Okay, first. Here are my plans for the puppet story: We'll see where it goes after this, but this is a basic outline:
Three Marionettes, named Anette, Will, and a third one who needs a name that has to do with puppets or free will or something. Maybe "Charlie," which will be a reference to Charlie McCarthy (sp?) and also Charlie Kaufman. Hmmm. They are in the middle of enacting a human marionette show when one of them decides he no longer wants to BE a marionette, his strings always pulled by someone else. He goes off stage and comes back with giant scissors, and cuts himself free. At first he dies, but then he is able to will himself to stand up, and is free. He is in the process of convincing the other two to cut their own strings when
Cue houselights. A man in the audience yells an apology, and turns them off again, as though he had accidentally leaned against them and turned them on.
The two boy characters continue as planned, but the Anette is distracted. In the middle of Will's speech:
"Sorry to cut you off--Well, I guess you sorta cut yourself off--but did you see that?"
He didn't. She describes what she saw: a theater and an audience. Did Charlie see it? Charlie is anxious, and we believe he probably did see it, but he refuses to say, and seems very anxious about breaking character.
Anette turns back to Will. She points out that there is one wall that is hard to see. He stares into the audience directly, and soon sees what she's talking about. Maybe "There! I heard a cough!" or laughter, etc. Really responding to the audience. She tries to go back about her business of being a character, but he is obsessed with this new idea. Walks backstage, while Anette and Charlie awkwardly cover for his absence. Some sort of setup in their dialog that will payoff later. Will comes back and asks how long he was gone. He say there is nothing at all when he leaves the stage. He just stopped existing for a while.
Anette is obviously trying to get on with her lines, saying "and then you would probably suggest that I cut myself free as well."
Will is talking to the audience, as the other two freeze in backlit tableau. He is putting things together. He soon realizes he's just a character in a play. He remembers his real name, which will be the actor's real name. And you! You're (Anette's actress' real name) and Charlie's too. And what were you doing just now when I was talking to the audience? They can't remember.
Charlie complains that it's getting too confusing. "So this is what? A play within a play?"
Will: No! It's the exact opposite of that! It's a play... withOUT a play!
C: (terrified) But! A play without a play! That's nothing at all!
W: It's not nothing! It's just not a play!
Anette wants to know what is so wrong with being a character?
We're not free! he responds. Don't you see? Everything you're saying right now was fed to you, by a writer! You're just performing some script. He goes backstage again, and comes back with a script, and reads some of her previous lines.
She takes it, and reads HIS previous lines, including some of this nonsense about being free. He, too, is still just playing a part. [this is to leave the idea of determinism vague by the end]
Charlie freaks out, grabs the script, and destroys it or throws it away. We have to just not think about that! We have to just continue on with our lives!
Will is not hearing it. He is standing very close to the edge of the stage. "I know the only way out of this! I'm going to jump! It doesn't help to go backstage. We have to leave this way." Big dramatic scene there. He finally does jump. Greets a few members of the audience, and runs out into the lobby or what have you. The other two are shocked, and just as they are recovering themselves, there is a yell from the lobby. Will is ecstatic about the whole huge world out there. He comes running halfway up an aisle. You have to come with me guys! This proves it's just a play!
Anette: I believe that it's a play. But look around you! Those people are here to SEE this play. We have a duty to them, to put this play on.
Charlie has withdrawn. Will says, your whole life is being run by someone else! Make your own decision!
Anette: Or let YOU make my decision? This IS my decision. To stay. Just because I'm doing what someone else tells me to do doesn't mean I'm not making my own choice.
Will concedes, and leaves, broken hearted. She turns back to Charlie, and they continue the scene, with some line that pays off now from before. Will's presence is greatly missed, as he turns and walks back out the door.
What it still needs: I need something for the puppet show to be ABOUT. I'm thinking a simple love triangle with terribly corny lines.
I'm thinking that somehow we'll reveal that the actor who plays Charlie is a homosexual in real life, which is his primary motivation for refusing to acknowledge what is happening. he doesn't want to face that reality. When Will reveals this, Anette will be shocked, and talk about how that isn't appropriate subject matter for a conservative Utah audience (maybe?). This will heighten the tragedy of her being left alone with him in the end. There is no real happiness as long as he's pretending and she's alone with him.
It needs to be very ambiguous as to who's right in this situation. Except Charlie is clearly wrong.
I know it's two much. It's meta-theater, if there is such a thing. But that's what I like. I want it to reflect the conflict between free will and obedience. In the end, it needs to be clear that Will forfeited his bow and applause in his search to free himself. Yep. That's all I got. For now. I think I did have one more piece if dialog worked out on the bus the other day. I'll have to look for it. K see you next time.