A Bad Name
By: Tyler Jakes
Mid-contract one night, I lay in bed. I'm normally an incredibly heavy and easy sleeper, but that evening, instead, all I could think of were those Looney Tunes where late at night, a faucet would drip and Daffy or some other character could not fall asleep, their eyes growing larger with each splash until they were driven insane. My brain--doing what it does best—riffed on the concept, thinking: what if...? And that question was the seed that grew into my first and current playwriting endeavor: “A Bad Name.”
I wrote some fiction in high school and college, and originally the core concept I believed would be the ending of a novel or short story, because I have insane respect for playwrights. What they can do, primarily with speech alone, to create mood, characters and a story is awe-inspiring. Yet, it became clear that the idea was best suited for the stage, plus looking back I wasn't all that great of a fiction writer. So, I began to write again—bring on the fear—but this time, a play.
Once the first scene (now, in some form, it's the third scene) was written, I passed it around, had it read, ensuring that I hadn't been wasting my time. Met with only incredible encouragement and a solid dose of constructive criticism, I continued, and earlier this year, the first draft was completed. I had a reading for myself, a few close friends and family, with my actor friends playing the roles. Again, everyone was very enthusiastic. Yet, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. The play was nothing like I had intended it: I had failed and that I truly should not be a writer.
The encouragement kept me afloat, though I wallowed and considered scrapping the whole thing, so I received criticism and comments from everyone, compiled it, and after a couple months to regain a solid emotional space, I began a second draft. Now, that is done, and though I continue to tinker and improve, the play is light years farther, deeper and shorter than it was at the beginning of 2012. Now, it is ready for other artists to help me see these characters and this story for what it can be, to begin the active process of workshops, rewrites and readings.
What is it? It's a bit of a family drama (an eternal thank you to my own, who gave me so much material to draw upon); It's an investigation of love and the incredible extremes people are driven to in its name; It's an opportunity for me as an actor; It's also an opportunity for a genre, rarely able to grace the stage, to have that chance again; It's an incredibly difficult piece, needing a very specific artistic team, and I can't wait to tackle the challenges.
Whether you're writing, acting, or directing, when you find something you believe in wholeheartedly, never let it go, no matter the obstacles. Keep pushing forward, especially into the unknown; you will be surprised at the amazing things discovered there.
Tyler Jakes is an up and coming actor and playwright, based in New York City. A new member of Actors' Equity, he has performed at the acclaimed Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and worked with Gabe Barre, Rick Sordelet and Paul Bogaev. He is currently workshopping his first play, A Bad Name, you can find an excerpt here (http://tylerjakes.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/a-bad-name-draft-2-excerpt/). For everything related to Tyler, check out his webpage (http://www.TheTylerJakes.com).