Friday, September 22, 2017

Jack And Jill Plays - Part 37 - Cookie




About Jack and Jill Plays:

This is a new thing I'm doing.  Posting a short play every day as long as I can.  

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


Cookie
by Adam Szymkowicz

(JACK looks at a cookie in his hand.  JILL watches him.)

JACK
What if I don't like it?  It might be good or it might not be as good as I thought it would be.  And then it would all be wasted on a mediocre cookie.

JILL
I'll eat it if you don't want it.

JACK
You don't like cookies like this cookie.

JILL
I know but I want you to stop looking at it.

JACK
I should just eat it, right?  I should just eat it.

JILL
You should just eat it.

JACK
Do you think I eat too much?

JILL
Yes.

JACK
So maybe I shouldn't eat it.

JILL
Okay, then don't.  Put it away then.

JACK
I want something though.  Just a little special something and maybe this cookie could be that something.

JILL
Maybe.

JACK
I'll just eat it.

JILL
Okay.

JACK
But if I eat it, maybe no ice cream later.

JILL
Okay.

JACK
But what if the ice cream is a lot better than this cookie and I eat the cookie and then I'm fat and everything so no ice cream?

JILL
Yeah I don't know.  You know what I've been thinking about?

JACK
No.

JILL
Borders and boundaries and permeable membranes.  Like Our skin can soak things up--certain things.  Isn't that terrifying?

JACK
Is it?

JILL
Just eat the cookie and we can go on with our lives.

(JACK looks at the cookie for a long time.  JILL grabs it out of his hand throws it on the ground and stomps on it.)


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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Jack And Jill Plays - Part 36 - Eggs





About Jack and Jill Plays:

This is a new thing I'm doing.  Posting a short play every day as long as I can.  

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


Eggs
by Adam Szymkowicz

(JACK and JILL in mid conversation)

JACK
But it's like I don't need all the eggs.

JILL
Right.

JACK
But it wouldn't hurt to have a few more.

JILL
Sure.

JACK
I wouldn't put them all in one basket.

JILL
You gotta spread em out.

JACK
Totally.  And also not break them.

JILL
Okay.

JACK
I got a job.

JILL
What?

JACK
Yeah.  It's in Cleveland.  Sort of like what I'm doing now but maybe less terrible.

JILL
Cleveland?

JACK
Yeah.

JILL
You should take it.  You should go.  More money?

JACK
More money.

JILL
You should go.

JACK
You won't go with me?

JILL
Well.  No.  No, I won't.

JACK
It would be good to get away.

JILL
Yeah.

JACK
From all this grief.

JILL
New city.  New life.  You could forget.

JACK
Maybe.  Maybe.  I don't know.  Maybe.

JILL
You aren't going to go, are you?  You never do things that are good for you.

JACK
I went running.  Last week.

JILL
What about this week?

JACK
I went to a job interview.

JILL
Just go.  I don't need you.  I don't need you here.  If you go, it will be quiet and I think I need that.

JACK
You want me to go?

JILL
I do.  I didn't know I did but I do.  Yeah I do.

JACK
Maybe.

JILL
Sometimes I hate you.

JACK
I know.

JILL
It's more eggs.

JACK
Yeah.

JILL
So . . .


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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 995: John J. Caswell, Jr.



John J. Caswell, Jr.

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Current Town: New York City

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  With the help of my current fellowship at Page 73, I'm revising a draft for workshop of my play called CREAM! which converts homophobic bakers to tolerant allies on national television. A talking wedding cake presides as ringmaster and all-seeing eye. I'm also working on a play called THE THREE BEARS which I wrote from start to finish under the guidance of Erik Ehn at LaMama Umbria this summer. It's set in my home state of Arizona in a tourist-driven "ghost town" called Jerome. And I'm going back to my roots with an untitled play about four Mexican-American women who gather together to save their dying friend.

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

A:  At the age of 17 (that's childhood), I had no idea that I wanted to write and direct theater. But I did know that I loved sneaking away in the middle of the night to abandoned warehouses and wide open desert spaces to dance all night at raves. I was so taken by the theatricality of these trippy, themed events that I put off going to college at NYU and dedicated the following four years of my life to organizing elaborate dance parties with world-class DJ's, massive set pieces, detailed props. It was a labor of love until it wasn't. After attending the school of hard knocks and taking some blows financially and physically, I put down the glow sticks and realized that what I really was after was a theater where I could make anything happen. My mother was relieved.

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

A:  Theater and the arts must become more affordable, but they won't in the United States. Obvious answer, and seemingly irrelevant at this particular point in our pickle. I went to Amsterdam and saw John Adams conduct an incredible symphony at the Royal Concertgebouw and it cost something absurdly cheap like 10 dollars and it included a drink and snacks, no sippy cups involved. We need to build representation that believes in subsidizing the arts and holding up cultural institutions as vital to our national health and wellbeing. With a cheaper ticket, people would be more daring in both the things they choose to produce and the things they choose to see.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Tadeusz Kantor and Richard Foreman were two people I latched onto early, the latter of which I got to spend time with in production for six months which was pretty thrilling. Anne Bogart and the way she thinks about time and space, she has always moved me. The plays of Caryl Churchill, Sarah Kane, Beckett, Lorca, Fornés — those have had the largest impact. And some contemporaries that I look up to and admire include Tina Satter/Half Straddle, Annie Baker, Young Jean Lee, Mac Wellman, Erik Ehn, Tarrel Alvin McCraney + so many more.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I like seeing work that makes me feel slightly unsafe or unsettled, work that feels like there is some sort of risk involved in its very performance and my watching it. I like theater that almost seems compulsory in its presentation, like it just burst into being right now, at this moment. I love spectacle, or failed attempts at it.

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

A:  I've been making devised plays through my company Progressive Theatre Workshop since 2007. Only recently did I begin exploring text from a more writerly place, that place being alone in my office hoping that others might produce the plays eventually rather than myself. So in that sense, I'm just starting out. I try really hard to stay in my own lane, keep my eyes on my own paper. It's very easy to get caught in the rat race, especially in NYC, and to start comparing your progress to others. No path is the same. Figure out what you do well, practice doing it, share with people. Make your own opportunities. Be generous and open. Really understand why you write plays. Figure out how to be in love with doing it.

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

A:  I almost exclusively write on screen in Times New Roman. If I do write on paper, it's in whatever notebook or post-it pad I can grab first and usually with these fine point Sharpie markers someone bought me for adult coloring books.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Page 73 is presenting a workshop of my play CREAM! at Theater for the New City on October 19and 20th. Their website: www.page73.org

Also, I'm beginning work on a new piece through my company soon. More info to be found eventually here: www.progressivetheatreworkshop.org.

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Jack And Jill Plays - Part 35 - Proud




About Jack and Jill Plays:

This is a new thing I'm doing.  Posting a short play every day as long as I can.  

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

PROUD
by Adam Szymkowicz

(JACK in a swimsuit sits in a kiddie pool full of rubber ducks. Enter JILL wearing sunglasses.  She sees JACK.)

JILL
Hey.

JACK
Hey.

JILL
Are you drunk?

JACK
No.  Of course not.  Maybe.  It's Saturday.

JILL
I've been thinking a lot about my dad.

JACK
Oh.

JILL
About him and how he died but also what he was like and what I'm like.

JACK
Yeah.

JILL
Everything's inescapable, isn't it?

JACK
Maybe.  Yeah.  I don't know.

JILL
How long you been sitting in there.

JACK
I don't have a watch or anything.

JILL
Yeah.  A long time?

JACK
Maybe.  I don't know.  He'd be proud of you.

JILL
No.  Proud of what?  No.

JACK
He would be.

JILL
Move over.

(JILL climbs in the pool with him.  They kiss.  Maybe they kiss.  Maybe they make out like teenagers.  Maybe the ducks squeak as they roll around.)

JACK
I'm gonna get a watch.

JILL
You're so sexy.  You have another beer?


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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 994: Richard Vetere




Richard Vetere

Home Town: New York City.

Current Home Town: New York City.

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I am in rehearsal with my play Lady Macbeth and Her Lover which opens on November 2nd at the Directors Company. The play was developed at the NY Playwrights Lab created and run by Israel Horovitz and then produced at the NYC International Fringe in 2015. Michelle Bossy from Primary Stages is directing. My play Square One which was commissioned by the Cultural Project in 2012 was then developed in the PD Workshop Unit of the Actors Studio in NYC and was chosen as one of the best developed there in 2017 season and just presented in their Best Works Festival. I am also in film pre-production with Brit director/producer Tony Kaye on my adaptation of my stage play The Actors. I will be acting in it. I am working on the first draft of my new novel (untitled) and will be presenting my new ten minute play The Trump and the 7 Deadly Sins at Artists Without Walls at the Cell Theater on Tuesday at 7pm September 26th. I will be playing Saint Peter. I have two readings coming up in Oct. Director Matt Penn is directing a reading of my new play Zaglada at the Directors Company and Peter Zinn is directing a reading of my published play Gangster Apparel at the Players Club. I have decided to age the characters since the play was first produced in the mid 90’s and I wanted to revisit 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:  It’s a long story how I became a poet when a pretty girl named June who I had a crush on sat down next to me in 7th grade homeroom at Saint Stanislaus School in Queens and showed me a poem by her boyfriend serving in Viet Nam. I had never seen a poem before and I don’t know why she showed it to me. I had written her a love letter so perhaps she knew I had the potential to be a poet? I went home and wrote my own war poem to impress her. It was about my friend’s father who was wounded on Normandy Beach. She thought the poem was so good she showed it to the nun who showered me with praise and showed me off by introducing me to the entire school one class at a time. and I was instantly known as “the poet” in school. At the same time or a little later I would write plays and put them on in my backyard casting my brothers and friends. I directed them and played the lead. They were mainly detective stories, the kind I saw on TV or in the movies. I set up chairs and charged a nickel. Nothing has changed other than charging a nickel. Subsequently I entered and won a high school poetry contest and the same thing happened there and again I did the same thing in college and won the contest. Both times I was then named literary editor. Mentors found me and I was off and running to a career as an author. I have published 3 books of poetry and some twenty four plays since.

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

A:  I would change a lot. First, I would make it free for all playwrights, directors and actors who are in Equity, Dramatist Guild etc. as well as designers and others who work in the theater. I would have a theater tax on all commercial real estate properties that make a profit and all billionaires who reside in NYC to fund Off-Off Broadway and Off-Broadway charging very little for audience and keeping the non for profit status. Meaning creating a dozen Signature Theaters across the city in all five boroughs giving access to theater for everyone. I would work to make theater viable and vital again and lessen the disparity between the big budget commercial Broadway shows and the smaller Off-Off Broadway showcases giving audiences a chance to see good personal work. Money is the only way to prove to those who run things that theater is a natural form of expression and essential to the human interaction of ideas and not something to be ineffectual and treated like something precious and inconsequential to our existence.

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  The hardest question to ask. I probably would have answered differently at different times in my life. Probably playwrights who have tackled universal issues. Ibsen, Arthur Miller come to mind. However, American playwrights not influenced by TV writing must include Mamet, Shanley and Shepard and August Wilson. They deserve homage from playwrights not influenced by the disease of TV. By this I mean writing by committee and being at the mercy of a corporation.

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Few theater I see today moves me. That ability had fallen to film and now, in general, film fails to move me. Not long ago the saying was theater was now like opera. I have to say movies are now like opera and theater is now like ballet. I see very little hope in television as well for an expressive artist to express any exciting ideas that haven’t already been announced in the media as viable. I love to see a good story and a good plot and wonderful language – I hardly see that anymore in theater or anywhere else for that matter. Universities have taken to ‘teach’ playwrighting (I have taught in the master’s program at NYU in both film and playwrighting) and this doesn’t work. Mainly because it is replacing the idea of an artist being an apprentice with the unreasonable notion that someone can be taught to write plays and after one or two years graduate to be a master at the craft. And that is what is expected not by the university but by the students themselves. I have experienced this firsthand. Also it is big business to teach playwrighting so this inaccurate notion will continue. I never took a writing class in my life and most mature playwrights I know never did either.

I always go to the theater in hopes of finding that magic between words, acting, music, lighting and scene. PS Also there is such an emphasis on directing now where the director molds the play and not the playwright. This is a leftover from the director in film being the author with no attention other than a writing credit to the true author. It is an abomination and is probably going to defeat theater in the end from within. Many young playwrights I speak to have no notion of their legal and creative rights to their own work. This is not taught as well.

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

A:  Learn how to construct a good plot from a meaningful story. Today all of us in the industry know that the personal story is not being made in Hollywood anymore. That leaves a big opportunity for playwrights. Also learn to write film by starting with a short film. Learn how to think visually. Take acting classes or learn how to act. Learn what a director does. I learned it all by forming a theater company early in my career. Learn the ins and outs. And mostly LEARN YOUR CREATIVE AND LEGAL RIGHTS!

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

A:  I can no longer write long hand. My penmanship is awful. I can no longer read my own writing. Luckily I am a very good typist. My thoughts move so quickly. I am so happy that back in high school I took the typing class as an elective. My father thought I was odd for taking it. I had this intuitive notion that I would need it in life. I was correct. Mainly because I am so prolific and I write so much I have learned to type and probably could get a job as a typist! Ha. I use a 12 font New Courier.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  My new play Lady Macbeth and Her Lover opens this November 2nd Thursday night for three week run at The Directors Company 311 West 43rd Street. Tickets go on sale shortly. I am also acting in my new ten minute play The Trump and the 7 Deadly Sins at Actors Without Walls at the Cell Theater on September 26th at 7pm. It is about Trump dying and be confronted by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. I will be playing Saint Peter.
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Jack And Jill Plays - Part 34 - Birthday





About Jack and Jill Plays:

This is a new thing I'm doing.  Posting a short play every day as long as I can.  

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


Birthday
by Adam Szymkowicz

(JACK at a table, glum.  Enter JILL carrying a cake.)

JILL
Happy Birthday!

JACK
Thanks!  Yeah.  Thanks.

JILL
You're old.

JACK
I'm old.

JILL
So you gonna have a mid life crisis now?

JACK
Thanks for bringing that up.  I've been thinking about that a lot actually.  Should I start a motorcycle gang?  Change my hair?  Dress young?  Pierce my eyebrow?    And I decided after a lot of thought not to do anything.

JILL
No?

JACK
No.  I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing until I die.

JILL
It sounds like you've given up.

JACK
Yeah.  I -- maybe yeah.  But why change?  It won't make a difference.

JILL
I got a tattoo.

JACK
You did?  Let me see.

(She shows him.)

JACK
Oh.  Yeah.  Look at that.  That's cool.

JILL
You want to get one?

JACK
No.  I don't know.  No.  Maybe.  No.  Maybe a dump truck.

JILL
A dump truck?

JACK
On my arm.

JILL
A dump truck?

JACK
You're right.

JILL
I mean maybe.

JACK
Let's just eat the cake.

(JILL hands him a fork.  He begins to eat the cake.)

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Jack And Jill Plays - Part 33 - See What We Get





About Jack and Jill Plays:

This is a new thing I'm doing.  Posting a short play every day as long as I can.  

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


See What We Get
by Adam Szymkowicz

(JACK and JILL in a rowboat or a canoe.  They row or paddle.)

JILL
You want to practice?

JACK
No.

JILL
I think you should practice.

JACK
That's okay.

JILL
I Insist.

JACK
I don't want to.

JILL
It'll make you more confident.

JACK
I don't want to be confident.

JILL
Why not?

JACK
I want to be authentic in the moment.  Not fake confident and then they hire me and they'll be like where did that confident guy go that we hired -- now we got this guy.  Better to never be confident.

JILL
Better to get the job.

JACK
Right.  Okay.  That's a fair point.

JILL
Great.  (as interviewer) Nice to meet you, Jack.  Why did you apply for this job.

JACK
I can't do this.  Can we just not?  I want to be unrehearsed.  I want to speak from the heart.  If the job is right it will all work out.

JILL
No.  You need a job.  You make the job right.

JACK
Yeah.  But.  If I try to make stuff up, it'll be bad.  I'll be bad at it.  Better to just say what I'm thinking.

JILL
What are you thinking?

JACK
I'm thinking I don't want this job.

JILL
I know that's what you're thinking.  I need you think think something else.

JACK
Can we just not talk for a while and cast out our lines and see what we get?

(JILL silently agrees.  They both fish.)


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