PCN Workblog 5: Epilogue

Credit: Nicholas Lee

It is done.

Although the first workblog was written roughly 300 days before PCN, the official PCN day count ended at 348, just short of a year. But if I want to be honest with myself, planning for PCN began in the very back parts of my brainspace two years ago. Back when I was attending script meetings to figure out what PCN 2008 was going to be, ideas kept trickling in that would later become PCN 2009. I wrote them in my notebook. I fleshed them out on the drive home. I transferred them to a notepad file.

Then later it was there, on stage, in costume and awash in a light special. It's a strange process. From incubation to fertilization to the violent birth pangs until eventually and finally, it is done. Something so introverted, so personal, is outside of my heart. It exploded out of my chest like so many alien parasites and has hopefully burrowed into yours.

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Video | One Fall

Longer than it ought to be, but it gets people's attention for 1) the ridiculous utility of Sigur Ros in any trailer and 2) No one has ever attempted to even mimic movie style trailers before. So it's a good feel.

PCN Workblog 4: Sleepless

I am, you might say, in the thick of things. I'm at the part where the work starts to drain you, just a little bit. Most of the drain comes from keeping all the work in mind. What you still need to do, what you need to prepare, what you need to buy: these are the things that dominate my head in a vicious cycle. The actual act of directing and deconstructing? That's fine. Sometimes, doing it for four hours straight is a bit mentally exhausting, but I've survived so far. The weight of everything else, well, I'm starting to get sick of that.

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PCN Workblog 3: Wet Clay

There's that feeling you get the night before school when you lie in your bed. Or when the handle bars come down on the roller coaster. Or when you cast your line into the black ocean at night, and wait. For me, that feeling has been going for 203 days now, and it will continue for a few more.

As I write this, the second, but never final, draft of the script has been submitted to my cast. Did I mention that I have a cast? It's a strange, odd feeling to attach voices and faces to these roles that I had previously attached to other voices and faces. Ones that I could never cast, like Hugh Laurie or amalgamations of several people I know. At the risk of sounding demeaning, it's like having new toys to play with. But I still have a month before I get to really break them.

The meatiest work begins, and it begins soon. Sometimes,when I'm alone with my mind, I run through the game plan over and over again. Research the insurance. Call the stage hands union. Solicit from Chancellors, Vice Chancellors. Invite faculty. Write press releases. Send contract. Cut checks. Buy props. Solicit from corporations. Create sponsorship packets. Meet with local business.

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PCN Workblog 2: Shitty First Draft

As I type, at long last, "THE END" on the 85th page of my first draft, I realize I am in deep, deep trouble.

This is gluttony. This is excessive ambition. This is building skyscrapers in the basement.

I got my script software to compile the statistics of my first draft just to make myself feel crazy. Almost 17,000 words, including descriptions, stage direction and titles. 30 scenes, which is 4 more scenes than last year when including dances. 797 lines of dialogue for the poor souls of actors. 27 characters of varying sizes. 6 curse words, 4 of which are "damn." 5 stories.

Obviously, it's not going to stay this way. In order to at least be comparable in size to last year's script, I am going to have to cut about 30 pages, which can't be done just by making the dialogue snappier. I really am going to have to dismantle it with a crowbar until it fits in my trunk.

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PCN Workblog 1: Germinal

I have 10 months to plan and organize an entire night of story about the Philippine culture. The script is my responsibility, it's the burden I chose to take, and I've decided to chronicle all the whizzing (and non-whizzing) of the gears in my head as I go through this long, soul-draining process. I know it will be painful, it will be exhausting, and I may lose spirit a few times over. But it's all part of the job. You do it for the 1300 people in the seats and the 70 people behind the curtain. You do it because you'll never get the chance to do it again.

I've officially been working on the first draft of the script for just over one month. Not every day, but for big chunks of time when I do. I sit and I stir and I do my best impression of a Serious Writer. It's not all daisies, but I've learned enough in 3 years of Creative Writing courses that the first draft isn't supposed to be. It's going to be turds from which daisies will hopefully grow by the fourth or fifth draft. It's also really long - If there were no dances, I could probably write a whole night's worth of story. But essentially, I have to write somewhere between one half and 3/4ths of a show. The plan is to write the first draft to be exactly as I envision it, raw guts and everything, as long as it needs to be. Then I'm going to take a crowbar to it and dismantle the piece of shit until I can fit it in my trunk.

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A Culture of Disconnect

Since the 1970s, Filipino Americans in college took it upon themselves to make themselves feel more Filipino, whatever that meant to them. What was clear was that there was a void, a disconnect, and a wish to be closer to that archipelago a whole hemisphere away. What followed is a quiet phenomenon. It was an annual show that incorporated dance, drama and music all through the prism of Philippine culture.

Today, generations later, it continues with every new class, eager to sink their teeth into the connection and the experience. At my school, we've done 19. The biggest of the Filipino clubs, Samahang at UCLA, has just put the cap on their 31st. It's become an annual mainstay of Filipino clubs, spreading even to High Schools, to other ethnic groups, to the point where it becomes a culture in and of itself. It has warranted academic analysis, study and research papers. This attempt to represent Philippine culture became one of the few things that belonged solely to Filipino American youth. Not Americans, not Filipinos, not even our immigrant parents. Just a specific subset of educated, young, Filipino Americans with little to believe in.

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