Friday, February 26, 2010

Bringing You Up To Date





The 30th (and hopefully final) re-write of MORGAN is complete, and a copy of the 124 page play has been mailed to a producer who has expressed an interest in reading it.










Another play, ELYCE TIMES ONE, co-authored by Julie Morrison and me, is presently being considered by two local theatres. Both groups have promised to get back to me sometime in March, as to whether either is interested in producing it sometime soon. A third theatre has guaranteed production in the summer of 2011, if someone else doesn’t do it first. (Although the play is complete, it has been offered as a works-in-progress, with the idea of re-writes likely afterwards.) All three theatres are in favor of producing the play, because (1) it would be out of their regular season, (2) it’s a comparatively inexpensive play to produce, and (3) whoever eventually gets it will apply – and likely get – serious grant money.

Also in March my agent tells me one of my earlier plays is still scheduled to be produced at a theatre in Glasgow, Scotland. (No, I’m not planning to go see it. Just send me money – or pounds – or Euros. I don’t care, I’m not fussy.)

My next assignments to review plays for Theatre Vault are March 5th and 6th. I’m going to see TRACKS IN THE SNOW on Friday, and SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS on Saturday.

Someone has asked to moderate my writer’s group in March. He’s going to lead a discussion on how to write action scenes. Good. Nothing here I need prepare for.

Julie and I have discussed another writing collaboration – likely to start in April.

I have no directing assignments until fall. Yea.

So.

What does this all mean? It means I have an entire week of writing or not writing. I have two works partially completed. (One is three-quarters done. I’m on the last page of the other one – I can’t come up with a good way to END the dumb thing!)

Or, I don’t know, maybe I’ll just do something silly, like – I don’t know – maybe I’ll read something somebody else has written, like a book or something like that. Is that too drastic? I could start with comic strips and work my way up. Do they still draw comic strips?

Or maybe I’ll take long walks. I used to enjoy that. And if I’m not boiling over a plot outline in my mind, I don’t get lost nearly as often.

Or maybe I’ll just sleep. I have a new pillow. I hate it. But I’ve been beating it regularly with a baseball bat, and I ran over it twice with the car, so it doesn’t feel so much like a truck tire in a pillowcase any more.

Or I could shovel the sidewalk … naw, forget that one.

I know! I’ll write a post on this blog explaining why I’m not … writing … anything.

Hmmm.

I know what I’ll do – I’ll think about it. That’s what Ill do – I'll think about it.

Tomorrow. Maybe.


jb


And how was your day?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

MORGAN!


MORGAN is a biography of Morgan le Fay, King Arthur's half sister.

Re-write number 30 was completed today. I've been working on this play for almost exactly 25 years.

After the 6th complete revision, the work won a regional contest and received a public reading at a college in Southern Ohio.

I wasn't happy with what I had written. I withdrew the play, picked away at it every once in awhile. I never offered it to any theatre with the idea of having it produced.

I wasn't sure if any theatre would or could produce it. The language, so far as I could make it, is in antiquated English. And the setting is large.



But I kept working on it. Working on it was fun. I think I've created something that might actually be literature. (But please don't tell anybody.)

I stopped after the 29th re-write. The 29th re-write was still on a typewriter, and typing a 122 page play 29 times was not fun.

So it became something to be read.

Now somebody is interested in reading it. This person runs a theatre specializing in Shakespeare plays and the like.

Hmmm.

So re-write number 30 just went by. On a computer.

I'll let you know if there's any breaking news.


jb










Saturday, February 20, 2010

Review of Romeo And Juliet



As I've mentioned in the past, I'm a contributing drama critic for a theatre website, Theatre Vault. Last night I saw a production of Romeo And Juliet, and, since I share everything else with you, here are my remarks.
“Not Your Mama’s Romeo & Juliet.” That’s what the advertisements proclaim for Rosebriar’s production of this Shakespeare classic. Director notes in the program start with “This production is unabashedly post modern.”

Uh-huh.

In other words, don’t go in with any preconceived ideas.

The script tells you that the play is set in fair Verona. The production, however, is set in the basement gymnasium of the Groveport Elementary School. Down a flight of concrete steps, turn left, and you are seated on either side of a basketball court. The floor is plastic covered, and a total of four stage lights set the no-frills mood. Ten minutes before the production is supposed to start, the actors casually wander in, chat with the audience, theoretically rehearse, and play this slightly choreographed variation of musical chairs. At a given time, with no announcement, the volume picks up, and you are aware that the show has begun.

I love that! I’ve always enjoyed mixing performers into the audience areas, and since everyone is modern dressed, until the show starts, you’re never quite sure why the person sitting next to you is wearing a sword.

Under the direction of Steve Emerson, the focus for Romeo & Juliet is less about the two lovers, and more about the constant – and bloody – feud between their two families. Since the facility for this production is a literal basketball court, the similarity was not lost between the performers and two teams jockeying for position from one end of the field to another. The atmosphere works.

For the first half of the play, the pace is set fast – too fast. Shakespearian dialogue requires careful interpretation and expression at the best of times. Even the playwright himself warned actors to “speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc’d it to you, trippingly on the tongue …” This didn’t happen here. Words spat out like machine gun fire. To keep pace, physical characterizations were also larger than life. There were moments when I could have been watching a Charlie Chaplin silent movie … with people talking … fast.

But I could be unfair in my judgment. (And I don’t say that often.) I base what I see, after all, on how I would see it done. At the very beginning I was warned this would be a “different” production. Could this rush to present one scene of mayhem after another be the result of sophisticated design? If so, it was done well. If it was by accident, the effect was still achieved. In any case, the pace slowed, starting with the famous balcony scene, and demonstrated that these people really were equipped to perform the roles they were given.

Everyone in the cast had their moments. A few stood out, and not always for the right reasons.

Manny Flowers. In a cast of loonies at the beginning of the play, he appeared almost stiff and formal. As the others settled down, he loosened up. By three-quarters of the way through the show, I was looking forward to his appearances.

Rudy Frias. Energy – he carried enough for everyone in the cast.

Heather Green. A competent actress. It’s unfair to suggest (but I’m gonna do it anyway) that her best role was as a diminutive barefoot creature looking like something you’d buy on a stick at the County Fair. Endearing.

Angie Palmer. Another competent actress. Ms Palmer is a strong presence on stage. Whether speaking or merely standing there, she draws the eye.

Krista Threadgill. Of all the performers in the play, she gave the consistently best interpretation of the lines – a fine actress. (And a wonderful angel.)

Daniel Smail and Chris Tressler. Among others they filled space, made transitions, were here and everywhere setting up and tearing down. Not easy and often not appreciated.

Curtiss Stewart Jr. and Sarah Gehring. As Romeo and Juliet, they were fine when apart, but disappointing in both passion and chemistry when together. Only occasionally did their declarations of love ring true.

Rosebriar’s production of Romeo & Juliet will continue to be presented in the Groveport Elementary School Gymnasium through (dates.) As a suggestion, a pizza place with atmosphere is less than a block away. Dinner and a show could provide a quite pleasant evening of entertainment.



jb

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Are We Moving Toward The Next Ice Age?

Incredible. It snowed four times in three days. And then it started to melt.

And then it froze.


My house went from looking like this …


… to this. I’m looking out my bedroom window through icicles. I’m living in an ice cave. Literally.

The ice is four inches thick on my porch roof … and on my neighbor’s car … and on the Christmas lights down the street that should have been taken down a month ago…


(On the other hand, the lights look pretty good – much better than they did during the basically faded green holiday season, so I guess I’m okay with that.)

jb


And how was your day?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Same Scene Same Snow


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In Case You Were Curious ...

... this is what the front of my house looks like when eight MORE inches of snow are suddenly dumped in the front yard.





At lease my dog likes it. See him jumping up and down in the front yard? No?

"Willie! Jump up and down so people can see you!"

"Woof! Woof woof yap yap !" ("I'm a dog. I have pride. I do not jump up and down like a ... never mind.")

"Like a what?"

"Bark snarf." ("Like a rabbit. No offense.")

"You aren't having fun playing in the snow?"

"Brk? Sniff sniff grrrrrrr." ("When I was curled up asleep on my rug in front of the heating vent, did I LOOK like I wanted my fuzzy self thrown out into a snow bank?!")

jb