The above headline could be a description of one of the most cursed situations that occur within those that are writers, or those that call themselves writers. It’s the notion of what’s been labeled as one of the worst (or one of the worst) experiences writers go through when making their attempt to create their “Great American Novel” or that screenplay that will become the next big blockbuster feature film to ever grace the screen, be it on the big screen (read: Movie), or one that will be viewed on any electronic device that sports a viewing area!
     And what is that folly that writers go though? It’s the state of not knowing what to write, or what to write next! It’s the aspect that is called “Writer’s Block”.
     If one heads on over to any search engine out in cyberspace land (Note: there is more than one search engine out there. Just do that Google thing and type in “Other search engines that isn’t Google” for more details), and types in “writer’s block”, one will find various topics and discussions that address this issue. (It seems that these writers didn’t have that curse upon them when they created those essays! Otherwise, there would be no essays to speak of!) But generally speaking (or writing), that element called “writer’s block” is simply the state where a writer (or course), doesn’t know what to writer about or to writer next!
     In many but not in all cases, writers tend to have this form of being when they begin that novel and/or screenplay. Upon opening their word processing program, or for some of your old fashioned types, inserting that 8” x 10” sheet of paper through the roller of that IBM Selectric typewriter, they start with a black page. The burning questions begin to be asked. “What do I write on this page?”. “How do I begin my story” “What do I write about?” And the notion progresses.
     There has been a quote attributed to poet  William Stafford regarding writer’s block. He said (or wrote), “There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” One would assume that Willie was stating that those that want to write (or have to write) is to write anything that congers up, even if that writing is considered as “crap”!
     According to an English teacher yours truly once had to sit through whose name has since been long forgotten (and where this same yours truly type first received the quote), the above bit of advice really means that the writer who can’t write a damn should not be too hard with themselves when not knowing how to start, continue, or complete that novel/screenplay that has to be written so everyone car read it or view it for their personal amusement–if not for the writer to make some serious coin for all of the trouble to hack out the piece!
     Now this same writer who doesn’t seem to have writer’s block as of this writing, can’t necessarily give advice on how to beat writer’s block, but I (now avoiding that third person reference) can provide a tip or two on how to get one going in creating something on paper or digital page in order to create some ideas on what to write and perhaps how.
     Perhaps the first notion to get out of writer’s block is to look around the area the stuck writer is presently located. Many writers of this post modern age are usually found in some kind of public location with laptop/electronic pad/smart phone on hand. Your friendly neighborhood coffee house is perhaps the best place to locate these writers of word. Take a look around. See what everyone is doing at this coffee joint. Are there folks with others chatting away about something of another for the sake of having a gab fest? Are there others all alone? And what are those solo types doing? Are they reading a real newspaper? Are they playing with their electronic device? And for those that ain’t there alone. Who or what are the groups? Do these folks consist of a couple who appear to be boyfriend/girlfriend status? (Opposites or the same?) Are there a group of close friends spending their time away? Are these groups of mixed company or are of the same gender?
     Right then and there, one can receive an inkling of what to write! I have a casual acquaintance that began their screenplay (a romantic comedy, or “romcom”) that was created based on a visit to one of these coffee joints where the writer who was attempting to create a super hero action/adventure piece, noted a group of women who were with very young kids. This episode took place on a weekday late morning/early afternoon where these moms were having a “mom’s day out” by taking their kids along with them while enjoying those coffee drinks that are popular among this demographic. The women in question were in a group of four that were in their late 20’s or early 30’s (“Millenniums”) who were wired to the max! Each one of them had their smart phones in plain view, either in their hands or placed upon the table they were hovering over. (No, they weren’t using their devices at the time, but it appeared that they were ready to grab and use them a la “quick draw!”) The kids aged two or less, were either seated in their strollers or were plopped upon their mom’s laps. What there gals were talking among one another wasn’t noted by the blocked writer, but after watching these women have at it, it was enough for the writer to dump the tent pole picture idea to write a romantic comedy about a group of overly wired mother types and how they relate to the world around them–or actually, the neighborhood they live in!
     There are other ways to beak the writer’s block thing. (Use them search engines to find out more!) But just about every writer worth their salt comes across the element where they can’t think of a damned thing to place words to! But grabbing another quote in the pile of words o’ wisdom, “This too shall pass!” and as for those writers out there, getting passed on is enough fuel to get one ready, willing, and able to compose that novel, screenplay, or another article for that blog one hacks out, hoping that somebody’s ever going to read the thing!
     Of yes! For the record, the writer of that screenplay that was gawking on that gaggle of moms not so long ago is currently in the final stages of completing the first draft of the romcom. As to making it final? Stay tuned! And s to getting the screenplay off to an agent in order to sell thing? That’s another story as that stands!
                                     NEWS AND REVIEWS
    The Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica presents ALL SHOOK UP, a musical tale about a rebel rousing young man, the young woman that falls for him, and the town that sets its own rules, far removed from the rules that the stranger holds.
     It’s 1955, an era where rock and roll would become the new sound in music. Chad (Christopher Paul Tiernan II), a rebel without a cause, has recently been sprung out of the joint. He takes his motorcycle and heads on toward a small town located in that middle of nowhere. In need for a mechanic to perform a repair on his bike, he meets Natalie (Zoe D’Andrea), the daughter of Jim (Larry Gesling) who owns the local garage. Natalie is a rebel in her own right since she’s a mechanic at the same garage. But she holds similar notions as Chad, known as the “Roustabout”, to dream of the open road as well as following one’s dreams. Meanwhile, the town run by the stogy Mayor Matilda Hyde (Jewel Greenberg) has a pair of important rules for its citizens to follow: No loud music and no indecent behavior! And there are the townsfolk themselves. Mayor Hyde’s son Dean (Joseph Monsour) falls for Lorraine (Flynn Hayward) the daughter of Sylvia (Brittney S. Wheeler), the owner of the town’s diner  Although Lorraine is “colored”, that notion doesn’t phase the couple. But there are other romances and issues to deal with, and Chad knows that music, even if it’s rock ‘n roll, can place this sad little village back to life and enhance its passion and romantic appeal.
     This stage musical with a book by Joe Dipietro, takes upon two sources to make this show what it is. The story itself is based upon The Bard’s (i.e. William Shakespeare) time tested play Twelfth Night, and uses a musical score of tunes made famous by The King (i.e. Elvis Presley). Although the setting takes place when Elvis was beginning to be a musical sensation and the community (never named) could be a hamlet located somewhere in the America south (Tupelo, Mississippi perhaps?), Elvis himself is never named nor referenced to. However, the lead character Chad as performed by Christopher Paul Tiernan II, plays his role as first part Elvis, and second part James Dean, as both were unique, cool, and became legions during their time and long after. But the plot of this story isn’t so much the center point. What makes this musical appealing is its ensemble cast, as well as how each cast member can sing and dance! (Some sing better than they can dance and vice versa!) The song roster runs the gambit from Elvis’s younger days such as Jailhouse Rock, That’s All Right, Teddy Bear, as well as the title tune, to his more mature period. (Burning Love, If I Can Dream, etc.) Each song flows with the story line that boasts a charming selection of comical characters set upon those Elvis hits! And the tunes selected during each scene do fit the bill!
     The robust ensemble cast as presented on the Morgan-Wixson stage also includes Paul Loma as Dennis, an awkward young man who holds a secret crush for Natalie, Alicia Reynolds as Miss Sandra, the owner of the local museum who Chad has an eye for, Matthew Artson as Sheriff Earl, who is suppose to enforce Mayor Hyde’s rules, Eileen Cherry O’Donnell as Henrietta, backed up with a team of others that personate a healthy selection of the dancing and back up vocals! (Room doesn’t allow to list all of those players by individual name, but trust this writer: They were all great!!) Nell Teare & Kristi Slager provides the choreography, along with Anne Gesling’s transcribed musical direction. Kristie Rutledge showcases the period costuming, and Lidiya Korotko furnishes the set design.
     Directed by Nell Teare, ALL SHOOK UP is a very amusing and lively showpiece. Granted, it is what’s known in the theater industry as a “jukebox musical”. But that doesn’t suppress the fact that all the pieces in this stage show work well with one another, and provides the moral that love, as well as the spirit of music–even if that music is rock and roll, does conquer all! Also consider the other fact that rock ‘n roll has been around for some sixty plus years, and love has been around since day one. Indeed, the musical part has to catch up with the love notion. Then again, as Willy S. once said (or wrote), “The Play’s The Thing”, and ol’ EP would add, “Thunkathunkayaverymuch!”

     ALL SHOOK UP, presented by the Morgan-Wixson Theatre Guild, and performs at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, until April 2nd. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. A special talk back session where the cast and crew discuss their performances as well as take questions from the audience, takes place after the performance held on Sunday, March 13th, and Friday, March 18th.
     For more information as well as ticket reservations, call (310) 828-7519 or via online at http://www.Morgan-Wixson.org.
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