Signal explores what it means to be a child growing up alongside technology and the internet. The play is an odyssey adventure for children and adults, children who think they're adults, and adults who think they're children. Our trusty narrator Tee-Vee keeps us in the loop as we follow Hero's descent into the Slick-Screen Realm to find their younger sibling, who has been sucked into a screen. The play, written in rhyming couplets, is a dark comedy that asks questions about responsible use of technology and if we can ever truly know what is best for another human being.
Signal has been a project with many false endings for some time now. It has existed as a physical exploration, a small chunk of text meant to become a children’s book, a partially finished play in verse, and has now landed as a finished first draft of a play at the end of my two studio weeks. My experience of the last two weeks has been one of subtle pressure – the knowledge that I am being supported and, in some ways, held accountable for this project always hovering in my mind. This was a helpful pressure!
The first of my two weeks started with me dusting Signal off of its electronic shelf and reassessing the script, familiarizing myself with it once more. I used my stipend towards my monthly writing lab, where I pitched Signal to a group of screenwriters after making story cards and writing a new log-line and character key. It was an illuminating experience trying to defend the structure of this play in a screenwriting setting. I then took that information and started to write/re-write.
Throughout the two weeks, I wrote in 48’s – a method wherein you write for 48 minutes with no distractions and then get twelve minutes off. This was a purely generative exploration for me. Knowing that I had two weeks and was hoping to go from a 25 page draft to a 60 page draft meant that I had no space to question and edit. I needed to push through imperfection and finish a draft, tinkering along the way. And this I did!
Conversations with Caitlin midway through the first and second weeks were very helpful in processing moments or themes in the play that were confusing or needed more clarification. Though I did not apply many of these to the current draft, I plan to start reworking with these notes in mind. Hearing the play read aloud alerted me to moments that no longer feel necessary in its evolution and to stylistic questions which will serve as a guide for further writing.
After two weeks of writing, this play is a thing! I see it and will keep working on it in future using the momentum of this time.
We’ll leave these two here, now building together
The world that they want to see built, whether
It’s coding, cart-wheeling, or playing outside
They use what they’ve got, their passion’s applied
To their new common vision – epic house in a tree!
What more can they build? What will you? We shall see!