Saturday, January 22, 2011

Making A Difference: Supporting the Arts

There are amazing artists all over the world who create original, innovative pieces that the majority of us do not get to see.  Instead, most people get their entertainment from reality television or they pay an exorbitant amount of money to see an overproduced Broadway show that may or may not be putting the lives of the performers in danger.

Why is bigger better?  In my book, less is more.  There is so much great theatre in this country that gets ignored because it doesn't have a huge following, a celebrity endorsement or a $65 million dollar budget.  It makes me sad and angry because I know so many worthy artists who deserve to have their work produced.

This being said, I would like to endorse a wonderful theatre company in New York City known as The Collective Theatre Company.  I had the privilege of working with the four founding members of this company and they are artists in every sense of the word.  They have integrity, intelligence, creativity and most importantly, spunk.  I admire what they are doing as they strive to bring thoughtful, innovative and authentic pieces to the forefront of the New York City theatre community.

The Collective Theatre is currently conducting a Kickstarter Program campaign to gain funding for their world premiere production of Einstein & Mileva written by Caitlin Shannon.  It is the story of Albert Einstein, acclaimed physicist, and his first wife, scientist Mileva Maric; the rise of his career, the loss of their daughter, and the effects of ambition on a seemingly infallible relationship. It is a play worthy of public attention; it will not cost $65 million dollars to produce, but they do need help with the funding.

If you are interested in supporting the arts and interested in supporting a wonderful theatre company, please visit their website and donate what you can.  All donations, regardless of the amount, are greatly accepted.

I'm writing this blog in true support of the Collective Theatre Company because I believe in this project and I believe in these people.  I'm spreading the word and hope they will be able to see this project come to fruition.  Help out if you can, and thanks for reading!

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Evening of 10-Minute Plays

I am happy to announce that an evening of my 10-minute plays will be presented at the School of Theatre & Dance at the  University of Montana.  This production was the brain child of my dear friend D. Marie Long and I'm so pleased and flattered that she felt strongly enough about my work to showcase an entire evening of my plays.  Wow!  Thank you D. Marie!

So, if you find yourself with nothing to do on a cold winter night in January, and you happen to be in the  vicinity of Missoula, Montana, head on over to the Masquer Theatre and enjoy a bit of theatre.  The plays are short, funny, thought-provoking and they all have a similar theme running through them:  Being out of control.  Everyone can relate to that feeling every now and then, don't you think?

Kicking off 2011 with a brand new production of my work feels great.  Hopefully, this will be a sign of what the rest of year will bring!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ideas: Where do they Come From?

I recently finished a draft for a short play I was working on.  This particular piece had been sitting on my computer for over 6 months half-finished.  In an attempt to clean up some files on my computer, I came across a lot of works-in-progress.  Some of them clearly needed to be tossed, but there was something about this play that I liked and I felt it deserved to be completed.

I had no idea where I was going with it, but I did indeed finish writing the play.  I sent it to a trusted friend who I know will give me the straight dirt on whether the piece showed any promise or if it needed to be filed in the recycle bin.

The first thing she said was, "I liked it." (Phew!  Affirmation is good!)  The second thing she said was, "Where do you get these ideas?!?" (That's the punctuation she used and everything!)

So, I realized I couldn't answer that question.  I did not specifically set out to write the play that I wrote.  Does that make sense?  That's not always the case.  I recently finished a play that was a very specific assignment with a very specific theme and I knew what I needed/wanted to write.  But other times, like with this new short play, I wasn't sure where I was going.  I liked the characters; I liked the way they spoke to one another, and I let them lead the way.  It turned out to be a quirky little 10-minute play and I'll be having it read by my playwrighting group in a couple of weeks.  We'll see what they say about it and if they think it has any legs to go further.

But my point is, where do the ideas come from?  For me, they come from life.  They come from places you'd least expect it.  They come from eavesdropping in grocery stores and restaurants and standing in line at the bank.  (Yes...I'm a voracious eavesdropper, just so you know!) But my initial ideas usually morph into something else.  Nine times out of ten, the idea changes as the writing progresses.  Well, the core may remain the same, but not always.  You can't control creativity.  You gotta give it free reign...let it run wild.  When you do your rewrite...that's when you try to tame it a bit.  But rewrites?  Oy...rewrites are a bitch!

So tell me...where do your ideas come from?

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Benefit of the Doubt

I'm going to be very blunt here.  I'm tired and frustrated and sick of giving people the benefit of the doubt when I suspect they don't deserve it.  In this modern age of ours, communication has never been easier.  And yet, I have never been more disappointed with the lack of ability some people seem to have for staying in touch.

I asked a very simple favor from a handful of people.  People that I know, and love and thought of as my friends.  Four of those amazing people came through for me.  Because the favor was so very simple.  It did not require anything more than clicking on a website, cutting and pasting and with the computer dexterity that I am certain these people possess, it would not have taken more than 10 minutes tops.  Seriously.  10 minutes. 

My request, with the exception of the amazing four, went ignored.  IGNORED.  None of these people even had the decency to write back to me in that urban, abbreviated scrawl that is invading the world with a "2 bz 2day."  I didn't even get that.  I got nothing. 

So then of course, I think, "Is it me? Did I do something to offend?  Did I have a technical malfunction and my initial email didn't go through?"  But it went through to the fab 4.  They all received my request.  I gave them all the benefit of the doubt. I know one of these people certainly had a legitimate excuse for not contacting.  But the others?  I thought, well... they were studying, they were Christmas shopping, they were chauffering their great Auntie Gertrude around town....I don't know!  I was coming up with excuses right and left for these people. 

Did they deserve my generosity of spirit?  I have come to the conclusion that NO...they did not deserve it.  Would I have reciprocated if asked the same request?  Of course I would have.  I've done so many, many times in the past.  I have come through for people who I care about. If someone who is dear to me needs a favor, I will do what I can to help them out.  And if I can't do it, I let them know.  I don't leave them hanging.  I'm not a perfect person, that's for damn certain; I make lots of mistakes all the time...but I do have manners.  And if someone writes to me, I write them back.

I had a wonderful conversation with one of the Fab 4 this evening. A real conversation...not a text message or an Ichat or an email.  Yes, we are in two different cities, but she was able to pick up the phone and WE TALKED!  My dear friend assured me it wasn't just happening to me. People just don't acknowledge each other.  They ignore.  Why?  I have no idea, but it seems to be pervasive.  People seem to have time to tweet and update Facebook statuses and text and Youtube and all those other wonderful inventions of the 21st century, but it seems they become incredibly inept when asked to respond to an email from an old friend.  

I think it's rude.  I think it's despicable.  I think it's horrible what it does to someone's self-esteem.  To my self-esteem.  Really...who likes being ignored?  No one I know.

I'm sick of Facebook.  People go on Facebook and believe they actually know what is really happening in your life.  They don't know.  Just because someone posts photos of their Christmas at Grandma' does nothing to tell the real story.  If you're reading this blog thinking you know what's going on in my don't.  You only know what I care to share.

If any of what I've written resonates...well...if the shoe fits, right?  If you're feeling the slightest bit guilty, then you  probably have reason to.  If you're amused by my rant, you have that right as well.  I'm done making excuses for other people because they don't get back to me.  They don't deserve it.  They don't deserve my making excuses and showing respect and kindness.  Because they haven't shown any respect to me. 

Rant over...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Writer Writes...

2010 was a very productive year for me as a writer.  I wrote for a living, every single day (okay...maybe not 7 days a week,  but I turned out a lot of content!)  It wasn't always what I wanted to be writing, but nevertheless, a writer has got to write to keep those wheels in the brain greased.  And write I did.  Was all of it good?  Of course not.  But that doesn't always matter.  We write because we must.  And that is that.

I started off 2011 by completing a deadline and finishing up a first draft of a creative project.  I kicked and screamed and squirmed and whined, but I finally finished it.  Having met the deadline (and now the work really begins, because as I said, it was a first draft and rewrites galore await...) I am anxious to continue (and complete) additional creative works that are standing in line waiting patiently for my attention.

The burnout I felt only a few days ago seems to have dissipated and now I feel eager and motivated to start some new works and finish up some old, yet promising pieces.  This is a good feeling and one I need to hold on to because I know it won't hang around for long. 

The things I need to concentrate on consist of these things:
1) Write honestly
2) Write from the heart
3) Breathe and believe

Sounds simple?  It's not.  But 2011 will definitely be another writing year.  I had my doubts, but every writer I know doubts themselves.  Occupational hazard. I don't need to create masterpieces.  I simply need to put the words down on the page.  Here we go.