Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jack And Jill Plays - Part 1 - Purpose


About Jack and Jill Plays:

Today is my 40th birthday.

I'm going to do something new.  Post a short play every day as long as I can.  This does not mean that I wrote this play today but I might have.  (My life is not always my own what with work and a 4 year old running around so maybe I wrote it today or maybe it was stockpiled in preparation for the days I can't get in writing.)  My goal is to do at least 100 of these or maybe more but probably 45 or 50 is the length of a full length play so even that would be good.  100 would be better.  300?  amazing.  500?  Does anyone want 500 of these plays?  Anyway, the goal is consecutive days.

The normal things about plays apply-- don't produce or reproduce this play without my permission.  I wrote it so I own it.  Etc.




Purpose
by Adam Szymkowicz

(JACK enters carrying a bucket.  He tries to hand it to JILL.)

JACK
Here you go.

JILL
What's that?

JACK
A pail.

JILL
A pail?

JACK
A bucket.

JILL
What's it for?

JACK
We could carry water in it.

JILL
For what?

JACK
I don't know.  Things.

JILL
I'm not going to drink water from your bucket.  I have water glasses.

JACK
Or we could keep things in it.

JILL
Like what?

JACK
All sorts of things.  Nuts and bolts.  Snakes.  Chains.  Water.

JILL
Okay.  Just put it somewhere I won't notice it.

JACK
It'll be really useful sometime.  I promise.

JILL
Yeah, okay.

JACK
What's wrong?

JILL
Do I have a purpose?

JACK
Sure.  Sure you do.

JILL
What is it?

JACK
Oh I bet there are lots of things you do every day.

JILL
Yeah but to what end?

JACK
Like a mission statement?

JILL
Or something.

JACK
We can come up with one.  Come with me.

JILL
Where?

JACK
Up the hill.  I want to fill up this bucket.  Make sure it doesn't leak.

JILL
Okay.  We'll find out what my purpose is.

JACK
Yeah, totally.  We'll both find our purpose.  Purposes.  Purposi.

JILL
No.

(They exit with bucket.)

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 968: Pete McElligott




Pete McElligott

Hometown: Lemont, IL.

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY.

Q:  Tell me about In a Little Room:

A:  I used to work in the radiology department of an emergency room when I was younger, and the thing I remember most about it was how it was simultaneously way too real and yet incredibly unreal. Way too real in that there is death everywhere with a little bit of birth and at least one Starbucks. Just incredibly unreal in that most people there have had their lives stopped. "I broke my ankle!" "My kid ate a poisonous plant!" "I think I'm having a baby!" All the patients and friends and family are just frozen in this strange purgatory of mortality where their life is not in their hands anymore. It doesn't feel like anywhere else. So I wrote a comedy about it! Which is to say, I wrote a story about what happens when two strangers who have both suffered a great loss bump into each other in a waiting room and try incredibly hard to act like normal human beings. They don't succeed. And it's kind of sad. But it's also really absurdly funny.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I'm working on an adaptation of Three Musketeers for The NOLA Project in New Orleans. I've adapted Alice in Wonderland and Don Quixote for them and both were a blast so I'm really looking forward to it. I've also written a ten-minute play that's about to get a production at the Stella Adler Studio. It's about how Santa Claus is actually an 18 year old girl. I had a lot of fun writing it so I'm excited to see the actors have fun with it.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  First off, I'm a twin. Which probably explains a bit of me. I remember when my twin brother and I were very little and we were convinced that at some point we were going to be forced to be married. I don't know why we became convinced of this, but we did. Clearly this was the way the world worked. People were born in pairs. One magically transformed into a woman. They got married. The cycle continued. That was fact. So we would argue over which one of us was going to be transformed into the woman. Imagine two five year old twin brothers, convinced of the certainty of this world, arguing vehemently over why the other one was the one that had to be magically transformed. That's pretty much what my brain as a writer looks like. I pick a topic, hand those five year olds the imaginary circumstances, and then just transcribe their passionate discourse.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  The audience's expectation of it.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I'd say the biggest one is probably Tom Mula. My parents were pretty fantastic in terms of making sure that I got out of the basement and actually did something with myself as a kid. And every year they would take us to see A Christmas Carol at The Goodman Theater in Chicago. And every year we went it was Tom Mula playing Scrooge. And that guy was just so good. And I remember the year we went and it wasn't him anymore. And I remember walking away thinking, "There is an art to this. Because that wasn't good." It was the first time that I actually started to think beyond just good and bad and start to think about why. What was it that Tom Mula did that this new guy didn't do? Or was it the director? Or was this a different adaptation? The following year we saw "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol," a one man show written and performed by Tom Mula. Seeing that show and seeing James Sie's adaptation of "The Snarkout Boys and the Avacado of Death" pretty much started my career as a very young writer. They were just too creative and fun for me to not want to join in.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I think of theater the way I think of food. Seeing a movie is like watching Food Network (and I love Food Network). Seeing bad Theatre is like going to a Wendy's. It's a guilty pleasure with no focus on experience (and I say that as someone who loves Wendy's). Great Theatre is like a fancy restaurant. They're thinking about the audience's palate. What's happening now is meant to change how you reflect on what happened before and what's about to happen next. They're trying to communicate something. They make sure that the audience is getting different flavors, different colors, and most importantly they're trying to get the audience to experience things they know, or think they know, in a new way. So to finally answer the question, theater that excites me is theater that plays like a tasting menu. It challenges my assumptions a little, it gives me something I'm unfamiliar with, gives me something that I'm excited for, and it offers me something I may or may not actually like. All building towards a specific experience. And maybe it comes with wine.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  I wrote two plays right out of college. One that was for me and one that I thought would get produced. The one that was for me had an insane plot and impossible stage directions and would have cost a lot to produce has been produced across the country. The one that I wrote because I thought it was producible hasn't.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:   Come see "In a Little Room" at the Wild Project starting September 9th! It is my wife's favorite show of mine. And she's a woman of very good taste. Tickets are available at www.tenbones.org. And if you're in the New Orleans area next summer, Three Musketeers is going to be a pretty funny adventure. Keep an eye on The NOLA Project. www.nolaproject.com

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Friday, July 28, 2017

NOW PUBLISHED!!


Play Description

Elise is a pyromaniac fire chief who falls in love with Jake, the detective investigating her fires. Carrie, Elise’s therapist, is trying to get her to stop lighting fires and Carrie’s husband, Gary, is leading the life of a somewhat ineffective corporate spy.

Production Info

Cast: 7 total (4 female, 3 male, doubling, up to 15 actors)
Full Length Comedy (about 90 minutes)
Minimal Set Requirements
Contemporary Costumes

on Amazon.  at BPP site.


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I Interview Playwrights Part 967: Daaimah Mubashshir





Daaimah Mubashshir

Hometown: Houston, Tx

Current town: New York City

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  Not in this Room - a progressively heart warming family “dramedy” or maybe a “darmedy”. The family is Muslim and African American and the daughter is, of course queer, and the mom allows her to come home - so right there everybody knows this will be a comedy---all the way. And it’s super relatable too. I’ve had so much fun writing this play because it’s an homage to my mom. She is the absolute best.

Everyday Afroplay (EDAP) - is an ongoing daily playwriting exercise, a living play text, born out of a dire need to capture and express the ever-shifting perspective of living in black skin. (There are 70 plays posted online, now, but that will grow.) Over the past year I have presented EDAP twice, once at The Bushwick Starr and once at JACK. Between the processes of staging from The Bushwick Starr to JACK, I discovered that EDAP has a fluid nature that demands that the larger performance of the evening mold itself according to the space it inhabits. Each time EDAP is presented, it will be re-invented. As time passes there will be new plays added to the collection and each presentation site will call for different collaborators who will naturally have their own specific relationship to blackness and the collection of EDAP.

Tara Ahmadinejad and I are developing a musical, with New Georges, about the most perfect west village nanny that takes the kids to the other 4 boroughs. It's zany, hip , and socially conscious.

Lastly, Emilyn Kowaleski and I, are developing a new play that reimagines our favorite western philosophers – Aristotle and John Locke – as hard-core un-gentrified brooklynites (com-e-dy).

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  As my mom tells it I was asking treacherous questions at three years old like “What is the Truth?” and “How will you know when I’m lying?” It might be that I am just hard wired for making stuff up. Growing up, I definitely got myself in lots of trouble, experimenting with truth versus lies. Also, my favorite place to pass the time was in the library. It still is… I would skip class just to hang out in the library. I didn’t go to my prom (for so many reasons) instead I was in a library somewhere… or at least that’s what I told my parents.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  American Theater?

I don’t know. It's daunting to think about changing something that vehemently resists altering itself. It is exhausting. Especially coming from a point of view of an “emerging” playwright.

I love theatre so much. I need to write and make-work just about as much as I need food and water. Yet, when I examine what American Theater is today - what it deems as essential - who it acknowledges and celebrates - who it produces - who it feeds. I feel like I’m in a marriage of convenience or a one sided relationship of sorts. A relationship that any self respecting friend, therapist or even Delilah Rene (radio personality) would tell me to leave immediately ---- that I’m worth more, that I should look for someone who loves me back.

What gives me energy is looking at theatre as one type of bridge between language and human experience. That would make me a bridge-maker of sorts. As a queer, black, female raised in an Islamic Tradition, my background is full of conundrums and opposing ideologies. Which gives me plenty of building material to make some really interesting bridges. For my health and sanity, I focus my attention towards being the best bridge-maker I can be.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  This is the hardest question for me because on one hand I could list all the playwrights, theatre directors, and artists, whose work keeps me in the game. (See below) Or I could tell you about this one time, I was on the A train platform headed uptown- and an old man sat with his karaoke machine or maybe it was a boom box singing along with the Temptations “Just my Imagination” He was singing as if he had been doing it for years and tonight was the last night -That hard, with that much love, in such a mundane environment and an almost forgotten about song. It was the most theatrical experience… He actually cut me to my core … I cried all the way home.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I am excited by theater that grasps for the truth, or theater that creates a truthful experience. Even a work that is built on lies can be truthful.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Read, read, read – everything

Study what you read to see how it is made

Try to re-make what you just read

If it’s too neat, then mess it up

Or if it’s too messy, make it neat.

Take what you just made and show it to your friends

be absolutely sure you trust these people

here is a Elizabeth Gilbert’s 4 question test:

· Do I trust this person's taste and judgment?

· Does this person understand what I'm trying to create here?

· Does this person genuinely want me to succeed?

· Is this person capable of delivering the truth to me in a sensitive and compassionate manner?

After showing it to your trusted network

then show it to people outside that network

rinse and repeat

Some of your peers might seem to be winning all the awards and opportunities and you are not. That is real. And it will most likely happen. Do not worry. Other peoples successes don’t make you any less successful. Honestly, there is no greater joy that re-reading my work and remembering the experience of making it. The tears, the anger, the laughter etc etc. Writing is the best healer of the human condition. No award can speak to that.

Q:  When not writing on a computer, what's your go-to paper and writing utensil?

A:  I love a black gel rollerball and a moleskine or one of the many journals I’ve gotten over the years for my birthday.

Q:  When on computer, what's your font?

A:  I love Helvetica
--> Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Oooh so much fun stuff. I usually post upcoming events on my website –www.daaimahmubashshir.com You can also sign up for updates there as well.

A tiny partial list of playwrights, theatre makers, artists that keep me in the game (in no particular order)

Opera all types (Early Puccini is current fav)

Kerry James Marshall

Kaari Upson

Stacey Rose

Amina Henry

William Burke

Jonathan Payne

James Tyler

Richard Maxwell

Sarah Einspanier

debbie tucker green

Wole Soyinka

Alice Childress

Adrienne Kennedy

Pina Bausch

Raja Feather Kelly

Lynn Nottage

Charles Mee

Mimi Lien

Hoi Polloi

Chris Ofili

Alice Birch

Tim Crouch

Maria Irene Fornes

Jean Genet

***there are so many other names that go here****


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 966: Holly Hepp-Galván




Holly Hepp-Galván

Hometown: Glen Cove, NY

Current Town: New York, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I’m thrilled to have several projects going on at once! I’ve just finished co-writing a play called Guarded which is an adaptation of a novel by Angela Correll. It’s premiering at Pioneer Playhouse in Danville, Kentucky. And if you’ve never heard of this theatre, then you should put it on your radar! They are Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre and have been continuously producing plays for 68 years.

In August, I’m premiering Sex with Robots at New Perspectives Theatre Company. I’m very proud to be a member of their 2017 Women’s Work LAB. Six of us have developed new 30- minute plays around the theme “Unhinged” and will have a week of performances from August 7– 12th .

Finally, I’m working on another draft of Lakshmi Counts Her Arms and Legs. It’s based on the true story of Lakshmi Tatma, a girl born in rural India with eight limbs. Many villagers came to worship her because they thought she was a reincarnation of a goddess, but doctors argued that she needed to have the extra limbs surgically removed.

This play explores questions that have always haunted me. Whether it’s extreme cultural differences, or faith versus science - I’m fascinated by how human beings can see the world from such different points of view. What does it mean to think you are right? And is there ever a side that is right?

I also keep coming back again and again to the relationship of our bodies to our selves. What we look like and how we are viewed, as opposed to how we feel inside. I’ve explored this in my play Oddities, about a bearded lady, and in Departure, where a teenager suddenly grows a pair of exquisite wings. Is being different a gift? Or a curse?

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  I grew up fascinated by animals and insects. If I could catch it and bring it home, I did. I had jars and jars full of strange bugs that I loved to keep. And since I didn’t have books to look up the names of things, I took very careful, detailed notes to describe what each creature looked like, how it acted, what it ate, and sadly, when it died. I had to write descriptively, but I also waxed poetic about the beauty of living things in the way only a 9-year- old can. I started writing from a deep sense of wonder and that’s something I try to keep to this day.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I would love to change people’s perception of Theatre for Young Audiences! It’s so often perceived as an inferior or less sophisticated version of adult theatre. However in my experience, the TYA community is doing some of the most dynamic, creative, and original work on stage today. I’ve had such positive experiences working with 52nd Street Project here in NYC, as well as the Long Island Children’s Museum. In Austin, Texas, I’ve had the good fortune to work with the incredible Pollyanna Theatre Company. Pollyanna not only commissions playwrights to create 5-7 new plays per season, but they do big, beautiful and imaginative productions. I just returned from seeing the opening of my Playing Possum at The Long Center.

I’d love to see more companies take the bold step of commissioning new works for children.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  When I saw War Horse at Lincoln Center, my world turned upside down. I somehow never realized the unlimited and creative potential of puppetry. Since that time, I’ve dived head first into this brilliant art form, both as a writer and as a performing puppeteer. I’ve been amassing books on the history of puppetry, taking workshops, and sitting front row at as many shows as possible. Working with puppets has expanded my idea of what’s possible in theatrical storytelling, both for children and adults. It is a uniquely inspiring and magical art form.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Keep yourself in a state of wonder. Seek out those experiences that astonish and amaze you.

Look through a microscope. Look through a telescope. Hold a large, multi-colored, scary-looking beetle in your hand. Go to an art museum. Go to a junkyard. Wherever you can, look for the things and the people that fill you with awe. That’s when you will create your best work.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Sex with Robots – New Perspectives Theatre Company – August 7 – 12 th , 2017 – Program A
http://www.newperspectivestheatre.org/productions/UNHINGED.htm

The Hairy Ape – Hunter Puppet Project – August 30, 2017 – Hunter College
http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/theatre/productions

Lakshmi Counts Her Arms and Legs – September 5, 2017 at 7pm
Staged reading with Wide-Eyed Productions at Downtown Art – 70 East 4 th Street, NYC
http://www.wideeyedproductions.com/

Mysterious Lake – October 29, 2017
Bunraku puppet performance with Izumi Ashizawa in midtown Manhattan
www.izumiashizawa.com/

If Wishes Were Fishes – June 22 – July 1 st , 2018 – Pollyanna Theatre Company – Austin, TX
http://www.pollytheatre.org/production/if-wishes-werefishes/


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