Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mask-Making, Part 1

Now we're getting to the good part!

After months of discussion and research, we're finally at the point in our work on Long Now that we can stop talking, and start doing things.  We've got a basic storyline down, so I'm cranking on the script, and when the students come over, we're making masks, puppets, chocolate cake, and a huge mess.

Each time they come over, we do a reading of my latest writing, and I get to hear what sounds good, what sounds clunky, and what should never again see the light of day.  It always astonishes me how something that came out brilliant reads like dried-out old dodo doo.

Fortunately, I've been reading Bird By Bird - one of my favorite books on writing by the marvelous (as I call her) St. Anne of LaMott.  And she reminds me that the whole point of a first draft is to mess all over the place, so that you can weed and winnow and cull and mull, and eventually find the key to the story which can be cultivated and re-written.  The first draft is for nobody but your own dang self, and is not to be read by anyone - except perhaps by a wonderful group of very forgiving high school students.

We're also making masks using the old-fashioned vaseline-and-plaster method, which is fun, because having someone smear vaseline all over your face can be both exceedingly pleasurable, and utterly gross.

Note the plastic Fiona has added to protect Kristen's hair in lieu of smearing vaseline all over it.  We discovered that's the only spot where the wet plaster doesn't dry quickly.

Fortunately, they'd just returned from several days of camping, nobody was in danger of ruining any carefully constructed hairdos, and the vaseline was, proportionately, far less disgusting than it might have been had they taken a shower in the last couple days.

The plan is for Fiona and Kristen to take the mask to their high school's art room, and turn it into the face of White Buffalo Woman, a Native American Creator God who has ended up as a character in the show.

WBW will ultimately become a large puppet, along with Coyote, a bunch of bird spirits, a manatee and a giant, time-eating grasshopper.

We still haven't found the 2-minute Elevator Pitch for the show, but we know it's a mythic story about preventing the world from ending so that humanity a little more time to fix its mistakes.  

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