Many thanks to everyone who took part in last night’s reading. I love you all! I got a fresh perspective on the first act as whole, got lots of useful feedback about what worked for people and what didn’t, and came away with a lot of new clarity what needs trimming and/or rewriting.
Plus: Everyone seemed to have a good time and enjoy the act overall. Very encouraging.
The first act took just shy of 70 minutes to read through, which is too long. I’d like to cut about 20 minutes away from that. I think about 10 or 12 minutes of that will be easy and come just from tightening up scenes that can take it (and I think a lot of them can, now that I’ve heard the act read through). Cutting the act down further than that will probably require actually cutting two or three incidents along the way, though, and that’ll take more thought.
Last week I started assembling the pieces of the first act of The Jade Stalk, and putting them in roughly in standard playscript format so I could judge the length, and I discovered to my chagrin that the act is turning out to be much longer than I’d planned. My target length is 45 pages, and I’d be fine with 50 or 55, but it was topping 70. The usual rule of thumb is that one page of script, formatted in the standard way, will usually equal about one minute of stage time.
I spent quite a few hours yesterday going over the first seven scenes, tightening the dialogue, cutting out some incidents that don’t seem crucial. I think I’ve shortened the act by only about five pages in all, so I’ll be doing more of that today.
I think I’ll be cutting one whole scene in the first act (scene eight), and with it two minor characters. I need to replace it with something, because it would be clumsy if the preceding and following scenes bumped up against each other; but whatever goes there will have to be a very short scene.
8:00pm – 9:30pm
The Other Change of Hobbit bookstore
3264 Adeline Street (two blocks south of Ashby BART)
This is a reading of the first act only of The Jade Stalk, a play in progress by David Scott Marley, based on the novel by Jonathan Fast.
The play takes place in seventh-century China and is based loosely on historical people and events. It’s a dark, sexy comedy about Empress Wu and a young, lowborn swindler she takes as her lover and elevates to high rank.
The first act contains a lot of frank sexual situations. This is just a reading, with actors standing and reading from the script, so there won’t be any actual nudity (unless the actors get really carried away). Still, you may not want to bring young children or anyone who would be shocked.
PLEASE EMAIL ME (David Scott Marley) if you’d like to come! Space is limited and I want to be sure to have a chair for you. You can send me a message through Facebook or email me at scratchings at mac dot com.
We’ll read through the first act, which I expect to take about 40 to 45 minutes. (If it takes longer than that, then I’ll know I have some trimming to do!) We’ll take a short break, and then I will invite you to share with me your reactions. I’m most interested in these things: what you enjoyed, what didn’t work for you, how you feel about the intermission being at this point in the story, and what you’re expecting to happen next. I expect that to take another half hour or so. We’ll probably be finished by 9:30 pm.
Later: The first act is running overlong, so if I haven’t trimmed it down to size by the day of the reading, it may take 50 to 60 minutes.
Readers (in order of speaking):
- LILAC/SINGING GIRL: Kelly Powers
- FISH SELLER/PINCH PURSE: George Arana
- HUAI-I, THE BOXER: Christopher P. Kelly
- THE KOREAN/FALSE BRUSH: Mark Hernandez
- PRINCESS CH’IEN-CHIN: Meghan Dibble
- PRINCESS T’AI-P’ING: Kelcey Poe
- HSÜEH SHAO: Wayne Wong
- EMPRESS DOWAGER WU: Arie Singer