Sunday, January 31, 2010

Playwrights of Color, check it out!

I got this e-mail through my website:

I found your site through the theatre blogosphere (Flux Ensemble Theatre and Tarhearted). I'm working on a project you might find interesting. This is it: The vision of the group is nearly identical to 13P (, but with the emphasis on producing works by new writers of color. The idea is to use our shared passion for theater and our status as Othered to empower us when it comes to gathering resources and reaching out to potential audiences and creative partners. We're committed to giving people theatre by and about us that challenges what people assume we stand for and/or are interested in. This will not be just another reading group. We want performances of our work. Rather than sitting around submitting our plays to all these places and waiting for other people to decide our work is worth doing, we're going to do it ourselves. We will definitely read each other's work. However, our feedback process is geared less towards reviewing our pieces and more towards uncovering the performance possibilities of the scripts and giving the writers a better understanding of how their works . . . work. In other words, instead of trying to rewrite the plays, the group is there to help writers figure out what their plays are capable of and finding the way to make sure that happens. I'm taking a lot of inspiration from the Liz Lerman method of critical response: Since we're geared toward development and production, we really can't do the typical writers' group thing of reading a snippet of a play out loud during a meeting then giving 15 to 30 minutes of instant feedback. Rushing through reading and feedback is a disservice to the writer. If that works for a particular writer, fine. But I want to make it clear that we're going to put our stuff on stage. It's up to the group to decide when and how that's going to happen, but I'm firm about setting up performances of our work. I'm leaning toward deciding on an activity (for example: a night of 10-minute plays and/or selections from larger works), picking a date, and going for it. Without that commitment, it's just an idea. So far there are about 5 writers (with scripts!) and a director interested. Right now we are reaching out to venues, organizations, and individuals who would be interested in being a part of our project. If you know of directors, actors, designers, producers, or even marketing/PR people who would be interested in micro-productions of new works by new playwrights of color, please feel free to send them our way. We'd love to work with them! Thanks for taking the time to learn more about us.

Sounds fascinating- if I were a Playwright of Color (and not the honkiest honky who ever honked), I would certainly apply to be a part of it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Classic Txts

Last night I went to go see a play and the man in the audience in front of me was texting on his brightly lit Blackberry periodically during the show. I've seen that a lot recently- apparently these idiots don't realize that they're incredibly distracting to audience members behind them (or possibly they just don't care).

Last night after the 4th or 5th time of him doing it, I leaned forward in my seat so I could read, as well (he didn't even notice me hovering behind him), and then I realized that he wasn't just texting during the show, he was sexting during the show. Awkward.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Just read this very interesting article on Scott Walter's blog about story creation...

He quotes Joseph Campbell:
"The folk aspect, which simply has to do with people and things in stories and time and space is called desi, which means local, popular. On the other hand the elementary ideas, when the diety is represented, are called marga, the path.

I've always been under the impression that to make a story "universal" (which is what everyone seems to want), it's always a mistake to concentrate on the mythic (i.e. "generic") at the expense of the details. The more personal and detailed a story is- even as the plot gets farther from the actual experience of the audience- the more the audience can project themselves into the story and see themselves in it.

Perhaps it's part of my perspective as a Gay man, being perforce subjected to heterosexuality and its tropes as the predominant vision in media growing up (I always say Lamar Latrell from Revenge of the Nerds was my first real role model- the pickin's were slim in the 1980s), I'd had to project into stories alien to my own experience. But I do think that's a capacity of all human beings, to be able to understand and empathise with any story and glean something that they can take back with them.

Now I'm considering it's the marga we can all feel, despite any desi which might be alien to our experience.

99Seats, in response to Scott Walter's post, says:
A Great Play lives in that place between the big, universal truths and the specific language of a specific time and place. The language of Hamlet is specific to Shakespeare's world and times, but the story soars above it. The same holds for Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Or Death of A Saleman. We need them. We need great masterworks that elevate the heart and soul, that capture the human spirit in amber and hold it up to the light.

I think the play(s) that best exemplifies that idea of A Great Play is Angels In America. The marga is there, of course, but it's the desi that really made it so real and vital for its time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Are we writing for art? And is art a springboard for fame?

A lot of the people who read a bestselling novel, for example, do not read much other fiction. By contrast, the audience for an obscure novel is largely composed of people who read a lot. That means the least popular books are judged by people who have the highest standards, while the most popular are judged by people who literally do not know any better. An American who read just one book this year was disproportionately likely to have read The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown. He almost certainly liked it.

- From The Economist

Man, this applies to theatre in a big way. The big Broadway blockbusters like Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages, even Phantom of the Opera... they pull in the tourists looking for a Real Broadway experience, and they get flashy fluff. Certainly fluff can be fun, but really in any media, art rarely sells.

In other news, (re:)Directions Theatre Company is planning the Anybody but Shakespeare Classics Festival for this Summer. A pretty interesting idea:
The Anybody but Shakespeare Classics Festival, hosted by (re:) Directions Theatre Company at the 14th Street Theater from May 17-June 6, 2010, is designed to celebrate the work of playwrights who have been overshadowed by the immortal bard; left in the dust by his rapier sharp wit and general put out to pasture in favor of the 2,189th revival of Hamlet. Any text from any country that was first written or performed between 1500 and 1700 will be considered. We are primarily seeking reinventions, original adaptations and translations that preserve both the spirit and the majority of the original text.

If I wasn't already pretty booked up for this Summer, I'd consider busting out some Lope de Vega or Middleton.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Serving hell in theatre

So, I'm desperately hoping this is some kind of hoax: Tucker Max Headed for B’way? Christopher Carter Sanderson Says Yes. None of it makes any sense.

Gorilla Rep is known for doing insightful outdoor adaptations of Shakespeare and other classics.

Tucker Max is

Sure, some of Tucker Max's stories are amusing gross-out fratire*. But still, the only reason I can see for even contemplating this would be to get more D-Bags to come to the theatre, so the theater can have their money. But really, nobody wants more D-Bags going to the theatre. When they do come, they're drunk and late, and they're always texting through the play anyway.
And the Tucker Max movie was apparently a huge flop (I wasn't even aware it actually existed until I started poking around on his site-it apparently premiered a couple of months ago); so why would putting his fratiric stories on stage be any better?

This just reeks of terrible idea.

* frat + satire = "fratire". I didn't make it up.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Inspiration comes in the strangest of places sometimes. I am a big fan of Dinosaur Comics, and a recent comic about computer simulations led to my first play of 2010, a 10-minute piece called Pocket Universe. Very pleased with it. Sometimes it feels as though ideas just gather in my head like a puzzle, and then all of a sudden they all fit together, and I know what the play IS. That's happened to me a few times, where the Full Play just sprung out of my head full-blown, like Athena. Which is not to say it was perfect on the first draft, but it's almost like taking dictation.

Most of the time it's harder to write, but I find the more I DO write, the more often these flashes of play just come to me.