I am very honored and humbled to be your guest blogger and assigned, “embrace and inspire” as the topic. I was assigned this almost a year ago and I had many thoughts and ideas cross my mind. To me creative ideas and concepts are just as important to me as breathing. The idea needs to be embraced and inspired. Usually the original thought is good but it needs a sounding board, i.e. a litmus test. The idea needs wings to fly or to fail. Ideas need to be shared, with friends and with people you don’t associate with.
A good idea is… well, a good idea
It can be more when it is not just received by a small majority or only your group of friends. A good idea can be universal, and when it embraces you and won’t let go until you nurture it, care for it, raising it until it can stand on its own two feet.
The easiest way to nurture an idea (for me) is to poke holes in it, tear it apart and reassemble it, and see if it holds up. I like “what if …?” questions, because asking this question can lead to other questions or new ideas.
I wrote a play over twenty years ago, or so I thought
I wanted to write a romantic comedy, so I asked myself what Hollywood considered to be the stereotypical romantic setting, and came up with two lovers at sunset on the beach. I don’t know if it was serendipity or what, but as I was playing with this thought, The Incredible Mr. Limpet with Don Knots worked its way into my thoughts.
The first premise for the play was:
What if there are two lovers on the beach, and they think they are alone?
What if these humans are at the beach but they are not alone because there is fish in the sea.
What if these fish come to this beach to be entertained by the humans? Can actors play fish?
I wrote the first act draft like a man possessed, the muse flowed through my veins, the second act draft took ten years. So, from the first idea in 1998 the complete first draft wasn’t completed until 2008. This is probably a good place to point out I hate to edit. While the Fish play, which in 2008 or later, eventually titled Reflecting Pond, probably as a part of the editing process.
In the meantime, I co-wrote two other plays. I wrote one with my best friend, Mark Jordan, Comedy of Eros, about Shakespeare reincarnated, and The Great Equalizer, a play about restrooms and the differences of men and women. I started coaching high school soccer and then life took over and Reflecting Pond sat in the back of my mind, poking and prodding
I needed to embrace my muse and be inspired
Remember when I said I needed to share my ideas? I shared the first idea, and the first act with anyone who would read it, I needed to know the concept was good, I needed to be embraced and inspired; this was my baby. I needed to know it was not ugly or malformed. Two people, two playwrights, my good friend Mark Jordan and my Professor Ralph Hunt, both questioned my play, my baby, my life? They prodded at it, poked holes, questioned concepts, like overly critical uncles.
Professor Hunt just kept saying, “play around with it, see what you come up with.” Mark on several occasions corrected my spelling and grammar, most of which I ignored. They were supposed to love my play and just say “nice things.” Don’t be critical of my baby!
But they were right, I had not done the hard work and I had not asked myself the hard questions. Oh, sure I had found inspiration, my muse and I had a torrid love affair, late nights where she would come and visit me, whisper sweet nothings, leave me wanting and then just vanishing for days and months on end. She had left me with our child, our play, and it was my job to raise it. Me and two critical uncles, Three Men and A Baby!
After many years of not listening
I finally embraced what they were telling me. They had taken the time to listen to me and my concept, they had seen my baby, my play for what it was, a good start, an infant, that needed fed and nourished, so that one day it, Reflecting Pond could stand on its own.
When Professor Hunt said, “Play around with it and see what you come up with,” he was not trying to placate me, what he was saying was, “is there more? Can you take this further?” And Mark, God bless him, he never gave up. He continued to encourage me and inspire me and push me to be a good parent.
These two playwrights helped me put my play out into the world. They asked me, those, “what if” questions and my child would have been a bucked tooth baby had they not.
This past June, Reflecting Pond was accepted at the Columbus Arts Festival and at the Ohio State University at Mansfield. I got to direct my best friend Mark in the play, and on several occasions, cried.
(Scenes from Reflecting Pond— Scene 1, Scene 2.)
To embrace and inspire
For me to embrace and find inspiration, I needed to be embraced and inspired myself. I think at times we view the artist somehow separate and not a part of the group. I know I need the group, for the group is where I find inspiration. I have worked in community and economic development for over eight years and artistic development for over thirty, there are many common elements.
- Share your ideas.
- Embrace your ideas (they are not dumb)
- There is no I. Create a support team
- Poke holes. Have others poke holes.
- Reassemble. Make it better.
- Let your idea live. Put it out in the world!
- Inspire others.
Bryan Gladden is a lifelong resident of Mansfield, Ohio. He is the Arts Community Liaison for The Richland Academy of the Arts. Besides work and writing, he is active part of the Richland county community, coaching soccer, acting, directing, serves on several boards. He is always willing to help and collaborate to make Mansfield a better place to live and work.