Tag Archives: dance

Where Are They Now?

My plays, I mean. I’m infamous for getting a play about 80% there and then not being able to make the final push to getting it into a producible shape. It’s why I can get myself readings but never anything beyond that. It’s also likely why I tend to get myself discouraged and tell myself I’m just not cut out for this because I lack both the talent and the drive. One thing I excel at though is beating up on myself, and I need to not do that. I can definitely get plays into producible shape. I went through an MFA program and I held my own with classmates who are amazing writers. I may have gone into the program not really knowing how to write a play and know zero people in the local theatre scene, but it’s been six or seven years and I have a good network of people and I’m at least at the level of “oh, I think I’ve heard your name around…???” when people meet me. So, yes, I can do this.

But the plays need to get their collective asses in gear. They’re all in various states of disarray. But I’m working on them, and here now is my commitment to them. I need to do that thing you shouldn’t do on a public-facing site and express nerves about my work, because I’m me and my site is going to reflect that so deal with it. (Confidence?) So here’s where the full-lengths stand as I gear up for this year’s Writers at Play season.

The Prayer Bargain

My first “real” play. My first-ever play was my undergrad thesis fairytale written-in-verse nightmare, but this play was my MFA thesis and could actually go somewhere beyond O’Kane 481 at Holy Cross (I love 481 though, nothing against it). I wrote the first draft of this in 2009-2010, and I keep coming back to it, determined to get it right. I got some really great feedback on it this summer that I am currently trying to incorporate. What I’m struggling with is that something really has to CHANGE (it’s a fucking play, that’s kind of the point), but it’s a family play, and in my experience, family doesn’t change. Problems exist in an evolving but recurring spiral. I’m struggling with getting my characters to effect change because I don’t know how to do so in my own family, so I have no “write what you know” experience to draw from. But I’m working on something happening. When I finish this draft I really want to get another reading up. I’m not giving up on this play. It’s the only one my dad ever got to see any sort of live performance of, so it’s special.

Directive 47

I cannot get this play to sound like me. Normally, I can at the very least do dialogue. Plot I am kind of all over the place with, but dialogue I can handle. This play has always sounded like people orating at each other. And I can’t stand it. I did a reading at Erbaluce last January where it really stuck out. I just wanted to keep drinking wine but I couldn’t get up to refill my glass. The feedback from that reading was invaluable, but I need to have the mental energy for a deep-dive back into this one that I don’t know if I have at the moment. So it’s sort of in a back-of-my-mind letting-the-feedback-stir phase. This play goes through lots of that.

What frustrates me so much is that this play has gotten the most attention of anything I’ve written—I get accepted into more programs when it’s my writing sample, it’s gotten more readings and gotten further in competitions, etc.—but I KNOW that Prayer Bargain is much further developed and that the actual dialogue writing is so much better. That throws me into all sorts of self-doubt. Are people just responding to the topical issues in Directive 47? Or could it be a really good play if I just fucking sat down and fixed all its problems? On the other hand, Prayer Bargain is sooo close to done…does that mean it’s just Not Good and it’s never going to go anywhere even when it’s as good as it can possibly be?

The Travellers

This one is at a completed-second-draft stage. i.e. it is still a mess. I have a section of it going up on Boston Podcast Players in a few months.

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Photo by Boston Podcast Players.

This is my awesome cast recording the play in August with me appearing via Skype (I was in New Jersey). I’m excited for people to actually get to hear the reading because it will have been several months by then. This play is a bit of a conundrum. It’s whimsical and fun, and it could ALMOST work as a young audiences play…except that most of the main roles are for adults. I sort of envisioned it as an all-ages play…one that middle and high school kids would like and could totally perform but one that could also be done by a regular theatre and adults would enjoy it. Like Doctor Who. Who (pun intended) I’m clearly inspired by here. If I went full out and made it a young audiences play, does that make it “less” of a play in any sense? I say no. I love writing for kids. But it also closes it off to so many opportunities and gets it kind of limited. There’s also the Traveller’s identity which is kind of one of those not-so-secret secrets. I need to work it so that the reveal moment doesn’t feel like a Big Reveal (at least to the audience) because it’s like “yeah, obviously.” I don’t want people to think I’m stupid. He looked at me like I was stupid, I’m not stupid. yes.

Time Steps

Poor sad Time Steps is stalled out around page 25. The beginning keeps getting rewritten.  This is my play about tap dance and memories and life and death and friendship, and I want it to be imbued with rhythm and movement and FEEL like tap but right now it feels like girls being catty to each other, and then I get discouraged and I want to throw things. First drafts are fun. I want to keep pushing ahead with this one though. It’s one that will be more fun to work on once it’s written and I can actually play with the dance.

Untitled Sound-Movement-Poetic-Something

This only exists as a line (half a line, maybe) on a page right now. I started it during one of the above-mentioned times that Time Steps was making me want to throw things and 2017 was making me question my existence. I don’t know if anything will ever come of it. It has no concept other than “I miss being able to move and I want to write something more lyrical.” Oddly enough back in my undergrad Creative Writing program where I focused on poetry, I thought I was terrible with having any sort of lyric quality to my writing. I also was at the most miserable, lonely point in my life and all my poetry was looking back on a childhood and a home I could never have, so maybe my writing has improved now that I’m mentally better. I’d like to do something with this. Without it seeming melodramatic and stupid. I’m not sure if I know how. I wish I had a dance studio in my room so I could just move around and play with ideas.

This post was completely self-serving. I don’t mind if you didn’t read it. It was more of a collecting my thoughts on my writing and looking ahead as writing group time starts up than about trying to be clever. Plays, people! I sometimes write them.

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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?

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