Prior to arriving in Chicago, I hadn’t laid a finger on the show since the 2013 Seattle Fringe Festival. Once the festival ended, I let it sit. Subsequent efforts to book the show in other festivals did not come through, then 2014 led to creative hibernation and work towards my eventual departure from Seattle.
Once I arrived in Chicago, I devoted myself heavily to studying and practicing improv. But, at the behest of some colleagues, I also got back into storytelling and in the process took my first serious look at Drawn Dead since 2013.
Rather than look at the original script (which I believe may still be in Las Vegas with other possessions yet to get shipped to me), I took notes to try and outline the story I remembered, plus ideas for elements I wanted to add or change. I knew I would rework the show if I ever picked it back up again, and the only question was how much.
One key change is that my improv and storytelling skills have since gotten a LOT better… not so much my delivery as my distillation of story into a presentable piece. Before, I had a tendency to ramble forever whether describing an idea or writing it. My inner editor has gotten a lot less precious and a lot more efficient, plus developed a much better eye for the important nuggets versus the needless info. Improvement with my improv has helped that as well, as working in the Chicago scene has further hammered home the importance of getting to the relevant and interesting point.
When developing version 1 of Drawn Dead, my limitations as a storyteller made it clear to John Leith and I that the story’s best presentation was as a physical theatre piece with audio and storytelling elements. My efforts to tell the story didn’t do enough. However, having improved as a storyteller since, I’m sure my storytelling can carry more of the show.
Also, my improv has gotten better. This helps with developing solo scenework. Pretty much all of the original filtered through the internal POV of the main character. I now see potential for replacing the audio backdrop with 2+ character scenes I could develop through solo improv. I’m considering replacing the overhead, at times supernatural narrator in version one with a mentor character in the next edition.
This is not to say I’m going to trash the entire original version. I still want to use the original opening scene mostly as is, and some of the poker tournament montage scenes still work great. And obviously, the original story is still the original story. Version one embellished a lot of material, and there’s no reason version two can’t take liberties in a different way. It might even be closer to truth while yet being better.
I’ve got a few quick projects coming up over the next couple weeks, but once those are finished I’m looking forward to diving into the abyss of Drawn Dead, version 2015.