Thesis Take Two: And Now For Something Completely Different
I don’t know why I went into my thesis project thinking it would be easy. Perhaps because I already had a draft of the play completed, and the story arc was, in general, good. Maybe just because I knew what I was doing for my project long before anyone else in my class. But no matter the reasons, I was wrong. Working on my thesis is one of the hardest things I’ve done this school year.
Originally, the plan for doing this project, as I mentioned, was to revise twenty pages a week. I did this for two weeks, completing the first act. My advisor and I then agreed that if I went on to the next act without considering the changes that had been made to the first, I would be getting ahead of myself and the play would be a hot mess by April. So the next week, we took a closer look at Act One as a whole. It was at this point that my advisor gave me such awesome feedback and suggestions that I requested a second week away from revisions to implement the changes and write an outline.
This past week, I still did a few revisions, including cutting three scenes, writing two more, and making little tweaks here and there to existing scenes. I also composed an outline, which is something I only ever do for plays; I find outlines for novels too binding. For plays, however, and for this one in particular, with of its flashbacks and different locations, I needed some sort of bible to reference. In writing the outline, I decided to cut at least one more scene and try to combine it with another. If not… I must sadly bid one of my favorite scenes good- bye.
I mentioned how sad I would be to get rid of this particular scene to my advisor. Funnily enough, the scene only exists because he suggested it, but after I wrote it, I really loved when happened and the conversation between Mary and Peter; Mary makes a life-changing decision and Peter feels deep emotion for someone for the first time. But even with those gems, everyone involved agrees that it’s just unnecessary and slows down the play. My advisor told me, “Even if you eventually cut a scene, writing it is what got you where you are, so it was still a valuable experience.” This is very true, and it was nice to be reminded of that.
The most valuable thing he told me is that this play will not be finished by April. He said I have a few more drafts before I reach its full potential. I was at first disappointed to hear this; I had hoped that I would be able to market this script by May. However, considering that it’s a completely different play now, I’ve accepted that I’m starting from a few paces back than anticipated. He also told me that if this play is a hot mess by April, that’s fine; I’ve been doing the work and developing the play, which is the point. I am so happy that I chose to work on this as my thesis, even though I’m scared that I won’t know how to revise it on my own.
The biggest shock over these past two weeks is finding out that this play is no longer a children’s play in any way. I thought this was a recent development; I always considered the show to be fine for ages twelve and up. But in addition to the asylum scenes and the constant possibility of insanity throughout the play, I’ve now added some romance that I’d never even thought of until my advisor told me that I’d set up a road; why don’t I take it? I was nervous about writing that scene, as I don’t have much experience in writing things like that. The scene is tamer than my advisor was probably suggesting, but I really like it and the direction in which it’s set everything. It’s opened up doors for me to explore another part of growing up: realizing that you’re experiencing romantic attraction for the first time. Because of the time period in which the play is set, it lets Mary break a lot more rules, which is really exciting.
On March 23rd, I’ll be having a private reading of most (possibly all) of the play with current theatre students in the department and getting some feedback from the actors and some people who will be listening. I then have bout three weeks to revise some more and give it to a director and cast of alumni to rehearse a few times before the public reading on April 23rd. No pressure… :p
Now I must go to my writing class and have a deeply personal piece of mine critiqued.