Vanilla Suede SBWC 2019 – learning blocking – scene writing

So now I am going to try and break the short story into blocking it out.  Watching this and other vids today.

I am looking at this, and will try and use WP to do it, then get printed.  I don’t have a way to “create” this style of formatting, what a drag, oh well.  Consider me a rank beginner, but I am doing this for Walter and all I can think of is the way he taught me to move time using Lawrence of Arabia and the match scene.  I have the dialogue, so now it is a matter of fleshing out what that looks like as a temporal art form.  I am so excited about this omg.  Becoming a playwright before your and my very eyes.  It’s like a long forgotten dream.

So, looking at this for style:


a play by Adrienne D. Wilson

(based on her short story Vanilla Suede first published at ERWA 2013 as Valentine Bonnaire)

copywright SBWC 2019







THE MOURNERS                       an assorted group of people at a funeral

TRENT                                          a man in his 50’s

MARINA                                       a woman in her 50’s

CORE THEME:  Love conquers all, even death

pink rose.jpg

For Walter Dallenbach who taught us screenwriting, using the Match Scene in Lawrence of Arabia.










A temporal space on a black stage

An apartment


The present





The LIGHTING in this play is EVERYTHING, because the settings are STARK and MINIMALISTIC.  The play will be shown by the movements of the actors with ACTION and the SHOWING OF EMOTION via THE BODY ACTIONS, so this is VERY DRAMATIC LOOKING.


I will try to write it showing the sorts of actions, except I know that the ACTORS themselves will KNOW the parts of TRENT and MARINA and can access these feeling states through the body.  I will do my best to write the bodily actions today.



SETTING:    We are at a funeral attended by several mourners.  They are all friends who have known the deceased.  The stage is PITCH DARK BLACK.   These are the MOURNERS and all of them form a circle around a capstone laid flat on the floor.  ONE WHITE CANDLE sits near the capstone on the grave.  Each MOURNER carries a FLOWER to represent taking flowers to a grave.  EACH MOURNER PRESENTS THE EMOTION OF SADNESS IN DEAD SILENCE almost as a PANTOMIME.

AT RISE:  We see the lights slowly come on to illuminate a group of people.  In silence and slowly one by one while doing a pantomime style set of grief actions similar to Marcel Marceau audience watches them each in turn place a flower near the candle.  They will show grief as EXPRESSION on faces and BODY.  At the LAST MOURNER we hear the words, “TAKEN TOO SOON.”  THE MOURNERS HAVE WALKED SLOWLY UPSTAGE INTO COMPLETE DARKNESS TO EXIT IN TURN STAGE RIGHT AND LEFT.  Characters TRENT and Marina are the only two left on stage.  The LIGHTS move to their faces and TRENT is the first to speak, after a long audible sigh.

(I can use psychodrama techniques to help teach this) – GESTALT via Modern Dance)

(note- use circular space to pull emotions from mourners as dance/experiential)


(letting out long and deep sad sigh)

Sometimes you just need to be held.

(he looks at MARINA, as he says this – lights illuminate their faces only)


(looking sadly up at him)

What do you mean?


It helps, especially when life throws you curve balls


Maybe you’re right


I am


What about the ghosts of the past

(she moves away from him, looks off into space as if she is remembering all the ghosts of people and her marriage, that ended very sadly)


Forget ’em


What if I can’t?

(she looks back at him across a great void on the black dark stage, light illuminates her expression, which is of a lost thing)


You have to


I can’t


You have to

(he looks off into distance, across the great black void of space and we see him turn back to face her)


Going to that Halloween Party tomorrow?


I might


Let’s go together

(he puts his arm around her, as a friend would, after the sadness of the funeral – not romantically, as a friend.  They begin to walk a little, lights are on the two of them, as full bodies now)


What are you going to wear?


I thought I might go like the 1920’s. I saw some shoes.

(says this wistfully)


What kind?

(he perks up out of sadness, gives a little smile at her)


Vanilla suede with a tiny strap,.  My grandmother would have worn shoes like that, while the moon shimmered off the surface of the lake.  My grandfather would have taken her in his arms.


A different time I guess


It was


People fell in love


I guess they did



Scene two will take place at TRENT’S APT.

This will be DANCE SCENE and this is not Tennessee William’s Glass Menagerie by a long shot.

Omg I DID IT, I have figured out where to break it.
































Vanilla Suede SBWC 2019

So more thoughts on the characters and so forth this morning and thankfully I can tag my actor and actress in FB with all of this because they can talk between themselves about how they want to “BE” Marina and Trent. So this is a very Romantic play.  However these two MARINA and TRENT, like most, had many relationships before marriage, and then marriage went sour for both of them.  Giving this backstory now.  On the invention of what the backstory is, this will be something each actor can know, and pull from.  When I say this I mean the deep betrayals that can happen.  The crux in this is the ability to try for actual love again but the hesitancy about doing that.

I am so happy I have these two actors you would not believe it.  For one thing their looks are perfect as they are playing a certain age, in life.  The marvelous thing about the last night at the Conf is that everyone is exhausted, but the show is a calming time and so what I am going to do is change the words.  To make them PG, except maybe for one that TRENT says because this line is the crux on many levels, so, this can be worked out when we all get to the Conf.  If there is discomfort with the usage of a word, but I don’t there will be.

Notes on SCENE #1 and the MOURNERS

The flowers the MOURNERS carry.  I found some great chalice shaped flowers the mourners could carry.  I was going around and around thinking which sorts of things, but another thing that would be cool is maybe to have the actors find a FLOWER.  Why I say this.  The MOURNERS are like PANTOMIME since only ONE OF THEM has a line “TAKEN TOO SOON.”   The MOURNERS can be any ages, and hopefully we can get six or seven volunteers to flesh out that part.  On costumes for the MOURNERS, they can wear anything they would like, just be themselves.  For the PANTOMIME, this could be things like WIPING AWAY TEARS, anything that these actors can pull from that has been a LOSS in their own lives whether PEOPLE or say, an ANIMAL.  That sort of thing.  We are just pulling up the expression of sadness from the depths. So EACH MOURNER will look like themselves BEING SAD in front of the TOMBSTONE.

I want that part to be VERY DRAMATIC looking.  By this I mean as each steps forward to place a flower on the grave of their friend.  So this takes place one at a time as each steps forward and places the flower.  TRENT and MARINA will be the last to do this in SILENCE and then he will turn to her with “SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED TO BE HELD line.

THE MOURNERS can watch Marcel Marceau here to have an idea of the SILENCE and how he pulls that up and out.  EACH MOURNER will look DIFFERENT in their expression of sadness, by the PHYSICAL EXPRESSION of that, IN TOTAL SILENCE as PANTOMIME.  This could be something like wiping away tears of a hand to the heart, a deep sigh and so forth.  Hopefully we will get volunteers, because this will be THEM in a PLAY!  But also then they can go watch the play!  after EXITING the STAGE.

I will get this whole thing printed out at Fed Ex, so everyone gets a copy!  Sorry it isn’t coming at you in proper form.  Though the play has words, the most important thing in this is going to be ACTION on the part of these characters.  It is very subtle in places so I am going to try and use PANTOMIME as Marceau to show you that.  I have no worries at all about the actors for TRENT and MARINA.  I am going to ask Carmen and Walter to help us pull it off.  The Lighting should not be hard because whoever does that over the last few years, it’s been so gorgeous.  Last year there was a white curtain?  Maybe we have a curtain similar for the effect?  Of a stage curtain.  It could be that white one?  Just whatever will work and be SIMPLE.  To give the MOURNERS an idea of how powerful their parts actually are?  Watch this.

Also watch this to see how much power a Pantomine has, with the audience.  This is for PEOPLE PLAYING THE MOURNERS to understand that they have really big parts because they are setting the stage for what happens NEXT.

Here is the mime giving a workshop on Pantomime, just beautiful.



SBWC 2019 – writing a play, from Vanilla Suede

Okay so like I do not have the time to learn to use Pages, and my WP Blog has served me well, so well and for so long that, this is just easiest.

Fed Ex can handle the print out.

So I am adapting a short story that I wrote in 2013 for ERWA called Vanilla Suede that they put in the Treasure Chest. It’s a real little shorty and totally dialogue but as I was writing it, and now that I think about it, that might have been the year that Walter Dallenbach had passed away and so the PLAY “Vanilla Suede” is FOR Walter, just as Heart of Clouds was writ for Walter Davis based on the title of his “Do You Remember Love” which won a Humanitas.  In 2006 when I saw that prize on his mantel at a party I almost keeled over.  Well I was a therapist you know?  That is HUGE.  So anyway, Vanilla Suede is just dialogue, that my editor Bob Buckley taught me to write and I was able to do as he did, with all his dialogue pieces as Flash Fiction.  He is so very dear to me.  Always.  So anyway I am breaking my words into three scenes and all morning I grasped a new understanding of “spectacle” and what that means for set design.  So this is really simple in some ways.

— I am breaking up the story into three distinct scenes.  The first scene starts at a funeral where two old friends who have known each other for years meet up at the death of a mutual friend.  These are my MC’s Trent and Marina – they are older – mid 50s or?  But the essence of these two characters is that they have lived in long marriages and are now divorced, but, hesitant to get involved with anyone else.    So I know that I wrote the shorty with Aristotle’s Poetics.   Even as thinly as the dialogue is! — we used to write to 1200 words sometimes in my genre at ERWA so this is one of those shortys.  And I want to use a very minimalist style to present this.  Painting the props myself and I only need like three.  It’s set to Glenn Miller “Moonlight Serenade, and that will be the second part of the scene.and I am just going to do this here because can access right at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference.

So where I am going to break the text and how that will look.

The PLAY VANILLA SUEDE = three scenes.



There is a dark stage and as the lights come on dimly lit, “DARK” we see maybe seven people standing in a circle the mourners are EXTRAS in a sense because this is the only line ONE OF THEM will say.

EVERYONE IS HOLDING A FLOWER to symbolize putting a flower on a GRAVE.  ONE BY ONE silently and with great care, EACH MOURNER places A FLOWER at the base of the tombstone until we hear “GONE TOO SOON” by the last mourner, who shakes his head, sadly and slowly back and forth.  The mourner’s FACES all hold the sadness one sees at the loss of someone dear.

The mourners recede into darkness, BY ONE BY ONE WALKING BACKWARDS AND UPSTAGE until THEY EXIT STAGE LEFT ONE BY ONE, and the LIGHTS now move to a spotlight on the faces of my two MC’s.  TRENT AND MARINA.


SO, NEW LINE = “TAKEN TOO SOON” as said by one of the mourners.

Now we hear TRENT say to MARINA the next part.  This is a play for TWO PEOPLE.

We see TRENT and MARINA as the last of the mourners, when he says:  “Sometimes you just need to be held,” ——– This line is where my shorty started.


TRENT and MARINA are now the last mourners left at the site of the grave but we DO NOT NEED TO SEE TOMBSTONE, so lights are just ON THEM.

In this part the conversation between them is about the 1920’s, as in the shorty.  However I am going to make another break in the action here so – I have to move them from Marina talking about the Halloween Party and her grandparents to the TWO OF THEM deciding they are going to go to the party together.  Also work in the EE and I have thought how to do that.  TRENT can have a book of EE’s poems on the set on a table.  In this part, MARINA can say, “Oh, you have read ee, and Trent will say, “YES.”  Then she will say, “Oh I have a fave poem of his.”  So what has happened here is that there is going to be a LOVE SCENE with the BALCONY involved.  They have decided to go to the Halloween Party together.  But we never see the Halloween party.

SCENE TWO is at TRENT’S APT and in this scene is where we will see the DANCE SCENE so this goes in where he says, “HAVE YOU EVER HEARD THIS” —- enter the Miller SOUNTRACK on Moonlight S.

This is also the part where MARINA will read EE poem.


I think this is a one act play in two scenes?  Not sure what to call it but Walter and Carmen will know.



SET #3 LOVE SCENE ON BALCONY BEHIND BALUSTRADE (hidden from aud) just hear the voices and the lines.

FINALE- the lights turn into the stars! ❤ How is that for a spectacle!!!  ha!

Here is a link from my old blog Valentine Bonnaire (my nom de plume) for when I wrote Vanilla Suede for ERWA, it may have run in September that year?  So.  2013.  ERWA changed hands at some point, so here I talked about writing it and there is a picture of the shoe and music link.  I was writing Suede Shoe Stories, at that time.  Pink Suede, Green Suede, Red Suede and Vanilla Suede.  You will see Red Suede in the archives at ERWA if you feel like it.

*author note, sadly Walter passed in 2014, so I wrote this before that but, the play Vanilla Suede that is SBWC 2019 is dedicated to my screenwriting teacher, the magnificent Walter Dallenbach.  The match scene in the film Lawrence of Arabia.