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:
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!
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.
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.
Let us all who live in the northeast raise our glasses in a toast to spring, ever so slowly shoveling its way out of the worst winter most of us can remember.
Much of my time this first quarter has been devoted to all of the people (contractor, interior designer, appliance and fixture retailers, insurance adjustors, and many more) necessary to bring our kitchen back to life from scratch. While I was away in Ashland (October) and my wife in California, an upstairs neighbor let a sink overflow – for hours. Hours, how can that be? It’s a long and frustrating story, but suffice it to say that the leak gutted our kitchen and part of our living room, much of the living space in the apartment beneath ours, and a part of the one below that. Fortunately, the owner of that last apartment was home, and able to alert the building super. Six months later, we’re still living in a rental apartment, all of our furniture is in storage, and we’re hoping to be back in our place by the spring. To say the least, it’s been a distraction from the writing.
Putting that aside, Florida was great. The Studio@620 put on a full production of A Question of Words at an interesting little theater in St. Petersburg, Florida. They flew me down for the opening night, which had a standing-room-only crowd. Although I couldn’t stay beyond that weekend, it finished its run (Feb/Mar) with a full house as well.
And shortly after returning from that production, I received a note from the artistic director of a well-respected theater in Oregon, who had seen the Ashland performance of A Question of Words, and loved it. She asked to open their next season with it (spring, 2015). More fun. Although not in Ashland, the theater is close by, so I’ll go early and jockey back and forth. Meeting and making new friends in Talent (the name of the town where the theater is located) and spending time with old friends in Ashland. ‘Old’ is a relative term in this case. I’ve only been going to Ashland for a year-and-a-half, but the people almost feel like family.
It’s been an interesting few weeks meeting with the staff and nine fellow playwrights who won the Theatrical Arts Institute’s Play Development Program. That organization recently moved into a renovated old building in the lower east side. Three New York theater companies each own and occupy a full floor for rehearsals, development and administration. And they share two small but state-of-the-art theater spaces on the ground and basement floors. For the past two and a half months, all the winning playwrights gathered weekly for a discussion of our scripts, one per week, until all had gotten feedback. The international winners would generally join us by Skype (Spain, Canada, Uruguay). The playwright explained his or her vision, while colleagues offered suggestions. Taking all that into account, the playwright and director then “develop” the play over the next few weeks, in preparation for a public reading. Mine – Life is Mostly Straws – will be in June.
Meanwhile, the director at the Actors Studio who showed interest my newest play, The Errant Gene, has jumped into its development with both feet. Over the past 90 days, she and I have been doing scene readings from the play (1-2 scenes each time, with Equity actors) in front of the Studio membership. We have two more scene sessions to go in April, in preparation for a full read in May. Repeated audience feedback and the concentration of two scenes at a time has brought the play along much faster than would normally be the case. An added bonus to these sessions is the potential clout of the membership who attend. At Monday’s reading (not my play, unfortunately), Al Pacino sat two seats to my right. One never knows.
And thrown in between was a reading of that same play at Brooklyn College, using students for most of the roles. It was a class project, designed by their teacher, who is a fan of my work.
All for now. See you next quarter.
October was a great month for several reasons. The biggest was the week in Ashland for the New Plays Festival. My first visit, in October of last year, when I won the first time, left me feeling so good about the experience and so eager to start writing something new that I distrusted the euphoria – thought it must be a fluke. Then I went back in the spring, when they used another of my plays for a fund-raiser. And then once more when I won this year. It’s no fluke. They go out of their way to make it a rewarding experience for the playwright. Organized, supportive and friendly. It’s like spending a week at a spa, only they pay the bills.
And the pleasure was supplemented by the 2000-mile round-trip motorcycle ride that got me from Long Beach, CA to Ashland, OR and back. Temperature varied from the high 30s (very cold at high speed) to the low 80s: weather, from sunshine to rain and heavy fog; terrain, from ugly LA freeways to coastal roads, vineyards, mountain passes and redwood forests. Great views and memories.
After the short trip to St. Petersburg, FL to meet the cast and get to know the theater staff, the dates were set for the full production of A Question of Words, which is the comedy that won at Ashland, as well as the Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU-NY) play reading series this past summer. It’ll run in February and March of 2014. For details and/or tickets see their site – The Studio@620.
For the second year in a row, I have won the International Theatrical Arts Institute’s (NY) Play Development Program, for another full-length play of mine, Life is Mostly Straws. It will have a funded, rehearsed reading in Manhattan in the early spring.
I held an informal first reading of my newest play, The Errant Gene, at my apartment a couple of weeks ago – just to hear it read aloud. One of the directors from the Actors Studio asked to sit in. She stayed around for 90 minutes afterwards to discuss the possibility of a reading either of scenes or the full script (depending upon availability) in front of the membership shortly after the first of the year. She was very excited about its potential.
All for now. Happy and Merry.
July – September 2013
And the summer comes to a close with a soft click, which is the sound of me turning off my motorcycle and putting it back in storage on the west coast for a month or so. I spent most of the gruesome-est New York months in Newport Beach with in-laws and my bike. Weather, water, two wheels, family, all good. Malls, vanity plates on big, expensive cars, people who’ve had lots of “work” done, and did I mention malls, not good. It’s typically a slow time in the theater world, but those of you who know New York in July and August don’t need me to give reasons to be gone.
I worked – and continue to work – on the new play but it’s still not done. I’m eager to get it into a workshop or a full reading this fall. Just before I left New York for California, Maggie Grace (Google her), along with a handful of other professional actors, agreed to do a table read of the first act. She read the lead (a fierce, young woman recently graduated from a doctoral program in computer science) and was great. She confirmed my belief in the credibility of the character and the plot. I’m hoping to finish it sometime in October and begin the process of getting it into the right hands.
It was a slow few months as far as immediate activity goes, but a good time for news about the fall.
I’m a finalist for the Getchell Award, which is given by the Southeastern Theatre Conference. I had submitted Life is Mostly Straws. I won’t know more ‘till later in the year, but it’s gratifying to know I’m in the final eight.
The Reston players (Virginia) called to say that they want me to come down for a staged reading (some props, some blocking) of The Truth Quotient. They want to get audience reaction for the possibility of a full production next year. For any of you in the vicinity, the reading is Saturday night, December 7. I’ll be there, so say hello.
The Studio@620 in St. Petersburg, FL expressed interest – and has since put a contract in my hands – in doing a full production of A Question of Words in February of next year. I’ll be flying down in early November to meet the actors and director during the first read-through of the script (all gathered around a table to read the entire play aloud informally – an opportunity for questions, suggestions, etc.).
And last but not least is my plan for the Ashland New Plays Festival, which runs from October 21 to 27. As those of you who’ve read previous blog entries know, it is a great place to be if you’re a playwright (or actor, director, audience member, resident, et al). To add a bit of adventure, I’m going to fly into Long Beach on October 17, pick up my motorcycle, and drive the roughly one thousand miles (by the scenic route) to Ashland, and back.
April – June 2013
Wasn’t it March a few minutes ago? Yesterday? Hmmm…I had meant to do this month to month. “The best-laid schemes o’mice an’ men/ Gang aft agley,” with a nod to Mr. Burns. Of course, I had meant to be taller and younger by now as well.
A quick update on the old news, as well as some new news:
The International Theatrical Arts Institute (IATI) reading of Quietus went off as planned at a La Mama studio in the Village (NY) on April 9. Strong cast and a well-received reading, thanks to a great director with whom I’ve worked for the past couple of years – Eric Parness, the artistic director of Resonance Ensemble (NY).
On April 12, Dezart Productions put on a reading of the same play. Since I was in Ashland, Oregon for the fund-raising performance of Quietus, I couldn’t be there (Palm Springs, CA), but my wife and mother-in-law attended. The feedback suggested that the audience was looking for something a bit more farce-like. Can’t win ‘em all.
The Stonington Players (CT) put on a full production of An Ignorant Man in April and May. I was there opening night. Like any good community theater, the audience was engaged and everyone on and off the stage was having a good time. An added bonus for me was that the two leads were very strong, by any standard – Callie Frisell (Mary) and David Foulkes (Derby). Well rehearsed, well-directed and staged (Jackie Princevalle), and aptly cast throughout.
I was in Ashland for almost a week, in preparation for the public reading (4/15) of Quietus mentioned above. Remarkable cast – all alums of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with tv/movie/stage resumés longer than my arm. Full house, standing ovation, hour-long talk-back, filled with intelligent questions and feedback. I love that place…
…which brings me to some good news just announced today (July 1). I won the Ashland New Plays Festival for the second year in a row with a play entitled A Question of Words. There will be a week-long set of activities and two performances the last week in October. I can’t wait to get back to the Sundance of theater on the west coast. It is the most organized, supportive, knowledgeable, unpretentious community of theater people I have ever encountered. Not that I feel strongly about these guys…
That same play won the Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU, NY) Play Reading Series this year, which resulted in a funded public reading of the play at the SoHo Playhouse (NY) this past Monday (6/24). These readings are put on for an audience of producers, who come on stage afterward to discuss production, staging, and funding issues, rather than the text or structure of the play. The reaction was encouraging. I’ll be meeting with one of the producers next week to talk about finding the best “feeder” theater in Connecticut for my work.
I am hard at work – and have been since the New York production of The Truth Quotient – on my newest play, tentatively titled, Dear Brutus, which promises to be the most controversial to date.
February – March 2013
I wanted to get all this news up sooner, but I’ve been swamped (a good kinda swamped), so a week or so late to the table again. Lots of good stuff, however.
I’ll start with snippets from the reviews of The Truth Quotient, which closed its three-week run at the Beckett Theatre on 42nd street on February 2nd:
“The Truth Quotient… is sure to be a success… raises a slew of questions regarding the nature and importance of truth… humanity… challenging its audience to consider a world in which we could pay for artificial company in the appearance of human loved ones who have passed…” InsideNewYork.com
“Manley’s work is… thought-provoking… He raises interesting questions about the nature of faith, trust, and love.” Washington Post.
“…this Richard Manley play at the Beckett Theater has a tantalizing conceit…”
New York Times
“Richard Manley’s extremely fresh take on being human in the information age… The characters battle each other in ways that will stay with you long after the show is over. ” NYTheatre.com
“Manley’s well conceived and well developed script is a trope for examining the existential meaning of family… The power of the play lies in its ability to present to the audience an alternative to suffering and loss that might prove to be more possible than probable.” Theatre Reviews Limited
“The lure of virtual friends in virtual worlds is powerful, and the near future is facing a ‘Pandemic of loneliness’ as Manley calls it. This makes The Truth Quotient a particularly timely project.” TheaterforNerds.com
Because of the reviews and the fact that TTQ was produced in New York, I’ve been getting calls and e-mails from agents and theaters from Los Angeles to Munich. Who knows where all that leads. I’ll keep you posted… or blogged.
And since my last update, I’ve nailed down some dates. The International Theatrical Arts Institute (IATI) has scheduled a public reading of Quietus on April 9th in Manhattan. For specific details, go to their website (www.teatroiati.org) and look under developmental programs.
Ashland has now set a date (Quietus), picked a stellar cast (from the Shakespeare Festival), and begun the publicity – down to designing the tickets, no less, and a poster. Images of both below. There will be a public reading on Monday, April 15th, in Ashland. Here’s the playbill. For additional details, go to their website (www.ashlandnewplays.org) or Facebook page or see the long piece in their newsletter here.
I was on the phone today with the director and set designer of the Stonington Players (CT), who are doing a full production of An Ignorant Man, to run from the end of April into May. Sounds like they are putting a lot of time and energy into it. It’s my first play, and a comedy, which is a lot of fun for a community theater. For the specifics, go to www.stoningtonplayers.org.
For newer news, thanks to making it to the finals, An Ignorant Man will have another public reading at Dezart Productions in Palm Springs, CA on April 12th. For more details, go to www.dezartperforms.com.
And last, and maybe least, Thank Emily made it into the semi-finals of the Nor’Eastern Playwriting Contest.
And the behinder I get. I should have had some news up here weeks ago. The upside of being busy with lots of work is lots of work. The downside is getting behinder (with credits to Lewis Carroll) on news about all that work.
Cutting to the chase, The Truth Quotient is in the midst of its three-week run at the Beckett Theatre on 42nd street (NY), and garnering great reviews. Here are the links to three:
The Washington Post piece was lifted from a review by a reporter from the Associated Press. Several newspapers and online sites (e.g., Salon) picked up the same review. The New York Times is due in this week.
And then there are the interviews for local magazines, such as this one from the Garden State Journal.
And blog coverage.
The Truth Quotient wraps up on February 2, after which I take a deep breath, and then begin to think about what I’d like to rehearse in front of the members of the Actors Studio in February or March… and then begin the casting for Quietus, which will have a workshop in March and a public reading in April at the IATI Theater (NY)… and then find time to meet with the director of An Ignorant Man (an early play), which is now scheduled for a full production at the Stonington Players in Connecticut in April/May… and then work out a time to get back to Ashland, where they’d like to do a workshop of something else of mine in the spring. Deep breath, deep breath.
Carried away figuratively by a whirlwind of activities and almost literally by Super Storm Sandy, I have to catch up on quite a bit of news.
Ashland New Plays Festival was the highlight of the year so far. For a week in October, I was given my own little cottage, and treated as if I were Edward Albee. There were two performances of the play (This Rough Magic), both of which were attended by at least 150 people, and both of which were followed by Q&A sessions that went on for an hour each, but could have lasted much longer. Good questions, incisive feedback. During the week, people stopped me on the street and came up to me in cafes (people knowledgeable about theater), asking intelligent questions about my work. I was impressed by every aspect of the experience. You can read more in their online newsletter.
Late that last week in October, I hopped the red-eye from Oregon to Boston on a Friday night/Saturday morning, in order to make it to the next day reading of the same play (under its alternate title, The Truth Quotient). The Saturday afternoon reading was followed by a banquet that evening and the presentation of a $1000 check and a plaque, commemorating my win of the John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award. The sponsor, New England Theatre Conference, is New England’s oldest and largest regional theater organization. They did a nice piece on me and the award. You can read it here.
I returned to Manhattan the next morning by train (10/28), both to begin casting that afternoon for the New York production (three weeks at the Beckett Theatre on 42nd street) of The Truth Quotient, and to prepare for the arrival of Sandy. The subways were closed that night and for the week to follow, and the lights were out in downtown Manhattan. An eerie sight from uptown. If you are interested in tickets to the play, go to telecharge.com and type in the title. For $10 tickets to certain performances, go to the producing organization’s website, resonanceensemble.com.
Because of all the time given to my full-length play, I missed a weekend of performances of one of my short pieces – Apparently Not – at the Topanga Canyon (LA) open-air theater of Theatricum Botanicum (founded by Will Geer – grandpa Walton) as well as two other short pieces – Chew Toy Research and Thank Emily – which were performed over two October weekends at the Long Beach Arts Festival (CA). Thanks to being back in New York, however, I was able to get a train up to a performance of Chew Toy Research in Connecticut. The Stonington Players put on five shows over the course of two weekends in November.
I should also mention that in the month of October, This Rough Magic/The Truth Quotient was named a finalist for the First Flight Festival at the Boomerang Theatre in New York and for the Undiscovered Voices Scholarship at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
As well, in early November, Quietus was chosen by the IATI Theater in Manhattan for a funded development project in the month of February, 2013. They provide space, as well as actors and a director. The process concludes with a reading. I’ll post a date when I know what it is.
And last but not least, I’ve begun my relationship with the Actors Studio’s Playwright/Director Workshop sessions, the invitation to which resulted from submitting This Rough Magic earlier this year. Sometime over the next few months, I’ll have a chance to try out new material in front of the members.
That’s it for now.
Come see The Truth Quotient at the Beckett Theatre in January. Let me know when you’re coming and we can talk about the experience afterward.
Labor Day seems to be the turning point each year. Vacations are over, the kids are back in school, and the theater world kicks back into gear.
If you’re going to be in Manhattan, don’t forget the public reading of This Rough Magic (alternate title, The Truth Quotient) on the 24th, as a conclusion to Resonance Ensemble’s week-long Equity workshop – in preparation for the fully-staged production that will be running off Broadway for two weeks in January.
The dates are in for two performances of This Rough Magic at theAshland New Plays Festival. It will open the program on Wednesday, October 24th at 8:00pm, and then have a matinee on Friday the 26th at 2:00pm. I plan to be there for the week.
Under its alternate title of The Truth Quotient, this same playalso just won the John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Prize, sponsored by the New England Theatre Conference. There’ll be an awards banquet and reading of the play just outside of Boston on October 27th. Although bleary-eyed (taking a red-eye from Ashland to Boston overnight on the 26th), I’ll be there too.
On the strength of the script of This Rough Magic, the Actors Studio (NY) has invited me to participate in their nine-month program of play development (PDU – “Playwright/Directors Workshop”), which provides access to the talent, resources, and workspace of the Studio. It could be both constructive and interesting. A lot of history there, to say nothing of the who’s-who list of members.
Apparently Not, one of my short plays, was just chosen by Theatricum Botanicum (CA) for their Seedlings project. There will be two weekend performances at their open-air theater in Topanga Canyon (LA), October 20th and 21st.
Witlacks Disorder, my newest short play, just won the Chameleon Theatre’s (MN) short play competition, and will be performed on Saturday, September 8th.
Chew Toy Research, one of my newest short plays, just won the Table & Chairs competition at the Stonington Players (CT), and will have five fully-staged performances in November (9, 10, 11, 16, 17).
Resonance Ensemble (New York repertory company) requested and is funding a week-long Equity workshop of This Rough Magic in September. We worked out the details this month. It’ll run from 9/19 to 9/24, concluding with a public reading in Manhattan on the evening of the 24th.
The national publication of note in the playwriting world, The Dramatist Magazine, just published a short piece on the winners of the Ashland New Plays Festival (including me, on the chance you haven’t guessed that yet), along with photos. I’m hearing from distant relatives, asking if they can borrow money, and Homeland Security put me on a watch list (they say I look like a terrorist).
The month began with a few e-mails and calls from relatives and friends about my headshot and the play description that Ashland New Plays Festival put on their Facebook page. The photo was taken while I was staring out the window of a hotel in Quebec, on New Year’s Day. Apparently, I look either like someone on Interpol’s most-wanted list, or a Hemingway-esque writer (it’s the gray beard), pondering a different career. Regardless, it was fun to hear about it through the family grapevine. The sponsoring organization will be utilizing the actors from the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, so it promises to be a great performance. Stay tuned for specific dates and times.
Also, as one of the three finalists for the STAGE Award, and the only American, I was interviewed by the BBC about This Rough Magic – my motivation, expected reaction, etc. It was broadcast in Great Britain, and wherever one can access the BBC. This international competition is centered on the best new play about science and technology. They had used some local performers to act out small bits and pieces of the script, which they later laced into the interview. I think it came out well. It can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00w0dlx. This is the entire episode (18 minutes) from an ongoing science series on the BBC, so I don’t show up until about 11 minutes in. Skip ahead.
In other news, my newest short play, Witlacks Disorder, won the Chameleon Theatre Circle’s Short Play Competition. The fully staged performance of This Rough Magic came off smoothly in Dayton, Ohio, on the 29th of July, as did the staged reading (sponsored by Reverie Productions) of the same play at Art Space in New York the following Tuesday (7/31).
May didn’t finish too badly – a staged reading on the 30th of my full-length play Life is Mostly Straws at the Actors Temple in London. But June hit the ground running. There was a full production of Thank Emily (one of my one-act plays) at the Gallery Players in Brooklyn from June 7-10. The following week, I was notified that This Rough Magic (my newest full-length play) was one of six finalists in the Dayton Playhouse FutureFest competition. Consequently, they will be flying me out for a staged reading in late July (7/26-29). Shortly after that news arrived, I learned that the same play was chosen as one of the five finalists in Reverie Productions’s Next Generation Playwriting Contest, here in Manhattan. I’ll fly directly from Dayton to New York for a staged reading of the play on 7/31. In week three, I found out that this same play was a winner of the Ashland New Plays Festival, with a production planned for late October. And to wrap up the month with a bow, a well-respected and established Manhattan repertory company has put a contract on the table for a full production of This Rough Magic on Theater Row (42nd st., NY) in January. Once the paperwork is completed and signed, I’ll post the details here.
I learned that This Rough Magic has been selected as one of three finalists in the STAGE International Script Competition for the best new play about science and technology. Mine was one of three plays to make the final cut, and the only one by an American playwright. The winner will be chosen by a panel that includes Pulitzer-winning dramatists (Tony Kushner, David Lindsay-Abaire, Donald Margulies) and two Nobel laureate physicists. For more information, take a look at the official press release.
The Truth Quotient has been selected as a finalist for this year’s Woodward/Newman Drama Award. Life is Mostly Straws was a finalist last year. Considering that only 10 finalists are chosen out of hundreds of submissions, it’s an honor to make the short list two years running. In addition, Life is Mostly Straws has been named a semi-finalist for the Playwrights First Award, given by the National Arts Club (NY), and has been nominated for the Cherry Lane Mentor Project 2013 by Eric Parness, artistic director of the Resonance Ensemble (NY).
Also in April, The Gallery Players (NY) selected Thank Emily for a full production in June as part of the Black Box New Play Festival. In March, Thank Emily was chosen as a semi-finalist in the American Globe Theatre’s (NY) One-Act Play Festival and was given a fully-produced performance on April 27. That performance resulted in the play moving to the finals on May 4 and 5.
The month began with an award ceremony at The Players Club on Gramercy Park, an historic theater organization. Life is Mostly Straws was one of two finalists for the Stanley Drama Award, presented at the Club on March 5th.
Since then, my e-mail inbox has been busy. Although only out in the field for a short time, my latest full-length play, The Truth Quotient, has been named a finalist at the Ashland New Plays Festival (OR), the Dayton Playhouse FutureFest (OH), the Orlando Shakespeare Festival’s PlayFest (FL), and Reverie Productions’ New Play Festival (NY). Finals are pending for all four. After reading some dialog samples, The Public Theater (NY), Open Fist Theatre (LA), The Blank Theatre (LA), and Trinity Repertory Company (RI) have all requested a full script.
February started off with a bang on the 4th in Hudson, New York, where I attended a rehearsed reading of my play An Ignorant Man at the HRC Showcase Theater, a result of being one of the winners of the W. Keith Hedrick Award the previous year.
Thanks to the number of professionals familiar with Quietus, we were able to quickly pull together a strong cast and an experienced director for a rehearsed reading of the play at the Actors Studio on February 13th. It was a lively and large crowd of friends and members, most of them eager to give their opinion (too eager at times).
In addition, Thank Emily was a finalist in the Valley Repertory Company’s (CT) New Play Contest. I attended two full productions of the work on the weekend of February 24th. I also found out in February that this same play was chosen as a semi-finalist in the American Globe Theatre’s (NY) One-Act Play Festival. It will have a full production at the Globe in late April.
In January, I met with a director from London. He works with the Transmission Group, an acting ensemble associated with a new London venue, The Park Theatre. He had read Quietus, passed along by a friend, and it piqued his interest. In New York for a family wedding just after the first of the year, he suggested a face-to-face meeting, after which he asked to read all of my work. The result is a week-long workshop with the Transmission Group in London in late May. At their invitation, I’ll be there for the whole thing.
Also in January, the Actors Studio (NY) requested an in-house reading of Quietus, which had been submitted during the winter by a member. Because its theme is contemporary and controversial, they asked if I could pull a team together quickly, by early February, so that we could fill a last-minute cancellation in their schedule. We obliged, not only for the opportunity to show my work, but also for the chance to soak up some of the rich history of that organization.
I spent the bulk of the month revising my newest play, The Truth Quotient, and began sending it out to national competitions.
And here’s a highlight from last year, a video made during my residency at Georgia College and State University, which awarded me the 2011 Pillars Playwriting Prize for Life is Mostly Straws.:
More videos from the production here.