Friday, October 23, 2009

New book by Mark Dunn: The Calamitous Adventures of Rodney and Waybe, Cosmic Repairboys

My friend and one of my favorite writers, Mark Dunn, has a new book out for kids: The Calamitous Adventures of Rodney and Wayne, Cosmic Repairboys (Book One: The Age Altertron). Mark wrote one of my favorite books of all time (for adults), Ella Minnow Pea, which is one of those books I liked so much that everyone ended up getting it for Christmas the year it came out.

Mark actually asked for comments on an early version of this newest book from me and my daughter. At the time, Kira was the perfect target age for this book and a voracious reader (still is). When the book came out, Mark sent us a signed copy, and in the acknowledgments Kira and I are both thanked. It's especially cool for a young teenager to see herself mentioned and thanked in a book. I don't think many kids grow up seeing the inside of the writing process as much as she has (though maybe it doesn't seem unique or unusual to her.) I know she's looking forward to reading the published version, and I can't wait to read it to my son, who will love the adventures of Rodney and Wayne.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Good News: one-act comedy, Couch Potato, published by Playscripts

My one-act comedy, Couch Potato, is now available from Playscripts. It's a fun play that's good for performance either by adults or students. Here's the description:

GENRE Comedy
LENGTH Short, 30-35 minutes
CAST 2 females, 3 males (5-6 actors possible: exactly 2 females, 3-4 males)
SET Living room of a small New York City apartment, with two entrances/exits.
NOTES Mild adult language
Eric is the ultimate slacker, but his goal of remaining motionless in front of the TV is in serious jeopardy. His sister and fiance move out and leave him behind in the apartment, and the two newlyweds moving in aren't keen to share their space with a complete stranger. Can Eric use his wits to stay rooted, or is he about to be yanked from his chosen resting place? A fast-paced comedy of inertia.

You can read a sample of it for free on the Playscripts site. This my third play now published by Playscripts. They also publish Pumpkin Patch and Christmas Breaks.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interviews by Adam Szymkowicz

Adam Szymkowicz has been doing a great series of interviews with various playwrights, and now I'm one of them. Go check out his latest blog post.

The series is actually in ideal learning tool for new playwrights, I think, just because it shows such a variety of writers in various stages of their careers (most are early to middle-career writers).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lies, Lies, Lies and Counting Rita tonight in LA (Venice) at 8pm

Counting Rita and Lies, Lies, Lies, will be part of Theatre Unleashed's "Through a Caffeine Haze" tonight at:

The Talking Stick
1411c Lincoln Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

They're doing a bunch of short plays set in coffee shops. Should be a fun evening. (If you see it, let me know how it goes.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back from DC

I had a great time workshopping Constant State of Panic with Madcap Players this weekend. Between the friends who hosted me and the well-run weekend events, I felt very well cared for. We've got a terrific cast, who were game to try whatever Gary (the director) and I asked of them, and they asked very useful questions about the play and their characters. Now that I'm home, if I can escape from what seems to be a growing pile of work and papers and meetings, I have a bunch of revisions that need to be made. I'm hoping to be done in about two weeks (fingers crossed).

A few random bits from the weekend:

--I was thrilled to have a production design meeting on Sunday morning with the sound designer, costume designer, and fight choreographer/movement coach. After the Playwriting in 3D workshop this spring (and the next one we're organizing for January), our conversation had a special resonance for me.

--I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we'd even have a movement coach. It makes a ton of sense for this particular play, but just because something makes sense doesn't always mean it's put into action.

--I learned how very useful it is to have a stage manager on hand while you're workshopping a play. I've done these sorts of development intensive weekends before, but this one was even more organized that usual (which has great appeal for yours truly) on the logistics end. On Saturday, Tarythe, our rehearsal stage manager was on hand to take notes and keep us on schedule for the entire day. The notes were e-mailed to the necessary folks that evening. For me, I found that this was reassuring to know that if I missed something, I'd still have a way to remember what was said. And now that I've seen the notes, I can see that they'll be especially helpful as I enter the rewrite phase. I took my own notes, but these complement them well. It was also helpful to have someone keeping watch on the clock, because when the writer and director are having the actors try various incarnations of scenes, it's easy to lose track of time, and folks can get worn out. I liked knowing someone was keeping an eye on us and also making sure we stayed fed and hydrated.

--I brought a video camera to tape a bunch of the scene work we did, especially times when we had the actors improv, with the idea that I can have it with me at home next week, when my memory might have grown a little fuzzy about exactly how things went. I'm curious to see how much of it I actually end up watching (I have about 90 minutes on tape). This might end up being a useful revision tool for me.

I can't wait to see the show when it's fully mounted in January.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

off to DC: workshop of Constant State of Panic

So I'm off to DC this weekend to work on Constant State of Panic with the Madcap Players, who will fully produce the script in January. We have two full days to play with the script (and get to know each other better). Sounds like auditions went well--casting is so much easier with a small cast (CSP only needs 4 actors) and we have a designer's meeting set up for Sunday (so I can think about all the things that I learned in the Playwriting in 3D workshop I led last spring). I'm especially excited that I have a chance to meet with the designers so early in the process (and I think there might be a marketing meeting, too. Very cool.)

Sometimes I go into these things with a number of scenes and sections that I know I want to rework, but this time, I'm approaching the visit with a very open mind. I really want to get a sense of who these actors are and hear how they fit in with the play. I'm sure that on the plane tomorrow, when I reread the script again, I'll come up with a few scenes and moments that I want to work out.

Mostly I'm excited to have a whole weekend just to explore and play with this piece that I've been writing for a while now. I hope to come away with a sense of how it will blossom into production and how I want to shape it as it does so.