Friday, October 22, 2010

Is it really a date? Or is it an Entertaining Writing Lesson in disguise?

 TG and I had another one of our "special" dates Wednesday night.

Okay, sure, technically he was working. So, yeah, I had to drive myself to the theater, and drive myself back home afterward. And sit by myself during the show. (Well, not totally by myself--the Gloomiest Man in the World sat next to me. Seriously. Pure Eeyore. Eyes to the fore, did not crack a smile the whole evening. Hey, it's not my fault he was late buying his tickets, and his wife had to sit down on the front row with her friends. I would have offered to trade seats with her, so they could sit together, but frankly she looked like she was having fun where she was, and I didn't want to spoil her evening.)

TG was, of course, running all the technical stuff (hey, I told you he was "technically" working, right?), and so couldn't stay by my side and listen to my snide insightful remarks about other audience members.

But still. I consider it a date, because we were in the same building, watching the same performance.

And a fantastic performance it was, too! I got to go see my favorite comedy troupe/jugglers, The Flying Karamazov Brothers. You might remember them from this earlier post.

Sadly, the guys didn't come over for dinner this time, but the troupe is every bit as entertaining as they always are. I was delighted to find out they would be performing their famous trick, "The Terror." As I explained in the earlier post, this trick involves juggling a salt shaker, a meat cleaver, a flaming torch, an egg, a block of dry ice, a fish, a ukelele, a bottle of champagne (with the safety wire removed), and a skillet. By the end of the trick, they're frying the fish and egg in the skillet, and drinking the champagne. Really cool.

What's really interesting to me, though (writer that I am), is the build up to the trick. From the very beginning of the show they start to set it up. A sign (it says "TERROR," aptly enough) is placed stage right, and left there throughout the show. One by one, during small breaks between all their other truly awesome sets, the objects to be juggled in the TERROR are placed there.

The tension builds with each addition. All the while we're watching the guys (did I mention they were in kilts? Yeah. *happy sigh*) juggle pins, balls, and funny words, in the back of our mind is, Oh, my gosh--how will they ever be able to juggle all those weird--and dangerous!--things without disaster befalling them?

During the course of the show, the guys sometimes drop a pin, or a ball, or an egg. These things happen. They're great at covering the flubs with funny banter. My personal favorite? One guy saying to another, in a stage whisper, "I don't think they noticed." ("They" being the audience.)

The thing about these flubs--and I'm pretty sure the guys know this--is it builds the tension even more. If they went through the entire show without any mistakes, by the time they got to the TERROR, the audience would be too relaxed. Too certain they'd get through it just fine. It's so much more effective if they let a little doubt build in the minds of the audience members, the fear that the trick might...not...work. That it might fail.

That is tension.

It did eventually work. But not until the third try, and not before they dropped the torch and almost set the bench it rolled under on fire. (Which, TG assures me, was not rehearsed. When you're performing in a very old, wooden structure, with fire, you do not purposefully take chances. Plus, it's a really, really hard trick.)

The point is, by the time the Terror started, we audience members were hushed, holding our breath, trying to help keep those TERROR objects in the air by adding the force of our will (or so it felt to me) to the jugglers' combined skill. We were that involved. That invested in the outcome. The two times it failed were almost unbearable.

And when success finally came (!!!!)? Let's just say it was sweet.

I want to write books like that. :)

18 comments:

Indigo said...

"I want to write books like that. :)"

So do I! (Hugs)Indigo

Jeannie Moon said...

Me too! I need to see them in NY. Time to organize a field trip I think. :-)

Patty Blount said...

Oh, my God! I need to catch my breath... just reading your description of this has me gasping.

Definitely want to write books like this.

Summer said...

Me too! But first I want to see that performance--sounds so wonderful!

Karla Nellenbach said...

Dude, I want to write books like that too, but maybe I should check out this performance first. It sounds incredible! :)

pseudosu said...

What a great depiction of tension! I love examples of it being used really successfully. Super post! (Also, I think hubs owes you another date, where you can, you know, converse and snuggle.) ;)

Kerry Schafer said...

Oh, great post. So true about the building of suspense - in life, books, or anywhere else.

abby mumford said...

that's a clever post right there. you're giving us a lesson on how to write with tension and there YOU are writing with tension.

well played.

they should make you an honorary member of the troupe. and as an audience member, i'd like to see you juggle a laptop, a typewriter, and a pen.

Adriana said...

Great post! I am most impressed that you actually NOTICED all of these things going on and you were able to make the analogy to writing. If it were me watching this scary juggling act, I wouldn't be thinking of anything else but the flaming torch! (ok, maybe the kilts too)

KarenG said...

My husband and I need to have dates like this!

Kelly Breakey said...

Than I deem it so...abracadabra...and so it is done.

Go forth and write great tension.

Don't thank me, it is all in a days work.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

I'm with Abby. There's absolutely no reason you shouldn't be able to juggle a netbook, a pen, some paper, and a dictation machine, all while writing a bestseller.

I have faith in you.

Candyland said...

How nerve-wracking! I definitely want to write books like that too!

Jeffe Kennedy said...

Great analogy!

Bess Weatherby said...

What a great illustration! Me too :)

Linda G. said...

Hi, Indigo! *waves*

Jeannie -- I highly recommend them for a purely fun time. :)

Patty -- Quick! Drink this water! ;)

Summer -- It is fun stuff. :)

pseudosu -- Aw, conversation and snuggling is for the couch at home. ;)

Kerry -- True. Especially geriatric vampire novels. ;)

Abby -- Thanks! And I'd like to see me do that, too. Not likely to happen, though--too clumsy. ;)

Adriana -- Well, I mostly thought about the tension & stuff afterward. During, I was too riveted. :)

KarenG -- You should try it! :)

Kelly -- Oh, but I DO thank you! If I'd known it would be so easy, I would have come to you a long time ago.

Elizabeth -- Your faith is heartwarming. Totally misplaced, but heartwarming all the same.

Candyland -- Aww, you must be a natural at it--you juggle so many things so well at your blog. :)

Jeffe -- Thanks! :)

Bess -- Thanks. I know you will. :)

And thank you all for reading and commenting! :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

It sounds like a terrific date night, even if you had to sit with Mr. Eeyore instead of TG. (And how sweet of you not to spoil his wife's fun. I'll bet she was dying to get away from him for a bit.)

The act sounds spectacular -- and the build up of suspense toward The Terror was obviously very successful!

BTW -- my husband took me on a date night last weekend, too! He took me to a shop specializing in corsets and 19th century costumes. Pix to come when the corset I ordered finally arrives ...

Linda G. said...

Dianne -- A shopping-for-corsets date? Now, THAT sounds like fun! Can't wait to see the pix. :)