This Girl Writes…
By Megan O’Connor
My first full-length play opened last weekend. The Pledge is about magic and illusion, and how a relationship can go horribly horribly wrong. I’m not sure why I chose to write about either of these two topics since I don’t know anything about magic (I do now, but didn’t when I decided that’s what this world would be) and am in a really great, stable (albeit long distance) relationship.
So, armed with very little experience in all three of these areas (play writing, magic, and terrible relationships), I set off to write this thing and it was both terrifying and amazing. It happened in some fairly specific stages.
When I was in college, I started learning how to write. I was better at academic writing, research papers and presentations, but I tried to write a blog and started taking classes to work on journalism and essay writing. In my exploratory writing class, which was a fancy way of saying nonfiction writing, I saw an image of a woman sitting in her car outside of a house watching the man inside of it. I knew exactly who she was and what their relationship was.
And that was it. For a really long time. I had the ending, the main characters and the relationship between them, and nothing else. I tried to write it as a short story, an essay, a novel; none of it made sense. It never worked. I now realize that I was writing monologues, but at the time, I couldn’t figure out how to turn it into something you could read and experience.
Flash forward to a few years ago before seeing Luke Gomez in Grand Concourse, I was having drinks with Brian Maticic. We were talking about Windfall and what at the time he was calling “the Roommate Play” which is now, Depend on Me, and I brought up my concept and the fact that I was perpetually stuck. Brian basically lost his mind with his infectious excitement and told me to write it, to figure it out, and write it. He had other helpful things to say, and after the show that night I went home and wrote a scene. That scene’s been chopped to bits, characters were added, lines cut and reassigned, but it became the party scene after David does a magic show and one of my favorite in the whole play.
After that, I put together Natty’s opening monologue and a scene between Lindy and Natty during a Production Intensive. I wrote a few scenes to have something to read during Write Club, the first scene between David and Natty. That one’s in the play. The first one between Lindy and Natty is not. I wrote a couple of scenes that have never seen the light of day. And that’s ok. Maybe I’ll use them in another show with different characters, or maybe they were just an experiment while I was trying to figure out how everyone would talk and the kinds of things they cared about.
But something was still missing. The magic. Literally. I can’t give much away because the show hinges on keeping its secrets, but I thought what are the themes of this relationship? Deception, deceit, secrets. All the things a magic act has. I know, I know, it’s a very literal translation of those themes, but it clicked. I saw it all unfolding and I knew that this was the show I wanted to focus my time on once all of these pieces started falling into place. David was a magician, Natty was his assistant, and everyone else emerged.
It took a long time to write this show. It wasn’t easy. But it also wasn’t difficult. It was fun. It was intimidating. It was validating. And come opening night it was exciting and terrifying and gratifying all in the same moments. And I’m really proud of the way it turned out. I could write pages about how amazing Jen, Clayton, Jessie, Willa, Alex, James, and Katelyn are and it would barely scratch the surface of how truly incredible I think they are. I could go on and on about Brian and Shelby and how their belief in me and this script has made me cry on so many separate occasions and pushed me forward and given me courage when I didn’t have any. I could talk about the design team and how Berta, Anabel, and Tim solidified the world everyone’s created and stayed true to my writing and Brian’s vision. I have a lot to say about Kayla and Gabe taking charge of the show even though it’s their first time Stage Managing and that’s always intimidating no matter what show it is and new works especially because there’s no context for them so you really need to pay attention. Because of all of them not only is my play a reality, this idea that’s been in my head is now a living thing, but I get to change it. I get to keep working on it and make it better! I can take this foundation that we’ve all built and see what else it could be.
I’m so grateful for all of the hard work everyone put into this show. I’m not the only one who built this world and it belongs to all of us. I’m so grateful to everyone for coming out and seeing it. I hope it’s interesting. I hope it’s magical. I hope it’s entertaining.
Until next time.
The Pledge has two more shows Friday, June 30th and Saturday, July 1st at 7:30PM. Tickets are available online.