Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 In Review - It was a very good year!

What a wonderful year it has been!  
I wasn't sure what impact moving back to the farm in Oregon would have on my playwriting career.  But 2014 was full of new creative partnerships, lots and lots of writing, and a nice batch of productions.
It's been a year of transition in more ways than just location.  I premiered the smallest and most personal play I've ever written ("The Gun Show"), made huge strides in my biggest play (the Antarctic epic, "Magellanica"), and wrote my first opera ("The Resurrection Engine," with composer Evan Meier).  
I feel like something is unlocking inside me right now, in some deep and fundamental way.  Writing "The Gun Show" (and being part of its production)... is letting me step out of a room I locked myself in quite a while ago.  It has been very hard.  There may have been an unseemly amount of crying involved in the eking out of those pages.  But I feel lighter now.  Like I've set down something very heavy.  And like I've stepped out of the darkness.  
Perhaps this is part of what allowed me to move forward on "Magellanica" -- an epic ecological drama, set at a research station in Antarctica in 1985 -- which I've been researching and working on for quite a while now.  I went from having part one and a little bit of part two at the beginning of this year, to having four of the projected five parts of the play drafted.  A nine-week residency and workshop at the William Inge Center for the Arts in the spring was a great help with that, as was an amazing workshop at TimeLine Theater in December.  But the biggest boon to this project has been my collaboration with Chicago director Kevin Christopher Fox.  It is wonderful to find a director who can work alongside you as a dramaturg as well as be successful in bringing productions of your plays to the stage.
My other new creative venture has brought with it another exciting creative collaboration.  I have been studying to be an opera librettist with American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program for the last year and a half, and have found that I absolutely love working with composers and telling stories with music.  I wrote my first opera this year -- a thirty minute gothic chamber opera called "The Resurrection Engine" -- with composer Evan Meier, and we are just beginning the process of writing a second piece together.  I'm very excited to see where this new venture leads me!  I recently watched the movie "Quartet," and in it, an opera singer tried to describe what opera is to a bunch of teenagers.  He told them that in opera, when someone stabs you in the back, instead of bleeding, you sing.  I look forward to letting my characters do more singing in 2015!
I'd like to give a big thank you to all the people I've been lucky enough to work with this year.  I'm a very lucky playwright. I love what I do -- and I get to do what I love. Thanks for being a part of my life and work, friends and colleagues!

Overview of 2014

"The Gun Show" premiered at 16th Street Theater in Chicago in July 2014.
Me and actor Juan Francisco Villa in "The Gun Show" at 16th Street Theater.
"The Gun Show" had its second production in Los Angeles in November, starring actor Chuma Gault.
"The Gun Show" premiered in Chicago, directed by Kevin Christopher Fox, and went on to a second production in Los Angeles, directed by Darin Anthony (with a third coming up shortly in Trenton, directed by Damon Bonetti and featuring Trent Blanton). 

"Reading to Vegetables" at University of Washington, directed by Tina Polzin.
"Reading to Vegetables" at Independence College, directed by Kevin Christopher Fox.
"Reading to Vegetables" premiered at University of Washington, directed by Tina Polzin.  Then the play went on to a second production at Independence College in Kansas, during my residency there, directed by Kevin Christopher Fox.
Working on "The Resurrection Engine" with composer Evan Meier.  The thirty minute Gothic chamber opera premiered at Symphony Space in New York City, produced by American Lyric Theater, where we've been studying.
"The Resurrection Engine" -- my first opera, written with composer Evan Meier in American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program -- premiered at Symphony Space in New York City. 
"Heads" at Pittsburgh Rep.
"Infinite Black Suitcase" was produced by Staples Players at Staples High School
in Westport, Connecticut, directed by David Roth.

"Dance Me to the End of Love" -- a bunch of my short plays, produced by the DramaDogs in Santa Barbara, CA.  Original music, played live!  Dancing!  And they did such a lovely job with my plays.
"Heads" was produced at Pittsburgh Rep, "Infinite Black Suitcase" was produced by Staples Players, and a bunch of my short plays was produced by the DramaDogs. 
Nine weeks in residence at the beautiful Inge House in Kansas with playwright Russell Davis!
I taught playwriting and worked on "Magellanica" during a nine-week residency at the William Inge Center for the Arts in the spring, had readings of the play at Moving Arts in Los Angeles and Project Y in NYC, and then had a tremendous ten-day workshop of the play at TimeLine in Chicago -- making fantastic progress on the play with their help. 
Me and my guys!  ANPF 2014 was wonderful again this year!  I love this festival with all my heart.
I was host playwright for the Ashland New Plays Festival in the fall. 
Samuel French, my publisher, featured "Infinite Black Suitcase" in their newsletter. 
I was a finalist for the Shakespeare's Sister Fellowship from A Room of Her Own Foundation.

Here in Oregon, I helped my Dad plant the garden in the spring, helped my brother harvest grapes in his vineyard in the fall, and took a wonderful (and much needed!) road trip down the California and Oregon coast in November.  This is such a beautiful state!
Goodbye, 2014!  Hello, 2015!

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