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.

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Recent arts stuff

October 26, 2009

It’s been a busy week for Diva Adaire. Last Saturday, Lori and I got together to go over our script for Kindred, now renamed Caretakers. We sat side-by side and went over each line. She typed in the new material while I navel-gazed. I think the piece is much stronger, though we’ll only know at the next reading (mid-November-ish).

Then Sunday brought the first meeting for Sound of Music. Have I mentioned that I made the second-cut auditon for Sound of Music? I am (ahem) a nun. Again. I should invest in a wimple.

Anyway, the meeting laid out the vision for how to work in a professional environment. Randy White, director of Cardinal Stage, was friendly but firm. We got to hear the circumstances under which one might be dismissed—yeeks. I guess we do similar stuff when going over ground rules in Kaia, but it’s scary to be on the other side of the table. I know this is going to be a great opportunity for me to sharpen my skills.

Wait, Cardinal was on Saturday. It doesn’t matter. Sunday was the VOCO show, which Kaia opened for. That was exciting. The audience was small but appreciative. It wasn’t our best work—Amy had some nasty bug and all of us were pretty much exhausted. But we gave it our best and had the pleasure of singing in the sanctuary of the UU church. Beautiful acoustics. I Love Everybody almost blew the walls down.

Then Tuesday night was the VOCO workshop at Malcolm Dalglish‘s house. He served gumbo and pear pie. I skipped the food but appreciated the gesture. Made it all very homey and a great start to the evening.

The workshop was better than many I’ve been to. They sang a few numbers first. Then Moira did this call and response thing where she sang little snippets of music from every freaking corner of the world and we sang it back. She is amazingly gifted.

We learned Bring Me a Little Water, Sylvie by Leadbelly as arranged by VOCO. Learned a little of a Hungarian (?) piece. Did some cool improv exercises which I want to try out with Kaia. Then some body percussion, which I had no chance of learning due to the exhaustion of my brain! I’d had enough by that point and couldn’t take in any more.

Today met with Pat Anderson, the facilitator of Caretakers, to talk about our creative vision for the piece. Lori is involved in twelve million things as usual—I don’t know how she does it all! We talked over the play and what direction might be given to the actresses. As we talked, I thought more and more about how the script could be changed to make the dialogue more realistic and the action more tight. I hope the feedback is positive.

I enjoy being this active in creative spheres. I’ve noticed, though, that I’m a bit burned out on Kaia stuff. I feel like “we have this repertoire, now let’s sing it.” I’m not interested in arranging new stuff or seeking out new music. I just want to perform perform perform.

Another thing I noticed during the whole Cardinal audition process is that auditions are really bad for me. 🙂 I get very depressed afterwards, sometimes for days. I feel like I’ve blown the audition even though I do the best I can. I do my best but then feel like it can’t be good enough. That my best days are behind me (that’s a big theme). I feel too old to do anything meaningful anymore. My hope with Cardinal is that I’ll build up my confidence some. Oh, and I’m also studying voice with Rebecca Keith now, so that’s another piece of sharpening up my skills and building confidence. I hope it all works. Auditions suck.


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!


Prepping for cold read

May 13, 2009

I mentioned earlier that my co-written play Kindred made it into the 2009-2010 BloomingPlays festival. The cold reading/first reading of it is on 23 May at the BPP. Lori, my co-playwright, will play Pam, while our much-respected colleague Margot will play Rose (I can’t relate to a character who’s a member of the Junior League!).

Earlier that same day, I’ll be reading the part of Daisy in the new play The Good Daughter. It’s written by Brenda Hiatt Barber, about 30 minutes long, and is a great snapshot of family dynamics.

Like our play, it examines mother/daughter relationships, but in a more humorous way. Mom decides it’s time to stop living independently, so she offers a million dollars to any of her three daughters who’ll take her in. The daughters are very reluctant until they hear the dollar figure, at which point they start falling over each other to get at it.

Daisy’s a very fun character to play; vain, self-involved, a touch of Valley Girl, and lovable. She has some sort of issue with her sister Barbara — she’s continually needling her.

While the plays are supposed to be cold reads, I’ve been reading through my part silently and aloud like crazy. I might even have bits memorized by the time the read happens. Stop me now! I’m having fun. Thanks, BPP!


All in a day’s slack

May 8, 2009

What a day! It started with the good news that Kaia’s CD Get Down, Rise Up! is featured live & in person at Wandering Turtle Art Gallery. Not only is Wandering Turtle run by one of Bloomington’s coolest people (Jaime Sweany), it features fantastic art and great greeting cards. It’s a wonderful place to browse for a creative boost and, of course, a great place to buy things!

Next came an email from the Bloomington Playwrights Project saying that Kindred, a mini-play I co-wrote with Lori Garraghty, has been selected for the 2009-2010 BloomingPlays Festival! While I’ve published poetry, fiction, screenplays, and non-fiction over the years, this is the first piece I’ve written for the stage. 

There were 77 entries, I believe, and only a handful of Bloomington playwrights (5? 7?) were selected, so it’s an even bigger honor to me to be selected. My other entry, a mini-play entitled A Day In The Life, did not make the cut. I wasn’t sure if it was just self-involved rubbish but thought I’d throw it into the pot. I think I was right! 🙂 

Tonight I went to go see Cardinal’s production of Doubt and Randy stopped me to say they’ll be calling me back to audition for The Sound of Music! I felt bad that I couldn’t focus entirely on the excellent production in front of me because my brain was busily imagining possible audition sequences and flashing back to my high school appearance as Maria. (Diane Kondrat was a non-stop revelation in Doubt; go see it if you can!)

I ran into the fabulous Janiece Jaffe after the show and talked a little about taking voice lessons with her. I’ve thought about it for a while. My current voice coach has been brilliant to work with in the past but he seems to have a serious block about teaching now. He’s suggested I find a woman who understands the voice of a woman over 40: voilá! I’m sure I would learn a lot from Janiece but I need to set with it a little bit longer before I decide. I want to be sure Jeduthun is truly uninterested in working together.

It’s been a wonderful day for affirmation of my artistic self. I only hope I can live up to it all! My brain is in a tremendous whirl. Time for milk and some popcorn to calm me down!


BloomingPlays submissions

February 19, 2009

I just submitted my first scripts. To the Lora Shiner Studio Series as part of the BloomingPlays festival at the Bloomington Playwrights Project. My palms are still sweating.

While I’ve written a number of scripts and performed them in theatre and video, I’ve never entered a contest before. Consequently, I’m all fluttery in the stomach region.

Winners will go through a workshopping process. One of the scripts was co-written with Lori Garraghty, so we’d go through together if we’re chosen.

That script is called Kindred. It’s about two very different sisters whose conflicts come to light while trying to take care of their ailing mother. Lori and I created it by improvising dialogue and characters when we took an acting class at the BPP in 2004. We taped the improv and then took the script from there. It was a great way to start.

My goal with that script was/is to make both characters believable and sympathetic rather than easily label one or the other. And of course, expose old sibling rivalries. 

Rich Perez gave us the beginning and the ending. The ending is exactly how I ended all my stories in 8th grade, so I’m amused by that. Overall Lori and I think it’s a really good script and a good character study for both actresses (actors?).

I’m much more nervous about the second script. It’s called A Day in the Life. Again, we find two sisters in conflict, but this time everything is much more extreme. Judy, the younger character, is seriously mentally ill but has to keep functioning. Julia, her older sister, works her tail off to keep them together and help get Judy through college. The fact that their father’s trust fund is contingent on Julia’s doing this is a source of conflict.

But larger than that is the rage and despair of a sister-bond gone horribly awry. Judy is capable of communicating only through fragments of songs or quotes from movies. Julia is at the end of her resources. Both women need somehow to keep going.

It’s a very dark script. I have no idea if it’s any good. I asked Rich to read it several months ago but he never got around to it. I’m terrified that it’s just a load of self-involved angst. 🙂 It would certainly require top-notch actresses.

But I’m ahead of myself. There will be so many submissions from playwrights far more experienced (& produced!) than I am. I was afraid to even try. But the scripts are out there, nothing to be done about it, and all I can hope is that they’re not total crap. 🙂 Cross your fingers for me.