dramachicky: back for more

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve blogged! So much has happened: my full-length play was produced in San Francisco, another one of my ten-minute plays was produced in northeast PA, I had the privilege of playing Lady Macbeth in the Scottish play, I got to live a dream playing River Tam in our most recent Art of Combat Intensive, we produced our first Underage Theatre, I earned my green belt in American Combat Karate and I got a new full-time teaching job.

That’s a pretty full year. In case you were wondering why I didn’t have time to blog. ¬†ūüėČ

But now I’m back! At least, I hope I’m back. There are so many exciting things happening in the theatre world (right now I am excited/bitter about the production of¬†The Crucible being performed at the Old Vic in London; excited because of director Yael Farber’s vision and Richard Armitage’s performance; bitter because I don’t live anywhere near London and the show is sold out). ¬†Anyway, there’s a lot to write about, both personally and in the theatre community at large. For starters, I’d love to share some pictures from the production of my play,¬†Drowning Ophelia, directed by Ellery Schaar of Repurposed Theatre and performed in October 2013. My hubby and I got to see the show in San Francisco with my best friend and her husband; it was a fantastic trip and I look forward to telling you more about it very soon, along with sharing what other women are accomplishing in the industry. Hopefully these will hold you over until then. ¬†ūüôā

Photos by Ted Davis. Poster design and photo by Robbie Sweeney Photography.


The cast, director and playwright for DROWNING OPHELIA. Left to right: Will Trichon, Ellery Schaar, dramachicky (Rachel Luann Strayer), Kirsten Dwyer, Ryan Hayes, and Katharine Otis.


Kirsten Dwyer as Ophelia


Lady Jane and Sir Edmund enjoy spaghetti (left to right: Katharine Otis and Will Trichon)


Adam threatens Ophelia (left to right: Ryan Hayes and Kirsten Dwyer)

Ophelia and Adam look on as Jane examines her gift (left to right: Kirsten Dwyer, Ryan Hayes and Katharine Otis)

Ophelia and Adam look on as Jane examines her gift (left to right: Kirsten Dwyer, Ryan Hayes and Katharine Otis)


Jane mourns Ophelia (left to right: Katharine Otis and Kirsten Dwyer)




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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…


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.¬†


Sorry about that. Unprofessional screechy-excited girl moment is over now. ¬†ūüėČ

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.” ¬†


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! ¬†ūüėČ

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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. ¬†ūüôā

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. ¬†ūüėČ

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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. ūüėģ¬† 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?¬† ūüôā¬† 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.¬† ūüėČ

Have you noticed I like the smiley icons today?¬† ūüėĬ† ūüôā¬† ūüėõ¬†¬† ūüėČ

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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