Stage Writes

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Special Contributor: Episode 4 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

I’m picking up at the start of Scene 2 here, so if you haven’t read Scene 1, you’ll need to back to the first three episodes, starting here. And if you have no interest in reading about process, just skip right to the script. In most cases from here on, I’m going to start with the new material, because I’m discovering things as I write so it’s easier to talk about after. It also makes it easier for people who are only interested in that; just look for the NPH photo!

NPH 4_Hole

And now, we join FINDING NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, already in progress:
CHA-CHA and KATIE scrubs tubs, sort polish, etc.
CHA-CHA: Did Twinkle Toes make an appointment today?
KATIE: I didn’t see his name.
CHA-CHA: Do you think he has a girlfriend?
KATIE: At least one.
CHA-CHA: That’s probably why he didn’t make an appointment on a Monday. He’s still recovering.
KATIE: Sometimes he just drops in. Mondays are slow.
CHA-CHA: If he does, he’s mine.
KATIE: It’s not your turn.
CHA-CHA: But I took the Alligator Lady yesterday.
KATIE: That was your turn.
CHA-CHA looks into the tub TONIO died in. She starts to sniffle.
CHA-CHA: I keep expecting him to walk in.
KATIE: Monday was never his day.
CHA-CHA: Any day. After three weeks, I’d make room for him on a Thursday.
KATIE: He made fun of me all the time.
CHA-CHA: Don’t speak ill of the dead.
KATIE: But he did.
CHA-CHA: He never said anything that wasn’t true.
KATIE: He said I wasn’t funny.
CHA-CHA: You’re not. He said I’d never leave here.
KATIE: You won’t.
CHA-CHA: But he was funny. We need that or our lives are just entitlement parties and old ladies with corns and mutated toenails.
KATIE: And Twinkle Toes.
CHA-CHA: Twinkle Toes isn’t a life.
KATIE: Did you read his obituary?
KATIE grabs a newspaper from a table.
CHA-CHA: Of course I did.
KATIE: He had a brother.
CHA-CHA: A sister.
KATIE: You can’t just feminize his survivors.
CHA-CHA: He really had a sister. Has. She’s still alive.
KATIE: I didn’t see her at the funeral.
CHA-CHA: Maybe they’re estranged.
KATIE: Why would they be estranged?
CHA-CHA: Families estrange. I don’t talk to my sister.
KATIE: Why not?
CHA-CHA: I don’t know. I thought most people didn’t talk to their sisters.
KATIE: I’m an only child.
CHA-CHA: You’re lucky.
KATIE: I wish I had a sister.
CHA-CHA: Join that Little Brat program.
KATIE: A real one.
CHA-CHA: So she can not show up to your funeral?
KATIE: Do you think she’s sad right now? Wishing they weren’t estranged?
CHA-CHA: I don’t know if they’re estranged.
KATIE: How did she end up in the obit?
CHA-CHA: Jose?
KATIE: I guess.
CHA-CHA: …Do you think Jose has the ashes?
KATIE: Who else?
CHA-CHA: Do you think he knows what Tonio wanted done with them?
KATIE: He wasn’t serious about that!
CHA-CHA: He was dead serious.
KATIE: Do you think he knew he was going to die right after he said it?
CHA-CHA: Maybe. Like animals go away to die, but he said his dying wish. And POOF!
KATIE: Poof!
CHA-CHA: So we need to do it.

Road Trip_Hoke Blog_Ep 4

I mean, you always knew they were going to do it, right? So in some ways, this is some kind of road trip play for these two characters. Which means discovery along the way. What’s jumping out that they need to discover? Or just need? The objectives I talked about in earlier posts. In this scene they both identify what Tonio thought: Katie wasn’t funny and Cha would never leave. That’s a start.

What ideas need to be expressed throughout? That sometimes we need to make a journey. Sometimes we need to put others before ourselves. Sometimes we need to do something that seems damned near impossible, just to see if we can. Sometimes the journey is the answer and not the success. What do we learn in that situation? What drives us to take such a journey? How do I express that for these characters? The beginnings of plays have so many questions!!
For Katie and Cha specifically, why do they need to do this? How much is for them and how much for Tonio? What would happen if they didn’t make it? Failure, but why does the failure matter? I don’t know the answer to that. I guess because they both already feel like failures in some way.

The why goes back to things that have been alluded to before: proving something to themselves and others. There’s the hint that Cha has a sister she doesn’t talk to, but why? There’s bad blood there about something and maybe the answer to whom Cha needs to prove something to lies in that. Katie wishes she had a sister, so obviously, there’s room in the journey for Cha to fill that role. That means there has to be a way for Katie to earn Cha’s respect along the way, probably by being funny since that’s something Cha seems to value. Putting that in my back pocket.
I still like the idea of Cha-Cha maybe having some stand-up type monologues that are revealing. Those might be hard because I’m not much of a joke writer… Maybe they don’t need to be hilarious. I don’t know… I feel like there’s something to that idea. Maybe she does it the whole time and Katie does it at the end, which makes them equal?