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As a playwright, I’ve had the privilege of working with great comedic actors. Two in particular come to mind. Energy is energy and can be directed where we will. Certain moments in a story will be sad or frightening and the playwright mostly crafts the energy line where he wants it, releasing the tension at a point and in a way that he feels supports and furthers the story. An intuitive actor will recognize the accumulated energy point and know that it can be released by the audience as laughter with only an ad lib word. So, these two brilliant comedic actors would recognize those moments and champ against not being able the receive the wash of laughter and attention that one ad lib word would release. They would usually make it till the end of the run, sometimes the last night, and then, they’d pull on that string and the audience would release that tension in gales of laughter. As the playwright, it didn’t light me up, but I accepted it as a cost of having these brilliant actors bring my words to life. And I am still incredibly grateful to them both. Energy can be used for whatever we choose.
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Living organisms only change the status quo in response to threat. We now have an opportunity. Now. The proponents of the status quo know this and will use every method to encourage our exhausting the energy of the moment before it can congeal into change. They will goad us to action, usually destructive which accomplished their intention venting the threat to their status quo. No matter how self-serving and threatening to our continued existence the status quo might be. We can tremble or vent in rage or use this energy moment to craft concrete steps to initiate change. Will these steps be the magic answer? Probably not, but they will be a beginning which is more powerful than all the anger and platitudes. Anger is easier and frankly, in the moment feels so good to exhaust that tension and energy. Sitting still, holding on to the energy of anger is hard. Putting pencil to paper and coming up with concrete steps toward change is even harder especially when you know that at least some of what you say will be gainsaid and ridiculed. That’s where courage gets its opportunity to come on stage. It’s been waiting in the wings for its cue. It’s always been standing in the wings for all of us.
We/I’ve made a mistake. We/I can do better.
Delineate the mistake as clearly as possible, both as existing habit/rule and traditional response.
Tear the mistake into as many pieces as you can. Put each piece of the mistake under a microscope. Throw tradition into the trash. Evolution considers all possibilities, and even some that may not look possible.
Craft the change. Revise.
But… Here come the buts. But we’re only one institution/person. How can this possibly have an effect on the whole?
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In 1969 I failed. I protested, I railed against the status quo. We failed. We allowed our collective energy to dissipate. We pulled the string on the moment and released its energy. The opportunity passed by as opportunities will. Fortunately, they come around again. As long as we survive, we will get another chance. Until we don’t. This is your time. Do the homework. Be specific. Gather resources and consensus. Quietly, peacefully, gather the energy of the moment and direct it like a laser against our childish abuse of each other. PERSIST. Our grandchildren are counting on you. Yes, mine and yours to be.
Here is a little from my first novel in The Sun God's Heir series. I hope you enjoy it.
The filthy bilge water splashed over his head and then receded. Under sail.
The North Atlantic, 1672. To survive René must escape a slave ship in the midst of the ocean.
Focus on the first thing, his fencing master’s voice rose from within his memory.
“Don’t drown,” he thought. His second thought was the memory of a wooden rod speeding toward him for his sarcasm.
Rapier sharp, pulse pounding action across the warp and weave of the seventeenth century. Sailing ships, pirates, and past lives contend in this first book of an award-winning trilogy.
Three men bled out into the dirt.
René stared at the hand that held the bloody rapier. His hand. Tremors shuddered through his body and down his arm. Droplets of blood sprayed the air and joined the carmine puddles that seeped into the sun-baked earth. He closed his eyes and commanded the muscles that grasped the rapier to release their tension and allow the sword to drop.
Years of daily practice and pain refused his mind’s order much as they had refused to spare the lives of three men. The heady exultation that filled him during the seconds of the fight drained away and left him empty, a vessel devoid of meaning. He staggered toward an old oak and leaned against its rough bark. Bent over, with one hand braced on the tree, he retched. And again. Still, the sword remained in his hand.
A cloud shuttered the sun. Distant thunder brushed his awareness and then faded. Rain. The mundane thought coasted through his mind. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and glanced down hoping to see a different tableau. No, death remained death, the only movement, that of flies attracted to a new ocean of sustenance.
The summer heat lifted the acrid blood-rust smell and forced him to turn his head away. Before him stretched a different world from the one in which he had awakened. No compass points. No maps. No tomorrow.
A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.
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