Kill Your Darlings: I’m Baring My Soul in Stories and Improv

 

KYD-typewriterKill Your Darlings, a traditional piece of writing advice*, is the title of the live lit series I’m participating in, along with other Third Coast Review colleagues and a crew of other writers and performers. We’re having a great time with it – and it’s consuming a huge amount of my time.

Kill Your Darlings: A Live Lit/Improv Mashup is the full title and we’re performing for the next six Wednesday nights at ComedySportz Theater on Belmont. We have writers and actors who read their own stories, plus improv players and sometimes live music. Each night has a theme based on one of our website’s cultural categories. And we’ll have a celebrity guest reader each week.

Kill Your Darlings: A Live Lit/Improv Mashup
7pm Wednesday, August 10, is Food Night
Csz Theater, 929 W. Belmont

Hear me read a story about potato pancakes
and my Jewish/non-Jewish heritage

I hope you’ll come out and see us this Wednesday and any Wednesday thru September 14. For each night, I’m writing a new personal story (something like a blog essay), baring my soul in some cases, editing, refining, rehearsing and refining it. I mention this as sort of an explanation why I haven’t been writing for Nancy Bishop’s Journal very much lately.

(Of course, I’m still editor in chief and theater critic for Third Coast Review. Check out my recent reviews on the Stages page. I’ve recently reviewed War Paint; Between Riverside and Crazy; Byhalia, Mississippi; Direct from Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys; and Einstein’s Gift. I also enjoyed interviewing and writing a feature on Ron Keaton, the actor who starred in Churchill and, along with Kurt Johns, has formed a new theater company, SoloChicago.)

* What does “kill your darlings” mean? Slate magazine tried to track down the original source a few years ago when a film of the same title came out about Allen Ginsberg as a young writer. Basically, the advice means “get rid of your most precious and especially self-indulgent passages for the greater good of your literary work.”

So the idea for this live-lit series is that we each resurrect various darlings we’ve killed in the past and turn them into new, sharply written stories. And a few of mine actually do include or were inspired by something I wrote in the past but never published.

The Kill Your Darlings team.

The Kill Your Darlings team.

Here are the stories I’ll be telling for the next six weeks. Opening night was last Wednesday and I told the story about my film addiction and my favorite film directors, focusing on Guy Maddin, the Canadian film director who made films you never heard of. The Darlings, our improv team, performed along with me. I was on a DVD and they paused me now and then to comment on my “lecture.”

  • August 10. The theme is Food. My story is “Potato Pancakes—and Why They’re Not Latkes.” Monica Eng, the WBEZ food editor, will be guest reader.
  • August 17, Music Night. My story is “How I Became a Bruce Springsteen Fan and How It Governs My Life.” My friend, June Sawyers, who has written a couple of dozen books on pop music topics, will be the guest reader.
  • August 24. The theme is Stages and I’m curating the night. The concept will be how social media and the comment community are affecting theater reviews. My story will be about the uproar around the Steppenwolf for Young Adults play, This Is Modern Art, which I reviewed last year with my 17-year-old grandson. Kerry Reid, theater critic for the Tribune, will be the guest reader.
  • August 31. The theme is Beyond, beyond now, beginnings and endings. My story for this night is about my divorcee love life — it includes a long poem. My son Steve will accompany me with an improvised solo on the tenor saxophone. The guest reader will be Ian Belknap of the Write Club.
  • September 7 is Art night. I haven’t decided what I’m going to write for this night yet. I may even skip the reading, but of course I’ll attend.
  • September 14 is Lit night and appropriately, it will be set in a Chicago saloon. NU prof Bill Savage, the guest reader, will critique our readings in real time. My story is about my obsession with the Spanish Civil War.

Perhaps life will get back to normal after that. Although I’m not sure what my normal is any more.

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4 Comments on “Kill Your Darlings: I’m Baring My Soul in Stories and Improv”

  1. Marilyn Keller says:

    Nancy, I’m sick I’m not in Chicago to attend Kill your Darlings events! Every one of your “topics” made me want to be there even more! If there is hard copy of love to see it! I’m currently in Florida recovering from surgery to straighten my right tibia in an effort to reduce the pain in my ankle. If this doesn’t do the job then an ankle replacement is in my future. I will be down here forever or at least until next May which I know you would consider a fate worse than death but since I can’t move around much it may be survivable! Have fun with your darlings! Marilyn

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  2. Dick Paulsen says:

    Nancy, boy do I wish I could attend the Kill Your Darlings nights! Your mom’s potato pancakes have always been a favorite of mine. And I wish I could be there to see James and Steve….and hear your comments about your connection with Bruce. Sounds like a great time!

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