Screw You, Readings


I have to admit it: I’m over readings.  Like WAY over them.

I think they are great to first hear my script.  To get a sense of what’s working, what’s not, what do I really like about my script (because to be honest, when you’re nose to the grindstone working on pages it’s easy for me to forget what I like and why I wrote the damn thing in the first place.)  First readings are great because you get to engage in a conversation about the play, you get to experience what ultimately is the point of a play: the community experience.

I think readings are even pretty good the SECOND time… I’ve shaped it a little better, things that I thought were clear the first time are now more clear…

But after that…

After that, the best thing for me is to go into a rehearsal.  For a workshop or a production.  Spending TIME with actors and a director and really digging into the script.  Me sitting at home rewriting is just screaming into an echo chamber.  And that’s no way to rewrite.  Bringing in pages and having actors read them in the context of a rehearsal… THAT’S a way to rewrite.

More and more, I get the impression that readings at theater companies exist for two reasons: 1. An audition for the script and 2. to say “we develop plays.”

Now, with number 1, fair enough.  I get it.  You want to hear the play, you want to feel how it plays in front of an audience.  I get it.  But, let’s not pretend it’s about developing my play.  I don’t need a feedback session afterwards “helping” me make my play better.  Maybe I think my play is great.  Maybe my play IS great.  Just say, “Hey, it’s not for us.”  OR, “It’s opening the next season.”

Number 2… ugh.  I know, it’s cynical of me, but, sometimes, I think theater companies create development wings in order to get grant money.  Plays come in, get developed there, but they don’t come out.  They don’t get productions by the theater company.  They don’t see the light of day.  But, the company gets to say, “We develop plays.”  Yes, but to what end?

Theaters:  Don’t tell me what I need to do to develop MY play.  Maybe I need time with actors.  Maybe I need to see them in motion.  Maybe everyone will understand the play better if they SEE it rather than listen.  That’s what we’re going for right?  A play that people come and see?  It’s easy to say, “let’s do a reading…”  Instead, let’s talk about it, maybe there’s something better to develop this play.  Not every play is the same, why should the process be the same for every play.  In other words, let’s talk about it.

I think we as writers get nervous about asking for what we want from a theater company… because there is always that dangling carrot: production.  I know I’m nervous about missing out.  I want a production.  I want to see my name on a poster.  And here’s a theater company who has thrown some attention my way.  But, let’s be honest: just because someone has paid some attention to you, doesn’t mean they are going all the way with you.

I’ll be blunt: if you don’t like my play because of the style or tone or subject or whatever… let’s just move on, let’s just part ways, I would rather that than try and craft a play that suits a theater company’s desire, muddling it in the end.  Because, somewhere out there, is a theater company who will like it for the reasons I do.



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Gr. I think I hate iTunes shuffle

I love music. I’m a music fan. When I get into a band, an artist, or a genre, I really get into it. I buy the records, I read about it, and I listen. And listen.

Or. At least. I used to.

A few years ago I put up all of my albums onto my computer, through iTunes, thinking, this will be way easier than dealing the CDs. Just click and I can listen to whoever. Or, hey, shuffle, and I’ll just let the music flow over me.

I listen to music because it strikes my emotions, it tickles my imagination. It moves me. I choose albums and songs to inspire my writing.

But. Shuffle. Seriously. Ruined. It.

Because now the music washes over me. Like water. Or. Actually, like air. I don’t feel it. The computer is doing the “mixing,” which is less fancy talk for algorithm.

There’s no soul behind it. Now, the music is just stuff that plays in the background. It doesn’t inspire because it wasn’t chosen by inspiration.

When I pick and choose from my catalogue I REdiscover something I haven’t heard in ages. And I’m excited. Lately, with shuffle, I don’t even hear it.

Which is depressing. Shuffle was meant to be surprising, but it’s just easy. Thoughtless. Careless.

No wonder it’s not inspiring.

Suck it, shuffle.

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Ugh. The DAY after…

How to explain?  First, describe.  I’m pretty emotional this morning.  I’m a little down.  I’m a little cranky.  I’m totally whiny.  Why?  I had a reading last night.  And it went well.  But, it didn’t go PERFECTLY.  I got FEEDBACK.  Feedback that suggested that I had work to do.  TRUE, I know I have work to do.  There are things in the script that I know that I need to work on, the next step in the evolution of the script, I know.  I just had to get to this draft in order to see what I needed to do for the next one.


A small part of me, I guess, was thinking… they won’t see that… they won’t suggest areas that need work… they are just going to love it…

Last night, during the feedback, I felt good.  Upbeat.  There were laughs when there needed to be, there were silences when there weren’t supposed to be any laughs–I don’t know, does that mean the drama was working?  And like I just said, I felt good during the feedback, I got what I need, I got what I didn’t know I needed.  A couple of great nuts and bolts, “Yes, that is something I can fix by doing x, y, and z.”  Great.

But.  This morning.  For some reason.  This nagging… this… voice in my head…. saying, “But you really wanted them to love it.”  Which is true.  Which put me on the couch.  Which lead to this confession.  I knew going in that the script needed work, and the audience, who DID enjoy it, who found it INTRIGUING, agreed.  But, I think I was hoping that the things that I know needed work on they wouldn’t see, that they would be BLINDED and DAZZLED by the sheer hilarity and velocity and, dare I say it, at times audacity of the script…


That was totally naive on my part.  It’s the seven year old inside of me.  The same one that keeps writing plays.  The same one that comes up with the weird ideas, the funny lines.  He’s the one that’s trying to EXPRESS.  And of course he wants to be loved.  Without any conditions.

Which is sorta unlikely.  Even on my best of days I no longer look like I’m seven years old.  I might dress like one, but I can assure you, I don’t get carded when I buy booze.  So, the outside world is going to treat me and my work like I’m a grown up artist (as it should) which means I need to do the protecting, I need to take care of that seven year old and say… “They laughed, they were moved, and they were excited.  The rest?  That stuff they were talking about, it’s just homework, to make the play better.”

And, the response will be, “HOMEWORK!?  GAWD.  I HATE homework.”  And tiny feet stomp away.

But, that’s a problem for another blog entry.

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20130102-155537.jpg I’ve been playing Pitfall! lately. There’s a new version for the iPhone and iPad. It’s basically the same as the original: you run and avoid death. Death by snakes, scorpions, alligators and pits. Last night as I was dreaming of racing through the jungle, I thought “Fuck. This is like my life.”

And while I was my life was filled with leaping and the dodging of scorpions, this is meant to be a metaphor.

Well. Simile. I did say LIKE my life.

Always on the run. No time to settle in. Always moving on to the next project with the unknown just around the corner.

But there is no time for stopping. No time to rest. Need the energy to leap over some alligators.

Lets hope the alligators are metaphorical.

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New year…Proflecting

A new year. And, of course, it’s also that time we look back and judge what we’ve done. Who knows why we need to make a list of the things we’ve done or failed to do. But we do. We reflect.

I want to PROflect. Spell check tells me there is no such word as this and as I totally rely on spell check, it must be true.

But what does PROflect mean? It means I’m only thinking about the new year to come. I’m not looking back. It’s easy to dwell and get caught up in the past. The past is just where we started from, not where we are going.

This morning I felt the first beginnings of teeth in my five month old son. Sharp little things, almost coming through the skin. It’s enough to put things in perspective. He’s moving forward (far to fast for my sentimental heart) and doesn’t look back.

Next year is going to bring lots of hard work as I commit to bring my fullest attention to my work and to my beginner family. I want, and must, bring my whole heart and craft to my writing. I must bring patience and humor to my son as he explores this world that’s so new to him, and remember to see it afresh like he does. I must bring a loving touch and open ears to my wife who busts her ass to raise a kid and build a career.

All in all, I am totally terrified of this upcoming year, but there isn’t time, or really good reason to stop and think about it. Full speed ahead.

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