“Like any work of art, a tattoo begins with an idea. Not always a good one; too many begin with the name of some soon-to-be ex, or the Tasmanian Devil, or Aerosmith. But a worthy tattoo begins with an equally worthy idea – something so intimately a part of yourself, you want to wear it on your skin.”
Originally produced (one-act version) in the Alumnae Theatre New Ideas Festival, March 2010
The play is set in a Toronto tattoo parlor and is focused on the lives of the two employees, Ed and Josie, and the other people who drift in and out of their world. In the completed first act, the focus is more on relationships, both between the two main characters and building from the introduction of a supporting character, Bette, who leads Ed to deeper ruminations about his own connections to the people around him, as well as sharing a more personal family revelation with Josie. The second act, while continuing these plotlines, will also relate more directly to Ed’s artistic ambitions and the way those interact with his personal life.
The central theme behind An Inked Heart has to do with exposing one’s personal loyalties, or passions. When describing the play for a production of the first act, I suggested that it dealt with, “the ways we keep our hearts hidden, and the ways we, without knowing, wear them on our sleeves – or on our skin.” Whether those ‘hearts’ speak to our feelings toward other people, or one’s ambitions, or what is truly of importance in life, I believe there is real value in exploring how and why we either keep those secret, or make a point of displaying them.
In that way the location and action of the play becomes extremely relevant, and there are both monologues and discussions between characters in the play that explore the idea of being tattooed – what it means, what the reasons are for choosing to be inked, what goes through the minds of both the customer and the artist while being transformed. My hope is that it would all work together to leave an audience considering their own ‘hearts’ and how they might expose them.
My reason for writing is of course to explore these themes – I don’t ever see the process of creating a play as the broadcast of some pre-defined message as much as the collaborative examination of some aspect of our collective humanity. While my plays have a very specific focus – quite often exploring some aspect of pop culture – I’ve always attempted to touch on wider issues beneath the surface, and part of the impetus behind this piece was to take that side of my writing a bit further, to focus more on character and try to tap more into emotion and sensation to touch my audience.
Currently, I’m going through the penultimate draft of the play as we work toward the fall 2016 full production. So many things have changed and been refined, I couldn’t possibly track them all! But with each revision, it’s getting closer and closer to being ready, and more and more what I hoped for it to be.
ED – 40s, tattoo artist, burly, heavily inked himself
JOSIE – mid to late 20s, artist in training, glam/goth
BETTE – early 60s, fit, modern
ANGELA – 30s, shy, plain but with a sense of style
GUY – random late-college age dude