Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My First Year in Philadelphia

I moved to Philadelphia in July 2007 to seek new adventures, relationships, opportunities, confront some fears and, after living in the South all my life (and in Austin for the previous seven years) to shake things up a little bit.

It's been a pretty good year.

I've worked on a number of my plays in production, written some new pieces, landed a number of additional production opportunities, began several challenging teaching gigs, traveled around the country, made a lot of wonderful new friends, and learned A LOT about myself.

If I can create another similarly productive year (and accrue less debt doing it), I will be a happy human.

As a highlight reel:

JULY 2007:
Moved to Philadelphia, driving cross country (beginning in Austin, stopping in Baton Rouge, Nashville, Louisville, Ann Arbor, and Pittsburgh)

City Attic Theatre toured the off-off Broadway production of my play, The Most Beautiful Lullaby You've Ever Heard, to Philadelphia for a one-night only performance (July 14th), hosted by The Cardboard Box Collaborative at Plays and Players Theater.

John Conor Brooke ("The Man"), Dianna Marino ("The Narrator"), and Lucy Walters ("The Woman")

AUGUST 2007:
Began teaching at The University of the Arts, my first University teaching job.

Opened production of The Milky Way Cabaret, originally commissioned and produced by the Cardboard Box Collaborative, as part of the Philly Fringe Festival. The production runs for eight performances (Sep 6 - 15) at Plays and Players Theater.

Katy O'Leary ("Charlotte"), Brittany Brazill ("Lorraine"), Cherie A. Roberts ("Travlin' Alice), and Daniel Higbee ("Amazin' Arnie).

Traveled to Louisville for tech rehearsals and the opening of the second production of The Most Beautiful Lullaby You've Ever Heard, produced by Specific Gravity Ensemble. The production runs for ten performances (Sep 21 - Oct 4) at 21 c Museum/Hotel. This production becomes the first time a full-length play of mine gets a second run, and the first time I've opened two full-length plays in the same month.

Christopher Shiner ("The Man"), Julia Leist ("The Narrator"), and Jennifer Poliskie ("The Woman")

My ten-minute play, Sharpen My Dick, is produced as part of "The Sex Plays" staged by City Theatre Company in Wilmington, Delaware. This is the play's second production (originally produced off-off Broadway by Working Man's Clothes in the spring of 2007).

My one-act play, Three Card Weasel, is presented as a staged reading by Philadelphia Dramatists Center as part of "4 x 4", a forum which stages new plays in a 4 foot by 4 foot space. One of the actors walked at the 11th hour, forcing me to perform for the first time in a couple of years. I was rewarded with donuts and cupcakes slammed and smeared into my face and beard (as per the script).

Notified by Playscripts, Inc. that my ten-minute play, Two Bubbles, will be published as part of an anthology of the year's best short plays.

Completed first draft of first act of Radio Ghosts, a collaboration between myself, electronic music composer Mike Vernusky, and director Andrew Merkel.

Began my second semester teaching at The University of the Arts.

My play, Under My Coat is the Truth, opens as part of "Elevator Plays", a site-specific project produced by Specific Gravity Ensemble and performed in the elevators of the Starks Building in downtown Louisville. The production runs for 16 performances from January 25 - February 10.

My collaborative project, Radio Ghosts, is presented as a works-in-progress production at the Community Education Center in West Philadelphia on January 31st.


Radio Ghosts is performed at The Dramatists Guild of America in New York City (on Broadway!) as part of "Friday Night Footlights" on February 1. Standing room (and sitting on laps room) only.

MARCH 2008:

My site-specific project, Marco Polo, is performed in the bathrooms of the Actor's Theatre of Louisville during The Humana Festival of New Plays as part of "The Late Seating".

Completed first draft of full-length play, Belize's Place, co-written by Jason Tremblay.

Completed one-act play, LARPing, co-written by Brian Grace-Duff.

Began teaching "Playwriting Fundamentals" at The Wilma Theater, a ten-week course as part of the Wilma Studio.

Audacity Theatre Lab announces "3P/3Y" a unique commitment to produce three of my plays over the next three years.

MAY 2008:
The Most Beautiful Lullaby You've Ever Heard opens in Dallas, Texas. Produced by Audacity Theatre Lab, the show runs for ten performances from May 7 - 17, marking the play's third full production (another first for one of my plays).

Jeff Swearingen ("The Man"), Tyson Rinehart ("The Narrator"), and Paula Wood ("The Woman")

JUNE 2008:
Present ten-minute piece, Shovel, as part of Philadelphia Dramatists' Center on-going project, "4 x 4" on June 3rd.

I turn 32 years old (June 12).

Complete new ten-minute play, Ice Holes, (written in serial with two plays by Melissa Gawlowski) which is presented as a staged reading as part of City Attic Theatre's CAT Tales in New York City on June 14th.

Begin as the Playwriting Faculty for the National Theater Institute's "TheaterMakers" program at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center-- an incredible experience.

Begin teaching a ten-week Playwriting course with Philadelphia Dramatists Center.


Not bad a year of work. And, as much as I love Austin, this year's body of work confirms that Philadelphia is a better place for me to be at this time in my life.

With the first year of work and learning under my belt, I look forward to my second year in Philadelphia. There is still an incredible amount of learning to do about this city, its people, and the art that is being done here. I look forward to the work ahead and to continuing to be part of the city's creative heart-beat.

Rock on,


Monday, July 14, 2008

PlayPenn, Dramaturgy, and Breadcrumbs

I returned to Philadelphia at 5am, Thursday July 10th, from my gig at the Eugene O'Neill National Theater Institute. After an outstanding three and a half weeks working as the Playwriting Faculty for the TheaterMakers program, I began a new gig the very next day. Times are good.

After a wonderful weekend "retreat", in which the playwrights, dramaturgs, directors, and interns of the PlayPenn New Play Development Conference got to know each other, each other's work, and learn each other's drinking habits, we began rehearsals today (July 14th), officially launching the two-week new play development process for six new works.

This is a really strong group of artists, and wonderful people to boot. I continue to feel very fortunate about the opportunities I have been given and will continue to do my best to enjoy them as much as possible.

Specifically, I am the dramaturg assigned to Jennifer Haley's play, Breadcrumbs, which is a beautiful new play about a writer struggling with Alzheimer's, the young woman who tries to care for her, the fluidity of memory and our journey, as humans, to find our purpose in a very confusing and strange world. Plus, these stories are told through a fractured framework of fairy tales and gingerbread houses.

I like our creative team very much (Jennifer Haley, playwright; Katie Pearl, director) and am beyond impressed with the collection of talent gathered at this conference. I am encouraged by the continued impact that the PlayPenn Conference will have in the city of Philadelphia and on the theater community at-large.

Rock on,