Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lester unleashed

I'm pleased to announce that my second play has just been published by Pioneer Drama Service. Long Tall Lester is a one-act western comedy about a meek encyclopedia salesman who's drafted to fight the dreaded outlaw Billy Black.

Long Tall Lester is a lot of fun and is chock full of over-the-top characters that kids love to play (one high school student told me it was the most fun she ever had in a role).

The fact that it also teaches a great lesson about the power of brains over brawn can be a secret between you and me.

To learn more, visit the Pioneer web site. A perusal copy is $5.50 (cheap).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Christmas in May

The day I've been anticipating for almost a year finally came today.

My first royalty check!

How much was it? Well, let's just say I won't be quitting my day job soon. But it was more than I expected. And my editor was more than pleased with the numbers: 10 performances and 121 scripts sold.

Why? Because the play publishing biz is different than other entertainment fields. While books and CD's and movies expect to make their biggest splash their opening week--while the property is fresh--play scripts need time to grow.

After all, by the time the new batch of plays come out, most drama teachers have already planned their productions for the coming year. So they'll order a perusal copy, read through it, think about it.

And then, after a year--or five or twenty--if the teacher likes it and happens to have the right cast for it and gets approval from the Powers That Be, then and only then will they produce it.

So really, it's a minor miracle that any play gets done its first year in print. And it can only get better from here.

Those 10 performances, by the way, came from 8 productions in 7 states--MD, ME, MN, MT, ND, TN and TX. So you know what that means.

Only 43 to go.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A new frontier

I suppose every playwright dreams of having a full-length produced. Sure, 10-minute plays are fun to write and can pack quite a wallop. And one-acts have their own unique draw, offering much more depth while maintaining a convenient bite-size package.
But the glory is in the full-length. I mean, let's face it. How many great American short plays can you name? (Well, there's Edward Albee's The Zoo Story and, um...)

Plus, there's that whole heady experience of knowing that the entire evening is devoted to your work.

Which is why I'm so thrilled that my first full-length play, The Butler Did It!, just won the Cheyenne Little Theatre's New Play Project. It'll get two staged readings this November in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As an aficionado of historic theaters, I'm especially pleased that they're mounting it in at the Atlas Theatre, a 125-year-old former vaudeville house in downtown Cheyenne.

The Butler Did It! is a comedy about a butler who gets falsely accused of murder and must find the real culprit while tied to a chair. It's the first mystery I've written, and it got a great reception at my regular writing group. But breaking up a play over five months of readings isn't the best way to judge its structure.

Mysteries are all about structure, of course. In fact, when I was writing The Butler Did It!, it felt like I was building one of those Jenga towers, each carefully placed plot element requiring yet another set-up or explanation or foreshadowing to make it fit. So I'm hoping that my reading up north will uncover any gaping plot holes I've been too blind to see.

I just hope no one gets hurt when it collapses.