Since last week and this month, I’ve been focused on developing characters, I thought I would blog about a current group of characters I’m working with. Most people listen to a sermon and take notes for review later in the week. I, on the other hand, listen and wonder how can this message be heard on stage with a colorful cast of characters. I suppose this isn’t typical behavior but for a writer, a creative writer at that, it’s absolutely normal! Writing stage plays tops my choices of the types of writing I prefer to do. There’s something about writing words and watching what you write come to life on stage. It’s an amazing feeling and I give God all the glory for this gift.
“A Christmas Fix” was born out of a sermon series my pastor taught last year entitled “Trace It. Face It. Erase It.” That series helped me to understand that the way I am and others are isn’t by sheer happenstance. You can’t change what you don’t confront. Once you know and accept the root of a situation, circumstance, character flaw or whatever, you can then move toward change. In the midst of this series, the cast of characters I used for a previous play was reborn in brand new way. I had to repaint them, if you will, and create new sketches. When writing for a stage production, character development is even more important because you’re going to have different people becoming the characters you created. If you don’t choose wisely, the message you’re trying to send could be lost. An audience will meet these characters along the way through promos or short excerpts, or they could be meeting them for the first time while perusing the playbill or program. Either way, the synopsis you give them need to match what they see.
Chelsea Marie Knowlton-Powers is the successful CEO of PowerUp Electronics. In the previous play, she was an executive at another company and was so focused on her work that she almost lost her husband. In “A Christmas Fix,” you find more of the same, but then there’s an antagonist added to the mix that makes a tight situation even tighter. She has to look into her backstory and understand who she is and more importantly why she is before her world comes crashing down to a point where it can’t be rebuilt.
Ricky Powers is Chelsea’s husband. A prominent attorney in his own right, there’s nothing he won’t do for his wife. He had a great example growing up of how a husband treats his wife. What he doesn’t know is he’s in a fight for his marriage that he is completely unaware of because he was gone away on business. He has to find a heart of understanding, forgiveness and unconditional love when dealing with Chelsea. At the same time, there’s a different antagonist, so to speak, in his ear.
Kerri Hastings is the Senior VP of Marketing at Chelsea’s company and is also her best friend. We all need at least one friend like Kerri. She’s going to tell you the truth no matter what you think of that truth. She will also be there when you fall in a completely nonjudgmental manner. What you won’t do, however, is try to get one over on her. She values her friendship with Chelsea and tries to give her fair warning when she sees impending disaster. Even though her friend doesn’t heed her advice, she’s still there with a shoulder, an ear and more advice that now you best take. She’s beautiful, smart, and corporate with a touch of hood.
Emmanuel “Man” is also an attorney who works with Ricky. He’s Ricky’s best friend and a happy bachelor. His entire game is keeping a few women in the “rotation” so he never has to commit to any one of them. Amazingly none know of the others – we hope! Because his family dynamic was more different than Ricky’s, he didn’t see the need to be tied down to a wife because his own dad wasn’t. When trouble hits, he’s there like a friend should be, but he’s like the buzzing in the ear. You don’t want it there but you will hear it.
When creating these characters, as they are the main ones, it was important that they each had backstories and a clear visual. If you’re picturing a player like Emmanuel, you don’t see an unattractive man. You don’t want to like him, but you do because he’s so alluring and pleasing to the eye, for sure. Because the entire story is coming from the standpoint of the sermon series main ideas, it was also important that the viewer (since this is a play) understand where these characters fall in the overall message being conveyed. That can’t happen if I don’t fully develop the lead characters. There are supporting cast members in this production as well.
Harris Parker, III “Cash”is the CEO of Mindmatters and is preparing to partner with Chelsea’s company on a huge business deal. He’s suave, smooth, wealthy, and very handsome in a slightly eccentric sort of way. He meets Chelsea for coffee while she’s on a business trip unbeknownst to her. When they meet again, it’s in her boardroom and everything moves from there!
Chelsea’s parents, Jack and Mattie, love their daughter. Her mother is a nurturer who demands respect and has no problem getting it. Her father is supportive and little rough around the edges. He just wants to enjoy his wife in their empty nest. Being a part of their only child’s drama is not his idea of a good time. Mattie, on the other hand, has to deal with Chelsea and her own husband, whom she loves dearly, but at the same feels compelled to see to the well being of her daughter even though she knows she’s wrong.
Chelsea’s granny, Jamesetta, rounds out the cast. She’s the resident keeper of all things holy. If it’s prayer you need, she got it. If it’s anointing oil you need, she has that too. If it’s a good lashing you need, yep, she got that on lock as well. She doesn’t look or act like any typical granny. She’s upright, fiesty, and youthful.
If this were a book, I would make it my business to make you “see” this cast in every possible way. In these short character sketches, I give enough to go on so that if you see this performed, you’d say, “Oh yea! That’s how I pictured Kerri to sound and behave! Humph, that Chelsea is a piece of work. Yesssss, that Ricky is some kind of fine.” Great character to reader or viewer connections start with great character sketches.