Tonight we begin! Soapbox Audio Collective digs into Jesus Pancake (Mara Thomas, ASBX blog post 024)

Greetings, Soapboxers!

It’s an exciting day over here in ASBX-land! Tonight, the Soapbox Audio Collective Writers’ Room will assemble for our first meeting. For the next several months, we will be working on developing a full season of Tamara Kissane’s serial audio drama JESUS PANCAKE. I can’t wait to be in the room!

[For reference: The deadline has passed, but this is the original post requesting applications for the writers’ group.]

One of the reasons I’m eager to get started is that JESUS PANCAKE represents several firsts for me. To begin, this will be my first time working collaboratively with a group of writers all focused on the same project. I love thinking about all of us bouncing thoughts off one another, riffing, and building on each other’s ideas. Often when I’m working on my own writing, I feel so much pressure to make decisions that I can find myself in a fit of choice paralysis. Now, with the group format, we’ll have each other for support, for sparks of inspiration, and even for commiseration (because even when it’s going well, writing is hard, friends). 

Furthermore, JESUS PANCAKE will be my first time working on someone else’s idea. The first three episodes already exist, so that means that we have the main characters and basic parameters of the world already in place. Now, we will figure out together where the story is going, how the existing characters evolve, how to introduce new characters, and how to do this in such a way that allows each of us to use our unique strengths but ultimately produce something that is of one voice. 

Yet another first is writing for an audio drama. I have a feeling JESUS PANCAKE will show me how dependent I am on other senses, particularly sight, to tell stories. No sight gags, no furtive glances, no costumes, no lighting changes. Every facet of the story will need to be communicated through sound. I’m interested to see how this constraint opens up possibilities for different methods of storytelling. After all, a character could still be wearing pink taffeta, we just have to communicate it so the listeners can visualize it for themselves. Hmmm, now my mind is spinning with thoughts of fabric texture sound effects… new possibilities, indeed!

As someone who thrives with a plan and deadlines, I’m grateful for the built-in accountability structure with this project. We will be accountable to each other, to Tamara, and to the schedule. It’s always easier for me to prioritize writing when I have clear expectations, deadlines and accountability. Here, we’ll have the added bonus of a roadmap for each episode and the whole season. It will definitely make it easier for me to get there if I know where I’m going, something I struggle with in my own writing at times. I look forward to learning how my fellow writers approach their process and picking up some new skills as we navigate this process together.

Also, Tamara underlined that this project will require a “balance of confidence and humility [and a] willingness to sacrifice ego in service to the story.” Personally, I’m hoping that this element of the collaboration will help me in my on-going dance with perfectionism. We will all be working together to make the story as good as it can be. On any given day, any one of us might have a hilarious joke or an idea that cracks open a seed of potential. It’s not about anyone being better-than, it’s about all of us rowing in the same direction to produce something that makes us all proud. 

Stay tuned for more updates about JESUS PANCAKE and other audio dramas in development here at ASBX, including Tamara’s adaption of THE NEW COLOSSUS. We always love hearing from you. Drop us a line at artistsoapbox@gmail.com

‘Til next time!
MT

*Mara has a website! marathomas.com

BIO

Mara Thomas is a Durham-based playwright, actor, musician and teaching artist. Her newest play, YEAR OF THE MONKEY, will be produced by Delta Boys Theater Company at The Fruit in Durham in June 2020. A local musician for over 15 years, Mara currently makes noise in the punk group Cold Cream.

ADDTIONAL RESOURCES

Hear Mara on Episode 076Episode 064, Bonus Episode 002Episode 017 and Episode 001 of the Artist Soapbox podcast.

Blog posts and podcast episode about the Creative Accountability Group:

  1. Take your work seriously: put Creative Resistance on notice!
  2. Better together. A Creative Accountability Group debrief with Mara and Tamara
  3. Ask WHY to create opportunities for compassion
  4. Map your dreams

Blog posts about creativity resources:

  1. Cleaning house: Making space for creativity
  2. Nourish your creative self: Give your creative self a lift with something beautiful
  3. The importance of physical practice: Get out of your head and into your body (And here’s another)
  4. Community Building
  5. Preparing for a Creative Residency
  6. The gifts of loneliness
  7. Go with the flow

Blog posts about creative obstructions that present themselves when you’re on your creative path.

  1. Imposter Syndrome: Who do I think I am? Why even try?
  2. Perfectionism: I’m so afraid that my creation will not be perfect that I never actually do it. And another one about perfectionism!
  3. Comparison: I’ll never be as good as that person. I should probably quit.
  4. Distraction: I’ve convinced myself that all these other things have priority over my creativity.
  5. The Creative Vacuum: How do I cope with the after-the-big-project-time?

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