Entering The Cinecave has always had some speakeasy, rite-of-passage to it. One minute you are standing in the eclectic Lost Weekend Video and then, if you say the right words, you are waved behind the counter and down a wooden staircase. There is a secret basement, rows of chairs, and a movie screen. It is one of the most intimate venues in the city (as in there is a microphone, but you don’t really need it).
Scene Missing is a new reading series produced by Casey Childers (from Write Club SF) and Lauren Traetto (of Vouched Books). The conceit is that each reading will feature a particular actor; for this reading, it was Sigourney Weaver (inspiring the theme of strong women). The writers are then given a trailer from one of that actor’s movies as a writing prompt; before each reading, the audience watches the trailer (complete with flashbacks to memories of watching television you were unaware you still possessed), and then listens to the reader present his/her/their piece.
The first reader was Alan Leggitt (a long-time Shipwreck champion) who was to tackle Sigourney Weaver’s blockbuster, straight-to-Showtime epic Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Unfortunately Alan was ill, but Steven Westdahl (of Write Club SF/Shipwreck) pinch-read a bizarre erotic tale of Sigourney Weaver inside Channing Tatum’s body (think Being John Malkovich) via her magic mirror.
Tomas Moniz (zine god, publisher/editor of Rad Dad) was prompted by the Sigourney Weaver thriller Copycat to opine on the state of feminism and female victimization. The subject sounds dry but Moniz tackled it with true vulnerability when he confessed his own guilt over complicated emotions he had felt about his daughter’s interactions in society.
Carolyn Ho delicately moved a stool in place, sat atop it, and then sighed when she had left her drink on the ground and had to climb down. It was vaudevillian though I am not sure intentionally. Her prompt was Ghostbusters, the quirky comedic romp that epitomized 80’s comedies for a generation. Carolyn took her piece to the dirt with an exploration of her deceased father and found blossoms in questioning how we have to bust ghosts in our everyday lives.
Wonder Dave (of Tourettes Without Regrets) took the Imaginary Heroes prompt to tell heartwarming stories of the bonding he experienced while smoking weed with his mother. Building bridges in the twenty-first century.
Maisha Z. Johnson explored her fear of monsters and spoke of being black and queer. In Alien she found inspiration that black people could survive pop culture clichés and that women don’t have to become victims.
The Aliens trailer prompted Baruch Porras-Hernandez to write a story about a strong mother and growing up in Fruitvale. To be honest, I’m not sure if the piece was autobiographical or fiction, but it was powerful nonetheless, and rounded out with a heroic mother who could defeat a wife-beating neighbor with a frying pan being carried to bed by a doting son after a creative retelling of Ripley from the Aliens series.
What is most interesting about Scene Missing is how the writers’ prompts force them to explore both who the actors are culturally and what that means in the context of their specific prompt. This will all bend around into a Hegelian synthesis of what the actor/character/setting means in the writer’s context. This is a series not to be missed.