Writing 1 with Joe Janes, Homework for Tuesday and Wednesday – a dialogue

Out homework after the first day was to rewrite our monologues, thinking about who our character was talking to, what they wanted off the other person, and to include simple opening stage directions.

I wrote this, but then managed to delete it, so you will have to imagine my genius! However, you have my next iteration (homework for Wednesday) underneath here.

I suppose this is the first time on this blog where you get to read an improvised scene. Enjoy.

The notes from the homework (despite the deletion, still relevant) were:
As it is a monologue, for every question the other person might ask, the first person can refer to what they would say.
In a monologue, it can be helpful to become the other person.
This should be less a reaction; it should be more of a communication with the other person.
“What I’ve go tot tell you…”
Talking to someone else directly raises the stakes
Think about an opinion, what is it that you feel?
If it is an iconic character, what can you tell us about them that we don’t already know? What new spin, what if you made them more normal
Show how it affects your character. If you are inhabiting you character, how does it affect you? Show it

++++

Next we had to write a two page scene.
12pt Courier. 2 copies, printed
Character / Objective
Relationship
Environment

The environment:
This is a bike shop, filled with second hand bikes. The ground is less than clean, it is tidy, but this place is a workshop as well as a salesroom. There are 2 guys in the room. The air conditioning is going in the middle of the room, there is an old, tool stand to one side, to the other side is a bench with assorted stuff scattered over it. In the corner is a side room with notes, files and a Pirelli calendar. There is an old CD player in the middle of the room, pumping out house music at low volume.

Frank is a 30 year old man, a patterned tattoo on his left arm. He is close shaved and speaks with a drawl. He is about 5’8″, athletic, but not taught. He is wearing a grubby, oil stained white T-shirt.

Dom is 20, too cool for school, wearing no. Covering the left side of his chest, he has an elaborate, freshly injected tattoo of a dragon riding a hatching egg, out of which a baby is being born, underneath which is the unfurled banner of the stars and stripes buried into a rock with the legend “Christopher” chiselled into it.

+++

Frank:
Dude, you get paid for what you work.

Dom:
Frank bro, I need an advance. He’s your nephew, you came to the Christening, man. Just spot me a hundred buck until the weekend, I’ll get it back to you, I swear.

Frank:
You already owe me 12 hundred bucks. Mom has said no, and I agree with her. Maybe you should go and see her. She wants to meet little Christopher anyway.

Dom:
Don’t be a dick about it man, Mom don’t understand. Freddie’s a good girl, but Mom just doesn’t like her, you know that. I love Mom, but I’ve got a family now, and I love Freddie too. If Mom don’t apologise to her, she ain’t stepping inside the house and she won’t let me take Christopher go there either.

Frank:
You still got family here man, but I can’t be supporting you forever. Just go make up with Mom and you got it easy, hell, she even said you could move back into the spare room. Come back to work here and you’ll soon pay off what you owe and even have money in you pocket. Freddie can even let Mom look after Christopher some of the days, Mom would like that and Freddie can get a part time job. Maybe she can even start to work back at Starbucks again.

Dom:
You want me to live in a house where Mom and Freddie are living together? You must be crazy! They’ll tear each other’s throats out and both blame me. In a week I’ll be as grey as you. Just give me the cash, I promise I’ll get it back to you. And next year you and I can do another trip to Vegas.

Frank:
Bro, Jenny ain’t gonna let me take any trip to Vegas between now and the second coming. I gotta be serious about stuff these days. You ain’t the only father out there. Only difference is I know that this shit is real, hell, I remember looking after you and cleaning your shitty daipers. You even changed one yet?

Dom:
Sure I did. Hey I like that stuff, but Freddie doesn’t like me to do it. And if I don’t get some notes in, she’s gonna eat me alive. How’s about I work here this morning, surely you can spot me a couple days in advance. You know I’m solid.

Frank:
Dude, you’re my brother, solid, yes you are, but reliable? This here’s my livelihood. Mom wants you to go to her, that’s what you should do. Look, maybe you don’t have to move back in, maybe if you explain to her, she’ll loan you some money. Make her a promise or two. Just make sure it’s promises that you can keep…

Dom:
I keep my promises, Mom just changes the rules. Like that time we all went to visit Dad and had to stay in that hotel. Even you caught her bad side that night.

Frank:
Yeah, well, that was then. Maybe you can help her out. She misses not having people  round the house.

Dom:
Ha, then maybe it’s you who should move back in with her.

Frank:
I’d rather move in with my disfunctional little brother. Hey, that would work too, if Freddie would just be nice to Jenny. They could share parenting. And I could teach you haw to clean up after yourself. The last time you were here in the shop, I was worried we’d get a cockroach infestation!

Dom:
Yeah, well, I’m an adult now, you can’t be telling me what to do.

Frank:
Yes I can. You want cash. If you want it, you’ve got to go to Mom. Simple as.

Dom:
(sighs) No, bro, not simple as. [pulls out a gun] I can’t believe you are making me do this.

Frank:
‘t the fuck? Don’t be stupid, put that fuckin’ thing away before someone gets hurt.

Dom:
Can’t do, bro. I really do need that cash.

Frank:
So you pull a gun on me? How far do you think you’ll get once you’ve left here? This is a really dick move, Dom, put it away.

Dom:
I’m serious. I gotta be. Can’t be fuckin’ around no more. I just wish you’d given it to me. What kind of fuckin’ brother are you!

Frank:
And I serious too. PUT IT AWAY. You ain’t getting any cash.

[Frank makes a grab for the gun]

Dom:
Don’t, Frank, I really ain’t kiddin’ this time (hysterical)

Frank:
Kiddin’? Kiddin’?! Tell you what, I’ll tan your hide so hard, I c’

[Gun goes off, Frank falls to the floor]

Dom:
Frank? Frank?! You DICK! What you go and do that for?! Frank?! Shit shit shit. Frank! (Dom reaches for his phone)

++++

We need stage directions, but simple.
We can see stuff happening before the scene starts. In fact, it is possible to show an entirely silent scene. Think about this.
Simplify it. Be clear, be simple. Allow your audience to see your message, which means not muddying it. So the stage directions need to be simpler and we still need to think about showing rather than telling.
Reference the fresh tattoo in either what the characters say or do – if there are buttons there, press them.
We need to say why these things – feel the reaction, show it, explain it.
At the end of the monologue, write either “black out” or “slow fade”.
Think about how to direct the physical stuff. Think about an Annoyance piece.
Remember, give the characters attitudes, physicalities. Maybe one has a different attitude to the other. Let these drive the character as they do.

“Just because the scene is set in America, someone doesn’t necessarily need to get shot!”

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