Monday, April 16, 2007

Pulitzer Day! And Johnna Starts a New Play

They will be announcing the Pulitzer Prizes at 3pm EST today. That will be exciting. I had thought that Rabbit Hole by David Lindsey-Abaire was eligible and was a front-runner, but this play is not mentioned on other blogs, like Martin Denton's.

Hmmmm, I thought I read last year, when nothing won, some blogs that said if Rabbit Hole had been eligible they thought it would have won. Leading me to believe it would be eligible this year. The arcane and mystical Pulitzer Process defeats me. Martin Denton suggests Candy and Dorothy by David Johnston as a dark horse contender and that would great! Other blogs are predicting yet another no-drama winner year. That would be extremely depressing.

This weekend my friend Terence Anthony was in town. Terence writes the web cartoon Orlando's Joint that I keep telling you web-types to go watch. He is also an outstanding Los Angeles Playwright. His latest play is about a dude who goes to Cuba in the 90s to experience "real communism" based on a sort of hero-worship crush on Castro. Needless to say, his trip leaves him disallusioned and in serious danger. We were reading in my playwriting workshop at Moving Arts and I only got to see the first act. Terence promised to send me act two-- but it isn't the same as when you get to see it serialized in weekly workshop meetings fresh off the printer. I miss my LA workshop! I need to find something like that in NY.

Anyway, Terence was in town to visit his fabulous actress girlfriend Sara. We met at Shakespeare & Co books and then had lunch. I bought Christopher Shinn's anthology of plays because I signed up to take EST summer conference class with him. For $355 they are going to drive me to the Catskills, give me a place to stay and food, and give me a three day class with Christopher Shinn on playwriting. That seemed like a good deal. There is no vetting process-- you just pay and you are in the class until they run out of spots. You send in some work (6 pages) so that Chris can get to know your writing. (Like 6 pages are going to adequately open up the world of Johnna for the poor guy- doesn't know what he is getting himself in for, does he?). I read Four from his anthology on the subway and Saturday night. I thought it was an amazingly gentle script. Deceptively easy-looking writing. Large themes laid out in very human terms. I liked it a lot.

Then my friend Kay and I went and saw Arlene Hutton's Last Train to Nibroc at the 78th Street Theater. It was my second time to see the play. I saw the Los Angeles production of the whole trilogy at Actor's Co-op last year. I love the script. It manages to be intelligently sentimental and gloriously precious. I don't know how she does it. By never condescending to the characters or something. I thought the space was better for the show in the LA production, and somehow the end of scene two fell flat in NY where is was astonishing and heart-stopping in LA. The actors were about as good as the LA actors, although the chemistry was not entirely as strong.

The Hutton and Shinn plays I saw/read on Saturday inspired me to then go forward with a play I had been noodling on for nine months or so. So I wrote Saturday night and Sunday and now have 67 pages on a 90 minute one act I am calling The Days of Never. I hope to finish it tonight. It is a story loosely based on my parents' (tragic) relationship (which I think is the basis of the Hutton play, her own parents' story) and sentimental in the way that that story sort of has to be. And I am going for a more naturalistic style, influenced by the Shinn piece. So far it has been a very interesting journey. I am two scenes in (the play will be three 25-40 minute scenes separated by a little over a decade between each scene). I like the play, but am a little worried that it is too low concept to get much traction anywhere. Three actors. Simple story. Highly conversational, low action. Also, it is written just after Godsbreath, which I have not even started marketing yet. And I am planning on writing a big noir, OC-history laced comedy next. Usually the play written between two high-concept pieces gets shafted. I call this the Tumblewings effect, after my play Tumblewings which was written between Oneida: Servants of Motion and The Sacred Geometry of S&M Porn. Being the middle child between those giants meant that Tumblewings got screwed marketing-wise. I sent it to two places, I think. I hate the marketing part of it.

Anyway, The Days of Never is a sequel to In the Absence of Angels, which will shock those of you who remember how much I whined and bitched about that play when Write Act Rep did a workshop of it last year. It is still one of my least fav plays of mine. But I have always been happy with Carrie's monologue about the undertaker that loved her. So the new play starts with a meeting between Carrie's husband Everett and the undertaker, in the parking lot behind the funeral home where her body is laid out for viewing. Then we skip 14 years and show the two meeting by chance at a diner. Then we skip another 13 years and see Ted, the undertaker, meeting Grace, Carrie's daughter at Everett's memorial service. This world is a little different that the Angels world, even though I am using the same characters, because I have made Grace a struggling actress and not a "star." Am interested in seeing how it all turns out. I hope to finish it off tonight. I am about 23 pages from the end. Will then solicit for volunteers to read it. Should be a quick, quick read.

May post again later today when the Pulitzers are announced.


The Misanthrope said...

Allow me to be the first to comment, I am so glad you started a blog and I look forward to keeping track of you through this in addition to our e-mails. You will have a special place on Toner, once I work on it tonight.

P'tit Boo said...

Hey.... I've been reading you.
Glad you started this blog. So much better than my space !
I'll introduce you on my blog !