Friday, April 27, 2007

This time, I have good news to share! :)

Well, the last post was a downer, but since then, I've received two acceptances!!! So you never know, eh? The first one was from the Renaissance Guild in San Antonio, TX ( Their theatre and mission is as follows:

The Renaissance Guild is a non-profit organization dedicated to the examination, preservation, and celebration of the Black experience through theatre; providing educational outreach programs to the San Antonio community and surrounding areas, and providing opportunities for artistic expression to people of color.

I think this is so cool that they chose WEDNESDAYS, b/c it was presented in NYC in March and will now get viewed by a different kind of audience in San Antonio. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Renaissance Guild's ActOneSeries, Volume X, and hope that the audience and all involved enjoy the play, the way I did when I saw it staged in March. It was part of a staged reading last night in Florida, where the results were mixed. That's the subjectivity of playwrighting and in all of art. (You know, I cannot call myself an artist, and still feel like a fraud when I refer to myself as a playwright. David Mamet is a playwright. Suzan-Lori Parks, whom I graduated Mount Holyoke with, is a playwright. I write plays. But that's just me.) I also got into Lida McGirr's festival in Framingham, MA, "The Seven Deadly Sins" festival (not to be confused with Impact Theatre or Theatre Brut), at the Amazing Things Art Center ( It was at the TCAN last year, but I'm not sure what Lida's theatre is called (is it called anything?), so I'll just call it the Seven Deadly Sins Festival.

I am still in the process of finding a director (harder than I thought; come on, people, direct my plays! :-)), but they took THE SATCHEL, so it has found another home (it will also be presented by Lakeshore Players in June, as I've noted previously). I know that you just have to be patient, and if your play has any merit (hopefully, it has *some*), it will be accepted by some festival somewhere. Keep the faith (or rewrite or tweak it or put it away for a while, as I've had to do with my hair play). This is a play that was rejected by a local theatre company, but you just have to keep plugging. BTW, the festival is Friday-Saturday, June 22-23, so if you are in the Boston area, come see it!!!

I have had a lucky run, and man, I hate to say it, in the event that I totally jinx myself. I am awaiting some decisions within the next week or so, and I fully expect at least one, if not more, rejection (probably more than one). Every one still stings. It's not that I *expect* to get into every festival (though I'd like to ;-)). It's more that I feel hurt when I'm not. It stings. I don't know if I will ever get over that feeling (someday? maybe? please?). But I am basking in the happiness of three upcoming festivals, and the hope (dream? prayer?) that I get into one of three festivals I've submitted to in Chicago (I love Chicago, and want an excuse to go there again, and this time in the spring or summer, NOT the winter, which is unpleasant, to say the least). I think I'm up to nine states that have or will produce my work, and that's a good start (almost 1/5 of the way to conquering the USA! j/k, of course). It's interesting, b/c I'd like to tell Mount Holyoke about my work. But I think about Parks, and how she's a Pulitzer Prize winner and is the throes of her 365/plays a day year, and how she's co-writing a screenplay with someone, and I go, Hm, not so impressive. And then I go, Okay, this is so totally not a competition. And then I decide I will send MHC an alumna update, b/c we do what we can do.

On the collegiate front, as the semester winds down (and the stress level of the students rises), I am in the process of enrolling in a graduate level playwrighting class at Emerson College for the fall. I received my MFA in Creative Writing from there in '05. I just had my birthday on the 17th, and I know I'm old, at least compared to college-aged kids, but I don't *feel* old and so I refuse to BE old), Anyway, my MFA was in short fiction (which I sucked at), not in theatre or playwrighting. (I think that's b/c playwrighting was part of the theatre department, not the Writing/Literature/Publishing Dept, and so was not open to me.) I learned that there is still only one playwrighting course for graduate level students in the WLP Dept (why, I do not know), but this workshop is taught by Andrew Clarke, who has received high marks, and was approved by Dan Tobin, Department Chair. If I can get the ProArts Consortium to pay for it (and they should, right? I work for a ProArts college, and this is at another ProArts college), I will enroll, and am excited about it. I think it will help me focus on writing my first full-length play, and while I can obstensibly do that on my own, I haven't and probably won't (though I can start a very preliminary draft during a week off in June if I feel motivated to do so). This class will give me the chance to work on it every week (b/c there will be assignments every week, I assume), with guidance and feedback. I really hope it works out. I love my 10-minute plays (though I often don't have confidence in them; okay, rarely), but it's time to write a longer play (the only one-act is UNCHARTED TERRITORY, aka the black blocks play from last summer's production), and I want to do this but I need structure. Fingers crossed.

Finally, I am having difficulty sleeping (I mean, major difficulty, like a sleep disorder), so I'm trying to work with a doctor on that issue. My family also received bad news on the health recently, but I don't want to get into it, b/c that would violate their privacy. I just pray things will be okay. I am able to work out again for the most part (someday the baby toe will heal completely--I hope--but I can take walks again, and the weather has finally started to improve, which should be the norm, given the time of year), and am excited about the Red Sox's efforts thus far (we took three from the Yankees last week at home, and are beating them tonight in the Bronx). I want to start writing a new play this weekend, which will also keep my mind off the results that are looming. I also have movies to watch (NOTES ON A SCANDAL, THE HISTORY BOYS, and the third part of season three of ENTOURAGE, one of the best shows ever) and too many magazines to read (good thing it's going to rain most of the weekend, though I am ushering for [sic] on Sunday afternoon).

So...that's it for now. I will write again soon when I have more news. Go, Sox, and check out Curt Schilling's blog, 38 pitches ( if you are a Red Sox (or even if you aren't, though I promise Yankees fans won't enjoy it). Happy weekend. And a shout out to Claudia in MN, who always makes me smile or think. :)

P.S. I'm sure many of you have heard about this by now, but monologist Mike Daisy's performance at the American Reperatory Theatre was cut short last week by a group of high school students and their irresponsible adult supervisor, who had the audacity to throw water on Daisy's notes (he uses them for the show, which is not scripted). It was a reprehensible act, and the incident can be viewed here on YouTube:

Of course, if you produce controversial art, you'll have controversial results, but the school *knew* the performance was not G-rated, if you will, still chose to come, and then not only walked out in the middle of the show, disrupting it for the actor and the audience, but violated the actor's personal/acting space. They have been suitably dissed by a great many people from all sectors, and add me to the list.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

On rejection and moving on

Well, the inevitable post (but it's short, b/c I'm tired). After several successful weeks of acceptances (Lakeshore, Studio 400), an honorable mention (Kingwood College), and an amazing weekend in NYC (for WEDNESDAYS), I got the dreaded rejection. And not just a rejection, mind you: the one from the Boston Theatre Marathon. I was told I was in the "final mix," and I probably was, though a whole lot of other playwrights seem to have heard the same thing. It doesn't matter now, anyway, b/c PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES did not get into the festival. Now, I know this is a strong play; it's had four productions to date. It must have been beaten out by equally strong plays that worked better for the final panel. Nonetheless, I checked my cellphone for weeks, just to see if Kate from the Marathon had called with the good news. She never did, and I got my rejection letter on Friday. I am sure she had encouraging words regarding one or maybe both of the plays I submitted, and someday I will open the envelope and read her comments, but not today, and not tomorrow, and not until I feel ready to do so. It's only one 10-minute play over a 10-hour day, and I wouldn't have gotten paid, and it costs $40 to go (for charitable reasons), but it's also prestigious (locally, anyway), and it meant a lot to me. But in the greater scheme of writing (and of course in life) it only means so much, and so I carry on.

In fact, the rejection inspired me to write (something good came out of something not so good), and I finished a new play today under the theme of "dreams" for the Lebanon Community Players Festival (though if it doesn't get in there, at least I will have yet another 10-minute play, and I will get to send it to other theatres). I have a lot of plays out there in the playwrighting hemisphere right now, and I am hopeful that at least a few will get picked up and presented to great fanfare (or to small fanfare, but either is just fine with me). I can't say rejection is getting easier for me, but I *can* say that I am not letting it paralyze me, as it might have done at one time. If you don't write, then you aren't a writer. I want to be a writer, hence I write, and the feeling I get when I finish a piece is a total high. Natural highs, achieved from yoga or other physical activities and from creative pursuits, cannot be overestimated. They are what keeps us alive and in the moment.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Good news--maybe more to come!

Well, kids, sorry it's been a while since I've written. It's not as if I haven't had some happy news on the writing front; I've just been tired and lazy, I guess. So here goes. First of all, I was selected to be part of the Lakeshore Players 10-minute play festival in MN this June. Yay! I found out today that I will get $30 ($10 royalty/performance)--a big deal for me (what to buy? ;-)), plus a copy of the program and a CD of pictures. Of course, what's more important is being selected. We were winnowed down from semi-finalists to finalists and then to winners, and Mark and Bill from the Binge listserv were chosen as well (good job, gentlemen). Funny story: I heard that Mark and Bill got in last weekend. I was not having a good day; I had worked on REMEMBERING, my entirely unsuccessful hair play, for a few hours, and then pretty much decided to give up after over a year, with confirmation of its lack of success from Shirley (who is nothing but encouraging but also honest, so she felt what I did, and now it's in the drawer for good, bloody hell).

Then I ushered for a depressing play in the South End about violence in Boston, walked home in the cold, my toe still aching (it is MUCH better now), and watched FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION after dinner (one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time; shame on you, Christopher Guest, for such drek). And then I read the emails that said Mark and Bill had won, and since I had heard nothing, I naturally assumed I was not chosen. I wrote to Claudia, a binger and friend who is part of the listserv, and said I was sad I had not been chosen (she is also part of Lakeshore). She wrote back to say that Yes, I had, and congratulations. I was completely puzzled--was she mistaken?--and we wrote a number of emails back and forth. Turns out I *had* been chosen, but I had given Judi (one of the producers) the wrong cellphone number (I went back and checked, and it was wrong on all of the title pages I've sent out in the past six months; horrible), and she had tried to reach me four times, but couldnt, since her email was down. Claudia gave me her phone number, and I called Judi to apologize and give her the correct one. I am especially pleased because this play, THE SATCHEL, had been turned down by a number of festivals, including ACME in Maynard, MA (still upset about that, and yes, I do need to get over it already), so it has finally found a home. Of course, I can't go (as much as I'd love to meet Claudia), but it's exciting to have made it. I think I'm at either seven or eight states I've had plays accepted in, and each win is exciting.

And then this week, I learned that two of my plays, WEDNESDAYS (the one performed by the Two Spoons Theatre Company in NYC; they are so nice, and thank you, Cinda, for your kind words abot my writing) and NOT A COMPETITION (revised for the SAS Festival in Middleboro a couple of months ago, but having had no interest to date; maybe they will choose it), are both going to be part of a reading series by Studio 400 in Pensacola, FL later this month. This is for a play festival they are going to hold next year, and it's an honor to be part of such a group of strong plays (most by the Bingers, I should add). So I'm having a good couple of months, after a string of six fruitless ones (aside from writing some new plays, of course), and trust me, I do not take this for granted. What I am waiting to hear about, and it should be this weekend (I hope), are the results of the Boston Theatre Marathon. I sent PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES (the best of the ones I've written, I think) and REMEMBERING (see above, yuck). We should hear soon, and I hope it's this weekend and it's favorable, b/c I really, really want this one (too much, I know). I also sent WEDNESDAYS off to Brown Couch Theatre in Chicago (I've corresponded with them before, and they seem very nice), b/c it had to take place on a brown couch (get it?!), and WEDNESDAYS, being a cafe play, certainly fits the festival theme. I still need to write my dreams play for Lebanon Theatre (they give the winners $100--woo hoo!), and it's a prestigious festival. Alas, I only have until the end of April to write this, so I need to get cracking (and I have NO ideas whatsoever).

Besides that, well, not much going on. I'm able to exercise for the most part again, and am really being careful about watching my weight, which ought to result in weight loss fairly soon (it better). With my friend Shirley's encouragement, and other Bingers as well, I've been submitting alot, and we'll see what pans out over the next few months. Were I to get into Brown Couch, it would be awesome to go to the festival, since it's in Chicago, and I've never been to Chicago in nice weather; the two times I went it was cold and snowy, and I went with ImprovBoston, so it was not a good time for various reasons I won't get into here (thankfully, I am out of the acting business). If I were to get into DrekFest, another festival in Chicago, I would have my airfare paid for (unbelievable) and would get help with housing, but I certainly can't count on it, though I do think A GENETIC TRAIT is organically bad, and that would fit DrekFest's requirements (but you can count on nothing; you write or revise, submit, and anxiously await, and this is one I'd REALLY love). I think it would be hysterical to put on my resume that I was chosen by DrekFest for the worst play ever. ;-) But right now, I am holding my breath (not really) waiting for the results of the Marathon (please, please, please say yes),

In the meantime, I will be ushering with Anna for Neil LaBute's play FAT PIG (I've wanted to see that for quite some time) at the Calderwood Pavilion in the South End this afternoon. Tonight, Karen M and Karen Z are coming over to watch the Red Sox ( not Dice-K, unfortunately--that was Wednesday, I believe, or Thursday), but I'm just happy the Red Sox are playing again (I was needing a sport fix after the Patriots heartbreaking defeat in the AFC Championship game), and the pathetic Bruins and Celtics do not count, nor were there any local teams that made it to the Top 16 in NCAA basketball). Tomorrow, after I work out, I will see my mom and dad, who have returned from Florida, for Chinese food (you can't get reservations at other restaurants, due to it being Easter Sunday, and no yoga, either, though I am able to do it again, albeit with some difficulty), and then watch the Sox and the Masters Golf Tournament. So it should be a fun weekend, but MUCH MORE FUN if I get into the Marathon. More news as it becomes available. I often hear from festivals on Saturday nights (odd, but I guess they all meet on Saturdays, a free day), so this could be the day, and I will either get a call from Kate Snodgrass (she called the winners last year) or an email. I shouldn't care, I know, not this much, but I do, and so I wait and wonder and stare at the cellphone in anticipation, as I've been doing for about three weeks now (yes, I know, get a life).

If I get in, you will hear about it right away. If not, well, I'll send along the sad message after I've received enough consolation to be able to write about it (oh, man, I am way too involved with, even knowing how subjective the bloody process is). Sigh. So that's it for now. It is still ridiculously cold here in Boston (we had snow earlier this week--SNOW in APRIL!!!), and will only get into the high 30s today. I have to break out the warm brown coat, dorky hat (as much as I love it, I don't want to wear it again, but must), and gloves for the one hour trek to the theatre. And just keep busy till I hear something about the BTM (and who knows, it could be tomorrow or Monday or even later!). The suspense is killing me and Debbie and God knows who else...So in the meantime, life goes on (in far more important ways, trust me), and I just want my knees to be okay and my toe to get better and to watch Volver and Entourage, season three (all here, from NetFlix, and I can't wait), and read and just have a nice weekend. The same to all of you. :)