Friday, March 30, 2007
Guild right now. Now might be a good time to join if
any of you playwrights don't belong. Wise words from
Mr. Garrison in the recent Guild newsletter:
From the Desk of Gary Garrison
JONES-ING FOR IT:
"I had THAT moment the other day. You know the one I'm
talking about: you're at a dinner party, all the
guests are seated at the table and you're desperately
trying to stay focused and engaged in the conversation
even though (1) you can't remember the person's name
to the left of you, (2) you can't remember the
person's name to the right of you, (3) you've dropped
the metal napkin ring in the middle of the plate,
making a noise that sounds symphonic and (4) you've
left your glasses at the office so you don't know if
you're eating the salad with the big fork or small
fork and does-it-really-matter-even
though-your-mother-said-it-did? In your chaotic haze
of self-consciousness you think you hear your name and
then the following: "Oh, he's a writer, aren't you
Gary?" Instantly, you feel every pair of eyes on you.
Instead of something that should resemble a
straight-forward, "Yes, I am," you manage to gurgle
something that vaguely sounds positive but is actually
a thin apology for not being famous.
Why do I do that? Simple: I know the question that's
just waiting to fall out of someone's mouth is, "What
have you written?" or worse, "Have you written
anything I know?" And let's be honest, unless you're a
writer that's had a healthy, visible career, chances
are they haven't heard of you or your work and the
whole moment is awkward. From that tiny little
question, all my insecurities can rise up and choke
the sense right out of my language. I stumble, bumble
and fall (and don't want to get up), and I end up
talking and talking and talking and sounding like
something I never want to be: a critic of my own
career. But quietly, here's what I know the real issue
is: I'm caught off guard to account for my success (or
sadly, what I perceive as the lack thereof). And
that's where it all goes wrong.
What is success? Is having one production in six
months or three productions in two years a success? Is
a reading, a workshop or a showcase of my work a
success or is it something to easily discount because
it's not a production – in a theatre – with over
ninety-nine seats – and a water fountain -- with real
ushers – and a real curtain – and actors performing
who are paid a living wage – and myself getting a
royalty – and a good review. No! Five good reviews!
No! TEN! Okay, five good reviews and my father's
approval! When is it ever enough? Honestly, how much
success does it take to stop jones-ing for it? Or do
you ever stop that almost-narcotic need?
I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that a
number of us have an over-inflated definition of
success for ourselves. And if we don't seriously
reexamine that from time to time, and yes, recalibrate
it, we'll stop writing and we'll blame it on the
specifics of "I could never get an agent. I could
never get published. I could never get a regional
theatre to produce my play. I could never get a grant.
I could never get a Guggenheim. I could . . ." That
list goes on and on.
Sitting down to write this column today was a success.
Finally making a scene work that I've rewritten
countless times is a success. Having a reading of my
play where the story is clear and engaging is a HUGE
success. Having a director ask me to read more of my
work is a glorious success. I know, I know. It's
simple-minded. But I've thought all the other kind
thinking, and simple is beginning to look better and
ggarrison at dramatistsguild dot com
Thursday, March 29, 2007
patron. So if there is a lover of the arts out there
who wants to support theatre, I would like to make the
case for supporting me instead of Manhattan Theatre
Get in touch with me and I'll give you the details
about how you can send me checks so I have time to
write and no longer have to have a 9-5 soul crushing existence.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
means i better get going on it.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
in my short play last night.
I mean we all know Steve Buscemi is a genius. That's
a given and Jena Malone and Jamie-Lynn Sigler were
both fantastic but the surprise for me was Bon Jovi
who it appears is much more than a rockstar.
Other highlights of the night included a hilarious
Steve Schirripa as auctioneer, Sam Rockwell and Aidan
Quinn wailing on each other and Juliana Margulies
putting them in their place and a heartfelt and
stirring speech by John Voight about the importance of
All in all it was a fantastic night and I hope Studio
Dante will be around for a long time and if last night
is any indication, it surely will be.
Monday, March 26, 2007
As part of research for a play I'm going to write, I have begun reading comic books. I went to the comic book and graphic novel store on Court yesterday and spent way too much money. As a kid I sometimes read my father's old comic books--mostly Donald Duck and Archie and old school Disney stuff and when I did buy new ones, which was not often, I never really read the superhero ones. I only read the funny ones (or the ones that were trying to be funny anyhow). Reading the Marvel comics and others for the first time, I finally get it. the stuff is like candy. I finish one and want to start another. I didn't buy more than one of a series and so I get hooked on the art and the plot and then it's over and I move on to the next and get hooked on that story line. The colors and the action are amazing. I had no idea I was someone who liked comic books.
"But even as 15 student actors were polishing the
script and perfecting their accents for a planned
April performance, the school principal last week
canceled the play, titled "Voices in Conflict," citing
questions of political balance and context."
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
I don't really know what language this is but very
different words pop up based on the language I plug
into the translator.
Possible pull quotes include:
"quantity with suckles"
"exceptionally had witty comedy"
"spicy comedy on the first assembly"
"Amusingly, spicy, unpretending plus dynamic"
"to get dow on one's marrowbones"
And of course
"Sportfully, spritedly, unpretentious i zippy —
wrinkly svih velièina with kojima are yourself nark
put susreli somewhat opu¹tanja yum-yum doðe."
Descriptions of me include:
Adams Szymkowicz (conspicuously Husk countryman, limit
with amerièkom superscription)
Adam Szymkowicz (barely Husk compatriot, but with
Adam Szymkowicz (nakedness Test landsman, whether with
Adam Szymkowicz (oèito Highwayman bread pudding, ali
with Yankee superscription)
"The benefit will honor actor Jon Voigt (Coming Home,
Midnight Cowboy, Ali), and will feature the talents of
Steve Buscemi, Jon Bon Jovi, Sam Rockwell, Jamie-Lynn
Sigler, Aidan Quinn and Piper Perabo. The stars will
be featured in readings of two short plays - one by
Mike Dowling and the other by Adam Szymkowicz."
"Michael Imperioli — the Emmy-winning star of "The
Sopranos" and Studio Dante's co-artistic director with
his wife Victoria Imperioli — will introduce the
plays, which are by Mike Dowling and Adam Szymkowicz.
A live auction will be led by Imperioli's "Sopranos"
co-star Steve Schirripa. Professor Richard Brown of
the AMC series "Movies 101" will present the tribute
to Voight." --------------------- Update: I am told that my short play will star Steve Buscemi, Jon Bon Jovi, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Jena Malone!
Monday, March 19, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
If you have 500 dollars to burn, you can come see the
incredibly talented folks listed, 4 of which will be
reading my play. For more info, send me an email. the address, etc is not listed.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
and blog review of the reading in nyc
go see it in Seattle
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
say it's the most profound mystery in all of science."
college, Stephanie, mailed me a letter I had sent her
the summer of '97. It was fascinating to read. I was
a different person 10 years ago. In it, I write about
going down to Salmon River and how much I love nature
and how I could never live in a city. hmmm.
I also say in the letter I'm going to try and write a
play that summer (while holding down a full time job).
Now I don't remember exactly if this was my first or
third attempt at a play. It might be my first, and if
so it was a terrible beckett-inspired symbolist play.
There were some funny lines and a lot of philosophy
and deep meaning I'm not sure I could explain now. In
other words, I'm not sure it meant what I wanted it to
The reason I bring this up, I guess, is that ten years
ago I took off down the path to be a playwright which
meant 4 years later moving to New York to work very
hard writing plays and doing all the things not
related to writing plays that playwrights have to do.
In the process, I managed to accumulate about 90
thousand dollars of debt going to grad school.
And now I'm here going to a different grad school for
free. The playwriting is going better than ever. And
I'm feeling worse about it than I ever have before.
Oddly discouraged. All the small things going well
seem much too small.
The productions, the readings, the good reviews, the
writing groups, all things I'm happy about. But I
feel like I could stay here at this level working my
ass off for the rest of my life not getting any closer
to whatever it is I'm looking for.
(What is it I'm looking for? A way to transcend life
and show it at the same time? A way to immortality?
A version of beauty? A lasting understanding? A way
to escape? A rippling truth? Does this have anything
to do with the plays I'm writing or am I kidding
I want to go back 10 years ago and tell my young self
not to write that first play. I want to tell him to
spend more time swimming in the river. I want to tell
him to get a job working for one of the many insurance
companies so he can buy a house in town--one with a
big lawn and some woods in the back yard.
And yet I know, that was not the life I wanted. I
chose this. I want this, this life in the theatre.
P.S. Please don't misunderstand. I'm just voicing
something that I think needs to be said. Don't start
worrying about me or anything. Also don't think for a
second I'm going to stop writing. Hell, I can't even
Monday, March 12, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
acknowledged he was having an extramarital affair even
as he led the charge against President Clinton over
the Monica Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an
interview with a conservative Christian group.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
dramaturgs! Tell your
friends, your enemies, your colleagues, and especially
your really rich
connections to go to
search for seller "Literary_Managers_and_Dramaturgs"
currently writing. i have already deviated from the
outline in some parts and I'm sure will deviate again.
Also, don't think that some of that terrible dialogue
will actually be in the play. it's just a guide for
This is a play that takes place in new york. It
starts when the rabbit comes out of the bathroom and
ends when the rabbit packs his bags and leaves.
The main character wants a friend but can't get over
the death of his friend. Strong need to connect.
1 the apt todd in bathroom, brian going to work.
Brian talking to todd. Neal enters brian tries to
talk to him but there is no connection. Neal exits
and then todd comes out of the bathroom. –how do I
2 at work John show ropes –job is ridiculous. Before
john arrives Miranda appears over cubicle wall and
says nothing? Says hello? And then john comes in and
starts telling him what to do. Todd sits and watches
and makes comments. His comments are perhaps what
brian is thinking. intro Miranda what she's all
about brian tells he he just moved here from a small
liberal arts college in new Hampshire? --why did you
come to new york? I don't know. –you don't know?
--I want to do something worthwhile. –oh. What? --I
don't know. and then john asks her to come to his
office and she says alright but talks to brian for a
while longer –I like to make him wait. after Miranda
leaves, todd talks about her
3tries to connect with roommate again. On arrival,
brian says hi neal –hi and then todd –hi neal. Neal
says nothing. Brian tries to talk to him and then
--ok I guess I'll go to my room.
4Miranda and boss in fighting match followed by
Miranda talking about the overthrow of capitalism and
how she will do her part does he want to get a drink.
Maybe opens with todd reading out loud from a book
about rabbits while brian tries to alphabetize.
5 the drink let's make out they do? Won't that be
weird at work? If you don't want to? No, let's do
5b she takes him back to the office and they have
sex? On a copier? In the boss's office? What goes
wrong here? He does something wrong? He says I love
you maybe? He gets too close. Sex is offstage and
todd narrates the whole thing.
6 scene with Miranda and boss where we figure out
what's going on. She is difficult, young, he wants
her to have sex with him. Miranda ignores brian at
Phone messages where it becomes clear she is ignoring
him at work and ignoring his phone calls.
6b—what's with the getup. –oh I'm a bicycle
messenger. You are ? --now I am. –I didn't even
know you had a bike. –yeah. It was under the stairs.
–how did you become a bike messenger? --Apparently I
ran out of money. –how was it? --every muscle in my
body hurts and apparently I have to do it again
tomorrow. Brian and roommate bond a little over
brian's woman troubles. Neal gives advice tood also
gives advice. He says that brian should just forget
her. Brian ignores him.
6cFollowed by brian confronting Miranda? Brian takes
neal's advice –I'm not crazy. I'm not going to harass
you or anything. And I won't try to have sex with you
again. I just thought we could hang out. I like you.
you like me. Or I though you did. It's been a
really long time since I found someone that I truly
liked. I don't have very good friends but I fell like
you and I could be that—good friends. And I would be
really sad if that wasn't possible anymore. And I'm
sorry because I know I fucked it up because I always
fuck everything good up.
7They make up plan to overthrow the company in a bar.
Miranda tells brian about having sex with the boss—he
gets angry about the boss. Did he force you? We
could have him fired. maybe it's because of my father
she says. It is here that we learn about todd and
about miranda's father who is dying. Is she doing it
for anarchy or is she doing it to get back on the boss
cheating on her? And what are they doing exactly?
8 brian tells the roommate what happened. I think
we're going to just be friends. –is she not that
attractive? --she's very attractive. –then what's
the problem? --well, she's kind of fucked up. I mean
I want to hang out with her but I'm not sure I want to
be part of the drama, you know? Todd tries to
interject but brian is ignoring him –I know you can
hear me. Hey!
9 they carry out the plan. But john comes back while
they are fucking up a cublicle.
John yellsa t them threatens to call cops but she also
threatens to tell the boss and or his wife that he
likes to fuck the temps.
11 they are both out on their asses. They plot to
take down another company. We'll just call another
temp agency. And then we'll take down another
company. She brian and neal hang out and todd leaves.
Like the end of the station agent.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I've been sort of freaking out lately. The normal stuff--what am I doing with my life?, how long can I stand being an administrative assistant?, should I continue to live in New York? etc. But also the fatigue is setting in. I've been working so hard--writing like it's going out of style (which it may be)--but also working so hard on getting my stuff out there, getting it read by strangers. I'm just really tired right now. Tired of all the work it takes to be a playwright. Tired of not seeing anything resembling a way to playwright for a living. And the other voice in my head is saying, "Really?" "Did you really think there was a way to make a living doing what you love?"
All this makes me want to quit, bow out, stop running the race. I'm in the middle of writing a new play. Literally at the intermission and I know I will finish it. Because that's what I do. And behind it I can visualize all the other plays I'm hoping to write in varying stages of clarity. And there is a novel there too, supposedly. And supposedly I'm going to go back to that novel after this play is written. Even though I hear other plays calling.
Even though I am so so tired. Of running on this track. And yet this track is also the only thing that keeps me sane some days. Try to talk to me sometime after I've gone a week without writing. It will not be a pleasant experience for you. You see, I need it to keep me sane but it’s also slowly driving me mad. So I'm not so sure what to do about that. And I keep beating my head against the wall and chips of the wall tumble down but this wall....how thick is this wall? Two feet? Three feet thick? And I need a fucking hammer, OK. My head is found to be insufficient.
But really I just want to stop, move to the country, somewhere where there are trees and I won’t be able to see plays every night. Because it’s not good for me anymore to see the amount of theatre I see. Theatre has taken my life away and I’m not fighting hard enough to get it back. But I love it too. I love the theatre and can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t love it too.
But this life isn’t working right now. I got to take a break. I got to . . . I got to finish this play. Dude, I am fucked.
"The Bush administration's assault on some of the
founding principles of American democracy marches
onward despite the Democratic victory in the 2006
elections. The new Democratic majorities in Congress
can block the sort of noxious measures that the
Republican majority rubber-stamped. But preventing new
assaults on civil liberties is not nearly enough."
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
by: Christopher Shinn
Directed by: James Macdonald
You should go see this show. Although I think too
much of it is inactive, when it works, it works very
well. It feels like Chris Shinn is struggling with
something and I appreciate seeing plays by playwrights
that are working something out. Highlights for me
include the Law and Order realization and the
windshield monologue. I also enjoyed the subtle
movement of the stage. I don't know if it means
anything metaphorically but it's a cool thing to
I predict this play will win the Pulitzer next year.
http://www.lct.org/calendar/event_detail.cfm?ID_event=54624605 other blogger reviews Jaime James George Matt
Friday, March 02, 2007
"It is with the greatest pleasure that I cut the
ribbon on the 2nd annual LMDA eBay auction to benefit
early career dramaturgs. As the sun rises on this
Friday morning, you can visit
Or search for the
seller "literary_managers_and_dramaturgs" to see the
exciting items we have for sale."
Green power, wind and solar--help slow global warming
so NYC won't become an underwater city.
Call up your utility company and switch to green please.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
From the Desk of Gary Garrison
PEOPLE… PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE
As of today, the Guild will no longer publicize calls for submissions that have a fee attached unless that fee is transparent (where does the money go and to whom) in the description to the reader. The subtext: it is not okay to charge a dramatist a fee to supplement a theatre or producer’s production opportunity. YOUR ART IS FEE ENOUGH!
I know all the arguments of why some theatres and producers position that they must charge fees: “We couldn’t afford to produce the event if we didn’t charge a fee. We have to hire readers. We have to publicize the event. We have to pay the actors and directors. We have to offer prize money . . .” I understand that, but theatres and producers are doing that on the backs of people that are more poor than they are! What?! On average, dramatists spend ten dollars to submit a play or musical anywhere in this country: printing, copying, postage, return postage, binders, envelopes. If a theatre or producer tacks on an additional $10, $15 or $30 fee, one submission now costs anywhere from $20-50, with no guarantees that anything will come of it. And yes, I know: there are no guarantees for anyone in the theatre. But all too often this feels like, “we’re not going to guarantee you anything, AND we’re going to charge you for the privilege of that, AND you’ll probably never hear from us, AND don’t expect any kind of critical reaction to your material, AND don’t expect notification of who, in fact, was chosen.” And if it’s not a money issue then it’s a spirit issue: it’s demeaning enough to submit your work to theatres and producers that you never hear from. To pay someone for their silence is too much to ask anyone.
Of course, the easiest thing (at least to me) is to make all fees transparent in the listings (Fee: $25; $10 for readers, $15 for prize money). At least then we can all start holding people accountable on some level. And you can decide if you like what you read. To be clear: we’ll publish a call for submission that explains how submission money is used (some producers do that now). And we’ll continue to publish the big four: the O’Neill, Sundance, Susan Blackburn Prize, Actors Theatre of Louisville with date reminders. But we will no longer list an opportunity that requires you pay a fee to be considered for inclusion.
Enough is enough.
ggarrison at dramatistsguild dot com