The following is an edited version of two blog posts I wrote at some point in the last couple of weeks and then lost due to my laptop dying. From (patchy) memory.
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Christopher. He was a particularly highly-strung individual, and thus, he was terribly of the monsters underneath his bed (where “the monsters underneath his bed” means “his dreams, his talent, people in general, being a normal and honest person and above all else, being alone”). Due to this fear and his apparent inability to deal with these things, he self-medicated on the regular (where “self-medicated” means “drank a ridiculous amount of alcohol to help block out the elements of his life and self that he didn’t want to address”).
Clearly, this didn’t work.
For the presentation of our final work, we had to write an Artistic Statement. This was mine:
‘I’ve got a script that would be perfect for you. It’s a serious drama that sends home a powerful message. It’s a blistering indictment; never shirking from its ugly truths.’ –R.G. Benson’, from Red Scare on Sunset by Charles Busch.
If it were possible to place a play here – if the word limit allowed – I would place, in its entirety, Red Scare on Sunset. No other play has been able to encapsulate what drives and inspires me, and I don’t know if one ever will. As I’ve constantly found throughout my career to date, I’m continually emulating Red Scare – conceptually, at least. (The first play I wrote – some 15 years ago, before I really knew what I was doing – was a quietly insane high camp piece trying exceptionally hard to be a Busch play. Mr Busch, please don’t sue. The play is long gone and I am very poor.)
I have returned to this play whenever I lack inspiration or motivation as a reminder of true danger; to continue to cultivate it within my writing and myself. I want to continue to make work that pushes boundaries, my own included. Work that mixes genres; work that’s both camp and deadly serious, queer and grotesque, horrific and insightful, political and strange, all at once.
Five years ago, I genuinely cared whether or not people liked my writing. I hoped they did. I needed them to. Now, I don’t really care. I’d rather it be honest; not shirk from its ugly truths.
If you are me circa pre-August 29th, 2014, this is how you deal with the fact of your aloneness:
- Ask one of your friends to hang out.
- When they say they can’t; they’re too busy, message them something like “Oh, sure! No worries, haha, I know it’s a busy time! No stress, it’s okay! x”
- Despite saying that there’s no stress and it’s okay and that you know it’s a busy time, definitely feel stressed and that it’s not okay and don’t know that it’s a busy time.
- Purchase a couple of bottles of wine or else go out to a nearby bar.
- Possibly attempt to write more of Sneakyville, your graduate piece; under the misguided delusion your writing is better when you’re drunk.
- After a couple of hours, get bored and give up.
- Stagger home, through the house and into your bedroom, probably using the wall to prop yourself up.
- Watch an inordinate amount of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Stephen Sewell, massively abridged, in March of 2014, after I presented the first draft of Sneakyville:
“It seems to me like there’s two plays in this draft. The first is the most dramatic Melbourne Fringe show about some fucked-up stuff that happened 40 years ago. The second is something bigger; something with more to say about the world and society at large.”
He didn’t need to tell me which of the two plays to write. I already knew.
If you are me post-September 1st, 2015, this is how you deal with the fact of your aloneness:
- Ask one of your friends to hang out.
- When they say they can’t; they’re too busy, message them: “Totes understand. No stress! AND BEST OF LUCK WITH THE WORK. x”
- Feel no stress, just like you said you would.
- Edit Sneakyville, your graduate piece: you’ve had it “done” for a while, but the end of year readings are coming up soon, and you have to be ready.
- Maybe watch an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Or go to the gym. Or read a book. Life is full of possibilities.
“Total paranoia is just total awareness” – Charles Milles Manson.
Like a water-jug full spilling over with my own crazy insecurities, I poured myself into this play as I wrote it. In fact, Sneakyville has more of me in it than anything else I’ve ever written, and in a sense it’s the perfect play for me to have written at NIDA, in Sydney: in a sense, this is a play for Sydney. If not for Sydney, then certainly for my time in Sydney: my total anxiety and fear, my desperation for approval, my insistence at going above and beyond the calls of friendship for people who either wouldn’t or couldn’t do the same for me. I don’t think this play – at very least the first draft of this play – could’ve been written by a together person. There are parts of it that still scare me: parts that I don’t remember writing, plotting, or elsewise thinking, parts that just happened. These parts are some of the most disturbing (to me, anyway). But, hey, at least I got something out of my temporary insanity, right?
At some point over the past month and a half of living back in Sydney, calmness and clarity very quickly installed themselves in my life; as quickly as the crazy of 2014 had previously installed itself. I’ve been alone for the majority of the time I’ve been here, and I’ve used this time: used it to get better, to keep working, keep pushing myself and to make the times when I have seen people ring all the more truer; all the more sweeter. I’m alright being only with myself, because I like myself.
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Christopher, and he was okay.