Saturday Write Fever is an event in San Francisco run by playwrights Megan Cohen and Stuart Bousel at the Exit Studio. I went with my favorite date last night, and it was one of the most entertaining evenings I’ve had in a while.
Here’s how it goes: the space fills up with people, and we all register as writers or actors or both or neither. After some mingle time, the facilitators announced that the theme of the evening was NUMBER FIVE IS ALIVE and shook a hat full of writing prompts, all taken from sci-fi movies. Those of us signed up as writers drew prompts and read them aloud.
Writers get half an hour to produce a monologue including the prompt in some way. I drew “SAVE THE BABY.” We were ushered into the writing room for thirty minutes of total silence and solid nerves. I didn’t expect everyone to be so utterly focused; I thought I might see some writerly posturing or hear some banter. Not a word, just the scratch of pen on paper or the soft thuds of fingers on a tablet. At the ten minute warning, there was a shifting groan as everyone struggled to wrap up a monologue.
I finished early but stayed back to read over and edit a little. I thought it came together ok. I drew an actor at random- a tall confident guy named Arif- and gave a little bit of direction. That was it. It was out of my hands.
Drawing from the theme, many of the monologues were science fiction flavored. We heard about robot husbands and plastic stars, lost aardvarks and clone dating. The quality of both the writing and acting shocked me. I know I live in a town full of artists, but these pieces were very good on pretty short notice. John got assigned a very creepy monologue and really went to town on it. I’d never seen him on stage before, but I know I will again. When Arif got up to read my piece, I bit my knuckle. I tried something different.
It’s called “The Cannibal of Barnes and Noble.”
I’ve eaten the professors, both Xavier and Moriarty
I’ve eaten priests and vicars, both profound and sort of farty
I’ve eaten all the princesses: Leia, Zelda, and Peach
I’ve eaten ghosts and monsters, all incapable of speech
I’ve eaten Katniss Everdeen and found her tough and stringy
I feasted on Rasputin, but skipped the legendary thingy
I’ve tried licking all the cookbooks but they left me hungry, wanting
Went back to novels, films, and games; it’s the characters I’m hunting
I ate Nancy Drew so long I gobbled all her mystery
Those children’s tales, those Christmas books, and Halo 2 are history
I thought that I was full, I ate all of Heathcliff’s scenes
But then I saw those appetizing gossip magazines
And now I dine on royals fine- Prince William and his Katie
But lunch must wait for tomorrow, so I told them SAVE THE BABY.
Writing in verse is easy for me, because the rhyme helps to dictate what comes next. It looks harder to people who aren’t used to it, so I got a fair few compliments on the piece. It was really fun, a great time, and I can’t wait to do it again.
If you’re an actor or a writer or just looking for a very low-cost night of entertainment, you should try Saturday Write Fever. It’s a lo-fi highbrow good time.