Monday, March 31, 2008

New $200K Playwriting Award

From Philanthropy News Digest (pointed out to me by my friend Charlyn):

Steinberg Charitable Trust Establishes Awards for U.S. Playwrights

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust in New York City has announced the creation of two awards for American playwrights in different stages of their careers.

The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award will honor a mid-career playwright whose body of work has already been recognized. With a cash prize of $200,000, it is believed be the largest award to honor American playwriting. The first award recipient will be announced this fall, and the prize will be awarded on a biennial basis thereafter. Beginning in 2009, the Steinberg Emerging Playwrights Award, also to be awarded biennially, will honor two early career playwrights whose professional work shows great promise; each recipient will receive a cash prize of $50,000.

The trust has established an advisory committee of prominent theater professionals to determine the criteria for the awards, nominate playwrights, and select the recipients. The members of the committee are André Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater; David Emmes, producing artistic director of South Coast Repertory; Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public Theater; Polly K. Carl, producing artistic director of Playwrights Center; Martha Lavey, artistic director of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Eduardo Machado, playwright and artistic director of INTAR Theatre; and Marc Masterson, artistic director of the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

"These awards have been years in the making," said the trust's board in a press release. "It is our desire to honor both the achievement and potential of these playwrights and provide them with the financial freedom to devote their best efforts to writing for the theater. We are thrilled to celebrate them, while hoping at the same time to strengthen the vitality and appeal of the theater in our society."

“The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust Announces Creation of Major Playwriting Awards.” Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust 3/27/08.

Link to article here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Poor Itch and The Four of Us

I saw three shows in two days this weekend! Aren't I just a little fireball of theatrical energy?

Friday was American Globe Theatre's The Winter's Tale, Saturday matinee was Itamar Moses' The Four of Us at MTC, and Saturday night was the unfinished The Poor Itch by the late John Belluso. Winter's Tale was nice, my friend Christina Shipp was a fantastic Perdita, but I don't see enough Shakespeare to blog well about it, so I will skip to the other two show:

The Poor Itch by John Belluso is a fascinating production of an unfinished play. This is the play that John was writing when he died unexpectedly of heart failure in 2006. The director, Lisa Peterson, and the cast pulled together drafts and John's notes to fully stage the final draft he was working on at the time of his death. Knowing that gave an already powerful narrative an almost overwhelmly melancholy weight. Increasingly in the second act, the actors would step forward and read a synopsis of a scene John had sketched out in prose and end the description by saying "scene unwritten." That was one of the most painful conventions I have ever experienced in the theater. The story centers around an American soldier (Ian, played by a wonderfully conflcited and complicated Christopher Thornton) who was shot in the spine while fighting in Iraq and is now adjusting to life in a wheelchair in his blue-collar hometown. Deirdre O'Connell did a lovely job as his mother Coral, and Michael Chernus was outstanding as his loser friend Curt. All around, the casting for this was exceptionally good. It was a very gripping story and I hope the play goes on to more productions (like, at the Taper, maybe??). Big kudos to the director and cast. It must have been a very challenging project, and they pulled it off very beautifully.

Play two was Itamar Moses' The Four of Us at MTC. I am HUGE Bach at Leipzig fan, but this one was didn't hit the same level for me. The story is a two-person play about a playwright who has a good friend who is a novelist. The novelist sells his first novel for a $2 million royalty advance / film rights package and the resulting stress on their friendship propels the action of the play forward. About a third of the play takes place in flashbacks. I really, really wanted to like this and was prepared to worship Itamar Moses as a god-- but there were not any pretty Bach-era costumes, so the post of god is still open. (NOTE: I had a little more posted about this earlier, but decided to take down some of it. It was just more snarky than I intended-- really there are good points to the play and I don't really want to discourage people from attending or spoil ploy elements).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ran into Jerry Patch in the Lobby of The Public Theatre on Saturday

Nice to see friendly faces from my Orange County days. Well, he didn't recognize or remember me, even after I re-introduced myself, but still it was nice. I guess. He talked to us for a few minutes-- probably because I was with Toby Thelin, who works at his new theater, the Manhattan Theatre Club. Still. He talked to us. He said that Mary Fengar Gail is also moving to NY, so I am glad to get to see her soon.

He opined that Sarah Ruhl, Itamar Moses, and Noah Haidle are the only significant playwrights under 35 in the nation (good thing for him I just turned 35 in November, huh? Otherwise them would have been fighting words!). Ahem. And seemed to be really excited about getting to work at MTC.

I was there seeing John Belluso's THE POOR ITCH (which I will blog about later) and I think Jerry was just hanging around to meet up with somebody important. Not sure. He didn't say.

There is an article in the LA Times about how Jerry is transitioning from the Old Globe Theatre to the Manhattan Theatre Club. Your loss west coast, our gain.,1,1139674.story

Friday, March 7, 2008

2008 New York Theater Review is out APRIL 1!

Looking forward (now that I am debt-free) to buying several copies of this year's New York Theatre Review! It hits the shelves April 1st. The launch party will be April 11th at the Drama Bookstore.

I contributed this year, with rambling comments about moving from LA and launching a Big Apple blog in the bloggers article. That makes me almost spectacularly famous in addition to being debt-free.
Here is there promo stuff:
The third edition of the New York Theater Review, the
annual anthology chronicling the then, the now and that which may some day be in New York City alt-theater and performance, will be available worldwide on April 1.

With a cross-section of the best and the brightest in contemporary NYC alt-theater over the past year, our latest edition offers a combination of new plays from Ping Chong & Sara Michelle Zatz, Taylor Mac and Tommy Smith (see left), essays from Marya Sea Kaminski, Victoria Linchong and Zachary R. Mannheimer (see below), plus all kinds of extra goodies, such as a group mixer with NYC bloggers blindsquirrel (aka Johnna Adams), Obscene Jester (aka T. Nikki Cesare & Steve Luber), Playgoer (aka Garrett Eisler), Rat Sass (aka Nick Fracaro) and the Blog of Many Names that Change Quite Often (aka Jason Grote's).

Spending Some of that Work Bonus on Theaters

Now that I am debt-free (you are going to get really sick of hearing that phrase leave my mouth!), I am giving to some worthy theaters and thought I'd pressure encourage you to donate, too!

First off
Adam Szymkowicz shared an email on his blog that talks about how Culture Project had a pipe burst at their offices last month and lost over $100K in computers, supplies, flooring, lighting, phones, sound equipment, projection equipment, and production equipment. Yikes! Here is how they say you can help:
Please go to or call 212-925-1806 to make a special credit card gift to Culture Project to help mitigate the effects of the flood. You can also mail a check to: Culture Project55 Mercer StreetNew York, NY 10013 Attention: Development
Also, I have sent in a donation to my buddies at Reverie Productions. Despite selling over 80% to their extremely well-reviewed and awesome production of Ariel Dorfman's WIDOWS, they are facing a production freeze next year to pay off the debt from the show. That would be a real shame. There is a donation button their website:

March 7th is Johnna Emancipation Day!!

Hereforward we celebrate March 7th as Johnna Emancipation Day.

The work bonus hit my checking account at 9AM this morning. By 9:15AM, I had paid off my last credit card balance. I am, for the first time in my adult life, DEBT FREE.
What strange new world is this? Why, that heavy weight is lifting from my shoulders and I think I feel wings sprouting in its place.
Happy Johnna Emancipation Day.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Newsweek Reporter Writes Opinion Piece on Being Named Johnna

A coworker interoffice mailed me a Newsweek article by a Johnna Kaplan. It is a 500 or so word rant about the trials and tribulations of being named Johnna. I am disappointed that it never occured to me to try to turn the experience of being named Johnna into an article for Newsweek. Other Johnnas are evidently cleverer than me. That is disappointing.

Erik Patterson has a new blog

Primo, neato, Los Angeles dog-ear playwright Erik Patterson has launched a new blog.

You should definitely go read. He posted cool pictures of things to do lists he makes in a journal. I want to steal that idea (both the idea of keeping a journal just for to do lists, and the idea of taking photos of your journal to put online).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

GUESS THIS! Meme'd with a Movie Thingie by Adam

Adam is making me do this. It is a guessing game. Here are the rules:

Look up 15 of your favorite films on IMDb and take a
quote from each. List them below. When someone guesses the quote correctly,
cross it off the list

So post your guesses in the comments.

1. "I want a girl who's smart, a girl who can teach me things. I hate stupid women. You know why? You marry a stupid girl, you have stupid kids. You don't believe me? Follow a stupid kid home and see if somebody stupid don't answer the door." HINT: Oscar winning screenwriter

2. "I wouldn't be as fastidious as you are for a kingdom. "

3. "I hear a throat begging to be cut!"
"Are you so eager to see blood flow?"
"As eager as you are to drink it!"

4. "If I'd known we were gonna cast our feelings into words, I'd've memorized the Song of Solomon. "

5. 'I wonder by my troth, what thou and I Did, till we loved? were we not wean'd till then? But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly? Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den? 'Twas so ; but this, all pleasures fancies be ; If ever any beauty I did see, Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee. And now good-morrow to our waking souls, Which watch not one another out of fear ; For love all love of other sights controls, And makes one little room an everywhere. Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone ; Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown ; Let us possess one world ; each hath one, and is one. My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, And true plain hearts do in the faces rest; Where can we find two better hemispheres Without sharp north, without declining west? Whatever dies, was not mix'd equally; If our two loves be one, or thou and I Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die. "

6. "This is an oubliette, labyrinth's full of 'em."
"Really. How do you know that?"

"Oh don't act so smart. You don't even know what an oubliette is." /s>
"Do you?"

" Yes. It's a place you put people... to forget about 'em!"

7. "There's a family with kids. Do the kids and make the mother watch. Tell her you'll stop if she can hold back her tears. I *owe* her that."

8. "Once I stole a pair of red underwear from the department store. My mom wouldn't buy them for me - she said they were Satan's panties!
9. "That's OK. I never did have much luck with sex anyway. "

"Your luck's about to change, cher."

10. "I saw a young officer on deck the other day, and he looked DAMN familiar... even with his clothes on. "
"So... he recognized ya, so?"
"So doesn't that bother you?"
"If it bothered me, I wouldn'ta married ya."
"Well first you arrested me six times."
"Well I had to figure out some way to keep you off the streets... until you'd marry me."

11. "In my mind's eye, I see, three circles joined in priceless, graceful harmony. Two full as the moon, one hollow as a crown. Two from the sea, five fathoms down. One from the earth, deep under the ground. The whole, a mark of high renown. Tell me, what can it be?"

12. "Now look, I once stood exposed to the Dragon's Breath so that a man could lie one night with a woman. It took me nine moons to recover. And all for this lunacy called, "love, " this mad distemper that strikes down both beggar and king. Never again. Never. "

13. "Lastday, Capricorn 29's. Year of the City: 2274. Carousel begins."
"No! Don't! Don't go! Listen to him! He's telling the truth! We've been outside! There's another world outside! We've seen it! "
"Life clocks are a lie! Carousel is a lie! THERE IS NO RENEWAL! "

14. "I'm Prince Precious, rightful heir to the throne of Porno. Years ago, this planet was a veritable paradise. But Wang, a maniacal botanist whose organ was devoured by a crazed Penis Flytrap, could not tolerate the existence of so much pleasure, and so, banding together an army of the impotent and frustrated, and armed with a small but effective sex ray, plunged my palace into carnal chaos, and took it over. "

15. "De-crucify the angel!"
"What? "
"De-crucify him or I'll melt your face!"

I tag Barton, Modern Fabulosity, Robert T, and Eric Eberwein.

A Midsummer Night's Doodle

Rainbow over Lady Liberty

Visited the Statue of Liberty with my friend Lesley this weekend and snapped these photos of a rainbow streaming from the torch. Cool.