December adventures (a calendar of sorts)

Until I try to figure out how to get a WordPress calendar to post, here are some hope-I-can-see-you-there events coming up:

Dec.1: The latest edition of the live auction comedy “Going…Going…Gone” at the Indy Fringe Building at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and you will probably go home with stuff. Eryn Bowser, Mike Gospel, John Thomas and a player to be named later will be appearing.

Dec. 5: My play “Lightning and Jellyfish” will be performance as part of Butler University’s “Indiana New Works” festival at the Schrott Center. Tickets are $7. Free for students with i.d.

Dec. 16: Hosting the December Indy Actors’ Playground reading at Indy Reads Books. This time, actress Constance Macy selects the play to be read and the cast that will be reading it. As usual, we never announce the play in advance. More info here: 

Dec. 18: Hosting a talkback after a concert version of the new musical “The Circus in Winter” at the Center for the Performing Arts’ Studio Theater. I’ve been following this project since the early stages and look forward to hearing the latest iteration. No info posted yet but keep an eye on the CPA website or that of Actors Theatre of Indiana.



Connecting Point A to Point C. Or not.

The 48 hours or so after I turn in a project are always an awkward, unsettling time for me.

In yesterday’s case, it was the rewrite of my play “Lightning and Jellyfish.” My mistake was kicking it out the door and to the director on a Saturday morning of a weekend when I wasn’t loaded up with arts events to cover. As I cleaned, read, played games and watched a few movies on a rare, deadline-free two days, I tried not to think about Angela, my main character. But you know what happens when you try not to think of something…

Instead of trying to start a new project–which inevitably still carried too much of the last work’s DNA–my tactic is usually to pull out a half completed or unresolved older work. I find it easier to spackle or build a new deck on an existing piece rather than worry about fresh architectural plans. (I am also, as you can see, prone to not caring about mixing metaphors during this time.)

Without worrying about world building and character creation, I can still make a bit of progress.

So I turn to my play-in-progress “Popular Monsters” and its yet-to-be sorted out second third, searching for the as-yet-undiscovered path that will connect its front and back ends. I know these characters well. I just don’t quite know how to get them from point a to point c. Which might mean that point c isn’t where they need to go.

When a writer is trying to force-fit scene (or a beloved line, for that matter), it always seems obvious to me, so I try never to do it myself. Trying to find a connector usually requires retrofitting either or both ends. As such, I have files of deleted characters, dialogue and scenes. And I’m good with that. Having a pile of trash to stand on can make it easier to see where you need to go.

Side note: I find that I rarely if ever go back to material I’ve cut. Once the limb is snipped off, why try to snap it back on the tree? Let it grow.

Now if only I could do something about those metaphors….

My new play “Lightning and Jellyfish,” on stage Dec. 5

I’m taking a break right now from wrestling with rewrites on “Lightning and Jellyfish,” my new play that Butler University commissioned. More info on the premiere here:

My style of rewriting plays isn’t the most efficient in the world, but it somehow works for me. Essentially, I start from the beginning and perform the play in my head…until I hit something that doesn’t feel right. Could be an unmotivated action, forced exposition, or a moment that feels like it should have been preceded by something. Then I tinker. If it’s minor, I go forward. If more significant, I do the work and then start at the beginning. Curtain up. Show begins again…until it stumbles.

That being said, there’s an enormous amount that I learn from hearing the play read by actors. On the first “living room read” of “L&J,” I realized that an entire scene needed to be added toward the end of the play. At the first reading with Butler’s actors, it became clear that a lengthy monologue had to be completely redone–and perhaps offered to a different character.

I love this process, as challenging as it can be.

Hope to see you at the performance. Image