Thursday, January 31, 2013

Back in the saddle

Tonight's a big night for me. I get to be a real theatre critic again.

It's been two years since I wrote my last review for the Colorado Springs Gazette. Sure, I've spent these last twelve months writing for the Colorado Springs Independent, but those reviews only appeared on their blog.

Not a lot of readers. Not a lot of respect.

Over the years, I've asked actors and other theater folk what they want in a review. It turns out they all want the same two things.

No four-star grading system. It's demeaning and arbitrary.

And they want to see the review in print. The newspaper industry may be a dinosaur, but the fact remains people put more stock in inky squiggles than blinking pixels.

My reviews for the Indy meet both desires. The weekly publication has always refused to use a grading system for their reviews.

And as of next week, my reviews will be appearing in their print edition.

Of course, I still may not get much respect. But at least now I'll succeed or fail based on the strength of my writing, not the medium that delivers them.

I'm jumping in with both feet. This weekend, I've got not one but two shows to review: Red at TheatreWorks and Prelude to a Kiss at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

So on Sunday, while you're gnawing on buffalo wings and watching all those wonderful Super Bowl commercials, I'll be holed up in my dim little office, slaving away at my 8-year-old laptop.

After all, I've got a deadline to meet. And I couldn't be happier.

(Oh, and so far I've stayed true to my New Year's resolution: 31 submissions in 31 days. I'm going to get some productions this year, or die trying!)

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Butler Did It! did it

Well, that was quick. Just 10 months after I finished writing it, and 2 months after I submitted it, Pioneer has agreed to publish The Butler Did It! This comedy/mystery is my third play with them and my first full-length.

I'm actually kind of surprised. Pioneer Drama Service is known for light-hearted, wholesome plays, and while The Butler Did It! isn't exactly adult fare, it is a little dark. Unlike a lot of  mysteries intended for the high school and community theater market, the victim really does get killed and in a rather bloody way (though discretely offstage). Adultery is briefly mentioned, and the play culminates in some exciting gunplay.

But the language is clean, and from my experience at least, audiences will never go more than 30 seconds without a great big gut-busting laugh.

So I'm glad Pioneer is taking a chance with it. Ironically though, it still hasn't received a full production, just a couple of staged readings that were very helpful in punching up the dialogue.

Who will give it its world premiere? I can't wait to find out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A picture paints a thousand words...

but sometimes it only needs to paint three:


It's ironic, if you think about it. Theatre is primarily a word-centric art form. Film is about action, movement, visuals. Theatre is about language, speech, dialogue.

And yet, when it comes to promoting your play, you often have to rely a single image: the poster. The success or failure of that poster depends on how well you can answer a few key questions.

Is it eye-catching? Does it capture the essence of the play? And is that essence appealing enough to make people part with their hard-earned cash?

Which is why I'm so pleased with the poster that was created for my new play, Kill the Critic! It was designed by a talented local artist named J. J. Fierro.

This play is darker than my Pioneer plays. Not a lot darker, but dark enough. After all, the protagonist spends most of the play trying to hide the corpse of the man he poisoned. And yet, it's still a comedy. A wild and wickedly funny farce, in fact.

I think the artist nailed it. The bold colors and comic book-like style is extremely eye-catching, light-hearted, even whimsical. And yet there's no mistaking the fact that this is comedy is a black one.

I especially like that hand reaching for the bottle of poison. That gives you a glimpse of what the play is about, while begging a whole bunch of questions that can only be answered by seeing the play.

Anyway, I'm happy with it. And now that I've got my poster, it's time to go raise some cash.

Oh, and you can buy your own tickets by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


People don't seem to make New Year's resolutions like they used to. Some say that if you do recognize the need for change, why wait until New Year's to do it? Others say they'll only fail anyway, so why start?

I understand both of these viewpoints. But there's something about New Year's Day that makes me want to improve myself. Maybe it's the clear, cold weather, maybe it's turning the calendar seeing all those clean, white pages of potential, but the start of a New Year always inspires me to start a New Me.

This year is no different. Besides the vague, health-related resolutions that a lot of people to seem to make (eat less, exercise more), I've committed myself to one very specific, writing-related resolution.

I'm going to submit one play to one market each day.

It doesn't matter if that market is a theatre company, a playwriting contest or a play publisher. I'm going to submit a play to one of those markets each day.

The need is dire.

I'm good about writing. I get in my hour each day, no matter how crazy busy that day may be.

And I'm good about researching markets. I check the NYCPlaywrights blog and the Playwrightbinge Yahoo! Group regularly and spend hours each month loading all of those opportunites into a huge Excel file I maintain.

What I'm bad at is actually submitting to those opportunities. There are just so many of them that the task seems overwhelming. And I never get the free weekend I need to catch up.

So I'm going to break that tasks into bits and submit to one market at a time.

Oh, I doubt I'll be able to keep it up every day for the next 365 days. But I started early and already have 4 submissions under my belt. And even if I run out of markets or give up long before Punxsutawney Phil pops his head out of that hole, the submissions I do make may be enough to jumpstart my career.

I'll let you know on December 31 just how close I came.