Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Yell School of Drama

"In my sex fantasy, nobody loves me for my brain"
--Nora Ephron.

My writing collaborator and I have discovered that the most common path to production for first-time playwrights is to enter sponsored drama competitions. Unfortunately, many of them like The Alliance Theater in Atlanta's Kendeda Competition require that entrants be enrolled in a graduate playwriting program.

This is not an option for us. We have seven children between us, not to mention a stack of superfluous diplomas. My colleague has an MBA, CPA, cooking school diploma and divemaster certification. Ironically, the latter two degrees have proven the most useful in our writing adventures. As for me, no more diplomas, thank-you-very-much. Graduating from Wellesley College Phi Beta Kappa, with an Honors degree in English literature couldn't even get me an $18,000 a year publishing job in New York back in 1994. My Universite de Paris DEA (Masters) in Comparative Literature was worse than having no graduate degree at all. This testimony of impracticality was guaranteed to send would-be employers packing.

I suppose none of this would matter if I were a clever, resourceful sort of girl.... In my most recent employment experience as the Director of Communications for JBoss, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to convince journalists to write about us and paying talented full time PR to do just this. It never occurred to me that I could skip that superfluous step by simply pretending to be a journalist. Not only would I have saved money, I would have done away with the inconvenience of relying on two credible sources for my stories. In a crazy mixed up world where legitimate journalists pretend to be anonymous bloggers, I missed the boat on corporate PR pretending to be disinterested journalists.

Ironically, it was my old Wellesley tee-shirt that initiated a conversation about journalism with another mother, while we were waiting to pick up our kids at school. She, herself, had attended Barnard, and then Columbia School of Journalism. She mentioned that the loans for two years at the latter totalled more than her four years at Barnard. My wiser pseudo-journalist self certainly would have skipped that step. I could get more mileage out of a fake pair of tits. I came to this conclusion observing first-hand the successful interview tactics of a journalist from a respected business publication. Her plunging decollete exerted a Kaa-like effect on her interviewees--"Don't think about the questions, boys; just focus on these." No doubt she had figured out the corresponding plunge in the heterosexual male IQ, transforming the heppest and smartest Web 2.0-types into this.

Thankfully, my certificate of enrollment in a Masters program in the Fine Arts is being mailed to me, forewith. Not the Yale School of Drama, but the Yell! (in the South, this is pronounced 'yay-ul') School of Drama, my distinguished soon-to-be alma-mater, a place that understands that the implication that I am anything less than talented flies squarely in face of the incipient dramatist I was born to be. And that for the $200 I am paying for my diploma, I am far too busy and important a person to be bothered with studying the techniques of playwriting or reading anybody that has mastered them.


Knox Massey said...

Just a quick note. (I swear I am not sensitive to Southern dialect faux pax(s)).

Yell in the South is actually pronounced "ye-hl". Sort of a short burst of energy from the midsection when spoken. "Yay-ul" is what Opie says on the "Andy Griffith Show". Just dont want you to get in troble with any Yankees when you are "yay-uling" at them. Otherwise, a lovely blog.

-A Native Guy

Nathalie said...

Hi ata, thanks for the dialect coaching. Believe it or not, I'm a multi-generation Atlantan. Since Atlanta probably hasn't qualifed as part of the South since the sixties, I have no (regional American) accent, myself.

I picked the pronunciation because I have an uncle named Miguel, whose name (apparently) used to be pronounced "Mee-gay-ul," when he was growing up here in the sixties.

There are quite a few Southern accents, I was thinking this one might fit South Ga., but I may be off the mark.

Nathalie said...

For all ya'all Southern linguists, the final word on "yell" from my cousin, Sophie B. Gatins.

"I think you’re totally correct in your pronunciation, especially once you specify that yay-ul would be native to South Georgia. That is exactly how my mother, hailing from Valdosta Georgia, pronounces the word yell. I wish you were here right now because I do an excellent imitation of her.

I think that the commentator’s correction seems to bring to mind a more red-necky southern image than I associate with my mom and the rest of the Bird clan. I think of a higher voiced, higher energy Southerner when I hear (in my head) the word ye-hl. Imagine a speeding pickup truck with 3 guys in the back ye-hling that they need to stop for more beer (but say beer like it’s a little gun in a video game…short and staccato). Contrarily, mom’s family would wend their way slowly toward you on a tractor and say that perhaps they’re in the mood for a bayer (not the heart attack preventing drug)."