Tag Archives: Street performer

Finally the Finale

Fly Me to the Moon Let Me Play Among the Stars...

I wear two hats now. One is performer, the other is author. Closing a show with a routine that will thrill the audience is an essential ingredient to good street theater. Without this climactic stunt not only will the show fall flat but so will the audiences response to putting some money in
the hat.

In both Highway Home and Bankrupt Heart I have some scenes that have been built around performers. One of the first things I have had to grapple with was how to handle the emotional peak of a finale. One thing is sure. A finale in a novel is not anything like a finale as performed in front of an audience. Well written sex can be a turn on. There is no “turn on” button to fictionalized vaudeville closing routines, at least not one I have been able to write.

To work around this problem I have tried to devise other methods of engaging the reader so that the experience while not anything like a live show is at least an opportunity to read an account that provides depth and insight into what that experience might be like for the character playing the performer in the novel.

Writers like challenges. We like to write new scenes. If we find our characters in the same situation as in a previous story we will try to create another solution, another reaction, solve the puzzle and invent another way out. A professional variety entertainer having found his best closing routine generally will stick with this discovery if and until something better comes along. I think Sinatra knew this and why New York,
New York was his closer for so many years. The big skill in this repetition of a closing routine is the ability to deliver the thrill climax again and again. Why we usually close with a time tested sure fire bit.

My current finale, the present ending of my street show, ends with… Well, let’s just say it is a work in progress. I am still refining the music, the jokes, the blocking.

I’m grateful for two things. That my performing dog had to retire and forced me to come up with a new closing routine and, Bankrupt Heart is complete and has forced me to start planning a new novel.

BANKRUPT HEART             THE SECOND NOVEL 

In the sound booth a special
effects track plays what appears to be a car slamming on its brakes, followed
by a horrible collision with the final touch the sudden surprising sight of a
hubcap rolling onto the floor from where Mooch had just exited and then rolling
all the way across the stage and vanishing on the other side, behind the other
wing.

            Ry  enters from where the hubcap vanished, “Mooch, the man who does with two wheels
what Picasso did for paint…” Ry puts his arm out pumping his fingers, waving
Mooch back on to take a bow. Instead there are two men carrying him across
stage on a gurney. He looks lifeless. The two men carrying the gurney pause
center stage, then from the center of Mooch’s tummy a spring loaded magician’s
bouquet of daisies pop up out of his gut. Then the two men remaining poker
faced with Mooch feigning death solemnly exit.

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Friends Change

I Still Talk to Her, Even if She Can't Hear Me Anymore

I departed on my journey inspired by the dreams of friends I made when my soul was still younger than spring. These were big dreamers. I had scrawny dreams. They weren’t even dreams, they were practical considerations, they didn’t contain ambitions, they were solutions to anxieties. I thought I’d adjust my aim so I wouldn’t be too inconvenienced by trying to do more than the world was likely going to allow. But, really I didn’t have my sights set too high when I met my buddies from high school. I wasn’t doing anything so artistically advanced as these two powerhouses unless nothing adds up to much of anything. It is amusing what you can do with 15,000 days in your life once you decide to do something with them. I got to it. Joined the Royal Lichtenstein Circus for a spell, mounted my first production and toured the United States as the Harlequin Street Theater, went solo and worked under my god given moniker, got a dog and named the act Dana Smith and His Performing Dog Sunshine, and then she passed and got another dog a decade later named Lacey. Wore her out and retired her. I wrote plays, songs, lyrics, poems, magazine articles, eventually one and then two novels. I’ve been hard at all these years. Been married, divorced and remarried. Happy as a husband can be. I’ve got a kid in college. I’m doing shows still, trying to get my second novel sold, and plotting the next one, Hot Spring Honeymoon. I still see my friends. We talk now and then. Some come on out and sail with me. But, we’ve all changed. We all have gone our own ways. Much as I thought we’d all continue to relate to one another, that our stories would somehow continue to feed our bond we sealed in youth with our dreams I’ve come to see that has changed. We’ve all produced different results, different experiences, different obstacles to overcome or not, and eventually
by dent of time I guess it would be honest to say we are not dazzled by one another any longer. What we thought was genius, brilliant, and inspiring all those many decades ago isn’t like that so much now. We just are not fuel for each others passions any longer. Sometimes one of my old friends surprises me and I’ll walk that last comment back, but more often than not what passes for encouragement between friends isn’t much more than a mundane service being rendered by a friend struggling to relate to what new work they’ve found by circumstances into witnessing. Seems odd to my mind, but truth goes where it goes. Turns out a stranger interested in fiction makes a better reader and provides a more pertinent reaction than a long time friend who isn’t much interested in fiction and by duty is forced to encounter material they would by
any other circumstance avoid. There’s only so far any of us can go, even in the service of old dreams, and old friends, and old promises we made to ourselves. Still, doesn’t change the fact I still love those old friends, just find much of what we have in common has changed.

Bankrupt Heart                                                  The Novel

Lenny laughed, “She’s a whirling dervish, a Tasmanian devil, part coyote and a
bonafide wild ride,” Lenny paused, mood shifted, smile vanished, turned and
looked at Ry. “I’m heading north, have plans to be in the Puget Sound this
summer, Jackie’s going to need her friends, someone she can spend time with,”

            “I can understand that, look forward
to seeing her anytime,” Ry said.

            “I was talking to her few nights
ago,” Lenny was trying to explain his arrival, his behavior, “I said that I
didn’t know what was going to happen when I got here, didn’t know how I’d feel,
what reaction I was going to have.”

            Ry looked at Lenny, wanted to hear
what he thought. “What do you think?”

            “I think it isn’t what I expected.”
Lenny said. “The first time is never like the next time. Five years is a long
time to be away, things change, it’s not that she’s so different, or that I am,
just that things are, the world is.”