Baby’s On Fire (Putting the Play Back in Play Development) by Micheline Auger

Baby’s on fire, better throw her in the water…” – Brian Eno

There are so many babies on fire right now and they don’t need no water. I was just talking to Diana Oh about her new Filling the Well Artist Retreat. She, like many artists, is on fire, yet the fire flows like water. Actually, “shooting energy from your fingertips” was the language she used. And that’s the language I like. Let the rant begin.

There’s a certain type of language that makes my artistic boner go limp and creative juices go dry. Take whatever sexually provocative, gender-specific language you like because IT IS ABOUT LANGUAGE. You want me to get juicy with my play, don’t hand me a dry stale piece of toast. Hand me a big fucking cheeseburger with bacon and Gorgonzola and lick your fingers while you’re at it.  Don’t ask me what my goal is. Don’t ask me about my intention (which is another pseudo-groovy way of saying goal). I didn’t go to business school to write a play so keep your business language out of my art.

Not to say that I don’t have goals and  intentions (some of them good), but I don’t sit down to write a play because I have a goal or intention, per se. I sit down because I have “energy shooting from my fingertips”, or from my brain, ass, stomach, heart or cunt – and yeah, sometimes I wish heart was first on that list but sometimes it’s ass or cunt, and it’s funny that the minute I wrote cunt my cursor stopped working for a bit and made me think I should have written vagina instead, or maybe even pussy, but I’m sticking with cunt because it is a fun word. Cunt. Fun. Goal. Not.

If you are interested in the development of my play, you need to use your groovy imagination and come up with some better language. Or a better entry point. Lets talk about the sounds of the play or the imagery -  dobermans biting at a metal fence, a tetherball chain whipping itself in a desolate playground, a car starting.  Sounds and images are great entry points to a capital J Juicy conversation about the play which invites the play into the room so it can be part of the conversation. It wants to be part of the conversation. Like it really, really wants to.

When you say goal, the play thinks it’s a spreadsheet and is full of self-loathing and wants to file itself somewhere. When you ask me to explain my play in two sentences, it confuses itself with a suicidal haiku and wants to commit Hari Cari. When you ask me what my intention is,  it thinks you want to rope it into an unhappy marriage where there’s no sex and only dishes.  Don’t do that to my play.

My play want to play with you but are you playful too? I think you are. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Let’s stand on our heads and talk about my play. Tell me a secret joy and I’ll tell you about my play. Be my play’s lover. Love it with the love you have for babies. And then be on fire with it. Don’t throw it in the water.


Filed under WRITERS

2 responses to “Baby’s On Fire (Putting the Play Back in Play Development) by Micheline Auger

  1. I love this. I’ve been writing plays and enduring dry-toast play-development language for 25 years. Thank you for putting into words what I have so often felt.

  2. “I don’t sit down to write a play because I have a goal or intention, per se.”

    Thank you!

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