September 18, 2016

The Robot Inventors

We move apartments more often than we would like. When moving, I regret that I am so sentimental, that I keep so many physical manifestations of memories. But today I am grateful for it. In one of the many boxes that my mother shipped to me years ago as she was trying to clear out the garage (she is as sentimental as I am), I discovered an artifact of my origins in theater: The script and the "production photos" of The Robot Inventors.

Most of my memories about skits are about Boy Scout and Cub Scout camp outs and sixth grade camp through school. As I remember, the camp crowd was an easier crowd to perform to. They loved these skits. Campfire skit audiences were boys drunk on s'mores and the anticipation of someone unexpectedly getting doused with water. Boy Scout camp was an environment in which the Lord of the Flies doesn't seem like a novel, it seems like a documentary.

The Robot Inventor in all his self consciousness
The Robot Inventors was a skit performed in another venue, the Cub Scout Pack Meeting. The Pack Meeting is a monthly gathering of all the Cub Scouts in the Pack (divided into Dens of 8 or so boys which have weekly meetings) and their families. A ceremony at which awards are given, each Den reports on their activities over the past month. There was also food and entertainment. They were held in the cafeteria at the junior high, a big space for an 8 year old to perform in.

One of my entries into things theatrical was performing in Cub Scout skits. I have a memory of really enjoying being in Cub Scouts skits. I even have a vague memory or sense that I was more willing to rehearse the skits than my fellow Cub Scouts. The skits were always comic sketches with a definite punchline. I think that I was pretty aware of this. I wanted to make sure that we got the maximum comic mileage from the skit. To do so meant rehearsing the timing and specificity of the set up of the punchline. I wasn't thinking of this consciously, of course, but I believe that there was some sort of intuitive understanding and interest in doing so.

The script (which felt long at the time)
This interest has only deepened and evolved. My skits just happen to be full length plays now. Rather than act in them, I am directing them (as perhaps I wanted to do with those skits). My audience has expanded from parents and peers who are obligated to watch the skit. In the best case scenario I receive something more than a "good job" after I direct one of my skits. (Something like, "David A. Miller knows what to do with wacky." as Theatre Jones wrote.)

Some people have a very specific story of one event or one experience that started their journey to become a theatre artist. For example I have heard many origin stories that begin with a trip to see a particular Broadway musical. (That's likely more specific to this region – the area surrounding in or surrounding New York City.) There's a fantastic episode on This American Life about folks who caught the drama bug. I don't know that my origin story is starts at one single moment or experience, but there are certainly some significant milestones along the way. The Robot Inventors marks a mile.

No comments:

Post a Comment