March playwriting update: A first public read for “Only You…and You…and You.”

And so we exhaled from the Theatre on the Square production of “Clutter” (in which a remarkable cast and director pulled the show off even though an actress had to leave the show ON THE NIGHT OF THE FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL).

Alas, since Indianapolis is a market where a world premiere at an established theater isn’t necessarily reviewed, I don’t have links to attach to outside voices. If you want to read the play, though, shoot me a note.

In part to avoid post-closing depression, I set up another reading of “Popular Monsters,” which I’ve continued to tweak. I’m very pleased with how it read and can’t imagine being happier with the cast we pulled together. There’s a director passionately interested in the project but, well, you know how that is. Again, available for reading if you’d like to peruse.

Meanwhile, Geeky Press has started a monthly play reading series called “Scripted,” where it pulls together casts for readings of plays at various stages of development. The powers that be took a shine to my play “Only You…and You…and You” and they are organizing a public reading and discussion on March 12 at New Day Meadery. Info here. It’s a wonderful thing these folks are doing. I think mine will be the third in the series.

Are you into backstories of how projects like this happen? Then ride along with this tale:

“Only You…and You…and You” is the fourth project where I’ve had some sort of partnership with Eric R. Pfeffinger.

Eric is a whipsmart writer who I met when I was editing Arts Indiana magazine about 20 years ago. At some point, we talked about wanting to collaborate on something and that didn’t happen until he moved to Ohio. By then I was editing Indy Men’s Magazine and, being a wise editor, brought along talented writers whenever I found them, Eric being among the best.

He and I kicked around a concept for a movie script which we soon realized was better suited for a novel. I wrote and would email the manuscript to him. He’d edit and add and send it back to me. I’d approve/disapprove the edits, further edit and add, and send back to him, etc. Out of that came “The High-Impact Infidelity Diet: A Novel,” about a trio of couples and their unusually incentivized weight loss program.

My agent wasn’t impressed. So we ditched that agent, found another, and suddenly had a deal with Random House. And an option from Warner Bros.

Jazzed, we set our minds on getting a second novel in the pipeline before “High-Impact” came out. Over the year, we wrote a sprawling books with dozens of characters and a high-concept gimmick (which would eventually, to our dismay, also occur to the creators of the Simpsons AND Stephen King).

Unfortunately, our editor at Random House had left the biz, the new editor at Random House wasn’t interested in our sophomore creation, and our agent couldn’t find another buyer.

Somewhere in and around here, we were also commissioned by a high school to write an adaptation of Lysistrata, which we called “Lizzy Strata.” It was a big hit and almost got the director fired from her teaching position. A story for another time.

I’m not clear on the rest of the order but the following elements occurred:

a) Warner Bros. renewed the “High-Impact” option once, hired a high-profile writer to do the screenplay, and eventually let the option drop;

b) “High-Impact” was released and disappeared pretty quickly;

c) I took a shot at tightening up Novel #2 and was surprised to discover it wanted to be a play. After a series of developmental readings, Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre, a then-new Equity theater, staged “Midwestern Hemisphere: A Suburban Metaphysical Comedy;

d) Eric and I started a third novel but the process dragged out longer than on the previous two. After it sat for a while, I completed it with some input from Eric. But without an agent at this point, we couldn’t find a buyer;

e) With the “High-Impact” rights reverted back to us, I adapted it into a play, which was well-received at the Indy Fringe Festival and, at some point, I’m going to tweak further to turn it into a two-actor, full-length piece;

f) Of course, I knew I would eventually get around to trying a stage adaptation of Novel #3. Which I did. Eric still hasn’t seen it, which I like to think has to do with enormous trust rather than disinterest;

g) And so “Only You…and You…and You” will be heard publicly for the first time this month. I’m ready to give Eric credit for anything in it that works.

So what’s it about? Well, let’s talk after the reading. Suffice it to say for now that it’s a non-judgmental look at four very different people, none of whom has a jealousy gene. I played some structural games with this one that I haven’t tried before so I’m very curious to hear how it reads.

As always, the most learning comes from having an outstanding cast. And I’m thrilled with the quartet that Geeky Press has pulled together.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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