Summary of the magico-realist screenplay version of The Common Lot
A band of outcasts magically struggles against the American political powers-that-be to create a national legislature based on the ultimate evolutionary stage of democracy, sortition, as used in the first Athenian democracy. Call it “Monty Python” meets “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”.
Synopsis of the Magico-Realist Version
The ethnically-chameleon Stride gathers a conspiratorial group of Indians, Appalachian mountaineers and southern blacks to struggle against the Supreme Court’s refusal to allow legislative proportional representation. As a result, their floating jook joint headquarters, “Jabberwocky”, comes under attack by government forces. Joined by the student troupe “Peace Parasites”, the conspirators nonviolently fend off the attack. A militia of Recreational Vehicle Owners, disgruntled at the governmental failure, also attacks. But again the group survives. “Peace Parasites” travel in their solar-powered dirigible to blow up the militia’s unoccupied gambling casino “River Queen”, but not before a magico-realist conceptual duel between Stride and the duo Snidely Whiplash and Deadwood Dick.
Meanwhile a wildcat citizens group living near an oil refinery strikes for environmental justice. Using Chinese Dragon and Snake Dance rituals, Stride, his compatriot Whiskey Elk, and the Peace Parasites intervene to help the citizens win their demand for proportional representation, resulting in an unstoppable nationwide demand for sortition. Sortitional selection of Congress is instituted, but news reports allege fraudulent manipulation of the random number generators used to make the selections. The sortitionists again must rally, eventually to be awakened through a cathartic purgation from their own historical, histrionic delusions. They now must struggle against the entrenched bureaucracy and conclusively do so via a large-scale public re-enactment of Custer’s Last Stand.
Fifty years later, the descendants of the characters live in an endearingly ramshackle village in a former shopping mall. The Peace Parasites practice nonviolent defense techniques and in the “Museum of Little Laughs” the long-range implication of sortitional selection is played out. The concluding vignette “bookends” the opening scene with a child-like gamble-game-ritual at river’s edge. “Open windows, open doors / Open ceilings, open floors.”
‘Novelization’ is the same story in narrative fiction form.
After all these years I am hungry to see a production in some form or other. Since almost all performance arts are team activities, I am seeking a team to develop the basic “high concept” presented here.
I am willing to consider re-writing a low-budget version of the film as it is. . Perhaps as a half-hour television pilot. Or a stage version for a local theatre company.
I am not committed to the magico-realistic style of the current version. I am more inclined to dispense with technical effects, more inclined to enhance character development. Simplification of the storyline might be required.
I do want to maintain a comic perspective, though willing to diminish surrealistic edges. I prefer a warm and accessible picaresque, making its political points tangentially. I furthermore would like to “internationalize” the concept if that doesn’t dilute; possibly moving it away from direct application to the American system and maybe turning towards allegory.
I am convinced that the core premise presents a solid platform for an extensive television series. And, as previously stated, for a quantum leap forward towards a governance system of social justice and equality.
Next step is to find a team as enthusiastic as I am to bring this vision to life. And to find the financial and material wherewithal.