Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beverly Hills mummy

I just learned that my new play How I Met Your Mummy won the 2015 Beverly Hills Theatre Guild Play Competition for Youth Theatre, also known as the Marilyn Hall Award. Loyal readers of this blog may remember that my play Rumpelstiltskin, Private Eye won the same prize last year.

The play has a cast of 11 (5M/6F), uses a simple unit set and runs about 90 minutes.

Here's the blurb:
The O. Howe Dulle Museum is about to unveil their latest find--a mysterious mummy named Yo-Wut-Sup--and everyone wants to get their hands on him! A pushy reporter vows to prove Yo-Wut-Sup is a hoax. A wacky mystic intends to sneak him back to Egypt. Three high school students want to use him in their low-budget horror film. And two clueless robbers plan to steal the mummy, if only they can figure out what one looks like. Can Melvin Trimble, the world's most cowardly security guard, stop them? Or will he be left taking the "wrap"? And why is there one --no, two--no, three creepy mummies roaming the halls? Now museum, now you don't!
I'll be submitting it for publication later this year. In the meantime, if you'd like to read a copy for possible production, send me an email. You could be the first to produce it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Young Author's Day

I spent a rapid-fire morning today at Scott Elementary in Colorado Springs. It was their first annual Young Author's Day, and I felt honored to be invited. The school brought in about 15 local writers and each of us spoke to four classes in 25-minute blocks.

I got the 5th graders, and man, were they fun. I told them what it was like to be a playwright and showed them a slideshow of photos from my productions, and when I asked if they had any questions, their arms shot in the air.

One of the kids asked where I lived, and the whole class was surprised to find out I'd driven only five blocks to get there. At that age, kids tend to think that writers always live in some far off place like New York or Chicago, and I made the point that writers live everywhere.

I ended each session with a reading from my newest play Rumpelstiltskin, Private Eye. I played Rumpelstiltskin and drafted volunteers to fill in the rest of the roles. The scenes were a big hit, and the room was filled with disappointed groans when the reading was over.

One young girl, however, was not bowled over by my writing.

"Why do you put so many puns in your play?" she asked, wrinkling her nose.

"Do you think they're kind of cheesy?" I asked. She nodded.

I smiled. "To tell you the truth, my wife thinks they're cheesy too. But they always get a laugh, and that's why I like them."

Afterwards, we assembled in the gym for the Young Author's Showcase. Tables were spread out for the authors--both young and old--and the younger authors had feedback sheets next to their stories so that readers could write their comments.

I circulated the room to see what kinds of things the kids were writing about--adventures were popular, as were animal stories--and added my words of encouragement to as many feedback sheets as I could. By the end of the day, I was glad to see that every page was crammed with comments. If there's a better way to encourage young authors, I don't know it.

After that, I returned to my table to hawk my plays. I shared a table with a young girl who had written a horse story and had filled her space with an adorable display featuring a giant plastic horse and an American Girl doll. I didn't have anything that cool, just my nametag and a few scripts. I wonder where I can find a tiny fedora and a Rumpelstiltskin doll.

I did manage to sell a couple scripts. Although I was trying to push my younger plays like Rumpelstiltskin, Private Eye and Long Tall Lester, the only play any of the kids were interested in was The Butler Did It! I guess they were hooked by those photos of the butler tied to a chair.

The best part of the day, though, was a conversation I had with a quiet girl who, after some coaxing, told me about an elaborate fantasy story she was working on. Her eyes lit up as she regaled me with the details, and I got the feeling that she'd been longing to tell them to somebody for a long time.

Young Author's Day was a learning experience for me as well as the kids. The most important lesson I learned? Not all kids are texting and playing video games. Some are writing stories.

And they're very, very good.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hometown hit

I was both honored and thrilled to learn that my newest 10-minute play The Real Meaning of Things was selected for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Rough Writers New Play Festival. As such, it'll get two staged readings along with the other seven winners.

This hit is especially meaningful to me, not just because the play is one of my few dramas, not just because the play is my first one based on real people. No, the hit is especially meaningful because the FAC has played such a big part in the life of myself and my family.

Over the years, I've been to dozens of performances there. It was the place where I first introduced my daughters to the joys of theatre (Annie and Brigadoon were big hits with them). Even more importantly, it was where my younger daughter often appeared on stage, twice as part of the theatre company's excellent Youth Rep summer camp, and twice in their mainstage productions (The Music Man and Gypsy). So being selected for this reading feels a lot like coming home.

In tandem with the FAC's upcoming Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit, the theme of this year's Rough Writers festival was the life and works of that quintessentially American artist. For my play, I decided to focus on O'Keeffe's time in New Mexico. As I explain in my blurb for the festival:
Through my research, I was fascinated to discover that Georgia O'Keeffe had learned to drive at the age of 41, mostly she could explore the New Mexico desert by herself. According to reports she was a fearless driver, though not a great one. That instantly sparked an image in my mind and I wondered what would have happened if her car had broken down.
If you'd like to attend the reading, it'll be held at 7:30 PM on the first two Saturdays of June in the FAC's upstairs music room. I'm excited to be sharing the stage with three other local writers--Sue Bachmann, Jess Weaver and Grant Swenson--all of whom happen to be members of my playwriting group.

Seriously, if you're a playwright and you haven't joined a playwriting group yet, you need to.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Taking Back the Rom-Com

As I had mentioned earlier, I wasn't able to make it to NYC for the staged reading of You're Driving Me Crazy #3 on March 28, but excerpts from the evening have now been posted to YouTube.

The eight plays are performed by just six actors, and it's fun to see their versatility as they move from role to role. Enjoy!