Behind the Pies: The Writing of Pies and Prejudice
Trying to write about writing is the worst. It makes you ask yourself the questions other people ask you like ‘where do your ideas come from’ and you come to the profoundly uncomfortable conclusion that you really don’t know. ‘Where do my ideas come from?’ You ask yourself. I got the idea for the title of Pies and Prejudice sitting in a Jiffy Lube waiting for someone to tell me a lot of things I didn’t understand about my car, and that’s generally not the answer people want. They want some deep answer about the meaning of life, so generally you just shrug and say you don’t know (which is true.) This can give the impression to people that anyone can write which isn’t what any writer wants people to think because I promise you, writing is hard. Writing consumes your whole brain for massive chunks of time and you spend most of that time doubting yourself and staying up till 4 AM trying to write a perfect section of dialogue before you realize that everything you’ve ever done with your life is garbage and that you’re a garbage person from garbage town and that you should just scrap the whole thing, throw away your computer, and take up knitting or something.
That said, writing isn’t coal mining either. No one has to go dig a bunch of writers out of a hole in Columbia or anything, though my wife occasionally has to dig me out of a depression hole with a cup of coffee and a reminder that as long as Netflix still has episodes of the West Wing things can’t be too bad.
Anyway, that whole section was all just to say that I hate writing about writing, so I’m not going to do it. Except for those two paragraphs up there that I will probably go back and delete later because I already hate them. Seriously though: I love writing.
But let’s not talk about writing, let’s talk about Pies and Prejudice (which I wrote.) When me and Misfit Founder and the official brains and brawn of the operation Johnathan Schofield (who shall heretofore be called Schofie for ease of typing) decided to do our first show ‘Grimm and Bear It,’ a former teacher of mine said that one of the most important things we needed to do with our first show was have an idea for our second show already in place. It’s all about maintaining momentum and creating a hype train or synergy or some other marketing things I don’t understand. So before we finished Grimm’s I had a solid idea for what I thought our next play would be (I was wrong.)
When the time came to start actually promoting that play we came up with a marketing idea where we would throw a bunch of fake names up on a board and one by one reveal what our actual project would be.
One of the fake names I came up with was ‘Pies and Prejudice: A Victorian Baking Musical’ and the name just kind of stuck in my head for whatever reason. At this point I had about ten pages of our other play written and thought it was in a pretty good place, but I couldn’t get away from Pies and Prejudice. This isn’t an unusual thing to happen to an ADD writer like myself and generally the best way to get rid of these ideas is to write a couple pages, realize the idea sucks and then get back to the real work. My computer is a graveyard of two page scripts that I started and scrapped when I realized they were terrible ideas. Generally I give these scripts mature writer titles like ‘Crap Pile’ ‘Never Open’ and ‘askdjas;’ and then keep them forever as reminders of my own futility… you know… like a healthy person. The problem was that the more I wrote of Pies and Prejudice the more I fell in love with the Bennett sisters and their little bakery. I talked with Schofie about this as he’s the person who generally has to deal with my nonsense in times like these and we decided to run with Pies and see how far it went.
As time passed I got more and more into this script and started adding more and more characters who I loved. I’m not much of a planner when I write as I generally try and just see where the story takes me and before I knew what was happening Napoleon was kicking around inside the Bennett’s world. Then Benjamin Franklin showed up and it seemed only right that he should bring George Washington along and so on and so on it went until we had this script we call Pies and Prejudice. Pies is utterly and wonderfully lighthearted and positive and a world filled with music, laughter, and jokes about crab cakes.
I’ve had a Dickens quote rattling around in my head for the last few years that goes “I feel an earnest humble desire, and shall do till I die, to increase the stock of harmless cheerfulness.” That is (if I can get serious for a second here) the impetus of this whole production for me. Pies and Prejudice is just cheerfulness. Some great music. A few jokes that I think are pretty funny. It’s a simple recipe, but I genuinely think (thanks to many people who are a lot more talented than I am) that just that little bit of cheerfulness can go a long way in someone's life. I think that laughter can bring us together in a world where we're constantly being torn apart.
But enough about Dickens: we’ll skip over all the angsty writery things that happened over the next few months of writing because once the script is done is when the really talented people take over anyway. My job is to just write down the words and watch the magic start once all the boring finger-work is done. We’ve assembled a dream cast of incredibly talented actors and singers who bring these characters to life in ways I could never have expected. Brian Buda translates my tattered lyrics into an incredible music score, Schofie prods and pushes more out of our cast than I could ever understand. It's odd as a writer to watch a play you wrote unfold. Most of the time it’s just business as usual and you forget that you actually wrote these things, but every so often the thought occurs to you “I wonder if these people know that I wrote this song at 3:45 AM cause my cat scratched me awake.” It’s an odd out of body sort of experience that I’ve never really gotten used to. Like Deja Vu but other people are deja-ing the vu for you. It’s weirder when people start quoting you outside rehearsal, when they come up with little inside jokes based around your lines, you start to feel like they must not realize that this whole thing was written by some idiot who didn’t even really mean to write the play. It's weird.
Anyway, that’s Pies and Prejudice: A Victorian Baking Musical. A play that I didn’t set out to write, that somehow got written and now is being performed and designed by a lot of people way more talented than I am. I probably could have just said that at the beginning and saved myself a thousand words or so, but Schofie made me write this and I’m currently sitting in the back of rehearsal with a nice warm cup of coffee while a bunch of the most incredibly talented, brilliant, fantastical people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with, practice the choreography for a song where Napoleon sings an Irish jig about his frustrations with history’s view of his height. It puts one in an introspective mood… and also (one more time) Schofie made me write this.
misfit co-founder, playwright, and general grammar assassin