Amanda Jane

To re-cap: I’m writing every day in June on my new play Slam. Slam is short for Samantha Lamb, and she is a business owner with a shady past. Nothing major, nothing minor.Regardless, I find her interesting. Today’s subject? Read on….

 

Hello, dear readers. A brief entry and a brief scene between Slam and Amanda Jane.

Amanda Jane isn’t a ghost, exactly, but a fictive daughter of Slam’s, perhaps nine years old. A spirit, perhaps. Not an imaginary friend, because Slam never, ever had imaginary friends. 

The visual i have for her is standing behind a seated Slam, patting Slam’s shoulder.  This is a child’s way to be visible and also show support – usually for things for which they have no understanding. 

SLAM
I did not do it.

AMANDA JANE
Do what?

SLAM
She thinks I hurt her dogs. She thought that then, anyway.

AMANDA JANE
Who?

SLAM
I saved her fucking dogs. Drunk in the car and wouldn’t come out. Jonah was in the back seat. Her saying Skip got hurt, she’s not paying. She could barely speak.

AMANDA JANE
But those dogs did die.

SLAM
Not those dogs. Not April’s dogs. Not those.

AMANDA JANE
What happened to Jonah?

SLAM
She works at the hospital now. Checks people in. What?

AMANDA JANE
What happened to Jonah?

SLAM
He was your age.

AMANDA JANE
I know.

SLAM
She came back the next day. I don’t know. You can’t pull kids from people’s cars, Amanda.

AMANDA JANE
But she was yelling.

SLAM
I yell all the time.

AMANDA JANE
It’s called a blackout.

SLAM
(Angry) It’s called parenting. Jonah turned out fine. A little quiet, maybe.

AMANDA JANE
So which dogs died?

SLAM
Ask your grandfather.

Spoon

To re-cap: I’m writing every day in June on my new play Slam. Slam is short for Samantha Lamb, a young woman from an old farm family, once powerful in the county. Slam’s life is about to change and not through her sound judgment or anyone’s good graces. Today’s subject? Read on….

 

Let’s talk Spoon. Yes. I’m a little tired this evening and need a pick-me-up. Spoon is just the man for that.

Spoon and Slam have known each other since they were kids. They are virtually the same age, graduated the same year from high school, and both more or less stuck around Mason. Spoon is eager, a little clumsy, and has an extraordinarily engaging style. His personal challenge? A poor attention span. He’ll come up with all sorts of schemes and plans, but virtually none come to fruition. Spoon’s blessing is he knows that about himself, shrugs happily, and moves on to the next project.

Why he and Slam remained close is a mystery. Slam, after all, isn’t much of a smiler. She’s got huge, demanding opinions and her crowd was the drug and nasties, which Spoon steered clear of. Yet somewhere they met up on the periphery and supported each other’s lives. Spoon used to pick up Bobby from school. Slam got Spoon his current job (more on that later.) And throughout the years they’ve come to rely on the rhythm of their relationship.

My visual for Spoon? The hook that tells me the man is in the play? It’s just this: he plops down at a table, flashes a toothy smile, and starts gesturing a story, or revealing his lastest scheme, which is always interesting and full of possibility. You can’t help but be taken in. Where did this guy come from? And why is he dressed that way?

In sum: it is Spoon’s easy acceptance of the world that is a balm for Slam. Slam pulls on fury like a uniform, but stays near people who shine their light.

All for now.

Land

Hi Folks,

Here’s more prose about a play, which is itself a contradiction in terms. But bear with me, because this work is crystalizing the surroundings, from which twelve characters will live and make all sorts of stage mess – the interesting kind. Today’s subject? Slam’s home.

 

As I’ve mentioned, Slam was born and lives in the town of Mason. Her family once owned a substantial portion of Louisa County, nestled high up in Northeast Iowa. Over the years, however, bits and parcels were sold off to pay debts that were foolhardy and decidedly unbusinesslike. Slam’s dad finally let go of the last acreage of farmable land, leaving just enough for the barn and a small house, built to replace the orginal farmstead.

Moving to the present day of the play (2003), Slam is pushing hard against the taint of failure. The Lamb family has been infected. Slam’s grandfather, on reaching retirement age, became disgusted with his heirs and let slide, satisfied to live on Social Security and bonds from World War II.

Squire, the middle son and Slam’s dad, came back from Korea, ignored his GI Bill rights, and aimed for the title of gentleman farmer. Hard to do in the 1950’s and a virtual impossibility after SNCC started its marches, Kennedy was elected, and the Beatles came on the scene. To his credit, Squire made an admirable attempt. But facts easily conspire against a young man who had more romantic notions than business sense, as well as tendency to ignore the finer points of loan documents and lease agreements. It got easier to sell here and parcel out there, rather than sit in a bank a minute longer. Besides, the local watering hole was calling. Just one shot and a beer chaser. He’d be home soon after, and then he really’d really know what to do.

 
Sheela break: I’m frustrated! I meant to write about Slam, but clearly I’m stuck in the mid-1960’s, about ten years before she was even born. Maybe tomorrow. 

All is not lost, however, because I’ve got another visual: Squire hiding out in roadside bar, the type with rectangular, narrow windows, a gravel parking lot, and neon beer signs. Squire throws back a shot, reaches for a cloudy glass of beer, and begins planning his next moves. He’s so close, the circumstances are very nearly in alignment. Just a few minutes out in the field, by himself, with no voices spouting opinions, no long-winded advice, no carping over past bills.

Whiskey chaser.

Slam’s coming soon.

From Iowaworkforce.org

It Takes Two

To re-cap: I’m writing every day in June on my new play Slam. Slam is a mash-up for one Samantha Lynn Lamb. Somewhere in her early 30’s, she’s angry, pregnant, and one unhappy Midwesterner. Set in Northeast Iowa, Slam is not so much about rural life as it is about humility and the open space. Today’s subject? Read on….

I know who the father is, but I don’t want to write about him. But he’s in this play, and in it in a big way. How do I know? I got another visual.

The father of Slam’s baby is Tristan, surname TBD. He represents lots of the men I grew up with, who hung out in back of the women clutching beer cans and making smart remarks. Usually large of belly and mostly absent, these men had a tendancy to swoop in with either sullen, curt movements, or display drunken gestures that are meant to be humorous and clever as well as  conceal wrongdoing. On any misstep, these men beat a fast retreat.

But once in a while, just when you’re not looking, a focused trickster like Tristan shows up. And  because he’s somewhat successful at his endeavors, he’s hard to make leave.

Why does Slam drift to him? A nice jolt of danger, and he’s a drug connection. She just put her dad in a medical facility – I think because of dementia, possibly wet brain from too much alcohol – and it could be she’s deriving some self-punishment activities.

Maybe Slam’s looking to re-capture her trickster days. She’s about seven years older than Tristan and things just didn’t work out like they were supposed to. Her dad sold off their property, she’s not the best business woman, and her son is starting to stay away from home and defend his frequent absences from school.

How about one pause, she thinks. One small day.

Which turned into a few more.

Bobby’s about to find out what Slam’s up to.

And in the meantime? I’ve got the image, which scares me half to death. Here it is: Tristan in a doorway, behind a screen door. His arms are akimbo, his grin kind of messy. And his belly represents a mass of arrogance. Tristan holds the land like most men of his age: not by brute force as much as laser sensitivity to the weaknesses of those around them.

For Slam, that’s half the fun. The problem, though, is she’s not as good at holding her own. Her capricious behavior has been tempered of late by years of stable living and paying more attention to her son than cultivating her reputation.

Maybe she’s taken on Tristan beause she just got bored. Yes? I don’t know; more exploration there.

I think the answers lie in Slam’s relationship with her mom and dad.

Slam and Her Mother

To re-cap: I’m writing every day in June on my new play Slam. Slam is short for Samantha Lamb, and she is a pregnant, angry Iowan. Her life is about to change and not through her sound judgment or anyone’s good graces. Today’s subject? Read on….

Here’s a brief scene between Slam and Desda, Slam’s mother. Desda left the family when Slam was a little girl.

This scene, by the way, took place many years prior to the setting of the play. The subject here is another pregnancy and not Bobby, either.  Slam was busy, kids.

Forgive my illusiveness and nonsensical-ness. I stayed up way too late last night on the internet tracking down blogs and tweets and F-book postings on Istanbul and all the protests in Turkey. My father was born in Istanbul and he had been visiting and was on his return flight to Phoenix the day the protests in Gezi Park began.

But let’s talk theatre here. Let’s talk Slam.

Desda moved to Iowa City and did well for herself. She’s in the IT department at the university, owns a house, and takes advantage of all the bike trails that surround the city and skirt the Missouri River.

Slam is a teen here. She escaped her dad and sought out Desda, but not for advice, exactly. Perhaps she went just to show off what she’d done.

Slam was a legendary teen. More on that later.

DESDA
(Stern) It’s not your fault.

SLAM
(Mumbles) Right.

DESDA
Samantha Lynn? None of this is your fault.

SLAM
None of it. Absolutely nothing. No way.

DESDA
You’re a child.

SLAM
Who got pregnant.

DESDA
It’s not your fault.

SLAM
Raw dirt.

DESDA
Get in the car.

US 151 South = Dubuque, Iowa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE0EkR0Zz8s

Hello, dear readers. I’m writing each day in June on my new play Slam.Slam is short for Samantha Lamb, and she is a pregnant, angry Iowan. Her life is about to change and not through her sound judgment or anyone’s good graces.Today’s subject? Read on….

I am not in the mood to write about this play. I’ll be honest with you.In the background I have a YouTube clip of a trucker filming his entrance into Dubuque, which is where I’ve put the fictional town of Mason, the setting of the play.The trucker posted a camera to his dashboard and there you are: a shotgun view, with a soundtrack of shocks absorbing bounces and a roaring, powerful engine. I’m inspired by the view of the highway and the transition into town. It’s clearly the end of the day because the sun is behind the truck.There are bends and trees and trees and a slow incline.
The expanse of space, after living in New York City, is what calls to me. My lungs expand happily, even though I’m a weather wimp and can’t imagine enduring Iowa winters again. But Iowa in the fall? That’s when the postcard photographers move in and everybody smiles.
“Ah, we’ve never been through this way!”
The trucker is friendly; not saying much, but his quips are cheery. After a day of driving, presumably, he must be tired. There’s an American flag and a warehouse of some sort and yes, we’re off the highway in Dubuque town proper.A bank clock declares 7:12.

I wonder what he’s shipping.

Note that there’s no music. Note that the man likes the view, as do I. Note that the highway bends and the hills roll and this trucker has just left town. Oh. I’m disappointed.I guess he’s going to keep working and have a late dinner.

“Pretty view out here, though!”

The GPS just barked directions, introducing computer-speak that really breaks my mood.After all, Slam has a memory base in the 1970’s, which (surprise!) were my formative years. And even though the setting is 2003, I don’t see much more than cell phones modernizing the day. Besides, Slam can’t and doesn’t drive and there’s a mystery there. How can she live way out of town, have a teenage son, run a petsitting business, yet not own a car?
All for now. The video’s still not over. I’m still mesmerized. The trucker’s about to pass a Sara Lee truck.These men work.
“Bumpy road!”

I write from Brooklyn, having dried off from a trip to Midtown in all that post-Andrea rain. I re-play the clip, remember trips to my grandparents’ home and extended picnics. I pet the cat, I get in my own bed.
Tick, tock.
Drama.

Slam Update: Big

I just spent time with my index cards and inserted another scene between two women – Slam and April – who don’t understand, but like and respect each other. Their tenuous friendship is based years of being in the same town and watching each other mature, make mistakes, soar on successes, then fall awkwardly and land up-ended, with panties for all to see.

The irony, however, is there’s success in that.

(Excuse me while I scoot over to my music collection to pick out an album. The Nick Lowe just ran out. Being on an extended 1980’s kick, in part fueled by this play, I’m going to put on – wrong, I’m going to press – Tears for Fears, Elemental.)

There is success in falling with a decidedly unattractive splat. April had hers through drinking (she’s Jonah’s mom, by the way – read the June 3rd blog), and she’s sober and soaring, supporting her son rather awkwardly, but in such a heartfelt manner that Jonah’s beginning to inch back and trust her.

Slam’s spalt? No, not her pregnancy. Perhaps for Slam it’s just misplaced hubris. (Can you place hubris?) Her family used to be one of the wealthiest in the county, but that was nearly two generations it’s all gone. So sure, that’s part of Slam’s curse, but the reason I’m writing this play is to get the skinny on this Samantha Lynne, unearth this chemical-soaked, tainted woman. I have loads of content and literally dozens of scenes, and Slam has yet to be revealed. Smart cookie. In fact, she may not show up until the first day of rehearsal. Or final tech. Or opening night. Yes, she’s that illusive.

But not to worry – Kangal’s on the prowl. Remember: I grew up in Iowa, too.

Northeast Iowa.