Stage Writes

The Official Stage Rights Blog

Special Contributor: Episode 2 of Donna Hoke's blog "Finding Neil Patrick Harris: A Play in Process"

NOTE: We are re-posting Donna's blog on a weekly basis. To read ahead or to learn more about her and her other work, either visit the author page on our site or go directly to her website

Thank you, everyone, who showed up for Day 1. I edited there to say, and I’ll also say here, that I’m in the process of trying to get my daughter or somebody to figure out how I can add a subscribe button to this blog (if you’re MailChimp and WordPress savvy, hit me up!). In the meantime, if you want to keep up, please follow me on Facebook at Donna Hoke, Playwright, on Twitter @donnahoke, or just send your email to, and I’ll make sure I’ll let you know when I’ve posted a new entry. UPDATE: It took me ALL DAMN DAY but I figured it out! You can now subscribe to this blog at the bottom right of the page! Please test it lol!
Business aside, even after three pages in, I like to go back before I start new pages each day and see what I’ve already written. I do this not just to see what sparks, but also to mine what I’ve put down. I have two ten-minute plays that I turned into full-length comedies and, in both cases, I found that everything I needed to build out the entire play was contained in those ten minutes. Sometimes, a simple sentence about a high school boyfriend became a whole subplot, but it’s all about teasing out those threads.
Here’s what I pull from the first three pages:
*The nail polish colors could have a good payoff at the end. Maybe the girls even name a color Finding Neil Patrick Harris to give the title double meaning (I love double meaning titles and this is only a working title but it makes me like it better). What color would that be??

Nail Polish_Hoke Blog

*Katie is divorced and she has something to prove.
*Cha Cha is funny, but also has something to prove—but to whom?
*Their mutual need to prove something will probably provide a good bond for their mission.
*Cha Cha thinks that Katie is a little too buttoned up, so Katie needs to prove her wrong.
As I mentioned in Day 1, I know where this scene needs to end, but I need to start thinking about what’s beyond scene 1, and the relationship between Cha Cha and Katie. Clearly, they’re not best friends, but if they’re going to take a journey together, they need to find some common ground, a reason to take this journey. Which means even though I know the objective of this scene, I need to start laying that groundwork for whatever it is that they DO have in common.

Is this a good time to say that I don’t outline? I know what the end is, and I write to get there, but I figure it out along the way. When I listen to podcasts and stop in the middle, I always have to go back about 30 seconds to remember where I was, so I’ll do that for you here as well and back up about half a page. Now back to FINDING NEIL PATRICK HARRIS (oh! one more thing: three pages is the minimum goal I set for any given day so when I post, you should always get at least that):

Neil Patrick Harris

TONIO: I want to be cremated.
CHA-CHA: I can’t do your toes if you’re ashes.
KATIE: And don’t you want that awesome dead person makeup?
CHA-CHA: If you think that makeup is awesome, that explains a lot about your… look.
KATIE: It’s peaceful!
CHA-CHA: It’s vampiric.
TONIO: They suck out your blood. It’s unnatural. Send me to the incinerator, melt me down, then take my ashes and fling them at Neil Patrick Harris.
TONIO: Because five years ago, he snubbed me at an opening and I’m not over it.
KATIE: Maybe he didn’t see you.
TONIO: Oh, he saw me. I was right there behind a ficus tree watching his every move.
CHA-CHA: You were stalking?
KATIE: I don’t think a ficus has stalks, more like branches–
CHA-CHA: What?
KATIE: It was a joke.
CHA-CHA: [not funny] (to Tonio): So your stalking?
TONIO: I was waiting for my chance. And then I jumped out, right in front of him, and put my hand out–
TONIO puts his hand out to CHA-CHA, but it looks like he’s going to strike her and she pulls it away.
CHA-CHA: You scared the shit out of him!
TONIO: I don’t see it that way.
KATIE: You’re going to waste your ashes on revenge?
TONIO: You got a better idea?
KATIE: Maybe your husband would want them.
TONIO: Save him a teaspoon for his coffee.
KATIE: They’re not nice ashes like a fireplace, you know, all soft and smooth and slippery–
CHA-CHA: They’re not body lotion.
KATIE: I’m just saying, you think it’s going to be like that. But there’s bone bits.
TONIO: Perfect. He’ll be picking me out of his hair for a week.
KATIE: Can we talk about something else?
TONIO: We’re all gonna die, Katie.
KATIE: It doesn’t mean I have to think about it.
TONIO: I think about it all the time. I want to die sitting up so that nobody even suspects I’m dead until they notice that I haven’t laughed at their joke, because isn’t that really the only way anybody ever notices anything? When it’s about them? Because up to that point, they will think I’ve just been perfectly attentive, in peaceful suspended animation, and refraining from sarcastically commenting on their story because for some inexplicable reason I am deciding this time to be polite, and they will be convinced it’s because their story is so intriguing, so fascinating, that I am positively rapt over it, rapt to the point of speechlessness. They will not consider for a moment that I am never speechless, and when their story is over, and when I have not laughed, they will realize I am not rapt at all. I am dead. And looking positively serene. And if I’m lucky, they will realize it was their story that killed me.
CHA-CHA: If you’re gonna do it in that chair, wait until I make my escape. 
TONIO: You’re never leaving.
CHA-CHA: I am so!
TONIO: You say that every week. Admit that you’d miss me.
CHA-CHA: That’s the craziest–
TONIO: Unrequited love is painful.
CHA-CHA: I really am going to leave.
KATIE: Maybe the local pig sty is hiring.
TONIO: As quick-witted as her daughter.
CHA-CHA: It’s not insulting if it’s not funny.
KATIE: It is funny. Because you’re dirty.
CHA-CHA: Not dirty like a pig.
KATIE: That’s why it’s funny.
CHA-CHA: It’s not funny.
KATIE: What do you know? I know funny. I wrote a sitcom. And it’s funny.
CHA-CHA: What’s it about?
KATIE: Do you really want to know?
If you’re still here for Day 2, what’s keeping you interested? Who is your favorite character? Stay tuned for more!