The new year brought the birth of the idea and with February came research that began creation of a place for Mungo to enter our world – alive and pitching. We piled up more thoughts and information through March. In April Jim & I started a playwrights workshop moderated / taught by Trey Nichols. Jim has workshopped several of his plays with Trey and so this was a natural place for us to go when we were ready to put fingers to keyboard and began birthing our one-man-play...The Ballad of Van Lingle Mungo -or- maybe...Mungo -or- perhaps...MungoPlay.-or-...?
Jim's guidance and choices proved wise on several levels and Trey welcomed me to the group with openness and a great cup of coffee! Trey is a gifted writer in his own right and creates an atmosphere that gave us a platform to pull the most out of our subject and ourselves.
Here’s how the eight week workshop moved along:
We met at Trey’s home 10:00 Saturday morning from 12 April to 31 May. Seven playwrights working six plays. Class began with coffee and snacks that Trey provided, chat about theater that was happening around town and comments on what people might have experienced.
The informal opening was followed by pages, maybe 5 to 10, being read aloud from each play. Every reading was followed up with Trey's comments – he also encouraged us to explore what we had just experienced so all had opportunity to speak and respond.
Although this process is likely very familiar to many creatives out there—I have never been involved in anything quite like it and found myself diving into these moments with energy and enjoyment. Jim was particularly good at seeing and responding in a way that brought light and direction. Others in the group had this gift as well. It was very stimulating and amazingly helpful...
Our main reason for writing a play about Mungo was for use in promoting Diamond Stars, since Mungo plays a pivotal role in the novel. Originally we thought the play would run somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes. We had also thought it would primarily be a play about baseball and Van Mungo's role in it. As the weeks progressed the play segued and became more about the person of Van Lingle Mungo—who also happened to be a baseball player through the prime of his life...The workshop helped frame this choice and as a result we now have a piece that will relate to a general audience and not just aficionados of old baseball.
After these sessions Jim and I would meet for lunch and create a plan for where Mungo would be moving next. A couple of weeks we revisited and re-wrote the material we had just read for the next workshop session. As it ran I would usually take first crack and then pass the new pages to Jim for his take. We averaged five to seven pages per week. We also took notes and kept them for later re-writes.
This process worked out well for us. As we approached the last weeks we discovered a couple of things. First, this was not going to be a 30 to 45 minute play—there was a lot more material here than we had imagined and we were going to have to work to bring it in around an hour. Second, we were not going to finish the play within the eight week workshop as we originally planned, we would need to come up with at least two or maybe three sections to finish Mungo up.
More to come...