Tag Archives: playwriting

Upcoming Stuff & Events & Things (Nov. ’13)

Hello, website! Long time, no update! I swear that one of these days I am going to actually train myself to just make brief updates here as they happen, instead of these info dumps.

ANYWAY. I’ve got some stuff going on, because of course I do. It goes like this:

  • Saturday, December 7, I’ll be returning to MORTIFIED and performing some hilariously terrible songs that I wrote when I was 16. The performance will take place at Space 538 in Portland, ME; tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Do I know anyone in Maine that I can even embarrass myself in front of? I don’t know, but I can tell you that it is definitely worth it to go to Maine to laugh at my terrible, terrible songs.
  • I’ve also got 2 new short plays in the 4th Annual Boston One Minute Play Festival, January 4-6 at Boston Playwrights Theatre. They’ll be directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian and Meghan Mueller, which I’m sure makes my sister proud in some way.

Meanwhile, in addition to my normal duties at Five By Five Hundred, I have a review of Eric Smith‘s new book The Geek’s Guide To Dating on Tor.com, and some coverage of SpeakEasy Stage Company‘s world premiere production of Make Up Your Mind, a brand new play by Kurt Vonnegut even though he’s dead.

And then, ya know, the youge (like, the slang/shortened word for “usual,” but spelled phonetically? Is that right?): Workin’, writin’, so on and so forth. Tonight at the Huntington we start performances for The Cocktail Hour by A.R. Gurney, which is directed by Maria Aitken, a favorite of ours at the theatre. Here’s a little video I made for that:

I also wrote some fun stuff about ghost stories at the theatre on the Huntington’s blog which is still worth reading even though it’s after Halloween, as well as two pieces of flash fiction in this “Quantum Shorts” competition that you can go read and vote for so I can win some monies: I Kill Dead People and Not Dead Yet (which was the basis for my story in Grayhaven Comics’ Fifth Dimension anthology).

Wow that’s a whole lot of dead stuff. In that case, I should end this on a happy note, which is that Maurissa Tancharoen both listened to and enjoyed my song “I’ll Fight A Whedon For You”; unfortunately, her husband Jed was less than impressed.

So now I’ve pissed one Whedon and armwrestled another, which only leaves Zak for me still to cross. But overall I think that means that I’ve successfully become a Whedonverse villain?

Holy crap, I’ll be 28 in 2 weeks.

Hey! You! Playwright! Go make theatre in Alaska! #NewPlay #2amt

This past May, I had the pleasure of workshopping my play True Believers at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska. “Where the hell is Valdez?” you ask, and all I can really tell you is that I had to take a 45 minute flight on a little puddlejumper plane from Anchorage to Valdez, and that there was totally a US Marshall on my 18-person flight, escorting a criminal in handcuffs, which was pretty badass. Fortunately, I did not end up on LOST, and instead had a fantastic week full of theatre and wonderful people in a remarkably beautiful setting.

I bring this up now because the conference is currently accepting submissions for next summer, and if you’re a playwright, it’s an opportunity that you absolutely should not skip. I was hesitant myself at first — the conference does offer a stipend for out-of-state writers, but it doesn’t cover the full cost of your airfare, and, well, Alaska’s kinda far away. But I was talked into it by my friend and colleague Meron Langsner, who said that it was one of his favorite programs in the country, and was a more educational experience for him than grad school. I thought that was a pretty bold claim, but I listened to him, and while I can’t compare it to the graduate degree that I don’t have, I can say with confidence that it was absolutely worthwhile in the development of my specific, and my personal and professional development, and that I cannot wait to go back.

You see, when people talk about a love for “theatre,” they’re talking about a very wide range of skills and tastes. You got your children’s theatre, your community theatre groups, your scrappy college / fringe groups, local professional theatre groups, your regional theatre powerhouses, and of course, your Broadway / West End scene. Within this, you’ve also got animosity between the groups — the fringe companies who hate on the LORT theatres with money, the LORT theatres that scoff at the unprofessionalism of community theatre, the community theatre types whose egos far outweigh their budgets, your annoying aunt & uncle who think that Broadway is the only legitimate / viable form of theatre, etc. I don’t have to explain this all — and I probably shouldn’t, because it probably makes me sound like an asshole — but if you’re involved in theatre, you know what I mean. There’s an air of pretension around every level, to a certain degree (I should know, because I have excellent taste in everything).

But what makes the Last Frontier Theatre Conference so remarkable, at least to me, is that all of these groups are represented, and all of them are treated with the exact same level of respect. Playwrights get one three-hour rehearsal for their readings, and the actors are probably performing in 15 readings throughout the week, and regardless of whether it’s your first script ever, or your 30th production and you’ve recently completed a residency at the Public Theatre, everyone is treated the same. You also end up meeting people from all over the world, with varying levels of theatre experience, but they all share the same passions, and some of them might give you some ideas or insights or opinions that you’ve never even heard before.

And sure, I saw some plays that were truly amazing, and others that were less so. But by leveling the field for the week, so to speak, it really brought everyone together, and reminded us all of why we love this artform in the first place. I’ll be the first to admit that I get annoyed with some people when they use the act of creation of itself to justify shitty work, but the Last Frontier Theatre Conference reminded me how to appreciate that initial creative impulse. Everyone was treated as a professional, a celebrity, simply because they were willing to put themselves out there and express themselves in some theatrical form. In a way, it harkened back to my DIY days playing punk rock hall shows, where it didn’t matter how good or bad you were; all that matter was that you picked up a guitar and you wrote some damn songs and you got in front of a crowd and you played and played and played until your throat went raw and your fingers started bleeding on the pickguard and for those 30 minutes you were still a fucking rockstar and that was all that mattered in the world. (Except this time we didn’t have to worry about shotgunning PBRs behind the dumpster before the cops show up because everyone is a fully functioning adult)

Also? Alaska is gorgeous, even if it did take me a week to realize that staying out the bar for another hour or two after sundown meant that it was 3am. 

So if you’ve got a play you’re working on, send it in. I promise you will not regret it.

Oh, and tell Dawson that I miss him dearly.

Good News, True Believers!

I’ve got two new exciting bits to share with you about your favorite nerdy theatre experience. First, The Hive Theatre in New York will be presenting a staged reading of True Believers on Monday, March 18 at 7pm at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theatre Institute on East 15th Street near Union Square. The reading is being presented under an Equity showcase contract, which technically means that they’re all professional actors who probably aren’t being paid, but that’s okay, because hey, cool, professional NY actors! I’ve met with the company once so far, and they’re incredibly excited and supportive about the show. I by no means feel that the script is perfect, but when I asked them about a few of the concerns I had about it, they all pretty much answered, “Nope, it’s great, don’t worry about it,” so, ya know, that’s nice. If you’re in New York, or have any friends in New York, please tell them to come (especially if they’re important agents/editors/producers/superheroes/billionaire philanthropists/the real-life inspiration for Avenger because oh God I want to see his face).

The other great news I received this same weekend (which also pertains to True Believers) is that I’ve been invited to participate in the Last Frontier Theatre Conference at Prince Williams Sound Community College in Valdez, Alaska, which is apparently a 6 hour drive from Anchorage. It’s a week long conference full of panels and workshops all focusing on new works for American theatre, and another staged reading of True Believers will be presented under my adept direction. But mostly, it’ll be cool to go to Alaska in May when it’s not a frozen tundra and there’s only like 3 hours of darkness and then suddenly I’m Al Pacino and I’m going crazy trying to catch a killer and hey that could be plot of my next play (he says, already working on 2 more simultaneously instead of focusing on finishing one UGH).

So in conclusion: The Cyborg Head of Stan Lee was right.

One Minute Play Festival!

This year, I had the honor of being asked to contribute two plays to the annual One Minute Play Festival, and I have to say, writing a one minute play is a much bigger challenge than you’d expect it to be. The festival hits the stage in January, and I’ll share information about the performances when I have it. In the meantime, I posted one of the plays as my weekly post over at Five By Five Hundred, so you can check it out there. Generally speaking, these plays are meant to be open-ended vehicles for the director, more than a chance for the writer to show his stuff, but I’m pretty happy with the way these turned out.

“The Call” at FiveByFiveHundred.com

An Interview with playwright Kirsten Greenidge

Kirsten Greenidge just won an Obie Award for playwriting for her play Milk Like Sugar. A Boston native, Kirsten’s Boston-based play The Luck of the Irish just had its world premiere at the Huntington and was our highest grossing world premiere by a female playwright, ever. (which is pretty awesome)

Here’s a video interview I did with Kirsten, discussing her history and relationship with the Huntington. Not only was she a Huntington Playwriting Fellow, but she decided to become a playwright after seeing a student matinee performance at the Huntington when she was 12. And here we are, 16 years later! Not bad at all!

I’m Back Now, And I Brought T-Shirts For Everybody!

I have a confession to make. I didn’t really bring t-shirts for everybody. Although I do have these sweet new business cards! So that’s cool, right?

I know I’ve been slacking (again) lately (again) with keeping this website updated with all of my various doin’s. But it’s not like I’ve not been not doing things (…or is it?)! Instead, I’ve just been too busy doing things to, ya know, write about doing things. It’s kind of why I hate meetings in general, because I’d rather be doing things, than talking about doing things. So this website’s kind of like a meeting then. Except I don’t hate it; in fact, I quite love my little website here. So really, not like a meeting at all.

(shut up Thom) Okay so here’s a brief rundown of where the hell I’ve been:

  • My very short play, Stumped, was performed as part of a staged reading series to celebrate Company One‘s production of Hookman.
  • My debut comic book story, Not Dead Yet, finally saw print in GrayHaven Comics’ sci-fi anthology, The Fifth DimensionAlso the first printing already sold out, which means maybe someday you’ll be able to sell that shit on eBay for like $20 (but probably not)
  • I did a totally awesome article for Quirk Books comparing Samuel Beckett (the playwright) to Sam Beckett (the time traveling protagonist from Quantum Leap) and it was totally awesome. Don’t believe me? Ask the former executive director of the American Theatre Wing!
  • I also started doing some writing for Tor.com, with my first article being a roundup of great sci-fi/fantasy rock bands (so basically my two favorite things, combined. If only there was more beer!)
  • We did another staged reading of my play True Believers as part of ImprovBoston’s Geek Week celebration. It was really great to hear the play out loud in front of different kind of crowd, as it helps me figure out what kind of changes I need to make to the script before the world premiere this summer at the Factory Theatre (July 12 – 21! Get yer tickets while they’re hot! Just kidding, they’re not on sale yet). The lovely producing folks at Vagabond Theatre Group have a post up over at their website about the event so you can catch up on all the happening. There’s also the first part of an instructional series about how to make your very own The Cyborg Head of Stan Lee, which actually comes a lot more in handy than you might think.
  • Did I mention that I launched a new website for the Huntington, and that our world premiere production of The Luck of the Irish was extended, and sold out almost every night? For being, ya know, “just my day job” or whatever, sometimes it keeps me pretty busy as well.
  • Plus Cupcake! So many things, so very busy with this wonderfully little world-premiere-musical-that-could. We raised $6,000 in our Kickstarter campaign (we were going for $3,750…whoops!), and we were the featured show this past Friday on Goldstar. You may have seen some of my sexy posters around town as well (just don’t tell Grant that I photoshopped his arm a bit…) Previews start this Thursday, May 10!
  • AND, to top it all off, I’ve only got like 50 pages left to read in Infinite Jest (finally! Jesus God this book is epic), so I’m gonna go finish that right now and hopefully conquer my crippling fear (no pun intended) of paraplegic Quebecers.

An Interview with STICK FLY Playwright Lydia R. Diamond

A few weeks ago, I spoke with playwright Lydia R. Diamond, whose play STICK FLY will begin playing on Broadway on November 18. Lydia is a Huntington Playwriting Fellow, and Stick Fly was previously seen at the Huntington under the direction of Kenny Leon as a part of our 2009 — 2010 season. It’s really incredibly play, and one worth seeing if you have the chance (like instead of waiting in that endless line at the TKTS Booth for tickets to some lame musical, take advantage of the “Plays Express”).

Peter DuBois on Before I Leave You

Here’s a brief video that I filmed back in May, as part of an interview between Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Charles Haugland, Artistic Programs and Dramaturgy, about our upcoming world premiere of Before I Leave You by Huntington Playwriting Fellow (and 40-year Cambridge resident!) Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro. The play tells the story of a group of academic friends living in Harvard Square as they approach the dreaded “old age.” I could tell you more but, well, that’s what I made the video for!

True Believers Staged Reading

The first public staged reading of my new play, True Believers, took place today at the Berkshire Fringe Festival, following two weeks of intense workshopping. The cast was as follows:

  • Chad Mailer……….Ryan Marchione
  • Billy Horowitz……….Joshua Ramos
  • Ted Thompson……….Bill Shein
  • Chloe Long……….Bethany Geiger
  • Kt Watts……….Kristen Sparhawk
  • Box/Ensemble……….Timothy Ryan Olson
  • Calvin……….Hector Rivera
  • Ensemble……….Clelia Sweeney
  • The Cyborg Head of Stan Lee……….Himself

Special thanks to my director, Keith Bulla, and dramaturg/playwright mentor Laura Maria Censabella. Overall, the script seemed to be well received, and I made a lot of progress on it over the past 2 weeks, tightening the story and sharpening the edges. There’ll be another draft coming up, so stay tuned to see where your favorite Comic-Con play goes next!