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.

1 comment:

Jason Grote said...

Hey, thanks, Johnna. Good to see you Monday. Sorry I had to miss this one, but my wife had a reading in Brooklyn last night...