Thursday, December 06, 2007

Where Ideas Come From

I just did another e-mail interview -- this time about creativity. (I didn't have to talk about the strike -- woohoo!)

This was from a college student who directed a production of my play, FOOLISH WISEMAN, at her school. As part of the process, she wrote a paper that included answering some questions about the author.

I thought y'all might want a brief insight to the creative process, so here are two of her questions and my answers:

What inspired you to write "Foolish Wiseman?"

While I was working for Taproot Theatre in Seattle, we needed a Christmas themed play to tour to Japan. The one we were planning on touring had fallen through, so we had a matter of days to come up with a replacement before rehearsals began.

The limits were stiff – small cast, set and costumes that could travel on a Japanese subway, lots of physicality (as it would be performed for people learning English), etc.

I’ve always been drawn to stories about the “other” guy, the one we never heard about, such as Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead” (what were they doing behind the scenes while Hamlet was soliloquizing)?

So that got me to thinking about the friends of the magi – did they support their pals’ odd behavior? And that led me to Ogion – the friend who wished he went at first time around, and now has to catch up.

I guess there is a part of me that identifies deeply with just that – regretting taking so long to get on board, and racing to catch up.

I love VeggieTales! How did you come to write for them?

I wrote my first VeggieTales script on a dare, and never thought it would actually become a video.

Back when Bob and Larry were still fairly new, I was arguing with a friend. His position was that they were great and all, but so very limited, because there are so many Bible stories that can’t be told for children.

I dared him to name one, and he did: David and Bathesheba.

So I wrote “King David and the Bath Ducky” just to prove him wrong.

Another friend, artist Bryan Ballinger, was interviewing with Big Idea, and passed off my script as he negotiated his fee. They liked it enough to offer to buy it -- even though it took a year to figure out how to market it. Seeing the same problem as posed earlier, they wondered how to handle parents of the kids that looked up the original story and then asked questions about adultery and the like.

It took over a year and a massive rewrite by Phil Vischer, as well as a change in era, location and title – but I was now in the Big Idea house.

Just my thoughts,



DANNY said...

My name is Ogion! I come from afar!

Thank you for telling my story.

Anonymous said...

Two good examples of good writing that came out of dealing with limitations: physical (cast size, set, costumes), linguistic (ESL audience), or cultural (Bible stories that can't be told for children).

Seems like you thrive on challenges...


Omar P. said...

Hey Sean -

Gosh, I remember proof-reading that earliest version of a VeggieTales script. In fact, I think I may have been one of the ones who said, "Yeah, but what if children look up the original story?"

BTW, whatever happened to your other spec script for them, "Citizen Sugar Kane?"

Omar P.

Gaffney said...

Alas, Citizen Sugar Kane never went anywhere. I should revisit that script some day...

I couldn't quite remember who was in on those early conversations -- you, Jen, me, Dan maybe?

Ah, the good ol' days.

Omar P. said...

Yeah, that grouping sounds about right. Jen had worked at the Christian book store across the street just before coming to the 'root and thus knew all about the Veggies. I seem to recall her bringing the tapes to work and forcing us all to watch them . . . we may have even taken a lunch break at your apartment to do so.