Tag Archives: KCACTF

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.

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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.

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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.

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Year in retrospect

Since my previous entry was kind of depressing, I’ve been wanting to write a more upbeat post for awhile now. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about where I was just a year ago and how much that has changed. I was trying to deal with a lot of stuff that had happened pre-grad school, and last year in general had been sort of up-and-down emotionally. But I think when the playwriting workshop portion of my MFA program ended, I sort of felt this void and started to feel really sad all the time again. The structure that the workshop classes had given me was sort of pulled out from under me, and I had no idea how to handle it. I was in summer classes, but it wasn’t the same.

I hit a real emotional low around mid- to late-June last year, and my playwriting class’s planned weekend getaway at our classmate’s summer lake house was coming up at the end of the month. My outlook tanked so much in the week leading up to it that I almost didn’t go. I even went so far as to officially cancel only to be talked back into it by my awesome classmates. When I look back, I always mark that weekend as the turning point in getting my life back in order. There was great people, great food, a lake, a rope swing, a hot tub, a trampoline, and lots of wine, among other things. And also a hammock. I feel like that weekend was when I finally got myself out of mere survival mode and into moving-forward mode.

One of the biggest changes was that over the July 4 weekend, I decided to follow in the footsteps of one of my friends and put up a profile on Match. 😛 It was the first time that the thought of potentially letting someone get close to me didn’t make me feel sick. Within a week of my profile being up, this super-awesome guy named Allan emailed me, and we met up in person on July 14. Now he’s sitting right next to me on the couch in the apartment that we share. And my two kitties are running around with his chubby cat and causing trouble. It’s definitely been a really good year.

I also, because I’ve been amazingly lucky this year, had a few steps forward with my writing. I completed my degree in January, so I now have an MFA to my name that I did not have a year ago. And I got an award-of-sorts by making the semifinals of the Kennedy Center’s Ten-Minute Play award (does it count as an award if you don’t actually make the finals? haha). A group of BU alums started up a workshop group so we could continue to hear actors read our work and get feedback from each other. AND I had my first-ever production just a few weeks ago. This time last year, I was just a nervous girl who had just finished her playwriting classes and was worried that without that structure I’d never be able to see my work developed again.

This year has been awesome. It’s something I can look back on when rejections seem to be pouring in endlessly as encouragement to keep going. My playwriting classmates and I have recently started planning the second-annual weekend at the lake. I definitely won’t be almost backing out of this one.

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