Friday, November 30, 2007

Fanfic Plays Inspired by Boing Boing Post

Boing Boing has a recent post up about Southwest Air's profile of some internet Fanfic writings.

I definitely want to employ my extensive internet sleuthing skills to find the "novel-length story that brought characters and plots from Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series to the setting of Harry Potter." That sounds like genius!!

And in the spirit of cool fanfic melds, I have decided to share the plots of the top ten fanfic plays I want to write before I die.
10. The cast of 21 Jump Street is stranded in the Land of the Lost world, where the LOTL kids (Will and Holly) have massive drug problems. Kirk and Spock from Star Trek (engaged in a torrid homosexual affair) beam down and they all try desperately to get the kids off neolithic heroin. The Peter DeLuise character (Penhall) gets eaten by the T-Rex.

9. Alice's diner meets the plots of Jacqueline Lichtenberg's Sime/Gen sci fi/fantasy novels. The diner survives a nuclear holocaust and then Mel and Flo sprout tentacles from their forearms and chase Vera and Alice around the diner, desperate for their "Gen Juice."

8. Epic trilogy using the ensemble from the sitcom "Amen," where they are all cult members instead of decent church-goers. And someone is carrying an alien parasite that they must find and destroy before it devours them all.

7. Complete re-do of the Bionic Woman, set in 14th century Europe, where the Bionic Woman is a golem animated by an alchemist and hunting and killing crusaders.

6. The 7nth Heaven family re-envisioned as the Lost in Space Family. With Hannibal Lecter as the Dr. Zachary Smith stowaway character and the ship is run by Hal from 2001. Boy, are they in trouble, now.

5. The casts of Battlestar Gallactica (old and new series) find the Deep Space Nine Station, Miles
Vorkosigan from Lois McMaster Bujold’s
on-going opera novels is on the station searching for his clone twin, through a time warp thingie all the Star Wars characters show up from all movies, the line marriage members from Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress show up and bring Spock into their marriage, Darth Vader attacks the station, C3Po and R2D2 arrive and build Robby the Robot as a droid sex toy, and then Ming the Merciless arrives-defeats Darth Vader-and turns the station into a casino. Part of a science fiction trilogy with the previous play. All to be performed by two actors who play every role.

4. Complete rip-off of the world created in Esther Friesner’s Psalms of Herod combined with the cast and environs of the TV series Happy Days. The Fonz kills Mr. Cunningham to take over his marriage to Mrs. Cunningham and winnows out (kills) Ritchie, Ralph and the other guy. Also
brings Joanie and Leather Tuscadero into his alpha marriage. Mork from Mork and Mindy shows up and morphs into one of the aliens from Alien. Ends in a big bloodbath as these things generally do. Third play in the sci fi fanfic trilogy.

3. The Eight is Enough cast as a persecuted Mormon family around 1870 when the Morel Act is passed in Congress in an attempt to abolish polygamy. The Big Love cast shows up in a covered wagon and the girls from the EiE family are gradually seduced into becoming Big Love wives. We see excerpts from the writings of the youngest EiE son, who is dramatizing stories from Orson
Scott Card’s The Folk of the Fringe collection
. We discover a long, lost EiE sibling who has been locked in a closet his whole life. This one will be a musical for criminally insane children.

2. The Falcon Crest Channing/Gioberti and the Dynasty Carrington families are engaged in a bloody feud for control of the Channing/Gioberti vineyards. Murder rape, infanticide--
these people will stop at nothing in their mad quest for wine monopoly! The women in the cast will all be wearing dresses designed by members of the audience, who compete in Project Runway-style audience-participation segments to design and build formal evening gowns with thrift store clothes and bedazzlers.

1. Willy Wonka is running the cathouse from Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Only the whorehouse is in Narnia. Customers who find a golden ticket in their prostitute get to journey through a magic wardrobe and end up building a free love commune in Walnut Grove next to the Laura Ingall’s family from Little House on the Prairie. This a sex education play meant to tour
elementary schools.
Okay, now you entertain me with fanfic plays you will write. That is what the comments field is for. Go on.

Flux Theatre Ensemble's 2008 Season!

Guess who has a trilogy of plays premiering in New York next Fall? Read on to find out.

Flux Theatre Ensemble is pleased to announce our 2008 season! We begin in the spring with Shakespeare's classic comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, followed in the summer by August Schulenburg's haunting tragedy, Other Bodies, and finish in the fall with Johnna Adams' divinely wild Angel Eaters trilogy.

Why these plays? Because they all wrestle in their own unique way with the mystery of how life transforms the body.Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is rightfully considered one of his most warm and humorous plays, but it is also a subtly troubling exploration of the instability of our bodies. The characters find their hearts and bodies transformed against their will, and though in the end Jack will have Jill, no one walks away from this bottomless dream unchanged.

The warm-hearted vision of Midsummer becomes a fever dream in August Schulenburg's Other Bodies. The playwright of last year's FringeNYC Village Voice Audience Favorite, Riding the Bull, returns with the story of Terry, a notorious player whose pursuit of a mysterious woman leads to obsession and violence. What begins as a seductive battle of the sexes deepens into a haunting
parable of the way our bodies betray us.

While Midsummer blurs the line between man and animal, and Other Bodies charts the distance between woman and man, Johnna Adams' Angel Eaters expands into more celestial transformations. Flux will develop this trilogy as it follows a family cursed through generations with the gift of raising the dead. The borders of Heaven and Hell are transgressed as demons masquerade as angels, angels pursue their own uncertain agendas, and even the sweetest mortals grow horns.

Join us in 2008 as Flux journeys through these deeply human and uniquely theatrical plays of transformation.

Monday, November 26, 2007

That Cockfighters Trilogy Report and a Rattlers Reading

Sorry I have been out of touch! It was the holiday monster that swallowed me whole. My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving, so I have been busy getting ready and then hosting them the last couple of weeks. Sanity has resumed.

I left off promising to write about the reading of my three plays Cockfighters, Tumblewings, and Godsbreath in Los Angeles on Nov 11th. Here goes:

It went extremely well. The readings were held at the old Evidence Room main performance space-- in the new Bootleg Theare. We read straight through all three plays with breaks for snacks and lunch.

Cockfighters featured stand out performances from: Paul Dillon, the original Killer Joe in Tracy Letts' Killer Joe (DWIGHT); amazing local regional actor Hugo Armstrong (CD); playwright Ann Noble, who acts as well as she writes, (TAMMY); and Westley Thornton one of my favorite and most missed LA actors (perfectly cast as CLARENCE). Hugo was my marathon actor, appearing in all three of the plays (CD, BUCK/JACOB, CD)-- he was an amazing Buck in Tumblewings! Jessica Hanna was brilliant as his wife and sparring partner RANETTA, and I was delighted to see Mike Genovese reprsie the beautiful work he did in a reading last year as COY. Godsbreath had a troubled second act, I discovered (that is where I will be focusing the rewrites) but Paul Dillon's astonishing work as HEP kept the play afloat even over troubled waters. And it was great to see Corryn Cummings reprise the role of LOGAN, which read in a Moving Arts reading earlier this year.

Rewrites will focus on Tumblewings (tweaks) and Godsbreath (overhaul of ACT II). Cockfighters held up pretty well. Still don't feel like I have nailed CLARENCE's monologue to SHIRL's body-- so I may do some tweaking there.

Big thanks to the producers, Jessica Hanna, Mike Dunn, Darin Anthony, and Danny F. It was a big undertaking and offered nice munchies and lunch for people. The day didn't really feel long until we hit Godsbreath's second act. That is much better than I expected! Will keep you posted as the work progresses on this one. The ball is in my court to get rewrites done.

Then, since seeing three of my plays read in a week is clearly not enough for me, I got to see Flux Theatre in New York do a table readng of my new play Rattlers on Sunday Nov 18th. The ensemble members took turns reading the roles and we all had a great time. I don't think anyone had read the script in advance (maybe Gus had) so it was great to see what everyone thought about how the story unfolded. There are clearly some tweaks to be made, but I think overall the script is pretty solid.

That is probably more than you are interested in knowing about how things went, so I will stop there. I got to see Chuck Mee's Queens Boulevard while my parents were in town and will try to blog about that soon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't Drop Your Work Laptop

Don't drop your work laptop on the hardwood floor in your bedroom like I did on Saturday night.

The IT guy at work said it will take them 2 weeks or so to "figure out who will pay" to retrieve my hard drive data off the now very broken computer.

And no one will touch it or attempt to work on the computer until they receive confirmation of which department will pay. Until then they just hold the broken machine hostage in their storage cabinet. Like extortionists.

I asked if we could just agree that the department I work for would pay, and they said it is not that simple. Oh. Okay.

I am limping along on a loaner computer. Also, they told me that since the laptop is leased, I can't expect a new one. They will find out who will pay for repairs after they find out who will pay for data retrieval and then return the mended, busted-up laptop to me in the distant future. Probably with duct tape over the busted place, I guess.

Oh, the unhappiness.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

12th Night of the Living Dead and 'Nami in Los Angeles

I caught the Impetuous Theater's 12th Night of the Living Dead on Friday. I am not sure I have ever seen a more delightful show. The concept of taking Shakespeare's 12th Night and adapting it to zombie fare is flat-out brilliant. The premise is that Sebastian and Viola's ship sinks because it is hit by a green, shiny, radioactive meteorite that turns all onboard into the undead.

So, Viola washes up on the beach already a zombie and the plot proceeds from there. Lindsey Wolf manages to almost steal the show doing nothing but zombie moans in all her Viola scenes. I thought Benjamin Ellis Fine's Sir Andrew Aguecheek was particularly demented and delightful, as well. Not to take anything away from any of the cast members in this, who are all wonderously entertaining. There is not a rotten zombie in the bunch.

Brian MacInnis Smallwood's adaptation deserves to be produced in mutliple cities, countries, and continents, and can't be praised highly enough. It is astonishing how well the original Shakespeare plays lends itself to a zomibe transformation. It is especially entertaining if you know the play backwards and forwards to see how Smallwood shapes it around the new premise.

And John Hurley's direction could not be improved upon. Highlights include: Lindsey Wolf and Erin Jerozal (as Maria), snacking happily on Timothy J. Cox's bowels (as the disemboweled Sir Toby Belch) while Benjamin Ellis Fine works up the courage to challenge Viola to a duel, Viola biting Shashanah Newman's (Olivia's) finger off instead of taking the ring, and the eerie delight of seeing the sister Olivia is mourning (Reyna de Courcy) crawl from her grave and chase her sister around town.

I wish it were extending so I could see it again!

Then on Saturday, I flew to Los Angeles to see the Bootleg Theater reading of my trilogy of plays (Cockfighters, Tumblewings, Godsbreath) held on Sunday. I had enough time when I got in on Saturday to go see Range View Productions version of Chad Beckim's 'Nami. I liked this script a lot and the performances by Aissatou Diallo as Keesha and Hector Hank as Roachie were particularly strong. The story is very haunting and frightening. It is a show where you know tragedy is looming, but I was surprised at the resolution. It was great to see a sharp, young New York writer produced on such a beautiful set at the Hayworth in Los Angeles.

Will give the trilogy reading at Bootleg its own blog entry. Am not sure I will get to it this afternoon, though, and I am out of town tomorrow and Thursday for work, so you may have to be patient. You can read my friend The Misanthrope's take on the Cockfighters reading on the trilogy day on his Toner Mishap blog here. In short, it went extremely well and I am so glad I went and got to see everyone!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Szymkowicz/Szymkowicz, Schulenburg and Stephanie Walker Plays

Decided to go ahead and kill some time before I head downtown to see 12th Night of the Living Dead by blogging all the readings I caught this week.

In addition to 12th Night tonight, I am planning on going from LAX to the Hayworth Theater in Los Angeles for Chad Beckim's 'Nami tomorrow night. So I will have those to write about in addition to my trilogy reading next week. That is too much to reasonably write about. Especially since next week involves a possible Hank III concert, if I have the energy, and a trip to Boston for work, followed by Tracy Letts' August: Osage County on Saturday the 17th. This is no time to fall behind in my obsessive chronicling of my theater outings.

On Monday, November 5th I got to see two of Adam Szymkowicz's plays read in two different locations. First, I saw Herbie: Poet of the Wild West read as part of the on-going New York Library of the Performing Arts' A Rose by Any Other Name: Adaptations of Shakespeare series. My friend Kay is a librarian and had attended the dance piece based on Romeo & Juliet in this festival and saw Adam's name on the up-coming events list and alerted me to the reading. So, I met her at the NY Performing Arts Library next to the Lincoln Center (boy, the construction they have going on there is annoying!). Playwright Mark Schultz (whose play Deathbed should be opening in January and will doubtless be a must see) was there and I chatted to him before the play started about what we are both up to writing-wise and how crappy those Left Behind books are from a theological and doctrinal perspective (yeah, I don't know how we got off on that, except we were talking about Bridget Carpenter's The Faculty Room that I saw at Wooly Mammoth where Mark was just produced and that has the rapture in it) Mark apparently called into a talk show once and argued with one of the writers of the Left Behind books about how crap and illegit the whole premise was which I find deeply impressive.

Herbie: The Poet of the Wild West was a delightful riff off Hamlet. With Siamese twins standing in for Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern, a performing bear, a disgruntled lesbian cowgirl, copious shoot 'em up quick draw killings, a desperately ugly saloon girl, and a deliciously whiny poet gunslinger hero. I thought the script was very funny and engaging. The audience was kind of a dull collection of souls, all thinking about the work they'd just left and were going back to on Tuesday. I didn't think much of the audience. I didn't stay for the talkback, but Adam said they were extremely quiet afterward, too. Sigh. The idea of having Herbie/Hamet be a poet, was especially inspired, I thought. Then he could wander around the desert reciting his poetry to himself in place of soliloquies. Inspired. The cast was divine. I have (true to form) misplaced the program and so can only say: Amelia/Bear Handler actress, you are a gfit from the gods and a comic genius. Ugly Betty actress, I am in awe. I bought that you were ugly and I laughed at the fact that you were ugly and I am sort of disappointed that you are not in fact ugly, because you convinced me you would be so charming as a horrifically ugly person. I don't know how you did it.

Then I skipped out of that reading and headed over to the first Flux Theatre Ensemble bar reading series at Jimmys 40. This was packed to the gills and I had to stand at the back of the room and watch the last two thirds of Gus Schulenburg's play Angel Juice. This is an adorable supernatural comedy. I caught enough to see knock performances from Candice Holdorf and Marnie Schulenburg. The bar series is going to be an ongoing series featuring the best of the Flux Sunday writers' meeting performance in a public format. Adam's Open Minds had a reading after Gus' play. I loved Open Minds, which is a fantastic political thriller/comedy. Also great performances from the Flux Ensemble.

Interestingly, as Adam has mentioned on his blog, both Herbie and Open Minds featured a leading character named Herbie and some similar lines from controling mothers. I love it when writers repeat images like that in their work. I think there is a great tradition in the visual arts (think Monet's haystacks) of an artist using recurrent images in his/her work (Cahlo's self portrait), but it isn't something that is done in quite the same way by playwrights. But in subtle ways, it is done-- thematically, with lines, with sets, with design features, etc. Matt Freeman talked some about this in a self-mocking way in his pretentious theater show when he interviewed himself about his own writing and recurrent auto-biographical themes. While these elements are analyzed in very successful playwright's work (Parks' recurring Abe Lincoln impersonators), no one ever pays any attention when beginning or mid-career playwrights start to work with recurring images. And that is when the phenomenon is at its most interesting because it is just happening.

Then on Tuesday night, I took in Oberon Theatre Ensemble's reading of my friend LA playwright Stephanie Walker's Something of Great Importance. That went over very well and featured some adorable performers. Stephanie seemed pleased and it was great to see a play I'd seen in my writers' group meetings in LA on stage in NY.

Off to see the Shakespeare zombies now. Will report back on how the trilogy reading goes next week.

Sneak Peak Rattlers

I am flying off to LA tomorrow to see my trilogy reading on Sunday, and I thought I would leave you with a teaser from Rattlers. A monologue and some stage directions toward the end of scene 3. I will blog some recent NY readings I've been to and more than you want to know about my trilogy reading next week!


MATTIE
I was on a bus to Natchitoches one time. . . . Would have
been before you was even born. It was before my girls was
born. . . . And there was a group of slow children on the
bus. They was traveling with a Sunday School teacher, I
think. Or, maybe they was moving these slow children from a
group home into some church home. Some institution. I don’t
remember. . . . But there was this one little girl with these
white, yellow pigtails. Just the brightest little smile you
ever saw. You could tell by her face that she was slow. She
had that look. . . . And she had a book with pictures of
angels in it. And she kept wanting to show me her book. And
she was calling all those angels by the names of birds. “See
pigeon?” She’d say to me and then point to a picture of the
Archangel Michael. Gabriel with his horn was a blue jay. The
whole heavenly host arrayed in the clouds welcoming Jesus’
ascension to heaven was sparrows and hawks, she said. I must
have looked through that book with her a hundred times on
that trip to Natchitoches. “See the pigeon?” “See the
eagles?” You could see how proud she was of herself. How
proud she was of knowing names. I got to Natchitoches to my
aunt’s house. And my aunt was a big Church of Christ woman
and she told me I should have corrected that little slow
girl. I shouldn’t have let her get off that bus not knowing
the right names of the Lord’s angels. I shouldn’t have let
her believe that they was nothing but birds. But, I couldn’t
have done that. Not to that little girl. She loved them
angels better for being birds. I hope nobody ever told her. .
. . There’s something fragile like that inside us. Everybody.

SHANE kisses her.

MATTIE grabs him roughly by the
shoulders and pulls him to the ground.
She takes control of the kiss and rips
his shirt open, scattering buttons on
the asphalt.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Columbia Journalism Review Quotes My Blog

A reporter for the Columbia Journalism Review quoted my blog about the steam pipe explosion that happened near my office in July. I had no idea and just found out by self-obsessive googling.

Apparently to serious journalists, I am a.k.a BlindSquirrel. Keep that on your list of my known aliases, okay? In case I try to use it for criminal activity or become a superhero. I may also answer to "Citizen Journalist" another cool title the article bestows on me and my fellow crisis bloggers.

My quote:
Others captured the event in words. Johnna Adams, a.k.a. “BlindSquirrel,” described the initial confusion on the ground: “The streets were packed with people and no one knew what had happened. I heard that a building had come down and that an electrical turbine had exploded—but nobody knew anything. I walked passed one delivery truck that was blaring its radio for everyone to hear, all I was able to hear as I walked passed was ‘people are running from the building.’ Which was not encouraging.”


Baby Rattlers on the Loose!

As of around 11pm last night, I am the proud parent of a lean, mean 93-page rattlesnake play called, RATTLERS.

The play is a muder mystery with supernatural elements, continuing the multi-generational saga begun in my play ANGEL EATERS, and concerning a family cursed with the power to eat the goodness off a dead body and unnaturally reanimate the corpse.

Osley, our second generation angel eater, is kidnapped by a rattlesnake wrangler in rural Okalhoma named Snake. Snake's girlfriend Ernelle wants Osley to resurrect her recently murdered sister Kate. Kate and Ernelle's mother Mattie is seeking a brutal revenge for the crime, while Kate's husband Everett encounters a distraught and secretive undertaker in the funeral parlor parking lot, Ted. A dark tale of murder and retribution where it isn't easy to tell who is a rattler and who is prey.

This is a thematically similar play to my play Cockfighters, for those of you who liked that one.

This is the second play of my Angel Eaters Trilogy. In December, I will have exciting news about how East Coasters can see the entire trilogy next year.

As always, I am delighted to have you read and comment if anyone is interested in seeing the script.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Invitations to my Cockfighters Trilogy in Los Angeles


Hello Los Angeles / Orange County Friends!

I am coming back to town for one weekend only! For a special appearance at a reading of my Cockfighters Trilogy (name may change) on SUNDAY NOVEMBER 11. We will be reading my plays COCKFIGHTERS, TUMBLEWINGS, and GODSBREATH all on the same day!

I will fly in Saturday and fly out Monday, so the best opportunity to see me and catch up is to come to the reading and/or dinner afterward with the producers and cast.

How do you come to the reading? Well, that is the tricky part. It is an invitation-only affair. The producers want it to be mainly a small-ish event with invited designers and potential collaborators. However, all of my friends, luckily, are amply qualified to be dramaturgical assistants to the playwright. Right? Is there anyone out there who wants to come and thinks they won't have an opinion about the plays? I didn't think so. Presto, you are my special dramaturgical assistance unit (SDAU).

The time commitment is roughly 10:30 am to 7pm, with breaks of about an hour between the shows. You do not have to come to all three shows.

So, EMAIL ME or send me a myspace message if you want to come to the reading and you will get an email invitation from the producers next week.

If you just want to stop by and visit with me at the dinner after the show, let me know and I will send out the restaurant and time (it will be in LA, probably around Hollywood) next week.

Hope to see some of you soon!
The production photo above is Loring Rose and Brad Whitfield in the STAGEStheatre produciton of "Regrets" one of the one act plays Cockfighters is based on. The whole trilogy started with that play, which was an Orange County Playwrights' Alliance themed one act on the theme of 'revenge.'

Beckim's THE MAIN(E) PLAY Reading and Another Cousin's Married Now

Took in Chad Beckim's reading at Partial Comfort Production's Welcome Mat series of his new work, THE MAIN(E) PLAY, on Monday. Over at Theatre Row.

One of the LIGHTS RISE ON GRACE actors was in the reading, Alexander Alioto. He did another outstanding job here. His co-stars from the Fringe Fest production were in the audience watching him. That was cool. I loved LIGHTS RISE ON GRACE and it was like getting to sneak looks at famous people everytime I looked over to watch the actors watching the reading.

The play is a delightful, comic character study about a family in Maine over a tumultous Thanksgiving weekend. I enjoyed it, particularly, the character of Roy as played by the outstanding David Wilson Barnes. His scenes with Alexander Alioto were the heart of the play for me and quite gripping. Looking forward to seeing what happens next with the script.

**********************************************

Also went to Dallas last weekend for my cousin's wedding. It was surprisingly painless for a family wedding. I applaud myself for the brilliant decision to get a hotel room of my own and not try to share with any members of my family. That makes things so much less painful.

I bought my outfit in Astoria, about an hour before I left for the airport. The nice Greek Orthodox ladies working at the closest store to my house with evening dresses sold me a rather sparkly gold number with sequins around the low-for-me bodice. It was also, helpfully, a size or so too small. I felt like a Vienna sausage rolled in a bag of glitter. And I am not sure the Presbyterian, Dallas, TX, church knew quite what to make of my Greek Orthodox-inspired getup. It was very fancy. No one else was wearing that dress. Ah, the joys of the last minute shopper! I forgot my camera. If someone emails me photos I will post.

My Dad surprised me by having a fabulous time. It was a wedding for a cousin on my biological mother's side (my mom died when I was 8) and Dad was a little surprised to be invited, with my stepmom. He hadn't seen anyone there in 25 years or so, and the last time was at funerals and hospital scenes he has spent a lifetime trying to forget. But, he started bubble-blowing wars at the reception table, tormented one of my cousins about some episode involving a CB radio and a highway patrol man that my cousin clearly wanted forgot, giggled and gossiped with one of my uncles, teased everyone mercilessly, made everyone laugh. Dad has a life-of-the-party sense of humor and energy that is sort of unpredictable. I forget sometimes what a joy he can be to be around. And everyone loved my stepmom. That was nice. It was short. Not much else you can ask for in a family wedding.