Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Globe's Louise Kennedy likes Orson Play, too.....

When Orson met Larry: A tale about shadow of fame
By Louise Kennedy, Globe Staff | February 27, 2007
WATERTOWN -- "A play about Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier has a double trick to pull off. The first and more obvious one is to persuade us that we're really watching those famous actors. The second, trickier one is to make us forget the first trick entirely. Only then can we settle down and just watch the play.
Happily, the New Repertory Theatre production of "Orson's Shadow" succeeds on both counts. Steven Barkhimer and Tuck Milligan quickly establish themselves as Welles and Olivier, respectively, not so much by exact mimicry as by an assured sense of intonation, gesture, and presence. Then they draw us irresistibly into the deeper resonances of Austin Pendleton's fine, funny, and meditative play......(snip)
The women are just as successful as the men at evoking their famous characters; Debra Wise brings a magnificent subtlety to (Vivian) Leigh's unraveling, and Helen McElwain is just perky enough as the bright young Plowright. If Jason Marr seems a little too fresh-faced for Tynan, he nevertheless captures the critic's unique blend of enthusiasm and acid. Adam Soule's Sean, though a smaller part, lends another note of brash youth to counterpoint the aging lions who no longer quite believe their own roars."

Particulary pleased when actors I like as well as admire get raves in the Big Paper!

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NYTimes pictures Playwright Heaven

Care and Feeding of Plays and Playwrights

NYTimes article

I don't know how long it will be possible to read this before it disappears, but it is enough to make every aspiring playwright weep with envy.

Published: February 25, 2007 QUOTING EXCERPT:
"MONDAY Something felt very unusual about the first public reading, earlier this month, of Brooke Berman’s “Out of the Water.” It wasn’t just that the play was good; that sometimes happens. Nor was it so rare to find, even on a bitter Monday night in February, an enthusiastic audience of 40 and a top-notch cast of young theater names. But it seemed almost suspicious that a hip new play by a writer not widely known was being presented in a room with comfortable seats. Also, the heat worked. And what had become of the rats and pigeons that usually attended such readings? Who printed the nice programs? Why were the bathrooms so lovely?

Then there is a nice photo of them in their clean well-lighted place:
Members discuss a script at Ars Nova’s Play Group. From left, Mat Smart, Etan Frankel, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch. The group focuses on emerging writers and scripts in development. “It’s like a pep rally with pizza and beer,” Ms. Mensch said.

One more paragraph of Fair Use:
"The answer to all of these questions was Ars Nova, the mighty little uptown-downtown theatrical venture on far West 54th Street, which was presenting “Out of the Water” as part of its Out Loud play-reading series. In a landscape defined by stately institutional behemoths and youthful but impoverished start-ups, Ars Nova has designed something new from the best elements of each."

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Monday, February 26, 2007

sponsors, patrons

Here's a tidbit:
"According to a survey of more than 200 Wall Street professionals who took home at least $2 million in cash from their 2006 bonuses, respondents are spending 11% of their payouts, on average, on watches and jewelry. For even the lowest-paid bankers in the survey, that's a bling budget of more than $200,000."

200k is the yearly operating budget of the bare bones but "professional" new-play-producing theatres in my area. Not the shortfall to be covered by donors, the entire budget. For what these 200 guys spend on bling, they could be major patrons, mini-Medicis -- pass out free tickets to every kid who takes part in a high school play and have 1000 playwrights weeping tears of joy as they watch their cloud-capped visions spring to life before a youthful audience.....

The bankers' charity budget averages 1/3 of their bling budget.....

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MIT to bar rehearsals of non-MIT groups

On the heels of the arrest of 2 student "hackers" casing an MIT building in the wee hours for one of the traditional pranks, comes news via the grapevine of a clash between MIT security and a small theatre company that was "borrowing" rehearsal space. This was in one of the areas where such activity has gone on for decades tolerated by the Powers That Be. No More-- MIT will be cracking down. Playwrights, directors, and actors are in distress, exchanging emails....

I haven't taken part in a "squatters" rehearsal at MIT for years--
but I've been in dozens of not-quite-kosher new play rehearsals there
over my long non-profit "career". Playwrights Platform's Festivals
in the 70s and 80s were quite dependent on lobby space and empty
classrooms, which some members who worked at MIT tipped us off
about. I've always loved MIT for its openness and hospitality to
homeless arts groups--- and to gamers and folk dancers and..... My
kids spent many happy days & nights playing there, and made lifelong
friends. When my first husband had a job with one of the Labs, I'd
hang out on the lawn or the student union and have fascinating
conversations with students and faculty from all over the world.
I worked for a while at Harvard. There I was constantly carded for
my employee ID, snubbed, patronized, turned down..... no starving
artist squatters allowed! No world famous professors chatting with
the help.

Please, everyone: be grateful and gracious to MIT-- for old times sake.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Orson's Shadow, Ken Tynan

Just saw Austin Pendelton's ORSON'S SHADOW at the New Rep here in Boston -- Tynan's a character, and the narrator. I loved it! Mainly, I suppose because as an old theatre nut I'd read everything I could get my hands on about at least 3 of the 5 characters: they were round and rich to me before I came to their embodiments. Tynan was least interesting-- as is appropriate for a writer among stars of stage & screen, but pale compared to some of the anecdotes I'd read, and pale compared to the impression his prose made on me when we were both young. As Jeff Sweet says, Tynan "caught performance in print with a vividness and specificity few have matched." His descriptions of rehearsals and performances are more alive in my mind's eye than many I have sat through. I'm not sure what the effect of ORSON'S SHADOW would be on a general audience, or a young one. Certainly the New Rep audience was enthusiastic about the production

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getting the word out about Women Playwrights

I don't think we'll have trouble filling the seats in our 70-90 seat spaces-- not with 8-16 writers per event. But the Idea is to raise the profile of women writers in the community and among theatre people generally. It is high time that theatre subscribers -- the majority of whom are women!-- NOTICE when a theatre schedules a season of plays all written (and directed) by men, and says "Huh? Where are the women?" If they have heard of some good women writers, even if they haven't yet seen something of their work, they won't accept "There just aren't any talented enough" as an answer. they want evidence.
When I was in school, back in the Dark Ages, it was Common Knowledge that something biological in the female brain prevents a member of The Weaker Sex from writing a good play-- or painting a good picture, or being a General in the Army.
Getting women playwrights' names, words, imagined worlds "out there" where producers are aware that they exist and come in all varieties is my Worthy Cause.

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capitalism, Grannies, political plays

Business theory and practice has gone from "profit
from providing goods, services, and employment for the benefit of the
community" to "profit, period". ...Money laundering, outsourcing, fake "charities" that hire relatives
or politicians as staff & consultants, subcontractors who hire
illegal immigrants, bribes, biased science-for-hire, pyramid scheme
accounting... we've developed an economy that rewards and admires
Great Predators.

Where are the plays that address this?

No American who can afford the price of a theatre ticket wants to hear it! No actor, who lives on optimism, voice-overs, and table scraps, wants to perform agitprop. I'm getting too old and it's too bloody cold to do Street Theatre!
I've got a snappy little 10 minute play about the maternity wear chain that fires employees who get pregnant that I've been sending around. Guess where the theatre is that found the script on my web site and finally did the premiere? Uganda!
I am at work on a Raging Granny play -- Social Security can free a body to make a fuss. Probably why the Administration is determined to gut and cut SS.

On Feb 26, 2007, at 12:33 PM, Robert/Marjory lehan wrote:

GH: sounds like the outline of an upcoming Hortonwork. Bob L

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Coming to Cambridge March 8th

Celebration of Women’s Writing and Readings - Free.
Saturday March 10th 10:00 am-2pm. info 617-630-9704
Central Square Library, 45 Pearl Street, Cambridge, MA.

10:00 FREE WORKSHOP on WRITING FROM THE NEWS with Clauder Gold Medalist Monica Raymond & Geralyn Horton. Using news items & free wheeling free association to create scenes and monologues.

and scenes by local and ICWP women writers:
Debra Wise performing Faith in an excerpt from her play "States of Grace", about author Grace Paley.

Cynthia Wand’s "The American Woman": about Shakespeare scholar Delia Bacon; with Rena Baskin & David Rothauser.

Joyce Van Dyke's "Not My Real Mother": a legendary meeting between Tennessee Williams and Mother Teresa; with Robert Bonotto & G. Horton.

Lee Roscoe's "Mobile": a piece of art comes to life; with Sean David Bennett and Peter White. Monologue "Hunting Life": man and prey.

Monica Raymond's "The Biopsy": a sister’s reaction to a test for breast cancer. Directed by Victoria Marsh.

Rae Edelson's scene from "Surf Casting": older man, younger woman on Nantucket explore need and loss; with Ted Kazanoff & Rena Baskin.

TALKBACK and REFRESHMENTS to follow the readings. This event is a good opportunity for women who are interested in play writing but not connected with a group or theatre to come make connections. Men welcome.

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ICWP Celebrations in Ohio March 2007

Women Playwrights Readings in Ohio

Five short plays by women writers will be featured to mark International
Women's Day, March 8, at Gallery 202 in Westerville, Ohio. Organized by the
Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute of The Ohio
State University, all the playwrights are represented in the Institute's
archives. Dr. Alan Woods, the Institute's Director, Dr. Katherine Burkman,
Emerita Professor of English at Ohio State, and Dr. Beth Kattelman, the
Institute's Assistant Curator, will co-direct the readings.

All five plays look at women and their relationships. Toronto playwright
Shirley Barrie's Audience explores the appeal of experimental theatre
through a married couple's relationship, while Vicki Cheatwood, from
Garland , Texas , examines the end of a long-term relationship in her The
Last Time Cooper Took Midge Fishing. Salt Lake City writer Elaine Jarvik's
couple, in Dead Right, re-examine their marriage as the wife contemplates
how she might be presented in her obituary. And Gerry Sanseviero, a
playwright from New York City , presents sisters coping with age while
trying to get served before a Broadway matinee in Matinee Lunch. Katherine
Burkman, in Geraldine and Jacob, plays with a woman obsessed with gambling,
and what both enables and results from her passion with the slots.

The free staged reading starts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 8th, at
Gallery 202, 38 N. State Street in Westerville . Marking International
Women's Day, the Columbus area reading is one of many staged readings
taking place internationally and recognized by the International Center for
Women Playwrights. International Women's Day dates back to 1909, and has
been celebrated on March 8th since 1919. It has been recognized by the
United Nations as a key support for the UN Charter's 1945 call for gender
equality as a fundamental right.

For more information on the readings, click the link or
contact the Lawrence and Lee Institute at 614/292-6614.
Additional information on Gallery 202 and its programs call 614-890-8202

And much material about the International Centre for Women Playwrights

Alan Woods
Director, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute
The Ohio State University
1430 Lincoln Tower
1800 Cannon Drive
Columbus, Ohio

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Coming to Wellesley March 3rd

I'll be acting with June Lewin in Gail Phaneuf's "New Tricks"

Celebration of Women's Voices Festival
Features Platform Members at Wellesley College,
March 3, 2007, 7 p.m.

Eight Playwrights' Platform members will have plays featured in the "Celebration of Women's Voices Festival," hosted by Wellesley Summer Theatre, in the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, March 3, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.

This evening of staged readings is part of the Internatonal Center for Women Playwrights', month-long presentation of Boston-area women's plays celebrating International Women's Day March 8. Featured playwrights include: Ludmilla Anselm (Three Friends), Marika Barnett (Chekhov and Pinter Take a Pause), Kelly DuMar (Clay), Hortense Gerardo (The Dress Rehearsal), Holly Jensen (an excerpt from Stripped), Gail Phaneuf (New Tricks), Regina Eliot Ramsay (The Perfect Stranger), and Phyllis Rittner (Breeding Season).

Following the plays, Nora Hussey, head of the theatre department at Wellesley College and Artistic Director of the Wellesley Summer Theatre, will moderate a panel discussion with Boston-area directors to discuss the plays and explore how the theatrical culture can be influenced to be more receptive to producing plays by women. Featured directors include: Michelle Aguillon (Hovey Players), Jerry Bisantz (Playwrights' Platform/Image Theater), Rose Carlson (Executive Director, Devanaughn Theatre), Lisa Rafferty (Freelance Director and Producer/MOMologues Productions) and Nancy Curran Willis (formerly with Gloucester Stage Company & Boston Theatre Works).

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served from 7:00 until 7:30 when the readings begin. The Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre is on the lower level of Alumnae Hall and is wheelchair accessible. There is ample free parking in the Davis covered parking structure adjacent to the theatre. Reservations are not necessary.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Celebrations Coming Up! March is Women's Month

Women Playwrights in the Spotlight during March 2007

OVERVIEW: The International Centre for Women Playwrights, (ICWP) dedicated to increasing the attention paid to women's lives and women's voices on stages across the world, is sponsoring a series of Celebrations in March during Women's History Month Along with play readings in New York City and Bucharest, there will be five ICWP sponsored Celebrations held in the Boston area between March 3 and March 15. The ICWP held a previous Woman Playwrights event here: Boston Her-Rah!2003. Currently only 16% of plays produced in the USA are written by women, though they now make up the majority of the students in play writing courses. Scripts in hand, women are knocking on stage doors everywhere!

PLAYWRIGHTS: Boston-area writers featured during March celebrations include: Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, Ludmilla Anselm, Marika Barnett, Leslie Dillen, Kelly DuMar, Rae Edelson, Deborah Fortson, Beverly Scott Gidron, Kirsten Greenridge, Hortense Gerardo, Laura Harrington, Geralyn Horton, Holly Jensen, Ginger Lazarus, Amy Merrill, Jacqui Parker, Gail Phaneuf, Regina Eliot Ramsay, Monica Raymond, Phyllis Rittner, Lois Roach, Lee Roscoe, Joyce Van Dyke, Cynthia Wands, Debra Wise, Eliza Wyatt., et. al. This sampling only skims the surface of the local pool of dedicated writers.

CELEBRATIONS: The Five ICWP sponsored events are:

1) Saturday March 3 7:00 pm "Celebration of Women's Voices" Festival
Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre at Wellesley College. Free.

Wellesley Summer Theatre hosts eight short plays by local women writers who are members of http://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifPlaywrights' Platform. A get-acquainted reception at 7pm will be followed by staged readings at 7:30. At 9:15 Nora Hussey, head of the theatre department at Wellesley and Artistic Director of the WST, will moderate a panel discussion with Boston-area directors Michelle Aguillon, Jerry Bisantz, Rose Carlson, Lisa Rafferty, and Nancy Curran Willis.

CONTACT: Kelly DuMar
Web link Wellesley:
web link ICWP
web link

2) Thursday March 8, 7:00 pm, Celebration of Monologues by Women
Boston Playwrights' Theatre 949 Comm. Ave. Boston MA Free.

Joan Faber at the keyboard will provide a Musical Prologue as people gather; then MC Victoria Marsh will introduce some of Boston's best actors (e.g. Naheem Allah, Rena Baskin, Robert Bonotto, Nancy Carroll, Richard McElvain) and directors (e.g. Daniel Gidron, Ted Kazanoff, June Lewin) presenting 1-5 minute monologues by 16 local writers. This Celebration-- demonstrating the wealth of fresh material available to actors who reach out to use the work of their writing colleagues-- will be topped off by a post show Party.

CONTACTS: Rosanna Alfaro & Amy Merrill
Directions and Parking:

3) Saturday March 10, 10:00 am, WHM Celebration of Writing and Reading
Central Square Library, Pearl St. Cambridge, MA. Free.

A morning writers’ workshop on "Topical Theatre"-- using items clipped from the news, a dash of improvisation, and free wheeling free association-- will be followed at 11:30am by staged readings of short plays and scenes with a talkback. This event is a good opportunity for women who are interested in play writing but not connected with a group or theatre to come and make some connections.

CONTACT: Geralyn Horton

4) Saturday March 10, 6:00 pm, Women of Influence
Yamawaki Arts & Cultural Center, Lasell College, Newton MA , Inc. Free

"Women of Influence -- 23 artists consider the women who have shaped their lives", an interdisciplinary art event curated by Steve Fishcher, will open at 6 pm with a viewing of visual art and an artists' reception. The 7:30 production of "The Rosewater of Dona Felicidad" will be followed by a talkback with author and ICWP member Hortense Gerardo.

CONTACT: For more information and directions

5) Thursday March 15, 7 p.m. ICWP WHM Celebration of Women Playwrights
Brighton Branch, Boston Public Library. 40 Academy Hill Road, Brighton, MA. Free.

Readings of short plays and scenes by local women writers will be followed by a question and answer session with the authors and actors


PHOTOGRAPHS: Headshots of many of the writers whose work will be presented are available upon request. Above is a picture from Amy Merrill's reading at the previous ICWP event, Boston Her-Rah! 2003

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cutting plays down to Fit On Stage

A playwright list member asks for suggestions about revising a sprawling play....
I say:
What can you do but cut 'em or double 'em? Or restructure so that
you attack and end at points that leave some stuff offstage. Do you
really need scenes 1, 3, & 5? Can you end with X's death and either
skip the funeral or just show Y's eulogy in a spotlight?

He replies: "You reminded me of my mentor Larry Menkin;"Tell only one story at a time"....I used to'hate'... that."

I continue:
In truth I'm arguing against my own preferences. All the plays I love
best have big casts, multiple protagonists, comic subplots and
interlocking themes. "One story at a time?" Boring! Unworthy of
the stage's unique capacity to embody more than one POV or to shift
empathy in an instant. I just saw my umpteenth production of
"Winter's Tale", this one by The Actors' Shakespeare Project in
Boston-- Now there's a mess of a script! I was talking with a critic
who was expatiating on how Shakespeare could have done it better if
only he had known what the movies have taught us about the use of
flashback. "Pooh!" quoth I. I love that play Just As It Is, and
feel sorry for anyone who has not seen a production that makes it
work in all its miraculous messiness. I laughed, I cried; and if
not perfect the production was miles above the 3-5 character essays
that our theaters can afford to premiere today.

But I've talked with fellow writers about fixing messes often enough
that I have the fixing tools sharpened and ready, even though many
times I'd rather consign my overly ambitious play to the drawer
rather than cut it to a tamed size and shape.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

I'm Nominated!

Playwrights' Platform News

Playwrights' Platform Member
Geralyn Horton
has been nominated for an
Independent Reviewers of New England Award!

Congratulations Geralyn!
(Results will be announced March 19, 2007)

Large :
Geneva Carr in RABBIT HOLE (Huntington)
Barbara Meek in THE CHERRY ORCHARD (Trinity Repertory Co)

Marina Re in HOLES (Wheelock Family Theatre)
Maureen Keiller in THE WOMEN (SpeakEasy)
Mary Klug in THE WOMEN and FIVE BY TENN (SpeakEasy)
Geralyn Horton in TALKING TO TERRORISTS (Sugan)

FROM ME: the Sugan production of TALKING TO TERRORISTS also was nominated for Best Supporting Actor- Daffyd Rees; Best Ensemble; Best Director- Carmel O'Reilly, and Best Drama.

THE 10th ANNIVERSARY IRNE AWARDSThe Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) is very pleased to host the 10th Anniversary Independent Reviewers of New England AWARDS in its CYCLORAMA on Monday March 19, 2007 at 8 P.M.

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