Thursday, May 31, 2012

How Bloodworks Will Improve Your Social Life

Bloodworks!  The shining spring-scented end at the long tunnel of winter!  The culmination of a year of toil!  The sweet icing of victory on the also-sweet-but-definitely-not-AS-sweet cake of rewrites!  Yes, Bloodworks is mighty and wonderful.  If you want to be really cool at cocktail parties of the future, you should go to Bloodworks now, because at those future parties you'll be able to saunter up to groups of people and say "Oh are you guys talking about 'Hot Hit Play'?  At Fancy NYC Theater?  By Youngblood Playwright? Yeah, I saw the first public reading of that like years ago at Bloodworks."  I've already reaped the benefits of this prophecy by attending past Bloodworks readings and being smug at cocktail parties of the present.  Smug and cool.

Unfortunately, this year I am missing every single Bloodworks reading because I'm biking across the country with improv genius Molly Gaebe.  The endeavor requires just a little less stamina than attending every single Bloodworks reading does, as Patrick Link can verify.  You can read about it here, during intermission at Bloodworks.

And please.  Even though I'm missing this year's offerings, come talk to me at the cocktail parties of the future, when I'm the sad dope drinking in the corner who doesn't know anything about the first draft of "Hot Hit Play."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blogging Bloodworks: When are you coming to shore?

It's not very hard to come up with an idea for a play.

1. You need to be a person of about my age who spent a lot of time in front of the television while this commercial was airing.

Who was this Awan Buhh, you must wonder, idly, while licking marshmallow fluff off of gummy fruit snacks. Will I ever learn about him, in school? (No.)

2. You need to be a person whose family goes on vacation to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Roughly once a year for most of your childhood. For many of these years you will stay in a house that has a framed map labeled GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC. Right next to the television, that map. You should probably also visit The Lost Colony. And love it.

3. You need to be a person who decides, one day, that she has a crush on Alexander Hamilton. You don't even need to know anything about the guy, just, in roughly the year 2000, when the $10 bill is finally switched to the large-portrait format, you need to notice that this Hamilton guy was kind of a fox.

4. You need to be a person who spots a flyer in your local public library that is advertising a Birthday Party for Alexander Hamilton. You need to be so stunned by the absolute perfection of this idea that you need to go to this Birthday Party, which in the year that you noticed this flyer is held at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City. You will drag your friend to this party, and the two of you will marvel at such things as: the Alexander Hamilton historical re-enactor! The fact that the Morris-Jumel house even exists at all! The fact that the Morris-Jumel house was actually super-briefly the residence of Aaron Burr, the guy you are fairly sure was the guy who shot your historic crush object (cf. that Got Milk? commercial, right?).

5. You need to be a person whose friend alerts her to the fact that Aaron Burr had a daughter named Theodosia, who died mysteriously in a shipwreck. Your friend will email you about this and you will respond with ALL CAPS ENTHUSIASM. Within hours (hours; I have receipts) you will have purchased two books about Theodosia.

It is at this point that you will start to suspect that you have an idea for a play. But what. Is it. What...IS IT. Is it a play about Aaron Burr, or Theodosia Burr, Alexander Hamilton, or shipwrecks, or duels, or milk? Is it seriously maybe a play about milk? (Okay, it is not a play about milk.)

I knew for years that I wanted to write about Theodosia but I did not know exactly how. Maybe I could connect it to this thing, or this other thing, or this other thing, or...! Last summer I read two books at the same time, one of them was a biography of Aaron Burr and the other one was Moby-Dick. And if I learned anything from the first one it was that eventually everyone gets a sympathetic biographer and if I learned anything from the second one it was that you must be patient with your white whale. Chase at your peril. Eventually the damn thing will surface and then, oh then, you had better be ready.

This is a play about a woman who disappeared at sea. It's about making a new home for yourself, about what it means to live a great life, about what family requires, about love. There is some history in it, and some magic. It's been tough to write but I like that. I like a hard-fought. The play is still very much in progress and this reading is part of the writing. If you come on Wednesday, you are also a part of the writing.

by Meghan Deans
Directed by Colette Robert

With Tina Benko, Megan Tusing, and Jonathan Silver
Plus Darcy Fowler on stage directions

Wednesday, May 30
Ensemble Studio Theatre
549 W. 52nd Street (btw. 10/11), 2nd Floor

Strongly Recommended: That you arrive at 7pm to see Erica Saleh's The Morning After.

A blog post about The Morning After. Written the morning before its reading...

This morning I was on the phone with my mom and she asked me if I had written a blog post about my bloodworks. "Shit" I said. "I totally forgot. I'll do that today." Sigh. "Except I don't know what to write. Everything I want to say feels like a spoiler."
And then she offered to write it for me.
I laughed it off. Which was probably a mistake.
I probably should have taken her up on it because here I am trying to say something about this play that I wrote and not knowing what to say or where to start.
 I'm also very interested in what she would say having not read the play. Probably she would say something very sweet about me, her daughter, about how proud she is of me and how she can't wait to hear this play. Which. Oh gosh. I hope she still feels that way after hearing it.
I am very proud of this play. It's a play I've wanted to write for a long time. It's a play about women and feminism and relationships and language and basically everything I care about.
It's also a first draft. It's also a work in progress. It's also a play that I'm not sure I totally have a hold of yet. It also might be the kind of play that worries the mother of the playwright a little.
We'll see. Maybe I'll have my mom guest write a post letting us all know how she feels.

Anyway. It happens tomorrow night: Wednesday, June 30. 7:00 PM
It's directed by Tamara Fisch and has a killer cast: Aimee Cucchiaro, Bjorn DuPaty, Christine Farrell, Diana Ruppe, and Chris Thorn

It's followed at 9:00 by Meghan Deans's fantastic play "Ashore", which you would be doing yourself a disservice not to stick around for. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Night That Youngblood Won an OBIE

It was a rainy day but that didn't stop RJ Tolan and Graeme Gillis and even Billy Carden from looking dapper. I was there with Steven Boyer, star of Hand to God as his arm candy. We all sat near each other. Steve Boyer won an obie. He gave a shout out to the incredible people and support of The Ensemble Studio Theatre. He even gave a shout out to his talented and beautiful girlfriend who he claimed is one of the reasons he stuck around EST in the early days. (You're welcome.) He told the world that Robert Askins, former Youngblood member and incredible playwright of Hand to God was not to be stopped. Geneva Carr cried. Scott Sowers was teary. Moritz Von Stuelpnagel's last name was made fun of and he was praised as being priestly.
Then RJ, Graeme and Billy were called up to the stage. The presenters said something about all the incredible work they do with playwrights under 30. Billy spoke first - said RJ and Graeme were responsible for making Youngblood the great organization it is. Then RJ spoke - thanked all the Youngblood playwrights, gave a shout out to some of the playwrights in the balcony, including Erica Saleh, Meghan Deans...and Chris Sullivan was up there, too. Megan Hill of Hand to God was smiling. Geneva Carr was still crying. RJ also thanked his smokin' wife Lisa. Then Graeme went up - he said some beautiful things about Curt Dempster, the founder of EST and said something along the lines of Billy Carden continuing to make things beautiful at EST. The Youngbloods in the crowd were wooing. Our hearts were pounding. Our adrenaline was pumping. RJ and Graeme received their Obies for their phenomenal work in Youngblood. And then we celebrated. And we will continue to celebrate and write plays. And when we all turn 30, we will continue to celebrate and write plays.

A huge congratulations and a huge thank you to RJ and Graeme. Youngblood won an Obie. Things are as they should be.

Going Out and Coming Back

So first I saw this, and thought it was just a cool pattern

until I leaned in, and saw that it was full of actual people, and that the people were in a marching band

and I fantasized about an epic play with a cast of hundreds about all the little lives in a marching band. 

And then, later, after I'd been listening to a bunch of marching band music, someone sent me this

and I peed a little, and realized that if this sedentary majorette could do all that from her chair I didn't need a cast of hundreds to do what I wanted to do. And maybe I just wanted a play that was a big ol' construction paper heart with a doily trim magic marker dedication to John Philip Sousa. 

And that's the back story, pretty much.

Obviously, this all happened during summer. So there was a beach in the picture. And fireflies. 

And so I wrote this weird little play. About brass instruments, and patriotic music, and what can happen when nothing is happening. 

Two summers. A women's trombone ensemble. Fourth of July. The Mid-Atlantic Sousa Festival. 

Spoiler alert:

They go pick blueberries! Someone loses a sandal!

I hope you can make it.

The director is nice, the cast are well-groomed, and the stage directions have a beautiful moustache. The play itself will not overstay its welcome (75 minutes), and will write you a thank-you note afterwards, on tasteful stationery with a patriotic stamp.

Bring sparklers and watermelon.

Going Out and Coming Back
by Alex Borinsky
directed by Colleen Sullivan
with Clare Barron, Kathryn Dickinson, Paola Irun, Deb Margolin, Mary Neufeld, Danielle Slavick, and Stephanie Wright Thompson
stage directions by Justin Perkins

Wednesday, May 23rd @ 9
6th Floor Theater, EST

(The marching band art above is by Bruce Davenport, Jr., btw.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oh -- so, THIS is Bloodworks. Cool!

Can I confess?  I've never done this before.  Not just Bloodworks, but written on a blog before.  Except for that interview.  But that was different.  And Tony was there for that one.  And Patrick ended up posting it because I couldn't figure it out.  But this is just me.  I'm a little out of my depth.  Does this look right?  Is anyone reading this? 

I'll try to keep this brief.  

This year was my first in Youngblood.  I had a lot of fun.  I made friends.  I went on 'retreats.'  I climbed thousands of stairs.  And I wrote a play.  Called Nights In Late December.  Which.  I don't know.  I'm not good with titles.  It kind of sounds like a Nicholas Sparks book, but.  Whatever.  I might change the title.  The point is -- oh, and I don't have the rights to the picture above.  So.  If you took it, I apologize.  I just thought it was a nice image.  I've spent many nights walking around the Central Park Reservoir, and.  Never mind. 

My play is being read next week.  On Tuesday May 22nd at 7pm, to be exact.   It's (for now) called Nights In Late December.  It's going to be in the 6th floor theater at EST (549 West 52nd Street).  My recommendation, if you'd like come, is to take the elevator when you get there.  It's one door over from the main entrance, and it's probably one of the coolest elevators in NYC.

ANYway, I have some really great actors reading.  Like, really great.  Cathy Curtin, Kristen Harlow & Jonathan Silver.  All of whom intimidate the hell out of me with their talents.  Which, I'm pretty sure, is a good thing.  Alec Strum is directing.  I've known Alec for almost eight years.  He's my flotation device.  And a good egg. 

The play is about a family.  As most plays seem to be.  But.  We all have one.  So.  Moving on, the play is about a family.  From the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Mom and Dad have been divorced a number of years.  Big sister lives in San Francisco.  Little brother lives with Mom.  He spends a lot of time on the internet.  In fact, no one really talks to each other.  Except now it's Christmas.  And as per tradition, big sister is coming home.  But damn it, this year is gonna be different.  Because Dad wants to apologize.  But Mom and little brother would rather he go f*ck himself.  So big sister has to negotiate.  And appraise.  What reconciliation is even worth.  If it means drudging up their ugly past.

Should be about an hour long.  Which will be nice, I think.  Because that way we can all get a drink before Patrick Link's reading at 9.

Hope you can make it.   

(Deans, I did it!)

Blogging Bloodworks - Link

Do you have a white whale? An elusive beast that rises to the surface ever so briefly, exposing its sleek, oily head to taunt you?

I have such a whale, my friends. And it is scheduled to reach the surface again on Tuesday, 5/22 at 9pm. I'll need your help to catch it. 

The play is called The Majestic Players Storm Kansas City. It's a blend of Noises Off and Dog Day Afternoon. It's about a group of traveling theater players that is really a gang of robbers. They go from city to city doing their plays and mid-way through each performance they stop the show, take out weapons, and rob the audience. 

I've had this idea since I was a small child. I remember seeing a magician on stage once who asked for a volunteer and then took the volunteer's wallet. He didn't give it back. He just took it! I think this was at Six Flags. I must have been six. I remember thinking about what his life must be like: living in a trailer full of wallets with a pet possum and a trunk of magic tricks. A sad life. But also a life where he gets to perform everyday before hundreds of people, which ain't nothing. 

Also, there was one day in 5th grade where my school had some kind of Renaissance festival and there was a a man in a court jester costume going around juggling. He had these tight, tight leggings of purple and gold. He was a plump fellow of 50. He was not a parent. He was not a volunteer. He was a professional jester and these were his threads. It was traumatizingly sad. Nobody wanted to be near him. Some kids laughed at him, but most knew to just look away. 

At the end of the day I saw him getting into his volvo. It was full of boxes. And then a kid came out and hugged him. His kid was in the car and had been waiting all day, watching his dad in this awful costume (probably the only one watching his dad in that costume). I can still hear the sound of my heartbreaking. The thought of being a bad court jester at a 5th grade ren festival and having somebody still love you at the end of the day...that makes me weep even now. 

I can't say exactly how these memories have made their way into my play, but they're there somewhere and will hopefully raise their heads to the surface from time to time. Please come and help me catch them. Because when I say I'm after a white whale, I'm not talking about a play. I'm talking about the reason I write them. 

The Majestic Players Storm Kansas City
Tuesday, May 22 at 9pm
Ensemble Studio Theatre, 6th Floor

Directed by Colette Robert

Featuring the amazing talents of Steven Boyer, Scott Sowers, Denny Dale Bess, Richmond Hoxie, Amy Staats, Pepper Binkley, Joshua Conkel, Jason Liebman, Kelli-Lynn Harrison, Diana Ruppe, and Eric Dufault. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In The Spirit of Works In Progress...

Transcendental Wild Oats
Read by Dylan Lamb, Grace Folsom, Jessie Barr, Liz Alderfer, Bix Bettwy, and Nathaniel Kent
Directed by Laura Lashley

Wednesday, May 16th
7:00 pm, 6th Floor
Ensemble Studio Theater
Followed by Eric Dufault's riotous "The Last Great Telemarketer" at 9:00

(Do you like how I temper expectations by choosing the most boring image on the planet to represent my play?)

(It is literally a picture of A Wild Oat.)

(The play is not actually about oats.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Headstrong: Is Strong

Have you seen Headstrong yet? People: you should see Headstrong. It's written by Patrick Link and directed by William Carden. It features the considerable talents of Ron Canada, Tim Cain, Alexander Gemignani, and Nedra McClyde. It is an exceptionally beautiful piece of theater, incredibly moving and smart and insightful.

It is also true. Now, Patrick Link always writes true, the man never met a truth he couldn't handle. But Headstrong reaches straight into a thing, a real thing that is happening right now, and lays it out for you to reckon with. It's the story of a man named Duncan Troy, a professional football player who dies under strange circumstances. His father-in-law--a former NFL linebacker--and his estranged wife are left to deal with the aftermath, aftermath that includes a visit from a man who wants permission to study Duncan's brain. Could it be that the game that they love, the game that has built the very house around them, could it be that that game killed Duncan Troy?

These are questions worth asking because these are questions that are real. Former NFL player Junior Seau died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound two weeks ago; his family is currently discussing whether or not to donate his brain for study. Seau's death has lit a debate that is captured excellently in Headstrong: should the game of football be blamed? And if it can be blamed, should it be changed?

The play has been extended through May 27; you can buy tickets here. PLUS: after the evening performance on Saturday, May 12 there will be a post-show discussion with Hall of Fame Linebacker Harry Carson; Forensic Pathologist/Neuropathologist/Epidemiologist & Clinical Professor of Pathology at University of California, Davis/the basis for a character in Headstrong Bennet Omalu; and news reporter Stone Phillips.

See this play. Bring your friends. There's something to be found, here.

Monday, May 07, 2012

by Eric Dufault
It’s the twilight of the 20th century and telemarketing legend Duke Fortunato has one chance to save the job he loves from total extinction.

In this book: 120 interviews with 120 employees about 120 different jobs.

Which one is the most interesting? The most hilarious? The most heartbreaking? Not the homicide detective. Not the funeral director. Not the psychic or the bounty hunter or the Elvis impersonator.

It’s the telemarketer. Far and away. The telemarketer.

This play is an ode to the telemarketer. It’s also my attempt at a horror play, even though I get scared very easily and don’t usually like it.

Come to the reading. Paired up with the incandescent Chiara Atik’s play. Wednesday, 5/16, 9 pm, EST (Ensemble Studio Theatre). With a star-studded cast including Denny Bess as The Last Great Telemarketer.

To commemorate, I thought I’d dip into “1001 Pranks to Play on Telemarketers” from “”. These aren’t edited or anything. They kind of give me the happy melancholy sensation I get when I see, like, an elderly man walking a dog early in the morning? It’s hard to explain.

If you have any more ideas you can submit them to I hope he (or she!) doesn’t read this and get upset with me. I’m not mocking you, Jack Sparrow!

1. When they call, act like your interested for 5 minutes and then scream at the top of your lungs

2. Any time they try to talk to you clear your throat as if *you* want to say something

3. Ask them to repeat everything they say, several times.

4. Try to order a pizza.

5. Bark like a dog whenever they use the word "the."

6. THROW UP - For this one, you have to be near a sink

7. Try to fit the word "cornucopia" into every sentence you say

8. When they tell you how they are, confirm it then tell them your holding their kid hostage.

9. Whenever they finish a sentence say "and then what happened?"

10. Whenever they say something, pretend they've just told you the funniest joke in history.

11. Call them "Champ" or "Tiger.". Refer to yourself as "Coach."

12. Disagree strongly with anything they say

13. Begin all your sentences with "Ohh la la!"

14. Every time they say something to you ask, 'Is that a threat?'

15. Make snoring sounds whenever they try to talk to you.

16. Pretend your drunk.

17. talklikethis

18. Ask them for dates.

19. Tell them to talk very slowly, because you want to write every word down.

There are seriously 1,001 of these.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Bloodworks 2012: The Schedule: Of What Is Ahead

Sound the alarm: Bloodworks is back. Youngblood's end-of-the-season reading series will begin on Wednesday, May 16 and continue all the way through Monday, June 25. All of the readings are free and all will take place at Ensemble Studio Theatre (549 West 52nd Street, 2nd Floor).

Bloodworks is an exciting time of year, an Advent calendar of awesome and your chance to get a look at what the group has been working on all year. (Not to mention a chance to see the next-big-thing-in-progress: Hand to God, Year of the Rooster, and In Memory of Julie Simmons were all part of Bloodworks, back in the day.) So here we go. Here's the schedule. Mark your calendar. Bring your friends.

Wed 5/16
7pm: Chiara Atik
9pm: Eric Dufault

Tuesday 5/22
7pm: Willie Orbison
9pm: Patrick Link

Wed 5/23
7pm: Darcy Fowler
9pm: Alex Borinsky

Wed 5/30
7pm: Erica Saleh
9pm: Meghan Deans

Mon 6/4
7pm: Lucy Gillespie
9pm: Leah Nanako Winkler

Wed 6/6
7pm: Ryan Dowler
9pm: Chris Sullivan

Mon 6/11
7pm: Lydia Blaisdell
9pm: Tony Meneses

Wed 6/13
7pm: Emily Chadick Weiss
9pm: Jen Silverman

Mon 6/18
7pm: Mary Hamilton

Wed 6/20
7pm: Eric March
9pm: Angela Hanks

Mon 6/25
7pm: Clare Barron
9pm: Dylan Dawson
11pm: BLOODWORKS Closing Party

See you out there. & keep an eye on the Youngblog for more on what we've all got planned for Bloodworks 2012.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Help the Sluts of Sutton Drive Conquer the UK!

We here at the Youngblog love sluts. Specifically, The Sluts of Sutton Drive by Youngblood Alum Joshua Conkel. We've loved Sluts since Josh first brought the script into a Youngblood meeting, since it rocked Bloodworks, and since it brought down the house at Unfiltered. Now, Sluts is going international: this "dark dark dark dark dark dark [etc]" comedy will premiere this summer at the Finborough Theatre in London. But before they can get across the border, they need your help raising a little scratch. Watch the video below to find out why you should donate (I mean, I think I just told you why you should donate, aka because it's an awesome play, but watch the video also), then click to kick in a few pounds.

Do it.