Category Archives: theatre

Wildcat Mountain photos and video!

Everyone should check out a photo slideshow and zipline videos on the Playwrights’ Commons blog.

As I said before, I forgot my camera, so this is great to see. In the “view from the ride” video, I am said “playwright waving in the distance.”

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Climb every mountain…

I’ve been mentally singing that song all day. Today was field trip day on the Freedom Art Retreat. We drove out to Wildcat Mountain and did some zipline-ing, took a gondola up to the summit, and did some hiking. We hiked a small section of the Appalachian Trail. I forgot my phone/camera, so there will be pictures eventually but I will have to steal them from others. The zipline was awesome. I have issues with heights, so I thought I’d be terrified, but it was really fun. The slope helped me not feel the height as much. After the hiking, the three playwrights decided to take the gondola back down the mountain (rather than hike back down) and head back early for some swimming. There was some floating-on-the-lake-in-tubes time which was much appreciated.

Yesterday we had site-specific theatre day. My group found this really cool site at an intersection with some big rocks, a water shed with No Trespassing signs all over it, and a weird crutch hanging off a tree by a rope. As we explored the site more, we found broken headlight glass on the roadside and a broken Yield sign and some broken fence posts. We ended up crafting a ghost story about teenagers looking ahead to the life that could have been. It was cool… I’d never done site-specific theatre before.

I will have to write more about everything when I’m home. It’s been such an awesome week so far, and it’s hard to find time to just sit and write about it all.

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Freedom Art, day 1

Just a quick update from the first full day of the Freedom Art retreat. The house is beautiful. It has really high wood-paneled ceilings that I love. And it’s a short walk to a private beach. We got in yesterday and a small group went grocery shopping while the rest of us settled in and got to know the surrounding area. Last night we did a “show-n-tell” session where everyone showcased about ten minutes of their work. I chose the first scene of Prayer Bargain. We also in addition to plays saw dramaturgy blogs, puppets, a swordplay piece, a song, and some fiction.

This morning we broke into groups by random draw. My group was me, Meron Langser, and Corianna Moffatt. Meron is a playwright/stage combat specialist and Corianna is a dramaturg. We started off checking out Meron’s amazing collection of swords he brought with him and then tried to pop bubbles with a katana. Somehow that led to plotting out a children’s fairytale play. It totally works. We just had dinner (grilled pizza! Ilana is awesome), and we’ll be doing another show-n-tell night in a few minutes where the groups will share what they came up with this morning/afternoon. Then tomorrow we will switch the groups up and see what else develops.

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Like the theatre camp I never got to go to

It’s the weekend before I head out into the woods for a week on the Freedom Art Retreat! I’ll be joining a small group of playwrights, designers, and dramaturgs for a week of collaboration and creating. And also swimming. It’s like how when I was younger and I had friends who were going to theatre camp, only this time I actually get to go with them.

I got to meet everyone on Thursday night, which was really cool. I already knew Emily from school, and I’d briefly met a couple others at the Playwright Nights Out that I’ve gone to, but there were some people I hadn’t met before. It’s a really great group. I’m still nervous though. Like first-day-of-school nervous. What if they all become super-best friends and I am on the outside? haha. I didn’t have trouble making friends with my BU MFA class (unless they’re all just humoring me? ;)). But I still get nervous. The group is awesome though and I know I’ll be fine. I’m sort of half-joking about being afraid of them all going off and making friends without me. 😛 It will be fun. Want to see pictures of where we’re staying? Check out this post from the Playwrights’ Commons blog. ooh, pretty! yay!

I also got to go to the July Playwright Night Out meetup last week. It was good that I went because I missed the June one. I got to meet John Shea, another (far more established) Somerville playwright. That was pretty cool. He knew my mother’s Recreation friends, reinforcing the stereotype that everyone from Somerville somehow knows everyone else. And I met my brother’s playwriting professor from Stonehill. That was random and funny. Saw some people I recognized from the May meetup and met some new people who had been there in June who I’d missed out on meeting last time. I feel like I’ve been in super-social mode lately. It’s weird. I also got to see Matt & Ben at the Central Square Theatre last night. That was fun. Really funny. AND it technically took place in Somerville even though it’s all inside Ben’s apartment. It’s up for another week–you should all go if you haven’t! hehe. The only thing I’m sad about is that I’ll probably have to miss 1001 at Company One. This week coming up is the final week, and I’ll be away. And with all the picking up prescriptions and packing and doing laundry to do before Monday morning, I just don’t think I’ll have time. I’ve heard great things about that show and I really wanted to try to make it.

So yes, just a couple more days and then it’s off to “theatre camp.” I’m really excited about it. Hopefully I will get some really cool collaborative-y ideas and work done. I love the idea of collaborating on a project from the start. I think a lot of interesting new theatre is being created that way. Because Cooperation Makes It Happen. Why do I remember that song from almost 30 years ago? There’s something wrong with me.

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Go see Stick Fly

Everyone in the NYC area this December should go see Stick Fly, a play by Boston-area playwright Lydia Diamond. She teaches at BU and came to visit our final playwriting class of the program. Stick Fly was at the Huntington last year, and I missed my chance to see it because it SOLD OUT, which is crazy-awesome. So now if I want to see it I’ll have to make a weekend out of it and catch it in New York. Which I may have to do.

The play is being produced by Alicia Keys, and you can see some info about it here.

Sorry for not being very updatey lately. I’m trying to feel more normal. I figured plugging someone else’s work was a good place to start.

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Persisting

It’s been difficult to write anything lately. I’ve even been avoiding just little blog entries. My friend sent me this link from July 4’s entry in the Letters of Note blog. It’s an open letter from Pixar animator Austin Madison written to aspiring artists as part of the Animator Letters Project, which collects letters from successful animators to inspire those seeking to enter the industry. I love Pixar. I overanalyze their screenplays like a complete nerd. It’s a not-so-secret dream of mine to somehow be one of their writers even though they do all their stories from within and I have zero experience with animation and no hope of getting hired. So even though it’s geared towards animators specifically, I’ve found it helpful to think about as a writer and also just in getting through my day-to-day life.

You should definitely read the whole letter, but here’s an excerpt for you: “PERSIST on telling your story. PERSIST on reaching your audience. PERSIST on staying true to your vision.” It’s what I’ve been struggling with recently. I have revisions I need to make, I have new projects I haven’t started, and with everything going on in my life, I’ve had zero motivation to write or to do much of anything. Even going out and being with a group of more than a couple people has felt overwhelming. One month from today I’ll be heading up to Maine for the Freedom Art Retreat, and I don’t want to feel completely out of it or rusty when I go. I need to find a way to persist. To be able to know that it’s ok to feel the confusion and loss, to feel overwhelmed at times, and to still be able to carry on. First get started writing again, and then work up the strength to write through the creative droughts and keep pushing forward.

It’s just been really hard. It’s not a step-by-step process where you feel a little stronger every day. There’s good days and there’s bad days. Good hours and really horrible hours. Days where I don’t even want to get out of bed. Other days where I’m so worried about the rest of my family that I don’t let myself focus on how I am dealing with things. There’s times where I’m feeling ok and then feel guilty that I’m feeling ok. Which I know is silly, because my father wouldn’t have wanted me to feel sad, etc., but I haven’t been able to make the guilt go away yet. Nice sunny days make me feel awful because I think about how he isn’t able to be there and enjoy it. I feel bad if I feel like I’m mentally painting too polished-over a memory of him, but I also feel horrible if I remember the not-so-great times too. I know this is all part of the process of dealing with things, but being aware of that doesn’t help much at all.

So that’s where I’ve been. Persisting. Or at least attempting to. Knowing that I still have stories to tell, visions to stay true to, and (hopefully) an audience to reach. Knowing that eventually I’ll get back to a place where I can write without all of this hanging over my head. But in the meantime just trying to persist.

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My first production!

This past Sunday was my very first production of a script I wrote! I’ve had staged readings before, but this was the first time the actors were off-book and there were costumes and lights and a set. My ten-minute play “The Mouse” was part of the thirteenth annual Boston Theatre Marathon. It was produced by the Firehouse Center for the Performing Arts in Newburyport, MA. At the helm of this crazy little play was the wonderful director Tim Diering, and the hilarious James Manclark and Tracy Bickel played Jim and Caroline.

My play was in the first hour (of ten), third out of the entire Marathon of fifty. I was trying not to be nervous–I’d seen a rehearsal the week before, and I knew the play was in good shape and that it had gotten laughs at previous readings–but I was still a complete wreck. It helped to have my mother, my boyfriend Allan, and a few friends and classmates scattered around the audience. And the people laughed! That felt so good. The last thing you want to hear at a comedy is total dead silence. And then it was over, and soon after that the whole first hour was over and the first intermission arrived, so I went out to the lobby to congratulate my awesome cast and director. When I got back, my boyfriend was telling me that he heard random audience members talking about my play during the break… how funny it was, and how they should bring a Donald Duck plushie to their office (that makes sense if you’ve seen the play). That was just incredibly awesome… people talking positively about something you created when you’re not in earshot. And if there were people elsewhere in the audience talking about how much they hated it, at least word of that never got back to me. 😉

All in all, it was a great day, and such a wonderful experience for my first-ever production. Hopefully there will be more to follow!

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My Playwrights’ Theatre guest blog

I wrote a guest entry for the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre blog today, in response to a recent article Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser wrote for the Huffington Post.

http://playwrightsperspective.blogspot.com/2011/04/guest-blog-colleen-hughes.html

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