SHALL WE NOW CONTAMINATE OUR FINGERS WITH BASE BRIBES...
"Damn, you're already here."
And a bright good morning to you too. What's up?
"What do you mean, what's up? Nothing's up."
It is exactly 8:23 A.M. on a Monday morning. You never get to the office before ten. On Mondays I'm lucky to see you before mid-afternoon. What's up?
"Can't a guy come to work early without having an ulterior motive?"
"I don't have an ulterior motive! Why do you think I have an ulterior motive? I just decided to come in to work early today, okay?"
Methinks the lad doth protest too much. What's in all the bags?
"Nothing. I did a little shopping yesterday, stuff for the office, that's all."
You hate shopping.
"No, I don't."
How long have you been putting off a visit to Moe Ginsburg to get a tux for the Tony's?
"I've got a couple of months. Don't sweat it."
I'm not taking you unless you're dressed properly.
"I'll get a tux, okay?"
"And a plain white shirt, no ruffles. I remember!"
No fashion statements.
"Do I look like the kind of guy who would even know what a fashion statement is?"
Good point. So, what's in the bags?
"Well, this one's for you."
"It's just a coffee maker to replace the one I broke last week."
Getting tired of running to Starbucks all the time?
"Something like that."
But . . . a Vulcan-Pecorella Aquila! This is the most expensive Italian espresso machine you can buy!
"Tell me about it. There's only one place in Tribeca that sells em. And they're only open by appointment. A little too snooty for their own good, if you ask me. Hey! What's the matter? That's the one you said you wanted, isn't it?"
Yes, but . . . I can't accept this. It's far too expensive.
"After what I went through to get it, you're keeping it!"
Thank you. I don't know what to say.
"Let's try it out. I got a pound of your South African coffee bean mix from Village Beanery, and fresh farm cream, and I got brioches from that patisserie on Lexington you like so much."
What's going on?
"Nothing. Nothing at all. I decided you were right about drinking coffee from cardboard cups so I found this antique Spode coffee service I thought you might like. I think it's in this bag. It's got really big cups. They also had a set of silver demitasse spoons from the Savoy in London, so I got them too."
What are you up to?
"Nothing. And I know this guy who does produce for the French Embassy or something, so I got you hothouse long-stemmed strawberries to go with the brioche."
You did, huh?
And you're not up to anything?
"Of course not."
I wonder if I believe you.
"What, we can't have decent coffee and munches around here?"
This is your definition of coffee and munches?
"Actually, I thought it was yours."
Close enough. I'm not going to argue. I love warm brioche and fresh ground South African coffee for breakfast.
"Don't forget the strawberries."
"Long-stemmed. Hey, what are you laughing at?"
You. Why don't you set up the coffee machine while I grind the coffee beans? And then you can tell me just why you went to all this trouble to get me in a good mood.
"Actually there is a favor I want to ask."
I'm hardly surprised.
"I need you to recommend a good book."
"I want you to recommend a book."
That's what I thought you said. Is that what all this is about?
What makes you think I wouldn't be perfectly willing to recommend a book even without this gourmet breakfast you have so kindly provided?
"So far every book you've given me has concerned something you want me to learn about. This is a little bit different. This is something I want to learn about, something I want to try to do. I'm not sure you are going to be happy about it or want to help."
Tell me what you want and we'll see.
"Ever since we've been talking about turning Neverland into a play, I've been getting the images, pictures really, in my head. At first they only lasted a second or two. An image of one of the characters doing or saying something."
You were visualizing the story. That's good.
"The last couple of days these pictures have been getting longer and longer. It's almost like the characters were coming to life and playing out scenes in my mind."
Are you seeing these scenes in real life or are you seeing actors on a stage?
"A little of both. Sometimes it's like it's really happening. Sometimes it's like a performance on a stage. Anyway, at first I thought I was going crazy."
What convinced you otherwise?
"Was that a cut?"
No. It's a perfectly serious question.
"I don't think I'm going crazy because I like these characters, especially Billy, and I sort of understand where they were coming from in these scenes."
You like the characters?
"A lot. I mean the stuff that happened to Billy never happened to me, but the two of us are alike in a lot of ways. I understand him and what he's looking for."
What is Billy looking for?
"A place to fit in."
"Garrett's death would have made it difficult for Billy to be able to trust anybody for years, right?"
"Billy would have grown up having a lot of superficial friends but no really deep relationships, right?"
Have you ever been in psychoanalysis?
"No, but I aced a couple of psyche courses in college. Besides, this is all just common sense."
"So Billy, not being capable of trusting anyone enough to have his own strong relationship, goes through life feeling out of place because he sees everybody else being able to have permanent relationships except him."
I think I see where you're going with this.
"The closest Billy ever comes to opening up and trusting someone completely is at the end, when he arranges for Rosalie to get the stories after he dies. That shows that Billy understood what his problem was all along."
"If Billy understood why he wasn't able to trust anybody and that this was the reason he always felt out of place, wouldn't he have tried to overcome his problem at some point in his life?"
"To understand something like that about himself and not try to do anything about it would make Billy a looser. Billy's not a looser. So we've got to believe that at some point in his life he broke through and was able to trust somebody. Who was it and when did it happen? That's our play!"
"And that's why I brought in breakfast. I want you to agree to let me try to write the play and I need you to tell me which book I need to read to learn how to do it. I went to the book store and there must be a hundred books on how to write plays!"
No. Absolutely not. I will not allow you to write the play.
You have a large share of the responsibilities of producing Neverland and, at the same time, you are also in effect building a new off Broadway theatre. We only have about 11 months to contract a playwright and get the first draft of the play; you simply don't have the time to do it.
"What if I promised that writing the play wouldn't take any time away from my other jobs?"
Even assuming you might be able to write a play worthy of production along with everything else you will be doing, being one of the producers of your own work would put you in an impossible situation. You wouldn't be able to make the decisions you'll need to as a producer if you're dealing with your own play. Too many conflict of interest issues.
"You're wrong. I know I would be able to keep the two jobs separate."
Even if you could, nobody else involved in the production would be able to completely trust your decisions. There would always be that doubt in the back of their minds.
"What if you make all those decisions? Anything that would be or could appear as a conflict of interest if I did it, you handle. That would satisfy everybody else, wouldn't it?"
Maybe. But could you accept my decisions? No, I don't think it's a good idea.
"But - "
Which doesn't mean that I'm not going to give you exactly what you want.
Look at it realistically. I am not going to give you my permission to write the play. But if you really want to try, is that going to stop you?
I didn't think so. And the idea of you reading a couple of books on writing plays is a very good one. You do need to learn the technical parts of how plays are constructed. You will need to be able to communicate on that level, you know.
"So I don't have your permission to write the play, but you're going to teach me how to write it anyway?"
"And if I write it and it's good?"
Oh, in that case we'll probably use it. But, I don't think that's going to happen.
Your analysis of Billy is good, but it isn't enough to build a play on. I could keep telling you that until I'm blue in the face and you wouldn't believe it. This is the sort of thing you've got to discover for yourself. Go on and write your version of Neverland. Just don't expect me to cut you any slack in any of your other responsibilities while you try and do it.
"You're an asshole."
Who was it that said everyone should do what they do best? Down to work! You're right about there being far too many books on writing plays. In my opinion there are only three which you really need to read.
"And they are?"
I'm only going to give you one at a time. Read the first one, discuss it with me, and then I'll give you the next one. You start with Louis E. Catron's Playwriting: Writing, Producing, and Selling Your Play.
Playwriting: Writing, Producing, and Selling Your Play is designed especially for those having the desire to create, to entertain, and to express their emotions and ideas. It features a practical, down-to-earth emphasis on craft and structure rather than on theory as its step-by-step approach shows just what's involved in creating a stageworthy play.
"I'm going to surprise you."
You already have many times.
"My play is going to be good enough for us to produce."
We'll see. Have a brioche while its still warm. And pass the strawberries.
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