Tag Archives: new writing

Red Fern show- final week!

17 Mar

OK, I finally got to NY to see my short play FISH BOWL in the evening of seven plays that Red Fern commissioned under the rubric +30NYC. (The brief: Imagine NY in 30 years’ time.)

And I thought the evening was great overall– You know how in an evening of short plays there are usually one or two duds? There really weren’t, and some of them were knock-out funny, imaginative, creepy, poignant… I still have the image of a cryogenically frozen head, resurrected from a foul-mouthed frozen relative, on a stick (“No, a stem” said the smarmy salesman).

I was proud to be in the company of these writers and creative time and hope you can go see it. I’m also still processing the amazing inverse relationship I’ve experienced in the past week between production bucks and size of venue, and talent and smarts in what’s on stage. It’s almost Swiftian material for satire.

I’ll write about this more fully another day, but (referring back to some thoughts in an old post, Fear, Bad Teeth and Comedy) I think it’s to do with WHERE the fear is located in the theatre. When the terror is of biting the hand that feeds (the patrons, the donors, the subscribers) because then the entire pack of cards would collapse, then all fear, uncertainty, anxiety, darkness and ambiguity must be surgically excised from what appears on stage. Instead it circulates in the dark, in the smiling unctuous tone of the solicited “talkback”, in the lobby, and in the office computers where the Excel spread sheets crunch the numbers, as little cancerous particles of free floating dread.

Playwrights on Writing – latimes.com

7 Jan

An interesting series of interviews with a wide range of contemporary playwrights, published in the LA times.
Playwrights on Writing – latimes.com.

I discovered this through The Loop Online, a free playwrights’ networking and information resource which is curated by the indefatigable Gary Garrison–Well worth joining for playwrights!

Opening the door

19 May

I’ve been thinking for a while of how to find and walk through the other door. The door to doing the creative work on my own terms, actively finding collaborators, writing what comes and what excites me rather than starting with “product” and “market” and the hope that my work will be “picked up”. Continue reading

Projects — UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities

6 May

Projects — UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

So, this is what I’ll be up to for the next month or so as one of the writers of the Virtual Performance Factory.  I’m fascinated to be learning about these new modes of writing/ designing.

I’ve been thinking lately about the need to find other paths through my life as a playwright.  The regional model is timid and broken; it’s about product and (as Morgan Jeness puts it) serving the oligarchy.  And frankly, my plays are not going to function well as “product” in those contexts.  In one of the most thoughtful reviews of Trojan Barbie, the writer said “The playwright is not interested in our comfort, though there are many entertaining moments in her writing. Instead, she asks that we consider the suffering of people we do not know in lands we may never visit. ”

And that is true, but it doesn’t mean I want to insult or alienate an audience.  I want them to come with me in looking at something painful, but in a form that’s beautiful and compelling so that we can bear to do it.  I think a feeling of truth in art, and moments of beauty (formal or thematic) are rare joys and the pathways to these experiences for audiences are systematically blocked through lack of arts education, a frantically materialist culture, and the deeply patronizing view that audiences aren’t up to–nor up for– complex, intense, problem-posing art.

However, as Spencer Golub has said repeatedly, it’s all in the frame.  Perhaps it’s just that they(we) are not up for being sat in rows and made to look at the same thing together any more.  The blackboard, the stage, the monument… there’s something about those forms that seems to recede into the 20th century already.

The question, then: what IS the relationship (or array of possible relationships) between work made for performance and its audience?  Maybe it’s fractal rather than perspectival now.  The relationship of a physically unified audience to a singular spectacle on a proscenium stage dates to Renaissance discoveries in painting, and is organized around the God-king’s eye.  Now we are all tiny gods with our insect-eye computers and iPhones, and perspective is multiple and dispersed, although still very much formed in and by a field of power relations.   This new connectivity is both too intimate and too fractal for the stage.  Yet there’s something about bodily presence that I still believe we crave–it’s telling that isolation is the least bearable of stresses in captivity.

So that’s what I want to figure out. How to write supple, intimate, fractal performance texts that have form and shape but function as strands in a web of dialogue with an audience.   Preferably by June.  Any clues, post ’em here!  And I’ll write more about the VPF as it unfolds.