Where will the ideas come from?

Writing is such a mind game. The creative process toys with the writer to such an extent that I sometimes wonder who’s in control – do I control the creative process or does the creative process control me?

Ok, I’m already confused. But this I know: I have 10 dramatic sketches to write in the next two months for my new show coming later in the year. Where will the inspiration come from? What procedures, ideas, words, will I engage with to get this writing done?

If I’m still being confusing, this is actually what I’m saying: on August 1, I know I will have written 10 more short plays. But on June 6, today, I just don’t know the process which will actually accomplish that.

Creativity is so strange. The other day, I sat down to write one of these 10 and the creative process came so intuitively that I couldn’t have even described it to someone if I tried.

Writing happens by writing. That’s as best as I can explain it. One chain of ideas linked together, all starting with a simple thought, and expounded on by a few words. Those words give new life to new words and soon I’m following the rabbit down the trail or I’m plowing a footpath through the jagger bushes (sorry, jagger bush is a colloquial western PA term!)  A writer might get jabbed and pricked along the way. It could be bloody and painful, but soon enough, a clearing will appear and the most beautiful scene will present itself to make the process worth it.

And then, of course, the writing will take on new life as the author re-writes and re-edits and re-writes again until the remaining work is sleek and ready to be performed.

In the end, that’s the best part of all.

In December, there will be a show. I just can’t tell you definitively what it will look like. I need a few more jagger bushes to slap me in the face before I will know that.

What’s next on the Writing Agenda?

This weekend kind of became one of those dividing lines in what a writer is working on. That happens every time a novel is sent off to the editor, and that’s what I did. Novel number 5 entitled “Which Half David” is now out of my sights. It was a sixteen month journey to get that one done, my longest one ever, and a rather difficult novel to write for several reasons. Well, it’s done and gone. (at least for now)

As a reward, I treated myself to a play writing session yesterday. On Friday, I heard about a play writing contest which finished on Sunday. I heard about it a little late, and the stipulation was to enter a brand new short play never before thought of until this contest came up. So, I finally wrote a play idea I’ve had for a while called “Safe Spaces.” It’s a 10 minute satire on university life in the era of micro-aggressions and safe spaces. I must admit. I think it’s pretty funny. So I had a lot of fun writing that one yesterday, editing it this morning, and sending it off to the contest.

This afternoon, I dabbled in the play I’m writing with four of my students. It’s a type of murder mystery – sort of. We are in the last half of that work. It’s been fun.

So now I have the question. What’s next?

That’s easy, actually. Novel #6.  I started it over Christmas and got about 40,000 words in. It is, perhaps, the most fun I’ve ever had in writing a novel because I’m breaking all of my rules about keeping it real and grounded in real life. I’ve added all kinds of crazy stuff and characters which is really fun. So now I’m ready to get back to it. It already has a title: “A Man Too Old, for a Place Too Far.” This is one of those novels where I thought of the title first and then wrote the story to fit it. I like to do that for some reason. Especially with my short plays. This is a fun novel and I can’t wait to get back to it. Set in New York City, Cambodia, Romania, Scotland, and a deserted South Pacific Island. I love it. A great combination.

So that’s what I’m up to. I hope to get this one finished this summer for, dare I say, a Christmas 2016 release?  That would be two novels released in one year. Sounds cool to me!

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself, but that’s what I do.

 

“The Secrets of the Magic Pool”

A new, full-length play.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00034]

I’m already waste deep in the production of this show. I’m working with the actors on character development right now, and I must say that I’m very pleased with how the characters need to be formed. There’s a lot of substance here for interpretation and a lot of underlying themes and motivations to think about for both an actor and director.

The initial reactions from the actors is extremely positive. They are really excited to see how all of this is going to be put together, and so am I. It really is a privilege to be able to write and produce one’s own work. I know I won’t always have an avenue for such creative freedom, but I’m cherishing it now.  Below is the play’s blurb. If you know anyone who produces plays at any level, please ask them to check it out. Thanks!

Amazon HERE!

In Malaysia HERE!

A witch who covets the pool. A crazed woman who controls it. A princess who wants to marry her prince. A cobbler who wants to marry off his daughters. A baker who keeps a deep secret. A blind beggar who sees better than most.

Set off on a magical journey to discover the secrets of the magic pool. A witch tempts the king’s exiled brother, Cane, with a drop of the magic water in order to use him to break the curse of the caretaker of the pool. Cane’s plot to capture the water puts him at odds with the prince of the Northern Kingdom, the princess he intends to marry, and the unlikely residents of the village of Kidron. But when the witch comes calling, there’s more than just Cane to worry about.

With a wonderful cast of thirteen unforgettable characters, “The Secrets of the Magic Pool” will delight audiences of all ages with its witty dialogue, intense dramatic scenes, and emotional impact while exploring universal themes of family, courage, temptation, love, and sacrifice.

Insight into Writing my New Show (2 of 3)

Here’s part two which highlights the writing behind a few of the dramatic sketches which go live for the first time ever next week at the opening of “For All Generations.”

sketch fact sheets last princess“The Last Princess” is one of those comedy sketches which suddenly turn dramatic. I like those. I purposefully started it light, with a spoiled princess who lives within a utopia, Xanadu, constructed by her repressive father, King Antoine. The princess gets upset when she thinks her pink fluffy boa is not as soft as it was the day before. She insists that her attendant throws it away, which she does. But the next day in Xanadu, when one of her subjects asks her where the boa is, the princess demands it back. Ultimately she decides to go down the chute to find her boa only to discover that there is a cruel and oppressed world out there that she never knew about. This play actually touches on a common theme in many of my writings – overbearing and authoritarian governments who shackle the people. The hilarious beginning is turned on its head when the princess has to decide what to do with her new found knowledge. There is sure to be a confrontation with her father. It’s a fun script that holds a lot of underlying meaning.

sketch fact sheet minute problem

This is one of those mostly meaningless fun scripts which are full of bad puns and lots of cheap laughs. In many ways, it almost strays into kids’ theatre with crazy gestures, yelling, running around, and lots of confusion. The premise is simple. A grandpa sets a trap for his granddaughter simply to drive her crazy. I thought of this when I was checking out at a superstore one day, staring at a clock shop. Bad pun after bad pun related to time kept flowing through my brain, so I decided to make a crazy little play about it. Our actors are hilarious in this one.

the will

“The Will” is just wild and crazy – like my actors. For the first time ever, I specifically crafted a role for each of my actors – they even play themselves in this skit, using their own names. The script is centered around the death of a billionaire patriarch who gathers everyone for the reading of the will. Here are the characters: the executor, crazy son Joseph who thinks he’s a butterfly, gold-digger 9th wife, vain movie star, corporate CEO, airhead blogger, bipolar sister, the butler, half-Indian senator and adopted son, a disgruntled employee, and the forgotten son who is always overlooked. This is the longest piece of the night because everyone has a substantial role. But I’ve got the running down down to 15 minutes which is do-able. It’s a fun script, and all the actors are great.

I’m lucky to have such a great group of young actors to work with.

Part three soon!

 

Slicing and Dicing the Script

The musical I’m directing is three weeks away from opening. Today we had our first mega-rehearsal – 8 hours which included two complete run-throughs from start to finish.

I know now that I had been over-optimistic about the musical’s length. I was confident that we could get it done in 2.5 hours which would have included a 15 minute intermission.

About halfway through our first run-through, it became obvious how wrong I was. When the running time finished, we had clocked in at 2 hours, 45 minutes with no intermissions.

Too long. It was time to slice and dice.

As a writer of theatrical works, I tend to write a little long, thinking that every little explanation along the way is crucial to the plot.

As a director of my own work, then I begin to see where the “fat” is and what can be easily cut. It’s not that what I cut was bad writing – far from it. I cut out some witty and interesting dialogue. But, I realized that the same amount of information could be presented in a condensed version.

In the theatre, time is crucial. People get tired of sitting no matter how fascinating the dialogue is. Musicals, in general, tend to be longer than plays because of the music and choreography and so I was comfortable with a 2:30 run time. I was NOT comfortable with a 3 hour run time.

So I was brutal on the script. I kept every song and all the choreography because that’s what musicals are about. But the dialogue was sliced, condensed, re-written, and streamlined. By the time we did our second run-through of the day, we had shaved off an amazing 30 minutes from the run time. I was ecstatic! We are now on track for 2.5 hours with an intermission, if not a little shorter.

Condensing one’s writing is a brutal task. Not particularly fun because you are, in essence, saying that what was written was a waste of time. (no exactly, of course) But this process is crucial.

I actually had fun doing it today and our musical will benefit greatly from it.

Only three more weeks!

An Indie-Author-Drama-Director Wannabe

I love writing.

No secret there. I love crafting stories, but I also love writing plays.

And then I love producing those plays and bringing them to the stage.

I have no business being a drama director. I have had no formal training in theatre and don’t pretend to know much.

But experience is quite a good teacher.

I have had the distinct privilege to find myself in a position where I not only get to write plays and musicals and whatever I like, but I, simply by the fact that I was in the right place at the right time and said “yes”, also get to bring them to light with a wonderful group of talented actors.

They deserve better than me; that’s for sure.

But I’ve never let a lack of credentials stop me from doing what I love. And as I have said, there is something to be said for experience.

I am now only three weeks away from producing and directing my eleventh full-length theatrical production which I have either written or co-written.

My, how we improve! And learn. And grow. And make mistakes.

But it is the process which makes it all worth it. It’s the smiling faces on the actors, the laughs we elicit from each other during rehearsal, and ultimately the buzz that I hear from them when I crack the curtain and check in on them during intermission. There truly is nothing like the theatre to stand your nerves on end and to elicit emotional responses which you never would have expected.

Theatre is a mirror into our lives, and I cherish every minute I get to spend writing, producing, and rehearsing with this amazing group of kids.

There is a long way yet for me to go, but I’m so happy how far I’ve already come. I never want to stop learning, and I hope no matter where I go from here in the future that the theatre will always be apart of my life.

Twenty-two days until the world premiere of “Boardwalk Melody: An Original Musical.”

I simply can’t wait.

boardwalk melody flyer 1

My brain was hijacked by an annoying full-length play

Did you ever get something in your head that you can’t shake?

I become useless when it happens to be a writing idea.

Here’s what happened to me this weekend. I was minding my own business, sitting down to work on my fourth novel – which, by the way, is about 75% complete – when out of no where an idea hits me.

When creativity springs forth over top of creativity, what is one to do?

I first told myself, balderdash, I’m going to finish my novel. So I sat down and stared at the last few lines I had written, but I couldn’t get my mind off that darn play, which seemingly wanted to write itself.

I write a lot of short plays. I’ve only written one full-length play on my own. The others I have written were collaborations with my students. But here, banging loudly at my doorstep was another play begging me to take her in and tell her story.

So on Friday night, I put down my novel and started on this play that is incredibly different from anything I have ever written. It is very much an adult oriented play which focuses on some societal issues which are clearly hot-button controversial at the moment. My first play which is not suitable to be performed at the high school level. Sounds scandalous, doesn’t it? I am not at liberty to say what the play is about, but it has pretty much annoyingly consumed all my writing time this weekend.

When I closed the laptop this afternoon after sitting by the beach for a couple hours pecking away at this annoying writer’s itch, I realized that I was close to finishing the first draft already.

It really did write itself. It was so incredibly easy. Of course, it still has some work to be done on it but the entire frame is there and I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

But I will tell you this, it is meant to be performed. I will not publish it. I want it performed by a professional troupe and I’ll keep it bound and out of sight until someone agrees to produce it.

And if is never produced, at least I finally got it off my brain so I can get back to finishing my fourth novel.

Ideas sometimes can be so incredibly annoying.