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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Gun in the Other Room

I remember getting a lot of email forwards from my Uncle Boots back in the early aughts.  Email was still fresh and new back in the day and it was a good way that information could get passed around.  Nowadays, I never get email forwards because they're usually garbage.  But back then, I didn't know any better.

There was one that remember very clearly, in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.  It was a father explaining to his son that the world was like a big neighborhood and that Saddam Hussein was like a suspected murderer living several blocks over.  What would you do if you knew that he had moved in, the father asked?  The boy responded that he would do nothing because he hadn't done anything.

The father then began to tell this elaborate tale where the serial killer began to claim victims and that the police (re: the UN) were powerless to stop them.  By the time that the serial killer had reached the boy's home and there was no one there left to defend him.

I thought that it was an interesting metaphor, then and now, though obviously not perfect and is based on the supposition that the police were not going to do anything about it.

So, the idea for this play is quite old (for me at least) and I've changed it from the father telling the son about the neighborhood slowly dying one by one from a serial killer that no one would do anything about to a man who's convincing his girlfriend and friend that his roommate is dangerous and that they have to go in and handle him right away.  I originally wanted it to be a full-length play (and still might make it one day) but then I came across the American Science Theatre 9/11 Ten Minute Playwriting Contest. 

It's a pretty open contest and was able to write out the first draft relatively quickly.  Sheila, Thomas and Matt are coming over tomorrow to read it for me.  I really appreciate their help.  I'll post and let you know how that reading went and how the contest goes in general!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Targets

Planning for the UpStart Theatre Company has shown to be a little more tricky than I would have cared for it to be.  I think that the next 24 hour 10 minute play festival, The Winter's Tales, is going to be a hit, but that's further down the road.

I've been writing a lot, but not a lot of plays.  I started writing a political blog on, so I won't talk much about that here.  While I have to learn to be an advocate for the things that I do, I want this blog to remain true to art and theater.

I like fountain pens.
When I was in Atlanta, I was selected as a finalist for the Youth Playwright Festival at the Horizon Theatre Company.  There, I was "mentored" for a little bit by a remarkable woman named Lauren Gunderson.  She's an insanely talented and prolific writer.  The reason why I put mentored in quotation marks is because there wasn't a whole lot of time spent teaching me, though I do remember everything she said and her words of encouragement still mean a lot to this day.

I try not to use the teacher/student roles lightly.  To mentor is to take a deep personal interest in the student's development not just as a learner but as a person as well.  There's not a better word for what she did, but we haven't kept in touch since that festival five years ago.

The reason why I mention it at all is because if you go to her website, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the work that she's done and that I'm not working in the way that I wish that I was, in terms of playwriting.

I was thinking about the success of the Manhattan Theatre Source and that I didn't to forget or lose that opportunity that my work had.  And I was thinking why that did well in the way that it did.

And then I remembered:  I wrote something from the heart, I wrote what I wanted to write but, perhaps most importantly, someone else set the deadline.

So, I went and found another website that has links to playwriting contests and found three that are happening soon. And I mean in the next month soon.

There's a 9/11 themed 10 minute playwriting contest in LA by the American Science Theater.  There's a 15 minute play contest by Valley Rep in CT.

But the one that I found that I'm the most excited about is the Yale Drama Series.  $10,000 prize, a reading at Yale and publication at the Yale University Press.

Deadline:  August 15th, 2011.

Better get on it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The River Knew His Name (For Jack Leigh)

So, I wrote and submitted a poem that I wrote last year to the Seersucker Rag, a local quarterly publication that features writers.  They look for all kinds of submissions and when I returned to Savannah last year, I found myself writing a poem a day.  It helped to pass the time and was something to write in the process of settling back in town.  Be sure to pick up a copy and support local awesome!

The poems that suck were the ones where I was talking about how lonely I was.  The ones that were pretty good were the ones that were about the city and the Deep South in general.

The one that I submitted (which is the one that I'm including down below) was inspired after spending an afternoon looking at Jack Leigh photographs.  I've always found a lot of comfort and peace in his photos.  My house growing up always had a few of his books floating around.

I got the email today that the poem was selected and going to be published.  Very exciting!  Here's a copy of the poem below:

"The River Knew His Name (for Jack Leigh)

The coursing, pulsing water met mud,
And faced the trees in grey hues,
The tired boat yawned on the water
As it broke into sunrise.

Johnson had carved the river for thirty years
With exhausted, rich black skin
The nets were useless but
Maybe they’d catch breakfast again.

His deep white eyes were matched in reflection
And all he drinks ripped from him,
Skimmed on a mirror of morning
White wood floated through onyx water.

A salted neck craned through branches
Maybe to see the sun, say goodbye
But how to catch the star while all was rocking?
The world was bobbing to a silent symphony.

Aged fingers crossed into the surface
The tips pierced into darkness
And the life beneath quietly looked on,
Existing as statues do.

Fog held up the hugging trees
A lone fish jumped in the air
At the though of all the promises
Laid out at the beginning

His eyes were closed as the air filled him
Ancient knees bent and racked
The moment was born out of a careful plan
And the crash of water woke the dawn.

He drifted to where water slept
Letting the bubbles trickle to the sky
Here, there was peace, no struggle
Here, he would start again."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Upstart Theatre Company!

So, when I stood up in front of the audience the night of A Midsummer Night's Play Festival, I was visibly nervous speaking in front of a group of people for the first time since I don't know when.  Reason mainly being that I hadn't slept that much in 48 hours, but I was also proposing a new venture in Savannah, GA:  The Upstart Theatre Company.

Now, there are a lot of theatre companies in Savannah.  Bay Street Theatre, Savannah Children's, City Lights, the Collective Face, the Savannah Theatre. But I wanted to start something that would start new works in Savannah and the Lowcountry.  There's going to be an outreach to local authors (some connections have already been made because of MNPF) to create new works here in town.  

It's going to start off pretty small.  We might do two full-length productions in the coming year, but there was MNPF and this coming February, we're going to do another 24 hr 10 min play festival called The Winter's Tales at Muse Arts Warehouse.  There are a few other events planned that are still being fleshed out.  It kind of depends on the 

If you are interested in the projects, want to know more about it, please email me at  I'll be more than happy to discuss at length!

On another personal note, The Errant Knaves opens this week at TestoGenius Fetival in New York.  Even though I haven't seen any of it, I'm absolutely terrified.  Of it being a failure and of it being a success.  Everything is going to be fine though.  I'm proud of my work and I'll stand by it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Success!!!

So, it got down to crunch time and wasn't able to do the live-blogging as much as I was hoping that I would be able to (I know I did four posts but that was just for the writing!)  Skipping the play festival and getting to when I went to bed at 1am Sunday morning, I slept until 2p the following afternoon.  Then, I went back to sleep.  Woke up, had three tours last night and then went back to sleep.  8am, back at work... well, I say work, I'm writing on my blog now...

The festival was a complete and total success!  The fundraising, the organizing, the turn out to participate and the turnout for the show itself was awesome!  I spoke to the audience before the show began and it was the first time that I was nervous speaking in front of a group in I don't know how long.  Below is a list of the things that I loved about the festival and some things that I would change for next time:


-  People doing things that they had never done before and being totally successful at it.  Bill Cooper and Morgann Daniels had never directed before.  They had done some pretty impressive work.

-  People moving out of their comfort zone and being totally successful at it.  Ruby was pretty nervous about doing the show.  But she pulled through and was a great success.  You have to remember, that the audience doesn't want you to fail, they want you to succeed!  That's why they come out, that's why they donate or pay for the ticket!  It takes a sick bastard that wants to see the tight-rope walker fall into the net.  You don't play for that crowd.

-  Everyone, the audience and the performers were ENJOYING themselves.  I think that the flaw of my early days in theatre was that I took everything so deathly seriously.  I had a hard time enjoying myself and it stressed me out and theatre seemed to be more of a masochistic ritual than a pleasurable experience.  And here I was, stressing out, getting even more gray hairs, but in my heart I was enjoying myself.  Hopefully everyone else was too.


-  There should be stricter guidelines for the writers.  The theme was okay (and a decision that I'll stand by), but the chance to the use the line was thrown away in some cases.  This may sound strange, but if there was more consistency in the sets, the table and two chairs, the transitions would have gone a bit smoother and not have had as much to worry about.  JinHi had also suggested that there be a dedicated stage crew for the set.  That's for next time.

-  I should have a second banana that can take over when I need to take a disco nap.  I find that I'm more effective when I'm awake and when I'm not awake, things tend to go the wayside.  A right hand person could take over for a little bit and that would mean that everyone would kind of have to know the schedule of everything that was going to happen.  Which leads me to the next point...

-  Things seemed to go a little bit better when I was very explicit and direct.  Something that I know I find frustrating about processes is when the person in charge is kind of wishy-washy.  I think that as the producers there were some moments, where I wasn't being clear and that can lead to frustration and whatnot.  My concern was being too dictatorial when I really wanted everyone to express themselves and have a degree of destiny throughout the process.  However, I think that there's a balance that can be struck.  At least, I'll have a chance next time...

A common question that I got throughout the festival was "Are you going to do this again?"  At first, the question was hinged on the success of MNPF, but when I arrived with Morgann to get everything set up, JinHi was already primed for a sequel.  To put it mildly, everything with the MNPF was a success, so JinHi and I are planning The Winter's Tales (tentative title), another 24 hour 10 minute play festival slated for this January, kind of as a beginning to the theatre season of 2012!  Stay tuned for details.

All said and done, I'm really pleased with the way that the event had turned out.  This was a good coming out event for the UpStart Theatre Company and I can't wait for more events like it in the future.

Again, thank you to everyone who was involved in the event, directly and indirectly.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Live Blogging from the Event! A Midsummer Night's Play Festival! Part 4

The actors and directors are already hard at work on the scripts.  Gabe, Peter, Thomas and I got a little sleep (speaking for myself, I might have gotten about an hour).  Such is the nature of the event.  I find comfort in being tired in a theater...

I'm working on the order of the shows (proving to be a little elusive).  Sheila Lynne is very generously grabbing props for us, as well as Kimmi and Jason.  Later on, I'm going to be working on getting a sound list together, that way it'll be a fully fleshed out productions.

Morgann Daniels and Bill Cooper are directing for the first time.  They seem to be having a good time of it (which is ultimately the point!)  Also, new writers as well.  Kimmi and Molly Hall have not written dramatic scripts before, so there are some fresh and talented faces here on the cusp of creation!

Stay tuned for updates!  And be sure to come out tonight and see how it all turns out!

Live Blogging from the Event! A Midsummer Night's Play Festival! Part 3

The plays are written!  Right now, they're printing off and I should be able to close my eyes for about an hour and a half before the directors show up!

Some of the writers are pulling double duty.  Peter Griffin, Thomas Houston and Gabe Reynolds are also acting in the plays as well.

It's going to definitely be a challenge, but we have a lot of talent working at the plays.  Its going to be a great show.  The Who is playing out the evening.  Thought that was worth mentioning.

Now, we just have to wait for the directors and actors to get here.  There will be some running around for props and costumes during the day.  Programs will be taken care of by Creative Approach (they also printed the poster and the postcards, really really excellent work from them!)

Be sure to tell your family and friends and the neighborhood dog!  The show's tonight at 8pm!  Don't miss out!