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!

Advertisements

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.


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 this Saturday

July 31, 2009

Saturday is the start of the BloomingPlays development series. This weekend features two all-day workshops where plays are read and then structured feedback given immediately by the actors and audience. It’s a great way for playwrights to develop their work and hone their skills. The revised plays will be back in November and then January for additional reads.

Kindred, the one-act play I wrote with Lori Garraghty, is up for a read on Sunday at 2. I’m nervous about the feedback. It will be facilitated and I know people will be nice, but it’s always a little nerve-wracking to have someone critique your work!

I’ll also be reading the part of Lena in Auditions Saturday morning at 11. Sunday at 11 I’m in The Dragon’s Wrath. Both are full-length plays. They will be “table reads” but “without the table” as Tracy Bee says. The actors set in chairs on stage and read from the script. The facilitator reads the stage directions.

The most nerve-wracking part of all is a phone sex scene I have to play in The Dragon’s Wrath! Eek! I’ve never done anything like it and suspect it will be the source for ongoing mocking from Gabe, perhaps for the rest of my life. I’m wondering if I can have a coughing fit in the midst of it. I envision either being so embarrassed that I can’t pull it off, or laughing so hard I fall off my chair. Either is sufficiently mortifying. Ah, acting!

See the full schedule of readings at the BPP’s site and come out! It will be a lot of fun and a unique experience. You get to give feedback directly to playwrights, who may actually listen! Imagine! 😉 Seriously, come out. We’d love to hear from you.


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!


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.