Sunday, March 25, 2007

Go West, Young Playwright!

Well, it's been quite a weekend. I just found out that my play THE SATCHEL, about a couple who find $25,000 and have different ideas about what to do with the money, is a finalist for Lakeshore Players 10-minute play festival this summer (I'll find out on April 4th). Since I wasn't even a semi-finalist last year, this is great news. And since no one else had ever expressed much interest in the play, it's doubly exciting. But I'd like to offer up a report on my brief trip to NYC. It was WONDERFUL. My play WEDNESDAYS, the cafe play, was performed at the Teaspoon Festival at the Producer's Club (off-off Broadway, but only two blocks from the theatre district, so that was pretty cool). Two Spoons Theatre Company put on a terrific festival. It was first rate, from beginning to end (and I don't think I've ever said that before, though in fairness I haven't been to all of my productions, though there haven't been hundreds of them--yet. Ha ha). The theatre was nice, and the set was realistic (and pliable), with between scenes entertainment provided by Leigh, who had a name tag that read "Ron," his character in one of the plays, so naturally I thought that was his real name b/c I am a total dork.

The house was nearly full, very impressive for a Saturday afternoon matinee on a nice day in NYC (about 50 degrees and partly sunny). Brandon and Cinda, the producers and founders of Two Spoons, could not have been nicer or more supportive (I emailed them today to thank them). They told me beforehand that they thought I'd find the play moving, and I did, surprisingly, since I hadn't actually meant to write it that way. All of the plays they chose were strong which was wonderful. There wasn't one bad play, and that's not typical of a 10-minute play festival (it's usually somewhat uneven). I was so impressed with the production of my piece (first time it had been staged). The actors actually brought things to it that *I* hadn't even thought of (maybe that's why I wrote it but didn't direct or act in it). I was nearly crying by the end of the play, and my friend Karen Z was as well (and I really had written it as a light piece! Go figure.). The director and lead actress asked to see me afterwards, and raved (especially the director, which was both gratifying and shocking, and she said she wanted to keep in touch, which she might have said just to be nice, but I don't care, she said it). So I felt wonderful, and what a nice feeling to see a play performed so well (I felt very proud). It really makes a difference if a theatre cares about your piece and can do it justice, and that was the case. I hope I get more plays produced in New York, b/c it was a terrific experience (and, of course, b/c it was in NYC, and who wouldn't want a play performed in NYC?).

I also got to meet Rachel from ICWP (the International Centre for Women Playwrights), which I recently joined. She invited me to join their Board, which I immediately agreed to, of course. All was well except for one small problem; being directionally challenged, I had no idea how to get around NYC, grid system or not, thus the title of the entry. Everyone kept telling me "Go west, go west," and I honestly had no clue how to do that! How does one tell west from east, north, or south, and don't say to look at the direction of the sun! I was on the cell phone to Karen M, one of my compatriots from Boston, for about 15 minutes, b/c I couldn't get from the hotel to the pub where the ICWP'ers were meeting; I just kept walking around and around, to the amusement of a man and his young son. They tried to help me, and that didn't work out too well (I got lost in Paris '03, I got lost in NYC in '07, and sometimes I can't get home from Logan Airport, which is about five miles away). But most of the time I spent with Angela, her sister who lives in the city, and the Karens, so I was not left alone to my own devices (or I would have spent the entire time in our hotel room, which was nice but not *that* nice).

After our five hour bus ride from Boston to the Port Authority (comfortable enough on Greyhound, but still, five hours!) on Friday, Angela and I found the hotel, a nice room that had room for three of us, and settled in briefly. Angela's sister met up with us and we had a tasty Mexican meal. Note to those who don't live in NYC: $15 is a very good price for dinner, cheap, even. Sticker shock. Then we walked around Manhattan for a while, and went to Strand Books (a famous bookstore I was not familiar with), where they got books and I, who has far too many of them I have not yet read, did not, but instead got a t-shirt for the gym. It was a warmish night, and my toe is nearly healed, so the walking was very nice. That night, Karen Z joined us. For some reason, I couldn't sleep, and the Nano didn't help, but I survived. The next morning, Angela got a bagel, Karen Z met up with her friend Sue, no relation, and headed to Chelsea Market, which makes the best cupcakes in the world, Karen M arrived, and I got to O'Lunney's Pub after many phone calls. :-) We had lunch (they did; I had a piece of toast, b/c I am poor and wasn't hungry), and then headed to the theatre.

After the show, I had people take pictures of me on the set, both with and without my friends, and that was cool (I hope to get one of them on my myspace website soon). I met the director and actor--the described some of the rehearsal process, while I happy danced inside--and then we headed over to a diner (diners in New York are actually affordable) for a Belgian waffle and strawberries (well, that's what I had; the others had, well other things), and then we proceeded back to the Port Authority for our trip home. It snowed most of the way back, so the ride was long (though quiet, unlike the ride there), and we barely made the subway (unlike in NYC, Boston's stop before 1:00am, sad but true). I collapsed into bed, exhausted but happy after a short but rewarding trip. I hope there are many more like it. Today, I ushered for a great play at the Huntington Theatre called WELL, a one-woman show straight from Broadway with five other cast members (it's a bit confusing to explain without going into detail, but suffice it to say that it's well worth seeing), and then came home to answer emails, per the usual Sunday afternoon routine, and watch Sixty Minutes, etc. Next weekend, I actually get to write again, instead of just submit to a lot of theatres, and I plan to revise the hair play, REMEMBERING (which I sent to a few theatres prematurely, for some inexplicable reason), and start on a new play about dreams for the Lakeside Theatre. But I get to spend the week basking in the happiness that is a strong production of a play. I write to write but I also write to get produced. It's not so I can put it on my bio (though that's cool) and boast (it is totally not about boasting for me), but so I can share in the experience of live theatre. I write and I see theatre nearly every weekend, and it's nice when I can see *my* work and not just the work of others. When the next rejection comes, and it will, I can think about this weekend and smile and hope there are other such weekends to come in the near future.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Brief check in

Well, I wish I had news, but alas, I do not. What existed before is still the same:
I am a semi-finalist for the Lakeshore Play Festival; and
I will have my play WEDNESDAYS performed by the TwoSpoons Theatre as part of the Teaspoon Festival the weekend of March 23rd.

Don't get me wrong--I could not be more excited--but I am still awaiting word on a number of festivals, most particularly the Boston Theatre Marathon and the Dragonfly Festival, both in Boston (you probably guessed about the former). Both are highly competitive, particularly the BTM, and as much as I try not to think about them, I do, too much of the time. It's not as if I'm not writing (more like revising) and submitting (b/c I am, a lot, I'm happy to say), but I can't get my mind off these two. My personal opinion is that I will not get into either one, but let's hope I'm proven wrong. I can't say that I am still over a certain local festival's rejection, and so these will hurt more. I swear, I *try* to get over rejection, b/c it's just there and a reality, but man, it's so bloody hard. It's nice to always have at least one play in serious contention and another up and coming (like the one in NYC, and I couldn't be more excited about it, especially I am going to it with several friends), but it won't always be that way, and it wasn't in the late summer and fall, all the way to January. But I was able to revise two plays recently, one due to my playwrighting group Write-On's advice, and another b/c of a play's requirements. As a result, both are better plays, and hopefully will get accepted by a theatre in the near future. The latter is being considered seriously by a theatre in North Dakota that took one of my plays last year, so fingers crossed there.

I think what is most disconcerting right now is my inability to sit down and right. I am having anxiety attacks when I sit down to put word to keyboard, and so I can't do it. I took last week off in hopes of writing, but did I write? No. As I said, I did revise two plays and sent a number out, and that's terrific, but I had hoped to write at least a draft of a new play, and this did not happen. The fact that I sprained my toe while doing yoga (I tried a tricky move and landed hard on the toe) didn't help. I limped around for several days--I could barely walk, actually--and as a result became rather depressed (it doesn't take much). I was so unhappy that I couldn't stroll around (or even walk around at all) or exercise--I could barely make it to physical therapy, though I was able to do the bike, not entirely comfortably--and I became fixated on this, as is typical of me. Do not think I am not appreciative of my well-being in general, b/c I really am. But even the smallest of injuries makes me very upset, and when it interferes with my exercise, which I dearly need, then it's frustrating indeed. Fortunately, the toe is healing, and with luck I will be able to return to yoga tomorrow. But despite the strides I've made (toe better, knees MUCH better), I can't write. I get too anxious, as I said. Why, I don't know. I don't have any particular topics I want to write about, and that may be the reason. Also, after I hear about the two local contests, I may be able to put them out of my mind, good or bad, and that could help as well. In addition, I am going to Florida to visit the family in 10 days, and that always rejuvenates me (particularly when the weather is nice there and not so nice here in Boston), though I sometimes get pretty upset upon returning (sad, really). But this anxiety...I just don't know where it's coming from.

One thing I *have* decided is that I simply can't do the Byrdcliffe Retreat this summer. I was given the time off, and I had a least a decent chance of getting in. I had my recommendations lined up, including one by the President of the college I am employed at, and was ready to write the letter and send the materials off. But...after last week, I realized I simply couldn't handle it. Having to get up every day and be faced with nothing but a computer was too difficult. I have enough problems having a day off, never mind a month. Friends at work said they would help me write an outline, but being in the Catskills (hence, many hours from home) for four weeks seems untenable at this point. Yes, I know, if I don't try, I'll never know, and applying can't hurt, but I am too afraid, too paralyzed by fear to even consider the option at this point. If any of you feel as if you can help me work through this, I would welcome your support, and I do dearly want to work on another one-act or hopefully a full-length, just a draft, but dammit, a month in an unfamiliar setting alone doesn't seem to be the way to get there. A week or two, yes, but those options are simply too expensive. Byrdcliffe is reasonably priced if you get accepted (insanely so, actually--$300, plus the $50 entry fee), but how can I do it?! What if I wake up and I can't write, just can't, for 30 days? Then what? I walk all day? There is no regular email access, which often helps, and my cellphone probably won't work out there. I can't go to my gym (though I can walk, and there is an expensive yoga studio in Woodstock, NY I could fairly easily get to by car) and I can't watch TV, so...well...I can't see it happening. And that is very frustating, and I am being very hard on myself about it, and maybe *that's* why I am having so much difficulty writing at this juncture. I am trying to be nice to myself, but...well, it isn't helping right now. Sigh.

Otherwise, things are fine, knock on wood. I am ushering for a show at B.U. today and another one at the Calderwood Pavilion next weekend with my friend Anna. I am also celebrating a friend's birthday tonight in Harvard Square, and I've rented some really good movies lately, including SHUT UP AND SING, THE GROUND TRUTH, JESUS CAMP, and STRANGER THAN FICTION (much better than I had assumed it would be), with LA MOUSTACHE and C.R.A.Z.Y on the way. Work is fine--not too busy--and the weather is getting warmer at last (40s today). So if I can just calm down, well, I guess I'll be okay. And I'm sure my trip to Florida will help. That's it for now. More news as it occurs.