Friday, January 16, 2015

Hi Playwrights, Dramaturgs, Directors, Play Readers, Producers, Actors


Do you know about the New Play Exchange?  It launched yesterday.  It is a database of new plays.  Should you be looking for plays to produce or just plays to read, it is a very cool thing.

Read more about it here in this article.

Here is a link to my profile where you can read some of my newer (not yet published) plays as well as links to my published plays.  (I'm pretty sure you have to register to do so, however.)

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Monday, January 12, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 715: Tom Dulack


Tom Dulack

Hometown:  I was born and raised in Whiting, Indiana, and graduated with a B.A. in English from Indiana University in 1957. I got an M.A. in English at the University in Connecticut in 1959. I am now full professor of English at UConn where I teach courses in Shakespeare, Hemingway and theatre-related subjects.

Current Town:  I live in Bridgewater, Connecticut with my wife, Veronique who is a Belgian art historian and who also teaches at UConn.

Q:  Tell me about The Road To Damascus.

A:  I wrote the first draft of The Road to Damascus in 2007 fueled by my anger over the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld war crimes. At first there was a lot of interest, we did a reading upstairs at Sardi's in front of a rather large audience and for a while everyone was excited. A guy in Brussels commissioned a French translation with the idea of doing it there at the National Theatre where I had a play performed in the 1980s. There were expressions of interest from London. Then Obama was elected and somehow the first black president seemed to take the steam out of the idea of a play about the first black pope. No one saw that in a few short years, our middle east policies under Obama would be as horrible as what we endured under Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld. And suddenly, with Assad gassing his own people, the same play had new life and momentum. A compelling example of life imitating art.

The Road to Damascus imagines a world in the near future in which Syria continues to be a cauldron of violence, and a breeding ground of terrorists that all claim descent from ISIS of 2015. Same gangs of fanatics with different names. The U.S. is bent on wiping Syria off the face of the earth once and for all using a terror bombing in New York as a cover even though Washington knows that the funding of the gang that attacked New York has nothing to do with Damascus. An obvious parallel with Bush-Cheney-Rusmfeld using 9/11 as an excuse to attack Iraq even though they knew Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The new (since 3 months) Pope Augustine, who comes out of the Congo, decides to intervene to prevent the United States from bombing Damascus. This creates an immense rapidly escalating crisis that takes place in back and forth scenes between Washington and the Vatican.

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 was raised like many writers and artists as a Roman Catholic. I no longer practice but I continue to write often on religious subjects. The hypocrisies of the RC hierarchy have always particularly fascinated me, and I loved the creative possibilities of imagining what an African pope would be like.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  When I was a kid I could not get enough of George Bernard Shaw. I still read him all the time, especially his criticism. His stuff on Shakespeare has no equal. But I am a playwright today probably because of John Osborne's Inadmissible Evidence. I had tickets to see it on Broadway with Nichol Williamson. It was a matinee and Williamson was sick and an actor named James Patterson played Maitland and the play changed my life. Until then I had been a novelist, and had enjoyed some success with a couple of books, but after seeing Inadmissible Evidence all I wanted to do was to write plays like that. I also became good friends with Patterson. He was the first and has remained since then the only actor I ever wrote a fan letter to and he wrote back immediately and we were friends until he died alas way too young. Later his wife Rochelle Oliver starred in my first commercially produced play, Solomon's Child, at the Long Wharf in New Haven but not, unfortunately, in its Broadway transfer.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  Since 2005 I have been writing short scripts and casting and directing them as part of the New York Philharmonic/s Young Persons Concerts series. I've written almost 40 of them, more than anyone other than Lenny Bernstein as it happens, and four times a year I get to do my stuff at Avery Fisher Hall in front of 2700 people. We have been sold out for these concerts since I arrived. No doubt a coincidence. Anyway, I have two more of those to do this spring. I am looking to place a new kind of music drama about Vivaldi I've written, to be performed with a symphony orchestra so if any symphony orchestras are reading this, I have something terrific for you. Also a new play, there's always a new play, this one about Aphra Behn, the first and best female professional playwright in England, a kind of feminist thing that features a friend of Aphra's and Nell Gwynn who turns out to be Virgina Woolf. This is in an early stage of first draft and came out of a sketch I wrote for a NY Phil YPC about Aphra Behn that was memorably portrayed by the ineffable dancer/actress Heather Lipson Bell and fortunately captured on a video which has yet to be released.

I am also looking for a producer for a film I wrote about the tragic (yet comical) marriage of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Lizzie Siddal, so if any movie producers are reading this...

And I'm putting the finishing touches on a book about an extraordinary priest who taught me in grammar school and to whom I believe I owe nearly all of what turned out to be my cultural life. I owe him an extraordinary debt. He was my first hero. He was also a pederast.

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

A:  Sign up for some classes or workshops in acting. Get up there on a stage and learn what theatre is all about. You can't learn from sitting at a desk writing. I wrote a lot of plays before I was 30, or what I thought were plays. But it was the late William Gibson in Stockbridge who saw one of these things and advised me to come up there and take some acting lessons. I did, and as soon as I began to act (badly, I hasten to add) I started getting my plays produced. Acting showed me what a scene was all about, how to write for actors, how to write plays.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  The Road to Damascus runs at 59E59 Theaters from January 17 - March 1. http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=190


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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Upcoming and Ongoing Productions

Upcoming Productions of My Plays--


Clown Bar 

Production #4 of Clown Bar
RedWhite + BlueArt Productions
redwhite+bluezz @ The Pasadena Playhouse
Pasadena, CA
Opened January 8, 2015




Production #5
Indiana Players
Indiana, PA
Opens March 20, 2015

Nerve

Production #16 of Nerve
Spaghetti Theatre
Nashville, TN
Opens January 23, 2015

Production #17
DePaul University
Chicago, IL
Opens June 5, 2015


Hearts Like Fists



Production #13 of Hearts Like Fists
Outcry Theatre
Dallas, TX
Opens March 19, 2015



Production #14
Know Theatre of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH
Opens March 27, 2015

Production #15
Stephens College
Columbia, MO
Opens April 9, 2015


Production #8 of Pretty Theft
Western Illinois University
Macomb, IL
Opens May 10, 2015


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Saturday, January 03, 2015

THREE READINGS: NYC, Philly, Providence

upcoming play readings of new plays of mine

Jan 6, 8pm, New York, NY

Where You Can't Follow
 with Barefoot Theatre Company

Directed by Paul Schnee

with
David Deblinger
Sol Crespo
Kenneth King
Charlotte Pines

Westbeth Community Room
55 Bethune Street (or enter at 155 Bank Street, 1 block south)
NYC, NY

Admission is $5 and includes drinks and snacks

Please RSVP to confirm your reservation as space is limited. To RSVP send an email with play title, number attending and contact info to: barefootrsvp at aol.com


Matt learns he has only a few weeks to live and tries to live the life he has always wanted. Most of all, he wants to fall in love before he dies. He leaves his old life and flies to Paris where he meets Josette, who says she will teach him what love is.

Jan 6, 7pm, Philadelphia, PA

Mercy at Azuka Theatre

1636 Sansom St,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

Directed by Kevin Glaccum
With Mike Dees, Tim Dugan, Alex Keiper & Bob Lohrman

Orville is trying to get on with his life after his wife was killed in a car accident. His father is mostly taking care of his still unnamed infant daughter while his boss as work is aggressively trying to comfort him. Everything changes when he sees the man responsible for his wife's death. Is someone in this much pain capable of forgiveness?
Feb 3, 7:30 pm, Providence, RI

Mercy at Wilbury Theater Group

Southside Cultural Center
393 Broad Street
Providence, RI 02906

directed by Josh Short and Ben Jolivet

Starring Christina Saad Wolfskehl and more TBA

When Orville’s pregnant wife is hit by drunk driver, they are able to save the baby but not her. Orville’s father moves in to help with the baby and Orville tries to get his life back together. And then he happens to see the drunk driver on the street one day. He befriends him under an assumed name and buys a gun. Will Orville take revenge, kill himself or just have inappropriate sex with his boss?

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Thursday, January 01, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 714: John Yearley



John Yearley

Hometown: Stanford, CA

Current Town: Metuchen, NJ

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  First priority is an adaptation of Antigone for young audiences commissioned by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Also writing new material for a one-person show of my work that debuted last month, Confessions from the Plank, starring PJ Sosko and directed by Jessi Hill. Also developing a web series, working on a book of essays about being a dad, and trying to start a new play.

Oh, and I just finished a gargantuan re-write of my most recent full-length, Eight Minutes, Twenty Seconds. So that needs to get launched into the world.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A:  Honestly, I just wish it was cheaper. I feel like so much of what ails theater is because it is so expensive nobody goes. Or when they do go they don't want to try new things. It starts a terrible cycle that hurts everybody

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A:  Chekov, Tennessee Williams, Tony Kushner. Oh, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman - I'm still grieving his death. It's like a close friend died.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Anything that surprises me. I've read and/or seen a million plays. I can see where most are going in about five minutes. I am totally delighted when I turn out to be wrong.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A:  Hold tight to the actors who understand you. The ones who understand what's funny and what isn't without explanation will be invaluable to you in so many ways.


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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 713: Claire Kiechel

photo by Zack DeZon

Claire Kiechel

Hometown: I am the daughter of a roving journalist so I am one of those annoying people who don’t really have a hometown.

Current Town: Washington Heights, New York.

Q:  Tell me about The Matchstick Series and the Pipeline Playlab.

A:  The Pipeline Playlab is a group of amazing playwrights that I am so happy to be part of. It means I get to hang out with Salty Brine, Colby Day, Sarah Einspanier, Adam Fried, Jerry Lieblich, Rachel Music, Jeremy Wine once a month where we eat brunchy items and talk about each other’s work. We spend the year developing a full length play for which we have a public reading in July, and then we each also have written a ten minute play for Pipeline’s Matchstick Series which goes up in the newly refurbished Red Room January 16-18.

My short piece is directed by the fantastic Jaki Bradley and stars the talented Carolyn Mignini. It’s a about a woman wrestling with an image of her younger self. It’s one of a collection of monologues I am writing that address the topic of “memory.”

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I’m working on my Playlab full length which is about a cruise ship, the language of war, and female adolescence. I’m still in a research phase so I’m reading a lot of war testimonials, watching a lot of detective movies, and obsessing about the art of Henry Darger.

I am doing a workshop of my adaptation of Wedekind’s Lulu Play called Lulu is Hungry at Cincinnati Playhouse at the end of January.

And finally, I am finishing my play about a corporation that sells memories, The Forgetters, which is a play written to be performed as a reading. I had a reading of it with Crashbox Theater Company in December.

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

A:  When I was in fourth grade and living in Brussels, I had a Danish friend who would come over and play, and I’d always invent these ridiculous scenarios and characters and sometimes write dialogue for us. One day we played “Apocalypse” which is, of course, the best game ever up there with “Lava Floor,” and I had my sister play God who we stumbled upon and asked why he had ended the world. I made God a real asshole, which makes sense because I spent a lot of my childhood angrily praying to God to please exist, so I was going through some things. Anyway my Danish friend told her very Catholic mother about our game and my friend wasn’t allowed to come over anymore, and I got in trouble with my own mother.

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

A:  Every time I go into the theater, I want to be moved. I am full of hope when the lights go down – maybe I will see something magical. And sometimes I do! But more often than not, I see bad imitations of plays that have already been done, I’m often ahead of the narrative, and usually the climax of the play is information that we discover happened before the play even began. So if I could change one thing about theater (besides the obvious answers of accessibility, affordability, the necessity of better wages and affordable childcare, and the woeful lack of diversity), I would encourage theater makers and producers to take bigger risks. I want bigger plays, messier plays, tiny tiny plays, plays that don’t take place in living rooms, plays in rhymed couplets, full day plays, plays that aren’t really plays at all but more like singular experiences.

Tim Etchells says he tries to create theater that makes the audience a witness instead of a spectator. I think the reason that a lot of experiential theater is so popular at the moment is that audiences want to witness something real they can’t experience by themselves or on a screen.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Maria Irene Fornés and Caryl Churchill made me want to be a playwright.

My teachers Christopher Shinn, Laura Maria Censabella, Connie Congdon, and Frank Pugliese made me think I was one.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that does something unexpected.

Off of the top of my head, here are some exciting plays/experiences that I’ve read or seen and have been thinking about lately:

Kate Benson’s A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks… (The New Georges/Women’s Project is remounting the play from January 12 to February 7)

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon (being remounted by TFANA February 14 to March 8)

Gabrielle Reisman’s The Panama Limited

Greg Wohead’s The Ted Bundy Project

Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present…

Rude Mech’s The Method Gun

Geoff Sobelle’s The Object Lesson

The Debate Society’s Blood Play

600 Highwaymen’s The Record

Cazimir Liske’s adaptation of Ivan Viripaev’s Illusions

Diane Exavier’s new play We Have Everything You Need for the Problems You Might Have (which is the only play I’ve ever read influenced by the glorious film Waterworld)

David Adjmi’s Marie Antoinette

Michael Crowley’s new play about Celine Dion, Let Them Touch Those Things

Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Life and Times Episodes I-IV

Gregory Moss’s House of Gold

N.D. Austin and Ida Benedetto’s trespass theater

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

A:  Read a lot. Not just plays. Novels, biographies, histories, philosophy, shitty magazines. Make a note of anything that provokes a response in you. Don’t assume you’ll remember, you won’t.

Go to a lot of theater. Talk to a lot of people. When you see something onstage that you fall in love with, tell the creators and ask them out for coffee. Write down the names of actors you want to work with. Be nice to everyone.

Don’t go to grad school if it means you are going to have a crazy amount of debt.

Figure out a way to support yourself financially that allows you time to write. Ask people what they do for money. It’s a conversation we don’t have enough of in the theater community because people either have a lot of it (and are embarrassed) or have none of it (and are embarrassed).

Consider yourself and people you want to reach when thinking about your audience. Don’t be tricked into thinking about what the current theater-going public looks like when writing your plays; this results in boring theater. Once I stopped thinking about the weird old white guy “subscriber” that was somehow implanted in my head, I could trust my own impulses and instincts, and write stories that I want to see onstage and have discussions about.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Come to Pipeline’s Matchstick Series January 16-18!

The Kilroys are a group of badass women working to achieve gender parity in theater.

The Orchard Project is a theater retreat where I’ve met some of my favorite theater artists working today. You should apply.

The Nonsense is a weekly list put out by Jeff Stark of independent art, weird events, strange happenings, and senseless culture happening in New York City.

Indie Theater Now is an amazing website that Martin Denton runs, which currently has plays by 630 playwrights.

Anything produced by Colt Coeur, Soho Rep, The Play Company, New Georges, Clubbed Thumb.



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my 2014 in review


It was a busy year.

This year I wrote 2 full length plays, 3 half-hour long plays, finished the screenplay I was writing last year, wrote a screenplay version of my play Hearts Like Fists, wrote a season of a web series and contributed to the season of another.  Also wrote some short corporate training films for money.  Wrote some new clown songs for the Clown Bar preshow (which Adam Overett improved and set to music.)  I also continued making at least one Toys In My House comic a day every single day.  



And I took care of our kid most days.  He's almost 16 months old now.


Was able to take a trip to CA to see Hearts Like Fists at Cal State Fullerton (what a fun show! photo below) and to hang out with director Oanh Nguyen and the folks at Chance Theater who did a reading of Sarah Sarah Sarah.



Also went to Bennington with Primary Stages again for the writing group retreat and went to the Flux Ensemble Theatre retreat in PA.  Wallace came along for that last one and Kristen was there too with her own play.

There were 10 productions of my full length plays in ’14 led by the fancy remount of Clown Bar in NYC.  Nerve was done once -- and has been done once or twice every year since it was published 7 years ago.  (It was written 11 years ago, my thesis play at Columbia)  Hearts Like Fists had 8 productions, the most I've ever had in the first year of something being published.  Clown Bar was published this year by Sam French and Hearts Like Fists was included in the Geek Theater anthology.  






Violent Bones and Super Margaret were read at Primary Stages.  The Amoralists did a reading of Fat Cat Killers.  Rare Birds was read at LCT3.

I taught two semesters of Web Series Writing at ESPA.  I'll teach there again next year and at Playpenn in Philly.  There may still be slots open in PA if you want to take the class.  I hear the class at NYC is overfull.

I passed the 700 playwright interview mark this year too.  Here are the first 700.  There were 85 playwright interviews this year.  Speaking of the blog, I am about to hit 1 million page views.  It should happen sometime today or tomorrow.

Flux (who did my plays Pretty Theft and Hearts Like Fists) did a stellar job with my wife’s beautiful play “Once Upon a Bride ThereWas A Forest” and it was one of maybe 6 plays I got to see this year.  I used to get to see 30-50 plays a year when I was living in NYC. Such is the country life and the life of a parent of a small child.


What's next?  I have 4 play publications coming in the new year.  Along with 7 play productions scheduled, led by Clown Bar at The Pasadena Playhouse.  And 3 readings scheduled for early in the new year of Where You Can't Follow in NYC and Mercy in Philadelphia and Providence.  And a new play workshop at the Chance Theater as part of their new lab series.

Still plugging away.  Wishing you a wonderful 2015.

UPDATE:  My previous year in reviews, in case you are interested
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007

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Monday, December 29, 2014

2 Readings!! NYC, Providence

upcoming play readings of new plays of mine

Jan 6, 8pm, New York, NY

Where You Can't Follow
with Barefoot Theatre Company

Directed by Paul Schnee

with
David Deblinger
Sol Crespo
Kenneth King
Charlotte Pines

Westbeth Community Room
55 Bethune Street (or enter at 155 Bank Street, 1 block south)
NYC, NY

Admission is $5 and includes drinks and snacks

Please RSVP to confirm your reservation as space is limited. To RSVP send an email with play title, number attending and contact info to: barefootrsvp at aol.com


Matt learns he has only a few weeks to live and tries to live the life he has always wanted. Most of all, he wants to fall in love before he dies. He leaves his old life and flies to Paris where he meets Josette, who says she will teach him what love is.


Feb 3, 7:30 pm, Providence, RI

Mercy at Wilbury Theater Group

Southside Cultural Center
393 Broad Street
Providence, RI 02906

directed by Josh Short and Ben Jolivet

Starring Christina Saad Wolfskehl and more TBA

When Orville’s pregnant wife is hit by drunk driver, they are able to save the baby but not her. Orville’s father moves in to help with the baby and Orville tries to get his life back together. And then he happens to see the drunk driver on the street one day. He befriends him under an assumed name and buys a gun. Will Orville take revenge, kill himself or just have inappropriate sex with his boss?

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