September already? Updates…and a New York play reading.

And so it somehow became September.

And two more work-for-hire book projects have found their way to market.

And, in addition to my writing at IBJ.com/arts, I slipped in a freelance piece for the theater website Howlround about the good work being done by the Stratford Festival folks.

On the new play front, I’m very excited about an upcoming reading in New York of “Rita From Across the Street.” Director/actress Amy Hayes has pulled together the cast for a one-day-only performance at The Pit Loft. Details here. I’ll be tweaking the play through mid-October, then turning it over to Amy and company for the Nov. 4 read. Tickets are already on sale (with proceeds paying for the space).

We’ll be announcing a new SiteLines Indy play reading event shortly. That’s the series that John Thomas and I created that matches organizations to terrific plays that would appeal to their audiences…and then offers a professional reading of the chosen play on their turf. Past work has included “Opus” with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, “The Credeaux Canvas” at Gallery 924, and “Frank’s Home” at the Indiana Landmarks Center.

The other big John and Lou (aka Two First Names Productions) project, “Going…Going…Gone” has been celebrating the passing of our 100th performance by offerings charity shows all year long. Alas, with the temporary closing of our home base, Theatre on the Square, we are migrant for now. If you have a charity (and a venue) and want to offer a one-of-a-kind edition of this live auction improv show, shoot me a note.

Cheers.

 

 

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Update: New book releases, first reading of a new play, etc.

Once again, I’ve neglected this page. No excuses.

Here’s what’s happened and what’s in the works.

–My play “Rita from Across the Street” had its first public reading, courtesy of Butler University and a wonderful quartet of actors. Thanks to those who came out for it. I’m feeling good about this one. If you know someone who might be interested in a four-character/one set grown-up play that deals with longing, responsibility, and the difference between front porch people and back porch people (inspired by, among other things, “Talley’s Folly” and “A Moon for the Misbegotten”) let me know. It’s got plumb parts for a pair of actors in their 40s/50s.

–“Wit and Wisdom from the Road,” a book project I wrote for Cider Mill Press and Hallmark is now available. It’s a light guide to attractions all across the U.S. (and, yes, I managed to get Wildwood in there).

–I also penned a new series of booklets that accompany Cider Mill Press’ Dare You Stamp Co. stamp kits, including the #WTF Stamp Kit. Alert the Pulitzer committee.

–Two more Cider Mill projects should be released soon, including “101 Ways to Sleep with a Snorer.”

–“Going…Going…Gone” is on the road for a bit. The next show will be on July 1 at the InConjunction Science Fiction/Fantasy convention with Ben Fraley, Eryn Bowser, and Mookie Harris. I’m an Author Guest there and I’m thrilled to be taking the show back to the con. Trivia fact: That’s where we had the first public try-out of GGG.

–We’ve got proposals out for the next round of Site Lines Indy play readings. Hoping to have something in the works soon.

–I’m up for reelection to the ex com of the American Theatre Critics Association. I assume anyone reading this is involved in my PAC. Let’s get those negative ads up there, folks.

–@ibjarts and @louharry continue to build followers. Please join them.

–And, of course, keep reading reviews, previews, and features (and participate in giveaways) at http://www.ibj.com/arts

 

 

 

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.

 

 

World Premiere of “Clutter: Or The Moving Walkway Will Soon Be Coming to an End.” (The back story)

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So how do these things happen?

In this case, two characters–Bobby and Eddy–started talking to each other in an office of a business that was about to go out of business. They rambled, these two, and created pages and pages of conversation.

I asked a pair of actors to read some of that rambling and they graciously agreed. I heard something in there–and I heard a lot that shouldn’t be there.

I also heard another character that wanted to be heard. Barb, who worked as a receptionist in the aforementioned office, was mentioned in the long Bobby/Eddy scene but not seen.

So she started a conversation with her friend Barb. And it turns out that that conversation was taking place three years later than the Bobby/Eddy scene. Barb had just lost her, well, she’s lost  count of how many jobs she’s lost. And pal Bev was considering leaving her husband. Both missed days when they could have fun seemingly without responsibility. At the end of the scene, Barb recognized someone at the bar.

Well, I knew the four of them would have to get together for a third scene. And it seemed right to set it three years later. Relationships had changed. Power had shifted. And a fictional self-help movement suddenly became part of their reality. “Cluttering” became a verb. And I had something resembling a play.

 

Rewriting.

A Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis allowed me to visit CT, where the New Haven Theatre Company and my pal Chris Arnott pull together a reading, giving me the valuable opportunity to hear the play with actors I didn’t know and an audience full of strangers. The experience was eye-opening.

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Rewriting.

A talented quartet of actors agree to read the play–complete with new ending. I proudly say it was the first play that was read at Indy Reads Books but really the only achievement was that I was the first to ask. That was 2012.

The actors–one of who is now in LA, one who is now in NYC, one who is now in Chicago and one who is here continuing to do strong work in Indy–did an outstanding job not only of delivering the play but in helping me see what was working and what wasn’t. I always recommend that playwrights gather the best actors they can for readings so they can only blame themselves for a show’s flaws.

Rewriting.

More readings in Indianapolis. Then Lori Raffel, the forward-thinking head honcho at Theatre on the Square, asked if she could produce it. Ultimately she also signed on as director.

After our conversations about the play–and inspired by her passion for it–I tinkered further, including adding the subtitle and its counterpart dialogue in the play itself. We brainstormed talent for it, she held auditions, and pulled together a terrific cast. She graciously allowed me in to rehearsals where I tend to keep quiet. A play may belong to a playwright but I believe a production belongs to the director, designers, and actors. As long as they stay within the parameters of my intent for the piece, I want them to have license to explore and create. I gave them the blueprints. They build the building.

I’m looking forward to seeing the play come to life this opening weekend. Bobby and Barb and Eddy and Bev have waiting quite a while to get on their feet. It’s been fun watching them grow (even when they aren’t growing).

And, no, I can’t really say if it’s a comedy or a drama. One doesn’t really know until there’s an audience.

I do know that it runs Jan. 13-22 as does Andrew Black’s new play, “Puppet Man.”

I hope you get to see either or both.

I am a lucky man.

 

 

 

 

Films, Indy arts, and games in review for 2016

As 2016 winds down, here are some wrap up pieces:

Favorite Indy-area arts of 2016. 

Favorite films of 2016. 

Most played games of 2016:

(They didn’t all come out in 2016, but rather than a best of the year list, here are the games that found their way to the table most often in this year)

1 Trains (AEG)– a new addition but having a lot of fun with this one. Already converted a few people to it (And on sale at Half-Price Books)

2. Royals (Dice Tower Essentials)–My most-played find from Gen Con.

3. Costa Rica (Mayfair)–Great easy set-up game and easy concept to grasp. Fun and just vicious enough.

4. Fuse (Renegade)–The heart-pounder of the year, introduced to me by Kevin Cole

5. Libertalia (Marabunta)–Another Kevin Cole introduction. I bit of a set up required and frustrating for some but still digging it.

6. Splendor (Space Cowboys)–Clay Mabbitt hooked Jonah and me on this one. Kind of multi-player solitaire-ish–I usually prefer more interaction–but happy whenever it hits the table.

7. Colt Express (Ludonaute)–I get enormous pleasure from this train robbery game and love seeing how the actions play out in unexpected ways.

8. Fight for Olympus (Mayfair)–The best two-player game I’ve found this year.

9. Spike (R&R)–Jonah is big on train games and this is a really good one. 20th Century Limited is another. We always pull one of these out rather than Ticket to Ride (which is still a good game).

10. Ninja Camp (Action Phase)–A quick card game from a local Indy game creator.

Some of them are included in my annual Best Games of Gen Con story.

 

November update

Here’s what’s going on in my writing life:

–I’m at the tail end of finishing another work-for-hire book and there’s another in the pipeline. That means two–possibly three–out next year, although I have no idea whether or not they will have my name on them. Wait, maybe it’s four.

–My play, “Clutter,” now has a longer title. It’s “Clutter, or The Moving Walkway Will Soon Be Coming to and End.” Like it? Hope so. It also now has a cast and director for its world premiere at Theatre on the Square in Indianapolis Jan. 13-22.

Barbara……….MARY FISCHER
Bev…………….KELSEY VAN VOORST
Eddy………….NICK BARNES
Bobby……….BENJAMIN FRALEY

Director: Lori Raffel

Looking forward to digging in to this one with these fine folks.

–My next Wildwood play, tentatively titled “W. Wildwood Ave” is taking shape. Looking forward to sharing it (ideally somewhere at the Jersey shore).

–And, of course, there is the ongoing writing at http://www.ibj.com/arts, including a rundown of off-Broadway shows. Deeply proud to be on the team there.

Thanks for checking in.

 

Fall Equinox

Fall Equinox
(after NoExit’s “Bad Wolf”)

We look desperately for signs of balance
Because the illusion of perfection
Lies there

Imbalance, though, is where perfection hides
Waves and winds make every moment now
Never again

Today, a small tribe of children
defeated a big bad wolf puppet
With fairy dust

But the magic was in the kid
Who shouted “Hey birdy” from the swings
To a costumed actor
Between shows

And in the moment when the bird
Took a seat on the next swing
And the two creatures flew
Briefly
Perfectly
Together

–LH

Far too long

It’s been far too long since I’ve updated the blog here. Sorry about that.

I have, however, been active on Twitter (IBJARTS and LOUHARRY). And still blogging on the arts at http://www.ibj.com/arts.

But still.

Here’s an update:

My play “Clutter” will be staged in January at Theatre on the Square. I’m looking forward to announcing the production team and cast. This one has been a while in the making and I’m thrilled that it will be coming to life. If you are part of the National New Play Exchange, you can read it on my page there.

I’m working on putting together another New York reading in October. Stay tuned for info. This one will probably be of my new play, “Only You…and You…and You.” This one, like “Midwestern Hemisphere,” is based on an unpublished novel co-written with Eric R. Pfeffinger.

I’ve got another humor book contracted. Can’t give you details but having fun chipping away at that one. Will hit the stacks in late 2017.

The first season of Site Lines Indy led us to really, really, really want to do another seasons. We finished the season with a reading of “Opus” by Michael Hollinger at the HIlbert Circle Theatre featuring an Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra string quartet. It was quite an evening. We are looking for partner organizations that have a constituency with a strong interest area. We then find a terrific play, cast and rehearse it, and bring it to that group’s turf for a one-night-only event.

You can always find my Indiana A&E stories and dining reviews at http://www.ibj.com/arts. Ticket giveaways there, too.

Going…Going…Gone is still going strong, with monthly shows at Theatre on the Square and pop-up shows at other locations. If you are interested in hosting one, drop me a note. We do a fun holiday party.

Indy Actors’ Playground is still happening the 3rd Monday of every month at Indy Reads Books. Terrific actors reading their bucket list plays. Stop in at 7 p.m. Better yet, come early to either donate or buy books. Either way, you help Indy Reads.

I’m sure there’s something I’m missing.

Oh, well.

 

February update

The fun continues.

–I just posted four of my plays onto NNPN’s New Play Exchange.  One never knows who will be reading: https://newplayexchange.org/user

–After a two-month winter break, “Going…Going…Gone: The Live Auction Comedy” will be back in business March 6 with performances the first Sunday of each month. This time out, GGG vet Claire Wilcher will be joined by Comedy Sportz Indy co-founder Mia Lee Roberts and the wildly talented wildcard Courtney McClure. Tickets only $10 at www.tots.org. I’m also excited that a high-school production of GGG is in the works, details to come. More on “Going…Going…Gone” here: https://www.facebook.com/liveauctioncomedy/

–The next SiteLines play reading will take place March 23 at the Indiana Landmarks Center. A very talented team of actors will be reading Richard Nelson’s “Frank’s Home,” a terrific play about Frank Lloyd Wright and family. More on SiteLines here: https://www.facebook.com/Sitelinesindy/

–Indy Actors Playground, the actor-selected play reading series, continues the third Monday of every month. On March 21, Constance Macy and Jen Johansen make the selection. The 7:00 reading is free (although we never say what the play will be until you are there). https://www.facebook.com/IndyActorsPlayground/

–I’ll be providing the intro for the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra’s live accompaniment to the Harold Lloyd classic “Speedy,” March 4 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, hosting a Pub Trivia game at Who’s Yer Con on April 1, and tweeting the Oscars tonight @ibjarts and/or @louharry.

Thanks for checking in.

SiteLines presents…

Thrilled to announce the launch of another long-in-the-making project.credeaux script

A series of play readings held in locations that resonate with each play’s subject matter, SiteLines finds established, not-yet-performed-in-Indy plays packed with life — plot- and character-driven stories that make you lean in to find out what happens next. And we present them in places that enhance the subject matter and, in the process, connect theater to new, interested audiences.

SiteLines events are one-night-only pairings of interest groups with discussion-sparking play readings featuring top-notch plays and (paid) actors.

For our first reading, on Dec. 10, we’re partnering with Gallery 924 and the Arts Council of Indianapolis for a free reading of Keith Bunin’s “The Credeaux Canvas” at Gallery 924. A discussion with gallery director Shannon Linker will follow. For more info and to RSVP, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sitelines-presents-a-reading-of-the-credeaux-canvas-by-keith-bunin-tickets-19788571149

If you are part of an organization interested in partnering on a SiteLines project, by all means get in touch with John Thomas and I at louharrywriter@gmail.com

SiteLines has been funded in part by a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission.

Hope to see you there.