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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Writing Inspiration: How and Why I Wrote "I Don't Mind That You're Ugly"

The Play Script for I Don't Mind That You're Ugly, available from Brooklyn Publishers
Hello ladies and gentlemen!  My name is Bobby Keniston, and I will be your host at Theater is a Sport.  Today I would like to talk to you about my writing inspiration for my play I Don't Mind That You're Ugly, a one act romantic comedy.  I believe it was the sixth play I had accepted for publication, and it is one of my favorites, largely because I think it is sweet and funny, hopefully like I am in real life.

It is no secret that here in America, many people have issues with their appearance.  For better or worse, and with help from the media, a good number of human beings obsess a little bit about the way that they look.  It was this little obsession with appearance that were the seeds of the play that would become I Don't Mind That You're Ugly.

The story is about an "average looking" (whatever that means) guy named Clyde, who is waiting at THE FANCIEST RESTAURANT IN TOWN for his girlfriend Kira.  He is planning to propose to her.  Before Kira arrives, the staff of the restaurant, who are pretty rude, do not really believe that Clyde is waiting for anyone.... how could he have a girlfriend?  Already, we begin to see that Clyde has some feelings of "not being good-looking enough" for his girlfriend.  When Kira arrives, and looks stunningly beautiful, everyone has difficulty believing that she could be with Clyde.  But Kira is a sweetheart, whose true beauty really is from within.  Clyde and Kira's dinner keeps being interrupted, once by a model talent scout (who is a bit sleazy to say the least), an overanxious restaurant hotess who wants to seat Kira where she can be seen in the "hot people" room, a busboy with a crush, a lusty chef, and weak-bladdered old woman.  Throughout their conversation, Clyde tells Kira that he thinks she is so beautiful, and he's just so "average looking", and Kira, who is not thinking, says, offhandedly, "Oh, baby, I don't mind that you're ugly."  At which point, the play takes a huge turn.  Will Clyde and Kira wind up together, or will insecurities dash their dreams.

I think a good number of people have insecurities.  I sure do.  I have been told that I am handsome, and, maybe 3 days out of 7,  I can sort of see that.  But the rest of the time, I do feel incredibly "average".  And what does that mean?  "Average".  For that matter, what does "Beautiful" mean?

In this play, beauty, ultimately comes from love even more than it does for appearances. 

I am fond of this play because for a simple, short, romantic comedy, it is not only funny, but, as I re-read it today, has genuine passion and human feeling.  Kira talking about the way she loves Clyde's smell, for example, or when she takes his face in her hands and calls him "My beautiful man", I almost wanted to cry, it effected me so much.  And no, I'm not tooing my own horn, I'm just so proud of a sweet moment such as that.

The writing of the playcame in June, 2009, and I read the first draft out loud with a dear friend of mine, who really encouraged me about it, and offered a few funny little changes that you can see in the play still today.  I wrote the first draft in a couple weeks, which is actually a little longer than a good number of one act first drafts take me.  I think I wanted to really be precise about the points of body image and self-esteem that I was trying to get across, and make sure I was still being funny at the same time.

I Don't Mind That You're Ugly was published by Brooklyn, and, so far, it has been the most produced play I have with them.  I have received wonderful feedback from schools all over the country who have enjoyed being in the show.  I remember seeing a YouTube video, a series of interviews from high school students about parts they were playing in an evening of one-acts, and it was cool to hear how they interpreted the characters in I Don't Mind That You're Ugly.

I am proud of this play, and proud of the feelings that inspired it.  I think, in this case, I really accomplished what I set out to accomplish, and that makes me very happy.  In fact, a writer can't ask for more than that.

Thanks for tuning in to Theater is a Sport.  If you would like to learn more about me, you may follow these links:  www.brookpub.com, www.histage.com, www.playscripts.com, and www.hitplays.com and search for me, Bobby Keniston, and read about my plays and look at free samples.

UNTIL TOMORROW....

LYAFTF

And remember--- theater is  not only an art form, it is also a sport.

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