FIGHT!

ImageThere comes a time when one must stand up and fight. For my husband and for me, that time is now. We must travel far, we must stand firm and we must engage in…

ART OF COMBAT!

Ok, so we only have to travel a couple hours to NYC, but it’s still going to be an epic week. Don’t believe me? Check out last year’s blogpost on our week at the AoC NYC Stage Combat Intensive. We’re excited to be going back and thrilled (and terrified!) that this year we’ll both be fighting in three scenes instead of two.

Sorry this post isn’t longer, but I still have lines to learn…

More updates when I get back!

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OPHELIA Gets Drowned

I’m pretty sure my title for this blogpost is a grammatical nightmare, but today, I care not. Today I’m here to tell you about the most exciting news of my fledgling career as a playwright. In October of 2013 my play, DROWNING OPHELIA, will be produced by the Repurposed Theatre of San Francisco, California, and directed by the theatre’s founder/artistic director, Ellery Schaar

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  

Sorry about that. Unprofessional screechy-excited girl moment is over now.  ;-)

But no, seriously, SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So far, I have been incredibly blessed as a playwright. I’ve been commissioned to write (and sometimes perform) short pieces – from sketches to monologues to short one-acts – but this is the first REAL production of my first REAL full-length play by a REAL theatre company who read my work, loved it, and contacted me asking to produce it. (Be prepared for more blogposts on this topic, as well as an interview with Ellery!) And by the end of October I’ll be able to put on my resume “world premiere production of DROWNING OPHELIA in San Francisco, California.”  

Wow.

And now comes the scary part; does this mean that I am actually, TRULY, a writer now? Isn’t that always the question?  When do I BECOME a writer? The moment I write? The first time I’m published? The first time my work is performed? 

Or have I always been a writer and now is just when everyone else is hearing about it?

Regardless of when I “became” a writer, I think if nothing else, this production is confirmation that I’ve written something other people actually care about. That I’m no longer writing “just for me;” I have a new responsibility – to myself, to my beliefs, to the truth, even – in terms of what I “put out there.”

There’s this great play that I saw a few years back – off-Broadway, I think, – called The Metal Children. It was written by Adam Rapp and it’s a strange, intriguing play (and the cast was great; we saw Billy Crudup as the protagonist) but my favorite thing about it was that it really called into question the responsibility a writer bears for what they choose to put down on paper. It’s a controversial debate, I’m sure; as writers, are we responsible for how others interpret our writing? Do we bear responsibility for how others respond to our writing? Maybe not. But the words we put on the page are OURS. The thoughts, the emotions; they spring from our hearts, minds, souls, and experience. No matter how someone interprets it or responds to it, we are starting a conversation with the world. And for as long as our work is read or seen, we are part of that conversation. That is our responsibility; to create a conversation worth having.

Those are my thoughts for today. I’m really excited about the world premiere of my play (can you tell?!) and I am also sobered by the weight it carries to have one’s work produced. I’m grateful for the opportunity, the responsibility, and most of all, for the conversation that I hope is just beginning. 

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dramachicky redux

Last night I was at a party and someone asked me, “When are you going to start blogging it up again?” and my immediate response wasn’t so much an answer as a realization: “Wow…I haven’t blogged in a really long time.”

Now, that’s not entirely true. I blogged last week on my theatre group’s website, just a brief little snippet about what makes being a theatre artist so great. But when was the last time I blogged as dramachicky? September 27, 2012. Just over 8 months ago. I checked. I was going to include exactly how many days that is, but that’s math I don’t feel like doing right now. The point is, it’s been long enough and I’m coming back.

One of the things I figured out about being a writer while I was still working on my graduate thesis is that rules are meant to be broken. The last time I blogged consistently I gave myself rules about how many times per week I would blog and what days I would blog and what I would blog about on what days…

And suddenly, blogging felt like work. Not that it isn’t work, but it should at least be fun work, right? I’m a writer for crying out loud; I ENJOY writing. And if the rules are killing that enjoyment then maybe I just need to chill and blog about whatever my little heart desires, whenever my little heart desires it.

So here I am. No rules. No promises. Just hopes for my blogging future. For now I’ll tell you that as both a writer and a theatre artist I have some pretty exciting projects in the works that I want to keep you posted on. *pause to dangle carrot* One of those exciting projects involves the very first production of my play, Drowning Ophelia. So stay tuned, because dramachicky is back…again. And this time, there ARE no rules!  ;-)

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I’m Still Here

(Good movie, by the way.  But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.)

Just a quick post this morning to say hello to everyone I’ve left hanging. School has sunk its teeth into me (in the best possible way) and with two brand-new classes to teach (plus two “old” classes to teach that I’m trying to breathe new life into) AND a playwriting class for adults that I’m running at the library, I’ve been feeling a pinch overwhelmed.  I’m not abandoning dramachicks…I just need to not feel like bashing my brain against the wall before I can really ENJOY blogging again.

And if I don’t enjoy it, what’s the point?

So, maybe you can help me out. If you have ideas for things I should blog on (an upcoming show by a female playwright, for example) or someone I can interview (who will ACTUALLY EMAIL ME BACK) or even (thanks for the suggestion, Vicki), someone who would be a *GUEST BLOGGER* – I am open to any and all ideas.  :-)

Till then, read some new plays and let me know what you think.  I’ll be back with my many adventures (and hopefully some new plays) as soon as I possibly can be. Thanks for your patience. And if you’re new, scroll through the archives! I recommend the posts on Sarah Ruhl.  ;-)

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Views and Reviews: Suggestions for School

You know you’re out of practice blogging when you realize on Monday that you forgot to blog…on FRIDAY. :-o  I’ll tell you what; the school year found me and I am not as prepared as I wanted to be!  Such is life.

One of the privileges (and I think, joys) I do have this teaching semester is the opportunity to teach an Introduction to World Literature class at a local university.  Guess who’s going to be reading A LOT of plays?  :-)  In a couple weeks I’ll also be teaching my first playwriting class for adults at the local library.  I’ve enjoyed teaching teens for the past year…I’m a little intimidated to be teaching my peers.  But I just have to keep reminding myself that the principles are the same…and maybe, just maybe, the adults will be a little bit calmer, a little bit quieter, a little bit more responsible…heheheheheheheh.  I guess we’ll see.  ;-)

Have you noticed I like the smiley icons today?  :-D  :-)  :-P   ;-)

So on to the blogpost.  I know I’ve mentioned before some of the books and plays I’m using in my classes, specifically ones written by women, so today I’d like to focus on some plays by women that I think SHOULD be taught, why, and what your students can get out of them.

EURYDICE by Sarah Ruhl. Photo by Sara Krulwich.

Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl - Obviously, if you’ve read my blog EVER you know how much I love Ruhl’s work.  In the Next Room is probably her most well-known at the moment; The Clean House is incredibly funny and touching, and Passion Play is pretty much…epic.  So why teach little ol’ Eurydice?  Well, for one, maybe I’m influenced by the personal impact it had on ME when I was a young playwriting student. I used Eurydice in my playwriting classroom this year because when I was learning to write plays it opened my eyes to a world beyond the three-walled set.  With my students I talked about the idea of taking a myth and using it as the foundation of a different story with new themes.  We talked about sets consisting not of walls, but of elevators and string and what that might look like. We discussed the role of a chorus; we talked about double-casting and whether or not The Nasty Interesting Man and The Lord of the Underworld were actually one and the same.  We discussed poetry in dialogue and monologue.  We addressed how personal events in a playwright’s life (such as the death of Ruhl’s father) can affect, inform, or even inspire one’s writing.  Interestingly enough (or maybe “predictably” would be a better term), I am also teaching Eurydice in my World Lit class.  In that setting we’ll focus a little more on its source material (the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, commonly found in Greek mythology including Ovid’s epic poem Metamorphoses) and how the transition from ancient Greek poetry to modern American drama had an effect on the story’s evolution.  It will be interesting to approach the play from yet another angle. Now to figure out how I can teach it in my speech class…

METAMORPHOSES by Mary Zimmerman. Photo by Ric Evans.

Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman – Bring on the Greeks!  Since I’m treating my World Lit class like a comparative lit class, I’ve been having a ball finding plays, poems, fiction and non-fiction that tie together in unique and interesting ways.  Like Ruhl, Zimmerman found inspiration in the world of class Greek mythology, but unlike Ruhl, she focuses more on the transcending truth of Ovid’s Metamorphoses to inform her own work.  I love how true she is to the source material, I love that she also had the guts to say “screw it” when discovering one of her favorite myths (the tale of Cupid and Psyche) wasn’t IN Ovid’s masterpiece…and she decided to include it anyway.  There is again this contrast of what has time, location, and genre done to affect the theme of this story (not to mention, what does the specific selection of THESE stories – out of all of Ovid’s stories – communicate), but Zimmerman’s play has a very different tone and purpose than Ruhl’s.  I’m particularly excited about the student’s comparing Zimmerman’s take on Orpheus and Eurydice to Ruhl’s.  Added bonus: the entire play takes place in a pool.  Talk about theatrical!

Maura Malloy in THE SYRINGA TREE.

The Syringa Tree by Pamela Gien - Gien’s one-woman show is based on her experience growing up in South Africa during apartheid.  There are SO MANY REASONS to teach this play.  I love including a play like this in World Literature because Gien isn’t just talking about her experience in a different country, she is talking about her LIFE in a different country.  There are huge themes to discuss from racism to the role of government to good old-fashioned coming of age. I wish greatly that there was a performance of this show going on in the immediate area this semester because I believe it’s a play everyone should see.  Many times the one-woman show or the one-man show is a venue played up for comedy.  Not so with The Syringa Tree.  Yes, there funny moments, but an excellent actress knows the difference between colorful characters and caricatures. The moments that really stick out in my mind (having seen a performance several years ago) involve Gien’s little girl fear and innocence, as well as the seamless way in which the actress (in my case, Maura Malloy, though Gien herself has performed it many times) flowed from character to character to character as if each one of them lived under her skin.  I love this play. Point of interest; Gien also penned a book by the same name, but the unique quality of seeing these stories threaded together through the performance of one actress adds an element that escapes the book. Hopefully my lit students will be able to appreciate it!

There are any number of plays that I could include on this list.  Some that were inspirational to me as a playwriting student specifically include How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel, Twelve Ophelias by Caridad Svich, and The Skriker by Caryl Churchill.  So many plays, so little time!  I (hopefully) have an interview coming up for you all (still waiting to get the answers back!), and if I remember on Friday I may even have a new playwright spotlight or a play review.  Thanks for sticking with me!  Happy School Year!

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The Return of Newsday Tuesday

Here we are, launching into a new school year.  Isn’t it funny that when you’re a teacher (or a student) “this year” means from the end of August to about May?  Doesn’t matter that we’ll be transitioning from 2012 to 2013 in January; it’s all the same YEAR in school-ese.

But that’s a conversation for another day (and probably another blog).

Today I am proud to announce the return of Newsday Tuesday!  (And yes, I still love that it rhymes!)  In the headlines:

Where Playwrights Take Center Stage - this is an article by the New York Times and I JUST LOVE IT!  It’s about a new writer’s project called Write Out Front. Essentially, for three weeks (yes this is happening NOW until September 1st!), playwrights are sitting in the window of the Drama Book Shop in NYC, just, well, writing.  Not only can passersby observe playwrights in their natural habitat, but there is a live feed that displays the playwrights’ work as it is being written (no pressure!).  AMAZING!  The playwright featured in the article is Hilary Bettis, one of 76 participants. The idea was the brainchild of Theaterspeak blogger Micheline Auger.  I may just have to make it to New York to see this.

The all-female production ANTIGONE UNEARTHED by Rachel Broderick. Photo by Chelsey Blackmon.

Antigone Unearthed, a reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone written and directed by Rachel Broderick, is being featured at the New York International Fringe Festival through Sunday, August 26th.  Reviews are sketchy, but I find the idea really interesting.  (I’m considering writing my own version of Antigone; always loved the story, but MY GOODNESS is the play wordy…)

The cast of INDEPENDENTS by the late Marina Keegan.

An Ode to Youth, Forever Fleeting – another NY Times article, this one rather sad. 22-year-old playwright Marina Keegan’s book of a musical, Independents, went up two weeks ago at the New York Fringe Festival…three months after Keegan’s untimely death. A car accident took the Yale graduate’s life, but her legacy clearly lives on in the theatre world.

Tryst, by Karoline Leach is “now being given a highly satisfying production” (Anita Gates, New York Times) at TheatreWorks in Hartford, Conn., through September 9th. For those of us in the tri-state area, Connecticut isn’t too far to see a good play!

That’s all for today, theatre friends.  Happy Newsday Tuesday!

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Writers Seek Employment (Suggestions Here)

In light of my last post (and because preparation for teaching this fall is eating up all my time), I’m relinquishing today’s post to dear writer friends who’ve also found ways to keep living, breathing, and eating in between their writing endeavors. Found among them is a common reality: art takes sacrifice, sometimes on our own parts to make the “writer’s life” (or the artist’s life) a reality for someone else.  Also a common wish: more time to (what else?) WRITE.

“I am a full-time adjunct.  It’s hard, but I get to do what I love everyday, and I’m grateful to have a husband who works a job he hates every day so that I can love mine.” ~ A.A.

“My wife makes the bulk of the money (for now). I teach and do what I can. I take care of the kids, because it’s far mor cost-effective for me to watch them than for me to get a full-time job and try to pay for daycare. Doesn’t leave me with as much time to write as I’d like.” ~ Randy Brzoska

“I’m bringing in the bank at my house while hubby lives the artist’s life. He directs, acts, teaches acting. I work the 9-6 job and try to write when I can. Which hasn’t been much lately.” ~ A.P.

“I am working a temp job right now.” ~ J.

“I work full-time as a PR person for an insurance company. pays well, but travel is hard. I will be teaching as an online adjunct starting in January. I will be able to afford a roof over my  head, and food as my vehicles are paid off.  I am picking up small writing gigs that do pay. Just submitted an online class I developed for a college who is just starting online courses and made $1000.00. Not bad! If I keep this up I wont have to work much to pay the school loans and my insurance!!! Hope that will give me the time to write and submit the way I want to. I’m learning to do without and am happier. Takes me back to simpler times.” ~ Ginger Marcinkowski

“I’ve sold porn and work for the govt the last 3 1/2 years; both amoral soulless jobs that I could sneak writing at…its been a good trade-off.” ~ C.

“I’m an adjunct which means little pay, but a lot of free time. As a writer, it’s worth the trade-off to have that writing time.” ~ William D. Prystauk

“I’m an investigator with the local pd. I use writing for my reports but always have some wannabe grammar lord try to tell me about grammar. Point out my 2 MAs & watch how fast they slink away. He he, that’s the fun! Decent pay but oh the nightmare egos I have to put up with makes me dislike this job with such passion. I’m eager to find freelance writing work or teaching or any decent freelance or online job that I can do to eventually get rid of this one. Unfortunately can’t really walk away since hubby is on my insurance & currently suffering from the C-demon with dr visits, tests & surgeries aplenty. Sigh!” ~ M.

“I have been an ad copywriter, freelancer, and worked in independent school admissions and as a teacher. Most I loved, one I started out liking, but ended up unhappy and stressed. Recently, I joined the Wilkes Creative Writing programs and feel like I’ve come home after a long journey.” ~ D.

And now back to my paying job as an adjunct instructor.  One of the wonderful things about teaching a lit class this year?  LOTS of opportunities to teach plays!  And I’m happy to say that among everything I’m teaching, I have a great showing of female writers (playwrights, poets & even a graphic novelist!) including Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses), Sarah Ruhl (Eurydice), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), Pamela Gien (The Syringa Tree), and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (Athair, The Language Issue and The Broken Doll).

Next week I’m hoping to be blogging twice a week again (Tuesdays & Fridays).  So wish me luck and I’ll see you on the other side!

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