BloomingPlays ends

May 22, 2010

Tonight marks the end of the BloomingPlays experience for me. I just got back from the cast party (thanks to Gabe and Brett for hosting!), even though there are 2 more performances to go.

Overall it was a very positive experience. I learned a lot; chiefly, I am not a playwright! That takes a special kind of writer and that I am not.

It was fun and frustrating to hear the final reading of our play the other night. Fun in that the fabulous actresses (Holly and Margot) brought so much intensity to the script and frustrating in that we still didn’t get the equality of the characters that we were going for. That tells me that there’s something lacking in the script, rather than something lacking in the acting.

I’m a bit miffed about how the process ended up. We were told before the final workshop which shows were going to be produced, so it was kind of a letdown to try and bring enthusiasm to the last two written iterations of the script.

Then, when it came time for the festival itself, it was presented as four plays. They got all the PR. No one knew about the free readings of the other 4 plays (Caretakers among them) that happened Wednesday night. The complete info wasn’t even on the home page of the website.

The email promos were little better, with the name of our play wrong and the synopsis uncorrected.

But most painful of all was reading the program tonight and seeing no mention of our play or of ourselves as playwrights. I thought we were part of the BloomingPlays series. Apparently only the 4 produced plays were considered part of the series. The readings were just considered something…else. They don’t fit in to any category.

Enough bitching. It was good to work with Lori and it was spectacular to go through the workshopping process. I learned a lot. And I stand in awe of those real playwrights who are able to create actual theatre with their work. Thanks to the BPP for making it all happen!


Caretakers staged reading 19 May

May 12, 2010

Finally, after years of development, Lori’s and my play Caretakers will receive a choreographed reading on Wednesday, 19 May at 8pm at the Bloomington Playwrights Project. I’m not sure if “choreographed” includes Busby Berkley routines, but it would certainly create some interesting theatre. The event is FREE!

Sisters Rose and Pam are estranged after a complicated childhood. The illness of their mother brings them together. But what ensues is something neither expected.

Intrigued?? I hope so. Our play will be read along with Things to Believe In by Josie Gingrich & Gayle Gingrich (an interesting investigation of what motivates people to do good) and The Good Daughter by Brenda Hiatt Barber (an amusing snapshot of family competition at its best).

All the pieces have been extensively workshopped and are really good. So please come out and enjoy the goodness! (Did I mention it’s free?)

For more info, see newplays.org. Thanks!


Divas and other such

January 15, 2010

Last night I had the good fortune to see Grateful Divas rehearse their upcoming show. Rebecca Keith had invited me to come in and give some feedback. There was so much talent on the stage that I hardly knew what to say! I gave my notes and they very graciously accepted them.

The show is very sweet—a cabaret chronicling the different stages of women’s lives through spoken word and (sometimes altered) Broadway tunes. It’s a fundraiser for Cardinal Stage Company and  will really resonate with and entertain the audience. I hope to see the dress rehearsal next week (I have to miss the actual performances).

In other news, I went through the feedback from the final workshop round of BloomingPlays. After several iterations where everyone was focused on the sisters, now suddenly everyone’s focused on the mom! And she’s not even in the scene! Augh, the life of an artiste (back of hand to forehead)!

We have about a month to make revisions before handing in the final script. Some of the feedback called for pretty dramatic changes—such as throwing out the whole beginning of the script—so I don’t know what the end result will be. It depends in part on what Lori wants to do, too.

What is nice is that we do seem to have captured the issues surrounding caring for an aging parent. There was a couple in the audience last Saturday that hadn’t heard the play before and they seemed quite moved by it. When asked for initial reactions to the play, the gentleman just said, “Truth.”

It’s easy, in the midst of so much critique, to lose sight of the things that are working.

In other other news, I received a letter—a real letter—from my friend LC today! What a surprise. It was great to hear from him but I’m afraid his life circumstances aren’t tip-top at the moment. My evil side noted that the paper and envelope were black-edged—at some point in some culture, black-edged paper indicated death. So the note had a funereal tinge to it. Sort of Edward Gorey.

In other other other news, I’m continuing to evaluate my creative life and trying to determine what’s next. That’s hard to do when I’m not sure what is. Recent experiences have left me very chastened in relation to my talents, and I fear that my best creative work is behind me. Part of me says that’s just because I don’t have the right impetus, but the fearful part of me just grieves and whimpers. It’s a lonely world inside me sometimes.

Now I’m going to look for traces of an old friend. All I have is her ghost.


Caretakers verdict in

December 3, 2009

Caretakers (formerly Kindred), the short play that Lori and I wrote, survived its second table reading at the BPP’s BloomingPlays series. The feedback was much more enthusiastic than the first reading, so we must have done something right in our re-write!

What was interesting to watch was how vested audience members were in either character. There are only two characters in the play and we’ve created them to be relatively equally sympathetic. That leaves audience members rooting for one or the other, sometimes vehemently.

The play revolves around the decision to bring Mom (who’s just had a stroke) back into her home and have Pam move in and take care of her. Pam’s sister Rose is willing to handle the financial and logistical details from afar (she lives in another state) if Pam will give the hands-on care. Pam doesn’t want to give up her life to take care of Mom—but neither does Rose. What’s a caring daughter to do?

All the plays in the workshop series were supposed to be read once more in January, but new artistic director Chad Rabinovitz decided to cut it short. He cut one play from the series, chose two that will receive full productions, and chose two that will receive staged readings. Caretakers falls into that last group.

Lori and I are disappointed that we don’t get another shot at development, but what’s a playwright to do in this sitch? We’re now faced with the question of whether to do another re-write of the play. Re-writes are due 03 January—closing night of Sound of Music. (I’m nunning and Lori’s stage managing.) With the heavy workload of rehearsals and performances this month, I just don’t see how we’ll have the time to do any more.

I guess I’m also irritated because we were told from the start that plays would be selected for development in part based on the playwrights’ participation in the process. Both Lori and I have been there as much as we can—hours and hours of munching on tortilla chips and sneaking raspberry danishes. The other playwrights have done just as much, so perhaps this is a moot point. Overall I feel like we were told one thing in the beginning and now we’re hearing something else mid-process. This is likely due to budgetary issues which Chad alluded to, but it still bugs me. I like Pam and Rose and would have liked to have seen the next phase of their development. Harumph.


Bloomingplays I survival

August 15, 2009

I know I’ve been silent in the blogosphere lately but…well, I don’t have a good excuse, only lies, lies, lies. So let’s just move on, shall we?

I survived the Bloomingplays workshop, which is a feat in itself, since it’s two all-day workshops. It was fascinating. I hadn’t expected to say anything, since I’m not an experienced playwright, but it turned out that I had plenty of opinions (this will surprise no one).

The feedback on Kindred was really helpful. Lori took lots of notes, while I slacked and just recorded what everybody said. There was some wild controversy about the ending (OK, not wild), which presented some good stuff for us to think about.

But you don’t care about that—you want me to talk about the phone sex scene! All right, all right. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but I’m also certain that I absolutely sucked (no pun intended). I put one hand over my eyes like the lights were bothering me and then just leaned over the script. I interpreted it as a woman who was not fully comfortable with the scenario yet, because…well, I can’t tell you, since that would give away a key plot point. Regardless, I survived! And I hope never to do it again. Margot, the facilitator for that play, was very supportive and I appreciated it muchly.

The table readings were very fun. I love hearing a play come alive as the actors begin to bounce off each other and interact through their characters. It was also interesting  to see how the different playwrights accepted or refused to accept suggestions for their pieces. One person asked for lots of feedback and had great questions for the audience, but then made it clear that he wouldn’t change anything in the play! WTF?? There was much gossip about that, which in itself was educational.

Tracy Bee gave a party Saturday night that ended up with just a handful of people in her living room (lots of the actors had rehearsals they had to go to—I can’t imagine the stamina that must take!). I was glad, since this is my favorite kind of party. I started to go unconscious about 10, though, so I ran to Marsh to get food for the next day’s workshop and then collapsed at home, my brain buzzing with thoughts of the day. Thank you, BPP!


So much art

May 24, 2009

Nell’s class

What a week. Started another round of Nell’s classes on Wednesday. Good group of people. I hurt my back while doing an exercise called “architecture” and was very bummed to have to sit out until we switched the form.

“Architecture” shows how little you have to do onstage to be interesting. You just pose your body using straight lines. Like standing upright and holding your arms bent at the elbow at 90 degrees or lying with your back on the floor and extending arms and legs upward. Three of us went at a time, which created fascinating relationships and negative space. She’d stop us periodically and have the viewers name the current tableau.

Auditions for Vintage Scenes
Right before Nell’s class, I scooted over to the BPP for Vintage Scenes auditions. This is a collection of short (3-page) scripts that are some of the favorite mini-plays from years past. I’d rehearsed 3 of the 6, so of course the ones we got asked to do were parts I hadn’t worked on.

I’d spent the day traveling and in high-stakes business meetings, so was completely fried. No idea what I wrote on the audition form. Wasn’t fully present. That contributed in part to my lack of nerves, which was disappointing. I need more auditions where I’m nervous so I can get used to that. It also helped that I was better than my partner—that doesn’t mean I was good, it just means I was a bit better! That helps build confidence. I left feeling disappointed that I hadn’t given my best.

I got the email next day that I’ll be playing a Southern lush in one of the plays (what non-typecasting! :-)) and “C” in a funny scene where A is trying to kill himself and B is just trying to smoke a cigarette—on the 30th floor. I’m looking forward to getting started.

Deadbird—almost done
That was Wednesday night. Friday I met Kevin and we recorded the latest iterations of Deadbird—oops, I mean Redbird. It’s not perfect but it’s close enough for the songwriting contest we’re entering. I really like working with Kevin—he knows So Much. The song has come along nicely. Hard to believe how depressed I was when I wrote it.

Blessingway
Saturday morning was Goddessdaughter #2’s blessingway, done at the UU church by Bill Breeden. It was a short and simple ceremony, but sweet enough to make me all weepy. (This bit obviously doesn’t count as performing arts, but I want to throw it in.)  I gave her her gifts, but of course her favorite thing was a bundle of bread, salt, and coin that she could carry around. I love the ring I got for her. I hope she will, too, someday.

Staged readings
After a “I’m so stuffed” blessingway lunch at Opie’s, I burbled off to the BPP again for the staged readings of some of the plays for the ’09/’10 Bloomingplays. I read the part of Daisy in The Good Daughter.

It was interesting because I’d rehearsed with the voices of the 4 other characters in my head, but of course those parts weren’t read the way I’d heard them internally. So some of my stuff didn’t come out right, because I wasn’t reacting quickly enough to what was given me. It was a lot of fun though—theatre’s a helluva lot easier with a script in your hand!

Bob Berry of The Actor’s Workshop in Indy came up afterwards to ask me to read a part in his play, which will be read in August. I was terribly flattered and got a nice big bloated ego over it until I found out he’d asked 3 or 4 others, too! 🙂 A good come-uppance for me.

The final play was Kindred, the one I co-wrote with Lori. Margot read the part of Pam really well; much better than I could have done. It was so interesting to hear these parts that I’ve spent 4 years writing come out of the mouths of different actors. They find different things than I intended, which is a great experience for any artist to have. You let your creations out into the world and they take on lives of their own!

A group of us (rather raucously) went for drinks afterwards (which translates to “water” for me). Had a really good time with Gabe, Holly, Heather (in from NYC; I’d heard her do cabaret at Nell’s Midsummer Night’s Romp), and Rich. I feel like I want to get as much time with Rich as possible before he leaves in August.

This morning a larger group of us met for brunch at the Uptown. More hilarity, but with that bleary-eyed quality that comes from too many late nights. Gabe’s mom told a “I will embarrass you now” story about how he was born with bruised testicles. Perfect conversation for breakfast.

Robin Hood
I wrapped up the day with a viewing of Douglas Fairbanks’ Robin Hood at the Buskirk-Chumley, accompanied by Hesperus. The advertising said the event was free but tickets were actually $25! I thought it was outrageous but paid anyway, since I’d so looked forward to it.

It was great fun to see him on big screen and especially to hear people hissing when the bad guys came onscreen and then cheering when The Hero Gets The Girl. The picture wasn’t filled with as many stunts as I expected, but it was good fun. I was also impressed with how much Errol Flynn’s version was clearly influenced by this version. What pressure there must have been, trying to walk in Douglas Fairbanks’ footprints!

I had to nap when I came home and then have quiet time with a book to calm my jittery brain. Now I’m off for some movie-watching, though I’m really in the mood for playing a game with friends like Scrabble or something. I get tired of trying to fill the hours but oh well. (Today’s another day where I think I might be depressed but the damn meds have altered my symptoms.) Onward!