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Dec 28, 2022

My 2022 in Review

Hi everyone!  Happy New Year or soon to be New Year!  Here is the photo we take in front of my parents' tree every year.



This year marked the first time I was back in a room with actors again.  I didn't realize I think how much I missed it until it was happening.  We shot a short film at Juilliard at the beginning of the year.  I got to work with a great group of 4th year actors and my friend director Michelle Bossy.  Excited for you to see it eventually.  Here is the trailer.




This year we went camping twice, visited VA and Cape Cod both twice.  I was in Los Angeles for a week for meetings.  I was in Vegas for a week for the premiere of Clown Bar 2, a commission from Majestic Rep that was supposed to go up 2 years ago.  It was a lot of fun and I'm super proud of the production and of the play.





I was also in the Bay Area for a silent writing retreat with Erik Ehn for a week.  During that week, I wrote about half of my output for the year.  Those retreats really work for me.  Every day was like half a month of normal writing time.
 
Writingwise in 2022, I wrote 30 short monologues for a book coming out next year. I wrote an hour long pilot, a 15 minute podcast pilot, three full length plays, most of a feature screenplay and one one-act play.  I also did quite a bit of revising.

I was in a writing group for parents, a writing group with friends and took part in Flux's core work.

I did only 10 interviews this year.  I'm kind of semi-retired now at the interview thing.  I used to do 100 a year.

I counted how many books I read this year.  50.  I didn't count how many plays I read for my job but it was probably more than 100.

Four plays of mine hit their 50th production this year: Clown Bar (2011), Hearts Like Fists (2012), Kodachrome (2018) and Marian (2017).

Marian had 20 productions this year and Kodachrome had 25, which were both records for me.  The most I ever had of a full length in a single year was 14 of Kodachrome last year.

This year I had a record shattering 6 plays published with 4 more coming next year.

From Sam French/Concord,
One Act version of Kodachrome
Clown Bar 2
UPCOMING: 100 Things I Never Said To You/100 Love Letters I Never Sent

From Stage Partners,
Old Fashioned Cold Fusion
UPCOMING: When Jack Met Jill
Heart of Snow

From Broadway Play Publishing Inc,
Stockholm Syndrome

From Theatrical Rights Worldwide,
UPCOMING: The Wooden Heart

From playscripts,
The Bookstore
The Night Children






Next year, my monologue book comes out from Applause, Small Explosions, containing 90ish never before seen 1-2 minute monologues.




This year I had 67ish productions of full lengths. (20 more than my best year) Caveats— Some of them were probably one act versions of Kodachrome but I'm not sure how many.   An overwhelming amount of these 67 productions were high schools and college productions with some notable exceptions.  Only 12 were not done at schools.  (This is, I think still a lot about the pandemic.  Lots of small theaters are just now starting to do work again.)  In terms of foreign productions, Kodachrome was done in England.  Clown Bar was done in Turkey and at a university in Ireland.  Marian was done in Wales, England, and Switzerland and also in Germany, in German at a 1000 seat outdoor venue. 

Including productions of one-act plays, I had just over 100 productions this year.  Now I don't know exactly what the money is I'll make for all that because it sometimes takes six months to get paid but probably it's somewhere around what I made this year which is still far from making a living at this.  I would venture to say a modest living would be 2 to 3 times what I make now.  (So I really want to have 200-300 productions.  Or even more than that if so many of them continue to be school shows where, if they only do one or two performances, I often make under 100 dollars per production.)

I started writing plays in 1997, the summer after my sophomore year of college. And that was 25 years ago. I have written at least one play but often two or three every year for 25 years.  

And I’m doing really well in a lot of ways, but I’m not making a living. Would I be making a living if we weren’t still in a pandemic?  Probably not.  Definitely not a consistent living.   I really thought after doing this for this long I'd have more movement in that way but I can never quite make the math work.  On the upside, this was still a good year for me in a lot of ways.

Love to you and yours.  Here are my previous years in review.

2020 
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Dec 5, 2022

I Interview Playwrights Part 1116: Julia B. Rosenblatt



Photo Credit:Seina Shirakura Photography

Julia B. Rosenblatt


Hometown: Hartford, CT

Current Town: Back in Hartford!

Q: Tell me about Can't Make This Sh*t Up


A: About two months ago Tjasa Ferme introduced me to Transforma Theatre and The Science in Theater Festival. While I believe in science thoroughly, (which is actually something one has to make explicit these days), I am terrifyingly intimidated by the subject. My freeze response kicks in and I assume I am incapable of understanding any of it. So when Tjasa said she needed a play about an eco-toilet connected to a laboratory that uses excrement to produce biogas, my head started spinning.


Jaewon Cho's BeeVi toilet is nothing short of mind blowing. And yet it makes so much sense, I can only assume the reason we haven't heard more about it, is that it involves acknowledging what the great children's author, Taro Gomi, has been telling us for decades: everyone poops. As we get closer to the point irreversible climate change, it's clearly time we get over ourselves and insist on sustainable forms of energy, no matter what (or whom) it comes from. Can't Make This Sh*t Up, is loosely based on my home, a small urban commune once known as the Scarborough 11. The play imagines the year is 2030. After yet another devastating natural disaster has wiped out the city's plumbing and sewage system, we decide to build a Biological Anaerobic Digestion System in our backyard. Our NIMBY neighbors go nuts, and drag us before the zoning commission, bringing national attention to our family once again. It's a comedy.


Q: What else are you working on now? 

A:  Group! (lyrics by Eloise Govedare, music by Aleksandra Weil) is a musical that follows six women through intensive outpatient therapy for drug and alcohol addiction. The show has had two workshops and a brief run at Passage Theatre in New Jersey. We are now in the process of rewrites, and looking for the next development opportunity.


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

A:  Like many other playwrights, I have been "devising theater" in my parents' basement since I was in elementary school. I spent hours creating and rehearsing epic plays and musicals with anyone who was willing (most often my younger sister). I am eternally grateful to my parents, older sisters, aunts and uncles for sitting through our "performances."


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

A:  Purpose and access. Theater is essential to the human condition. It should not be something that is elite or reserved for specific times and places. Theater should be made and enjoyed by whomever chooses to do so.


Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes? 

A:   August Boal's Theater of the Oppressed changed my life. It set me on a path that I have rarely veered from in the last 30 years. As far as current playwrights, I fall in love with everything Lynn Nottage creates.


Q: What kind of theater excites you? 

A:  Real, complex stories that use humor to challenge the status quo and demand systemic change.


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

A:  Oof, this is a hard one because every day I feel like I'm "just starting out." I guess I would say write with passion and seek feedback with humility. We should always be learning.


Q: Plugs, please:

A:  Well of course coming up, Science in Theater Festival.
I am a co-founder and ensemble member of HartBeat Ensemble.
Check out the professionally immersive theater training program at Capital Community College!


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Nov 15, 2022

I Interview Playwrights Part 1115: TyLie Shider




TyLie Shider


Hometown: Plainfield, New Jersey

Current Town: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Q:  Tell me about The Gospel Woman.

A: The Gospel Woman is a traditional American family drama set in a 1970’s Baptist church. It’s a kind of tribute play that I built around a gospel record my mother recorded when she was a teenager. Lastly, it’s the 2nd installment in my “Mom & Pop plays,” which are a set of companion plays that I wrote based on the original music my parents recorded growing up. I wanted to concretize and honor their ambition, because their ambition led to my professional ambition. My father is a guitarist and singer, and my mother is a gospel singer. They are both songwriters. And I started writing creatively by watching them work and imitating them. The plays are set 5 years apart, and set against the backdrop of transformative moments in American history. The first installment, Certain Aspects of Conflict in the Negro Family, is set in the “long hot summer of 1967” when uprisings broke out across the country. And the second play, The Gospel Woman (NBT), is set in 1972, and it explores what happened to my hometown, Plainfield, NJ, after the riots. Both of the plays are family dramas that center two very different families in the same city. However, I call the plays “Rehearsal Dramas” because I grew up in recording studios and backstage at my parents’ concerts, and the rehearsal atmosphere is the soundtrack to my childhood.


Q:  What else are you working on now? 

A:  The next play I am working on is called Whittier. It’s a contemporary docudrama I am developing at the Playwrights’ Center based on interviews I conducted during the 2020 uprisings in my neighborhood in Whittier, Minneapolis. 

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 always interested in writing down the stories around me. My mother owned a hair salon when I was growing up, and she gave me an opportunity to create a “newsstand” in her salon where I would sell newsletters I had written on saturdays. The newsletters were basically comic strips which featured adaptations of her clients' conversations.

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

A:  I’d like to see more revivals of American classics. I was very excited to see Alice Childress’ Trouble in Mind on Broadway! 

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes? 

A:  August Wilson is one of my literary heroes. Also I had an opportunity to study with in graduate school at Tisch, Anna Deavere Smith and her course really validated my investigative esthetic.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you? 

A:  Quarantine deepened my appreciation for live theater. It’s become a privilege to congregate with people in the same room. Therefore, any opportunity to see live theater outside of the “metaverse” excites me.

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

A:  I think writers should study the biography and careers of other writers.

Q:  Plugs, please: My play Whittier is part of the Playwrights’ Centers’ public season next month.
Check it out in person or online.

A:  In person: Monday, December 5, and Tuesday, December 6 at 7:00 p.m. Available online:
Thursday, December 15 – Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022




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Oct 3, 2022

I Interview Playwrights Part 1114: Emma Goldman-Sherman


photo by Melinda Hall @snappynyc

Emma Goldman-Sherman

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Current Town: New York City

Q:  Tell me about FUKT.

A:  FUKT was written in a few days from a prompt from Aaron Sawyer when he was the AD at Red Theater Chicago and ran the Write a Play a Day for the month of November back in 2017. For anyone who has forgotten what happened in October of 2017, a lot of women came forward in the news with histories of sexual abuse, and the world questioned their veracity.

I like to write fast, especially hard material, and then revise slowly. I think it's important to get to the end of the arc and then figure out what's missing. It feels more honest, unconscious and unplanned. The prompt was "Self as Villain, No 4th Wall." Most of the play just fell into my head the minute I opened the prompt on October 31st. The first reading was November 9th at the Dramatists Guild Foundation with the 29th Street Playwrights Collective. I was afraid if I didn't get it into the world in front of some colleagues, I would hide it away forever.

FUKT is a dark comedy about my own personal journey healing from traumatic memories. It's meta and immersive. It sits between Slave Play and What the Constitution... I developed it with New Circle Theatre Co and Dixon Place. I appreciate all the love it gets on NPX. FUKT was a finalist with BAPF and Unicorn. I'm producing it at The Tank in NYC this fall. It will live-stream and be live in person. So anyone can have access. October 27 - November 13th.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I'm working on a commission from Experimental Bitch about the history of medical misogyny. Tanya's Lit Clit is a phantasmagorical musical - a comedy with ballet and burlesque - about autoimmune disease and how women, especially Black women, are mistrusted by the medical establishment. I'm also working with EmptyRoomRadio.com on Tamar (The Two-Gated City) about raper culture in the Bible, in particular about a woman who isn't heard in court.

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 fell in love with theatre early. As an abused autistic child with chronic illness, I took everything literally. So when I saw TinkerBell healed from collective applause, I realized, and fully believed, and still believe today, that theatre holds a kind of magic that gives audiences agency to create our own transformations. I had to find a way to do that.

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

A:  Access! Who gets to tell the stories that create the culture we live in? Who gets to decide who gets to tell these stories? I am part of a lost generation of women who are never taken seriously by the gatekeepers. Lit managers look right past me. It's extremely disheartening. I'm a member of the advocacy organization Honor Roll! to try to change how older female artists are seen. If a theatre takes public funds, it should have a mandate to represent the lived experiences of its public. Why must we watch the same revivals over and over again? How does that provoke change?

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes? 

A:  too many

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I love theatre that is conscious of its audience. We have enough walls and screens between us.

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

A:  Find a supportive community! Join me in www.BraveSpace.online

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  
MORE ABOUT FUKT: https://www.fukttheplay.com/
GET FUKT TICKETS: https://ci.ovationtix.com/35658/production/1138125
More about Brave Space https://www.bravespace.online


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Jul 26, 2022

90 New Monologues




I tried writing some new things the last couple of years. The jury is still out on what will happen to the YA novels I wrote. But another thing I tried was writing new monologues. For about three months last summer I wrote a monologue most days in the morning.


Most of my plays have monologues in them and there has been a steep uptick in the past five years in the number of actors doing my monologues in auditions and acting classes.


I thought I would lean into it and put even more monologues in the world. So I wrote these 60 monologues and I sent it to applause and they liked it and asked me to write some more. And I did. So now there are 90 or so monologues collected in a book coming out in early 2023.


And it is now available for preorder. So maybe you know an actor or an acting teacher who would like it. Maybe you could ask your local library for it. Maybe you could buy a bunch of copies and donate them to a theater program.


Anyway, pitch over. I'm super happy about this and proud of it and glad it worked out. If applause said no, there aren't a lot of other publishers of monologues, so I'm feeling very lucky. And I'm sure this isn't a moneymaking endeavor. It's the theater person's version of writing a bunch of poems. So more than anything it feels like I wrote this gift for you. (Although the book does cost money.) But I think you'll like it. And I love the cover.


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Jul 7, 2022

I Interview Playwrights Part 1113: Isaac Byrne




Isaac Byrne

Hometown:

Oh, I grew up moving constantly. If you get count all the times I lived with extended family, I think I moved about 21 times by the time I was 18. I was born in Riverton Wyoming, but I grew up mostly in Louisiana and Texas. If I had to pick a “hometown” it would probably be Austin, Texas. Good music, easy vibes, and great breakfast tacos.

Current Town:

I live up in Holmes NY, but I’m in NYC constantly.


Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  Too many things!

I’m in the middle of directing Under the Dragon’s Tail, four short plays written by….me! It’s terrifying and exhilarating to be putting myself out there like this. I’ve been developing new plays for almost 20 years now as a director, but this step feels like skydiving into the abyss. I wrote these plays in Erika Phoebus’ playwriting class (it’s incredible!) as a series of exercises in between working on full length plays. As I worked on each of them, I started to realize I was writing about the grief, loss, and the absolute comic absurdity of the last 4 years of my life. What started as unrelated little scenes grew into these interrelated, funny, and frequently scary examinations of mental health and emotional coping mechanisms in extreme circumstances—both physically and emotionally.

I’m rewriting my first full length play, Outlaw Wedding, which was inspired by my mother’s illegal lesbian wedding in Texas eleven years ago, which had drag queens, Muslims, and some local religious and police interference. That play used to feel like a bit of a period piece, and I’m sad to say it’s starting to feel unsettlingly timely again.

I’m also finishing up the first draft of a wild fever dream comedy about a group of actors trying to rehearse Miss Julie and Doll’s House over and over again—Think a satirical 15 Minute Hamlet/Noises Off that explodes into a haunted house of misogyny, revenge, and buried ghosts.

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 7 years old, I convinced a group of would be bullies to leave me alone because “I knew karate!” I scared them off, and they left me alone. I didn’t know karate, but I had watched Karate Kid a lot. I guess I was pretty convincing. They were the tough older kids, and they harassed everyone in the neighborhood. But they left me alone after that. That was when I realized that sometimes a make believe story could save your life.

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

A:  Oh, so many things should be changed. Stop making artists jump through so many hoops just to work. Someone who writes a great artist statement, isn’t necessarily the best playwright. Look past the “best schools” and look at the actual artist. I’m so sick of classist gatekeeping. I guess that’s the main thing for me. I didn’t come from a well to do family. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school. There’s a lot of long overdue upheaval and shift today towards a more diverse group of theatre artists, and I am all for it. But I still don’t see economic class being part of that change. We need to shift how theatre gets made, and make sure it’s not just a new different looking group of trust fund kids that get to make theatre.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I love Lanford Wilson and Marshall Mason. I got to meet both of them. 16 years ago, I stood outside of Phebe’s with Lanford and talked theatre with him for hours one night while he bummed cigarettes off of me and told stories about Cafe Cino. It was amazing. Right now, Jackie Sibblies Drury is writing on another level. Every play she writes blows my mind a little. I love Anne Washburn’s weird strange plays, they’re so deeply satisfyingly…unsatisfying. I love them.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Risky theater is what I love. When the audience starts to look around at each other with wide eyes and a real sense of danger in their body. Whether if it’s because something is emotionally dangerous or because there’s a new wild idea happening in front of us that disrupts what we think we know.

When a play feels like it’s dangerously close to careening off the rails, that’s when I fall in love with it.

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

A:  Write the thing that scares you. The scene that you write that you think will embarrass you and make everyone hate your play? That’s where the good stuff is. Write the thing that you’re scared will ruin your play. It’s where you’ll find the real heart of it. And if no one is producing your work, produce it yourself. Find a way. Don’t let other people decide your career for you.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Under the Dragon’s Tail opens at the Matthew Corozine Studio Theatre July 20th and runs till August 14th.

Snakes, mythological heroes, cosmonauts, self help, and philosophy collide and hijinks ensue!

You can find out more about it here at www.theatre4thepeople.org

Or just buy tickets here!

https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5487859

Also take Erika Phoebus’ writing workshops!



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