When I was younger, my cousin introduced me to the amazing musical A Chorus Line. We had to be around the age of five or six when she first came in contact with the soundtrack and made all of us listen to it as well. Kelly (that's my cousin) would then make her brother, Matt, perform alongside her (while simultaneously pushing him out of the spotlight so it could be all about her). There are still videos of these performances, and we crack up every time we watch them. While Kelly and I never performed to A Chorus Line together, it was around this time that she introduced me to the music, and the idea of performing.
Over the years she and I performed a series of dance routines to The Spice Girls, Mariah Carey, and of course The Lion King soundtrack. As we got older, we started to perform plays in front of our family. The most famous one was an American Girl play where we each played about five different characters. We threw on different hats and scarves to differentiate between each person, but we didn't read far enough ahead to realize there were some scenes where we would be performing three characters alone, while the other one of us simply watched. I remember playing Kirsten and Papa in one scene, just jumping back and forth between each line, wondering why we hadn't thought this through more.
I think it was after that performance that I decided to start writing plays myself. I'm not sure if that's true, but it seems accurate with the timeline in my head. Nonetheless, I began to delve further into my love of writing. My parents had an old typewriter, which I stole and put in my room, and I would spend hours clacking away at the keys, just loving the sound they made when I would type one word. And then the sound of hitting the space bar. And the sound of pulling the paper out of the ream, drenching my hands with ink stains.
Eventually, I started working on the computer we had in the office. I liked the idea that I could change the color of the fonts, therefore highlighting each character's specific lines. There was also a game I had on there (yet again from American Girls) where you could create your own play. So I was able to write and direct these virtual characters, all while formulating new stories in my head. I loved it. That was my favorite computer game ever (next to Mavis Beacon's typing of course). Yeah, I'm cool.
I used to sing along to this song all the time, but I would change the lyrics to
"I'm a writer! Let me write for you!" (It doesn't really work for the entire song.)
I'm not sure when the tradition started, but I remember Kelly and I got in this routine every Christmas that we would perform a new play. We would spend Christmas Eve at my Grandma's, where we would brainstorm ideas (and shun Matt away from us, which I still feel bad about to this day). Then, I would go home and stay up late, writing the play we had discussed. The next day, I would bring the scripts to our Uncle and Aunt's house in Healdsburg, and we would perform the play. I think we tried to get off book as much as possible. I'll have to watch the old home movies to see though. There was one play I wrote about an insane snow storm that trapped a family alone on Christmas (or something) and Kelly and I both had to yell: "They're going through the storm!" Blackout. End of play. (Yeah I didn't write too much comedy for some reason. I was all about the drama.)
This pattern continued for many years, and our loving family enjoyed (and endured) our strange hobby. But we loved it. We loved performing. We loved it so much that one time when our family refused to watch us perform (while they were eating dinner- so rude), we hid away in the bathroom and decided the best idea would be for us to run away. That would show them! I think we got as far as the garage when we realized we didn't pack enough food (or underwear) and our growling stomachs took us back to the dining room table, where nobody was any the wiser to us. I don't think we ever told anyone about that, but that's how serious we took ourselves, and our art.
Eventually, we stopped performing our music videos and plays, probably around the time we started high school. Kelly became really involved in volleyball and other sports, while I continued to stay up late writing plays for my drama class. Holy crap. No. Wait, I remember. While we did stop performing in front of other people, Kelly and I never stopped working on our own projects. We actually were writing this TV show/movie called "No Clue" for the longest time. It was a mix between the show Popular and the movie Clueless (I think there was also a story similar to She's All That thrown in there as well). We also continued to make music videos, this time to people like Avril Lavigne, and we would use a real camcorder and edit it. Wow. I completely forgot about that until just now. So all of this probably lasted until my Sophomore year, her Junior year, of high school. Maybe earlier. Maybe later. As you can tell, all of this is still kind of a blur for me, but that' why I want to write about it. I'm writing so that I can remember these stories, and then share them with all of you. I'm writing, because that's what I do. And who knows, maybe I'll even come across some of these ingenious plays I used to write way back when, and post them on my blog.
Copyright © 2018 Christine Drew Benjamin | All Rights Reserved