Girl Problems

by Korama Danquah

The other night, I went out for a bite to eat with my friend. We are both dorky weirdos who decided to start asking our server, Jake, about himself.

After some questions about whether or not he was going to Coachella (no) and where he was originally from (Nashville), it came to light that he was involved in musical theatre. Though I don’t write musicals, musical theatre is my first love. I was, understandably, excited. I squealed.

“What’s your favorite musical?!” I asked, loudly.
“Oh that’s way too difficult to answer,” he responded.
“Not for me!” I said. “I love Wicked.”

That’s when I knew Jake and I were not about to become musical theatre buddies. He sort of shrugged and looked down, away from me.

“Yeah, that’s a really popular one,” he muttered.

I’m not unused to this scenario. Wicked is, in the eyes of many, a frivolous, commercial musical for teenage girls. When I first saw Wicked a decade ago, I was a teenage girl. Now, all these years later, it’s still got a place in my heart. Why?

Wicked, though it was originally written (and then later adapted for the stage) by a man, explores a lot of topics that are important to me as a woman.

As a female playwright, I think it’s important to highlight the experiences of women on stage. The unfortunate issue is that often, plays that do this are seen as frivolous or trivial.

Sure there are plays, like Nottage’s Ruined, Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, and Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, which get the recognition that they deserve. But these plays deal with especially heavy topics. What about plays that discuss the everyday issues of women? The complexity of female friendships? Work-life balance? The everyday microaggressions that women endure? Trying to succeed in male-driven businesses and industries?

Shows that deal with these issues aren’t the ones receiving acclaim and I believe that a major step toward gender parity in the world of playwriting is for us to normalize these subjects on stage.

If I can watch 8000 plays about a guy who tries to find himself in his art, or through some woman, men can watch a few more plays about how difficult it is to find clothes that fit well.

The same ‘ol song

by Jennifer Bobiwash

After completing my first show, I thought the next one be easy.  But now I collect bits and pieces of different stories I want to tell, never quite finishing a scene, but amassing a variety of stories, each with its own theme.

My one-person show began as my collection of writings grew.  With every new writing class I would take, more pages emerged.  With every writing exercise I would do, my stories sounded the same.  Different names, different situations but the story was the same.  As a first time playwright I did not realize this.  I did not think of it as me working through something.   These were just the stories that came out when I sat down to write.  No conscious thought.  Just writing.

Those were the days.  To just be able to sit down and write.  The freedom of it.  Now I feel this invisible pressure on me.  That each file I save on my computer must be a piece of brilliance, lest it just be taking up space on my hard drive. Everything has to be perfect the first time around.  I’m not sure where this absurdity came from.  But here it lives.  My writing is done in my head before it even, if it even, makes it to the page.  The stories, the dialogue are figments that talk to each other in my head.  I try not to edit and produce the text to no avail.  I’m not sure where this need for a perfect first draft came from.  I, by no means, am a perfectionist.  I make no bones about saying that I have no clue what I am doing and nor do I search the internet on how to write a play (I usually Google the heck out of a topic before I even start).  It did take me quite some time to actually finish that first draft of my show.  But that was more fear than perfection.  Fear of what the audience would say and think.  Would they get it?  Would it be ok to say those things out loud?  To people? Who am I to tell this story?

But now as I move on to part 2 of the show, and anything else I write, I am now haunted with the thought of ownership.  Who can tell these stories? Do I need permission to talk about this?  Who are these people who police the art?

To finish that first play was excruciating.  But the worries I had never came to fruition.  No one voiced, to me anyway, the ugly thoughts I had had in my head.  Listening to what people thought of the play was freeing.  It wasn’t about me, my story was just a window into that audience member and how it related to their life and how it made them think and feel.  In the end that’s all I ever wanted.  Sure it would’ve been nice if they “got” my message, but even more it helps me to keep writing and remember why I started in the first play.

Finding Your Fringe

By Anna Nicholas

In late January, I traveled to Portland, Oregon to see a short play of mine debut at Fertile Ground (http://fertilegroundpdx.org), what Portlandia calls its theatrical fringe festival. Fringe festivals exist in most major cities these days and provide writers, directors and performers of all types, a way to get their work seen. If you’re not fortunate enough to have a pipeline to production, it’s time to consider being on the fringe.

I am a bi-city kind of woman these days, with work in Los Angeles and in Portland, and thus I qualify to submit (Fertile Ground, unlike some fringe festivals, only accepts submissions from those with local ties). Since many Angelenos have ties elsewhere, you too may find yourself with the ability to submit work to fringe festivals outside of LA as well.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival (https://www.edfringe.com ) is the great mother of theatre festivals. Her origins are humble and date to the 1940s when three London based theatre companies ventured north to Scotland to put on works “on the fringe” of the official Edinburgh International Festival. The “fringe” at the time referred to both geography and subject matter. Since then, Edinburgh has steadily grown to become what a recent edition of The Dramatist magazine intimated was such a huge festival, with so many offerings that it had become overwhelming for both participant and audience member. One woman interviewed said it would be impossible without a cocktail.

Edinburgh’s success has also spawned similar festivals around the world, which are, thankfully, of more manageable size, including Fertile Ground, which began in 2009, and the Hollywood Fringe, (http://www.hollywoodfringe.org) which debuted in 2010 with 130 shows. In 2016, that number swelled to 296, while this year’s Portland fringe was just behind that with 295 works presented.  Both festivals are unjuried; meaning  if your show meets the specs (not too hard) and you pay your fees, you’re in!

Unlike Fertile Ground, anyone anywhere can submit to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, though it still attracts a predominantly SoCal contingent of artists (there is a deep pack of talent here, after all).  But if you want to try your luck elsewhere, similar fests happen annually in San Diego, Tucson, DC, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta,  Chicago, Providence, NYC, Cincinnati, and the list continues to grow.  I’m an advocate of not waiting around for someone to discover your work, put a team together for a fringe festival. And by the way, submissions for Hollywood Fringe 2017 are now open.

 

 

Anna Nicholas is a published novelist (The Muffia Series, Homegrown: The Terror Within), produced playwright (Buddha Belly, Petting Zoo Story, Villa Thrilla, Theatre in the Dark, Incunabula) and actress. More info at: annanicholas.com

 

Report from the Colorado New Play Summit

By Kitty Felde

The delicious set for THE BOOK OF WILL by Lauren Gunderson. Set design by Sandra Goldmark.

This is the third year I’ve flown to Denver for the annual festival of new play readings. In the past, I’ve attended Humana, CATF and the National New Play Festival, but the Colorado New Play Summit at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts is my favorite. Seven new plays in three days! It’s like a combination of cramming for midterms, eating everything in sight at a buffet table, and using all your season subscription tickets in a single weekend.

As a playwright, I find it extremely helpful to see that much new work all at once. It allows you to see trends and fall in love with new playwrights and come away with 101 ideas for your own plays.

Here’s a few trends spotted at this year’s Summit:

STRONG WORK

It was a particularly good year for new plays in Denver. Strong writing, big thoughts.

MOST LIKELY TO BE PRODUCED A LOT:

THE BOOK OF WILL by Lauren Gunderson is a love letter for every Shakespeare theatre in America. The late Will’s friends race against time and lawsuits to publish as many of his scripts as possible. It’s a big cast show, a perfect complement to a season of TEMPESTs and HENRY IVs. Round House Theatre in Maryland has already announced it will be part of its 2017-2018 season.

TWO WORD TITLES:

Don’t ask me why, but I’m fascinated with titles. Maybe because I’m so bad at writing them myself. This year, the trend seemed to be plays with two word titles. HUMAN ERROR and BLIND DATE were two of the new plays featured in readings. THE CHRISTIANS and TWO DEGREES were onstage for full performances.

POLITICAL PLAYS

I predicted that we’d get a flood of anti-Trump plays NEXT year, but they were already popping out of printers by the time I got to Denver. Political plays were everywhere.

The cleverest of the bunch was Rogelio Martinez’ play about Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the battle to come up with a nuclear treaty in BLIND DATE. Call it ALL THE WAY for the Reagan years. Very well researched, very funny. Martinez carries off an interesting balancing act, portraying a much more savvy and sympathetic Reagan than you’d expect, perhaps looking back at him with different eyes now that there’s a very different sort of president in the White House. Bravo. (I’d vote for a better title, but that’s my only complaint.)

The politics of Nazi Germany were the focus of a play by the man who wrote ALL THE WAY. Robert Schenkkan’s piece HANUSSEN is the tale of a mesmerist who dabbles in Nazi party politics. It has a highly theatrical beginning, and ends with a pretty blatant rant against Donald Trump.

Schenkkan pulled off a very difficult trick: bringing Adolph Hitler onstage and allowing him to come off as a rather likeable character. Perhaps it’s because he followed the Hollywood solution to making villains less unlikeable by giving them a dog. Hitler’s relationship with his annoying dog was quite delightful. (One wag of a fellow playwright at the conference observed that our new standard for unlikeable characters is now to ask: is he/she more or less likeable than Hitler?)

TWO DEGREES by Tira Palmquist is a climate change play. It received a fully staged production this year, after its debut as a staged reading at last year’s festival. It featured a set with panes of ice that actually melted as the play progressed.

There was also a nod to the protestors in pink hats (I actually spotted one or two of those in Denver) with Lauren Yee’s play MANFORD AT THE LINE OR THE GREAT LEAP. It’s a lovely piece about a young man’s search for an absent lost father, basketball, and Tiannamen Square. How can someone that young write that well? MANFORD is terrific and should get productions everywhere.

WHERE ARE THE LADIES?

Two of the five new play readings were by female playwrights, as were two of the three fully staged productions. (Thanks to Artistic Director Kent Thompson who established a Women’s Voices Fund in 2005 to commission, develop, and produce new plays by women.)

Yet, despite the healthy representation of female playwrights, there was a decided lack of roles for the ladies. Of the 34 named characters, fewer than a third were female. And with the exception of the terrific family drama LAST NIGHT AND THE NIGHT BEFORE by Donnetta Lavinia Grays, few plays featured roles of any substance for actresses. Nearly every one flunked the Bechdel test. The sole female in one particular play will likely be best remembered for her oral sex scene. Sigh.

PLAYING WITH TIME AND PLACE

I always come away from new plays with new ideas about what I want to steal for myself. In this case, the overlapping of scenes in different times and places happening at the same time on stage. Lauren Gunderson’s BOOK OF WILL very cleverly juxtaposed two scenes on the same set piece at the same time and it moved like lightening. Look something similar in the play I’m working on.

CHANGE IN THE AIR

The man who made the New Play Summit possible – Kent Thompson – is leaving. Kent’s gift – besides putting together a rocking new play festival – was making playwrights like me – those of us not invited to bring a new play to his stage – feel welcome. At the opening luncheon, all playwrights – not just the Lauren Yees and Robert Schenkkans – are invited to stand and be recognized by the theatrical community with applause from the attendees. That may sound like a small gesture, but it’s symbolic of the open and kind community Kent created. He made every one of us who pound away at our keyboards feel that we are indeed a vital part of the new play community. Thank you, Kent.

PS

In the interest of full disclosure, I will share that I had my agent send my LA Riots play WESTERN & 96th to the New Play Summit this year. It was not selected. I never received an acknowledgment that it was even received or read. But the non-rejection does not diminish my affection and admiration for the Colorado New Play Summit.

The Edge in Knowledge

By Analyn Revilla

Knowledge. Word play of know and ledge. Knowing is being on the ledge to go beyond the limit. It is the edge. I have this strong fascination of Phillippe Petit’s high wire act of 1974 when he honored the calling to walk on the wire tied between the Twin Towers of NYC. What was and is the inherent capacity in him that sleeps dormant in many of us? The artist within is awaiting for the birth of creativity, “The Birth of Cool” a la Miles Davis. We’re all capable of doing something capricious and daring, to rise to our most audacious potential. What knowledge within us lies dormant? What’s keeping me asleep?

The clock on the bottom right corner of my laptop reads 4:34 AM. The page is framed by the edges of the screen. The Operating System is Windows. Windows have frames. Windows are portals to the other side. The scariest thing is going to the other side and not having a return to the familiar frame of mind: seeing someone we love differently, or an enemy as a friend, or home some place we can’t go back to anymore.

For Phillippe, the Twin Towers were probably no longer the Goliaths towering awesomely into the clouds. After he was forced by the men in blue to get off that wire, I bet he was still walking in air when he was back on his feet on ground zero. On a clear night from his backyard, Neil Armstrong probably looked at the moon very differently after he had walked on its surface in 1969. He said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

When an employee tenders a letter of resignation to her boss, especially when the boss never thought the employee was capable of quitting, there is that humungous leap and change of perception on both sides of the table. We both let go of that boss-employee relationship. Though the umbilical cord of security of a regular paycheck, benefits and routine was severed, I found a lightness in my being. My breath is easy. My mind is expanded. I feel free.

I’ve been struggling this week to write a blog. Mostly because my life was consumed by the responsibility of passing down what I know and what I do to the successor of my old job. Also, I’m experiencing a rainbow of emotions born from a spectrum of thoughts – from the ultra-violet aura of spirituality (the 7th chakra) to the infra red glow of survival instincts (the 1st chakra). I walk the duality of being human. In between the 1st and 7th chakras is the 4th chakra which is the heart center. What my heart told me was it was time to move forward to the next phase of my life journey.

My boss was delighted that the transition has been one of the easiest she’s known. “Really?” I said. I know of a situations when someone packed up their things on a Friday evening and sent an email of quitting then left their pass key behind and walked away for good. I’ve walked in the shoes of someone who had to draw out the knowledge and practice from someone leaving the company and the person was reticent to convey what they know, because of a grudge. There was also the time when another person exposed their dissolution and bitterness in their exit interview. I sense that the HR person did not check the box “Rehire”.

Yes, “Really”. There is a range of going to the edge when leaving behind a job. I am conscientious to do a good job of teaching and training someone what I know because inherently, I’m a teacher. I don’t do it because it’s polite and gracious, but it’s who I am. I couldn’t leave anyone behind in a lurch or without a rope no matter how well or poorly the relations had been. In the end its better to err on the generous side than on the stingy side, because the path I choose would be what I am at the moment and that precipitates what I will be. My state of mind now is what my state of being will be.

My old job is like my old habit that I will stop wearing, like a nun leaving behind the habit of her convent or even an ex-convict, reformed, having done time. There is a beautiful quote from an interview I heard on the radio. A soprano singer described the suffering of a character as a cleansing of the soul.

That is an edge for me. The edge of being aware of who I am now. Mindfulness of the states of consciousness of my being. Projecting my future by my thoughts now. I’m not a high wire artist, though I am longing to be aloft and experiencing the high. The closest I’ve been to that state was hiking to the peak of a mountain. It’s so much work getting there and the body produces endorphins that gives that “high” feeling. Though the descent from the top can be tougher than the ascent, it’s part of what could be a pernicious journey. Any trip worthy of growth and evolution has the price of danger and loss of the original self. In Joseph Campbell’s analysis of the hero’s call to adventure the possibilities are: Sacred Marriage, Atonement with the Father, Apotheosis, Elixir Theft. For me it is Apotheosis.

I am that which all other beings are.

(from “A Joseph Campbell Companion”.)

Writer’s Block – dialogue

by Diane Grant

I’ll finish with Walter Kerr’s demonstration of  good dialogue – the difference between general language and the way we speak. He says that detail, detail, and more detail is what you are after and quotes two different passages from plays by John Steinbeck – Burning Bright and Of Mice and Men.

I’m putting it in here mostly because I can never read the excerpt from Of Mice and Men without crying.  It’s that good!

Burning Bright is about a man who is afraid he can’t have children and he’s talking to a friend:

JOE SAUL: A man can’t scrap his blood-line, can’t snip the thread of his immortality. There’s more than just memory, more than my training and the remembered stories of glory and the forgotten shame of failure. There is a trust imposed to hand my line over to another, to place it like a thrush’s egg in my child’s hand. You’ve given your bloodline to the twins, Friend Ed. But I….

FRIEND ED: Maybe you should go to doctors. There might be a remedy you haven’t thought of.

JOE SAUL: What do they know? There is some dark curse on me and I feel it.

FRIEND ED: On you alone, Joe Saul? Do you feel singled out, pinned up alone? It’s time we sing this trouble out into the air and light, else it will grow like a cancer in your mind. Rip off the cover. Let it out. Maybe, you’re not alone in your secret cave…

JOE SAUL: I know. I’m guess I’m digging like a mole into my own darkness. Of course, Friend Ed, I know it’s a thing that can happen to anyone, in any place or time. And maybe all these have the secret locked up in loneliness.

Steinbeck wrote another play about loneliness and friendship, Of Mice and Men:

His characters, George and Lennie are eating dinner.

GEORGE: There’s enough beans for four men.

LENNIE: I like ‘em with ketchup.

GEORGE: Well, we ain’t got any. Whatever we ain’t got, that’s what you want. God Almighty, if I was alone, I could live so easy. I could go get a job of work and no trouble. No mess…and when the end of the month come, I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why I could stay in a cat-house all night. I could eat any place I want. Order any damn thing.

LENNIE: I didn’t want no ketchup.

GEORGE: I could do that every damn month. Get a gallon of whiskey or be in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool. And what have I got? I got you. You can’t keep a job and you lose me every job I got!

LENNIE: I don’t mean nothing, George.

GEORGE: Just keep me shovin’ all over the country, all the time. And that ain’t the worst – you get in trouble. You do bad things and I got to get you out. It ain’t bad people that raises hell. It’s dumb ones. You crazy son of a bitch, you keep me in hot water all the time. You just want to feel that girl’s dress. Just wanta to pet it like it was a mouse. Well, how the hell’d she know you just want to feel her dress? How’d she know you’d just hold onto it like it was a mouse?

LENNIE: I didn’t mean to, George?

GEORGE: Sure you didn’t mean to. You didn’t mean for her to yell bloody hell, either. You didn’t mean for us to hide in the irrigation ditch all day with guys lookin’ for us with guns. Alla time it’s something you didn’t mean. God damn it, I wish I could put you in a cage with a million mice and let them pet you.

LENNIE: George?

GEORGE: What do you want?

LENNIE: I was only foolin’, George. I don’t want no ketchup. I wouldn’t eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me.

GEORGE: If they was some here you could have it. And if I had a thousand bucks I’d buy ya a bunch of flowers.

Walter Kerr says, “The difference in the two is in the words. In the first, the words remind us of nothing real: the second is specific and the words crackle.”

So I’m looking for that moment that crackles, that puts down that first sentence, that leads me to a protagonist and an antagonist and a struggle between them. That leads to me a story.

People advise me, “Doesn’t matter what it is. Write a line a day.” “Take a walk.” “Meditate.” “When you are most frustrated, that’s when the ideas will come.” “It happens to everybody.”

So I think I’ll have a glass of wine and watch Chopped.

Could work!

.

Writer’s Block 2 – Finding the Story

by Diane Grant

What I did was go back to a book on playwriting written called How Not To Write A Play by Walter Kerr, who was a playwright in the 40’s and 50’s, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a critic for the New York Herald Tribune and the Sunday New York Times.

His mantra is, “Avoid generalities. Be specific.”

The beginning of the work arises from something specific, from seeing something or hearing or remembering something concrete that starts your imagination working.

It can be just a glimpse of someone – an old acquaintance laughing, a man crying in a corner, two women jogging, one talking on the phone. It could be a piece of landscape – that enormous, bright supermoon in November, for example. It could be a snatch of dialogue.

My friend, Madeleine, collects things she’s heard on the street and publishes the results every year during the holidays. She just loves to listen. I love to listen, too and I really recommend carrying around a recorder or a notebook so that you can catch something you see or hear that astounds or delights or amuses or just interests you.

Just recently, I looked at my notebook and found two men walking down the street arguing and the one said, “Of course, your Dad thinks Jesus is magic.” Another day, I heard a woman shouting into her phone, “Well, the drugs aren’t working so I’m not going to pay for them.”  I heard a man screaming at his wife, “This is my time. Don’t you understand? This is for me! My time!”

My husband and I were at lunch not long ago and heard a full bearded man talking to someone in a big wide brimmed black hat about how he could get her a radio show with an international following because he knew the King of Jordan’s sister. All he needed was some start up money. The person in the hat never spoke, we never saw the face, just the hat.

Where could that lead me?, I thought.  Who was the person in the black brimmed hat? Was she old or young? Maybe she was very beautiful. Was she crying? Was she smiling? Was she listening? Maybe the person in the hat wasn’t a woman!

I could do a little research perhaps. (I’m a great fan of Wikipedia.) Does the King of Jordan have a sister? Aha. He has six and he once had a bit part on Star Trek. King Abdullah’s Sisters.

Walter Kerr’s advice is to let all the pieces start to come together and don’t yet criticize. Keep your eyes and ears open and see where they take you. Put down details. One phrase may lead to another, one association to another, something will jog your memory which will connect to something else, and gradually you will have accumulated material to work with. You will put it all together to tell a story.

Maybe the situation would start me off. Maybe, King Abdullah’s Sisters has nothing to do with the King Of Jordan. Other characters might appear, a waiter who knows that the bearded man has run a tab that has to be paid, or a street musician who serenades them, or a woman who says, “Marguerite! At last!”

I don’t want to start with a theme. I can never enter those contests that ask you to write a ten minute play that has a theme to follow – Holey Moley, Curves Ahead, Time Forgot, etc. My brain freezes.

However, recently, I forgot that and thought I could write a play about the friendship between Albert Einstein and Paul Robeson. (And that’s probably when my writer’s block started).

In the afternoon of October 12, 1952, Paul Robeson visited Einstein at his home on Mercer Street in Princeton and they talked for six hours. Einstein was not well and very discouraged and it’s said that he was re-energized by that visit.

How inspirational, I thought. I kept seeing the last moments of the play with Einstein at the piano and Robeson singing.

I read all I could about them and their mutual activism. And the play just sat there. Dead.

I was trying to write about two historical figures, two geniuses I had nothing in common with, had never met, and never would meet – I, a white woman with no mathematical ability or scientific ability like Einstein’s, who speaks only one language, not twenty, like Paul Robeson. (I do sing.)

But the problem wasn’t that I was trying to write about historical figures. I was starting not with specifics but a theme, a generality. I was going to write about altruism and the efforts of two men to help change the world.

And it didn’t work. Back to the book!

Writer’s Block 1

by Diane Grant

I just wrote a paper for a festival and that is about all I’ve written for a while. It’s long, so I’ll put in here in sections. Maybe, it can help somebody with the same problem.

I’ve been suffering from writer’s block. I want to write a new play and have no ideas. So I’ve been thinking about it. How to start again? Can I work myself out of it? Do I wait until it’s gone? Do I just stop?

Sometimes, writing is easy. I’ve written with ensemble groups and know and love how that works. It’s so much fun and so exciting to build a play together with others – from stage to page using research and improv and a writer who gets it all down, then cuts and shapes the work into a whole.

I fantasize that Will Shakespeare came in to work every morning and said something like, “I just read about a man who was poisoned through his ear while he slept. Could it be a king, maybe?” “Not another king,” they say. “No, this is different. He’s the King of Denmark.” “OK. What next?” “Maybe his son wants to avenge him.” And the men say, “How does he know about it?” “Who tells him?” they ask. “What about a ghost? says one. “I play a good ghost, Will. Isn’t that right?”

However, Shakespeare was with one company for a long time and could work and rehearse every day. I don’t know too many companies who have the time and money to do that now.

When you’re alone at your computer, it’s different. I know I always want to have a story, someone to root for – a protagonist who wants something, a conflict – an antagonist or antagonists who prevent him or her from getting what he or she wants – and a resolution – a decision or action by the protagonist that changes things.

But how did I begin before? What started the process?

Here’s what John Steinbeck said, writing to a friend.

“Dear Robert,

I hear from a couple of attractive grapevines that you are having trouble writing. God! I know this feeling so well. I think it is never coming back, but it does – one morning, there it is again.

About a year ago, Bob Anderson asked me for help in the same problem. I told him to write poetry – not for selling – not for seeing – poetry to throw away. For poetry is the mathematics of writing and closely akin to music. And it is also the best therapy because sometimes the troubles come tumbling out.

Well, he did. For six months he did. And I have three joyous letters from him saying that it worked. Just poetry – anything and not designed for a reader. It’s a great and valuable privacy.

I offer this if your dryness goes on too long and makes you too miserable. You may come out of it any day. I have. The words are fighting each other to come out.

Love to you,

John.”

Might be worth a try!

New on the LA FPI Podcast: “What She Said” – Alyson Mead with Susan Rubin

 

Alyson Mead speaks with playwright Susan Rubin about life, love, mythology and the devil in her play Liana and Ben, currently playing at Circle X Theatre

Listen In!

 



What conversations do you want to have? Send your suggestions for compelling female playwrights or theater artists working on LA stages to Alyson Mead at lafpi.podcast@gmail.com, then listen to “What She Said.”

Click Here for More LA FPI Podcasts

A Successful Playwright is…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artwork by Christian Schloe

 

by Cynthia Wands

A few months ago I read a wonderful account of Sarah Ruhl accepting the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award.

This was just a few weeks after the election results and I was fighting through hopelessness and fury. Not great companions – hopelessness and fury. They tend to fuel one another into that other sense:  helplessness.

But her words have stayed with me the last few weeks:

“We write to extend the light of our minds into dark hollows. We write to create and model empathy in a ragged land. We write because our minds can always be free in the face of tyranny. ”

Through this turbulent period of time in our culture, I’m challenged to find that what I’m writing is of value. My humor, my sensibility, my quirks, all seem out of sync with what is happening in our country today, this afternoon, this evening.

But, like most artists I know, I’ve always felt estranged from the mainstream culture – and so I’ll continue on this next writing project – not knowing if it really reflects this period of time we’re going through.

I did want to share one other piece of Sarah’s speech, that reflects the financial reality of today’s successful playwright:

“On the morning of the day when I heard about this award, I realized I was about to bounce a check I’d just made out to my babysitter. Walking to the bank to get her a money order, I thought, oh dear. That afternoon, on the phone, I learned of this award and wept with joy and surprise.”

Sarah Ruhl Speech

 

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