Sunday, June 18, 2006

Checking in...two plays produced...thoughts and feelings

Ha-lo, all. It's been a while; my apologies. I've been ridiculously busy, with my visit to Florida, work, and helping produce Five: The Sum of Our Difference festival. I feel as if I have to be careful about what I write this time, b/c I know people who read this who might be, let's just say affected by what I say. First of all, I went to Florida, and I had the worst trip there ever. My poor nephew, 5, has had a terrible cough for over a month, and even with cough medicine and an antibiotic, he still felt lousy, and he was off (meaning he had a quite a few meltdowns, due in part to his father being out of the country on a trip for his 40th birthday). My niece, 3, just gave up her binky (bop/pacifier), and was very upset and had difficulty sleeping and cried a lot. My poor sister had to run between rooms, trying to get the two to fall asleep or keep them apart during the day when they started fighting over X-Box, a beach ball (I kid you not), or their TV show or DVD in the car. So she was very stressed, I was tired and needed some peace and quiet, which I didn't really get, and so I was pretty sad or frustrated most of the time. My sister and I did get to go shopping in the outlet mall a couple of times, and had a wonderful time in Las Olas, near Ft Lauderdale, but aside from that, and working out, it was NOT a good trip, and that was terribly sad for me. I actually couldn't wait to go home, and I can't say that's ever been the case for me.

Coming back, I was wiped out, and work was insanely busy. Not only had I been away for five business days, but I had been very sick (cold number 4) before vacation, and so the work had piled up. And during this time of catching up, the Five Festival began, so I was at the theatre in Boston til 9 or 10pm (or later) for three days in a row, getting home at midnight one evening, and I can't do that. It's just too hard for me. As to the festival itself...well, I did all I could with the p.r. and I got us in the Boston Globe, twice, in prominant areas, so that was a coup (along with a few other local papers). But the festival itself was exhausting, although more so for Rich and Amitesh, the producers (I am only an associate producer). Tech was very difficult--this hasn't been the easiest show to put up, with five different directors with very different visions and demands--and as for my play, well, let's just say that I respect the director very much but his vision and mine are very different. Could I have been more involved with the overall design and so on? Maybe. I just didn't know how much input I could have, and I still don't. Often, the production is not locally held, and so you hope and maybe see the DVD, if possible, and if not, well, you hope it went well. In this case, I was so close to the festival that I think perhaps I could have said more (though I was also very sick during the crucial time for rehearsals, so I kind of had to stay away, whether I wanted to or not). I see the play and I feel somewhat distanced from it.

There are aspects I like a lot, and aspects I really don't, and I guess I just have to take the good with the bad, learn from it, and if/when the piece gets another production (hopefully the latter), I will understand more about it and how to talk to the director about it. I'm a big proponent of lights up, lights down (i.e. keep it simple, props and lighting-wise) and just focus on the characters, their relationship, and the dialogue. I guess that's why I am the writer, not the director or the tech specialist, but that's just how I feel. Anyway, we are getting decent to very good houses, and that's due in part to my efforts, so that makes me feel happy. The festival overall is strong, and the audience seems satisfied. I'm proud of what we've accomplished, so I have to look at is as a whole, and when it's over (next Saturday), I'll simply move on. I also got to see one of my 10-minute plays produced in Natick, MA, and that was interesting, b/c I had had nothing to do with this play, aside from revising a few lines, per the director's request (I agreed with all of them and made them), and I liked the producion quite a bit. Very simply staged, with a park bench and a pad of paper/pencil, and the actors, in particular the teenager, did a great job and it was well-directed. In fact, one of the director's friends, affiliated with a theatre in Lowell, would like to act in it with her teenage daughter, which thrilled me no end. We'll see if that happens. In the meantime, I got to do some networking and just enjoy the evening (though I didn't feel too well, so that made it harder to really get into it), and Anna, Debbie, and Monica, an established playwright who also had a play in the festival, and a damned good one, came along, so that was fun as well. T

he weather here has finally become beautiful, with sunshine and temperatures in the 70s and early 80s, so you can't help but feel better. But I'm sort of looking forward to the end of the Festival--and who knew I'd say that?!--because it's hard to watch my play and yet I really need to be there every night, since I helped produce the festival and have friends coming every night (I realize this is typically not the norm). I haven't written at all for about a month, BUT I am taking a week off in early July, and will really get down to it then. And I'm trying to stay level (not that I do this very easily) and look forward to future submissions (one can only hope) and more writing. Now I'm off to yoga, which I haven't been able to do for four weeks, and I'm sure that hasn't helped. I bought new workout gear, so that should put me in a better mood. (I also haven't been able to work out much, since I've been sick, but I hope to get back on track this week, beginning this week.) And...well...there you go. Go, Sox, and go, Sue. Oh, and pick up "The Time Traveler's Wife" if you haven't read it yet. It's a beautiful, unexpected treatise on the relationship between a man, Henry, who time travels, but in doing so gets to experience his future/present wife, Clare, and his own life in a number of different ways. If I were a novelist, THIS is the novel I would wish to write.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The cold cometh and goeth, the acceptances cometh, the rejections cometh

Okay, that was pretty lame, I know, but I wanted to give you an update, as I am going away to Florida for six days (thank God) on Wednesday, and will have no time to write this coming week. I have been very sick (by which I mean in bed or feeling like I should be in bed) since last Sunday. It came on very quickly, after watching Mrs. Henderson Presents at a friend's house (disappoining movie, but fun to spend time with Elizabeth), and before I knew it, I was down and out yet again. This makes FOUR colds or the flu in six months, which is just ridiculous. I plan to see the doctor when I get back from Florida, but I'm not sure what she can do, if I'm taking vitamins and vitamin C and sleeping enough and exercising. Several people in my office are sick, and unfortunately I gave the cold to my mother, but I just seem to get sick EVERY TIME something goes around, and I can't figure out why. I was so damn uncomfortable on Thursday (totally out of Wednesday and Friday at work), but today it seems to have broken, and most of the stuffiness is gone, though I have a slight headache and am still tired. I will take it, however, and it means I should (please, please, please) be well by Wednesday. I just rented Transamerica with Felicity Huffman, and I cannot recommend it enough. She is brilliant, her co-star (a young guy I had never hear of but who is immensely cute) is terrific, as are the others in the movie, and it's a very funny and yet poignant tale. Rent it if you haven't seen it yet.

No acceptances this week, one rejection on Friday (but most people got one, too), and then an odd rejection today from a place that will remain nameless, but that I am lobbying for The Satchel to get into, b/c I still feel it fits the theatre's criteria (I don't usually do that--I mean, how can I?--but in this case, it's different, and if I SHOULD get in, I'll explain more, and if not, I'll continue to feel sad and disappointed, but will know I did all I could). So, when does rejection stop hurting so much? Hm? You'd think three acceptances would be enough in one month, but NO. Not at all. I could say I'm greedy, but that's really not it. I've decided it's like a drug, and the more of it you take, the more of it you crave. My friend Michael got back into the submission game after some time off, and he is very optimistic again. His plays are certainly worthy of being produced, but that doesn't mean they will be, and I hope he doesn't get too disappointed (the way I do) if he is rejected.

Another reason I get so personally upset is that I feel my identity is getting more and more wrapped up with this writer/writing thing. Before, it was sort of a hobby, and of course it's still a side project, not my full-time job, but when the President of your college starts talking about your writing (okay, I brought it up at the staff meeting, b/c I want people to come to the Five Festival, but still), well, you feel an obligation to perform, to be successful, to not disappoint, so the pressure grows greater. Silly but true. And again, the happiness I feel when I am acctped into a festival, the joy it brings me (and again, I know this is somewhat ridiculous, but there it is) is so great that I crave it ALL THE TIME. I keep bookmarking the festivals I get into and staring at those pages for minutes at a time (odd, I know), and also bookmarking festivals I have a SHOT of getting into and also staring at those (even more detrimental to my well being). So the pressure builds and grows, and of course the rejection will only be that much harder.
Thankfully, I will get away from this when I'm in Florida, followed by the Five and TCAN Festivals, and then my one-week writing sabbatical in July. I have to sit down and write seriously, and there is my chance; perhaps I'll have some time to do this in Florida as well.

I started to read a book on directing (after catching up on several New Yorkers during my day in bed with cold), but it pissed me off too much, so I stopped (I need to think as a writer, not as a playwright or director, and the p.o.v. was frustrating, especially given the insecurity I've had regarding my play and my director's comments on it, no matter how astute they were). I am going to return to reading books on playwrighting, and that should help to motivate me. I cannot for the life of me figure out why one play will get into a festival and another will not (luck and sometimes politics figure largely into the equation), so why bother, eh? However, there are two upcoming festivals I DESPERATELY want to get into, one local, one not, and if I don't get into them, I fear I will be inconsolable (which won't help ANYONE, but I know mywelf). I hope that will not be case (both not getting in and being inconsolable). At least I'm not acting anymore, so there is no rejection on that front (and thank GOD I decided to stop all auditioning). I hate that you have to submit to get accepted and that you have to find out you were rejected after you submit (better to live in limbo, I sometimes think). Well, onto another Red Sox game (it's keeping me very occupied this spring into summer, which is not a bad thing), with vacation on the horizon, and the end of this nasty cold, I hope. Oh, if anyone has a guitar they don't need, let me know. After watching Transamerica, where one of the characters plays a mournful acoustic guitar, I was reminded again of how much I crave a guitar, so I can write songs and strum to my heart's content. I could write as many unhappy ballads as I wanted, and no one would ever have to know.