There's an incredibly useful article over at the Playwrights Center website (not Playwrights' Center of San Francisco, the group I'm involved with, but the national one in Minneapolis), Tips From Artistic Directors. In that article, there are a lot of positive tips: send your best work, follow guidelines, and many more. Two ADs chose to … Continue reading Playwriting and the Pet Peeves of Others
I've made a post on my other blog, The Lark's Nest, about sex on stage. Explicit content/NSFW.
(Some of my plays include strong language. I don’t normally put it in my blog. I’m making an exception here.)
This is something I wrestle with in my plays. It would be very safe for me as a white male, albeit queer, playwright, to write only white male characters. On the other hand, if I write female characters and characters of color – which I want to do to ensure there are roles for such actors and because I want to comment on our world and not a tiny subset of it – I have to try to get it right.
The Ars Marginal post by RVCBard is an outstanding analysis of what it means to actually try. The distinction of whether the fucked-upped-ness is that of the writer or the world of the characters is critical.
One of the things that always seems to trip people up when it comes to analyzing marginalized identities in stories is the difference between a story that has fucked up shit in it versus a story that says fucked up shit.
This is a very important distinction that everybody analyzing narrative media needs to understand.
So I’m going to help a muthafucka out right quick.
View original post 524 more words
When playwrights go to theatre, we presumably go to enjoy ourselves. We may be thrilled, bored, surprised, offended, delighted, so many possible reactions. When playwrights are called on to give feedback on other playwrights' work, we suddenly become scientists, detectives, housekeepers. Scientist, detective, and housekeeper are honorable professions. Nevertheless, I believe the practice of bringing … Continue reading Playwright, sheath thy checklist
In the January/February 2013 issue of Theatre Bay Area, Melissa Hillman, artistic director of the kick-ass Impact Theatre in Berkeley, writes about color-blind and/or non-traditional casting. This blog post is not so much a response to that article, "In the Land of the 'Color Blind'", as my continuation of the discussion. And continue it must. … Continue reading Color-aware, -blind or none of the above?
Not sure whether I can really call it richer, although it was fun. I was actually shooting for "So bad it's good." Some of them are probably "So bad it's bad," but such is the life of first drafts. Yes, I wrote 31 short plays! 28 riffs on Shakespeare as performed by pandas and other … Continue reading The world is now 31 plays, erm, richer?
I eavesdrop like crazy. I don't care what people are saying, but I care very much how they say it. I don't consciously put it into my dialog, but the process seems to work. Actors often compliment me on my dialog. (If only plot and character were that easy.)
In an interview with the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative, Steven Epperson, Literary Manager for Impact Theatre talks about things that turn him off when reading a play. One of those things is too many stage directions. Among other things, he says "Having line after line after line after line of stage directions interrupts the … Continue reading Stage directions: threat or menace?
One of the most important things a playwright needs to learn during the development process is how to filter feedback aka "notes." Some notes I take more seriously than others. Recently, I read part of a current work-in-progress, My Visit to America, an alternate history, at Fogcon I, a new local (to the San Francisco … Continue reading Rinse and Don’t Repeat
When engaging in public feedback sessions after a reading of my plays or scenes, I follow a nearly invariant rule: never respond to a note other than to say "thank you" or to write it down (and yes, I really do write it down, not my shopping list). I've only broken it when I've felt … Continue reading Never say “no” to a note
My fourth full-length play My Visit to America (MVTA) is in revision. (My third play, The Beginning of Grammar, is also in revision, but it is not the subject of this post.) Last month, I took the opening nine pages -- about 10 minutes -- of Act II of MVTA to my playwriting group's scene … Continue reading What a difference a direction makes
Despite it taking much work and having long gestation periods, I work almost entirely in full-length works of 70 minutes (70 is the new 90) to 2 hours. While I've written three 10-minute plays - one of which was produced by the Playwrights' Center of San Francisco - I don't find them fulfilling to write … Continue reading Next!
In The Economist is an article on politeness in English (subscription apparently now required) and in other languages around the globe. This is - well not quite timely; I've been working on the first draft of this play for over three years - of interest to me in the alternate history play I've been working … Continue reading Politeness in dialog
After my dismissal of Chekov's law, the next phrase I'd love to see disappear from playwriting feedback sessions is Write What You Know. I put that in all caps because if you've ever heard this at a feedback session you know it is delivered as a lecture from on high - you can hear the … Continue reading Write what you don’t know
Some theatre Web sites are not particularly playwright-friendly. There is some very basic information theatre Web sites need to contain to attract the playwrights and plays they want and keep unsuitable ones away.
You know the law, the one that says (approximately) if you introduce a gun in the first act then it has to go off by the third. Get rid of it. Now!