By Laura P. Valtorta
I don’t suffer from writer’s block. Too many ideas. But I do suffer from format block, style block, and diarrhea of the pen.
There’s a Puccia family story that needs to be told. Everybody has that story. The bitch mother. The renegade father. Children who take risks and tear your heart in two.
Readers don’t care about my family. Why should they? And yet, these family sagas have been told for generations, and somehow they capture audiences’ attention.
Last week Marco and I saw two plays: Hamlet at Drayton Hall on the University of South Carolina campus, and Blindsided: the Wedding put on by New Life Productions at the Booker Washington Community Center. Both were delightful. Both were about families. My family. That’s why I was interested. I saw myself on stage with those actors.
Hamlet at Drayton Hall immediately felt like home. It was set in an insane asylum. One of the main characters was a horrible mother. She let her son down. She couldn’t keep her farthingale on. Not to mention her partlet and her bumroll. Hamlet went mad over this. Angry at the betrayal of his mother.
In Blindsided: the Wedding, we saw a talk show host, portrayed by my actor friend, Pat Yeary, (she was in my short film entitled Disability) who set out to trick her guests into reuniting with their mother – another nut case – who had abandoned her children when they were babies. Entertaining. Lots of audience participation and laughs.
These shows inspired me because they managed to portray family issues without losing my interest. In real life, nobody cares about Bruce’s overachieving children or Sally’s annoying grandkids. Nobody wants to hear that my children are extremely good-looking. That’s for me and Marco to discuss in private.
For entertainment value, in the outside world we want to know about the disasters. How a family can weather all the emotional bullshit and survive. Or die of poison, one after another, inside a creepy castle in Denmark.