He catches a ride on a friendly pterodactyl

Because most of the important things I’ve learned in my life can be traced back to Sesame Street.

I’m doing NaPlWriMo again this year (and you should too!), and while I do have a few ideas for full-length plays bouncing around in my head, I’m kind of at a loss of which one to start and where to begin. There’s a blog post on the site raising the question of what makes a play a play. When is something a play versus not a play? Whenever that question is raised, I always find myself back in Kate Snodgrass’s playwriting class and hear her telling us that a play, even in a format as short as ten minutes, needs to have a beginning, middle, and an end–that is, that it has to tell a full story. That conversation never fails to get this old Sesame Street song stuck in my head.

It sounds pretty basic, but when you have to sit there and think about something you’ve written and make sure it has those three distinct parts, it’s actually helpful advice. One thing in particular about the ending in a play versus a tv episode or a comedy skit is that at least one of your characters has to have changed in some way. Again, sounds basic. But when I was writing The Mouse, for example, the draft that went to KCACTF had a different ending than the draft that ended up in the Boston Theatre Marathon (and published). The feedback from the judges at KCACTF was that the current version was just a skit because the protagonist had decided to quit and find a job that took her seriously. In my mind, that was a change because she went from nervous and weak in the beginning to standing up for herself and going after what she wanted. But if her walking out signified not *enough* of a change, she needed instead to pull her boss onto her side and force him to see that she was necessary (even if in his mind she’s a necessary evil). It still kills me to have had to change the original ending because I loved that version. But was it a play, or was it a sketch-comedy skit? I ultimately went with the version that left it in “play” territory. But I’m still not 100% satisfied with the ending.

So it’s not always as “well, duh, obviously” as it sounds. In fact, the major problems with all of my full-length plays, no matter how far along they are, can be summed up by this beginning/middle/end journey:

End: The Prayer Bargain is STILL struggling with its ending. It’s like almost all there except for the one “crystallizing moment” that ties it all together and makes the audience have that “wow, this was a good play” feeling rather than the “ok, time to get home now” feeling. Maybe if I can put into words how exactly Molly and the rest of the family change and spell out what the beginning, middle, and end is, I can get the ending to work better.

Middle: Directive 47 has its structure all set in place now but needs some help figuring out what the events of the plot mean for each of the characters. Their journeys need to be more clearly defined. They all need to find their own friendly pterodactyl to fly away on. (Which–nuns flying on pterodactyls–that sounds like a much more awesome story than the one I’m writing, though it could also be interpreted as fundamentalist “world is 6000 years old” propaganda, and we wouldn’t want that.)

Beginning: Whatever idea I decide to focus on for Naplwrimo, I don’t know where I’m going to start. The song starts off with Seymour waking up… I don’t even know who my “Seymour” will be. Why is it so hard for me to even name characters in the beginning?

So there’s lots to work on. But I bought a Naplwrimo hoodie from their Cafepress store, so now I’m all geared up for writing, because I have a hoodie now, right? That makes it official.

2 Comments

Filed under kids tv/film, playwriting, theatre

Hey look, it’s fall!

Today’s been the first real fall-feeling day that we’ve had so far. Technically there’s still a couple more weeks of “summer,” but even though I haven’t been a student for several years, my brain still switches into fall mode once school starts. When I was younger I used to hate fall. I associated it (as you can see) with school starting, which always meant anxiety, wearing uniforms, and staying up to all hours of the night doing homework. Somewhere along the line after school ended, I started to enjoy fall again. Here’s some things I’m looking forward to:

1. Pumpkin-everything!
Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin spiced lattes, and of course, pumpkin beer.

Happy beer!

2. Long-sleeve t-shirts.
The ones from shirt.woot are super-comfy. They don’t come in women’s sizes so they’re kind of baggy, but they’re awesome for just relaxing and feeling comfy.

3. Theatres starting up their new seasons.
Lots of shows to see! And readings! And also the deadline rush for winter and spring festivals, which means I really need to get some 10-minute plays together soon.

4. Hot apple cider.
And also apple picking, but I haven’t been able to actually go and do that in years.

5. Red and yellow leaves!
And finding the most perfectly crunchable leaves to step on.

6. Cool mornings and nights.
I can have coffee in the morning without blasting the air conditioner, but it still warms up enough to not need a jacket or to just throw on a hoodie.

7. Halloween.
Candy and costumes.

8. Fall-scented candles.
I love “Leaves” for September and “Pumpkin Patch” for October from Bath and Body Works.

9. The cats get snuggly again.
It’s cool enough for them to feel like sitting on your lap.

10. This-year-specific things to look forward to:
Mike and Amy’s wedding; driving lessons and trying to get my license before snow season hits; friends-and-baby visiting! and (hopefully asap) planning a trip to Chicago for another friends-visit.

Also this:

Leave a comment

Filed under misc

Remembering what’s important

I was searching through HowlRound’s archives trying to find a particular article I liked (about writing characters of a different race than your own) and in the process came across this piece by Polly Carl that really resonated with me. I haven’t posted very frequently lately–I’ve been struggling with a lot of different things–and sometimes it’s really refreshing to read something that makes you want to get back on your blog and share it everyone:

If we let it, life will drown us in transactions. The life of transactions is not a satisfying way to live. I prefer transcendence over transaction. Which is why I have chosen to work in the theater—for those moments in the rehearsal room that lead to something revelatory, something glorious or more than anything I could accomplish on my own. No money is exchanged, and in the very best moments transcendence feels within reach.

One major struggle I’ve been dealing with, though certainly not the only one, is finances. I feel like I don’t make enough to live. I mean, I do, but then there’s rent, student loans that are almost as high as my rent, utilities and other bills, food, and random crap that comes out of nowhere right when you least expect it. Like my kitty Oskar needing to go to the emergency room on Saturday. I have pet insurance, but it’s the type where you pay it all upfront and then submit a claim. I was worried about having enough funds between what’s left on my credit card and what’s left in my bank account to cover it. Luckily, that all worked out, and he come home earlier (and more affordably) then originally expected.

I would put off things that might help some of my other problems and stress, like seeing a therapist, because I was afraid of the copay being too high. It’s often been a game of “can my bank account hold out until the next paycheck comes through?” “Will I have enough to cover the next bill that comes in?” It’s so stressful and so frustrating. I start feeling guilty and beating myself up if I do something “fun” like buying something I don’t need (like the patio chairs and tiny little grill I bought a few weeks ago) or ordering food on days I’m exhausted. Ordering food is extra guilt-inducing because I feel financially irresponsible AND fat at the same time. Between working in publishing and writing plays, I feel like I have one job that pays poorly and another that doesn’t pay at all.

So it’s really refreshing to see this essay talk about the idea of transcendence over transaction. The times careerwise that I’ve felt most confident and happy were when I had moments like this. One I love looking back on is my first Boston Playwrights’ Theatre holiday party. Jake was making a speech about how wonderful the local theatre community is and how great it is to belong to it. I had this moment of “wow, this is really what I want to be doing with my life” where it all sort of made sense. I also felt a lot of this clarity when I got to go on the Freedom Art Retreat last year. It was a whole week of collaborating, of feeling like I could actually contribute to a group of artists and have something important to offer, and of knowing that the things we created together were better than what would have resulted if I’d attempted it myself.

It’s little moments like this that I have to think back to when things get particularly stressful. It’s good that I was reminded of it at a time when I’m trying to get everything in my life back on track. Knowing that eventually things at work will get better, that that will help the finances fall into place, and that my whole life shouldn’t be spent letting this anxiety get to me because I risk missing out on the moments that make all of this worth it.

AND I just realized we have chicken nuggets in the freezer, so I don’t have to grill the chicken that I’m not entirely convinced is still fresh! Lazy dinner that does not involve spending money on ordering food. yay!

*EDIT: I just want to add that the rest of the article goes on to say pretty much exactly how I feel about the state of theatre in this country and it’s a great read. I was just jumping off one little quote that felt really personally relevant right now.

Leave a comment

Filed under theatre

Things I get from my dad

My dad died suddenly a year ago. It’s been a really hard year trying to adjust to things. Until this past year, when I’d think about him, it would often be about things I never, ever wanted to have in common with him. I thought cigarettes, especially his goddamn Newports, were disgusting. I wanted to go to college and make sure I was educated and have a career. I would never do half the crazy things he did when he was younger. They joke that girls end up marrying someone who is like their father; I knew that was never going to be me. I wanted to marry someone who wouldn’t make the same mistakes he did and wouldn’t have to struggle as hard as he did.

But now when I look back I find myself searching for similarities. Things that are parts of me that are no doubt because of him that I can take with me everywhere. That if I have kids I can hope they will inherit. And it’s nice because, if I stop and think about it, there’s more than what’s evident just on the surface. Some good and some not as good but indelibly a part of who I am.

1. The slight wave to my hair.
My mom’s hair is super-straight and fine. My dad’s was curly and incredibly thick. He used to joke that he could ride down the highway in a convertible and it wouldn’t move. Mine is decidedly somewhere in between. Not too fine, but not thick. Not curly, but not pin-straight like my mom’s.

2. My nose looks more like his than my mom’s.
I only noticed that several months ago. In some pictures where he turns to the side at certain angle I can see it better.

3. My hypersensitivity.
I get my anxiety and propensity to worry straight from my mother. But the being super-sensitive is I think from him. We’d often yell at him to stop being a baby if something upset him and he’d storm off. 😛 But I’m a lot like that… I let people’s comments hurt me too much. I just deal with it differently.

4. My interest in music.

We had different tastes–I was more rock while he got into a lot of 70s singer/songwriter type sounds, but we appreciated each other’s styles. My mom could care less about music–for her it’s basically enjoyable background noise. My dad understood its importance. He loved his goddamn gigantic speakers on his record/8-track player. He’d spend so many hours just out in the kitchen with the radio tuned to our classic rock station, and you could always tell when a song he really loved was on because he’d get so into it. I learned a lot of classic rock from him, and I have a great memory for anything musical. And some of the best memories from college are actually rides home with him when we’d just turn up the radio and play music the whole way home. Sometimes it would be my tapes of 90s music so I could share it with him. And he was the only one in the house who never seemed to have anything else he’d rather be watching or listening to when my brothers would play their drums and guitar in the basement. He wanted to be right down there with them, rather than demanding to know when they’d be done. Music was a way of bonding with him.

5. The few strands of scraggly grey hair that started appearing when I was still only 22.

6. My ability to just talk-talk-talk about stupid insignificant things.

7. Related to that, my inclination towards long, detailed stories. I, of course, don’t tend to tell my life story to random strangers in the parking lot thankfully. 🙂

8. My love of all things outer-space.

He didn’t nerd out over NASA and the space program the way I do, but he definitely appreciated going for a walk and seeing the moon looking particularly bright or big. I knew he’d get it if I pointed out how awesome the moon looked on a given night.
Plus, I think I discovered this “sequel song” before he did. I was a baby when it was released, so it makes sense that it would slip by him.

9. Singing random songs around the house.

I know there’s countless other things too. And so many weird jokes and quotes that he provided over the years, sometimes unintentionally. 🙂 I also think I can attribute at least some of my writing talent to him. Not the actual skill of writing–I don’t ever think I saw him write anything except lists so that he wouldn’t forget when he took his pills–but what goes into it, all that unspoken research and observation on what makes people the way they are–growing up with him, I probably absorbed SO MUCH… about how people respond to struggles, about the way real people talk, and especially about how to deal with horrible crappy circumstances with humor, which is a total hallmark of my writing style. He used to call having his seizures his “shake rattle n’ roll.” It’s terrible, and you laugh, and then feel bad for laughing, but then laugh again afterward. And it’s ridiculous jokes like that that I think always come out in things I write.

So thanks, Dad. I hope you realize the influence you had on everyone close to you.

Leave a comment

Filed under misc

Revision!

The reading of my newest play, Directive 47, at New Rep is in less than two weeks. I have no idea how it came up on me so quickly. I still have SO. MUCH. REVISING. to do between now and June 9, when the reading begins at 2pm.

This is the play I blogged about months ago, the one inspired by the true story of a nun who was excommunicated for allowing an abortion to be performed at the Catholic hospital she worked at. It’s come a long way since I last mentioned it in the blog, but it’s still nowhere near where I’d like it to be this close to a reading going up.

It took me till a few weeks ago, during a meeting with my writing group, to realize that I was basically writing another family play (is that all I know how to write?). That what felt lacking to me, and why I kept walking away from table reads with the thought of “this play is to talky,” was that the characters are basically a little family, but they’re not really acting like one right now. The plot has been there, but the characters have been sort of too bogged down by it instead of caught up with each other. Which is the exact total opposite of how The Prayer Bargain developed. In that play, the characters were there and present almost from the very beginning, but the plot sort of stumbled its way into existence. It’s weird how writing works sometimes.

But right now I should be working on my latest revision instead of blogging about how I should be working on it. Last week, I met with both Ben Evett, my reading director, and Bridget O’Leary, the head of our New Voices @ New Rep program, and I feel good about the changes that need to be made. I just need to sit down and make them. New draft, coming soon!

Leave a comment

Filed under playwriting, theatre

Long overdue KCACTF photos

What better day to clear some photos off my phone than a day when I’m supposed to be writing!

Back in January, I got to travel to the Region 1 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival with my ten-minute play The Button. I say “travel” even though it involved getting a ride all the way to lovely Fitchburg, MA. “Team BU” consisted of me, Peter Floyd, MJ Halberstadt, and Michael Parsons. My roommate was the lovely Alex Marshall of Suffolk, and my play was once again dramaturged by the wonderful Brianna Marie Wing of Stonehill. Charlene Donaghy of Lesley, who I met last year, was back again this time around, so it was nice to see a couple familiar faces. I took more pictures this time around because I’m pretty sure I’ve been out of grad school too long to qualify again next year, and I might not get another chance like this. Below are some of my photos and photos taken by friends. Actually, most of them are from friends.


Me with Angel Nunez of Lesley, whose ten-minute play Fragment was one of the national semifinalists. Photo by Kate Snodgrass.


Me with my roommate Alex Marshall, whose ten-minute play The Search was the other national semifinalist. Photo by Kate Snodgrass.


My cast rehearsing The Button.


The red button in the hotel lobby.


…And me with the red button. Photo by Brianna Wing.


The set at the opening of Act 1 of Rhinoceros from LeMoyne. Photo by Brianna Wing.


And how it looked in Act 2. Photo by Brianna Wing.


Part of the lobby display from LeMoyne’s Rhinoceros that went up before intermission. Photo by Brianna Wing.

I wish I had a photo from Suffolk Community College’s The Icarus Project, because that was phenomenal. Overall, it was such a fun week where I got to see a lot of great theatre and meet a lot of awesome people, and I’m so happy that I was given the chance to attend.

2 Comments

Filed under playwriting, theatre

My Irish music top ten

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow! Allan (the boyfriend) isn’t from around here and says he never knew it was a “thing.” When I was little and in Catholic school, I seriously thought that basically everyone was either Irish or Italian and that St. Patrick’s Day was a real holiday right up there with Halloween. We even got the day off from school. Seriously, it took me till, like, seventh grade to realize that we got that day off because of Evacuation Day (non-Bostonians/history buffs, check the link). (I also for a couple years when I was just starting school thought that we got the day after Halloween off so that we could stay up late eating candy… All Saints Day, what’s that?) So when I was younger, St. Patrick’s Day meant a day off from school and gross food for supper. Yes, my mother always made the classic corned beef and cabbage. I’ve never been the biggest fan of red meat, so St. Patrick’s Day for me always meant trying my best to fill up on cabbage and possibly potatoes and carrots that had been boiled in beefjuice all day. yum!

Then I got to college, and St. Patrick’s Day at an Irish-Catholic school is, like, an event. It is insanity. It was hard to get into it sometimes because of course there were the people who’d go overboard and throw up in the dining hall or knock over all the trash cans on your hall and all of that and make it a lot less fun.

But now that I no longer have to eat corned beef and cabbage or deal with sloppy drunks on my hall, it’s a fun holiday again. I have a thing for Irish music, and this time of year I can get away with listening to it without getting looked at oddly. So, for your enjoyment, may I present…

My Irish Top Ten (in Random Order)

1. Whiskey in the Jar
You may be familiar with this version by Metallica:

I actually love this version. It’s by far my favorite Metallica song (sorry, Enter Sandman). It’s Metallica’s version of Thin Lizzy’s cover of this Irish standard. For a more traditional take on it, here’s a good version by the Dubliners.

Completely different feel, and also completely awesome. Like most folk songs, there’s variations in the lyrics among the different versions. One thing about the version Metallica chose to cover that I like better is that the woman’s name is Molly, whereas in this version she’s named Jenny. I’m partial to the name Molly… my Prayer Bargain main character is named Molly.

2. Wild Rover
No nay never, no more….

This version is from a group called the High Kings. The Dubliners have a good version too, but I’m trying for some variety in my videos. I also like the Irish Rovers version. But the High Kings have some amazing harmonies on this. And they understand the supreme importance of the four claps after “no nay never.” That is vital to full enjoyment of this song.

3. I’ll Tell Me Ma
Please excuse the horrible lyrics-scrolling video, but this is my favorite recording of the song.

My mp3 says it’s by a group called Quilty, but who knows how reliable that is. In any case, fun song for dancing.

4. Fields of Athenry
Here’s one I love that manages to be incredibly sad but also have wonderful sing-along potential. This version is again by the Dubliners.

It’s a bit slower and more sad than the other live recording I’ve seen of them doing it, but the guy’s voice is just awesome. My family has busted this one out at all sorts of holidays. For another less-traditional take on an Irish favorite, I also enjoy the Dropkick Murphys’ Celtic-punk version:

5. Black Velvet Band
Beware of the pretty colleens!

This one of those songs I learned before I was even old enough to go to school. I liked that it had my name in it. For those of you NOT named Colleen, the name means “girl” in Irish. In this song (as in Whiskey in the Jar), the bewitching girl tricks the poor hapless guy and gets him shipped off to Australia. Lots of people were getting shipped off to Australia in Irish music (see Fields of Athenry).

6. The Orange and the Green

Yet another one I learned before I was five. A lot of the songs on my aunts’ Irish Rovers record became staples of my childhood. I was confused by this one when I was little. The part about “my father he was orange and me mother she was green” (for those unfamiliar with Irish-ness, orange would be Protestant and green would be Catholic… I didn’t know that when I was little). I was picturing this guy’s mother being some sort of alien from outer space until I asked my mother about it and she cleared it up for me. After that I thought it was cool because on my mom’s side, my grandfather was the lone Protestant in my family and my grandmother is Catholic.

7. The Unicorn

This one’s not really an Irish folk classic.. it was actually written by Shel Silverstein. I of course learned this song before I could read, so I was confused as hell when I opened up Where the Sidewalk Ends in second grade and saw a poem that was almost identical to this song. But yeah, so this song is actually awful, in that it’s horrifying and guilt inducing (no wonder it caught on as an Irish song). It’s about why there are no unicorns anymore because they were goofing off instead of getting on Noah’s ark. Check out these lines: “The ark started moving, it drifted with the tide. Them unicorns looked up from the rocks and they cried. And the waters came down and sort of floated them away. And that’s why you never seen a unicorn to this very day.” WHAT. THE. HELL. That’s all kids of frightening.

Buuut the song has a dance, so that sort of makes up for it a little. If you don’t know it, get me or one of my brothers to show it to you.

8. Riverdance title theme

I know it’s cheesy, but I had to nerd out to this one. I used to dance, and Irish step is like tap but a million times more awesome… especially the hard-shoes. I will learn this someday. When I drink I like to pretend I can do Irish step to this song. It’s not good.

9. Boston Rose

I somehow didn’t come across this one until I was an adult. It’s another sad one. Try to ignore the supreme 80s-ness of this video. This one reminds me a lot of my family. I can’t end on this one because it’s too sad. So with that….

10. Lily the Pink
Now here’s a story, a little bit gory, a little bit happy, a little bit sad…

I grew up to a 45 of this song. It’s kind of hilarious that I knew this song at such a young age. I wish I could find the studio version to post, but this live one was the best I could do.

So those are ten of my favorites. What are yours?

7 Comments

Filed under misc

Response to article in The Stranger

A friend on facebook (fellow local playwright Lou Johnson) posted this article earlier today: Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves, by Brandan Kiley in The Stranger. The article made a lot of interesting points about the problems that theatre is facing today, so I thought I’d weigh in, point by point.

1. “Enough with the Goddamned Shakespeare Already”: I love the way he puts it that fringe theatre “should be in the game of debasement.” That’s awesome. But we were just discussing this issue of Shakespeare (and other classics) at our last New Voices workshop at New Rep. I’m personally torn on this one. Obviously, as someone who makes new work, I want to see more new work in more theatres. I think it’s vital to the survival of theatre. But I also value the classics. I never got to go to the theatre as a kid, so there’s a lot of classic plays that I love that I’ve never been able to see live. New Rep is doing Long Day’s Journey into Night this spring, and I really want to try to see that because it’s one of my favorite plays and I’ve never seen it live (but I have seen the movie version). There’s so many plays I haven’t been able to see but would love to. And plays aren’t like movies, where you can pop in Gone with the Wind on dvd whenever you want so it’s not necessary to rerelease it into the theaters except for once-in-awhile special occasions. Unless we develop some sort of recording and archiving process that would make at least videotaped performances of the classics (ideally of every play) readily available, I wouldn’t want to see them totally pushed out of theatres. All that being said, yes, more new work! There should be a much better balance between new and old work in regional theatres.

2. “Tell Us Something We Don’t Know”: Again, more productions of new work! More premieres! And I like that he clarifies that even a regional premiere is a good thing. I haven’t reached this point in my career yet, but I’ve heard that it’s even harder to get a second production than it is a first production. So regional premieres that may have been done once or twice elsewhere are incredibly important. But I have to take issue with this remark: “Playwrights: Quit developing your plays into the ground with workshop after workshop after workshop—get them out there.” Don’t you think we WANT to “quit developing our plays into the ground”? No one I know wants to go through workshop after workshop without a production in sight, but often that’s just all that new writers of new work are given because that’s all the theatres have in their budgets to offer us. I don’t know anyone who’d say “no, please don’t produce me, I’d rather workshop my play into the ground until I can’t remember why I wrote it in the first place.” Seriously. It all goes back to the failing subscription-based model of revenue at regional theaters.

3. “Produce Dirty, Fast, and Often”: This I like. It’s not right for every theatre, but for small new companies that don’t have much of a budget, I think doing as much as you can with what you have can yield some really fun and surprising results. It strikes me as the type of thing that would work really well in a collaborative theatre group setting where the playwright, director, actors, and designers team up from day one and just see what they can make. Fun with no budgets!

4. “Get Them Young”: Definitely important. The question is how. New work and lower ticket prices would help, I think. But of course all of that depends on the budgets of the theatres and it’s all a vicious cycle. Maybe different models like live-streaming certain performances where people can purchase a “ticket” to view the livestream at a much cheaper price than a seat in the theatre can be thought about? That way the house can still be full but people who can’t afford the $40 or $50 it costs to be there in person would at least get a shot at seeing it. I don’t know. I think it will be exciting to see what people come up with.

5. “Offer Child Care”: I love this! Only don’t just invite actors to run it–invite the playwrights too! Everyone in the theatre would welcome the chance to make some extra money by playing theatre games with kids.

6. “Fight for Real Estate”: I’m intrigued by this concept of “artist housing.” Is this really a real thing in other cities? Although I’d personally rather just be able to make enough money to afford the cost of living. Being poor is no fun. Also, I am someone who came from from a neighborhood that was gentrified first by artsy and subsequently by rich types… artists aren’t the only ones being priced out of those communities. So are the original residents.

7. “Build Bars”: This would be fun. Last year, I went to Blood Rose Rising‘s workshop performances, and they had a little mini-open-bar in the corner that served drinks all night. And live music to accompany the performances. It was such a cool experience and gave the performance a nice community vibe. They’re offering drinks and live music again this time around as they go into full productions (Episode One opens Friday, February 17 at the Davis Square Theatre in Somerville… go see it!).

8. “Boors’ Night Out”: I wish I were sure enough of myself to allow the audience to shout out whatever they wanted during one of my plays. I don’t know. I think I’m too sensitive for this one. Shouting out your favorite lines and singing along is fun though. Just not sure that I’m emotionally ready for cries of “you suck!” 🙂

9. “Expect Poverty”: No. Just no. “Nobody deserves a living wage for having talent and a mountain of grad school debt. Sorry.” I could not disagree more. EVERYONE deserves a living wage for their work, whether they went to grad school or not. No one should have to expect poverty. Expect that it will be tough and that it’s a really difficult industry, yes. Expect that there’s no guarantee of a big paycheck like there is if you do other forms of graduate study like med school or law school, yes. But don’t expect poverty. How do you expect people to do their jobs, whether it’s making art or teaching school or working in an office, if they don’t think they deserve a liveable wage for all the work they put into it? Don’t even get me started on the fact that education costs have skyrocketed in recent years while the increase in salaries has not anywhere near matched it. I know it was meant lightly, but still. Believe that what you offer the world deserves better than poverty!

10. “Drop Out of Grad School”: Again, I disagree. MFA programs definitely are not necessary for success, and “learning by doing” is also important. The problem is, I don’t know about other people, but I had very little playwriting experience before grad school. I didn’t feel like I knew how to write a play. I didn’t know that ten-minute plays even existed. I didn’t grow up going to the theatre. And I had zero connections to the local theatrical community. I NEEDED my MFA program. And to this day I know that going to grad school was the best thing I ever could have done with my life. It’s completely changed my writing life into something that’s now a regular part of who I am instead of something I hope I can do someday. Other people might not need the MFA program in order to do that. But I did. I’m a much better writer now, I have WAY more confidence than I used to, and I actually know what the process is for trying to get your work produced now. I was pretty clueless before.

So that’s it. Just my poorly organized thoughts. What I’ve been wondering about lately is how everywhere I’ve heard that the subscription-based regional theatre model is failing and needs to change. And I totally agree. But because I’m so new to this industry, I’d be interested to hear from people who’ve been here awhile about whether American theatre does really seem to be on a precipice of a major overhaul the way it was before the advent of the regional theatre, or if this is a conversation that’s been going on for decades but nothing ever seems to happen. I feel like change is necessary in order for theatre to grow and survive. Let’s do this, people.

Leave a comment

Filed under playwriting, theatre

The Button video

I’ve been back from KCACTF for over a week now, and I really want to write all about it. I’ve just been So. Busy. I bought a car! I got my learner’s permit! (In that order. Shut up.) And work is its usual crazy deadline-filled self. So for now, until I get a free minute to write about the week and share some photos, check out the video of the staged reading for my little ten-minute play The Button. I’ll be adding this video to this play’s actual page on my website once I confirm the spelling of the names of everyone involved.

Leave a comment

Filed under playwriting

The hard is what makes it great

I mentioned in my last post that I have a deadline for the first draft of my new play on January 1. That’s why I’m actually updating twice in one week for the first time in forever. I posted this video on facebook earlier today, but it doesn’t mean I still can’t blog about it, right?

So, I say horrible things about writing a lot. I complain and I say that I hate it and that it would be so much better without the whole “writing” part. I often take for granted that people obviously *know* that I love what I’m doing and that I just like to complain when it gets difficult. I’m big on the self-deprecating-humor thing.

But a lot of people probably don’t get that this is just how I work, and they may think things like “are you happy doing this? If you’re not happy, why don’t you stop?” or “you don’t really sound like you like it all that much.” I do. I love writing. I’ve loved it since I was a kid and wrote shitty rhymey poetry about the sun and my dog (actually, I don’t think I ever wrote a poem about my dog).

This scene with the immortal Tom Hanks basically sums up my feelings toward writing:

“If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

I totally rip this off pay homage to this line in my play I’m working on.

This is just one of those times where it’s really hard. When I write one line of dialogue and immediately want to go check facebook or twitter, when it takes forever to even advance the script one page, when looking at my god-awful dialogue makes me want to be sick. It will all be worth it in a few days. Then I’ll have a shitty first draft that I can proceed to rip apart for the next few months. hooray!

Leave a comment

Filed under playwriting