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Showing posts from September, 2011

WHY IS A RAVEN LIKE A WRITING DESK?

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So my latest opus is going to have a staged reading this November as part of Boomerang Theatre Company's First Flight series, and I thought I'd tell you a little about it.  It's called Riddle Lost.  The reading is going to be directed by Philip Emeott- who originated the role of Earth in Burning the Old Man.



About ten years ago, I read the book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.  It's basically a history of what happened to all the native people here in North America after the Europeans arrived and said "Hey, this is our land, provided by God, and you all have to go away".  It's brilliant, depressing, and should be required reading for every citizen.  Let's face it, we stole this country from other people- and were pretty nasty about it.  I have always been fascinated, saddened and inspired by native American culture- not that I am by any stretch of the imagination a specialist on it.   I just think they were and are a group of people who got…

BACKWARDS AND WRONG

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Love is evil, spelled backwards and wrong.

So says Earth, neo-hippie and seeker of truth in my third play, BURNING THE OLD MAN.  It's a great line.  People quote it often, and I've seen it used by others on blogs, aritcles, etc.

I stole it.




There's a saying that I first heard from Richard Parks, one of my teachers at San Jose State University.  Richard was a mad man, a genius, and one of the most memorable people I ever met- one of those teachers who would say something in such a way as to make it funny, revelatory, and pertinent all at the same time.  He also had a wicked temper, which would show up now and then, usually during rehearsal for something he was directing and which wasn't going well.  One memorable night during dress rehearsal for Lysistrata he shouted out "Change your majors!" and marched out of the building.  At the time, it was both hilarious and embarrassing.  But he also was brilliant, and knew how to get the best out of us.    Once, I thi…

WHY NOT MAKE HIS HEAD EXPLODE?

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SOME UNFORTUNATE HOUR, now available at INDIE THEATER NOW, and how it came to be.

I was stuck.  I had a big chunk of a new play written, and had hit a brick wall.  The opening was great, characters all clear in my mind, dialogue crisp and clean and all that jazz- but there was something wrong.  I couldn't quite find out what it was, or why whenever I sat down to write nothing really happened- I mean nothing.   I'd sit and stare at the screen and it all seemed weary, stale, flat and unprofitable.  Up to this point, my plays had come fast and furious, born fully formed like Venus on the shell- but not this one.


The play itself was a simple premise- one scene, written in the style known as "realism", following a guy named Tom's slow realization that he's an asshole.  It began as a whim, but now had a life of its' own- and there was no way in Hell I wasn't going to finish it.   So I did what any brave person would do.  
I ran away.
I was living in New Yo…

AT SOME UNFORTUNATE HOUR...

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Continuing my series about where my plays come from- here's the story of SOME UNFORTUNATE HOUR, a happy little piece about a guy losing his mind.




I had just gotten through the premiere performance of Burning the Old Man, which was produced by Boomerang Theatre Co., directed by Tim Errickson.  It was a big hit, won the first everNYIT Award for Outstanding Full Length Script, and got published- first in full by NYTE as part of their Plays and Playwrights Series.  Then it went on to be featured in scene books and anthologies from Applause Books and Smith and Kraus.  And then, to make me feel like Superman, the show gets a 3 year run in Prague at the fabled DivaldlonaZabradli.  In the Fall of 2004, I didn't know all that was going to happen- just that I had a really good play on my hands, and it was going places.  What to do now?
I thought it would be cool to write as long a scene as possible that would hold people's interest and be viable as a piece of theatre.  It was one of…

BARE BOSOMS AND THUNDER-STONES

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So on the Facebook the other day, American Theatre magazine asked people to post about their favorite theatrical moment ever.  I assume they mean on stage, as opposed to things in life that are theatrical that happened to us.  I mean, we've all had things happen to us that are amazing and weird and when they happen we think "Holy crap!  That should be in a movie!"   Like the time I saw a guy poop his pants on the subway. That was very theatrical.  But I don't think that's what they were going for.   The question immediately made me think of several moments I have either seen or was a part of on stage- and I thought I'd share them with you.

First moment- the day Thunder and Lightning joined the cast of Julius Caesar.   The production was part of the 1998 season of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot.  I was playing Cassius.  We had been getting a lot of attention- including a cover story in the week-end section of the New York Times, with a gigantic picture from …

ONE MORE THING...YOU HAVE TO GET NAKED

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It's funny how memories unlock each other.  After writing a little bit about how Last Call came about as part of small way of promoting my plays on Indie Theater Now, all these moments from that show came flooding back- rehearsals, performances, feedback, etc.   Memory is it's own Pandora's box, I suppose- once open, it's own set of devils and angels fly out.  One of the devil/angels that's been flying around in my head these past few weeks is nudity- full frontal male nudity, to be exact.  How I came to have it in the show, how actors re-acted to it, and how the public responded to said nakedness.



You see, in Last Call, the character David has come home to Salinas, California after having an existential crisis in NYC, prompted in part by 9/11, and also by witnessing a man kill himself by throwing himself in front of a subway train.  David freaks out, quits his high paying job, and goes home in search of truth and understanding.  When he arrives home, all his old f…

MUSE OF FIRE ASCENDS

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So the letter of from the Fringe comes, and I take a deep breath, then open it.  It starts with "Congratulations".  I'm in.  Muse of Fire has been accepted into the 2003 New York International Fringe Festival.  Holy Shit.

I am one of those people who doesn't really know how to take success, on any level.  It never seems quite real, or what I thought it would feel like.  Never.  In my mind, there should be music playing, fist pumping, slow motion leaps in the air, and a sudden, clear understanding of the Universe, and my place in it.  But still, it does feel pretty damn good.  What am I saying?  It feels friggin' fabulous!  Time to call friends, family, acquaintances, and tell them that I have been chosen from over one thousand entrants to be in this summer's festival.

Now I really have to get to work on the script.  The story is going nicely- I have my two muses, Dion and Polly, going down to Earth, to the Theatre Dept. at San Jose State University, and they…

Lovers Leapt

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So it was ten years ago that we all went crazy.  As Mr. Nelson said, ain't it funny how time slips away?  I remember a lot from that day, and the many days afterwards, being in New York, going to Union Square and seeing all the candles and flowers and people, and how people kept painting the boots on the statue of George Washington pink- which seemed very appropriate at the time.  It was a strange time to be alive.  Like most times.  Last night, I was at the Broncos game, and there were all these ceremonies going on about 9/11, and I heard a boy ask his father if we were celebrating 9/11.  It was a strange choice of words, but taking a step back, not too strange.  The ceremony had the air of celebration and spectacle, with just a pinch of gravitas strategically thrown in.  And of course, there were thousands and thousands of people chanting "USA!  USA!  USA!" over and over- which gave the whole thing a sort of pep rally feel.  It was kind of creepy.  Happily, the day be…

MUSE OF FIRE

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So it's almost Valentine's, 2003, and I need to submit something to the Fringe.  The deadline is the 14th.   I had a pretty good go at the New York International Fringe Festival last summer with Last Call (added performance, Excellence in Playwriting Award, Publication in Plays and Playwrights 2003, etc.), and lots of people think I should do another one.  I  agree with them.  I really like being called a playwright, and having people read my stuff, and think I've found my life's calling.  I take Errant Muses, my unfinished play from a play writing class I took at SJSU, and dust it off.  Could I make a new play out of this old thing?  Should I?


A lot of it is pretty bad- lots of obvious exposition, two dimensional characters, and cliches.  But there is the germ of a good idea in it, so I start to tinker with it a bit.  I take the idea of two muses who are stuck working with each other but have diametrically opposed ideas of what art is about and keep the first scene, sc…

ERRANT MUSES

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So I'm posting about all my shows that are on Indie Theater Now- how they came about, their first production, and all that jazz.  My last two blogs were about Last Call, which is part of the 9/11 collection, and was my first full length play.  On the docket, Muse of Fire, which had a long, winding road from initial concept to first production spanning over ten years.  Here goes.

Muse of Fire came about because of a touchy feely exercise I did as part of a play writing class at San Jose State University long ago and far away in the Kingdom of My Youth. For those who weren't theatre majors, let me explain.  In the world of drama, there are many, many exercises you are forced to participate in as part of a class, or play you are cast in- usually it involves laying down, closing your eyes, and listening to some teacher, director, or actor lead you through a sort of meditation, picturing your favorite place, a lover's embrace, butterflies- something like that.  These experimen…