It has been much too long since I've submitted a play to a contest, festival, or theatre. I'm out of practice. I'm fearful. I'm doubtful. I'm not ready.
I told myself that this would be the year of getting back into submissions. After following playwright Brian Doyle's blog about submitting a play every day for a year, I thought "I can do this. I can submit to a few theatres." And yet, submission deadline after deadline has gone past and I've not sent a single script. It's October. So much for the year of submitting.
However, there are 3 submission opportunities here in Columbus at CATCO, Evolution Theatre, and MadLab Theatre. I'm determined to submit to all three. CATCO wants a full-length play, so I'm going to send Books & Bridges. Is it ready? It needs to be refined, but it's as ready as I can make it before the November deadline.
Evolution Theatre and MadLab want plays under 30 minutes. As I was walking around one day, listening to the Ditty Bops iTunes Radio station I made (have a listen, I like it. Lots of Regina Spektor as well!), I thought to myself, "Under 30 minutes? I only have 1 or 2 plays that are under 30 minutes. What could I possibly send?" There are set and character restrictions to consider as well: under 6 characters, few set changes, not a lot of light changes. I find that a lot of my plays rely on light changes, not necessarily set changes, but definitely light changes. Light is my friend.
As Regina Spektor thumped into my ears yet again, I had a revelation: I didn't have 1 or 2 plays that were under 30 minutes. I had 31! After participating in 31 Plays in 31 Days, I had accumulated 31 short plays that are under 30 minutes. Some are stronger than others, but the point remains that I had 31 plays to choose from! I sifted through the list and enlisted the help of a close friend who had given me some of the best dramaturgical notes I've ever received about my plays (She seriously needs to be a dramaturg). Together, we found 14 plays that I considered to be the most promising. I'm starting to comb through them for rewrites, for the dreaded set changes that could kill my chances, and for opportunities to possibly meld some of these plays into larger works (not too much larger, keep them under 30 minutes of course).
I'm hoping that concentrating on 3 submission opportunities will help me get back into practice and start enough momentum to move me forward with my new plays. My next play, currently called "Perfect," is starting to become "necessary."
Have you made any submissions this year? Has it been a struggle? Or is it "old hat?"
I have a day job. I'm sure you have a day job, too. I spend 40 hours a week at my day job. I'm sure you spend somewhere near that amount as well. If not more… I hope that your day job bumps into your real passion in some harmonious, lovely Venn Diagram. If not, then you're like me: a job that differs (on the surface level) considerably from my real passion of theatre directing and playwriting.
I teach people how to use technology, specifically computers, tablets, and phones, most of which begin with "i." I teach many of the apps that run on those devices. Many of those apps begin with "i" as well. One app I teach is Final Cut Pro. I've done hours and hours of training to be able to teach others how to use the app. I practiced through making music videos, fake ads, and editing together any little thing I could get my hands on. I needed practice for my job!
But something has happened. In honing this skill and by jumping on each opportunity to edit something to practice for my day job, I've found myself editing several different projects for my friends in the arts. Instead of using the projects to help my skills, I'm using my skills to help projects by friends and colleagues. So far, I've edited:
I'm helping friends get the word out about their projects. What do you do in your day job that you can use for good? What does your day job/passion Venn Diagram look like?
Follow these guys on Twitter:
coópera: Project Opera of Manhattan
WRNG in Studio City
The Grind Productions (creators of On the Rocks)
I thought I'd be writing about the finale to Breaking Bad in this post because I found it to be completely inevitable and wonderfully satisfying. It was as perfect as it could be. The word "catharsis" bounces around in my brain when I think of it. It was satisfying. That's all I have to say about it in this particular post.
Instead, this post is about the parts of me that aren't about playwriting and stretching muscles that either haven't been stretched in a long time, or stretching boundaries into new territory.
I attended a tiny Liberal Arts college in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Coe College. It had a student body of about 1,200, which was roughly the size of my high school. It suited me well in size. The focus of a Liberal Arts education is having development in many different areas and subjects; we were meant to be well-rounded. Even thought I was a Directing major, I found myself learning Greek, physics, a class on white-tailed deer populations in Iowa (don't ask), concert choir, 2-D art, Russian Art and Culture in the 40's, Spanish poetry, and more. I was stretched, my mind was stretched, my experiences were stretched. I was concentrated on directing, but not completely.
When I attended the University of Iowa's Playwrights Workshop, I found myself concentrating on playwriting. Only playwriting. It was more akin to a conservatory for music or dance experience, where 9/10 of the experience is focused on your particular concentration. Apart from a few directing experiences peppered in there or an Anthropology class on the Latin@ diaspora, I was a playwright.
After I graduated, I found myself still in the mindset that I was a playwright. And that's it. That was my definition. Even when I directed a couple of operas for Project Opera of Manhattan, I didn't define myself as a "Theatre Artist," I was a playwright who was directing an opera. I'm still battling with this definition of myself. I don't know how other theatre artists define themselves. Is a theatre career closer to a Liberal Arts experience where we have a concentration, such as playwriting, but the understanding is that we are all floaters, moving from one position to another. Are the boundaries more fluid? Or, are we bound to one aspect of theatre and expected to stay there in those boundaries?
I'm in the midst of setting aside my playwright self for a bit while I let my first draft of my most recent play simmer in the back of my mind. I'm playing in the sandbox of other parts of myself. For example, I love drawing. I love cartoons. In fact, I visited California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) with the prospect of becoming a Disney animator. I still wonder if that should have been my path, but "What If" is a sad, unhelpful game to play. BUT! I'm making a pact with myself to draw everyday. Here's a drawing I did yesterday. Be kind; I'm out of practice. Which is the point. What parts of yourself are you stretching lately? What part of yourself has been forgotten for too long?