part. The real treadmill is the selling. Publicity and marketing are where the ditch-digging and mountain-climbing come in--literally. I was both delighted and dismayed to learn that the third person to climb The New York Times's building last week was a self-published author, David Malone, trying to get publicity for his book, Bin Laden's Plan (2005).

Donnetta Lee said...

Wow, you are really writing here. Characters have depth. Real people. Experience? Life? Combination of both-woven together! D

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Why, thank you Donnetta!

Mona said...

The crecendo lay somwhere in between, with Henry VIII & Anne Boylen :D

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

That's quite an insight, Mona.
Thanks.

TomCat said...

Most interesting Ivan. Are you drawing on experience?

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

TomCat,

Gee, I'd hate to get into a bad pun. :)

ea monroe said...

Ivan, it's always fun and a pleasure to read your writing -- and trying to keep up with you! ~Liz

ivan@ceativewriting.ca said...

Thanks, Liz,

I'm looking over your first draft of your Agate Jones book. Looks good!

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

PS to Liz,

Somebody in Windsor, ON (Just across the river from Detroit) has just hit on your
The Crush. Innocence to Experience. Short story by E. A. Monroe.
I am so glad we published it electronically through Island Grove Press...People still reading...One of Mark's friends?

ArtSparker said...

Are you familiar with the Woody Allen Story "The Whore of Mensa"?

"I want a woman up here right now, to discuss Kierkegaard".

ivan@creattivewriting.ca said...

Hi ArtSparker,

I guess it's either/or. :)

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