the best 8 (part deux)

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Yay!  I feel good — an impartial “judge” came to make the final decision regarding the playfest I wrote about in my previous post and her choices were my choices exactly — well, except for ONE.  So I feel good, more confident, vindicated even — since it was kind of a rocky process…

Good to know that a Theatre Professional agreed (almost entirely) with me…

In other news, no other news. I started a new short play.  Didn’t mean to.. but a fragment of language landed in my lap as I was walking to the train the other day and out it came, or, at least, started… And continued submissions of the longer piece which I haven’t tended to in the last week…

Who are we when we aren’t writing? What are we doing? It’s like… life goes dark.  And then the lights come up.  I’m a bit peppy this morning — due to instant coffee.

Okay, time to get going but am grateful for this good mood, good start to the day…..

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Categories: short play festival

the best 8

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

So I’ve recently joined this writing group in the city and they have a festival coming up and I didn’t submit a short play but volunteered to be part of the three or four people who decide on the best 8 plays.  So I did my homework.  I read all the comments and feedback by the other participants and printed out (yes printed out) all the plays for better reading and scored them and commented and thought and considered and many of them were not to my taste, but there were a few that I liked a lot.  There was much to weigh and measure.  I had to choose the best, disregarding what was not to my taste.  And then the other “committee” members also choose their best and… I believe at this point an impartial judge is going to come in to figure out the “winners,” and break any ties.

And even though I didn’t love all these plays, I really enjoyed being part of the decision-making process and look forward to seeing these shows on their feet, even the ones I wasn’t crazy about.  Who knows? A really gifted director could… bring out strengths and minimize weaknesses… Others may disagree of course.  But I have no time for that 🙂

Anyway, I’ll keep you updated on what happens next…

Categories: short play festival Tags:

music and the writing room

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Okay, where was I.  Music and writing.  I was on my way home and just got some new headphones (earbuds) for my sorry little ipod and a song came on… one of the songs that accompanied me on the writing of the play I was working on this year. I hear it and it stops me, takes me back… not even to when I first heard it (years ago… 20 years ago?)… but back to the feeling of sitting at the desk and getting into it, or trying to get into it, the headspace that I felt I needed, for this one character in particular, his particular… sense of self.

Now, not all parts of the writing process need music.  Some parts of the process need silence.  Some need the motion of the subway train, and so on… Some need coffee and cookies 🙂

Over the summer, Fusion Theatre, out in New Mexico, produced my bullfighter play, BLOOD, and there was this little interview we got to do which is on their website currently and we were supposed to talk about influences and the truth is, more than any writer, ANY writer, music has influenced me.  I would imagine that many of my generation (I’m 40) feel similarly. We are pre-internet; we were children without cable but then got cable during early adolescence… We had so much music without any visuals for so long.

And I cannot share with you this music, these songs.  It’s private. It’s sacred, holy.  Meaning that… it has a special use and shall not be sullied by… anything else.  Not that I’m putting down the mundane but to be holy means to be kept separate, kept apart and that’s what these songs are.

I would try to work myself up into a trance state…. and then…. enter into… the room!  The writing room.

Well? Do you write with music? Paint with music? Is anybody out there?

what makes a play relevant (animal soul cold reading pt 2)

November 14, 2010 2 comments

There is no history in my plays. There’s personal history, meaning, I write about people… I don’t (yet?) write about history, events outside the world of the play and I am wondering, thinking that the plays…

And that was where I stopped.  Saved the draft and moved on to something else .  Or took a nap. Something.  That was yesterday.  Today, just now, was looking over my notes from the reading of THE ANIMAL SOUL — I wrote down as much as I could from the feedback in messy handwriting, painstakingly…

And now I have questions, not for those feedbackers specifically but in general: does a play have to have a “main character”? What happens when it doesn’t? Is there an audience for everyone?

I am new to theatre (in terms of being involved in it, writing for it) and I mean all these questions seriously. So seriously: what happens when someone can’t find their way in.  Is thwarting expectations a bad thing?   Is there theatre that challenges all the notions of convention and… isn’t it so that what at first seems discordant and strange and not working eventually becomes the norm?  I guess it depends…

Ultimately, one doesn’t want to turn off, turn away, the audience.  One wants to engage, thrill, entertain, make feel, make happy… whatever.

But now I am left with a draft of a play that worked for some and didn’t work for others.  Who is right?  And how can one REALLY know, or.. how MUCH can one know in a reading… how much do directors/actors/tech people matter?  I think they matter quite a bit…

So my short play BLOOD was up at the Estrogenius festival at Manhattan Theatre Source last month and the play was written without stage directions.  None.  See, I WANT to give the collaborators something to work with.  Also, my mentor stressed this to me, early on… And people loved what Heather Cohn (the director) did with the piece and I told them:  that was her. That was her and the actors.   Collaboration.  Raw material + other minds equals… something beautiful and powerful.

A cold reading is a cold reading.  And my stage directions for ANIMAL SOUL may have been confusing.  And the room may have been too hot.  And I may have written a play that polarizes, that some will “go with” and some will forever feel… wrong about. Confusion, diffusion….

Honestly, I don’t care about beautiful language; it’s not something I try to do but if people hook into that, then… Actually I don’t know if it’s good or bad.  It can detract.  Yeah, it took me a couple years to realize that it did not matter (of course others may disagree)… what matters is…. well… that is the question.

What matters.  What makes a play work.  How many kinds of plays are there?  What works for you?

towards a theory of….

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

So I’m starting this blog to keep track of my thoughts on theatre, on writing, on process — as the tag line says!  Otherwise I fill up my Facebook status updates with such things.  Although I’ll probably keep doing that. Hello first post.  More to come.

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the animal soul – cold reading, first reading

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

So last week, Wednesday, I was at Manhattan Theatre Source.  My first time at their writing group.  They had an open slot and I was just about done with a clean copy/working draft of my new full-length, a work in progress with a working title, and I sent out an email to a bunch of my favorite actors and voila!  Got it cast, got it read, got pleny of REALLY intense and interesting feedback.

I started this piece almost a year ago, been working on it off and on, taking breaks of course, but steadily, working on nothing else, not even submitting short plays to contests/festivals, etc… Singular focus.  Never heard it read until the other night and the thing was, for the most part, I couldn’t “hear” it at all.  I still heard my own voice in my own head except for certain moments — you see, I forgot to put down the script.  And when I remembered to put it down, I picked it back up again.  I was still reading along…. out of habit. And when I write I often talk out loud to myself, yes, even in public (I like to write/edit on the subway).

There were moments though when I did hear it, there were.  When I would be amazed by the grace and delicacy or passion of someone reading a line.  I love actors.  I love their seriousness, their devotion.  These folks really saved the day.  I mean, it was last minute, the day before.  I didn’t have money to pay them but I would have, even for a cold reading.

So Wednesday has come and gone and now comes the task of finding the right people who will… get it and take on this project.  The “reviews” were mainly positive (I think) that night, although the room seemed split to me.  Those who could enter the world I created and those who felt locked out.  I am not the best judge of my own work, far from it.  In fact, the parts of the play I was most worried about (did they work?) seemed to cause the least trouble of all.

To be continued….