January 28, 2010

The Staging of BOXES pt.1

Filed under: Posts — admin @ 7:47 pm

BOXES is now, finally, in rehearsal for a performance at Trinidad Theatre Workshop. A small black box theatre in Port of Spain. The play is being directed by a respected Trinidadian director and the cast is packed with all stars. I still don’t understand how. And, to be honest, the ‘why?’ isn’t a question I waste time on answering.  I have no connections in Trinidad nor did I win a playwright competition.

So why is the theatre staging my play? I simply love the performing arts, and so I  went to just about every event the theatre had. My constant presence led to me developing a friendship with the artistic director. We talk about Trinidad and theatre. He lets my daughter play on his computer. We’re friends.

I am still amazed that the play has made it this far. Since 1998 I have been an aspiring playwright. Even now the process of how a play makes it from one’s laptop to the stage is a mystery to me. I’m sure the process is a mystery to many. If you ever sat in the audience, as a writer, and wished you could ask the playwright “how did you do it?” this is your chance.

The next series of blog entries will document how BOXES finally hit the stage.

In addition to attending as many performance as I could, I also reached out to performing artists. A mentor of mine introduced me to an actress whose performance I admired. I shared with her that I was an aspiring writer and wanted to stage my recently completed play. One day she called me to the Trinidad Theatre Workshop to meet with her and the artistic director. It was last minute she said but could I come down to meet them? It was a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and my daughter and I were very busy watching cartoons in our pajamas but we made the time. I was honestly glad that I didn’t have a babysitter – I wanted my daughter to see mommy going after her dreams.

They threw out names of directors and actors and we brainstormed about how the play might move forward. I can’t remember now if anyone had even read the play in its entireity. I do remember that I was pumped to be in a theatre talking to theatre professionals.

They reached out to one of the directors on our short list and he agreed to read the play. I remember my stomach being in knots from the second I learned he had received the play. I want to say that I waited a week to call him, but I probably didn’t. When we spoke he said that he wanted to wait to give me his comments until we met in person. Anything was better than receiving one of those horrible self addressed stamped postcards that say “we read your play and uhhhh, thanks.”

He loved the play. I sat down with a veteran actor and director and we talked about words that I had scribbled on happy hour napkins and in memo pads during work meetings. Words that I had typed late at night after tucking my daughter into bed. He had read them and something about my words had made him think and question and feel. That alone made me feel like a writer, and more importantly, a good one.

After our discussion the director arranged two gatherings of his favorite actors for readings and discussions of the play. You can watch the video clips if you like.

January 3, 2010

I Feel Like an Artist!

Filed under: Posts — admin @ 10:30 pm

Today was exciting. Today was uplifting and surprising and necessary. Today, I felt like an artist.

Like many aspiring artists, I spend the majority of my time on things other than my passion. I go to work and the grocery store, I watch T.V and check my email, I sit in traffic. On my better days I actually make the time to practice my art: writing. Honestly, the writing has become the easier part because I’ve been doing it for years. What I have extremely little experience in is doing something with that writing. The process of publishing a poem in a magazine or taking a play from page to stage is my current challenge. And that is why today was a much needed victory.

Today’s event was not monumental. I didn’t witness the opening of my play on Broadway, or even recite a poem at open mic. Today was simple: I had a meeting with two awesome artists. I sat down with Architect Bravo and Mei Mei Chang (meimeichang.com) to discuss the set design of my latest play Boxes. Architect Bravo is an architect, capoeira enthusiast, and scholar who wouldn’t let me use his real name on my blog, he’s also  a great friend. Mei Mei is a gifted painter, teacher and mommy (not in that order of course).

These artists had taken the time to read and contemplate the play.  Unlike my loving friends and family, they had more to say than ‘it’s really nice.’ As visual artists they shared ideas on how to create a visual experience for the audience that would augment the play’s dialogue. At the close of the discussion we agreed to collaborate on-line using Celtix’s story board feature  (google it – you’ll thank me) and complete a set design. We also discussed strategies for staging Boxes in D.C later this year.

Underwater in Tobago

Conquering a fear in 2009

 

 

For many people, today’s discussion may not seem like a big deal. It was simply a logical step between writing a play and staging a play. For me however, it was a conceptual leap. Much of the mystery of staging a play has been simplified. Today it just hit me: D.C., Maryland and Virginia are full of actors, theatre lovers, and performance spaces that can be rented by anyone with something artistic to share.  Well, I have something to share, and I’ve decided to go for it. From now on I will not look at a play that I have written and pat myself on the back. Instead, I will be happy that step one of the process is complete and confidently move on to step number two.

If you are pursuing a passion – congratulations! I hope you continue to constantly seek out ways to develop your craft. And when you’re ready for the next step, I hope you’ll join me in taking a leap.

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