Playwright’s Commentary: “She’s Strong With the Force” and “Fractals”

If you’ve been keeping up, then you probably know by now that the show that I’ve served as a writer and producer for, “The Geek Show,” is currently playing at San Francisco’s Bindlestiff Studio. This duality of both a love letter and critique about the geek culture has been a labor of love for everyone who has been involved, and so to finally be putting it on for audiences is quite a thrilling feeling indeed.

It’s been a minute since I’ve been involved with a play at all, and it’s been 12 years since I last wrote something for the stage. “The Geek Show” gave me the opportunity to test out my stage writing for the first time in that long, and it made for quite the experience. It also helped that I would be drawing on interests of my own as a geek, and fuse it in a way to make something special.

I wrote three pieces for “The Geek Show;” two of which I wrote solely, and the third was a collaborative effort with some of the other troupe members. Today, I shall be providing a little bit of commentary on the writing and inspiration for my two solo pieces: “She’s Strong With the Force” and “Fractals.”

“She’s Strong With the Force”

“She’s Strong With the Force” is the solo video piece in “The Geek Show.” As the kick-off for Act 2, it delves into my love for the “Star Wars” franchise, as scenes from the films, together with original footage of myself as a Jedi persona I had created, flash before the screen. My appearance in Jedi get-up while wielding a lightsaber is a head nod to a critique I make about the franchise: Their lack of female Jedi characters in the regular saga films until 2015 when we first meet the Force-sensitive Rey.

"I am one with the Force. The Force is with me." #internationalwomensday #jedi #TheGeekShow #sneakpeek

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The concept originally derived from the assignment I did when I first joined the creative team for “The Geek Show.” We were asked to write about the moment you knew you were in love with something. I wrote about when I was first introduced to “Star Wars,” and how despite being not permitted to seeing the rest of the original trilogy for another five years, I knew then that I was instantly a fan; for its classic hero’s journey story set in an unlikely universe.

I also decided to discuss the lack of female Jedi in the saga films in this piece, as an extension of conversations held nowadays about better representation and diversity of people who aren’t always white, straight, and male. Don’t get me wrong; for Leia will always be a bad-ass in my eyes, and I love Ahsoka in the “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” series. It’s just that as a little kid, I picture myself in the galaxy far, far away wielding a lightsaber. That was evident, even in my own version of the seventh “Star Wars” film I wrote when I was nine.

That’s also why I didn’t dress up as Rey in the video. While the articles of clothing I was wearing did come from my Rey cosplay, I altered it in a way to be more so reminiscent of her, but also to be an original. I even came up with a backstory for the Jedi I was dressed as. It was all in the matter of satisfying my younger self, who despite the love for the franchise, would have loved to see someone who looks like her onscreen.

“Fractals”

“Fractals” is a scripted piece about two friends who both have a love for Hayao Miyazaki’s films. While attempting to put together a two-day film program for their college’s anime club, one of them, Leila, is distracted with searching online for sheet music for a particular song from the score for “Rogue One.” When the other friend, Eva, confronts her over her lack of focus and why she’s compelled to pursue this search while working on the film program, Leila then reveals her geekiness for the little details that make up some of her favorite TV shows and films.

While “She’s Strong With the Force” was written with myself in mind, “Fractals” was different. “Fractals” would be a scripted piece for the stage, with human beings performing the story and reciting words that I have crafted. It’s a mind-blowing phenomenon that, with my limited experience of stage writing, I’ve only witnessed a few times before. Nonetheless, it was something that one of my fellow producers was adamant on wanting to happen.

I played around with a few ideas in my head and had even written a separate script that never wound up being used. What eventually led to “Fractals” was my own fondness for the little details in films and TV shows; such as resonating songs from film scores, the way a scene is executed, the way an animated character moves, etc. It’s a unique interest that I wanted to present with hesitation on Leila’s part, for the fear of being judged over such interests due to previous encounters was something that I have certainly experienced in the past. In other words, “Fractals” was autobiographical to some extent, though the situation that plays out is completely fictional.

Another interesting aspect about this skit is the word “fractals;” one that I had not known until a few months ago, when I first suggested the idea to that determined fellow producer. When he told me that the interest reminded him of fractals and explained to me what they were, not only did I then have my title, but I also knew I had to incorporate our conversation into the script somehow too.

It was a long, grueling process of making “Fractals” half the length of what I had originally started out with. In the end, I think we got it where we wanted it. The actors who play Leila and Eva do a wonderful job of bringing this unusual yet deep conversation to life, and they legitimize the realness that is the respect and fondness for the little details/fractals in TV and film. It’s probably one of the more subdued pieces in the show, but one that I am proud of being the writer for.

So there you have it; that is a little bit of insight into the writing for “She’s Strong With the Force” and “Fractals.” If you liked what you read here, then trust me when I say there are a whole bunch of other unique pieces in “The Geek Show,” that touch upon the geek culture in a multitude of ways. If you are in the Bay Area and are interested in seeing it, you have until next Saturday. Be sure to get your tickets here and I hope you enjoy the show.

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