Monday, October 6, 2008

ANPF Day 1 - In which I arrive and do a lot of cool stuff on very little sleep...

ANPF Day 1 -- Sunday, October 5

On Sunday morning at 8:55am, I flew north out of LAX, bound for Oregon and the Ashland New Plays Festival. My full-length play "Song of Extinction was selected as one of the four winners of the festival this year.

I hadn't really slept the night before -- a combination of lots to do before I left, and being too excited about the trip to quiet my mind. Also, I really, really, really didn't want to miss my flight. I get to be in Oregon for a whole week, and don't want to miss a minute of it.

Michael, one of the Art Works Enterprises folks, picked me and Los Angeles playwright/actor Tony Pasqualini up at Medford Airport. On our way to Ashland, he talked about how he and his wife love this area. He took us by John Lee's house; John is the president of AWE, and awfully nice. He and his partner, Steve, welcomed Tony and I to Ashland, and stocked us up with maps of the town, festival posters, ANPF t-shirts and gift bags that included gift certificates to half a dozen local eateries. It was great to meet John. Everything about the festival has seemed so well-organized and he's been great about communicating with us playwrights every step of the way.

Michael then took Tony and I to the places we'll be staying this week. Each of us is being hosted by local theater patrons, many of whom seem to have extra rooms or apartments in their homes, probably for renting out during the high theater season when Ashland fills with Oregon Shakespeare Festival lovers from all over the world. We got Tony situated in his place, near Lithia Park. Then we headed over to meet Hollis and Mary Pat, my kind hosts. They've been going to, and then participating, in the Ashland New Plays Festival for fifteen years, almost since its inception. Michael carried my suitcases in, and Mary Pat welcomed me to the guest apartment in their lovely home -- within walking distance of the theaters, the park and everything.

I unpacked and rested a little after that, but not for long. Hollis and Mary Pat had invited Tony and I and John and Steve to dinner, and Hollis had also arranged tickets for Tony and I to see "The Clay Cart" at OSF. It was a great evening, talking theater with a bunch of other people who love theater, then seeing a delightful show.

"The Clay Cart" is a 2,000 year old Indian classic which (according to the OSF website) is "bursting with music and dance, color, action, and romance... Jewels are stolen. A Brahmin faces execution. A beautiful courtesan is at the mercy of the King’s bad-boy brother. Journey through a world where gamblers, holy men, political fugitives and royal scoundrels intersect and good people triumph." It was directed by the OSF's new artistic director, Bill Rausch, and designed by Christopher Acebo -- who is directing my reading of "Song of Extinction." I thought it was just delightful -- like sitting on the floor when I was little, being told a wonderful story -- but with lights and costumes and singing and dancing and tons of fun.

After the play, Tony and I walked over to the little bar that all the actors go to after their shows to meet John and Steve. One of the actors who is going to be in my reading, Neil Shah, happened in and sat down to talk a while -- we'd just seen him in "The Clay Cart," and there we were having a drink together.

By the time the fellows dropped me off back at my apartment, I was well and truly exhausted -- but very happy. What a wonderful beginning to the ANPF! Do I really get to be here all week long? I'm a very lucky playwright.

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