Sunday, November 18, 2018

November Writing Challenge 2018 - 18 - Radically Accessible Play



THE EIGHTEENTH CHALLENGE

Write a Radically Accessible Play

The thing about disability is that everyone has been touched by it. You don’t have to start getting out the books or searching ADA websites.

KEEP THIS PERSONAL

Write a play that beautifully highlights and incorporates the physical or mental limitations of those around you in a way that those attributes are dealt with in a dignified and beautiful way that is part of the human experience: write for your grandparent, for your OCD, for your back injury, your sleep apnea.

Addressing fear. There are a lot of assholes. Do this out of love. Do it boldly. From my experience within the d/Deaf and disabled community, that will buy you everything. You can’t write without being “checked” anymore. That world is gone.
“Take risks, and don't be afraid to get caught trying," Hillary Clinton

We don’t need to idolize disability. It’s not great. Don’t do that.  Do have fun making an environment that eliminates or eases or becomes advantageous for those who have developed coping mechanisms for disability.

Soft bigotry of low expectations- don’t set the bar low here.

Expansion:
I was asked recently as part of a theater panel “what people mean when they talk about diversity in theater”
I had a lot of things to talk about, but the one I had the most background in was disability.

Disability. It’s a thing people. It’s (perhaps) the most overlooked part of diversity/inclusion efforts.
I have Crohn’s Disease. It’s in remission. It’s a great disease for denial. I love it for that. But at times I can’t guarantee (at all) that I’m going to be able to take a train to work for 45 minutes without shitting myself. That… ladies and gentlemen is disabling.

I’m so proud to be part of a theater company that has an award-winning academic paper declaring the need for a new category of Radical Accessibility as a result of our work. “Radical” is because our work equally “others” (verb) the able-bodied in the room to create a new paradigm of normal- a new hierarchy of power and beauty within the work.

Um… more.
DON’T FUCKING ACCOMMODATE disability if you don’t have to.
I mean, do. It’s the low bar limit. It’s not the same as making it ACCESSIBLE.
Accommodation is a heavy ugly addition to the pure product… a product that could have been designed in an accessible manner.
Also, don’t try to please everyone or include everyone. You can’t. You just can’t and have beauty. That’s another part of the discussion- and an important one.

But you can and MUST challenge yourself to be Radically Accessible to SOME and use that new paradigm to make art that is worthy of ALL.




(I actually got an idea for this one, too.  If I draft up something along these lines for my dad, every piece of it would be five minutes or less and each one self-contained, so even with his short term memory issues, he could enjoy each piece on its own.  If he managed to remember a few and they built on each other, great.  If not, he’d still get a few small, complete stories.)

(Meanwhile though, I’m pushing on through to the end of this new scene I started posting yesterday.  Still rough, but here’s what I came up with – the first bit will be a repeat, setting up what follows)


Lights shift.

MICAH and AUGGIE fade into the dark as

SARAH, JEFFREY and DUNCAN are revealed at the metaphysical supply store, studying grandma’s grimoire.

                          SARAH
While I’m not a fan of the present situation, I have to admit your grandmother’s spell work is impressive.

                          DUNCAN
The last of the ingredients should be getting here shortly.

                          SARAH
We can get started without it, then fold it into the mix when it turns up.

                          JEFFREY
So, what’s the first step?

                          SARAH
No offense but – actually, you know what, I take that back, I’m not really terribly troubled by offending you at the moment so – I don’t trust you.  You’re the primary reason we’re in this mess.  So I will be taking the lead on this counterspell.

                          JEFFREY
Understood.

                          SARAH
In order to do this quickly, though, I’m going to need help from both of you.

                          JEFFREY
Absolutely.

                          SARAH
I’m sorry if this is going to cut into the regular course of business.

                          DUNCAN
Things tend to start off slow, most days.

                          SARAH
This being a notable exception.

                          DUNCAN
Yup.  Plus, an in-house demonstration of magic in progress is never a bad thing.

                          JEFFREY
Like free samples at the grocery store.

                          SARAH
Actually no.  There will be no sampling.

                          DUNCAN
But it piques people’s interest in much the same way.

                          SARAH
Oh goddess.  The two of you aren’t - ?

                          DUNCAN
What?  No.

                          JEFFREY
Not for lack of trying.

                          SARAH
If we could stay focused on the task at hand –

                          DUNCAH
Right.  Sorry.

                          SARAH
If you have to step out to deal with customers, you go right ahead.  Where should we set up?

                          DUNCAN
Over here should be good.

                          SARAH
     (to JEFFREY)
Again, I don’t trust you.  So anything I have you measure out, I’m going to doublecheck that it’s the right item, and right amount.

                          JEFFREY
I want this to go well, too.

                          SARAH
Good.  That’ll get us to the antidote quicker.

                          JEFFREY
This is really cool.

                          SARAH
OK, no.  Let’s establish some ground rules.  This is not cool.  It’s a clusterfuck.

                          JEFFREY
Sorry.

                          SARAH
No, you’re not, and that’s the problem.
     (to DUNCAN)
I’m assuming the reason you didn’t stop him is that you didn’t realize what he was planning to do?

                          DUNCAN
No.  Sorry.

                          SARAH
But since he came back and admitted it - ?

                          DUNCAN
I’ve been trying to impart basic principles.

                          SARAH
Great.  So I’ll just stick to the specifics of now.
     (to JEFFREY)
You were working alone?

                          JEFFREY
What?  Yeah.  It’s not a terrorist sleeper cell, I was just goofing around.

                          SARAH
See, things like that make me want to slap you.  Or turn you into a newt.

                          JEFFREY
You can do that?

                          DUNCAN
It was a Monty Python reference.

                          JEFFREY
Oh.

                          SARAH
You dosed my husband with a love potion with the unwitting assistance of his very best friend in the world, who it turns out is far too trusting of guys like you.  My husband has a past history, prior to me, of not having the best impulse control where his penis is concerned.  And he is currently writing a song for the man he now thinks he’s in love with.  So again, things are not cool right now, and that’s largely due to you.  But you don’t seem terribly contrite and that bothers me on a whole host of levels.

                          JEFFREY
Is there anything I can say at this point that would satisfy you?

                          SARAH
Probably not.

                          JEFFREY
Is there anything I can say that would make this better?

                          SARAH
Nope.

                          JEFFREY
Anything I could say that you would even believe?

                          SARAH
You’re right.  Let’s just focus on the antidote.

                          JEFFREY
Just tell me what you want me to do, I’ll do it.

                          SARAH
OK, grind that up, overdo it, make it as fine a powder as you can manage.  Slice off two pieces of that, not too thick.  Throw two teaspoons of this into that bowl and four tablespoons of the yellow stuff.  And hand that blue jar over here, we just need a pinch of that, according to grandma.  And we’re missing - ?

                          DUNCAN
     (point to a line in the grimoire)
This.  On the way from another local store.

                          SARAH
Great.  With luck we’ll be ready by the time it gets here.

                          DUNCAN
Need an extra set of hands?

                          SARAH
Actually, would you mind watching him?  You’re a professional.  I trust you to keep him on track while I focus on mixing these two things.

                          DUNCAN
Not a problem.

                          SARAH
     (to the world at large, but mostly Jeffrey)
“An it harm none, do what ye will.”

                          JEFFREY
Excuse me?

                          SARAH
Let’s start by you explaining that one to him while I keep working to fix his mess.

                          DUNCAN
And if it harms none, do what you will.
It’s one of the first rule of witchcraft.

                          JEFFREY
Kind of like “First, do no harm” for doctors.

                          DUNCAN
Kind of.
Honestly, it’s not a bad rule of thumb for life in general – wiccan, pagan, or not.  When you’re thinking about doing something, consider the consequences.  Act in ways that will do the least harm to others, to the world at large, to yourself.

                          SARAH
Because you either didn’t think at all about what you were doing, which is bad, or you thought about it plenty and decided to go ahead anyway, knowing the outcome, which is worse.

                          JEFFREY
I didn’t even know if it would work.

                          SARAH
You say that like it matters, like it absolves anyone for anything.

                          DUNCAN
The point of making it was so that it would work, right?

                          JEFFREY
Right.

                          DUNCAN
So you have to consider, if this does work, how might it do harm to people?

                          JEFFREY
See, this is where I think everyone is just way too uptight.  It’s just sex.

                          SARAH
For you, maybe.

                          JEFFREY
I’m sorry, is that your personal spin on the old “all homosexuals are promiscuous” canard.

                          SARAH
If the loose morals fit, wear ‘em proudly, right?  Let your freak flag fly, right?

                          JEFFREY
You don’t get it.

                          SARAH
No, you don’t get it.  You’re thinking about this for yourself. 
     (working the spell)
I need three leaves of that, a couple of stalks from the thing by your right hand, and just one of the petals from the red one over there.
Sure, some sex is casual.  Some sex is fun.  Some sex is no strings.  You’re absolutely right.  Two consenting adults, I’ve got no problem with.  Gay, straight, bi, pansexual, bring it on.  I’m no prude.  But you have a thing or two to learn about love.  Because that’s what you’re screwing with here.

                          JEFFREY
We mix the antidote, we do the counter spell, all is undone, no harm, no foul.

                          SARAH
The love was there before the spell, you idiot.  You must have seen that.  It’s probably why you thought it’d be so funny to tamper with in the first place.

                          JEFFREY
Are you saying - ?

                          SARAH
Oh, come on.  You’re not na├»ve.  You’re not blind.  Neither am I.  The bond between Micah and Auggie runs deep.  I saw it the night I met them. 
     (working the spell)
Toss me that from over there, the gold container.  Thanks.
The only way you get to Auggie is through Micah, and vice versa.  Maybe that’s healthy, maybe it’s not, I don’t judge.  I’ve got the man’s ring on my finger.  But Auggie and Micah love each other.  They have always loved each other.  It was a love that tiptoed right up to the edge of something they’d have to make a decision about but never crossed the line.  And you decided to give them a shove.  Did you want to wreck what they had?

                          JEFFREY
No.

                          SARAH
Well too bad for you, too bad for them, because that’s exactly what you did. 
     (working the spell)
Duncan, can you shake this vigorously.  About 13 times.
Jeffrey, spread this yellow stuff out thinly, so we have a fine layer of paste going on.
Even if absolutely nothing happens between the two of them during the time we’re all frantically pulling this antidote together, the fact that Auggie saw Micah like this, even for a day, has tipped the delicate balancing act they had going right over the edge.

                          JEFFREY
So Auggie’s eyes are open.  So Micah’s eyes are open.  That’s a bad thing?

                          SARAH
They will never be able to look at one another the same way again. 
     (working the spell)
Give me that greenish goo at the end of the counter.
I mean, did you never see them?  Really see them?  The way both of them would brighten up when the other one walked in the room, or called or texted them on the phone?

                          JEFFREY
Well, yeah, but that’s why I thought –

                          SARAH
What they have is beyond sex.  You just dragged it down and made it cheap.

                          JEFFREY
I disagree.

                          SARAH
Again, because you’re an idiot. 
     (working the spell)
Hand me that powder you’ve been grinding down.
The potion doesn’t let anyone off the hook.  Auggie’s going to remember everything he said and did and felt during this time.  Micah’s going to remember what it was like to have Auggie interested in him in every possible way, not just as a friend.  It’s not just going to be this goofy little vacation they had where just for a day they got to live out a scenario of “what if?”  They’re going to carry that around.  It’s going to be something they had and lost.  It’s going to be an unspoken question between them.  What could have been, what could be.  It’s going to haunt them.  And I’m not sure they can get past it.

                          JEFFREY
Of course they can, they’re Auggie and Micah.

                          SARAH
They could.  Before.  No question.  But now?
They’re going to question every look, every touch, every stray thought.

A truck horn honks outside.

                          DUNCAN
That’s our final ingredient.  I’ll go get it and be right back.

                          JEFFREY
They made good time.

                          SARAH
Hopefully it’s good enough.

                          JEFFREY
They’ll be OK.

                          SARAH
I don’t like you.  But I hope to hell this time you’re right.



(to be continued)




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