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February 2015

Back in California after a rousing and successful week in Talent, Oregon for the opening of A Question of Words. See below for a variety of interviews, with more to come as they appear. Lots of publicity.

Maybe You Die Happier just made the semi-finals for the PlayPenn Award, and there is growing interest in my newest play experiment, Not Waving. After quite a bit of first-person research, I wrote a play about high-school life, with a cast that is made up primarily of teenagers, most of whom are girls. Apparently, very few serious playwrights are writing for that audience and, as a result, some of the best high school drama departments are left with very few curriculum performance choices.

  • Interview with NPR-affiliate Jefferson Public Radio (Oregon) on A Question of Words. You can listen here.
  • Post-show talkback with yours truly, the director and actors:

  • Another interview with the playwright:

October 2014 – January 2015

I added a month this time because a lot of good stuff was rustling in the metaphorical grass late in the year. I waited to see if it stood up and waved, to keep the metaphor going. My patience is disguised as procrastination.  Well, there may be a touch of the latter.

It’s the first day of February as I write this, and I’m holed up at the Noble café in Ashland, Oregon. Tomorrow morning, I give an on-air interview to the local NPR affiliate concerning the Friday opening of A Question of Words at the Camelot Theater in Talent, OR, where it will run for a month. Tomorrow night, I’ll be at the full-dress rehearsal, which includes an interview for the local TV station. Wednesday and Thursday are preview performances. I’ve given three press interviews so far. The longest, and most in-depth to date was done by John Rose, on behalf of the Ashland New Plays Festival, where this play won their annual competition two years ago. Go to ashlandnewplays.org, and click on the internal link to read the full interview.

Speaking of Ashland, and true to form, all of the folks associated with the play festival will be turning out in large numbers to support the production and welcome me back to town. I’ve been put up in my own little cottage for the week, and graciously fed by Joe and Sally, the owner and his wife, who live next door. Most of those connected to the Festival will be attending either the previews, opening night, or opening weekend. And wining and dining me in the off hours. I’ve said it before; for all that makes a writer feel relevant and appreciated, Ashland is a playwright venue like no other.

And now to what’s waving in the grass. One of the long monologues in the play mentioned above is going to be published this year by Smith & Kraus, under the title, The Best Women’s Stage Monologues of 2015.

One of my recent full-length plays – Maybe You Die Happier – has just been chosen as runner up in the Red Theater (Chicago) annual play competition. One of three finalists from among 500 submissions.

A short, funny play about advertising and big Pharma – Witlack’s Disorder – took 3rd (out of 141) in the Lourdes Playwriting competition.

A Theater in Florida, Studio @ 620, St. Petersburg, has just asked to mount a full production of Life is Mostly Straws later this year. One of my favorites among those not yet produced.

That’s all the news for now.

Monday, February 8th, I drive back to the Bay Area, where my wife and I may be relocating in the near future. More on that in another update, as well as access to the radio podcast and TV segment mentioned above.

Keep an eye out for my new Facebook page, coming soon!

July-September 2014

In my last missive, I predicted the dog-days of summer. Better described as the puppy-dog-days of summer. Not too hot, not too humid, by comparison with so many years before. Fortunately or unfortunately, however, depending upon what I was missing in Manhattan, I spent many of them on the west coast, happily atop my motorcycle, in view of the ocean on most days, and wrapped in the perpetual sunshine that is a big part of the southern California draw. In-law duties and my wife’s business obligations made it necessary, but the moment I kicked into first gear on the 1200RT, regrets faded fast.

Other than for writing new work, which I’ll describe below, it has been a slow summer for me. I have been in contact with the folks in Oregon, as that date draws nearer – a February opening. The Camelot Theatre in Talent, Oregon (yes, the town is named “Talent”), is not far from Ashland, so many of the fans of my work there have already written to ask for some time together and to say they’ll be at the opening. One of the men on the Play Festival Board has stepped up to put a cottage of his at my disposal while I’m there. Can’t say enough good things about the people connected to the Ashland Festival and the ways they embrace and support playwrights. I’ve been to Ashland three times in the past three years (Quietus, The Truth Quotient, A Question of Words) and, without exaggeration, they all make me believe I’m part of their family.

For new writing, as I mention above, it was an interesting time. Mid-summer, I discovered the existence of a new playwriting contest, called the Milken Prize. It has just come on the scene, and is a reflection of the quality (or lack thereof) of serious theater available to young adults, both for the chance to perform as well as to see themselves credibly portrayed. Some say that it’s a neglected audience on purpose. They aren’t “theater-going people,” that is, with an interest in the medium, other than for ensemble musicals and comedies. On the other hand, you might say that’s because they don’t have much to choose from that reflects their concerns.
That was my conclusion after spending several hours with my teenage nieces and nephew. So I sat down to write a serious drama about modern high school kids. After more time with my relatives, my perspective turned out to be that “young” adults are in many ways just like older adults who haven’t had a lot of practice at the trials and tribulations. I found the contest late – with only a month to the deadline – so I was writing, revising, and consulting (the kids) non-stop for that month. I e-mailed the script on the afternoon of the deadline day. I loved the process, however, and found the subject matter new and exciting. I think it’s an audience worth pursuing seriously.

We’re back in New York again as I write this (tardy, as usual) and ready to take on the faster pace of the fall. Hope to see some of you in Oregon.

April-June 2014

As the temperature now edges 90 and the humidity tries to match that number, the memories of ice and snow in my last quarter’s tale barely linger. Welcome to a New York summer, the only season to match a New York winter (at least the last one) punch for punch. One exchanges the loveliness of sleet and sludge for sweat. Before I’m able to write my name on my forehead in one morning’s accumulation of grime, however, let me recap the brief but delightful spring that just passed.

To start, being back in our own home helps a lot. There is comfort in the rituals that are attached to and associated with one’s own stuff. For one thing, all of my books are back in reach and, almost as important, in sight. Each title is a mnemonic device, evoking the pleasure of that particular read and confirming the power of words.

In my last wrap-up, I mentioned the fun I had fun in Florida, attending the Studio@620 production of A Question of Words. They have since requested other scripts and are now considering Life is Mostly Straws for next spring.

The Oregon production of A Question of Words in February is confirmed and the contract is signed. In addition, an advance on the gate was put in the mail eight months ahead of the production. That kind of solid commitment on the part of the theater bodes well for the relationship between the two of us. I look forward to that production (I’ll be there) with a lot of excitement.

Two weeks ago, the public reading of Life is Mostly Straws took place at the lower east side theater of the International Theatrical Arts Institute. It went very well. Perceptive direction by Eric Parness (Artistic Director of Resonance Ensemble – NY), and a very strong cast, which included Callie Frisell (Sydney), Christine Verleny (Joanna), Grant Varjas (David), and Jarel Davidow (Noah).

The Actors Studio scene readings of my newest play (now entitled Maybe You Die Happier) have just concluded – along with their season. I’ve reworked the script several times as a result, and have now begun to send it out to theaters and interested readers. One of the latter is Maggie Grace (Google her if you don’t recognize the name), who read the lead part of Anna during an informal reading at my apartment at the end of last year. She was so good in the role that I asked her if I could forward the recently completed script for an opinion. She is currently in Paris shooting a film, but offered to take a look while there. Hoping she likes it.

That’s all folks. Now it’s time to clean the A/C filter and brace for the dog days to come.

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