Ken AshfordPersonal, Theatre1 Comment

Sometime next month, I’m doing a stage reading of a one-act play called Green by Bekah Brunstetter.  It’s about a soldier named Clint, returning from the Iraq war, learning to adjust (not very successfuly — he holds conversations with his gun and cigarettes, who talk back). 

I play Alex, the soldier’s best buddy from childhood.  Alex is artistic, liberal, anti-war, and 22 years old.  (I may have a problem pulling that last one off).  He’s also kind of a dick — no problem pulling that last one off.  A typical exchange:

ALEX:  Actually, uh, fuck no, Clint.  It’s real stuff.  Like did you know that the government totally monopolizes everything and turns us into these robotic consuming voting machines?  Wait, so you got to vote when you were over there, right?

CLINT:  Yeah, we voted.

ALEX:  I mean, I assumed yeah, but – how messed up would that be, if you guys didn’t get to?  Man.  At least you’re back.  At least you didn’t end up some kinda faux martyr for some duies’s cause, I mean, Fucking Bush.  Sending like 300,000 more troops over as we speak.  Saw it on CNN, cross-eyed murderer, he–

The play itself isn’t a political polemic about Bush/Iraq, but my character is.  And a rather annoying one at that — the kind of liberal who think he knows all there is to know about all matters political, simply because he saw a Michael Moore film.

Ms. Brunstetter is an upcoming/struggling playwright in NYC.  In her introspective blog, she wrote this about Green last November:


When Clint returns from Iraq to his strangely liberal bible belt college community, Alex, his Bush-trash talking best friend, and Rhea, Alex’s confused and beautiful girlfriend await him with baited breath. Clint wants to settle back down into normal life, but his memories of his experiences at war make this adjustment harder for him than he ever anticipated.  Green is a fresh look at the high price of service, using magical realism and an amorous anthropomorphized fire-arm.

Something like that.

Lil’ Green has had quite the life: produced (as our first production ever) by WMC in 2004 – read in NYU’s HotINK festival of New Plays 2007 – finalist for the Tennesee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival 2007 – semi – finalist for ONeill Playwright’s conference 2007 – National Finalist, Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival 2007 – and now the Kendeda thing, through Atlanta’s Alliance theater – with a reading presented in conjuction with SPF and Fox Theatricals.

What I need to remember about this play is that I wasn’t thinking when I wrote it. That shows, yes, for sure – lots of things in it sort of lack poor planning, but: I had no agenda. I was just having fun and wrestling with something that confused/intrigued me. I think this is the correct way to enter a first draft, with no calculation. Maybe?

The agency I have been a-courtin for sometime is trying to find  the ‘money project’ that might come from these stubby fingers – something I muster up in down time, some dramaplay fed by cheap white wine, white girl angst and a delightful, whimsical perspective on humanity.

It might be Green. It wasn’t You may Go Now, it wasn’t Walls – maybe – I hope – please – it will be this. The guy who’s directing a reading of it through the Alliance Theater Kendeda reading series – Rajendra Maharaj – an amazing director who’s working at the Goodman  – is represented by this Agency, and is going to get them in the door to see it. Le Yay! I feel like pants need to be wowed until they are off.

People, I feel pressure. The good kind that makes impromptu birthday cakes happen in the span of two hours; the kind that makes your heart race and your product good.

I feel this is my chance to blow it, or not blow it. Over the next week, I will be squeezing writey time between work and babysitting to re-enter this story, find the humanity, make it fresh. Perhaps the gun and the cigarette will make out. Perhaps someone will monologue about oil prices, perhaps I will channel three years ago, and the things I then felt. I think it’s actually a story about comfort, and feeling comfortable in ignorance – I think it’s about home?  We shall see.

In conclusion, I have decided that everything is important – nothing is no big deal.

Nice to do something contemporary and "arty".  Should be fun.