Between 2005-2006 I began to really push forward into starting my writing career in a more serious light. At the time I was foraying into the fine art genre, obsessed with the tumultuous and lovely experience of putting my Life Force up on plain white gallery walls and furthermore lighting them with abrasive light that gave pretentious wine glass bearing patrons a microscopic view of my psyche while I nervously and benevolently touted the offerings of my soul.
There is a certain cathartic element to painting that is unmatched, though if need be described I would say it has that physical and visceral appeal of dance while still embracing the vigorous psychological demands of playwriting. You must tell a compelling story with a media that can be molded to your liking but there is always that necessary element of foundation. You must learn the rules before breaking them in order to innovate successfully. I strayed from the beast early on (despite years of art classes and self-study), but in the end, I grew tired of the time, effort and money that went into presenting my cutting edge work to dull tools.
I always have this excuse for doing everything rather than pigeonholing myself and concentrating on one thing (one of the many reasons I came to Europe in the first place), but really I just need to admit that I have artistic ADHD. I like the term Renaissance Man because it makes me look and feel like an art snob when in reality I am more of a Satirist if anything. Wilde and de Sade and Fosse and all of my other idols would have not accomplished much in the way of pointing a mirror at society if they did not readily envelope themselves in it but now I am going on a longwinded tangent because the beast (or “demon” as some writers call it), is in love with words and wants to spit them out superfluously at all times forever.
No art is ever finished, and I am dying to fully produce my dance film The Ending or The Beginning. I know I say this a lot, but this work is truly the apotheosis of everything I’ve ever done. I started writing it when I gave up painting and took up burlesque and somehow found myself in this picket fence type romance with this man that I was convinced would never love me – the houses, the cat the dog the monthly payments, the whole 9. It originated as a one act play and then I expanded (or expounded, rather) it to two acts and then I started sending it out EVERYWHERE – that naive but preciously ambitious time when I knew that my writing was better than virtually everyone else’s and it was time to get my work on a more prominent stage in a theater despite the fact that I was already writing and directing hilarious and thought provoking scripts on a monthly basis to sold-out appreciative audiences with my burlesque troupe. Always the zealous Capricorn.
The Ending or The Beginning is typical DeVo fare, with chattery, real-life-like banter, overt sexual overtones, sociopolitical issues, love quadrilaterals and rife with variable slang (hence the moniker “Hokum” in the title of my production company). I received an overwhelming response to the monologue that was presented at my opening show for Hokum Arts, still one of the biggest undertakings as a Producer, Director, Choreographer, Writer et al. I can never wear one hat.
True to form with my Julius Caesar Syndrome, the event was housed in an old jazz club in two buildings, one room held fine art genres of 3 painters, a photographer, and 1 filmmaker and the main stage lounge area boasted a fashion show, 2 live music performances, a bout of ballets from my repertoire, comedy routines, and the opening monologue from The Ending or The Beginning as seen in the video. It received an overwhelmingly positive response from the crowd and many of the artists have gone on or continued great success and acclaim, as part of the main purpose of Hokum Arts as addressed in the mission statement.
While the play has received several finalist nominations for prizes or funded productions, I have not yet presented it to a theater and my desire to do so was serendipitously thwarted by a burlesque colleague of mine who suggested I turn it into a screenplay, which I did, but never found the time, energy or money to produce the film.
Going through my older writing is hard – The Ending or The Beginning was such a stepping stone for me and at the time I knew that I had something special and poignant and edgy. But 6 years later I realize that it could use a mature eye to make it more accessible. Still, it speaks volumes about a lot of the issues that I still address in my work to this day and I hope that one day I find a home stage for a full featured production and/or a screen, but that baby, my first born so to speak, has been usurped by another child, a formidable sibling rivalry that I started writing just a few years later entitled The Show: a true gem of a musical that chronicles and satirizes my memoirs during my time as a burlesque artist. I even already have the all-star cast in mind for the broadway version. I’ll save that for another post.
Excerpt: The Ending or The Beginning
INT. ART GALLERY – CONTINUOUS
Jodi and Matt are quickly approached by Lori, the owner of the gallery who is spastic and slightly disheveled in appearance. She has an air of pretension but seems not to know the time or place in which to put it.
Oh, look who it is.
(She whispers to Jodi.)
You might want to make it a point to actually be around at your own exhibition.
I needed nicotine.
I understand, but more people are starting to show up. Now…mingle.
Matthew darling, it’s so odd seeing you without a drink in your hand.
Lori, it’s so odd seeing you with out a stick up your ass.
(They laugh a snooty laugh and begin their own silent dialog as Jodi attempts to mingle. She greets two total strangers.)
Hi, I’m the artist.
Oh really!? Great stuff.
(He shakes Jodi’s hand.)
I really like the subject matter, and your use of color is great. Very interesting.
Thanks so much. How did you hear about the show?
I saw a posting about it on Philebrity.
It’s a website about arts and nightlife in the city.
Oh, so it was like an ad?
No, one of the bloggers said it was the hot show in town. I think he used the words “not to miss.”
Umm, but I just hung up the paintings like 2 hours ago, no one’s seen them till just now.
Oh, well, you know, the media.
Uh, yeah, weird.
(Turning his partner around.)
This is my wife, Claudia.
Oh, nice to meet you.
(They shake hands.)
This is Jodi, the artist.
Oh! Your pieces are very interesting.
Thank you. Will you excuse me?
(She walks to the front of the gallery to greet the gallery assistant, Mark. Mark is a happy-go-lucky guy who is deceptive in his sweetness.)
Where’s your drink?
I lost it somewhere.
I’ll get you another. Red, right?
(Mark goes to the bar to pour Jodi a glass of wine. Lori approaches him, arm and arm with Gus, an older fashion designer.)
Jodi, I’d like you to meet Gus.
(He reaches out a limp hand, Jodi shakes it gently.)
Jodi, Gus is the fashion designer I told you about.
(letting out a chuckle to cover her embarrassment.)
Remember I told you about Gus Walsh who just moved here from New York?
Yes, it was so tragically hectic up there in the city. I wanted to come down here and work at a more feasible pace. Besides, this town has so much to offer, what with its burgeoning art community and all the great museums…
(sarcastic and bitterly)
Yeah, and we just love when people like you decide to take a break from big, great, fabulous New York to come and bless our quaint, relaxed, city of brotherly love with your presence.
Well, I never.
Don’t worry, you’ll never have to again. Excuse me, I need more social lubricant.
(She storms off towards the wine table and is accosted again by strangers.)
© 2012 by Louis DeVaughn Nelson