Saturday, March 31, 2007

Praise and Requests

Hi there my name is brian i am a manchester and london based actor i just came across your website in an attempt to find a specific monologue, though it didnt have what i am looking for it was fun to go through and good to see another independant resource for monologues. just wanted to say thanks and keep up the good work
best regards brian

ps you wouldnt know where to find a monologue from a young american/english soldier in iraq speaking on conflict? im looking for a sort of 2-3 mins reply to a shrink to add to my catalogue.

I expect that I'll write one one day soon. After I've met and talked to such a person.
I just wrote a short play, "Rehabilitation", on the subject. But the wounded soldier is a female.

LMC wrote:
Having read several of your one act plays, I have now turned to some of your full length ones. I was wondering if I could get a full copy of "Amazons" and "No Secrets, No Lies." I greatly enjoy your writings! I especially appreciate how they force you to think. I read "Under Siege," and I am still thinking about it a lot. It definitely posed a challenge to my traditional mindset. Thank you for writing!

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

An Exchange with a Student

Re your "few Questions..."
Dear J,
Thank you for the kind words about my writing.
The monologue from "Elegy" condenses several pages of dialogue into a single story. I'm sending you an attached copy of the script of the play-- but it is also on my Stagepage web site. There should be a live link to the play "Elegy" from the monologue. You can also see a video of my actor friend Robert Bonotto performing it on Stagepage -- he also performed it at a March Madness monologue Festival here in Boston, celebrating women playwrights who, like me, belong to the International Centre for Women Playwrights. Robert was very moving in the monologue: the audience was enthusiastic. Your interpretation would be different from his, of course. Each actor brings something different to a good monologue.
Conventional Behavior is on the site, too.
As long as these are simply class projects, this email will serve as official permission from me, the author/publisher, for you, Joey Ptashinski, to perform and/or direct these pieces of mine in a non-commercial setting.
If your school or organization undertakes a ticket-selling production, you will need a more formal contract, probably in the name of a teacher, coach or school administrator: an email version of the Dramatists Guild contract used by amateurs and educational institutions. It is still simple and cheap--- $5 to $50 per performance, depending on the length of the script and the price and number of tickets sold.

Mrs Horton,
Thank you for the copies, is there any way to get a publication for these items? Like in a book? from a company like Playscripts, Inc...and so on. It's just to use any of your work, it needs to be a published play.
I really love your work and would like to use these items, if I could. I would like to talk with you more on the one-act matter if these are published plays.

Thank you.
The Library of Congress Copyright Office considers me the publisher of the plays on web publishing counts as published, even if the author does it him/her self. The plays you named are registered with the LCCO: Work of Performing Arts # PAu 2-738-647, under the title "Collected Plays 1975-2001 by Geralyn 'G.L.' Horton." My plays are nationally distributed-- internationally, even: anyone anywhere in the world who has a computer can read and download them. However, they are NOT commercially printed. I will at request laser-print and bind a play and mail it to a customer willing to pay for the labor, printing, and postage-- which is NOT cheap!-- but that is not my real business: I am leasing production rights. Free use of my web published short pieces for non-commercial and educational purposes is my advertising campaign.

There must be several different kinds of acting competitions/ leagues, with differing rules. I know that my pieces-- including the monologue and 2 plays you are interested in-- are used by schools. I get thank you emails from successful students who have won prizes or placement, and queries from teachers and judges who have heard and admired my work.

"Conventional Behavior" has had productions in high schools and colleges and at theatres and science fiction conventions. However, a school using the play in a competition is unlikely to perform before an audience that contains anyone who has seen a production of it. 40 productions in 20 years still means that only about 8000 people out of 300,000,000 have ever seen it.

I think it may even be illegal-- in "restraint of trade"-- for an organization to require that only scripts from certain publishers may be used.
I hope that you will share this information with the people who make the rules. I am far from the only playwright who publishes through a web site or with an on-demand publishing co-op. Digital publishing is niche publishing's future, and it is here now.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Playwrights Must be Driven Mad

I just curated an author's play reading series in a library. I invited writers, told them to bring "5-15 minutes of something that is a good sample of your talent"'-- that will be appreciated by the kind of people who generally go to literary events at a branch library. We had an hour and 40 minutes, 6 pieces should take an hour leaving 40 minutes for tea and cookies and question-and-answer where the Library Ladies will get to know the authors and perhaps-- who knows?-- become advocates for the local talent to be produced by local theatres.
One writer-- whom I had never met, and included on someone's recommendation-- brought 6 actors and 40 minutes worth of scenes from her full length play. I'd scheduled myself last and had to cut the piece I was performing to about 3 minutes, and there was still no Q & A time.
What was this writer thinking? Why would she be so rude and burn her bridges with a "producer" -- however humble-- just so that an audience of fewer than 50 Library Ladies heard 40 rather than 15 minutes of her play????

Our lives of quiet desperation must drive us mad!

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Buy Candy to Conquer Cancer?

A well intentioned pitch from a church member to buy pink and white chocolate candies so a part of teh profits will go to breat cancer research: I do not respond positively.

May I say that I find this sort of thing repulsive? May I suggest that we disentangle Public Health/Care from advertising and advocacy and support it publicly by an allocation of a the reasonable portion of the GNP to be raised through progressive taxation, assigned where experts and ethicists predict it will do the greatest good for the greatest number, and treat everyone who suffers from illness or disability with dignity and compassion apart from where their particular ailment falls in the current ad biz popularity poll or the fund raiser's hit parade?

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Pocast with Rachel Rubin Ladutke

recorded while in NYC for the ICWP Women Playwrights Celebration at the Drama Book Shop. Up in G.L.Horton's Stage Page Pod Cast

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Entertainment vs Something To Say?

adding my 2 cents to a "why do we write" discussion....

We have no official creed here. I myself believe that I was called in childhood by the God of Playwrights and the shades of my dead colleagues to wrestle with the Great Questions-- most specifically "How Ought We to Live?"--- and communicate the results of my research in the field though the imitation of the actions of vivid truthful characters in dialogue that is beautiful-- theatrical poetry.

If I already know what I will say before I wrestle, then it probably isn't worth the effort. Somebody else has said it already-- that's how I know it. My repetition will be unearned, and in that respect less than truthful. Well, maybe some old truisms are worth repeating in a skit or 10 minute play, just to remind myself and anybody who sees it that we've been this way before and don't need to keep reliving our mistakes. But it's what I discover in the course of writing/wrighting that is uniquely valuable. That's the thing I am grateful to other writers for "putting me through" in their plays-- they went to a place no one's been before and emerged with the meaning of it, and now thanks to them I have, too.

I don't announce this, of course. The aspiration is so risible that it is no wonder that most of what I write is comedy. But narrative is a way-- perhaps the central way-- we perceive and understand, as well as entertain, ourselves and each other. When I sit in the theatre I want the people on the stage to tell me stories; but stories that reveal significance.


Monday, March 19, 2007

birthday blues

All day dealing with the birthday blues. Doesn't help that my natal date is now also the date of the start of the invasion of Iraq. My husband and I made the local anti-war Vigil for an hour before I had to go to the annual IRNE awards presentation. David said that various MA town Vigils were featured on all 3 11 pm newscasts.
I didn't win Supporting actress at the IRNEs: "Talking To Terrorists" got none of the multiple awards it was nominated for, alas
But it was a good night for Women. Productions of Luce's The Women, Playwrights Platform's aluma Teresa Rebeck's Mauritius, and Ahren's Ragtime took home the lion's share of the prizes. Local actress/producer/director/playwright Jacqui Parker won Best New Play (small theatre) for her Dark As A Thousand Midnights --- and yes, Jacqui had a monologue in our ICWP program at the Boston Playwrights Theatre on March 8th.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saturday- music, March Storm, Graves & The Goddess

Saint Patrick's Day-- I forgot, but happened to dress in green anyway. The ice didn't quite make it impossble to get out of the house, so I went to the Newton Library's monthly Saturday sing, which opened with "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" and closed with selections from Brigadoon. Vowed to learn the middle part in the Mozart Alleluia-- if my high notes as as painful to others as to me, it's time to retire them.

Happy to read on line that Christians are finally mounting a significant anti-war presence. Hundreds arrested outside the White House last night.

Joined the Goddess-blogging at Firedoglake this afternoon.
On Robert Graves - a poet who claimed to be Muse/Goddess inspired and to have “channeled” his wonderful historical novels “I, Claudius” “King Jesus” and “Wife to Mr. Milton” — Graves also wrote a channeled novel of the future, a future which seems more plausible by the day: “Watch the Northwind Rise”. In it, anthropologists have set up a Goddess-Culture for the post-apocolypse remnant of humanity, but there is Trouble in Paradise. I love this work, which I read when a teen, and had hoped to live long enough for it to go out of copyright so that I could do a dramatization– preferably a musical one, since music and magic are themes. But with the recent extension of copyright long past the century mark I have lost hope: not only will I be dead before this out-of-print masterpiece can be revived and reworked, civilization will probably be dead too and unable to benefit from the prophetic poet’s vision.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

ICWP Celebrations, Brighton Branch Boston Public Library

ICWP Celebrates Women Playwrights
Thursday March 15th 7pm BRIGHTON BRANCH Boston Public Library


Kelly DuMar’s “Bird’s Egg, Blue” (Elizabeth T. Rose as Cin, H.W.Tilney as Tripp, drummers Dorothy Eagle & Geralyn Horton.) excerpt from the full length "Away Message"; about love and loss across two generations.

Monica Raymond's "Novices"; A twenty-first century take on The Taming of the Shrew: Kate (Alex Phillips) and Pete (Ian McCafferty), who've connected on-line, meet at Au Bon Pain. Kaycie Alanis directs.

Mary McCollough's "Bottom Lines"; Pooshee Pritchee intends to save her brother, Cash, from himself-- and save the family's good name. Pooshee's soon-to-be lawyer niece, Dee, tries to stop her. Featuring Elena Dodd and Chris Fadala, StreetFeet performers.

G.L.Horton's "Elegy"; urging an up-and-coming young woman virtuoso (Noel Armstrong) to resist the efforts of her husband and her friend Sandy (Alex Philips) to get her to relax and fiddle "just for fun" veteran violist (Robert Bonotto) passes on a hard-earned lesson from his late wife.

Deborah Valianti: excerpt from the Brighton playwright's "Too Many Willies"; a gender bending exploration of the nature and source of Art, and inspiration, and the effects of marketplace sensibilities on the Artist. Ms. Valianti plays Ronnie; Andy O’Kane, Jack; Emilie Davis, Betty- Ronnie’s sister- & Artemisia; Don Bravo, Narrator, Harry, & Tommy.

Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro: excerpt from "Martha Mitchell" (Geralyn Horton). The wife of Nixon's Attorney General- he went to jail, for Dirty Tricks such as covering up the Watergate break in- has her say.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lisa Kron's Master Class, her "Well" at the Huntington

On a theatre list, we discuss the "opportunity" advertised to playwrights to take Lisa Kron's Master Class at a luxury resort in Italy: cost $1700 for the week.
Someone asked who Lisa Kron is.

I reply: A writer recently much praised for "Well" which I will see at the Huntington Theatre in Boston tonight. She has 600,000 entries in Google -- don't you Google before you ask the list? I saw her earlier solo show about her family's annual outing to an amusement park: pretty good. Kron comes from a solo/performance art/standup background and was well known in those circles before venturing into more traditional stage territory.

One playwright was offended by the "master playwright" sell and called the opp description "pretentious". I jumped on his leftist bandwagon with:
Pretension's the least of it. This is class warfare. The idea that someone can pay $1500 plus airfare to go to a luxury resort in Italy and get artistic attention and approval not available to a writer who has to work for a living makes me want to spit nails. The fact that Ellen Stewart has given the La Mama imprimatur to this "opportunity" makes me weep. Sic transit....

I realize that I am an utter heretic in these matters.
Socrates is my model. Though poor and ugly, he accepted neither money nor sexual favors from his students. He was eager to learn from anyone who appeared to have knowledge, as long it was knowledge he could test. He taught his testing method to slaves and aristocrats, and treated them with equal respect and attention. He condemned the kind of teaching that encouraged students to use rhetorical tricks and craft to obtain advantage or "make the worse appear the better cause" -- marketing is a no-no! The pursuit of truth and and beauty-- kindness is a subset of beauty-- through the Examined Life is the goal of both art and science, and a sacred one, a calling from the God or one's inner Daemon. Money isn't a way of keeping score, or a neutral determinant of value. It is a distortion factor: it reinforces the tribe's natural bias in favor of that which confirms the prevailing comforting illusions.

Of course, this too is an illusion. The Socrates I imagine I know and love is a character in closet dramas by the aristocrat Plato, who had his own agenda.

Then I saw "Well". Did I like it? Yes. The author/narrator has excellent comic timing and although making fun of authorial pretensions was part of the piece's structure, I, like the rest of the audience, was inclined to like approve of the person behind the unreliable persona. I'm sure that if I were the sort of playwright who could afford to spend a week working with Kron in Italy, I would respect her and enjoy the experience. Not everyone reacted this way: my companion was very cranky, and kept muttering things like: "self-indulgent" "pandering" and "fraudulent". At its core, "Well" is Midwestern "nice" rather than NYC edgy or corrosive. (Another friend fell asleep.) But generally, the laughter and applause was enthusiastic, and comments from the audience on way out sounded grateful that they had been encouraged by nice rather than assaulted by nihilism. I like that too-- it's a weakness of mine, that I'm a Midwestern liberal do-gooder and I like nice. Like Kron's mother, I moved my family from a white suburb into an integrated neighborhood-- Boston's Mission Hill-- and sent into a voluntarily integrated school run by ldealists. Like the Kron family experiment, it didn't work out quite as hoped-- but we don't regret having done it. I like liberal Landford Wilson and even Republican A.R. Gurney, for goshsake. I'm grateful when comedy comes down on the "right" side of moral earnestness rather than sinking me up to the neck in satirical despair-- like, say, much of Durang. Do I think "Well" is a work of particular depth or importance? No. It does not fulfill its implicit contract of confrontation and catharsis. Its themes and metaphors do not coalesce into a coherent whole. And structurally it is a classic case of the passive autobiographical protagonist, and all the fun and games with meta-theatrical bells and whistles to disguise that do not compensate for it. The production itself is over-done, messily lavish, and intentionally disjunct in a way that seems designed to encourage you to give the actors extra credit for merely surviving it. I do give them extra credit-- I was just upset that the supporting actors were least convincing when playing "themselves". Perhaps that metaphor would work better if they were black clad puppet manipulators who took off their face coverings when turning "real" to chide the author?

On the other hand Louise Kennedy, the Globe's new first-stringer, really REALLY like the show. I'm glad that she did, and very glad that the Globe now has a critic who is not temperamentally averse to what is after all a very Woman Playwright type of show.

Quoting Kennedy's Globe review:
It is really tough to be smart and silly at the same time, but Lisa Kron magnificently succeeds. Her comedy "Well," now making its Boston debut at the Huntington Theatre Company, has moments goofy enough to make your sides ache -- and other moments intelligent enough to rearrange your understanding of the world.
"Well" comes to Boston fresh from Broadway, where performance artist Lisa Kron earned a best-actress Tony nomination in the role of "Lisa Kron," whom playwright Lisa Kron describes in the script as a "New York performance artist writing a play NOT about herself." Is that meta enough for you?
The wonderful news, though, is that unlike too many metatheatrical attempts to use performance to comment on itself, "Well" deploys its self-references, self-interruptions, and self-transformations with wisdom and grace. Kron the playwright, Kron the actress, and Kron the character all make delightful company, self-aware but never self-absorbed. So the play, while it's clearly autobiographical, is also clearly about more universal questions: what it means to be sick, what it means to be well, what families do to and for each other, and how sometimes in spite of ourselves we find a way to heal......"

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More about gendered writing-- form

are experiments in form a female trait?
Lyn Gardner - The Guardian
March 15, 2007 08:55 AM
The premieres last week of Alexandra Wood's debut play The Eleventh Capital at the Royal Court and Debbie Tucker Green's Generations at the Young Vic are a reminder - if it was needed - that it is women who are often in the forefront of experiments in form and style in British theatre. Over the last 20 years Caryl Churchill has proved herself a tireless seeker after new form and it seems that her creative, rumbustious successors are increasingly taking up the baton with enthusiasm and confidence too....Yet it still seems to be the case that when women experiment in form they
are more likely to be shot down by critics and told that they don't know how to
structure a play properly....
Back in the mid-1980s when both women theatre critics and playwrights were
in pretty short supply, accusations that women didn't know how to write proper
plays were commonplace. Jack Tinker dismissed Churchill's now-classic Cloud
Nine because of its "sloppy construction" while another male critic
complained: "The play, if I may use the term of a work that is almost totally innocent of any formal structure, may be about nothing at all." Reviewing Sarah
Daniels' Byrthrite at the Royal Court, Mark Lawson declared: "Ms Daniels has a
gift for provocative invective but she is a poor storyteller: perhaps linear
narrative is too phallic." Well perhaps it is. I've certainly heard it suggested that the well made play in Aristotelian mode corresponds closely to the male orgasm in the way it reaches its climax, release and post-coital conclusion. But maybe choosing not to write a traditionally structured play doesn't mean that you don't know how to write one, simply that you want to find different ways to tell your stories.....
Times fortunately have changed, and there is now an entire army of women
playwrights marching out there in the direction of the future who will not be
stopped by a bit of critical sniping. But when I hear people saying about
Green's Generations: "Oh, it's very interesting, but it's not really a play, is
it?" I know that we've still got a long way to go before women's experiments in
form are accepted without qualification.

I clinked the link to Rona Monro, whom I met in London after I played the juicy role of the mother in her wonderful "Bold Girls" at the Sugan Theatre. I liked Rona very much: don't know how I missed reading about this play of hers while it was happening.....

Murder, rehab, prison - Rona Munro rarely shirks the dark side. But she really wants to write a fluffy play, she tells Samantha Ellis

Thursday January 23, 2003
The Guardian

'I always have this dream that I'm going to write something very soft and happy, and it never seems to happen," says screen and stage writer Rona Munro. She certainly hasn't lived her dream with Iron, a play set in a grim women's prison where a murderess is reunited with her estranged daughter - the child of the man she killed. "Rarer than a unicorn" is how Munro's antiheroine describes herself; of the 70,000 people imprisoned in Britain today, 5,000 are lifers, but only 165 of those lifers are women.
When researching the play, which transfers this week from Edinburgh to London, Munro was struck by "the ordinariness of it. Lifers tend to have a prison routine. So when you visit, you're going into someone's room. It's like a bedsit. It's not like going into an iron-bars environment. The kind of conversations we had were very, very ordinary. We'd never talk about what they had done."

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Martha in the news! (re: TPM's Marshall)

But I don't know who wrote this-- it was a quote within a quote which I clipped, but them I went back to find the author to attribute, the comment had dropped off the blog somehow or I forgot where'd I'd found it.

Perhaps someone will inform me re: the author of this pithy Martha Mitchell reference:

..bloggers will realize how reckless their actions have been and will learn some valuable lessons from this episode. They need to learn how journalism really works and to understand what drives modern journalism you have to go all the way back to the Watergate scandal, which many bloggers are too young to remember.

After Richard Nixon was forced to resign the presidency because of the Watergate scandal, he told David Frost in an interview, "If it hadn't been for Martha Mitchell, there'd have been no Watergate." Martha Mitchell was the wife of Nixon's Attorney General John Mitchell. Before the Watergate scandal broke, she began calling reporters late at night and telling them that her husband was engaged in illegal activities. Reporters, of course, didn't believe anything she said and tried to help her by telling her husband what she was doing. He had her locked away and leaked a story to the press that she had a "drinking problem." The character of Martha Logan in the television series 24 is based on her so you can see why no one believed her and why she was so dangerous.

Although some blame for Watergate must also go to Mark Felt, the disgruntled FBI employee who has since been revealed as Woodward and Bernstein's source Deep Throat, it was Mitchell's indiscretions that first put the poisonous idea in the heads of reporters that our own government can't be trusted, which ultimately weakened our country. Just as people working for Gonzalez tried to stop U.S. attorneys from talking to reporters by threatening to release damaging information about them, John Mitchell tried to stop The Washington Post from writing about Watergate by warning, "[Post Publisher] Katie Graham's gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that's published."

Regrettably, The Washington Post went ahead with the story anyway. In the wake of Watergate laws were passed limiting what the government could do. Because of these laws government officials were barred from using all of the resources necessary to protect our country. So Mitchell was partly responsible not only for damaging the credibility and the power of the U.S. government for years to come but possibly even 9/11. It has taken years of painstaking work by the Bush Administration to restore some of the credibility and power the government lost after Watergate through laws like the Patriot Act. If one delusional, alcoholic woman, who just happened to be right in this one instance, can do so much damage despite the concerted effort of many reporters not to believe her, think what damage an army of Martha Mitchells could do. To journalists that's what bloggers are--an army of Martha Mitchells.

The idea of an army of Martha Mitchells is terrifying to reporters. Sure, Josh Marshall and other bloggers happened to be right on this one story, just as Martha Mitchell turned out to be correct despite the fact that she was a delusional drunken gossip. But that shouldn't tempt the Jay Carneys of the world to pick up the phone the next time one of these Martha Mitchells calls and tries to put subversive ideas in their heads. I think Carney and other reporters realize the damage Watergate did to this country and they are trying to undo it by returning journalism back to where it was before Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein ruined it. Unfortunately, there is an army of Martha Mitchells out there constantly ringing up journalists in the middle of the night, waking them up when they are trying to sleep.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Question from a student about a monologue

This morning I got an email Question from a student about a monologue:
On Mar 13, 2007, L K wrote:
Hi,-- about Eulogy--
I am planning on using this piece for theatrical
auditions in the very, near future. I chose this
piece because I can relate to the subject matter and
it is a very, dynamic piece. Can you tell me what
your inspiration was?

I replied:
It's a composite character, combining two women who talked to me in 2 different conversations with a few others present. The first was after a Memorial Service at my UU church, where I sat having tea with an acquaintance and a few strangers and the general topic was the multiple Eulogies we'd just heard. We agreed how moving it was when different friends and relatives revealed the depth of love inspired by someone-- someone that we who were at the table knew only slightly. A young woman said that sometimes there is a side of someone that only one family member knows: and that person may never reveal it. I remembered part of that story about that young woman's father when a few years later, when after a Creativity class another woman talked about being asked to speak at the funeral of her abusive father. I imagined myself in each woman's place, and then the two merged into a single voice and story. I'm sure that I added parts of my own experience with a distant & curmudgeonly -- but not overtly abusive or rejecting -- father to the mix. My own father had just died when I wrote it.
Does this help?

she wrote back to say that it did help -- though I'm not sure why. Isn't this how most writing happens???

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Aristotle and Campbell don't always apply

Advice from Jeff: "The women writers have to break through to the women who are stars and have them advocate their work. Don't go through agents if you can help it. If a star goes to a non-profit and says, "I want to do this play," the play will get done"

Re: Drama as a hero's Journey: Aristotle and Campbell don't always apply

Notice that even the Greeks and Shakespeare do not stick to the Aristotle and Campbell "hero's journey" model. Trojan Women? Seven Against Thebes? Hyppolytus? -- even Antigone.... Who's the hero of Julius Caesar? of Henry IV? Of Merchant of Venice? of Much Ado? Beatrice and Benedict are the comic subplot....

The Shakespearean large cast multi-generation upstairs/downstairs model is my ideal for a full length. Except that for me most of the "default characters" -- the ones whose gender is not part of the plot, like doctors, clerks, customer service people, bosses or underlings, family friends and relations-- these people who in
Shakespeare's day would be uniformly male and which result in a 9-1 male gender split in his large casts-- are generally female. Most of my plays split 3-2 female. This means of course that even if a company that specializes in large cast "classic" plays were willing to take the risk of mounting a modern one, they would have to go
outside the company to cast one of mine. There wouldn't be enough women members in such a company. Though there are more women in the acting profession than men, they are competing for fewer roles. My goal, to which I don't seem to be getting closer, is to become just barely enough of a name-recognition writer that universities and community theatres, which are always in need of plays with extra parts for women, will consider producing mine.

T D wrote on March 11: "If Geralyn's contention is true, that we can sniff out feminine writing by the use of "the" versus "a", how easy would it be to detect -- and reject -- a different way of telling a story, even if differences are in shades rather than complete tonal shifts?"

I reply: I never said that "we" can spot feminine writing by the use of "the" versus "a" -- that's what a computer program came up with, and only a computer can do it, and that with only about 90% accuracy. The rest of us, me included, can't usually tell whether something was written by a male or female-- we just make assumptions
based on the kind of story and the central characters. Our accuracy when under a pseudonym a man writes a "chick" story or a woman writes sci-fi or a mystery is around the chance level. We think we can tell, but really we can't!
The women-written plays from my writer's group that were rejected on a blind-read by the male critic panel all had juicy roles for women in them. As an actress, I'm aware: I've sat through the winners of a 10 minute play contest and noticed that an hour of performance can go by without a single role in any of them that a good actress would want to play. Whatever criteria the judges had in mind, they
certainly didn't include: "Would Meryl Streep agree to be in this piece?" For me, "Meryl Streep's in it" has always been reason enough to go see something.

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A Piece of the Pie

MF asks: "Is it wrong that significantly fewer women playwrights areproduced than men? Of course, it is. Is it better than it used to
be? As Jeff Sweet points out, yes it is and I think it's wrong to dismiss this simply because it isn't all we wish it would be."

I reply:
It all depends on what "it" and "used to be" means! Women are NOT a bigger % of the authors of produced plays NOW than they were in the early 1990s, and even the latest peak in the 1990s was a LOWER percentage of woman-written plays that those that were produced at the turn of the 19th century-- ie, in 1899-- or in the 1930s. This
is the 3rd time I have supplied this statistic. Nobody has disputed it. I assume that is because everybody "knows" that women have been moving steadily toward equality and that we should stop whining and just wait patiently for Progress to catch us up..... Except that what everybody knows, like "a rising tide lifts all boats" may not be true. Sometimes equality goes backwards-- and Times of War are
usually when people stop noticing that it is men who are doing all
the talking.

Jeff, you edited Burns-Mantle Best Plays. Surely you noticed that
the 1960-70 period when there were essentially none by women was a
drop-off, not a base line?

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Central Square Celebrations -- ICWP/IWD

I should report at length, but am too burnt out to do so. But here are some pictures taken by Cynthia Wands

Write Like a Man?

You can check on line whether you write like a man or a woman. The statistically significant differences are very subtle: grammatical constructions, things like the ratios between uses of "the" and "a", but the scientists claim their analysis is accurate something like 87% of the time. You feed the computer program a few hundred words of prose or dialog... and it guesses the author's gender.
My men's monlogues are tagged as male-written by this computer program, my women's monologues as female-written. I send my plays and reviews out under my initials-- and nine out of 10 emails I get concerning them begin "Dear Mr. Horton".

There are some men who really do think (unconsciously?) that women have cooties, and that if a man is exposed to women's writing andlured into identifying with a woman, he'll catch cooties himself. These guys really did run things in the 1950s-- they sent all the women who had gained a toe hold in the theatre during the Depression
and while the men were off fighting WWII back to the kitchen (where they sat down and wrote novels and poems and short stories.) There aren't so many of these guys any more: but it only takes one on a committee or board or as AD to knock out every female finalist. The cootie sensor can be even more accurate than the computer's gender- sorter. My venerable writers' group has a long history of more or
less rough equality. Every so often the group's reading committee is accused of favoring te likable people over the talented , and one year the group invited a panel of "objective" experts-- 3 male critics -- to pick the 9 plays to be produced out of a finalist group of 20 one acts chosen by the committee. With astonishing accuracy, they eliminated all but one of the women! The discarded plays included my top 2
favorites. There are still more male writers than female on my personal list of favorite Great Dramatists, but that's because of all the 1000s of plays I read in the first 40 years of my life all but a couple dozen were written by men. By now, though, I have lost all patience with methods of story telling that reduce women to prizes,
perps, or plot devices. If there aren't 3 dimensional women characters who are capable of choosing and changing on stage, I'm not going to come back for the second act.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Marketing Monologues -- or giving them away

The Brutal Statistic re: marketing a monologue
Someone asks, "Is the market for those really that big? How would one go about marketing a monologue?"

I reply: don't know about marketing. How much is a monologue worth to a student actor? They buy them by the book full.... 100 Best Monologues for Student Actors, cost about $10, or 10 cents per monologue. I've had some published in these collections. They pay $20 or $25 per, and may or may not send me a free copy. However, if you are giving them away yourself, there's a pretty good"market". I have posted over 200 of mine on my web site, and I get approx. 1500 student actors per day reading them on the site during the school year. Hundreds of kids download my stuff to use, and several email me every week to thank me.
At this point in my writing life, this seems to be my bid for Literary Immortality. Some kid who memorizes my words for Speech Class will carry them forever in her heart--- just as I remember the poems I learned to recite aloud in eighth grade.

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ICWP Monologues by Women at the BPT

Last night at Boston Playwrights Theatre was great! Everyone was so proud and pleased. However, "everyone" wasn't as many as we'd hoped-- nearly full but no need to put out extra chairs. We had a record cold temperature, near zero, and cars and public transit were less than reliable. Our family's excellent old car-- it has 170,000 miles on it-- refused to start for the 1st time ever, and I arrived at the theatre just 1 hour before the performance, rather than the 2 hours early for set up that I'd promised. Everyone else was was late too, but all helpful and efficient and the shows ran like clockwork. We'd had to hire a young pro from Boston University to stage manage and run sound and lights, but she knew the theatre's equipment very well and worked magic, dimming and blacking out and picking up actors in a spot without any tech rehearsal! All the actors and playwrights made it in spite of the weather-- some just barely in time-- but I know that some of the audience stayed home due to the arctic conditions. My email is full of regrets. Amy Merrill's playwright husband, Robert Johnson, took pictures. He's going to send them to me and I'll add identifying captions and send them to the International Centre for Women Playwrights for the web page. I think everyone will be delighted to see the range of characters represented by these monologues-- the youngest was about 9 years, and the oldest-- well, old. The contrast in voices was just as vivid: rural, urban, New England, Southern... four included singing... and there were even a few Good Men! The actors were among Boston's best-- some of whom, like Richard McElvain, are among the best in the world, IMHO. Robert Bonotto did a heart-wrenching performance of the monologue from my play "Elegy", and Joan Faber sang a touching caberet version from the Dancing Princess song from "Lullaby": my lyrics, Bonotto's music. And some people came up to me-the-actress afterwards and told me I was brilliant in Rosanna Alfaro's "Martha" and "I didn't even recognize you!"-- which of course makes any little frustrations vanish. What is more satisfying than to feel that you are in good company and worthy of being there?

I am worried about Sat at Cambridge, though. This event was somehow cut out of the listings that have appeared-- maybe because it features a writing workshop as well as readings and had an open invitation to newcomers??? And people in the audience at the BPT did NOT pick up many of the flyers for the remaining events or-- except for a few-- take advantage of the Virtual Participants packets. So much for that brilliant idea! I will try to "sell" the monologue packets at the remaining events and bring leftovers with me to NYC for the ICWP Celebration at the Drama Book Shop on the 23rd. Anyway, I'm asking people who have friends in this area to please call them and urge them to show up in Cambridge this Saturday for the writing Workshop at 10 am and/or the shows at 11:45. We have good pieces, and good actors, and should have a Real Good Time if enough people show up to constitute a Workshop and an Audience. My feeling is you need at least a dozen for a good class and 3 dozen for a responsive audience, especially for comedy. Nobody wants to laugh alone.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Blog Against Sexism Day

Every Dog Has His Day: What About Us?

Raina on playsandplaywrights posted: "I've been a member of this group for a couple of years, and I can't remember this being discussed, although I know it is old news. All studies show that women only write about 20% of the plays that are produced, and only direct about 20% of the plays that are produced, despite comprising 52% of playwriting MFA students, and 60% of the playgoing public. Since yesterday was Blog Against Sexism day, I thought I'd send my blog post to the group, and ask for commentary."

I replied: I discuss it all the time. I get quite shrill on the subject.
Really want to get depressed? It's now down to 16% women written
plays, after rising to 22% in the late 1990s. Which is still a
smaller % than the plays written by women that were produced in the
1890s! I didn't blog against sexism today-- unless you count the quick
description I put up around 11:30 pm on my Stageblog re: the
International Center for Women Playwrights International Women's Day
Celebration I co-produced at the Boston Playwrights
Theatre. Back in the Dark Ages, I was the only female in my
university play writing class. My (all male) English professors
taught their students that there had never been a good play written
by a woman, and my (all male) psychology professors assured me that
there never would be one. I swore then and there to do everything in
my power to make it very difficult for a professor to say such things
to my great-great-granddaughters. Or yours. People, male or female,
who share this goal might consider joining, on the ICWP web site.

I've got two more Celebrations I'm producing this coming week: at
Central Square Branch Library in Cambridge Saturday 10am-2pm, and at
the Brighton Branch of the Boston Public Library Thursday 7-9 pm.
You can read all about them on the ICWP web site. If you're near
Boston, come!

Boston missed the "boom" in women playwrights in the 1990s. Most
companies here went season after season without a single female
author featured. But this seems to be a breakthrough year. I just
checked this week's listings in the Boston Phoenix: 24 items under
"Theatre" 3 plays by women, 2 musicals with a woman writer. Two
others just closed. 5 or 7 out of 24 doesn't sound great; it's still
around 20% -- but it's a heck of a lot better than 5 or 10 years ago!

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Massachusetts Mandatory "Health Plan"

Did the legislators who drew up Massachusetts new health plan talk to ordinary people? People like the peripatetic adjuncts who teach most of the classes in the universities that pay their tenured professors upwards of $100,000? Or just to the well-compensated experts whose own jobs include generous benefits? A college degree is now required for many jobs that simply do not pay a living wage. Look around at who it is who makes $30,000 per year. People whose expensive education went to hone skills that are undervalued in the free market graduate with debt. As they work at jobs that pay barely enough to meet their current expenses they are slipping into poverty-- but they haven't slipped far enough to be caught by the safety net for the poor. This week the Stagesource "hotline" for Boston actors listed an employment opportunity for full time work as historical characters, interacting ad lib with the public and enacting scripted scenes with fellow actors-- for $7 per hour. The Newton Tab classified advertises a customer service job for a "detail oriented person with good computer skills" for $10 per hour, and a 32 hour per week receptionist job that requires "computer proficiency" for a salary in "the low $20s". 32 hours per week at a Day Job is about all a serious artist can work and still create on a professional (if mostly unpaid) level. I think Massachusetts may be about to exile many people I love and admire. I fear that there may even be suicides prompted by this mandate. I realize that the law was passed by the legislature with the best of intentions. But it will be devastating: to visual artists, free lance musicians and writers, dancers; To people who make charity and service to the community their first priority, who do political or social work with non-profits and in home day care; To teachers of the arts to individuals and in classes outside of the schools, adjunct college teachers and high school and elementary subs. To IT workers who built the "knowledge economy" of this state but have now been reduced to sporadic no-benefit temp jobs because they have been replaced by young workers or immigrants. These groups have made contributions to the community that far outweigh the compensation their skills and energy and talent and education can command. These people are likely to make around $30,000 per year in jobs that do not provide benefits but pay too much to qualify for health care subsidy under the new law. They've been getting along by living frugally. They taking very good care of their health and pray that they won't be felled by a major illness or run over by a truck. Most live with roommates or share a house or condo. The kind of comfortable apartment that I was able to rent for $40 a month when I moved to Boston in 1968 now costs $1500 per month, and is out of reach for a person making $30,000 per year. Now, they will be required to purchase health insurance at nearly $300 per month for an individual-- more than $500 if they have the bad luck to be 50 years old--with a $2000 deductible. $4000-$8000 per year! Up to 1/4 of their incomes! For COVERAGE, not care; and with no guarantee that the medical needs that may arise will in fact be covered. Fines for failure to buy in this year are small: a few hundred dollars-- but next year they will go up to one half of the insurance purchase price and in 2008 will be a full blown crisis for the presently uninsured and anyone who joins their ranks when Massachusetts businesses realize that they can cut costs by shifting their medical insurance obligations to the employee and the state. What will these people do? Where can they go? Their entire emotional and financial support network will be in the same situation. This mandate threatens to make lives that, while precarious, have had balance and dignity, simply impossible.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Coming: March 15th 7pm BRIGHTON BRANCH

ICWP Celebration of Women Playwrights Thursday March 15th 7pm
BRIGHTON BRANCH 617-782-6032 Boston Public Library
40 Academy Hill Road, Brighton Free.


Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro: excerpt from her play "Martha Mitchell" about the wife of Nixon's Attorney General-- the only US AG to go to jail, for Dirty Tricks such as covering up the Watergate break in.

Kelly DuMar: excerpt from the full length "Away Message"; about love and loss across two generations.

G.L.Horton's "Elegy"; a veteran violist wants to pass on a hard-earned lesson to an up-and-coming young woman virtuoso.

Monica Raymond's "Novices"; A twenty-first century take on The Taming of the Shrew: Kate and Pete, who've connected on-line, meet in person at Au Bon Pain.

Mary McCollough's "Bottom Lines"; Pooshee Pritchee intends to save brother, Cash, from himself-- and save the family's good name. Pooshee's soon-to-be lawyer niece, Dee, tries to stop her.

Deborah Valianti: excerpt from the Brighton playwright's "Too Many Willies "; a gender bending exploration of the nature and source of Art, and inspiration, and the effects of marketplace sensibilities on the Artist.

TALKBACK and REFRESHMENTS to follow the readings.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Opening Night of ICWP Celebrations!

Went wonderfully!
A full house-- the Ruth Nager Theatre had to bring out extra chairs.
Excellent acting; when moderating the director's panel Norah Hussey said that the script in hand no set no props performances were so effective that it reminded her that theatres often get smothered in design and tech. All that is really needed is "2 boards and a passion".
Lovely smoozing and Mutual Admiration.
Kelley Dumar is great! I nominate her for Secretary of State!
More when I get the info: they ran out of programs before I got one, so I'll have to see if I can get people to email me the text.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

ICWP in the Globe (barely)

A brief meention by Cathrine Foster in the Goble's Stages column today

The International Centre for Women Playwrights is sponsoring a series of events during Women's History Month. Tomorrow at 7 p.m., a "Celebration of Women's Voices" at Wellesley College will feature eight short plays by local women writers. On Thursday at 7 p.m., the Boston Playwrights' Theatre will host a "Celebration of Monologues by Women," featuring short monologues by 16 local writers. More events to come. . .

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Boston playwright's play at the BCA

very positive review of Boston playwright's play at the BCA:

Review By Terry Byrne, Globe Correspondent | March 2, 2007
Playwright Janet Kenney doesn't have time for idle chit chat.

Even as the characters in "More Than What," her collection of seven short plays, talk about a broken shelf, a selection of songs, or plantings at a grave site, something much deeper is going on. The beauty of Kenney's writing is that she can cut straight to the heart of the matter in just a few lines of dialogue. In each of her beautifully crafted one-acts, potent emotions of pain, loss, death, fear, joy, and wonder catch us by surprise, even when it should be obvious exactly where she's going.
"More Than What," receiving its world premiere with Centastage....

I saw the production Thursday night. Poignant moments, interesting relationships, good acting. It is made up of playlets, and I think the present structure is a compromise when the material deserves a more integrated full length form. The first scene/play is a gem, and the last one, which is very good, would probably be even better than it is if it some of the expositiory material in it appeared earlier. But it's a lovely piece, and I'm very glad it has been staged.

Dramatist Guild acts against submission fees

Hooray, hooray, hooray!
as Gary says, "it’s a spirit issue: it’s demeaning"

Dramatist Guild Steps Up to the Plate!

FRom DG Newsletter!

As of today, the Guild will no longer publicize calls for
submissions that have a fee attached unless that fee is transparent
(where does the money go and to whom) in the description to the
reader. The subtext: it is not okay to charge a dramatist a fee to
supplement a theatre or producer’s production opportunity. YOUR ART
I know all the arguments of why some theatres and producers
position that they must charge fees: “We couldn’t afford to produce
the event if we didn’t charge a fee. We have to hire readers. We
have to publicize the event. We have to pay the actors and
directors. We have to offer prize money . . .” I understand that,
but theatres and producers are doing that on the backs of people
that are more poor than they are! What?! On average, dramatists
spend ten dollars to submit a play or musical anywhere in this
country: printing, copying, postage, return postage, binders,
envelopes. If a theatre or producer tacks on an additional $10, $15
or $30 fee, one submission now costs anywhere from $20-50, with no
guarantees that anything will come of it. And yes, I know: there
are no guarantees for anyone in the theatre. But all too often this
feels like, “we’re not going to guarantee you anything, AND we’re
going to charge you for the privilege of that, AND you’ll probably
never hear from us, AND don’t expect any kind of critical reaction
to your material, AND don’t expect notification of who, in fact,
was chosen.” And if it’s not a money issue then it’s a spirit
issue: it’s demeaning enough to submit your work to theatres and
producers that you never hear from. To pay someone for their
silence is too much to ask anyone...... we will no longer list an opportunity that requires you pay a fee to be considered for inclusion.

Enough is enough.

Gary Garrison, DG

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Books: the top 100

I can scarcely believe this ranking! Six of the top 11 written by women. The Guardian opines that many of the most loved were introduced in school: but the only novel by a woman I was "taught" was "Mill On the Floss" in 11th grade-- and I figured that one slipped through because the author's name was "George". As a college English major 1958-66 (I took time out to have a baby) I wasn't assigned a single female novelist in survey courses. I was assigned the Orwell and Dickens.

Books you can't live without:
Thursday March 1, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

1 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
8 His Dark Materials Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations Charles Dickens
11 Little Women Louisa M Alcott

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