Tag Archives: Having Our Say: Our History

On Meeting Playwright Sarah Tuft in Chicago…

by Robin Byrd

“…she was fun and fierce, and we chatted.”  Laurel Wetzork

I was running (okay walking swiftly) past Laurel Wetzork – LA FPI Onstage Editor, and Debbie Bolsky – LA FPI Agent Process Co-Captain, after an event at last month’s Dramatists Guild Conference (Having Our Say: Our History, Our Future) when I was introduced to Sarah Tuft by Debbie.  Laurel was engrossed in conversation with her.   I had interrupted to say, “See y’all back home.”   I met a lot of people in Chicago, so many, I had to take notes, but I remember Sarah’s name because I had just used the word “tufts” in a poem:

           “…pulling the small tufts from my eyelids trying to leave the lashes in tact…”
I like the word so much, I keep thinking about it.  And, I liked Sarah right off when I met her — not just because of her last name.  She seemed so open to me and she was really excited about her project coming to Los Angeles.  Debbie, Laurel and I asked her to drop us a line about it, so that maybe we (LA FPI Instigators) could show up in clusters.  Just received her email today:

Dear LA Playwrights,

As promised, I’m here in town for the benefit reading of my play “110 Stories” next Wed at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center at 4718 West Washingtob Blvd. 90016.Some advance press: examiner.com/article/12th-anniversary-of-9-11-brings-broadwayglobal-must-see-play-110-stories FB invite: facebook.com/events/346706322129808/?ref=br_tf Segment on A&E: vimeo.com/channels/sarahtuft110stories

Love to see you there.  If you can make it, sign up at itsmyseat.com/events/733971.html  or call 626.869.7328.

And if you’re on FB, please friend me so I can include you for any other shenanigans!! Best wishes, Sarah

110 Stories by Sarah Tuft
110 Stories by Sarah Tuft


110 stories sarah tuft

110 STORIES by Sarah Tuft

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 – 8:00 PM

Nate Holden Performing Arts Center
4718 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90016

110 Stories Celebrity Benefit Performance will commemorate the 12th anniversary of the events of Sept 11th 2001.

Sarah Tuft’s play expresses the human side of history, without politics and agenda, giving voice to those who experienced 9/11 directly.Proceeds from the event go to Operation Gratitude.

All schedule permitting, the cast includes: Jon Heder, Ernie Hudson, Ethan Kogan, Anthony Ruivivar, Stelio Savante, Jessica Silvetti and Diane Venora. Directed by Rudolf Buitendach. Lead Producer: StelioSavante, Casting Director: Engine Media Group, Producers: Al Han, Ethan Kogan, Freddy Luis, Anne McCarthy, Kellie Gesell Roy, Jessica Silvetti.Consulting Producer: Michael Greenwald and Playwright Sarah Tuft.

Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, volunteer-based organization that annually sends 100,000 care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions, to their children left behind and to Wounded Warriors recuperating in Transition Units. This charity is supported by First Lady Obama, The Bidens, Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise and many other respected celebrities, athletes and politicians. For more info, please visit their official website at http://www.operationgratitude.com/

Special Note: Our charity Operation Gratitude will be providing tax deductible letters of receipt for everyone who purchases tickets. If you are unable to attend or do not live in LA, you can still purchase tickets/make a donation and you will receive the tax deductible letter from our charity.

COME AND JOIN US, experience firsthand accounts of the events of Sept 11th 2001 with an illustrious cast and together we can raise money for this worthy charity.

The performance starts at 8:00 p.m. with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $55. All ticket purchases and donations are tax-deductible.


Tickets: http://www.itsmyseat.com/events/733971.html

Last Day of the Dramatists Guild Conference

by Robin Byrd

This morning ended the 2013 Dramatists Guild Conference “Having Our Say: Our History, Our Future with some very inspiring words from Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Doug Wright (I am my Own Wife); I can only tell you that you need to read it if it is every published or watch the video if one was made because that is what I am going to do.  Yes, it is worth listening to over and over again.

I think the consensus in the room was, “I want to write a play now.”  Not just write a play but do the research behind it I so much love to do, you know, walking in the “wright” of playwright.  I came away knowing that any dumb stuff I need to fix about me so I can squeeze through a door, I can do.  I am a dramatist.  I don’t have to apologize or feel “less than” in the room with other collaborators collaborating on my play…  I can look forward to the Dramatists Guild fighting the good fight for us because that is what they do…  They make it possible for us to continue “Having Our Say…”


Improvising Your Play with Jeffrey Sweet

by Robin Byrd

I am here in Chicago at the Dramatists Guild Conference “Having Our Say: Our History, Our Future” enjoying every minute of it.  It is really good to see Stephen Schwartz, President, Dramatists Guild, Gary Garrison, Executive Director, Creative Affairs and hoping to see Ralph Sevush, Esq. Executive Director, Business and Legal Affairs, have to make sure I get to one of his sessions  – playwriting without the business side of things can leave one at a loss…  Some of the sessions are live streaming from HowlRound at http://www.livestream.com/newplay where you can watch them several times after the live event.

My first session was with Jeffrey Sweet, playwright, author, teacher, actor, director, improvisation master – I could go on.  I use his books to help me out of fixes when I’m writing.  I met him at the last Dramatists Guild Conference in Virginia.  He is the nicest man, very down to earth and very giving where knowledge of the craft of playwriting and theater is concerned.

Mr. Sweet talked about how improvising came into being – the people in the germination period, the history of it – how storefront theater started and what that had to do with the Marxist son of a millionaire who loved theater.  He discussed how the question “How do you get plays on a stage when no one is writing them?” gave rise to improvisation.  How improvising theater starting from scenarios –Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm uses scenarios.  He ran through the history like a monologue, full of comedy and facts.  He told us to also look at TJ & Dave for improvisation today.

In “Improvising your Play”, Mr. Sweet discussed set up for Improv and the power of the unspoken word.  A writer must know what to leave out. He suggested conveying what the noun is without using the word.  As in, conveying “I love you” without actually saying “I love you.”  He demonstrated with a skit using two playwrights from the audience giving them clear instructions on what their character wanted but what they could not say to the other character.  The Improv turned out to be a nice little scene.  He runs a Summer Improv writing retreat (http://www.artisticnewdirections.org/retreats.html) that uses improvisation techniques to write scripts.  Then he did an exercise with five playwrights from the audience who were told to describe a noun without using the noun.  We got very good descriptions, of a woman who found solace in watching a puppy through the store window, a man whose horse sounded like a woman until the very end, and the description of finding that a vile smell is of poop on the bottom of a shoe.

He also discussed relating something from the past without writing in past tense.  There is a technical way called “historical present” that gives the sense of dramatic action.  You start in the past but switch to present as you go, for instance, writing “I was walking along the side of the road, suddenly; a large truck is coming right at me.  I have a second to get out of the way or I’m toast.  I jump…” (as I understood him).  There is also “high context exposition” which in essence means don’t explain.  Characters who know each other don’t repeat what they already know; this is why the soaps use new characters to rehash old business that everyone else already knows.  He feels the writer should always go to the future tense.

Another way of bringing more to a script is by negotiating over an object.  “Objects between any two characters will give info about the characters.”  Shakespeare uses three objects in King Henry the Sixth, the paper crown, molehill and the handkerchief which create shock in behavior.  In “The Apartment,” the mirror compact does the trick.

Improvising your Play was a very informative session.  A lot of what he discussed is in his books.  Seeing him bring the techniques to life before your eyes is worth experiencing at least once so if you ever get the change to sit in on a Jeffrey Sweet class, please do…

Jeffrey Sweet’s books:

Dramatists Toolkit, The Craft of the Working Playwright

Solving Your Script:  Tools and Techniques for the Playwright

Something Wonderful Right Away: An Oral History of the Second City and the Compass Players