As regular readers of my blog know, I like to do theatre reviews, with a particular focus on the productions of one of the best regional theatres in the country, Dramaworks in West Palm Beach. My writing drew the attention of a local newspaper, the Palms West Monthly, updated daily on line and published in print form once a month. The paper’s very enthusiastic and skilled publisher, Rob Harris, asked whether he could reprint my reviews and then, a new job for me, be his occasional reporter for news articles on upcoming productions. Gulp, a paying job, my first since retiring (except for a couple of piano gigs) but with that goes responsibility and, worse, length restrictions on articles I write for the paper.
My first effort as a Jimmy Olsen cub reporter involved interviewing certain members of the cast and the director of Dramaworks’ forthcoming production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. This was an energizing experience, giving me more insight into the play which I had already read. But writing a news article is very different than reviewing, so I came home with pages and pages of nearly illegible (curse of being left-handed) notes, a 1,000 word restriction, and sat down and promptly cranked out a 1,600 word article. It seemed impossible to cut out 600 words, all hard earned by me, not to mention the professionals at Dramaworks who had given their time. How could I cut anything that they said, not to mention my own “precious” words? These words were my friends and to retrieve them after sending them out to do their job was agonizing.
Shape up, I said! My wife Ann took a scalpel to it as well in helping me edit and by yesterday, after several passes at the article, each effort winnowing about 100 words, I finally got it down to a little more than 1,000 words and thought that, surely, Rob would cut me a little slack, so I submitted my article. Within hours (he is a fast worker) he came back to me with his version, almost word for word what I wrote except the guillotiner-in-chief had severed about another 100 or so words for space considerations. Ironically, those he left on the cutting room floor were the next set of cuts I would have made if pressed. In making those deletions he also tightened the article quite a bit. So, I was pleased with the results which can be read here.
Sometime after the opening of the play on March 31 I’ll be writing a review but as that will be published in my blog, no length restrictions! I’m thankful for that as Arcadia will probably require lots of thought and many of my friends, words. I will not abandon you this time!