We are excited to announce that one of our favorite storytellers, D.G. Watson, will be guest blogging with Bespoken! He knows a thing or two about compelling stories—read on to get to know him.
D.G. Watson, the artist formerly known as “Daryl Watson,” is the author of The Blueberry Hill Accord, Snap, Prime Time, and the collaborative piece Game On. He was also a co-creator and writer for the Emmy-nominated Disney series “Johnny and the Sprites.” D.G.’s short-lived peace walk across the United States was featured on an episode of NPR’s This American Life. His new play Unbound will be produced by IAMA Theatre Company in Los Angeles next fall. Follow him on Twitter @digiwatson.
D.G., welcome to the Bespoken blog. Tell us about yourself!
I’m a playwright, an actor and a comedian. I grew up in Las Vegas. I went to college at NYU and studied drama and creative writing. I started off writing plays and then wrote for the Disney Channel for two years.
During that time, I started taking meditation classes, and I had an experience that changed my entire perspective on life. I saw that our world, our reality, is just one of many. I don't know if that's the actual truth of things, but it felt like the truth, and that was good enough for me.
I was never really the same after that experience. A couple years later, I left New York City and wound up in the Amazon jungle, drinking a psychedelic plant brew called “ayahuasca.” A little while after that, I tried walking across the United States in the name of world peace; I quit after three days. Later, I joined Occupy Wall Street and was there for two weeks until the cops threw everybody out. Then I tried giving up all my money and living in a cave for three months.
Now I’m back in Las Vegas again. I write plays again. And though part of me still thinks there are other worlds out there, I'm trying to learn to be content with this one. For now.
"I don't know if that's the actual truth of things, but it felt like the truth, and that was good enough for me."
How have training or past experiences shaped the way you tell your story?
When I write my story down and read it to myself, and I think to myself, “I’m bored,” that means I’m not writing from an honest place. Even if everything I’m saying is factually true, I can still be dishonest about the way I tell the story. It’s the difference between writing with your voice and writing with someone else's voice.
There’s a lot of Internet content out there. There’s a lot of things to watch, read, and listen to. If I’m going to ask people to listen to me, out of all the voices they could be listening to, the least I can do is not bore them. For me, that means being as real with people as I possibly can be. I have to start from there.
As a playwright and writer, what components do you look for to make a story compelling and clear?
This is going to sound artsy-fartsy, but usually, the story will tell me what it needs if I'll only get out of the way. A lot of artists describe their process as one of dictation, not "creatio ex nihilo" (creation out of nothing). Obviously, there are certain rules that help me give shape to the story. There's the traditional three-act structure. Having a strong central character(s) with a well-defined objective. These things help me give the story its skeleton, but ultimately, I feel like it's up to the Muse to give the story its meat.
Tell us about a character you've created who communicated in a way you wish you could emulate in real life.
In my play THE TRAGEDY: A COMEDY, there's a character who is a talent manager; I really like the way that he communicates. He talks fast, he's funny, and he's slick - or at least he tries to be. But then there's another character, in the same play, who lives in the woods and gives magic mushrooms to people, and he talks the way you'd expect an old sage to talk. I'd like to think that, as I get older, I'll be more like that old sage. Except I wouldn't give people magic mushrooms. Unless the law changes at some point and it becomes okay to do that. Then I might.
Describe your communication style.
I like using my hands to make gestures. I have a very expressive face, which makes it hard to lie to people.
What’s your relationship to speaking in front of an audience?
Horrible and great. It's crazy. You just have no idea what's going to happen. Every audience is different, just like every individual person is different. The hardest part is the beginning, when you're trying to make that initial connection with the audience. You don't know if they're going to be with you or not. I think it gets easier after that, even if they're not entirely with you because at least you're not in the dark about it. And obviously, if they are with you, it's great. There's no feeling like it in the world.
"Every audience is different, just like every individual person is different."
What is the biggest obstacle you experience when speaking about yourself or your work?
I worry a lot that people are going to think that I'm totally out of my mind. I don't think that's an unreasonable fear. I've done things and written things that have definitely made my friends and family do a double-take.
But I also think that we judge ourselves more harshly than other people are judging us, if they're even judging us at all. And the only way to overcome that hang-up is to just accept who you are and what you're about. It's not easy and it takes courage, but that's true of all the things in life that are worth doing.
Bespoken channels years of professional theater experience into training people to be better communicators and powerful speakers. Our work is customized, on-your-feet and interactive, and designed to improve communication and presentation skills, confidence, presence and emotional intelligence. Rooted in powerful yet practical theater techniques, we provide personalized, in-the-moment feedback to optimize retention and growth. We believe everyone has an innate ability to communicate powerfully and purposefully.