Thursday, April 30, 2009


Interesting article in Salon about our powers of concentration (or actually the lack thereof). Good to think about, in this decade of distraction. I blog, I facebook, I e-mail, I answer the telephone -- but does all that actually help me get anything done? Am I completing my goals? Do I *have* goals, or am I too busy changing my facebook status?

I wrote a car play the other night (yes, the Car Plays are coming to Moving Arts again!). I wrote it Saturday night, it took me several hours, and I wrote it longhand. It felt great. And I think writing it longhand helped me to tune out all the usual distractions. I often go back and forth between writing longhand and writing on my computer, but hadn't really thought much about why.

Walden, anyone? (It's looking better and better to me all the time.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Heads in Chicago this Summer

June 11 through July 18, 2009:

The Alcyone Festival '09

Playing with the notion that women only write small domestic dramas, this year Halcyon Theater picked a theme as far away from that as possible: terrorism, the cult of martyrdom and its effects upon the innocents. The Alcyone Festival 2009 features six phenomenal writers from across the globe in rotating repertory. For more info:


The Black Eyed by Betty Shamieh
Blessed Child by Astrid Saalbach
Bounty of Lace by Susan Merson
Fucking Parasites by Nina Tersman
Heads by EM Lewis
The Toymaker's War by Jennifer Fawcett

HEADS, by EM Lewis
Directed by Jessica Hutchinson

A British Embassy worker, an American engineer, a network journalist and a freelance photographer are held captive in Iraq; as death draws close, each hostage must decide what he’ll do to survive. *Heads will be a Chicago Premiere

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lydia vs. Mauritius

It's not a competition, except that everything is.

I saw Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck at the Pasadena Playhouse recently, and Lydia by Octavio Solis at the Taper.

Mauritius is a tidy, well-made play that twists and turns, about two half-sisters fighting over the one valuable thing they've been left -- their grandfather's stamp collection.

Lydia is a big, messy family play, violent and poetic, about a Latino family dealing with the fall-out, years later, from their daughter's car accident that left her severely brain-damaged. The arrival of a new housekeeper in their midst throws everything in the past and present into question.

I liked Lydia much better than Mauritius. For all its rough edges and strange parts, it seemed like the playwright was trying for so much more, and giving the audience so much more. I appreciated that. I want the plays I see to try for the moon. I want the plays I see to trust me with their rough, rusty edges and not tidy everything into bland perfection.

On another note, I thought that Lydia was beautifully produced on the Taper stage. Direction, acting, design -- all great work. Go see it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Passion Plays

Great article here from Slate, just in time for Easter, talking about Passion Plays -- often lavishly produced -- that churches put on at this time of year.

I remember the simple version that we always did at the Catholic Church I attended growing up. I was a reader when I was in high school, so often ended up reading a part. But everybody had a part in the passion play -- if you weren't one of the characters, you were part of the evil mob who wanted Jesus crucified. When Pontius Pilot asked, "What would you have me do?" The crowd -- the congregation -- would respond, "Crucify him!" I hated reading that. What a terrible sense of culpability! What power theater has, to tell a story in real time and space and motion...

Mira's List - Money for Writers

How do you make a living as a writer?

Most of us seem to quilt together money from day jobs and productions and temp jobs and awards and teaching gigs and workshops. Some of us shack up with agreeable non-artists. Very few of us find patrons of the old-fashioned variety, but when we want to make it work, we do.

I've always loved the story that Stephen King tells, about when he was young and had a young family, and they were poor and living in a tiny trailer house, and he was teaching, and the baby was crying, and he'd go out and sit in the car with his typewriter in his lap and write. It's never a case of "What's stopping you?" It's always a case of "everything is stopping you," and are you going to keep going anyway? Are you? Are you?

I want to.

I'm going to.

Go here to find a great blog detailing grant and residency resources for writers. And keep writing!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Song of Extinction in the EcoDrama Festival in May

I'm delighted to announce that Song of Extinction will be having a workshop production in May as part of an amazing event -- the Earth Matters on Stage (EMOS) Festival at the University of Oregon! Over the course of ten days, U of O will be investigating all the ways that theater and the environment intersect. I'll be there the first weekend and hope to see you there! (PS: Ian Garrett, who did the wonderful lighting design for Song of Extinction's world premiere in Los Angeles, will be at EMOS too, presenting workshops on Sustainable Design in Theater. Check it out!)

Earth Matters On Stage

University of Oregon, Eugene

The mission of Earth Matters on Stage is to nurture connection and collaboration among artists and scholars who share an ecological sensibility. The Ecodrama Playwright's Festival calls for innovative dramatic work that explores our ecological condition; then to showcase the best work through collaborative workshops and production. The concurrent Symposium asks us to think more deeply about how theatre and performance might participate in a sustainable society.

Join us May 21 ~ 31, 2009 for ten days of performances, workshops, readings, and round-table discussions dedicated to nurturing theatrical work that rises out of our connection to the environments we share and love. Presented by the Department of Theatre Arts of the University of Oregon.

“Ecological victory will require a transvaluation so profound as to be nearly unimaginable at present. And in this the arts and humanities – including the theater – must play a role.” ~Una Chaudhuri

A Very Good Weekend

On Thursday, I flew to Kentucky to attend the Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actors Theater of Louisville.

I saw a bunch of plays, including:
  • Ameriville by UNIVERSES
  • Absolom by Zoe Kazan
  • Slasher by Allison Moore
  • Wild Blessings: A Celebration of Wendell Berry which was adapted for the stage by Marc Masterson and Adrien-Alice Hansel from the writing of Wendell Berry
  • The Hard Weather Boating Party by Naomi Wallace
  • Brink! co-written by six people for the 21 Actors Theater interns to perform
  • and the three winning 10-minute plays in the annual 10-minute play festival.
I met a bunch of nice theater people -- playwrights, actors, artistic directors, critics, dramaturgs, literary managers -- all there to meet up, have conversations and see some plays. It was particularly great to meet playwrights Elaine Romero and Peter Sinn-Nachtrieb. Elaine is a very accomplished playwright and teacher (and a member of the International Center for Women Playwrights). And I'd met Peter briefly a couple months ago at a talk-back after his play Hunters Gatherers (a 2007 winner of the Steinberg/ATCA Award) when it was produced by Furious Theater Company in Pasadena. I was surprised and pleased to see actor Michael Cullen again. He was in a reading of Heads that Laura Savia directed a couple years ago at NYU's hotINK Festival, and was at Humana starring in The Hard Weather Boating Party (quite wonderfully).

The main reason I was at the Humana Festival was to receive an award for my play Song of Extinction from the nice folks at the American Theater Critics Association -- the Steinberg/ATCA Award. (These are the same folks who presented me with the Primus Prize last year -- I'm very fond of them...) The award was presented on Saturday night -- a plaque and a check -- by Pittsburgh theater critic Chris Rawson and theater supporter and Steinberg Foundation representative Jim Steinberg. It is an amazing gift of both money and affirmation. I'm going to try to use it well. I think I'm going to be spending the next month or two trying to figure out what "well" is...

A very good weekend.