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Posts Tagged ‘Playwriting’

Take a breath… and… WHEW!

In Playwriting, The Daily Drool on January 16, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Well, we did it.  We opened the show.  And… I feel… EXHAUSTED!

I mean, I feel really, really thankful and happy and excited too- but you can only sustain that much internal intensity for so long before your little guts start to object and the rest of your body orders you to “Take a REST, Godammnit!”

Because I am a tense monkey.

And if I had a job right now I would be at the spa, getting a rub down.

We had a really great opening weekend, but tonight- well, tonight the actors all clicked IN.  It was like, a great breath of relief for me, to be listening, listening, and then hear it- “Ahhhh, this really is working.”  Which was followed by  “Ouch, what’s that terrible pain in my neck!?”  Haha.

I am so proud of these actors, and Mary Jo is director extraordinaire!  The set and sound are so awesome…

But I think one of the main reasons I was feeling a little tense these past couple nights is because we had critics in attendance as well- and I’d love for all of our reviews to be AWESOME… so, you know, a little anxiety there.

So far we’ve gotten one really good one  (the rest haven’t come out yet)- I mean, the reviewer didn’t seem to completely understand the play for some reason… but he had a damn good time!  “Antone’s surreal screwball comedy about human cloning makes for an entertaining and quite definitely “different” evening of original theater.”  (read more here)

And all this to say that now that Opening Weekend has been conquered, I’m taking a big deep breath and sleeping in tomorrow big time  🙂  I think I we deserve it.  I only hope the actors get a chance to rest up as well, because we get to do it all over again in 5 days!

And then it’s HERE

In Playwriting, The Daily Drool on January 14, 2010 at 11:36 am

Isn’t time funny?  Four months ago I couldn’t imagine what tip-top shape the play was going to be in… I couldn’t even imagine how I was going to be paying rent (by the skin of my teeth, apparently) But here we are, January 2010, and it’s opening night!

It’s amazing.

Because no matter what you imagine your life to be, it always takes its own shape.

Sure, it might be based on your designs, but more often than not it’s like you pointed at a spot on the wall, threw a dart, and prayed that it hit your estimation… And you pray that you like it there!

I read this book a while back called Stumbling On Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert.  Not only is the man funny, but he’s got some really interesting things to say about Happiness, our perception of it, and why (ultimately) we’re pretty ill-equipped to manage it.  But one of my favorite bits goes ROUGHLY like this (I looked through the book but couldn’t locate the exact quote):  We are constantly living for our future selves, treating them like a child “Oh, Future Me will like this… I’ll skip the butter for Future Me… If I do x y, z then Future Me will be happy”… is it no surprise then that, much like a child, arriving at that Future Self, we sometimes look back and wonder (with shock) “What was I thinking?!”

I think it’s interesting that four months ago I thought I knew exactly what I needed to be happy, only it all seemed impossible to reach – therefore, I was going to be miserable for a good long while  😦   But here I am, in much of the same financial irregularity and disarray, but I’m wearing a big ‘ol smile.

Which isn’t to say I could be back to my babbling, confused, distressed and overly-worrisome self soon enough, haha.

But the point is this – It’s damn hard to live in the NOW of things, I am constantly worrying about what’s NEXT… Except that this week I’m just going to celebrate being here.  I made it to one of my “If I can just hold out till the play…” markers, and I deserve to celebrate it.

I can’t believe it’s opening night!

The Dress Rehearsal

In Playwriting, The Daily Drool on January 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

I wrote a play.

A fun, interesting play that people seem to like.

A play that has been produced to much applause.

Still, as we head into our final dress (tonight!) I’m reminded of all the little insecurities and whatnot that accompany the powerlessness of being a playwright.  I mean, beyond the words on the page and your staunch endorsement that the actors learn them as they are written, come opening night the play is in their hands.  The designers have put up the lights (beautiful, by the way.  Sohail is a genius) the set is tight (our set designer Marika is pretty friggin’ fantastic!) the director has steered the ship out to sea (I LOVE Mary Jo) – so when those lights come up and the first actor takes her breath… well, you just have to sit back and enjoy the show.

The show that wouldn’t be if you hadn’t written it.

The show that will never bring the same people together again exactly as they are here, because it is LIVE theatre.

The show… the show… THE SHOW THAT OPENS TOMORROW NIGHT!

And I’m super excited.  I’m also super careful not to relax too much, because the jumping beans in my tummy won’t let me.

So, today there are no end to the things on my “To-Do” list to distract me from the nerves, and I’m going to try reeeeaaally hard to focus on them instead of our impending opening.

But this, this feeling right now, it’s one of the best things about doing theatre- the collaboration is coming to fore, the play has become it’s own living, breathing entity, and I get to let it wash over me with the scores (yes, there should be SCORES) of others in the audience enjoying our creation.

Curious?  Get your tickets here!

Because I write!

In Playwriting, The Daily Drool on January 6, 2010 at 10:43 am

A friend of mine shivers when he calls and hears that I’ve been at the keyboard all day; he can’t get himself to be quite so… diligent.  And I suppose he looks at my obsession admirably- “She’s so damned focused and dedicated!”  But I feel like the secret behind my seeming dedication is that I’m scared shitless of the alternative.

Even this blog, as interesting/or/not you may find it to be, is a way for me to keep myself in the game… the mindset… of logging those all-important writing hours.

Becuase how can I be a writer if I, well, don’t do it?

Meanwhile, I sit in fear of the alternative- the possibility that I would have spent thousands of hours working and dreaming, and yes, even suffering, for this goal of mine in vain?  HORROR!  So I write. I write A LOT.  I eschew wild nights out and well-paying jobs for creative minutes.  I sit down and work, because I love it, because I feel strange and off balance when I’m gone from it too long, and because it’s what I do… fueled by the ever-ticking clock and the awareness that this thing I’m tackling takes energy, faith, love, and luck.

Because I want to be ready when that magic cocktail strikes the “NOW” hour… you know what I mean?

So, yes, I’m dedicated, but I’m also really, really, really aware of the other side of the cliff I’ve been scaling.  And I want to make sure I don’t fall off!

Oh, the words!

In Playwriting, The Daily Drool on January 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I’m really into this “Under Construction” analogy apparently, because as I sit down to yet MORE rewrites on my latest play, I find myself equating it to a build-it-yourself item that, upon sitting back with a happy sigh, you suddenly realize (as you survey your accomplishment) that it doesn’t quite look right and there are a few forgotten pieces stuck behind the tool box.

I’ve been working on this play for a while now- it’s the first one I’ve written entirely sans-workshop environment – so that in itself is pretty cool.  BUT, since that first-draft “I did this alone!” completion I HAVE been workshopping it and its little bumps and hiccups have gotten more and more irritating to me, it’s creator, as we go along.  I finally had to put the script in front of some fresh eyes and am happy to say the discussion born of that labor was incredibly invigorating.

However, I’m going to have to do a fair bit of dismanteling in order to address those fruits, and that, my friends, is exhausting.

Which is why, as I was staring at those words, those many, many not-yet-paying-off words… I decided to hop over here and vent for a moment.  Writing is hard work.  It’s wonderful, delightful, and deeply rewarding, but it’s damn hard work.

Building It

In Playwriting, The Daily Drool on January 2, 2010 at 11:22 pm

This is where the grunt work comes in… this… right now; my life is under construction.  The hard work, the planning, the uncertainty of laying all those hopes and expectations on an untested blueprint.  It’s challenging, and sometimes it feels like madness, but in the end I have to remind myself that it’s because I’m still building this life of mine, and building things always takes time, patience, and a broom.

Today was our load-in day for Jane Doe (my exciting play that you should definitely come see!) And as I cut out cardboard, painted doors and chairs, and held ladders, I was reminded of just what a miracle the theatre is.  A professor at UCLA is said to have put it like this (paraphrasing in process)  Everyone agrees to show up at the same time to breathe life into the thing you all want to put up – this group of people driving from all over the city, battling traffi, part time jobs and hunger pains, to arrive at the curtain, to work together on this living, breathing, thing you are creating.  It is a miracle theatre happens at all.

And he’s right.

There we all were, cutting and painting and dreaming the same pictures, in the hopes that it will all come together for a performance that we hope will thrill people!  That I hope will lead to another production of my work, and another… this endeavor laying more groundwork for the next construction phase of my life, and so on…

And I was (in the unusually warm January sun) crouching down on the pavement in order to get all the nooks and crannies with my brush, thinking “This is one crazy life you have chosen, my dear.  Crazy and fabulous.”  And I’m in it.  I’m in it now.  I’m building it.  And one day, when I’m looking over the moulding and smooth floors, beautifully painted walls, and big, open windows of my life, I’ll remember just how amazing and wondrous this part of my life was… how amazing it is that I made it through this phase (even though being here now, I’m terrified the foundation isn’t strong enough and my bathtub is going to sink through the floor) I’ll remember how difficult it was to get up some mornings, how time consuming it’s been to hammer in even just one nail, or how far I had to go for the lumber… and I’ll probably smile at how little I knew then (which is now) because it’s amazing, a miracle even, that it’s happening- that this thing called life (much like the play) Is. Happening.  All of these people coming together because I wrote something they could all share in.  I’ll smile at how terrifying it was, how much I hungered, and how terrific it felt to listen to the audiences laugh.

But not yet… because now I’m still in it, still hoping, still fearing, still worrying about where my next meal is coming from (more or less)…

And thank God I’ve got friends and family around me, handing me a tool or can of paint every now and then, and  catching me when I trip, fall, and freak out.  But this design is made of my own choosing, my own longing… and I’ve got to enjoy its taking shape, because it’s delicate and wild work, this life of mine.

Delicate and wild at the same time.

And if I can remember that, if I can stand my ground and keep smiling, keep building… it’s going to be one hell of a house, with one hell of an ocean view.

The Exception

In The Daily Drool on December 27, 2009 at 10:03 pm

I realized something this week, all thanks to James Cameron.  You see, he directed a little film (you might have heard of it) called AVATAR, and it’s kind of super-kick-ass-great.  In fact, it is an event unto itself.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize how absolutely exceptional the man is- I mean, he brought us The Abyss, Terminator, and Titanic (to name a few)  He’s a man of extraordinary vision and follow-through.

He’s an inspiration.

And I don’t know what the man is like personally, so I’m speaking strictly accomplishments here, but isn’t it amazing that one man should bring us so many original and visually stunning films as he has?

Because he is an exception.

Because there are many, many layers of artist; from the very, very bottom to the very, very top of the canvas, and it’s littered with people of varying skill and talent.  You’ve got to have a fantastic combination of both of those plus dedication, courage, a little bit of luck and maybe even some magic to make it to the top, but to rise above even that?

Exception.

And the thing that I realized, as I was sitting through the credits wrapped in awe, is that I too want to be exceptional- that I too want to create exciting and stunning worlds, to take people’s breath away with wonder…

That I too want to lead an exceptional life.

(I know, I’m aiming low, HA!)

But it’s that desire, that passion for excellence and dreams-realized, that keeps me tap, tap, tapping away at the keys, listening to the muse on my wing, and rationing the grocery money while I try to survive in hungry LA.

Perhaps what was most interesting to me in that moment of “WOW” was the fact that this very yearning-to-be-special passion is mirrored in each of Cameron’s films… in each of them ordinary people are put under extraordinary circumstances and thus compelled to discover their immeasureable value to the world in which they find themeselves.  The characters may not be desiring any of these mystical forces, but they are thrust upon them anyway…

Which is why, as I wandered home and then listened to the echoes of the experience (for Avatar 3-D is an experience) I considered that crockpot of ideas i keep stirring- the ideas that come to the top are usually the most exciting, most challenging ones to write and to revel in.

So I hope, that as I continue on this path of mine, that I keep thinking like Mr. Cameron- what is going to excite us?  What is going to make people want to come back for more?  What is going to make them feel, for the duration of their theatrical experience, exceptional?

Because movies and theatre that can transport and awe are the only kinds I want to write.

The rest is just popcorn.

And she shall make posters too…

In Playwriting, The Daily Drool on December 18, 2009 at 1:42 am

Well, I’ve been working on our poster art for In the Company of Jane Doe, opening at the Powerhouse Theatre in Santa Monica January 14th… (BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!!!)  And these are the two I came up with- I’m just waiting to hear which the director/producer/artistic director all like best.

What do you think?

Double Checking (or) Thank you Worry-Wort!

In Playwriting, The Daily Drool on December 15, 2009 at 1:48 pm

I can be a worrisome sort… I’m sure if you’ve been reading this for any time at all, you know that already.

But yesterday it really paid off.

You see, last week I submitted my play to a pretty big deal of a playwriting competition.  I was supposed to receive an email confirmation, and although I knew they were probably inundated with submissions, the worry that arose from not hearing anything from them yet urged me to send a polite little “Just checking in to see if you received my subission” note myself.

And they hadn’t!  So they told me to go ahead and resubmit since something had gone awry.

Which meant I super lucked out by contacting them, or I wouldn’t have been considered for the award at all thanks to some technical snafu!

Now, who knows what will happen (Of course I hope I’m selected!!!!!)  But at least now I am in the running.

So, you see, sometimes it pays to be a little paranoid  🙂

How it Looms…

In Playwriting, The Daily Drool on December 7, 2009 at 10:03 am

A dream is not a very safe thing to be near. I know; I had one once. It’s like a loaded pistol with a hair trigger: if it stays alive long enough, somebody is going to be hurt. But if it’s a good dream, it’s worth it. -William Faulkner

Sometimes this thing I am trying to do, this life I am trying to have, feels so impossibly huge.  It’s like running to catch a pass that’s flying faster than you think you can run, only you are running…  running so fast that you fear the slightest pebble will cause your feet to stumble, trip, and bring the whole game to a stand still, the perfect pass passing you by.  And there, from your vantage point in the clumsy dirt, you will curse and lament that stupid pebble, for who knows when another pass like that will come along…

So you run, arms outstretched, the fear of falling on your mind, your eyes doing the splits between what is overhead and what is beneath your feet, and all the while the incredible pressure of it all flies along with you on the wind.

(sigh)

No wonder I get tired sometimes of this monumental chase.

Even now, as I sit here writing, working on a treatment for a script I am getting paid to write, I cannot help but anticipate that next pass, that next race.

I just hope I keep catching them, that I catch bigger and better, that I might be able to enjoy them a bit more in their having instead of treating them as stays of execution:  “Whew, not going to starve to death this month, but I better get on January!”

And all of this amongst the wonder of the very thing I strive to do- which is not catch footballs, but write plays and screenplays, and teach kids about theater… One of these days I’ll be able to enjoy these callings without feeling like I am stealing time to get it all done, without feeling like it’s going to come crashing down around me the moment I get comfortable.

I’d like those days to hurry up and get here!  My legs could use a rest…