Monday, June 25, 2007

New York Theater Review 2007 Book Readings and Signing, and Student Film Confessions

Am a week late in posting about the New York Theater Review 2007 book reading and signing that happened at the Drama Bookstore last Friday. This is an anthology of plays and commentary edited by former Orange County critic Brook Stowe.
The format of the evening had us spending an hour or so in the theater downstairs listening to excerpts from the plays and essays in the book and then going upstairs for a reception. I thought this was an inspired way to preview the book, it was like attending a theater lecture series and I came away very excited to open my copy of the review and finish the articles and plays that I got little teaser samplers of. That Brook Stowe is a marketing genius!
Adam Szymkowicz' Food for Fish was the first play excerpt and featured cast members and the director of the New York premiere from Sanctuary Playwrights Theatre. This was adorable and deftly handled. Made me bitter that I did not live here when the play was produced in NY and moved from LA before it opened there. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Especially loved the references to the father's casket being in the living room for more than a year and group lament over the lost New Jersey. And the guy who played Barbara was freaking hysterical, even just reading it.
We also got to see excerpts from Anne Washburn's I Have Loved Strangers featuring original cast members. I thought these actresses were wonderful and the scene was a gripping terrorist/spy identity reveal quiz that made me very interested in reading the whole play. And, boy, did that Pultizer nominating committee get it right with Quiara Alegria Hudes' Elliot: A Solider's Fugue! One of the actresses from Adam's reading did a single monologue from the play and I fell eternally in love with the script. I am going to memorize the monologue for auditions I decided, even though I am totally wrong for the role. Luckily you don't have to be cast for audition monologues, you get to pick those.
Garett Eisler (aka The Playgoer) gave a reading from his essay on the Rachel Corrie/New York Theater debacle. He managed to make the topic relevant and about larger issues even though it is no longer topical. And it was sort of cool to sit back and listen to him. It was like reading his blog, only you didn't have to go online and do the work of reading it. I think he should hire out and go to people's houses and read his daily bloggings out loud. It was cool. Like being at an 18th century lecture on the state of drama, only on modern topics and delivered by a prolific blogger. Retro and cutting edge all at the same time. He is really charming in person, too (well, you probably weren't expecting him to be an ogre or anything, but for the record- quite charming, I thought). Alan Lockwood also spoke about Beckett and his article is extremely detailed and intricate. Not sure I am smart enough to make it through that article when I sit down to read the book, but it was very impressive to hear an excerpt.
Brook and I got to chat about old Orange County days at the reception and that was fun. Also talked about all the cool things he has been up to since moving to NY. Met Anne Washburn and she was really nice. Bought multiple copies of the book to give to friends. Was disappointed that they didn't make all the contributors sit at a table and sign books, but that is apparently not the way the Drama Bookstore set things up. Also chided the staff at the Drama Bookstore about not having a monthly book group for reading plays and am flirting with idea of offering to organize one for them. But that sounds like work, so I am still thinking about it.
Did a Columbia University student film last night called All Night by Greg Kershaw. I played "WAITRESS" and had one line ("Thank you"). I don't think I am in frame for my one line. I think you just see my hand putting a check on the table and hear my line (well, Meryl Streep had to start somewhere, too!). I am glad you don't see me though because my diner waitress outfit was yuck unflattering. It was fun to do, though. Molly Pearson (co-Ad at Partial Comfort Productions) asked me to do the role after I volunteered at their fundraiser. They were nice people and I was especially entertained by the NYU student PAs who gossiped about their classmates and told a cute story (very seriously and somberly) about a classmate who "found out Danny was cheating on her on Facebook." They could not understand my mid-30s delighted laughter.
Going to the Chris Shinn workshop this weekend. Have finally stopped complaining to people that I have to take a sleeping bag and am looking forward to it now. Also drew the next prompt for my novel, Creatina, and have to work in a bottle of spray starch as an intregal prop. Hope to do that this week.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Dramatists Question and Answer Forum, July 5th

Thought I would post info on the New Dramatists Admission Forum, which I plan on attending July 5th. Figure it will be an interesting networking event even if I don't actually apply to New Dramatists this year (gathering recommendations is a pain).


For prospective applicants to the New Dramatists Residency Program

On Thursday, July 5th from 4-5:30 pm, New Dramatists (424 West 44th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues) will hold an Admissions information meeting for people who are considering applying. The application process will be discussed followed by a question and answer session.

Will write a post about the book launch party for Brook Stowe's New York Theater Review 2007, which I attended on Friday when I get time. Had a two-day off-site meeting and lots of work this week, which has interfered with my blogging!

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Show and an Assault! Peculiar Happenings at Peculiar Works

I took the first tour of the first preview of Peculiar Works Project's OFF Stage: The east Village Fragments last night and witnessed an assault! Don't you love New York?

Took place during Birdbath (by Leonard Melfi, dir Kay Mitchell--my friend). I am not even sure exactly what happened. I was being a good little audience member and following the cart like I was told. They tell you at the start of the tour that you must follow a cart from scene to scene, and I guess I would have been a good Nazi or have drunk the kool-aid in Jonestown, becuase they SAID follow the cart, and I took them very LITERALLY!

Anyway, a homeless guy passed us as we were watching the scene and then I think after we were about 50 feet from him, someone jumped him and started beating him??? Not sure, but it was loud-- it may have been a security guard or police officer grabbing him. I couldn't see and was stubbornly trying to watch the performance. The group was confused for a moment as to whether or not the jumping was part of the show-- but the cart was definitely being wheeled AWAY from the assault in progress, so most of us followed it. When we were about 75 feet away, someone started yelling "Call 911!!!" Our actors kept going-- about half the tour group was watching the beating or whatever going on, and half of us were following the actors. I don't think anyone knew exactly what was going on. My friend Kara is in the Birdbath scene, so I especially refused to pay much attention to the assault or murder or arrest or whatever was happening, because I thought she would think it was rude (more evidence of my lack of moral fiber there, I guess).

By the time were at the end of the scene, a half dozen cops were on the scene at the other end of the block, police cars were there and an amublance was arriving. I asked some of the other group members what was going on as we were walking to the next scene, but no one seemed to know.

I think our cart got stolen at the next stop, Murder Cake (by Diane Di Prima, dir Lauren Keating). We didn't have a cart to follow to the next scene and I was very disturbed-- I was FIXATED on the carts (MUST FOLLOW CART-- no matter if people scream, desperately want you to call 911, or sirens are screaming all around you-- MUST FOLLOW CART). But, I got over it. We got a cart back at the next stop and I felt safe again.

Other highlights, a woman came out from the abandoned-looking building that the Futz (by Rochelle Owens, dir Jose Zayas) scene was performing in front of and started yelling at them to move their "practicing" elsewhere. They just went on with show, while she stood right beside them, arms folded, yelling at them to go away. Someone (director?) finallly went went up and tried to explain to her what was going on-- she just yelled "What? I don't CARE! Go away!" Finally she went back in the building and shut the door in a huff when the actors just ignored her. This was the FIRST tour-- so I've been wondering what happened when the other tour groups came through.

Huge kudos to crazy actors Moti Margolin and Eric C. Bailey, who stand outside wearing boxers and suspenders ALL NIGHT shouting obscene sex dialogue from Sam Shepard's The Rock Garden (dir Bryn Manion). I had to hide my face behind my program to hide the blushes as passerbys caught some of their graphics lines out of context-- I don't know how they do it. Ditto, underwear clad Liche Ariza and Jennifer Whitman (A Corner of the Morning by Paul Foster, dir Belinda Mello) and Catherine Porter and Nick Matthews (Why Hanna's Skirt Won't Stay Down by Tom Eyen, dir Mark Finley). And the whole cast of Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide (by Charles Ludlum, my soulmate, and dir Gabriel Shanks) I don't know what they are wearing-- but it ain't much.

Loved the passerby during The Mulberry Bush by Phoebe Wray, dir Casey McLain, who said "YEAH! Me too!" emphatically when one of the actresses said "I always wanted to fly" and just kept walking down the street.

Great Night. Hope that guy's not dead from the Birdbath scene, though. I am watching the Peculiar Works Blog to see if anyone posts with more information. That was crazy.

UPDATE: WOW! My friend Kay talked to the assaulter-- a creepy guy named Francois right before he jumped the homeless guy-- her story is on the Peculiar Works Blog.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Flux Theater Reading, Unnamed Play is Named

Went to the Flux Theatre Ensemble's round-robin Life is a Dream adaptation last night. This was an amazingly cool concept, executed delightfully.

Flux asked 7 playwrights to each adapt one scene of Pedro Calderon de la Barca's Life is a Dream for this reading. There were no guidelines and you could freely adapt the play however you wanted. So it turned the play into a wild and amusing ride, that I for one, giggled all through and loved.

I am not sure what regular audience members thought (although it seemed like everyone laughed and liked it)-- but as a playwright, I couldn't help but be charmed and engaged seeing the different ways each writer brought his or her own personality to the work. And I love playwriting challenges-- (some of you will remember when I bullied Stages into letting me do the Survivor-themed playwriting challenge where the playwrights voted each other out of competition; and I made Eric Eberwein, Jeremy Gable, and Darcy (Hogan) Lythgoe write a round robin collaboration with me once- although we never finished it-- I love games). So I was enthralled.

I especially enjoyed Adam Szymkowicz's first scene, which threw in some nice songs as musical underscoring and got the Rosaura/Clarin sexual jokes just right.

Then, playwright Jason Grote completely killed me when he had King Basilio enter and turned all of the King's dialogue into intense World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view analysis, historical summation, wrestler profiling, and WWF ad promo copy. Utterly hysterical. The rest of the court acted like they were hearing real, kingly pronouncements while the King was nattering on and on about the Rock and Hulk Hogan-- and August Schulenburg's earnest, deadpan and delightfully serious portrayal of King Basilio earns him the coveted Johnna Adams Off-Off-B Best Possible Acting in a Reading Award for this Decade. I am still laughing about this, and I don't even think wrestling is funny. Utter brilliance.

Also loved Carmen Rivera's futuristic, clone-enfused adaptation of Act 3, Scene 1-- which she managed to make tense, comic, intriguing, and haunting-- in about 15 pages and even though her take was completely different from anything we'd seen before.

Last, but not leasterly, Sheila Callaghan hit a huge homerun with the last scene of the play-- which she set at an office Christmas party (gone horribly wrong). This was a sparkly little gem of a scene with dialogue I wanted to chew on for a while. I am disappointed that this section isn't published anywhere-- because there were passages I wanted to re-hear or read. And the casting, again, was superb in this section. The office machine war between the accountants and the associates, the sad associate congo line, and the word-repetition love scene were really striking. And the humor throughout was spot on.

Planning to catch Flux's full production of Life is a Dream before it closes next weekend. Will report back.

Signed up for a Playwriting 1 class at Gotham Writers with Kuros Charney (a fellow Los Angeles playwright) that starts in July. I am looking forward to that. Kuros' bio indicates experience with my LA-writer buds at ALAP and USC, so am hoping we will have lots to talk about.

EST sent me an email listing things to bring to my weekend playwriting workshop with Christopher Shinn (happening June 29- July 1). The list includes a flashlight and a sleeping bag. Hmmmm. . . . I wondered for a moment if Mr. Shinn has some sort of cool playwriting exercise in mind like "How to Find Dramatic Structure in Your Play Using a Flashlight" or "How to Create a Womb-Like Playwriting Retreat at Home with a Sleeping Bag." Then, I frowned, and realized that the brochure, which said we would be staying in a "resort" in the Catskills was LYING. And they likely meant we would be staying in Friday the 13th, Camp Crystal Lake-style bungalows and ROUGHING IT. Which is not what I had in mind when I signed up. In fact, if the brochure had pointed out we would need BUG SPRAY in order to study with Mr. Shinn I would have probably decided to wait until he was teaching somewhere climate controlled.

But, I am still going.

My nameless play (that I excerpted a few entries ago) may have settled on the name Twelfth Devil. That is its current working title and the most favored of the working titles. Eric Eberwein is helping me revise it. Right now scene one is great and the rest is sort of a let down-- Eric is helping me try to fix it.

Going to Peculiar Work's OFF Stage: East Village Tour tomorrow night.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Make Gay Love, Not War

Isaac at Parabasis posted about this and got my attention.

The US military (honest to God) was pursuing a non-lethal, hormonal bomb that would contain "strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior" for use on enemy soldiers. The proposal went out in 1994, from the Air Force and they called it the Gay Bomb.

Full story.

Wow. I have always wanted to write a play about proposal writers (I am a proposal writer in my day job)-- but have been put off by the fact that Tom Strelich has already written the definitive proposal writer play with his searingly funny BAFO. Wonder if I could figure out a way to write a comedy about the proposal team trying to answer this government RFP without it being a complete BAFO ripoff? One for the idea file.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tagged for Random Facts by Frank's Wild Lunch

Kyle at Frank's Wild Lunch wants me to post eight random facts about myself in some sort of blogger chain letter. Usually, I would refuse in order to seem mysterious and elusive-- but, because it is Kyle and I owe him because the Black Dahlia case of mistaken identity (he will understand the reference and the rest of you won't) here goes:

Bloggers must post these rules and provide eight random facts about themselves. In the post, the tagged blogger tags eight other bloggers and notify them that they have been tagged.

1. I read all 25 of John Norman's Gor novels in my early teenage years. And at one point I could recite all the titles (Tarnsman of Gor through Magician of Gor) from memory. Anyone who is wondering why I didn't date much in high school can now stop wondering.

2. I have a second cousin (named Snake) who is a rattlesnake wrangler in Mangum, Oklahoma. He takes people on tours to look at rattlesnakes and captures and sells the snakes. He is known for lining the cab of his pickup truck with rattlesnake skin and keeping a live rattlesnack in the cab of the truck to serve as his "car alarm." My dad wants to go and visit him this summer so that I have some material for a play. Hmmm. I don't know . . .

3. I attended a dance at Stanford when Chelsea Clinton was studying dance there, and she stepped on my partner's foot once. She apologized very sweetly. I think we were doing West Coast swing. She is a much, much, much better dancer than I am. The dances were open to the public (I did not attend Stanford, I was working as a technical writer in nearby San Jose and just taking ballroom dance classes there). Supposedly there were at least a dozen easily spotted secret service people in the room, but I couldn't spot them. (Good thing I am not a criminal!) It was at the heighth of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and I felt very sorry for her and was glad Chelsea seemed to be having such a good time dancing.

4. When I saw my play done at the Iowa women's prison, I stayed at the director's (Mari Sivi's) house. Marti was living in a house that used to be owned by one of the murderesses in the prison who was working on the tech portion of my show (Kathleen). Kathleen asked me which bedroom I was staying in in her former house during the volunteer dinner and talked a bit about how she decorated the house when she lived there. Kathleen has been in prison about 30 years for killing her doctor husband in the waiting room of his practice in front of his patients. It was very odd seeing her prison life and then leaving to go spend the night in the lovely suburban home she had given up. She called herself a "widow by choice," and had gotten an MFA in Shakespeare while in prison. She was actually very pleasant to talk with once I got passed the creepiness of it.

5. I started crying in the parking lot of the Midland, TX, (or maybe Odessa, TX) mall when I was about five years old when I was going in to see Burt Ward who was making a personal appearances there as Robin (fromthe Batmans and Robin TV show). My mother told me he might be scary and asked me if I really wanted to see him and I burst into tears, suddenly afraid. I remember wondering at the time why, since Robin was clearly a good-guy on TV, my mother seemed so seriously concerned about seeing him in person. I mean, it wasn't like we were going to see the Joker or Mr. Freeze. . . . Anyway, I almost lost my nerve, but eventually went in and found Robin anti-climactic and a bit boring. Batgirl was there, too, and I liked her better.

6. Played a pinhead in a college production of The Elephant Man where the director decided to put us in "conehead" head pieces from the Conehead movies. Do I really need to say anything else?

7. Won the "Zoology" category in a school-wide science fair in the 10th grade for a a science project entitled "Could Centaurs Exist?" The biology teacher was incensed and told her classes that she felt the judging committee really let her down letting by awarding my project. I couldn't agree more-- I did the whole project the night before and was thunderstruck at winning. The project had a little home-made flip chart with a possible centaur skeleton, muscular system, circulatory system, and then skin. Total BS, and yet fantastically rewarded.

8. A guy stabbed another guy on my school bus in the ninth grade. I had to go around all day with little spots of his blood on my pants because I was sitting in the seat behind them. Stabbed guy wasn't seriously injured, I don't think. I didn't know either of the guys-- the other guy went to juvie after the cops caught him (he busted out of the emergency exit at the back of the bus after the stabbing and ran away). Can't remember what they were fighting over now. I think it was the seat.

Okay, now I need to tag eight other bloggers: (myspace) deadponies, dave barton, danward, M, jami (blogspot/blogger) theater mike, patrick gabridge, Toner mishap

Greedy at Clubbed Thumb

Went and saw Greedy at Clubbed Thumb in Soho on Friday with my friend Valerie Work (current Brooklyn College MFA playwriting student- she and I did a Pataphysics workshop together last year).

Speaking of Pataphysics, saw The Flea Theater's Gary Winter in the lobby before the show. He said they are working on setting up some pataphysics workshops for the Fall. Expect me to pimp those workshops brickly on my blog-- I love me my pataphysics workshops and hope to see some of you there. Kate Ryan was also in the audience and Valerie and I chatted with her briefly after the show.

Greedy by Karl Gajdusek is part of Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks 2007 series. There are only 6 performances, so I think they consider it a workshop production-- I didn't see anything that separated it from a full production, though, as the show had great design elements, was fully staged, fully off-book, and looked like a production to me!

I thought they did a really nice job and the script selection was very compelling. Felt like they selected this script because it was an actor's play with wonderful characters to sink into and I respect theaters that make that choice. The script was satisfyingly caught up with a group of five money-greedy or emotionally-greedy individuals who are busy destroying one another's lives at a frantic pace. I liked the storytelling in the play, and loved the pragmatic focus every character had on a compelling need (either "I want money" or "I want love"). I couldn't quite tell where the play was set-- everyone was in the same town, I think, and I thought it was a small town based on one set of characters-- but then there was a yuppie couple that screamed Los Angeles to me, so I am unsure. But, that didn't really detract much. There was a lot of humor and I really liked where the story ended up. Something about it felt slightly screenplay-esque to me when we got to the twists at the end of the play- but, again, it didn't really detract. Definitely give it a thumb's up and enjoyed myself. I hope to catch more of the series.

Going to catch Flux theatre's Dream Series tomorrow night and then I have the Reverie Writers' Group on Wednesday. Probably going to try and do another chapter of the novel this week, too. Also planning on going to Brook Stowe's book signing party at the Drama Bookstore on Friday for his New York Theater Review 2007. Haven't seen Brook for two or three years. Looking forward to that.

Got a really positive rejection letter on Godsbreath from SCR via email last week. One of those rejections that make you feel like you got accepted for a minute. Megan, the literary manager, wrote five or so paragraphs on why the play isn't right for SCR and suggested an alternative theater in the area that might like the script. How cool is that? Definitely the highest class of rejection they offer (unless they have a rejection letter than comes with a shoe shine or something). So, I am happy about that. Wandering about Manhattan feeling special.

Nameless Play Preview

Never posted anything from that play I wrote a month or so ago-- the one I couldn't name but was coming up with stinker titles for like "Days of Never." It was originally called "Feeding the Devil" and I may go back to that title. It is very conversational, which I hope doesn't mean boring.

Well, here are the first few pages. Let me know what you think.

NOTE: ". . . . " after a character's name indicates a non-verbal response or pause from that character.

The back door of Farrell’s Funeral Home. Hollis, Oklahoma. January, 1981. The back door of the funeral home opens onto a small staff parking lot. There is a broken church pew serving as a bench and a rusted metal ashtray near the door. The building is a low, modern structure built sometime after the war. It is a grey afternoon with patches of melting snow on the ground.

TED FARRELL, 30s, sits in an untidy heap on the ground to one side. He is huddled against the wall, crouched so that he can’t be seen from any of the windows. He is crying softly. He wears a conservative brown western-cut suit, western boots, and has his hair slicked down.

EVERETT, 30s bursts through the back door of the funeral home. He dressed in jeans, a rumpled western shirt over an undershirt, and a sports coat.

EVERETT. Goddamn! Goddamn. . . . Oh.

EVERETT runs his hands through his hair. He leans over gasping, as if he might be sick. He spits on the ground and kneels down, holding his stomach.

EVERETT (cont). Goddamn. Goddman. Goddamn. Ohhhhhhhhhh.

EVERETT rubs his face and stays there kneeling a moment. Then he stands and fumbles through his pockets until he finds a pack of cigarettes. He puts one in his mouth. He goes through all his pockets and can’t find a lighter.


EVERETT turns toward the door and sees TED. They stare at one another a moment.

EVERETT. . . .
TED. . . .

EVERETT sighs heavily.

EVERETT. You got a light?
TED. What?
EVERETT. A light?
TED. Oh.

TED finds a lighter in his pocket. He shuffles over to EVERETT and lights his cigarette.

EVERETT. Thanks.
TED. All right then.
EVERETT. Those women.

EVERETT takes a draw on his cigarette.

TED. . . .
EVERETT. Crying in there. (Smokes again.)
TED. . . .
EVERETT. Makes it tough.
TED. . . .
EVERETT. You know what I mean?
TED. Well.
EVERETT. I get to where I cain’t breathe.
TED. Well.
EVERETT. Like my chest is caught in a vice.

EVERETT leans over and holds his stomach. He spits again.

TED. Well, then. . . .
EVERETT. If those women weren’t crying. Maybe. You know? Get through this here.
TED. Surely.
EVERETT. . . .
TED. . . .
EVERETT. That how you feel?
TED. Well, yes, sir. That’s how everyone feels, I expect. Just get through this here.
EVERETT. You knew her?
TED. I did.
EVERETT. Hell of a thing.
TED. Yes, sir.
EVERETT. . . .
TED. . . .
EVERETT. I hate places like this. Goddamned places like this.
TED. Well, I surely don’t think--
EVERETT. What’s that?
TED. Well, not that.
EVERETT. . . . ?
TED. Not goddamned is all I mean. Not places like this. No, sir.
EVERETT. I’m sorry.
TED. Well, no.
EVERETT. You religious?
TED. Yes, sir.

EVERETT spits again.

EVERETT. I’m sorry.
TED. No need.
EVERETT. . . .
TED. . . .
EVERETT. I’m not.
TED. Religious?
TED. Well, I’m sorry for that.
EVERETT. Fair enough.

EVERETT smokes. TED wraps himself tighter in his jacket. A train sounds in the distance. Both men look toward the sound.

EVERETT (CONT.). I hate places like this.
TED. . . .
EVERETT. Sick joke calling it a parlor. Funeral parlor. Like is was some goddamned parlor-- sorry.

TED shrugs.

EVERETT (CONT.). Like it was some welcoming place. Home. Like it was home. . . . Am I talking too much? Do you want to be private with this or do want to hear me talk?
TED. No.
EVERETT. I do that sometimes. Talk to distract myself.
TED. Go on.
EVERETT. Oughta’ be some damned funeral director in there, I tell you what. Taking care of them damned crying women. Dereliction of damned duty. I mean you pay these people. It’s not like you’re imposing on them. Shouldn’t be so goddamned empty and full of those crying women just milling about like loose hens in a yard.
TED. Privacy.
TED. For grieving. Some folk likes privacy, is all.
EVERETT. . . .
TED. . . .
EVERETT. Well. . . . How’d you know her?
TED. . . .
EVERETT. Went to school with her?
TED. Yes, sir.
TED. First through twelfth grade with her.
EVERETT. Did you love her or something?
TED. . . .
EVERETT. . . .
TED. . . .
EVERETT. I’m sorry. . . . I’m sorry. . . .You live here? You live in this town?
TED. I do.
EVERETT. How do you stand it?
TED. It ain’t easy.
EVERETT. I bet. I grew up in a town about this size. I live out in Midland now. They got enough bars in Midland that there’s always a place to go where you’re a stranger. You know what I mean?
TED. Well.
EVERETT. Yeah. Got a country club.
TED. You a member?
EVERETT. (laughs) Oh, hell, no.
TED. . . .
EVERETT. But, I work for some of them folks. Oil-rich wildcatters. On the oil rigs.
TED. So, that’s where you know her from? Midland?
TED. What’s she like in Midland?
EVERETT. Same as she’s like around here I guess.
TED. No, I doubt that. Not in Midland.
EVERETT. She ain’t the type to be different in the city.

EVERETT’s stomach hurts again and he leans over and cradles it.

TED. Well, she was down to earth all right. She was down to earth. I bet in Midland she shown just right. That’s what I bet.
EVERETT. . . .
TED. She stayed pretty. She stayed real pretty.
EVERETT. (straightening up and taking a drag on his cigarette.) With all that damned make-up they got on her, how can you tell?
TED. You don’t like how she looks?
EVERETT. Looks like a damned street walker.
TED. No. I didn’t mean to---
EVERETT. It ain’t her.
TED. You have to put lots of make-up on. ‘Cause of the way folks skin changes when they pass on. You know?
EVERETT. You think she looks good like that? That crap on her face?
TED. I don’t know. I guess. I guess she does.
EVERETT. That ain’t her.
TED. She always had a high color. That’s what I remember.
EVERETT. She looks good with nothing on her face. She looks good . . . . She looks good with . . . . Oh, god. . .

EVERETT kneels and puts his head in his hands.

TED. . . .
EVERETT. . . .
TED. . . .
EVERETT. I hate this shit.
TED. Yeah.
EVERETT .Those crying women and all this shit. And them all watching you. The pettiness. Imagine if this was your whole life. This damned building and those crying women. What do they pay the poor fucks that work here? Peanuts and shit. Ain’t worth it.
TED .Yes, sir.
EVERETT .I’d go nuts. But, I guess it’s a dying town. Busiest industry hereabouts is probably the death industry. Can’t be much else to do in this fuckhole. Bet all the jobs are shit. . . . What do you do? What do you do here?
TED .I’m the undertaker. And funeral director when my uncle’s not here.
EVERETT. . . .
TED. . . .


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Blog for Peculiar Works

I am the official blogmisstress (doesn't that sound delightfully wicked?) for the upcoming Peculiar Works' OFF Stage East Village Fragments show. See the exciting blog I created for them here.

It will be a team blog, so contact me if you want to be added as a poster. They want participants and audience members to post and give feedback.

The East Village Fragments runs Thursday-Saturday, June 14-30 (@7.7:30,8 & 8:30). Tickets are available at

I am going to go first weekend. Probably Saturday June 26th-- unless Kay wants me to go to a preview. My friend Kay is directing the Birdbath scene, which features my friend Kara Knappe-- who I introduced Kay to (so in addition to blogmistress, I am associate casting director!)

Kara was in my play THE MIRACLE OF MARY MACK'S BABY at Stages in Fullerton in (gosh) 1999 or 2000 as the psychotic teenage redneck, Geraldanne-- still one of my favorite characters of all the crazy little characters I have ever written. And that was (tied with Saced G at Rude G) the best production of any of my plays, hands down. Great cast and fabulous cast chemistry. Love to do a re-mount someday.

Planning to take it easy the rest of the week. Need to do some work on Angel Eaters and my write the second novel chapter. Also have six fantasy novels lined up in the Oran Trilogy and Outremer series to read.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Chapter One, Creatina

Chapter One of Creatina is posted here.

Work has been keeping me busy this week. Aslo started reading a fantasy series: Midori Snyer's Oran Trilogy. This was recommended to me by a coworker years ago and I am finally getting to it. So far, it is a great fantasy world and promises to be an outstanding series-- my only criticism (which isn't really a criticism) is that I wish the books were two or three times as long as they are-- they are all arounf 280-300 pages, which is light for a fantasy epic.

Monday, June 4, 2007

CREATINA by Johnna Adams, Preface

Posting my novel as I write it here. The preface is up now (the footnotes are a pain to read, but hopefully you can get through it.) Hope to post Ch1 tomorrow or later this week.

Novel Writing Challenge, My Gothic Delight

I have been threatening to tell you all about the novel writing challenge my friends Charlyn and Kay are launching ourselves upon-- so mentally prepare yourselves for all things exciting and novel and I will launch right into that.

It began at the Borders at Colombus Circle where K and I were killing time before a theatrical event. (Perhaps Dying City at the Lincoln Center? My memory is faulty.) We were walking through the romance section, and I was saying, in the snotty, self-delusional and self-important manner I sometimes have looking at the shorter-form Harlequin romances:

"We could write these! I bet you make $3,000 a pop. These wouldn't be difficult to write-- the Harlequin site gives you topics to write on, like pirates or school teachers and crap. That's so easy! We could do this!"

K, wisely, did not point out that I have no evidence to support my claims of potential romance novel-writing brilliance, having never finished any of the ten or so sci fi/fantasy/romance novels I have started (well, I finished two novellas, but they are best forgotten). Instead we focused on the catagories harlequin assigns writers, and from there came up with an idea for a challenge. We set up catagories and different ideas, to be drawn out of a hat, to force ourselves to write tongue-in-cheek romance novels. We have no great dreams of publication and world-wide acclaim (well, I do-- but K and C are more sensible people by far.) But we do expect to entertain ourselves excessively this summer.

So, in case any of you arm-chair enthusists wants to participate along with us, here are the categories and ideas we drew our topics from. Feel free, also, to suggest ideas! We would love that. And we are going to continue drawing complications as we write, so your ideas may get used in one of our later chapters.

Arabian Nights
Treasure hunting adventure
Sci fi/Fantasy
Stolen artwork (jewelry, sports memorabilia, ...)
Film Noir

A cruise ship/ocean liner
New York in a blackout
Deserted island
Pillsbury Bake-Off
International Cat Show
A Train
Miss Teen Arkansas Pageant
Desert oasis
Space station
Bizarre candy factory

Circus performer
Running from the law
A hidden identity
Is an Egyptian mummy
Mutant powers
One armed
Addicted to Internet porn and American Idol reruns
A famous literary figure (Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Darcy. Etc)
Painful history as an evil sultana’s harem boy

Cursed by an evil dwarf
Must avenge her father’s death
Owns a failing cherry orchard
Numerous bastard children
Has created a deadly invention
Linked to organized crime
Speaks to animals
“No holds barred” extreme cage fighter
Cyborg chip implanted in her brain
Princess in disguise

Thieving in-laws
A lost colony/civilization is discovered
Herod’s slaughter of the innocents
Forest fire
Heavy taxation without representation
Someone is plotting to take over the world and must be defeated
A long journey on horseback

Includes extensive footnotes
Quotes fictional news articles
One character speaks in rhyming couplets
Liberal use of foreign accents
Chapters must be prefaced with appropriate biblical quotations
Chapters must be prefaced with relevant recipes and/or quotes from Julia Child
Quotes throughout from the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on “Grenada”
Includes transcripts of famous or fictional courtroom trials
Novel purports to be “factual” and contains appropriate notes on the manuscript’s discovery and origins
Hero or heroine’s original poetry is quoted in every chapter

Machine gun
Dinosaur bones
Frozen mammoth
Suit of armor
Meat cleaver
Magician’s cabinet
Magic wardrobe that is gateway to another realm
English to Pakistani dictionary
Spray starch

Our 'rules' allow us to abandon an idea after the first chapter if it is not working out. K and I held our drawing on Thursday of last week and this is the prompt I got for my novel:

Johnna's Novel
GENRE: Gothic
SETTING: New York in a blackout
COMPLICATION FOR THE HERO: A famous literary figure
RANDOM COMPLICATION: A lost colony/civilization is discovered
FORMATTING COMPLICATIONS: Novel purports to be “factual” and contains appropriate notes on the manuscript’s discovery and origins
NOVEL MAKES LIBERAL USE OF THIS ITEM/PROP: Magic wardrobe that is gateway to another realm

I have finished the first chapter of my novel already (She said smugly.) I may post the preface, or set up a separate blog to serialize the novel (and K and C's if they are interested). Still thinking. I am sure I can get at least a few chapters done on this idea-- although that wretched formatting complication (my idea, so I can't complain too loudly) is a huge pain in the tuckus.

Half Baked, Half Drowned Weekend Activities

I sort of did the events my last post had me planning on doing. Here's a weekend sum up:

Friday I wrote the first chapter for my novel writing challenge (will do a separate post on that later) and went and saw Grindhouse in the village (loved it! loved both movies! even the tasteless stuff! even that appalling Thanksgiving slasher movie trailer! Well, okay, not really the Thanksgiving thing-- gross.)

I went to the BBQ Theater Event on Saturday. But I got a little lost on my way there (confused by the streets/avenues naming conventions in the Park Slope neighborhood). My mania for arriving places early had me still arriving exactly on time but with a pretty bad sunburn (I have two complexions, total white and lobster pink-- my skin won't do tan). And then they ending up have about 30 more people than they had planned for (at least). So, I was facing the prospect of standing to watch the theater for 4 hours. Hmmm, I love theater and all, but, hmmmm . . .

I got to see Kate Ryan's cute excerpt from her Nanny Goat play that will premiere at 13th Street theater later this year, and an especially delightful and memorable little play from Heidi Schreck-- an imaginative look inside the marriage of Arnold Schwartenger and Maria Shriver that was greatly enjoyed by all. I thought that was a clever idea, and I have wondered myself how this odd public couple made a go of it-- it was nice to experience someone else's active curiosity in such a comic and gentle little play. And then I called it a day and took my sunburn home to rest, missing the other 3, doubtlessly wonderful, hours of theater.

Then yesterday, I didn't bother to look at the weather report and realize that the day was going to end with a torrential, freezing downpour. Now, native New Yorkers will wonder at my foolishness-- but my Los Angeles buddies will understand that I have not had to bother to watch weather reports for over ten years coming from the West Coast. It is a learned habit that I haven't acquired yet. So, I did go to The Brick Theater's Pretensious Festival-- I went for Matthew Freeman's INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR and intended to stay through the theater blogging event but didn't make it that far. I bought an umbrella at a Walgreens, but found myself out and about with no jacket and was quickly dying of hypothermia.

Anyway, Matthew Freeman's INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR was HYSTERICAL! I laughed through the whole play. It will be especially fascinating to other playwrights, as he addresses the self-referential narcissism we all necessarily exhibit as playwrights and issues like: naked envy of other writers' success, the tyranny of past trauma writing obsessions, and the self-conflicted internal soul wars the writer wages with him/herself in evaluating his/her own work. And Matt does it in such a delightful and engagingly self-deprecatory manner, that the audience is always entertained no matter how portentiously self-aggrandizing it all is. I thought it was the PERFECT play for this festival and an utter triumph. Go see, go see, go see!

The only minor quibble I have is purely technical and focused on the festival producers-- their website says that Matt's show is an hour long-- it was 40 or so minutes long. When you are planning to see multiple shows and trying to figure out how much time you have to kill in the freezing rain, when you are locked out of the theater between shows, and in an unfamiliar environment -- having the published run times of the shows off by degrees of 20-30 minutes is really freaking irritating. Especially when the next show I went to see (Bric a' Brack) was 35 minutes shorter than advertised. So, instead of having the manageable, I thought, half hour of time to kill between that and the blogging show-- I was contemplating a miserable hour's wait, freezing with no jacket, huddled under an ugly and hastily purchased umbrella, and having already killed two hours of downtime in the worthless diner and now-closed coffee shop near the bathroom-less theater. So, I ended up not staying for the web-blogging show-- which was the reason I came in the first place. Luckily, Matt's show was worth the $20 I spent on admmissions to the two shows I saw-- because Bric 'a Brack, aside from a perfectly pleasant musical interlude with a violinist and cello player and an amusing pretentious artfilm (Walter Taft Steaming Fish Can't Make Contact)-- was a bit painful to sit through. Especially since I was two seats away from a 'laugher'-- one of those deeply annoying people who laugh agonizingly loudly and too long at things no one else finds amusing strictly for the pleasure of calling attention to him/herself in the audience. So, I spent the hour of downtime beween that and the internet blogging show going home, unfortunately, and will just have to live in suspense not knowing what those famous bloggers look like. I will read about the event on their blogs at least.

More about the novel-writing later.