Tuesday, May 25, 2004

"Nobody gives a good god-damned about humanity."

I was working on the new play last night. I'm in the second half and only now have begun to realize that the finale I had in mind would not have worked. I need a new ending. So, I spent a bit of time last night doing what I often do when I'm putting a play together. I sit and run scenario after scenario through my head. I know the characters well enough so I can point them in a direction, say "Go", and see where they end up.

I did this before I went to sleep last night, over and over, to try and find a new direction for this play to lead.

See, the problem with the old ending was one I've run into before: I was planning on using something that neither existed nor could be invented. The play is about the loss of identity workers experience in our modern age. The ending would have been the solution to that problem. Now, I knew intuitively that I wasn't going to solve that with a play. Heck, if I could find a way out for my characters, I could just as easily found a way out for myself.

So, that wasn't going to work. And, so, I laid in bed and tried on other endings for size.

The reason that wasn't going to work (I soon realized after a variety of variations on the original theme) was because this is not a recent development. This is not a new problem. Factory workers experienced this in the early part of the 20th century. Mill workers experienced it in the late part of the 19th century. Slaves had always had it.

So, if there's no way out (I thought, trying out a different scenario), why not use the opportunity to rebel against the futility?

And so, the scenario started. The characters come in. They begin to talk about getting out. They realize they can't and that it's always been this way. Plato, the lead, questions on mankind could have allowed this to develop. In my head, he asks, "How could this happen? What about humanity?!"

Then, a voice said, "Nobody gives a good god-damned about humanity."

This startled me. Whoa. Nobody? Nobody cares about humanity? Is this right?

When I mention "humanity", I'm talking about the human race as a whole - please keep this in mind.

The voice, the character Ms. Pedunctious, continued, "People care about their families, their towns, even their nations. But you don't see people helping people outside their families, towns helping other towns, nations helping other nations."

But, surely, people volunteer, towns have helped other towns (such as when there's a disaster), and nations have helped other nations (look at the Marshall Plan after WWII).

She replied, "People helping other people is the exception, not the rule. Most of the time, there's an agenda behind it: religious or political. People pick you up only to put you in their pocket. And do you think cities don't charge other cities for their aid in disasters? As for the Marshall Plan, it was developed with industry to make money. What? Do you think France was rebuilt free of charge?"

She continued, "Even if you look at the people who claim to wish to save humanity, it's not all of humanity they wish to save. Those against abortion never push an agenda for feeding all those hungry, unwanted children as much as they rail against abortionists. The fact is that humanity is too big to be saved, to large of an abstract to give a shit about! We've outgrown our own capacity to manage. It's a cancer feeding on itself."

Oooh. Dark. Too dark.

So, I thought about taking it in another direction. Perhaps, taking it out of the cubicle environment altogether.

But her voice remained, "No matter where you work, you're spelling humanity's ultimate doom. Work in a hospital, you maintain overpopulation. Work in an office, you create pollution. Work in an oil refinery, well, need I say the obvious? The problem isn't in the work itself but lies, rather, in that anything man does is ultimately harmful to himself only because he's grown too big for his britches. He's a bull in a china shop with very sensitive feet."

Dark. I'd lost my ending of hope. Where, in the Myth of the Cave, Plato had gone outside to be enlightened for the better, in this play, Plato is enlightened to his own doom. And this is a comedy?

We'll see...

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