Monday, December 07, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Spoke the Hub
music by David Moench, graphic by Liz Kushner
Monday, November 16, 2009
Most playwrights began writing in order to avoid sports. This fear of balls, hard objects and asphalt has terrorized writers for years.
But there comes a time in every writer’s life, when he or she must face her fears in order to build a better theater.
This Holiday Season, the Youngblood Gang is gearing for our most ambitious fundraising project yet. At the YOUNGBLOOD BOWL-A-THON on November 23rd, this group of Professional Playwrights/Amateur Bowlers is gonna knock down pins for the sake of theater. And you can help by sponsoring a playwright.
We’re tossing aside our laptops for one night only, in order to raise funds to renovate the 6th floor theater at Ensemble Studio Theater. This theater is home to Youngblood’s annual UNFILTERED studio productions. As budding playwrights at the beginning of our professional careers, these productions are vital to the development of our plays. It is of upmost importance that we improve the state of the 6th Floor Theater in order to present our plays in the best way possible.
We are calling upon friends, family, coworkers and strangers to sponsor a playwright as he/she bowls his/her heart out for the sake of good theater.
How, you might ask, can I help a writer bowl? Many of us are most likely beyond help in the bowling department. But if you would like to sponsor one of us, the bowl-a-thon works like so:
- Youngblood members reach out to family/friends/co-workers to sponsor them on a "per point" basis. Depending on your ability to give, this could range from $0.25 per point up to a few dollars per point. All contributions are tax deductible.
- On November 23rd, Youngblood goes bowling. Each sponsored writer bowls two games. The bowling alley is still TBD, and will be announced soon - watch this space! You are welcome to come down and cheer on your playwright.
- The Playwright’s best score of the two games is used to calculate his/her sponsors final donation. For example, if you sponsored a Playwright for $0.25/point, an 80 game would mean a $20 contribution.
If you would like to sponsor a specific playwright, you can contact them directly and let them know how much you would like to give per point. The playwright will proceed to bowl on the 23rd, and we'll let you know their best score of two games and how much you should contribute. If you’re interested in giving a specific sum, please let us know as well.
We hope that you will join us in the Bowling Alley for the sake of all things theater.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Thursday, October 08, 2009
By the time you get this the sun will have risen on the first day of tech for Asking For Trouble. For now though it's two in the morning and RJ and I are at EST, bombed on Hawaiian Punch and vodka (what are you laughing at? They were the only drinks we could find in the WHOLE THEATRE), and still, even now, still fighting about the running order. If you ever wondered how decisions got made at Youngblood, you're seeing how it works. Graeme and RJ drink a bunch of girl drinks and then they Hawaiian Punch It Out.
We'll get to the running order in a minute (editor's note: at 9am, Graeme called RJ to change the order again), but first, here's some information it would probably help to have:
1. Set Changes: There was a time when all the set changes in Asking For Trouble were done by the playwrights. It was awfully fun to watch, but it involved a set change rehearsal that would run till 230 in the morning and usually added about 20 minutes to the running time of the show. Finally after one year where a guy dragged a chair onstage and stood in the blue light for a solid 150 seconds trying to figure out where the chair was supposed to go (that guy may have been me), we decided we should simplify things.
This year, the casts for each play bring on their set at the top of their play and take it off when they're done.
All the stock set pieces will have specific places to live offstage, which you will see at your tech. During tech, our stage manager Michal and our intern Olga will note which pieces each play is using, and will let you know if you can leave anything onstage for the next show, but for now please plan to strike everything you use until further notice.
So, in a nutshell: actors will be placing and striking set pieces, stored upstage & backstage.
2. E-Flyer/Facebook Invitations: We've sent out an e-flyer to the Youngblood and EST mailing lists, which you all should have received. If you didn't, reply as such to this email and we'll get it to you. Check out the terrific comics, drawn for us for the second year running by Youngblood's own Nikole Beckwith. My favorite is the salmon hat.
We also have an "Event" associated with the Youngblood group on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.
Feel free to invite your friends via that event as well.
3. Reservations: To reserve seats, tell your friends, your family, your lovers, and your family's lovers to call 212.247.4982, x105. They need to say which night *and which series* they need tickets for, and leave their email address.
Or they can send that information via email to boxoffice@
Remember, there are about 114 people taking part in this thing one way or another. That means people need to reserve early. It'll fill up fast, especially for the later shows. The last thing we want is to turn your family's lovers away.
4. Call Time. For the first performance, we'd like to ask everybody to show up half an hour before curtain. So if you're in the Series A at 7pm, be at EST by 630. If you're in Series B at 9pm series, be here by 830.
For Friday and Saturday we can fudge the call times a bit, so if you don't go onstage till 1030 we're not gonna make you show up two hours early every night. But if everybody can get there early the first night, it'll help keep things running smoothly.
5. Curtain Call. If you're a fan of four-hour evenings of ten-minute plays, like we are, then you know that individual curtain calls for each of your 21 plays can get a little impractical. So we ask everyone to stick around till the end of their series and we do a great big company bow at the end.
There are always cases where people have to take off beforehand, and we understand that - just let us know and it's no sweat. But I will say that a big part of the fun of these things happens backstage, meeting and hanging out with the 72 other people who got roped into this. And at the end of the night when everybody piles onto the stage and the audience is hooting and applauding because they can't quite believe they made it through either, it's a pretty great sight to see everyone onstage together, it's a pretty great feeling. It's like you're in Live Aid or Miss Saigon. So stick around if you can. It's really worth it.
6. Opening Night. Are you like me? Do you know your lines yet? You got any idea where you're supposed to stand when you don't have lines? Are you getting a little freaked? Have you looked in the fresh, in-some-cases-peach-fuzzy face of your playwright and thought to yourself "As God as my witness, I will not let this peach-fuzzy playwright down"? And what are we all going to WEAR?
Well if the answer to any of those questions is Gee Graeme I Dunno, then the good news that pretty much all of the roughly 114 people that are doing this are going through the same damn thing. You know what helps?
Well let me tell you what doesn't help: staying at EST and drinking Hawaiian Punch cocktails and fighting with RJ till two in the morning. No, what helps is sitting in the audience on Thursday night to watch each other's shows. It gives everybody a warm, friendly audience for that first bold leap into the breach, it lets you know that everyone is in more or less the same spot as you, and when you see the plays actually pulled off, it's proof that such miracles can happen. Ah, Youngblood. A Pocketful of Ten Minute Miracles.
And, of course, we're gonna let you in free. It goes back to the fun of being in this thing; for five more days we're all part of this lurching, unwieldly, roughly-114 person company. How often do we get to do shit like that?
7. Nate Whelden. So there's this guy Nate Whelden. So Nate lives in Baltimore, but I didn't know that, see, and last night when one of the plays lost an actor, I called Nate. And at the time of this writing Nate Whelden is TAKING A BUS FROM BALTIMORE TO NEW YORK, where he will SLEEP ON A BUDDY'S COUCH FOR A WEEK, so he can do Asking For Trouble. Even if you kinda don't have time to watch the other shows, even if you've discovered that it turns out you sort of don't like ten-minute plays, even if you hate everybody else that you've met and worked with this week, come on out and cheer Nate on.
8. Parties. We're gonna have some parties. The Mighty Kel Haney managed to hook us up (again) with a big donation of Stella Artois. It turns out that Youngblood's big in Belgium. Who knew? Our friends the Belgians. So yeah, we're gonna have some parties after the performances. There will be an opening night party on Thursday, a closing night party on Saturday, and a party on Friday night just so Friday night doesn't feel left out.
9. What was I talking about? Oh right! Whew! Here it is! With all that as your drumroll, then, here is your RUNNING ORDER for ASKING FOR TROUBLE 2009:
THE BOOTY by Kyoung H. Park, directed by Kel Haney
DEATHPOD! by Meghan Deans, directed by Moritz Von Stuelpnagel
THE OATH by Jesse Cameron Alick, directed by Lila Neugebauer
COLONEL JEFFREY by Emily Chadick Weiss, directed by John Giampetro
THE NEXT TIME WE PICK UP A DRIFTER I DO THE TALKING by Michael Lew, directed by Robert Ross Parker
THE LAST PIRATE by Anna Moench, directed by Sarah Malkin
A PLAY INSPIRED BY MEDITATION CLOTHES by Nikole Beckwith, directed by Tom Rowan
FAKE by Michael Walek, directed by Rachel Slaven
IT NEVER RAINS IN REALITY TELEVISION by Sharyn Rothstein, directed by Wes Grantom
AMERICA YOU KILL ME by Joshua Conkel, directed by Linsay Firman
THE PUNCH by Eliza Clark, directed by Daniel Winerman
JOSEF STALIN WAS A ROCKSTAR by Jon Kern, directed by Christine Farrell
BACK TO THE SEXY by Mira Gibson, directed by Snehal Desai
IF YOU by Lucy Boyle, directed by Jamie Richards
VIRTUE OF NECESSITY by Robert Askins, directed by Eliza Beckwith
MORNING SUNSHINE by Anna Kerrigan, directed by Dylan McCullough
GET 'ER DONE by Courtney Brooke Lauria, directed by RJ Tolan
INTERVIEW SCHMINTERVIEW by Delaney Britt Brewer, directed by Alexa Polmer
SONS OF THIEVES by Patrick Link, directed by Gerritt Turner
TEN MINUTES FROM WONDERFUL by Erica Saleh, directed by Web Begole
CRAB BAKE by Eric March, directed by Abigail Zealy Bess
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Featuring fellow YBer Nikole Beckwith and directed Issac Butler. Performances start next Thursday:
MilkMilkLemonade. A play about gay children, a parasitic twin, an antagonistic grandmother, a depressed chicken, and our growing bodies. Bring the kids! (Note: not appropriate for actual children.)
Written by Joshua Conkel
Directed by Isaac Butler
Performed by Jess Barbagallo, Nikole Beckwith, Michael Cyril Creighton*, Jennifer Harder, and Andy Phelan*
Thursdays-Saturdays @ 8pm
Location: UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks
btwn 1st Ave & Ave A
Tickets: $18 - http://www.smarttix.com/show.aspx?showCode=MIL6&GUID= or call 212-868-4444
*Appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity - Equity approved
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
The estate of A. A. Milne is filing suit against ones Matt Schatz and Graeme Gillis for copyright violation, having flagrantly plagiarized the cover illustration from Milne's beloved children's book Now We Are Six.
Monday, August 31, 2009
The 3rd Annual New York One-Minute Play Festival
80+ plays. 40+ writers. 2 days. 1 minute.
September 12th and 13th 2009, 8:30PM at HERE Arts Center
145 6th Ave, (between Spring & Broome, enter on Dominick)
Tickets are $15 dollars. For tickets: Visit www.here.org or call 212-352-3101.
The smash-hit short-form theatre festival returns for the third year as part of HERE’s Autumn Artist Lodge! Curated by Dominic D’Andrea, the two-program event will present over 80 plays all under sixty-seconds by some of the most exciting emerging and established writers in the American Theatre.
Produced by Toby Knops & Dominic D'Andrea. Directed by Dominic D'Andrea, Gyda Arber, Brian Rhinehart, Jordan Young, Nicole A. Watson, & West Hyler.
Program A (Sat Sept 12th): plays by: Ashlin Halfnight, Emily Conbere, Bixby Elliot, John Devore, Michael John Garces, Jakob Holder, Jessica Litwak, Matt Olmos, Saviana Stanescu, Kyle Jarrow, Ken Urban, David Zellnik, Lanna Joffrey, Megan Mostyn-Brown, Liz Meriwether, Mat Smart, Mac Rogers, Andrea Thome, Matt Freeman, James Comtois, anton dudley, Christine Evans, Robert Kerr, Callie Kimball, Sam Forman, Rajiv Joseph, Padraic Lillis, Trav SD & more!
Program A directed by Dominic D'Andrea, Gyda Arber, and Brian Rhinehart
Brogram B (Sun Sept 13th): plays by: Callie Kimball, Clay Mcleod Chapman, Dave Anzuelo, Bixby Elliot, Kris Diaz, Christine Evans, Jeff Lewonczyk, J Julian Christopher, Courtney Brooke Lauria, Adam Szymkowicz, Migdalia Cruz, Chiori Miyagawa, Ian Cohen, anton dudley, Michael John Garces, Matt Olmos, Saviana Stanescu, Crystal Skillman, Liz Meriwether, Matt Freeman, Matt Schatz, Caridad Svich, August Schulenburg, Chris Harcum, Daniel Talbott, Trav SD & more!
Program B directed by Jordan Young, Nicole A. Watson, and West Hyler
*Please note that each program presents an entirely different evening of one-minute plays
This production is being presented through HERE’s Autumn Artist Lodge, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical and administrative support
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In a cold prison cell, in an anonymous totalitarian country, two political prisoners debate guilt vs. innocence, happiness vs. productivity, honesty vs. betrayal, art vs. duty - all while wearing big clown shoes and rubber noses. ARDOR DOODY is a satirical comedy about two circus clowns and one mime fighting the government the only way they know how - but which one will have the last laugh? Co-produced by Mighty Little Productions and written by Mighty Little’s Lucile Scott and STC’s Jesse Cameron Alick, directed by STC’s Steven Gillenwater.
IN THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN
Inspired by the popular American standard of the same name, IN THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN invites us into the world of a hedge fund manager and his wife as they ride the rails in search of jobs. Cushioned from any real hardship by their wealth, they lament their fate while trying to avoid the licorice handcuffs of the ineffectual SEC. IN THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN is a biting musical satire about corporate bailouts and the eschewed realities of the wealthy. An original musical, with the book by STC’s resident playwright Julia Holleman, music by STC’s Emmy award-winning Resident Designer, Lucas Cantor. Lyrics by Julia Holleman and Lucas Cantor. Directed By Emma Givens.
As a part of Subjective Theatre Company's residency with Horse Trade Theater Group, these shows will be presented at THE RED ROOM at 85 East 4th street (between 2nd and 3rd ave), third floor.
Limited run!! 6 performances only! September 8th-13th
Sept 8th – 8pm
Sept 9th – 8pm
Sept 10th – 8pm
Sept 11th – 8pm
Sept 12th – 8pm
Sept 13th - 3pm
Ticket Price: 0.00$ - FREE!!
Please make your reservations today!! email@example.com
Monday, August 10, 2009
I've succeeded in seeing four performances in the past four days! I doubt I'll find my way into the underground experimental scene while I'm in Beijing, for several reasons: 1. it's August, and groups seem to be on hiatus until the end of the month, 2. things are pretty disorganized and I don't know how events are publicized, and 3. even if I did, I couldn't read the listings. The shows I've made it to have all been at theaters funded by the government, and although they weren't controversial in the slightest, some interesting themes popped up.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Name duo mafan! So much trouble!
Medusa had the best intentions at heart. I really do believe that. But despite this fact, yesterday was a vortex of frustration. Due to a booking glitch, I was kicked out of my hostel to make room for a boisterous bunch of French people. I was calling up other hostels in the city center, searching for a free bed, when Medusa swooped in and said "Anna! I have found you a beautiful hotel!" I think that every savvy traveler has a visceral negative reaction to sentences like this. The last time someone said something like this to me, it was three years ago on a bus on the outskirts of Yangshuo...but that's another, similarly irritating story that ended with a 3 mile walk to get from the shady hotel to the legit hostel I'd booked. So I said thanks but no thanks, I prefer to find a place myself.
Never underestimate the persuasive, almost hypnotic power of Chinese helpfulness.
Half an hour later, we're on the subway. I'm carrying my big backpack, which is pretty much the equivalent of a neon sign flashing the word FOREIGNER, and Medusa is revelling in all the attention I'm attracting. "Everybody is talking about you! Those girls next to you, they're saying how strange you look! You look so strange, do people think you look strange in America? We all think so." Very few people have seen a half-Chinese, half-white person here, and it's an endless source of curiosity and spirited speculation. I try to tell myself this must be what celebrities feel like. The alternative is that this is what the Elephant Man felt like.
We get off the subway after two transfers, and Medusa hails a taxi. Three subways and a taxi? Where is this place? We stop at a grim high rise hotel. Behind the desk are four wall clocks, displaying the times of different cities around the world. The New York clock, which should read the same as the Beijing clock, is about 8 hours slow, the second hand ticking two seconds forward in time, then one second back. Turns out Medusa chose this hotel because it's near her friend's medical school, where she plans on staying for the remainder of her week in Beijing. "Now we can spend more time together!" she says, taking my hand and pulling me to her side. Unfortunately, it's near nothing else of interest. Medusa does the talking, and after a couple minutes hands me a key and says, "I booked you five nights here."
Five nights. Five nights here. The phrase is like smelling salts. This is where the madness ends, damn it, right here in a shabby hotel on the outskirts of an anonymous Beijing suburb. I will once more assert an active voice in the direction of my careening, slippery life.
I dropped my stuff in the clinical-feeling dorm room, nodded to the Korean girl dozing in the other bed, and took Medusa out to lunch as a thank you. I then politely refused her enthusiastic invitations to tour her friend's medical school campus (though I couldn't escape a cell phone photo shoot, the results of which were texted to her mother), went to an internet cafe, and booked myself into a hostel in the center of town. This morning (after the staff came into my room on the hour starting at 6:00AM to stare at me while I slept) I checked out, got in a cab and arrived at a beautiful, charmingly crumbling traditional courtyard house in a quiet hutong. Literally down the street from where I was originally staying.
Sometimes it takes 24 hours to go five minutes. And I guess I just have to be okay with that.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Beijing is crazy hot and humid and I sweat more than I pee. So far I've done a lot of walking around looking for theaters that no longer exist, calling dead numbers, and very little (read: zero) seeing of theater. China is a very confusing place for a foreigner with the language skills of a nearly mute baby, and not a good environment for people who want to get things done quickly. But I've made a bunch of hilarious Chinese friends at my hostel. One of them is named Hui Wen, but she chose an English name to make it easier for foreigners. "Medusa." I'm serious. I asked her if she knew the story of Medusa, and she said yes, and that she chose the name to be different and memorable. Mission accomplished, though she's quite memorable as is. The other night I was in bed, falling asleep, when she came in from the bathroom and insisted that I sit up to take a picture with her, because she loves me so much and needed to remember this moment. This is after knowing me for about 20 minutes. In the morning she gave me a very strange looking piece of fruit with a very long Chinese name, and insisted that I eat it immediately, because, in her words: "whenever I eat this fruit, I fill with happiness and I wish you to fill with happiness with me." The fruit was weird and delicious, and I'm glad to report that it did fill me with happiness.
Yesterday I went to the famed 798 Arts District, an enormous factory block that has been turned into artist studio, gallery, and living spaces. That concept is pretty familiar to New Yorkers, but there's something wonderful about these old weapons factories being used by artists, many of whom create work that is subversive and critical of the government. There were several exhibits that featured artists who are exploring how to reconcile China's long, rich history of traditional art techniques with modern, experimental aesthetics. Imagine hot pink inkbrush landscapes (featuring burning mountainsides and lounge chairs by the water), and intricately rendered mountainside oil paintings in which the rocks and waterfalls, upon close inspection, turn out to be painted fabric studies. Part of what I plan to explore in my play is the tension between tradition and modernity in contemporary China, and it's fascinating to see how other artists are grappling with the same concept.
Okay, I'm out. Gotta go back to the Peking Opera theater that was closed yesterday and try to finally see a show.
Monday, August 03, 2009
So this is a random thought that leaped into my head today. The top five current Youngblood members whose names would be fun to say as SNL announcer Don Pardo. In order.
#5) Anna Moench
#4) Mira Gibson
#3) Sharyn Rothstein
#2) Kyoung H. Park
and the #1 current Youngblood member name that would be fun to say as Don Pardo . . .
#1) Delaney Britt Brewer!
Ni hao! This August I'm missing out on the excitement of the Youngblood retreat, the NY Fringe Festival, Eli's reading, and countless Central Park picnics. Thanks to suppport from the generous people at the Jerome Foundation, I'm going to be in Beijing and the Loess Plateau researching Chinese burial practices and performance forms in preparation for my next play.
I flew in to Beijing last night after a long and relatively smooth journey. I didn't end up getting quarantined by health officials seeking out swine flu carriers, thank god. In the Shanghai airport, where I had a layover, some guy from Afghanistan spent 20 minutes telling me about his 2 wives before giving me a handful of unshelled almonds and asking if I'd like to come with him to Dubai to sell some cars. If I weren't a writer on a mission, the answer might very well have been yes. Who doesn't want to go to Dubai and sell some cars?
Now that I'm here, I plan on seeing a bunch of Peking Opera, traditional and modern dance, puppetry, and maybe even a drama, although I won't understand it at all. I'd love to tell you more about my morning exploring Beijings warren-like hutongs, but there is a World of Warcraft addict incessantly pummelling his keyboard next to me in this internet cafe and I am filled with the desire to do the same to his face. I need to leave. I'll do my best to keep you guys in the loop. Zaijian!
Monday, July 20, 2009
This looks to be an even more competitive year than usual, as we have only one or two spaces available and our applications have been steadily increasing (last year was well over 100). But then again, several current members applied more than once before they got in - so even in a tough year it's worth applying. All materials will be read by both me and Graeme, and we'll let everyone know their preliminary status by mid-September, hopefully.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Major congratulations to Conkel and Kern for sweeping their bracket at the Sam French! Both shows will be performed again in the finals, to compete for publication and licensing by Sam French.
Big congratulations, too, to the other five shows in last evening's first round - in general they were deeply interesting, thought-provoking and well-performed pieces, and the judging could have gone many different ways.
And of course thanks to the directors and casts: Jaime, Kel, Rob, Theresa, Jim, Tommy, Jay and Marguerite - you guys kick ass.
UPDATE: It looks like we used up all our chi getting into the finals - neither of our finalists made it all the way to publication. Still - congrats to all and big thanks to the actors. And huge congratulations to the 6 winners.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Williamstown Theater Festival
Being here at the WTF developing this new comedy with director Kate Pines has been one of the most exciting projects I have had as an emerging playwright. I met Kate back in April through another director we both know, and like a great first date the chemistry was there. We decided to move forward with the possibility of working together at WTF, based on my interest not to develop or improve a play I already had, but to write a brand new play. I really wanted to write a play based on a side character named Nico that appears in another play of mine. However, as I drafted and redrafted NICO throughout the month of May, I found that the Nico in NICO was becoming a brand new Nico, a Nico to rival all Nico’s. A Nico to be remembered. I arrived here at Williams College last Sunday, and over the course of the past week the play has evolved to such heights of hilarity that, as one of my actors put it while laughing through the script, “stop stop, I’m gonna throw up”. We are having way too much fun. The process that Kate and I have honed in on and have been rolling with, is that we have rehearsal in the evening, then she and I meet briefly after to discuss what’s going on in the script and areas that I want to or should take a look at for revisions or rewrites. The next day, I have all day to address whatever we discussed and agreed on, and in the late afternoon I email Kate the new pages which we then see and hear that evening in rehearsal. It’s a totally incredible developmental process that is at times very scary and at times incredibly rewarding. Last night I had one of the most rewarding moments here. While Kate was trying to block a fight scene with a lot of movement, one of the actors suggested, “If I leap onto this storage bin I can jump into Nico’s arms as I try to strangle Nicole from across the table”. It was exactly what the scene needed. I’ve been here a week and we’ve basically locked in the script, which is very exciting and we both really worked to get to where we are in the script now. I will be here for a few more rehearsals and then Kate and the cast will rehearse rehearse rehearse until the performance on July 22nd.
Monday, July 06, 2009
The Red White and Blue Process
I am suspicious of any place as beautiful as Valdez, Alaska. The mountains, the Sound, the dusty daylight twenty-three hours a day… quite frankly, I don’t trust it, but my fear of it’s beauty was never confirmed with the disaster I imagined would have to take place. The conference was a wonderful experience. The week was structured with play readings in the morning, afternoon, and late afternoon in three different spaces, and always one performance on the main stage theater at night. There’s something assaultive about seeing five play readings a day, but the benefit for me was that with each reading I could grasp more and more clearly the things about story telling that I like, and it helped me clarify for myself what I think is good vs. bad story telling. Each reading was run by a panel of three theater artists, whether they be playwrights, dramaturges, or directors, and after the reading the panel gave feedback to the playwright followed by audience feedback. In a bizarre twist of fate, I often disagreed with the panelist and fantasized about sharing my thoughts with the room, which I would never do because the idea of talking in front of a large crowd makes me want to puke. Between gleaning good story telling from the readings and disagreeing with the panelists, I began to formulate some solid opinions about playwriting, which I would guess I’ve always had, but never put them all onto one list. I’m not going to note those here in this blog, but ask me about it if you’re curious. My reading, of my one act play The Red White and Blue Process went “well”. This play was my January brunch play, which I thought has potential to be developed into a full length play. I say it went “well” because there was one director on my panel (who was either asleep at the wheel or just straight up fucking with me) who kept circling around my character “Nicorette” and how clever my character names were. (Um… her name is Nikoletta and I did not mean her as a metaphor for how jumpy nicotine can make a person and why are you still talking? And um… my other character’s name is Ammonia on purpose as in the chemical and not as in the latin word for “harmony” and why are you still talking?) As a result of my reading and my one-on-one feedback with Kia Corthron who was on my panel and gave excellent feedback, I have the foundation of an idea upon which to build this play. I felt my experience there was fulfilling. So if the conference wasn’t a disaster and the landscape wasn’t a disaster, where was the disaster I was waiting for? It’s not in the “being there”, but “getting there”. Holy God why does it take forty-eight hours to get to Valdez?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
That's not the real one is it.
My Mother married a man named Charles after my Father died.
They had known each other for a long time. We all went to the same church.
Charles' wife died slowly of cancer. My Father died quickly of heart disease.
They used to go out together. My Mother, My Father, Charles and his wife.
Charles and his wife adopted a child around the time I was born. The boy's name was John.
We played together.
This was all a million years ago. Now Charles is my step father, but really just my Mother's husband.
He helped me move once in college after he married my mother. We sat at a Burger King. He told me a story.
The story was about John.
That story is part of Wrench. It is not Wrench. Wrench is not that story.
The character's name is John. So there is that.
I just sent out the email for the play. Cheryl is Charles daughter by birth. She is John's older sister. She does my taxes.
We correspond through email. I sent her the spam by accident. I only realized it after I pressed send. I am now worried
about an email from her. An email that starts... "you have no right."
When I wrote Princes of Waco it started with a story about my friend Polar Bear. He fell in love with a girl we called NASCAR Jamie. All these names are true. I was worried then like I am now. By the time it got to the stage, nothing of that story remained, but when my Mother watched the play and saw the dead father's Rolex being bandied about she leaned over to my aunt and said:
"that's not the real one is it?"
So there is that.
Horton Foote wrote a play about his home town, Horton Foote wrote all his plays about his home town, but the first one he wrote was called Wharton Dance. Later he would change the name to Harrison. Later he would change all the names. But he did it once with all the names right. I listened to him talk a lot. He said it was important to change the names so people wouldn't be hurt.
Kerouac wanted to rewrite all the novels with one vocabulary of names so that these people he knew could be traced from novel to novel. So you could follow the one person who had so many different names. But not they're real names. Because they weren't themselves on the page. They were them passed through Kerouac but...
We know there is a one person. Don't we?
Shakespeare had a son who died named Hamnet.
We like to play the "who is it" game. Don't we.
But we don't wanna have the game played on us.
I just checked my email and Cheryl still hasn't sent me a message telling me I have no right.
I almost married a writer who wrote a play about our relationship. It made me so angry I almost broke up with her. We were in bed and I told her with closed eyes, "Some times I use the death of my father for sympathy." The line ended up in the play. When I heard it the first time all the air went out of me. So there's that.
I asked my roomate about it. She said:
"fuck'em its yer art"
but she's a narcissist.
I did it. I do it. I will do it again. It has hurt people. It does hurt people. It will hurt people again.
I feel bad about it. Most of the time when somebody says something like that: "I feel bad about it." I say: "that and 2.50 gets you on the train."
This is what I do.
This how I live in the world
There is no malice in it.
I will get better about it.
I may figure out how to do it without hurting anyone.
I don't know if I will.
i am sorry.
that and 2.50 gets you on the train.
Rob's Bloodworks reading (the final one of the series, folks) of Wrench (directed by Dylan McCullough) is next Wednesday, 7/1. 7 PM. @ Seaport.
And stick around after the reading--we're throwing an end of the season party.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
“Well, you could always teach.”
People often say this to me. I’m not sure if it’s true, though. The thought of me addressing a class of eager kids ready to learn about the world terrifies me. It terrifies me so much I wrote a play about it. It’s called Dismissal and will be read tonight @Bloodworks.
Here’s my fear about teaching: that I would treat it like a show. I’d be like “Come to English class, we’ll have some laughs, tell some stories and if I can get you to care about a few books then great, but come primarily to have a good time.”
Maybe this isn’t the worst approach to teaching, but to me it seems like if you do this for too long it will come back to haunt you. Or at least that’s my fear. That I’d be so preoccupied with keeping my students entertained I wouldn’t adequately prepare them for the dangers surrounding them in the world—or even in the classroom. And that’s what Dismissal is about.
It’s about other things too: security, expression, career ambition and artistic failure.
And speaking of artistic failure, did I mention I have a reading tonight?
Patrick's Bloodworks reading of Dismissal (directed by Jordan Young; featuring Scott Sowers, Helen Coxe, Jake Aron, Patricia Randell, and Daniel Ziskie) is tonight at @Seaport @ 7 PM. Free of charge.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The idea for my play, I Wanna Destroy You, came from my December brunch piece, although they couldn’t be more different. The brunch piece, A Super Shiny Precious Thing, is a quiet (for me, anyway) and sweet ten-minute play about a desperately poor gay couple in Brooklyn who suddenly realize they want to get married.
The only commonality it shares with I Wanna Destroy You is that it’s also about a poor Brooklyn gay couple, albeit in a very different way. I’ve been going to a lot of gay rights protests this year and am, in all actuality, one half of a broke-as-a-joke Brooklyn gay couple, so questions of gay identity within straight society are on the front burner of my thoughts.
Specifically, I’m interested in the gay man as best friend, confidante, and catty fashion expert in our popular culture. It’s a fairly new cliché (we used to be perverts and psychopaths!) and while I’m glad for the positive rebranding, I can’t help thinking it’s one that’s actually damaging. Gay men have become like the adorable woodland creatures that helped Cinderella get dressed for the ball. Cute, but irrelevant. Also, in what ways do I as a gay man play into this stereotype, purposely even, to gain access into stuff I might not otherwise?
Think of Anthony, Charlotte York’s wedding planner and “friend” from Sex and the City, for example. He was certainly funny, and always at hand to answer a question about blow jobs, but was suspiciously missing during all of the key moments of his gal pal’s life. So was Stanford, Carrie’s “gay husband”.
To steal the vapid first line of every column Carrie ever wrote: In a city like New York, I had to wonder… To which I follow with; are gay men only acceptable if they’re planning your wedding, cutting your hair, or rearranging straight people’s furniture? And how much of our culture can mainstream culture steal without actually giving us equality? I mean, is it ironic to anybody else that our first black President is ignoring civil rights whilst his wife stands next to him wearing a gown by Jason Wu?
Anyway, I digress…
Beau, the protagonist in I Wanna Destroy You, is for all intents and purposes, the perfect gay man. He’s cute, funny, a snappy dresser, and the personal assistant to a famous romance novelist. Except that he’s getting older. Except that he’s broke, but still expected to wear designer clothes. Except that the woman he works for treats him like a yorkie or a hand bag. Except that his boyfriend burnt his face off whilst trying to deep fry a turkey on Thanksgiving and now wants to move back to Kentucky. I Wanna Destroy You is an examination of gay men and materialism, identity politics. In short, it’s about a gay man who turns thirty, freaks the fuck out about his life, and decides to destroy it.
Thanks for nothing, Carrie!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
ALL READINGS are @ 7pm and are free of charge @SEAPORT! - 210 Front Street
TONIGHT, June 17th:
NO POEM, NO SONG
by Jesse Cameron Alick
directed by Michael Goldfried
with Alaina Feehan, Kristen-Alexander Griffith, James Singletary, Darius Stone, Andy Waldschmidt, Kai Chapman, Eddie O'Blevins, Chris Berry, Jason Grimste, Melanie King, Mary Trotter, Tatiana Suarez Pico, Aixa Kendrick, Kimberlee Walker, Ngozi Anyanwu
Tues June 23 - PATRICK LINK
Weds June 24 - JOSHUA CONKEL
Tues June 30 - ELIZA CLARK
Weds July 1 - ROBERT ASKINS
This year, for the first time, the BLOODWORKS readings are hosted by Dog Run Rep at the @SEAPORT! space at South Street Seaport.
@SEAPORT! is located at 210 Front Street, in the South Street SeaportA/C to Broadway/Nassau, 2/3/4/5/J/M/Z to Fulton Street
Walk down Fulton Street to the Seaport, turn left before The Gap and the BODIES exhibit. @SEAPORT! is half a block down on the left.
Monday, June 15, 2009
You know those times that you are in the subway and you see the train and you swipe your card and run up to the train really fast and awkward. And when you get there the train is just sitting. All it's doors are shut but it's just sitting there letting you look inside. And after it has been sitting there for so long you think that the doors have got to open, that it would be impossible for this train to have just been sitting here and that any second now it was going to open up - just when that thought solidifies is when the train pulls away; slowly at first, then faster and you're stuck waiting for the next one.
That is what it was like the last few weeks writing my play. I would sit in front of my open document staring; looking in it's windows at the people inside wondering why it wouldn't just open it's doors. I'd think "Come on, I see them in there. I invented them. Just let me in" and suddenly it would be past 5pm and the day had pulled away and I'd be stuck waiting for the next one. And the next one.
The hardest part was seeing inside the windows, because I know this play; I know it's muscle and bone. I see it's shape and weight and I know how it tastes. But the connecting tissue, what keeps it together, what lets it move was avoiding me like the plague.
The experience of really wrestling a play, really trying to get those pages in a death-grip (pardon the pun, see the play) no matter how frustrating and discouraging at times- was very valuable. I have specific writing rituals and habits that I have always indulged but, as my reading date for Bloodworks approached I had to learn to bend my own rules. I like to write in the day. I like it to be the first thing I do and I prefer to do it in giant stretches. 9-5 bring it on. But come the second week in June, I had to get my night-writing on. I had to make myself write at home (which i almost never do) and I had to steal hour long panels of time here and there whenever I could.
Also I don't let anyone read a play until it's first draft is completed but I didn't have Imagine My Sadness finished for my draft deadline at YB so I shared the play without an end written, I had to email my cast just 40 pages (out of 96) to look at before rehearsals and I often felt so stuck I kept making my close friend/amazing playwright (who, as luck would have it, happened to be staying with me for the last week) read 30 page segments over and over and after we'd talk I would push forward or go backward or shake a fist in the air. All of which was incredibly helpful.
In addition to all of that comfort-zone-leaving and writers-block-having there were the Youngblood-ers that kept checking in on me and offering a much needed arm squeeze time and again when they would see my brow furrow at the mere mention of my play's progress. The support was very much appreciated. Solidarity is the lonely man's milk of human kindness and everyone knows that writers spend a lot of time alone.
At 2am on Sunday morning I wrote the words "End of Play" and by 4pm Sunday afternoon I had done my last skim/spell check tweak. Just in time to get my scripts printed for my Monday rehearsal. It's a first draft that I am really excited to beat up and iron out. Something I really look forward to getting other people in on; actors, director, YB-ers and living breathing reactionary people in those folding chairs on Tuesday. Let's all make this play takes it's first step together. You get the camera ready and I'll start the scrapbook.
Nikole's Bloodworks reading of Imagine My Sadness is this Tuesday (6/16) @SEAPORT! - 210 Front Street (@SEAPORT! is located at 210 Front Street, in the South Street Seaport--A/C to Broadway/Nassau, 2/3/4/5/J/M/Z to Fulton Street. Walk down Fulton Street to the Seaport, turn left before The Gap and the BODIES exhibit-- @SEAPORT! is half a block down on the left.) Admission is free.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
I love how on blogs you can link to stuff. I wish I could that in my plays. It provides an excellent opportunity for added subtext. Even a great work like The Seagull could benefit from hyperlinks. Take a look:
MEDVEDENKO: Why do you always wear black?
MASHA: Because I'm in mourning for my life. I'm not happy.
MEDVEDENKO: Why not? (Perplexed) I don't understand why not. You're in good health; your father is...well, he's not rich, but he's pretty well off. I'm in a lot worse shape than you. I make twenty-three rubles a month, that's before payroll deductions, and I'm not in mourning. (Sits)
MASHA: It has nothing to do with money. You can still be poor and still be happy.
See? Isn't that cool?
(patrick's bloodworks reading is June 23 @SEAPORT.)
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
by Anna Moench
directed by Michael Silverstone
We In Silence Hear A Whisper
by Jon Kern
directed by Colette Robert
featuring Ayesha Ngaujah, Shydel James, Frank Harts, Louis Changchien, Laura Heidinger
BLOODWORKS: 2009 Youngblood's annual reading series Youngblood (Ensemble Studio Theatre's company of playwrights under 30) is proud to present BLOODWORKS - our annual reading series, featuring a brand new full-length play from each of our member playwrights.
ALL READINGS are @ 7pm and are free of charge @SEAPORT! - 210 Front Street
@SEAPORT! is located at 210 Front Street, in the South Street Seaport
A/C to Broadway/Nassau, 2/3/4/5/J/M/Z to Fulton Street
Walk down Fulton Street to the Seaport, turn left before The Gap and the BODIES exhibit. @SEAPORT! is half a block down on the left.has just started to teeter on its axis.
This year, for the first time, the BLOODWORKS readings are hosted by Dog Run Rep at the @SEAPORT! space at South Street Seaport.
Tues June 16 - NIKOLE BECKWITH
Weds June 17 - JESSE CAMERON ALICK
Tues June 23 - PATRICK LINK
Weds June 24 - JOSHUA CONKEL
Tues June 30 - ELIZA CLARK
Weds July 1 - ROBERT ASKINS
Thursday, May 28, 2009
The play I’m working for my Bloodworks reading is called We In Silence Hear A Whisper. It’s based off an idea I had in 2005 when I was in grad school thinking, “How would you write a play about the genocide in Darfur and make it not suck?” Now, when I tell people I’m writing a play about Darfur, they tend to look at me like I just farted in a puppy’s face. I take it they think I’ve engaged in a foolish-to-inappropriate endeavor.
I know I’ve engaged in a foolish, perhaps inappropriate endeavor. Why else would I sit on an idea for 4 years? [Not always but often] I have a tremendously hard time getting myself to write. My body will literally fight itself. My muscles twist and tighten. My chest spasms. Paroxysms of silence shudder my limbs. I can feel words travel my throat that are never heard [‘cause I don’t speak them] and are never read [‘cause I don’t write them], until my throat grows cramped and soar like the calves of a psychotic runner, the kind who enjoy taking off their socks to see how bad their feet have bleed.
I think I should do something else. That’s the sane response, right? I tell myself, “You should _____" or "Really, what you ought to do is ______" or "Wouldn’t doing ______ be a lot more productive and helpful for ________?” Problem is, I can never fill in the blanks. All my thoughtful wishes for a different life are a virgin madlib. What else can I do? What else will anyone let me do? What else am I any good at? And so here I am, having to write a play for Bloodwork by decree of Baron Gillis and Vicomte Tolan, and I thought, “Let’s do that I idea you are super terrified to do! If you’re going to do this shit, do it stupid!”
Writing a play that touches on genocide – a current genocide – does offer a lot of ways to suck. I certainly don’t enjoy self-flagellating, liberal theater that wants to punish you for showing up. And I don’t enjoy academic lectures delivered by actors; if I had a passion for academia, I would’ve gone to a real grad school so I could currently be sitting in some small city or college town playing politics for a tenure track. And I’m not really sure if I’m qualified to speak for experiences that are the foreignest of foreign to me. And I don’t want to talk just about western, white people as much as I personally like them.
Horror needs to be named. Abject cruelty needs to be exposed. Evil needs the stage. Otherwise, the crimes we humans inflict on each other go unsolved. Worse, they get forgotten. One of the many lessons I’ve taken from the Bush years is that while knowledge of awful things is awful, ignorance of them is far worse. Ignorance is Miracle Grow™ for awful things. Ignorance is Cialis for the four-hour fuckpages of awful things. Yet if we’re going to open our eyes to evil, perhaps shake evil’s hand, perhaps chat evil a few questions at a dinner party, we have to experience the witnessing of that evil as a compelling event - as something aesthetic, worth seeing like any other object competing in the markplace of stimulation. The acceptable aesthetics of evil: that’s the fucking question. That’s the challenge that’s sat inside me for 4 years.
So here I am.
My reading of We In Silence Hear A Whisper is on June 3rd at 7pm. I’m excited to discover that night how badly I’ve failed, and I offer you the schadenfruede to discover along with me. I’m hopeful that I won’t, but a little suspicious that I will. Either way, we’re alive and ready to find out.
NB: If you are fortunate enough to have extra money or time, these people do good work - Doctors Without Borders and The International Rescue Committee. Please help them out, if you can
Jon's Bloodworks reading is next Wednesday (6/3) at 7 PM @SEAPORT! - 210 Front Street (@SEAPORT! is located at 210 Front Street, in the South Street Seaport--A/C to Broadway/Nassau, 2/3/4/5/J/M/Z to Fulton Street. Walk down Fulton Street to the Seaport, turn left before The Gap and the BODIES exhibit-- @SEAPORT! is half a block down on the left.)
Admission is free.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Tues June 2 - ANNA MOENCH
Weds June 3 - JON KERN
Tues June 16 - NIKOLE BECKWITH
Weds June 17 - JESSE CAMERON ALICK
Tues June 23 - PATRICK LINK
Weds June 24 - JOSHUA CONKEL
Tues June 30 - ELIZA CLARK
Weds July 1 - ROBERT ASKINS
Friday, May 22, 2009
in conjunction with The Looking Glass Theatre Space Grant,
is proud to present...
BRAINS will slap you in the face with truth and send you searching for God.
May 21-23 at 8pm, May 24 at 7pm
First place winner of Spoke the Hub’s 2009 Winter Follies!
Written by Anna Moench
Staged by Meredith Steinberg
Produced by Carolyn Sesbeau
Featuring Molly Gaebe, Mike James, Elisa Matula, and David Nelson
Tickets $18, at http://www.lookingglasstheatrenyc.com/ or call 212-352-3101
The Looking Glass Theatre422 West 57 Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues)
ACDB1 to Columbus Circle, NRQW to 57th St/7th Ave
anna&meredith presents BRAINS in conjunction with The Looking Glass Theatre’s Space Grant Program.
Graphic by Carolina Paula
Tapefaces: Legend of a Kung Fu Master
Thursday May 21 @ 7pm
Saturday May 23 @ 3pm
at Walkerspace, 46 Walker St. [south of Canal, west of Broadway]
To complete his destiny, a bi-racial kung fu master journeys to find his family. What mysteries are solved by blood? And why does saving people from mobsters and pirates always interrupt you when you're trying to sing?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Youngblood (Ensemble Studio Theatre's company of playwrights under 30) is proud to present BLOODWORKS - our annual reading series, featuring a brand new full-length play from each of our member playwrights.
Friday, May 15, 2009
So here's a little blurb of my play which is still - eh - in progress. I don't have a title yet but I do have the story:
The play takes place over several interspersed camping trips at Iron Horse Park in Seattle, Washington. The location stays constant but the timeline jumps from various points from the 1970s up through the present. It’s about a second-generation Japanese-American dock worker who falls in love with a first-generation Filipino immigrant. She gives up her nursing job to pursue his dream of starting a salmon cannery, and the two build up the business together and have three daughters. But then industrial salmon farming cripples the cannery and tears their family apart. In the present day, the three daughters meet up after a long estrangement to go camping at Iron Horse like when they were young, and to sort through the pieces of their broken family.
It’s going to be a comedy.OK, back to writing the thing. I've got my diet coke by my side, it's a beautiful Friday afternoon but I've closed the curtains so that solves that, and "Poison" is done downloading from itunes. Come see the play if you can. Wednesday May 20th, 7pm at @Seaport! (210 Front St. - in the shell of a former Liz Claiborne. no joke)
By the way I think this is my first self-posted blog post since like 2006. But don't worry I'll post again in three years or less.
Yeah, that's right. In 3 years I'll still be underaged enough to keep my spot in the 'blood. I'm riding this thing til the bitter end. Hi, Sharyn Rothstein!