Monday, November 23, 2009

Reading the Mind of God (my Kepler play)--not forgotten

Last night I got a very cool e-mail. Just out of the blue, a retired scientist from Indianapolis wrote to me, asking about my play, Reading the Mind of God. (It's about the difficult relationship between the astronomers Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe in the year 1600.) He saw the production done by the Phoenix Theatre in Indy in 1997. That's right, he saw the play more than 12 years ago, yet still finds himself thinking about it. Thinking about it enough that he tracked me down to see where he could find a copy. (It's unpublished, so I'm the only source. Though I'd like to see it published, actually, since colleges occasionally use it in classes).

Reading the Mind of God was something of a breakout play for me, with several very exciting productions, though it never was widely produced (a cast of 8 can get in the way). I'm sometimes a little sad that it doesn't get done more (and sure wish I could find a home for it in Boston--is there any city where people would better understand the sort of grad student/professor vibe of this play?). So knowing that audiences (or, we can at least say, one audience member) still remembers the play and wants to revisit it after all these years--well, that feels pretty great.

In the end, I guess it's one of the reasons why writing and producing plays is worthwhile. We do make an impact, in ways that last for year and years. As a young writer, this lasting residual effect never occurred to me. Theatre seemed so ephemeral. But that's the beauty of a such a human artform--the persistence of memory, long after the lights are off, the sets are struck, and the actors have moved on.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reassembling Sasha published by

I got some more good news recently: my newest one-act comedy, Reassembling Sasha, is now published by

YouthPLAYS is a new publishing company/coalition put together by playwrights Jon Dorf and Ed Shockley, who both have a ton of experience in the youth market. The business model is slightly different from other publishers, slightly greener--you can read a complete perusal script for free on the web site. And if you choose to produce one of their plays, you get a pdf document, so you can print out your own copies--you don't need to order them and they don't need to be shipped--all the school/theatre pays for is the performance rights.

The rights may appear to be more expensive than other publishers ($60 for first performance) but that's misleading, because normally a school has to pay for scripts for each actor, as $5 each. For a large cast like this, that's an additional $60 or more. So with YouthPLAYS schools actually end up saving money.

Reassembling Sasha is a fun comedy about identity, with lots of good roles for young women. Though I have many plays that are used by students (more than 30), this is actually the first one that I've written specifically with a high school audience and performers in mind. Here are the details:

Comedy. 25-35 minutes. 1-3 males, 7-9 females.


Professor Sasha Marlowe has created a fantastic machine that can split a person into their constituent parts, but maybe she shouldn't have tested it on herself. The seven different elements that make up Sasha are running loose and aren't all eager to go back to being part of a single workaholic person. And what happens if she gets put back together and one of the parts is missing? A comic look at trying to find a balance between all our different strengths and weaknesses (and a riff on the seven deadly sins).

If you want to take a look, you can visit the YouthPLAYS site and read it here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reality Check Micro Writer's Conference--aka the Blind Leading the Blind

I’m thinking about putting together a micro conference, maybe I'll call it the Reality Check Micro Writer’s Conference—a.ka. The Blind Leading the Blind.

Here's how it would work: I’d send my family away from the house for a day (or a chunk of a day) and invite a bunch of friends over for baked goods, chocolate, coffee, and lunch, and we'd talk about our plans and strategies for our business careers.

Maybe it would include 5-8 people total, mostly writers around the same career level as me. These would all be folks who can all learn from each other, and who know each other’s work well, or else are willing to do some reading to acquaint themselves with each other’s work, and who might be willing to do some homework on marketing so each person brings something to share.

I'd need to invite people who are willing to commit to being honest (I won’t say brutally honest, because that’s never helpful. Sneakily honest works better) with other people, and also with themselves, about their goals for their careers and the current state of their careers, their work, their marketing efforts, and the state of the business.

For me, it might be kind of hard, because I’d want to invite both playwrights and novelists. Would they be useful to each other? They each bring a certain amount of ignorance and knowledge about each others' worlds, which might be okay or might be a big problem. Or do I need to do two separate days, one for novelists and one for playwrights? (Which seems like a lot of extra work)

It might be a big failure. Or it might be really fun. We might need a lot more wine than coffee.

Part of what got me thinking about all of this was this great post from the blog Apparently!, where she talks about the importance of clear goals to help steer your career forward. I do want to take a day to myself and just think about my career goals, which is good. I already write down goals every year, and I talk about them to poor Tracy all the time. But I’d feel like I need some outside reality checks in this, too. If I had an agent, she might be able to help in all of this (but I don't. Yet.).

Hmm. I’m gonna think about it. I want something more intimate than a real writing conference, like Grub Street's Muse & Marketplace, though of course it won’t have the agents and editors and chances of making some great new connection. But I think it still might be useful.

I've got to think about it some more. (Who knows if any of my friends would even be interested. Or what if too many people are interested? Will feelings be hurt if people aren't invited?) I'm always a fan of small-scale projects that can be done for little money, but where people are able to connect and help each other. This seems like one of those projects.

(Just what I need, one more project.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

be the first to get a ticket for Constant State of Panic

Okay, opening is more than two months away, but just in case you want to be the first one on your block to say you have your tickets for Constant State of Panic, they are now available on line.

The show, being produced by the Madcap Players, runs from January 14-31 at the H Street Playhouse in Washington, DC. Tickets are $20 (with discounts for groups, and there are preview and other discounts, too). It's gonna be a fun show.

Just for fun, let's say that the first person to buy a ticket online gets a free, signed copy of Tornado Siren (my novel). Just let me know that you've bought your ticket, and I'll check to see if you're the lucky winner.