A couple months ago I got to act for the first time in about a decade in Round 2 of  Awesome Theatre‘s anthology/competition (In Search of) The Funniest Play Ever. It was delightful, the whole lineup was great, and the show I was in came in a tight second. Good times.

Round 3 is coming up in a couple weeks on Wednesday, 13 September, and this time I’m in the mix again, but as a writer! My morbid little play FATA MORGANA will be going up against four other shorts in a bid to advance to the semi-finals and get one step closer to receiving a full-length production and being named The Funniest Play Ever. We’re still at Pianofight in SF, so if you’re around come by and see the showdown! Tickets are available here.

 

 

 

Whelp, it’s August, and that means it’s time for 31 Plays in 31 Days, which I like to think of as the playwright’s NaNoWriMo, in a sense. The idea is exactly what it says on the tin: write 1st drafts of 31 plays within the month of August. Founded by two playwrights I know and love, Rachel Bublitz and Tracy Held Potter, the point is not to produce the next great masterpiece, or even something ready for a reading, just something in a semi-complete draft state that you can use as a foundation to edit or write forward from, and to help build that habit of daily writing.

I suck at daily writing. I always have. I think about it, but actually disciplining myself to sit down and get the words onto the page, whether for a play, a fiction piece, or even a quick blog entry like this, is hard for me. That’s why I like challenges like the 31/31 or NaNo. The sense of universal solidarity with some infinite number of other writers who might be participating helps me fell like like I’m not suffering through shitty first drafts alone, and gives me some motivation to try to, if not achieve the official goal, at least do slightly better than Past Me did.

This year, my personal goal for 31 Plays in 31 Days is to write the equivalent of one complete short-play draft (less than 5 pages, even)  every day, as well as 2-3 pages of one of my longer scripts, with the hope that by 31 August I will have drafts of 30 short plays and 1 full length in total. So far it’s day 2 and I’m already “behind” but hey, any words on the page are better than none. I’m tweeting 1-sentence summaries of each day’s draft to try to keep myself accountable (follow me here @LadyBedivere if you wanna see them), and every 5 days or so I’m planning to post a round-up here with those summaries and maybe my favorite line from each draft. No promises. But if you actually follow along either at this blog or on my Twitter and want to see more, let me know. Write On!

This is a shameless self-promotion post, because it feels remiss not to put it front and center on my own site.

SPELL ETERNITY, my first full-length production ever, is playing 21 April – 6 May at the Mojo Theatre in San Francisco, courtesy of Quantum Dragon Theatre.

Max Seijas (Kai) & Marisa Darabi (Gerda) in Spell Eternity

More than anything else, this cast is phenomenal and I couldn’t have asked for more dedicated, caring, and professional actors to help me usher this strange faerie-tale-inspired brainchild from page to stage. So, if you happen to be in San Francisco in the next few weeks, please come by! I’ll be there every night, so be sure to say hi too!

Tickets available here. 

Playwright is a weird word, linguistically.

It’s fun, given that it’s also a homonym for what the actual profession entails: wright and write. Of course, writing is what we stake our names on. Many playwrights are generally writers by trade, and dabble in other similar areas – screenwriting, prose fiction, journalism, blogging – to flesh out their resumes in the face of the drastic lack of opportunities for playwrights in the current climate. The act of writing, being a writer in whatever medium, is what we all do in order to practice our craft.

But the actual word playwright, linguistically, actually has more to do with the idea of craft than of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and we see that in the spelling of the second half of the word.

According to the OED, the word wright traces all the way back to a set of Old English/Old Germanic words, and has the following definitions:

1. a. An artificer or handicraftsman; esp. a constructive workman
    b. Applied to the Deity
2. One who does or performs something; a doer or worker.
3. One who works in wood; a carpenter, a joiner.

Now, as a self-defined playwright, I like looking at these definitions because I feel like it grounds me in a real sense of the origins of the word. While, obviously, we’d all like to see ourselves under definition 1.b – the Deity – I’m going to sadly bypass that definition and defer it to my former career stint as a stage manager. We don’t really work in wood, the most literal originating definition, which eliminates definition 3. Which leaves us with definitions 1.a and 2.

Now definition 2 is just more or less what the word has evolved to, a “doer” as it says. This is accurate, but I also find it disappointingly vague. On a personal level, I certainly am a “doer” of things, but those things vary widely based on day/week/month/level of inebriation/etc. I’d like a definition that can sink my teeth into (metaphorically, at least). So that’s why I like to circle back around the primary definition, 1.a.

Definition 1.a of wright, according to the OED, is “an artificer or handcraftsman; esp a constructive workman” and this, I feel, is where the meat of the definition lies for me. The idea of construction feels particularly relevant to the idea of plays, cutting scenes apart, rearranging, and hammering them back together. But even more than that, I think I really love the word artificer. The connection to the word “art” is present in both the name and the concept. But it is also linguistically tied to the word artificial, something false made to appear true. Something constructed in the image of something else, in this case, often life and humanity on some level or another, and made to represent them in the desired fashion of the one constructing them. And so I always think back to the old adages about art reflecting life, and vise versa. It’s comforting to me to think that no matter what I words I try to put on stage, there is some aspect of it that reflects life, or humanity, or some part of reality that may be worth paying attention to.

But I really also appreciate the ability to use aliens, or animals, or long-dead historical figures to get my point across, because sometimes life is just so much more unmanageable that whatever weird scenario I can wright into existence.