I’m officially three-quarters finished with my first year of teaching drama in Saudi Arabia. Spring break has arrived. It couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s been a challenging year in many respects – a good year – complete with unique challenges I had not expected. The show that I’m currently producing and directing – You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – has proved to have more downs than ups with a revolving cast and a myriad of obstacles. It’s been exhausting. I’ve never had a production like this. The show is April 18-20, so what better time than now to take a break from it and go to Ireland? The time away will do me a world of good.
I’ve never been to Ireland, so the promise of overcast, chilly temperatures coupled with the famous Irish green will be a delightful change from Jeddah’s taupe and arid make-up.
What led me to Ireland? I always wanted to have a writing residency. It sounded so idyllic – a time set aside on my own for one singular purpose – creativity. Last fall, I started searching worldwide opportunities since my job here affords me the flexibility to travel where I want at certain times of the year. Perhaps I could find something in an interesting place?
I did. I found a call for submissions from a small arts center in Killeagh, Ireland called Greywood Arts. They were selecting three individuals for their Winter Writing Residencies for poetry, play-writing, and visual arts. My submission was my full-length, yet-to-be-produced play “The Last Bastion.” One delightful November day, I received an email from Greywood that they had chosen that play to be the recipient of their residency program. That was a glorious day. When I proposed to them that I use my spring break for the purpose, it fit their schedule perfectly, so here I come!
Killeagh is a tiny village east of Cork in southwest Ireland. It has a population of 500. It has a Catholic church, a famous thatched roof pub, a couple other pubs, a river, a convenience store, a Chinese restaurant (!?), and Greywood Arts.
Greywood hosts artists and writers throughout the year, promoting the arts in various creative ways. I’m thrilled to be a part of what they are doing.
But what will I be doing? Writing, mainly. I have tasked myself to finish two full-length plays which have been languishing for a while – one more than the other. Several years back, I wrote an unfinished play themed on the tensions arising over the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage. It’s an interesting two character play which explores evangelical Christianity’s struggle to come to terms with the SC’s decision. I’m convinced that there’s something there in this play. It has some interesting angles, and has been difficult to write in many ways because it’s raw. Grittier than I usually like to go. But it felt needed. Until I abandoned it. But now, it’s time to resurrect it. And finish it.
The next play which I started about a year ago and haven’t got back to is a historical piece related to Nat Turner’s slave uprising in 1831. I have quite a ways to go on this one, but hope to finish it.
I’m also working on my next ensemble show which consists of a series of similarly themed short plays which I will produce for my show in December. I am mostly finished with this show, but I’d like to spend the week editing what I have and writing any pieces which the show lacks.
Also, I want one more. I want one more brand new idea for a full-length play that I can start during my week in Ireland. I’m waiting on the idea to hit me. Perhaps my new setting will be exactly what I need.
Oh, and if you happen to be in Killeagh, Ireland on April 5, I have an event!
READING @ Greywood Arts by playwright Mark W Sasse
Hope to see you there!