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I haven’t kept a record of my daily activities since Dear Diary in junior high. Except for that time in college when my boyfriend found my journal. The scene that followed wasn’t pretty. That was the end of that. However, with the activities surrounding the production of one of my full-length plays in New York, blogging pounds on the door. At the very least, this record will show the patience necessary for a writer to get a play from page to stage. I hope it will encourage other writers to stick with it.
THE PLAY BEGAN as an attempt to understand a person in my own life. The roots go back five years – back to a director/writer workshop at New Georges in NYC where I thought up the characters of Agnes and Bella for an exercise. It developed into a short one-act with a different title, long forgotten, and the characters of two sisters and one sister’s husband. That version was presented at Expanded Arts in the city. Something didn’t click, though friends assured me they liked the play. One day I tried putting a woman into the role of the husband. CLICK! The gears moved into place. I rewrote, rewrote, and lengthened. The 50-minute play was entered in the Bailiwick Rep. competition.
EMBRACING THE UNDERTOAD (one-act) wins The Lesbian Theatre Initiative International Competition and a production at Bailiwick Rep. in Chicago.
Straight li’l ole me was welcomed by the gay director and cast. Onward, more rewrites, more lengthening and the play was expanded to 65 minutes. Workshop productions at Mae West Fest in Seattle (summer ’03) were very successful, attracting large audiences. This time, a straight director and cast, really found the heat in the play. Or perhaps it was in the rewrites – but it was HOT. *** Back to NYC – the drawing board. Lengthened in places where audience members said they wanted more and where I felt the story needed more. Someone once said that the work of playwriting is rewriting. Yup.
MARCH 13: Surfing web for production opportunities. Run across This Woman’s Work Theatre Company in NYC. Haven’t heard of them. Print out their website info.
MARCH 14: Email query to TWWTC: “Hi. Your website says to query if I want to submit a play for your next season. I do.” *** Answering email comes later that day: “We will happily accept your submission.” *** Letter to Kate Cox and Deshja Driggs Hall, co-artistic directors of TWWTC: “Attached are synopses for: HUMANS REMAIN, HARMONY and PLAY NICE! (full-lengths) and EMBRACING THE UNDERTOAD and ST. ANTHONY AND THE APPENDIX (one-acts). I would be happy to send you the first ten pages or a full script.” *** Add TWWTC info to one of the three-foot piles behind my desk: “definitely send to” is beside “don’t miss deadline! send NOW,” beside “sent/file,” “maybe/file,” “rejections/file,” etc. Could use two secretaries and a file clerk. Concentrating on rewrite to lengthen UNDERTOAD to full length. Need strong 90 pages or thereabouts.
FEBRUARY 3: New Georges gives me a mini-workshop of my 110-page UNDERTOAD. Director Sarah Cameron Sunde. Public reading well-attended. I hear good parts and tedious parts. Actresses couldn’t be better. Dig into the next draft.
FEBRUARY 4: Email from Kate Cox: “I am so sorry I had to urgently step out of your reading last night. I’ve been fighting a cold, and it got the best of me in the middle of the second act. I regret missing the end, as I was enjoying the reading very much. Could you email a copy to us? It was a very well put together reading and a strong play.” All right!
FEBRUARY 9: Whew! Rewrite of UNDERTOAD incorporating good feedback done. Can’t do more now. Simply can’t look the TOAD in the eye another minute. Rewrite sent to Kate and her co-A.D.,Deshja. *** Sherry Teitlebaum, a director I’ve worked with before (at TADA!) came to the reading and now spends a whole evening giving me fabulous feedback. I file her comments away, totally not up to more rewrites now.
MAY 26: Received by email, announcement that TWWTC is accepting submissions for a one-act festival.
MAY 27: To TWWTC: “Enclosed plays may be right for your Summer One-Act Series: WHITE LIGHT and SITTING DUCK SEASON.”
JUNE 6: “Dear Kate and Deshja – One more play for you. Perhaps THE FORTIFICATION OF MISS GRACE WREN is right for your group. The play has won a number of awards and received productions across the country…” etc.
NOVEMBER 5: “Dear Kate + Deshha – Keeping in touch as you asked me to do, enclosed is an invitation to O RUMBLES OF JOY! which will be presented for two performances at the West End Theatre in NYC soon.” Also, of course, I ask if they want a copy of the script.
JANUARY 4: Buried under work. Deadlines on January 1st whizzed by. I’ve missed submitting on time since Dad was sick in the fall. I went up to be with him and Mom in Bennington, VT, in August. He died on Mom’s birthday, October 2. It’s been hard to climb out of depression and work with speed and depth. In time I know I’ll be able to use what I’ve learned and felt through all this in my writing, but for now I’m just sad. (It took a very long time to work well again after my younger sister died two years ago – also in Bennington – also of cancer. Cancer! All the hate I have in me is directed at that word, that concept, that all too concrete enemy.)
JANUARY 6: Email from TWWTC: “We’ve read EMBRACING THE UNDERTOAD again and would like some more info about the play and its production history. We really like the play and would be interested in talking with you further about it.” I try not to get too excited. I don’t know this theater and nobody I know has seen their work. But YAY! A crumb that could turn into a cake. It could. It could!
JANUARY 7: Immediately follow up on email to TWWTC giving production history, etc. and inviting them to a reading (new short story) I’m doing at Cornelia Street Cafe next week. Query the ICWP listserve – anybody have experience with this group? Check their website again. See that they’re very new and it looks like the producers are also actors. Warning flag shoots up. I know that there is grant money for first productions, and this would be the premiere of a full-length play. BUT there is no grant money for second and third productions. So yeah, great if I’m offered a production (especially in NYC), but not great if they’re no good and I throw away the premiere. BUT, there might not be another offer. BUT this play has just three characters and lesbians are in style (nothing to do with me – it just happened – thanks to “Will and Grace,” “Queer Eye,” and Ellen). But, but, but… *** Nobody on my listserve knows them. Query two directors who know a lot of people. No luck there either.
JANUARY 12: Production of short play BRONCO BUSTER going up in Paw Paw, Michigan, and acceptance of THE FORTIFICATION OF MISS GRACE WREN and O RUMBLES OF JOY! for publication by JAC Publications. All this and upcoming production of a full-length, I should be floating on a cloud. It must be the cloud of Dad’s death that’s keeping me from feeling the good stuff.
JANUARY 13: More good news amid the usual rejections in the mail. NJ Rep will do SAVE THE TURKEY! on March 4th (a premiere) and MadLab out in Columbus, Ohio, is doing WHITE LIGHT (a premiere of this bizarre play no one else would touch) in the Ohio Fringe Festival in May/June.
JANUARY 14: Bad news overshadows all else. Mom has breast cancer. Poor woman is being kicked when she’s down. She had been taking care of my sister and then Dad and hadn’t had a mammogram for six years. I felt mean, pushing her to get one now while she’s mourning Dad, but glad I did now. Please don’t let it be too late! Back up to Bennington. I can’t believe it.
JANUARY 17: Meet Kate and Deshja in a diner near 59th St. Love them! Very smart, astute, savvy ladies – and they love my play. They have cast themselves in two of the three roles. BUT I like them so much – and can see them in the parts. I suspect they are sharp enough to have gone through hundreds of scripts looking for one they are right for. And I suspect they are right. We’ll go for it! I’ll be up in Bennington with Mom until her operation – see her through the mastectomy and more if needed. Lord I can’t think about rewrites on UNDERTOAD. Whomever they get for a director better not want them! My dream is to have enough time to work on shaping a play with a director and actors, but that takes far more time than we’ve got.
JANUARY 18: I’d be nuts to turn down a NYC production of a full-length in a good location (Chashama, E. 42nd St.) at a good time of year (spring) when it’s staring me in the face and costing me no money – right? I like Kate + Deshja. I say “yes.”
JANUARY 19: No second thoughts on my part. An excellent sign. In this business more than any other I’ve learned that bad vibes must be paid attention to. None here. K.& D. launch into producer mode, keeping in touch with me frequently by email. I LOVE producers who are communicative. I don’t want to know about the problems or the money, but I do want to hear about progress. They’ll be contacting the four directors I suggested as well as several of their own. *** Mom’s situation is keeping me from concentrating on work. Rewrites needed for JAC, NJ Rep. Can’t dig into the scripts working on so many at once!
JANUARY 20: Asked for a contract. It’s in the mail. These two don’t mess around. Looks like Chashama can be booked for the last week of April and first week of May. Producers will meet with set designer this week and they’re sending copies of the script to my director choices – Sarah Cameron Sunde, Michelle Macau, Kate Marks and Sherry Teitlebaum. All four of these women are amazing directors I’ve worked with. It’s up to K.& D. This is moving so fast! *** Mom’s surgery will be in early February. She had cancer in the other breast ten years ago and the side effects from radiation which hit her lungs were horrible for a year. I can’t imagine what she is going through without Dad by her side.
JANUARY 25: Luna Stage in Montclair, NJ, offers me a table reading of NECESSARY GEOGRAPHY in March. Thank God they decided not to have a public reading. No way could I have been ready for that! This means more rewrites to get ready, but I can’t turn it down. They’re good, Equity, big. I’ve been building a relationship with Cheryl Katz, their lit. manager, for several years. This is the first play of mine they have really liked (tho it requires more actors than their max. of five. GEOGRAPHY needs six actors even with tons of doublecasting).
JANUARY 26: Dates for UNDERTOAD finalized: at Chashama Theatre, April 26-30 and May 3-7. Producers still playing email tag with various directors. Hope to finalize by February 1. Hired publicist Elias Stimac. I suggested an artist for the postcard. Love how K. & D. follow up on my suggestions! (Didn’t suggest Elias, but gave them a lead that suggested him. We’ll see…)
JANUARY 28: K.& D. want to know if I’ll submit to an interview in some public forum. Aargh! NOT something I’ll relish, but say I’ll do whatever is needed to help publicity. I guess this means I’ll have to put on makeup and act grownup.
JANUARY 30: Off to Bennington with dear husband, Joe, who faithfully attends all my readings and productions and who has driven me back and forth and back and forth to Vermont, through my family’s trials of the past two years. This beautiful little town, nestled in the arms of the Berkshires, is in danger of becoming a place I never want to see again. Despite the fact that they have the most amazing Goodwill store in the world, and incredible health facilities, there has been too much sadness for my family here. In a strange way, however, Mom’s cancer is jolting her out of depression over Dad’s death and refocusing her. At least this is a matter she can do something about. Even if it is mostly endless doctor visits – it’s active. *** It seems only yesterday that I spent days clearing up Dad’s emails, canceling his subscriptions to online services where he was obviously doing research on the sort of cancer my sister had, emailing his ham radio buddies and arranging for him to be listed as a “silent key,” cleaning out his desk. I had no idea he was such a collector of miscellany! Now here I am again sitting at his desk, trying to access my email, swearing over the slow, slow dial-up web connection and the interminably slow reactions once I get there. I’ll practice yoga breathing as I wait. If I was a praying person, it would be a good time for that.
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JANUARY 31: Mom’s surgery is scheduled for February 4. Joe is going to Africa to check out the migrating animals (again) on February 9, so the timing works. We have to cancel the birding trip to Costa Rica we were going to take Mom on in April, though. Too much to think about. *** The Drilling Company wants a play by March on the theme of “revenge.” Too too much! Don’t see how I can do it. It ain’t like baking a cake, dudes!
FEBRUARY 4: The cancer didn’t spread to the lymph nodes. THANK YOU! powers of the universe! Our family had this one coming. Mom is in better spirits than for a long, long time. As she tells the doctor: losing a breast is nothing compared to losing a husband. I’ll stay with her for a few more days until my sister, Ruby, can come, and then Mom’s sister from Washington, D.C. She is in good spirits, but shouldn’t be alone for awhile. We go for a short hike. Mom’s a trooper. She’s not used to accepting help. Have to beat the concept into her! It’s hard to leave.
FEBRUARY 8: Producers are interviewing directors, finding that they have the “luxury of a difficult choice.” I had recommended five directors I’d worked with. Producers ask my advice and I say since they will be acting in the play they need to choose the person they feel most at ease with. I am delighted that both Michelle Macau and Sherry Teitlebaum agreed to direct even though two of the three characters are already cast. I am thrilled to be able to recommend them for a paying job. (Michele Travis and Kate Marks are already committed elsewhere. Not sure what’s happening with Sarah Cameron Sunde.)
FEBRUARY 13: Producers like Sherry, but her membership in the directors’ union mandates a pay scale which may be prohibitive. They’re going to interview Sarah, Daedre Kahler (my NJ Rep director) and Chris Goodrich (someone they know).
FEBRUARY 18: They will go with Sherry. Union contract and all. A publicist and set designer have been hired – so I am overjoyed to see $$$ going for a director as well. Now as long as Sherry doesn’t demand too many rewrites… *** Casting for Bella is set for next Tuesday. *** Director for NJ Rep show got a paying job in California so she’s gone. Thank heaven another director picked it up. First read through of SAVE THE TURKEY! next Tuesday too. Will have to leave that and run to UNDERTOAD casting. *** Sherry forwarded an opp. from the Edinburgh Festival saying that UNDERTOAD might appeal to them. I forwarded it to TWWTC. Wouldn’t that be cool?! Joe is always trying to drag me away from the computer to go on trips. Edinburgh Festival would be an excellent destination.
FEBRUARY 19: In a spurt of inspiration (or avoidance – choose one), wrote three one-page plays for Lamia Ink! this morning, then handed in a draft of THE LAST FRONTIER, my revenge play, to Hamilton Clancy. Fingers crossed on that one. So hard to dig down into the characters with so many plays buzzing in my head. My goal is to clear the decks so I can rewrite with Sherry where necessary. Nothing major. Time is running away with me. *** Sent rewrite of O RUMBLES OF JOY! off to JAC Publishing this week (following reading of the rewrite by the same cast that did it in January – it went well – whew). Also last week, had the first 30 pages of NECESSARY GEOGRAPHY read at the new Lark Theatre Alumni Writers Group (LAWG) meeting. Went over like a lead balloon. Okay. Not happy. Rewrote first scene to inject more action and wrote a prologue to answer some nagging questions from Luna Stage people. Told their literary manager, Cheryl Katz, when she called today that I don’t want to touch that play again until I hear the table read on March 23. I’ll kill it if I mess with it anymore at this point.
FEBRUARY 21: New York is dusted with snow. The bit of New Jersey across the river that I can see from my 6th floor office is lacy and pristine. This is what’s called “getting distance.” Not always accurate, but soothing. And lovely knowing I don’t have to shovel any of it. Nothing nipping at my heels on this Presidents’ Day Monday, so I’ll dig in, get some submissions ready to mail tomorrow (beat those March 1 deadlines), and make notes for my “ideas” file about one of the dreadful one-acts I saw yesterday at the Strawberry One-Act Festival. Dreadful play, but gave me an idea for a short short. I know, I’m putting off composing a letter to send with info about the UNDERTOAD production to theaters and agents. Hate composing letters.
FEBRUARY 22: Oops. Off to a rocky UNDERTOAD start. Left the director and actors (people I never met before) at the first rehearsal for a little 10-minute play at NJ Rep in my apartment and dashed off for the 7 pm auditions for Bella (the third character in TOAD). Dashing, dashing, with Starbucks latte spilling all over my green wool coat sleeve. Didn’t have the street number for Weist-Barron Studios, but knew it was on 45th Street between 5th and 6th. Finally found it with four minutes to spare, but no one was there. Just the women in the office who had no record of TWWTC auditions that night. Waited around. Finished my latte. Located a bathroom. Waited. Left. Back to my apartment by 7:45. Message came later from Kate. Somehow I missed an email they’d sent. Still don’t know where they were. But at least I didn’t miss everything. Three actresses are being called back. So let’s get THAT time and place right! I don’t blame the producers for this at all. They’re totally organized and I’m crazed with rewrites for Luna Stage and The Drilling Company. I have to pause to remember the name of which play I’m working on these days it’s so bad.
FEBRUARY 24: Call backs are set for Monday night. Three actresses still being considered for the role of Bella. Since the show opens in the end of April, it seems like they should be in more of a hurry to get into rehearsals, but I’m not going to sweat it. Too many other things keeping my mind swimming. Went to “Getto Superstar” at the Public last night. Needed the time to work on rewrite for Luna Stage, but had the ticket so I went. One-man show in Joe’s Pub space. LOUD. Live band. So loud it hurt my ears. Felt like an old lady holding a hand over the ear nearest the speaker. Just wanted to get out and get back to work, but no intermission and no way out. Usually I can glean something from an evening to feed my writing, but not so this. I just wanted out. Felt myself getting angry being trapped where I didn’t want to be – and paying good money for it. Said in the program notes that the writer/performer, Billy Porter, was offered a residency at the Public by previous artistic director George C. Wolfe without even applying for it. Helps to be black and gay. How times have changed!
FEBRUARY 27: UNDERTOAD has been at a stand still from my end as I try to clear my desk and head for a fresh start on whatever rewrites are going to be demanded of me. Sent “final” script, draft 7, of NECESSARY GEOGRAPHY off to Luna Stage yesterday so they can send it to the actors for the table reading scheduled for March 23. Started a short story for reading at Cornelia Street Cafe in May. All about my non-adventures in the Peace Corps back in the early 60s. Rehearsal for SAVE THE TURKEY! was a bust yesterday. Boy Turkey has stomach flu; Martha Stewart has some painful ailment; the Farmer had a commitment and Mom Turkey has the trots. No. I just couldn’t resist. The director is threatening to turn it into a one-man show in which he will appear in drag as my female turkey, Henrietta. I told him I’m flexible. Tomorrow night are callbacks for EMBRACING THE UNDERTOAD. Please, please, please may there be a wonderful actress for Bella. Academy Awards tonight. I’d cast Hillary Swank in UNDERTOAD as Aggie, Julia Roberts as Madeline, and Virginia Madsen as Bella.
FEBRUARY 28: Nor’easter hits and another rehearsal of SAVE THE TURKEY! is down the drain. This play is scheduled to be performed THIS Friday, March 4, at NJ Rep. There has not been one rehearsal with the whole cast because of various illnesses and weather. It’s only a 10-minute play, but still… Meanwhile, the storm also caused callbacks for UNDERTOAD to be cancelled. After a long talk with Sherry, the director, it was clear to me which of the three actresses was right for the part. Candace Reid sounds perfect, in fact. I have full faith in Sherry, so they decided to go ahead and cast Candace. Candace agreed to all the terms, so we’re set to go – finally! Now to schedule a table read. And I have to gear up for rewrites.
MARCH 1: This morning the city is white and muffled. Innocent snow. As if it didn’t cause any upset at all yesterday!
MARCH 3: Date is set for the first table read of UNDERTOAD. Next Tuesday evening. The set designer, stage manager, light person and all will come, as well as the producers, directors and actors. We’re meeting at my apartment because I have lots of chairs and a good long table. This set, I have to take out the script for the first time since the rewrite following last Spring’s reading at New Georges – and the notes on feedback I took from Sherry back then and the feedback she offered by email this time around before she even knew she would be the director of choice (how’s that for generous?). Plan to do that this weekend when Friday’s NJ Rep show is over. Ran into Sherry in my gym yesterday, spinning away on an exercise bike. I’ve been going there for over a year, twice a week for yoga but we never saw each other. This is a sign of Kismet kicking in. *** Finished a short story about my experience in the Peace Corps for Pen Central’s reading in May. It may be too long. May have to come up with another one. So much quicker than writing plays! Also tweaked SAVE THE TURKEY! from what I’ve learned from the rehearsals. Even without all the actors there, I can see the bumpy areas.
MARCH 4: Kismet continues to roll. (Hope it rolls through to UNDERTOAD opening!) This morning, news from JAC Publishing that they will publish SITTING DUCK SEASON, a dark play written before Martha Stewart’s trials, but very reminiscent of them. That’s Kismet entry #1 for the day. Number 2 is that Martha is actually, in real life, getting out of jail today. Kismet #3 is that my short play SAVE THE TURKEY!, in which Martha appears, goes onstage at NJ Rep tonight. In the play, Mr. Farmer (aka George W. Bush) says: “Martha! When did you get out?!” So tonight, she will have to answer: “As luck would have it – today!”
MARCH 5: Allowed myself today and Sunday to dig into rewrite of UNDERTOAD. After a restless night’s sleep last night at the guest house provided at NJ Rep (how many people get up how many times during the night to pee!), I’m not up to the task today. I’m afraid too much will be needed. I’m afraid I’ll get mired in rewrites that circle around and dig in and create total chaos resulting in another play altogether. Or in nothing. Too tired and foggy today.
MARCH 6: No excuses after 10-hours sleep last night. Spend until noon cleaning my office, clearing the desk. Then run out of excuses. Still can’t buckle down. I print out the script, gather all the feedback notes from last spring’s reading, a fresh legal pad, and off to find a Starbucks with an empty table. Not easy on Sunday. A change of place is sometimes what I need though. After three hours at a Starbucks I’ve condensed the feedback notes to what is important, read the 116-page script and made my own notes. Back home, I work until 8 p.m. It’s not going to be so bad. In fact, it feels tighter and more streamlined already. Whew!
MARCH 10: Too wiped out yesterday to write about the first read-through of UNDERTOAD on Tuesday night. Almost the whole crew met in my apartment: Sherry Teitlebaum (director), Kate Cox (producer/actor), Deshja Driggs Hall (producer/actor), Candace Reid (actor), Christopher Hoyt (light design), and Neil Poynter (stage manager). Missing (due to nasty weather which seems to be following us!) was David Dingman (set design). Hector Cruz will operate the light/sound board. Reading went well. I was relieved that my rewrites smoothed over some bumps. Energy high. Everyone has wonderful things to say about their characters being well-rounded, deep, and challenging. My cat, Turbo, managed not to have a coughing-throwing up fit until everyone but Sherry had left. Sherry and I had a sit down to go over her questions until almost 11 pm. Thank God my rewrites dealt with some of the problems she had had. One remains – whether Bella’s entrance at the end of Act I is a “dead” giveaway. Have to see what happens in rehearsals. Some minor tweaking of the script still needs to be done – and a major need, pointed out by Deshja, for a wrap-up of one of her character’s problems. Have to come up with a very cogent, one or two sentence zinger near the end of the play. This character wouldn’t have a monologue. She drinks more than she talks. I feel good about the project, but Sherry has her work cut out for her. It’s not a simple play, and bringing actors who are best friends and not gay around to being lesbian lovers with the sexual tension that requires won’t be a piece of cake! Took Turbo to the vet where he’s spending the day getting his nails clipped and a lung Xray. Fingers crossed!
MARCH 11: Turbo Cat’s lungs are bad. He’s been coughing. Still coughing. Supposed to give him liquid medicine four times a day. The kitchen and my clothes and his fur are coated with the stuff. Trying to get him to hold still while I squirt it down his throat is practically impossible. Plus he hates me for it. What to do? What to do? He was my sister’s cat until she got too sick to keep him two years ago. I HAVE to be sure he’s all right!
MARCH 13: Sunday. Taking a break from writing after working on the small rewrites needed for UNDERTOAD – including the ending which may be a short bit, but crucial not to overwrite. That done, I’ve spent the last three days sending out scripts to try to diminish my stack of submission opps. Swore I’d only submit to places that PAY and focus on sending out full-lengths, but get seduced by some festivals here and there. Can’t resist wanting to share BRONCO BUSTER (10 minutes) with little theaters and community groups. SAVE THE TURKEY! has a shelf-life, and is so politically left it won’t fly just anywhere. Uncovered a group that will be producing “The Swan” in NYC. Loved that play at The Public. Queried them. Last night went to Cornelia Street Cafe for Italian/American writers and poets. Not very Italian – okay – but not very good either. Only the person I went to see was good. Whew. Now, off to a matinee and an evening play at The Public. Waiting to hear if Sherry likes my rewrites. Always nervous!
MARCH 14: Sherry likes the rewrites. Whew. So I can set the Toad aside until I go to a rehearsal. I won’t go until Sherry wants me. I trust her implicitly and want to give her time with the actors alone. Though you never know when there’s info the writer needs to share. For example, I just found out that she didn’t know that boiled peanuts are a common delicacy in North Carolina – which figures in the play. *** Saw two plays at The Public yesterday. “The Controversy of Valladolid” (English version by Richard Nelson) is about the Catholic Church in 1550 deciding whether the natives in the New Word (Mexico of today – where the Spanish were busy exterminating and enslaving them) had souls- whether they were humans or some sort of sub-human species. Moving and enraging. Except for the first third which is weighted down with exposition – a fine piece of work. Very relevant to current political scene re. Iraq. The second play, Neil LaBute’s “This Is How It Goes,” was mean-spirited despite starring Ben Stiller and Jeffrey Wright. I can’t help thinking it wouldn’t get done, certainly not at The Public, if LaBute didn’t have a name. It’s supposed to be a brave wrestling to the ground of black-white generalizations – but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
MARCH 21: Monday. Nasty cold for a week. Been laying low, waiting for it to blow over. Hate it when my brain is clogged! Big reading at Luna Stage this Wednesday. It has to be clear by then! Got a detailed email from Sherry last week that described the Chashama stage. Not ideal, but she says the set designer, David, has good ideas and is very inventive. They need to free up more playing area. The bed is central, so they have to have the bed, but that takes up a lot of space. Sightlines are horrible. Apparently it’s a good thing no one in the cast is tall or an air conditioning conduit would cut off their heads from the eyes of the audience. Theater in New York. Doncha love it? The stage is very deep but not wide, with the extreme upstage end being the storefront window and VERY far from the audience. Unfortunately, I’ve added the rocker as a necessary piece of furniture. There is no wing or crossover space. Entrances have to be made through the house. I wish David luck! Told Sherry that any lines that had to be changed to accommodate set rearrangement were no problem. The first rehearsal isn’t until a week from today. THAT makes me nervous too – but it’s out of my hands. I have to switch my focus to the reading of NECESSARY GEOGRAPHY at Luna Stage on Wednesday. Try to get healthy so I’m strong for all the negative feedback I know I’ll get. I hate talkback sessions that immediately follow a reading. Rather hear comments after people have had at least a few hours to let what they heard gel. *** Cat update: Turbo is on a bronchial dilator (pill form) and steriods. Cough has diminished to only once a day.
MARCH 24: (Thursday) Yesterday the table reading of NECESSARY GEOGRAPHY was slightly complicated by a huge ice and snow storm that hit just as we were driving from New York to New Jersey for the afternoon rehearsal. The storm gathered strength until by the time we broke for supper it was really raging. The Luna literary manager couldn’t stay for the evening reading – had to try to get her Mazda over the mountains and get home before the snow got worse. Three people who I expected to come couldn’t make it at all. The Drilling Company artistic director arrived, seven-month-old baby in tow, after riding 2.5 hours on the bus from NYC. The upshot was that the reading was wonderful. I have a viable play and know where to cut to get it down to two hours long. I didn’t have to suffer through a feedback session because everyone had to split because of the snow. Handed out questions I’d composed and asked people to email me their feedback (more valuable that way anyway I think). The Luna Stage A.D. thanked me for the play (a high point!). Another hurdle jumped. Today I’m way too fuzzy-headed to work on the next draft, but my one page of notes is very specific. Good actors are like gold! Rehearsals of UNDERTOAD begin next week. Turbo goes down to one steriod pill a day starting today. His cough is greatly diminished. Life is good. And the sky is clear today.
BACK TO HOME
MARCH 25: Very cool email from Sherry detailing plans for the set. The set designer, Dave Dingman, is imaginative and creative – my kind of guy! Good thing too because apparently the stage area is less than ideal. He submitted a groundplan – basic drawings of views from the house showing furniture placement, w/o Happy Eyes lamp, blankets on bed, books, beer cans, etc. It includes a low altar/desk for Maddie that accommodates the lousy sightlines. The rocking chair, which I added in the last rewrite, is central to the story now, but a problem in the small stage area. I swear I’ll never write another play calling for a bed. Oops. NECESSARY GEOGRAPHY needs a bed. A lot of important things happen in and on beds. Oh well. They are hoping to have special effects for the cave sequence, complete with backlit stalactites. Yeah! The symbolism is fabulous! I suggest another place to use them to Sherry – when Agnes is having her breakdown. She loves the idea. Hope the stalactites aren’t too cheesy and don’t get the heave-ho. Mystery and claustrophobia reign in UNDERTOAD. They are also planning to make Bella’s entrances and exits magical with backlighting, snow falling, curtain billowing. All in my script. If they do it I’ll be thrilled!! The email says Dave nixed the idea of the walls moving in horizontally but he’s still considering having them collapse to the floor on cue at a moment in or right after the climax. Shades of MEDEA! How will they ever do that? Might work, but must be tied to a specific moment of psychological transformation. They are still finalizing the POP chart and cave map. All I can say is if the acting is half as good as it sounds like the set will be – this is golden!
MARCH 28: (Monday) Reoccurrence of the nasty cold or mild flu – whatever it is I had before the Luna reading. Numb brain again. Finally climbed out of it late Saturday and got to work on post-Luna rewrite of NECESSARY GEOGRAPHY. Not a lot needed thank heaven, but still it’s like dominoes. Change one little thing and it shifts throughout the script. First rehearsal of UNDERTOAD tonight. I hope Sherry lets me know how it goes.
MARCH 29: Email from Neil Poynter (is he the stage manager) about last night’s rehearsal. So detailed a report I almost feel like I was there. Rehearsal started at 6 pm, ended at 9 pm. Present were Neil, actor/producers Kate and Deshja, and director Sherry. They briefly discussed the set and giving the impression of the room as one devoted entirely to the completion of Madeline’s book. (Love it.) Then explored the script – character histories and relationship. Text analysis. (Makes me a bit nervous. They’ll find inconsistencies putting it under such a microscope.) Question raised about Madeline using the words “freaking” and “fucking” interchangeably. (I wrote Sherry to say that it’s a difference of degree, not interchangeable.) Next rehearsal tonight. Postcards are in the mail to me. Must compose a letter to theaters and coordinate addresses. Hate all that busy work, plus the big bucks it costs to mail it all out, but that’s the name of the game.
MARCH 30: I sure hope the script stands up to the scrutiny it’s getting! Last night’s rehearsal report says they began discussion/exploration of the first time Madeline and Agnes met and the introduction of Madeline’s writing to the relationship. Production notes: the sound of the accident will depend on whether Bella is in the car or hitchhiking by the road (in my mind she’s always been in the car). These guys are specific! Also discussed the sound of the young woman crying called for in text. Is it a baby at birth, an injured child, both fading one into the other? Hm. To me “young woman” is neither a baby or a child. Also they say they need a hammer for a prop. Hmm. I hope they’re not weighing the play down with props. They do not need a hammer. Next rehearsal tomorrow.
MARCH 31: Spending a few days sending out 10-page samples from full-lengths. This all takes up so much time! Time away from writing. I resent it. Tomorrow, to celebrate granddaughter Audrey’s 9th birthday, I’m taking the day off to go with her and Jody, my daughter, to Chinatown and Audrey will spend the night with me. Have to take more time for family more often like this. Why does it always feel like there should be three of me?
APRIL 1: (Friday) Rehearsal notes from last night: Candace, the third member of the cast, is in attendance for the first time (she was out of state). They discussed dialogue/accents and also finding words that the sisters, Bella and Agnes, say alike (boy I hope they’re in the script!). Worked on Act I and Act II for text analysis. I’m under the microscope. Discussed and explored: Bella and Agnes’ history; what led up to Agnes not wanting to see or speak to Bella; what led Bella to come seek Agnes out; what Agnes knows about Bella’s situation, etc. They’re trying to find something that will melt in Bella’s hair or that sparkles after her entrance. It would kill me to be at these rehearsals. Dissecting the script like this is necessary for the actors and director, but hell on the playwright!
APRIL 4: (Monday) Last night’s rehearsal report: Worked on Act II, pg. 72 to end. Discussed Agnes’ secret re. Simon and how much Bella knows. How did Bella get Agnes’ phone number? The sisters’ understanding of the undertoad, “beanut putter,” and what each does. What Madeline recognizes in the rhyming games. How is the undertoad coming after Bella? Production notes: Is there a physical way to underline Madeline’s discovery of Bella’s true state? *** Whew. No dispute over things the playwright screwed up on. Another rehearsal tonight. Go go go! *** I spent the weekend writing letters to theaters to invite them to the play (with my fingers crossed that it will be good), stuffing envelopes, buying stamps ($$$!!) – all that boring and time-consuming essential part of this business. Today I’ll address postcards. They’re beautiful and very evocative – two young women or girls walking by the ocean. I’m being stingy with them since I only have 100. *** Turbo is on every other day steriods. None yesterday and he coughed and coughed all night. Damn!
APRIL 6: (Wednesday) Rehearsal notes from last night say that they continued blocking – Act I to page 17. I’m thinking egad! ONLY to page 17? There’s about 100 pages in the script. A production note says: bed needs to be strong enough to walk over. That sounds interesting. Also: “Bed setup at rise – blanket half on, half off, top sheet bunched, two pillows, one on floor leaning against bottom left corner of bed.” I’m beginning to have even more respect for the stage manager’s job than I already had. *** No rehearsal tonight which is good. It’s so gorgeous out – 70 degrees – that I want them to have a breather. *** Spent the last four days doing nothing but sending out an invite/info letter and postcards about UNDERTOAD. Sent to over 100 theaters/producers, including many who I know won’t come but hopefully they’ll request a script. Postcards are for individuals. Sent 100 of those and requested 75 more. Should have asked for more to begin with. Hate this office work, but know it must be done. Trying to get everything filed and cleared away so I can get back to the creative stuff. Email from Hamilton Clancy of The Drilling Company saying he wants to “talk” about LAST FRONTIER. He calls it “lost” frontier. I hope that Freudian slip doesn’t mean they aren’t going to do the play, but I have a bad feeling. If they were going to do it I should think he’d have told me by now. Damn. That’s th last time I kill myself to get a play written in a short amount of time. I LIKE that play, too!
APRIL 8: Email from Jim Azelvandre in Columbus, OH, who is directing WHITE LIGHT for the Fringe Festival there. He asks about a certain line in the play – a three-word sentence. Excellent sign that he asks. The play is absurdist, so not easy to nail down. Sounds like he is doing a good job. It might actually surprise me when I see it.
APRIL 9: (Saturday) If you can’t sleep because your head swirls with details that won’t be still, don’t be a stage manager. I’m amazed, though I shouldn’t be, at the small stuff they have to deal with. Today’s note from Neil Poynter, TOAD stage manager, includes attention to keeping track of what Agnes takes off and puts on – beginning with: “Preset clothes for Agnes in storage bins sliding under bed; jeans and sweater for pg. 32 should be set in the order that she puts them on, jeans on top of sweater. Special attention to Madeline’s ‘polka-dot deGeneris and Etheridge plaid’ preset on bed.” This is just a nugget’s worth. I’m painfully aware that I’ve written in a hell of a lot of dressing and undressing in this play!
APRIL 11: (Monday) Many a day – no, a whole week now – spent sending out post cards and letters about the UNDERTOAD run. A shocker: picked up the phone the other day and there was Lawrence Harbison, senior editor at Samuel French. He’s coming. Panic sets in. He won’t come if he can get a ticket for “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and it conflicts, he apologizes. I tell him that the Spelling Bee is incredible, even better than “Avenue Q.” I’m encouraging him to go, backpedaling furiously in my nervousness about having Larry Harbison actually watching a play by me. Must buck up! My daughter is actually coming too. I may be even more nervous about that! *** Still haven’t heard from the A.D. of The Drilling Company. Can’t be good news. *** Turbo’s cough is once again much better, but he’s on a twice daily dose of steroids again – starting to resemble the Goodyear blimp. *** Phone call from UNDERTOAD director Sherry assures me that all is well, though they don’t have nearly enough rehearsal time. Her formula: an hour of rehearsal for each page of the play. So they should have 90 hours of rehearsal and actually have less than half that much. She has rehearsed in private in her apartment with Candace (“She’s fucking awesome!”). They did a lot of improve involving an eagle, a mouse, making beanut putter (sic) and trying to ascend from the mortal world to the next. Kate and Deshja are really digging into their parts too. Tonight they rehearse the sex scene – the biggest challenge. For two best friends (straight) to lock lips and not giggle is acting with a capital A. I’ll go to the rehearsal the Saturday before the show opens (egad – soon!!). Sherry asked me to take many, many notes. Thank God they hired her. I trust her completely.
APRIL 12: (Tuesday) Opening night is exactly two weeks away. This weekend I tried to send out a mass email mailing about the show and it wouldn’t work. I could receive emails, but when I tried to send anything out the server sent me a message saying my own email address was NG and too bad they would put my messages in the Draft file, but wouldn’t send them out. When I tediously located the Road Runner Help area in their website and (successfully – don’t ask why) sent a plea for help, saying that I couldn’t send messages from Outlook Express, they of course emailed me with a list of questions TO EMAIL BACK TO THEM WHICH I COULDN’T DO BECAUSE THAT WAS THE DAMN PROBLEM TO BEGIN WITH! I again went to their website and pleaded, in capital letters, for them to telephone me. Again, of course, they sent me an email. It’s a good thing I don’t drink. *** This morning, despite several more infuriatingly obtuse messages from Road Runner, my emails magically are going out, no thanks to RR. I think it’s a glitch in the blind carbon copy works. I maybe tried to send too many at once. This morning it rejects addresses that I know are good. So I laborously send the message about the show out about ten times. This results in fewer (though still too many) rejected addresses. I just have to ignore the ones that don’t work. Need to turn my attention to all these returned snail mail envelopes with invites sent to theaters that have apparently gone under or moved or something. Haven’t worked on actual writing for over a week. Filing is piling up and deadlines of April 1 and 15 are sailing quietly past, sticking their tongues out at me as they disappear in the distance. *** Production notes from Monday night’s rehearsal come in: Blocking to Bella’s entrance, end of Act I (that’s up to page 46 – getting there). Sound: “Crash sounds will be followed by distorted echo, sustained and fade into crying child.” Hm. They’re still thinking “child.” That isn’t right. Set/Mechanism: “Bella will operate switch to open French doors for her entrance, preferably a foot switch so her arms can stay raised.” That sounds awesomely like the effect called for in the script.
APRIL 15: Returned from seeing New Georges’ new production about an honor killing in Turkey (two main actresses spoke way too rapidly – in keeping with the aggravating trend to RUSH everything – so no one gets bored?) to find a message on my machine from the A.D. of Women’s Rep. Theatre in San Diego. They want a copy of UNDERTOAD to consider. Must be the result of the invite I sent. Well, at least something came of all that work. Or – almost something. A phone call from the west coast is good. Unless it means they’re such a poor theater company they don’t have a computer and can’t send an email.
APRIL 16: Gorgeous spring day! To the country – Warwick, NY – to paint super-hero faces on hyper five-year old boys at grandson Rowan’s birthday party. Can’t believe the extent, quantity, and sophistication of toys these kids give for birthday presents! He already had enough Spiderman, Hulk and Batman paraphernalia to last two lifetimes! Son Jonathan showed up from Connecticut in a Spiderman costume that scared the daylights out of everyone, but then looked hysterical when he led the drum circle as the caped-arachnid. Then go to watch nine-year-old granddaughter Audrey play in a soccer game. Drive to Paramus, NJ, to see friend Penny in Noel Coward’s PRESENT LAUGHTER at Bergen Community College in NJ last night. Had to leave during the second intermission. Three hours of rapid-fire ha-ha talk is too much for this old lady (and 2/3 of the audience).
APRIL 17: A full weekend of unaccustomed fun stuff, though I managed to prepare a few submission envelopes and some proofing of my story for Cornelia Street Cafe here and there. Today, first took Joe out to meet the Broadway Brunch Club at 1050 Restaurant. Excellent networking opp. the third Sunday of every month. This is only the second time I’ve managed to get there. Then long, much-lost drive to Mountainside, NJ, to a pottery show where a friend has work. Happy to finally get to see her work. Delighted that it’s so beautiful. Rich reds, luminous glazes. The whole show was food for the soul. There’s a quote I wish I could remember, something about Pottery is food for the soul, while a pot is just clay around a hole. *** Tonight Sherry calls with update on UNDERTOAD. She is very pleased with the progress the actresses are making. Whew! That’s been my only real concern. They still don’t have enough rehearsal time. (Urge people to come the second week.) But she is pleased. A few temporary line changes to accommodate the script in this production. Sounds like the stage is the size of a dime. Stalactites are out. Not enough head room! In fact, they might not be able to rake the bed because she needs for people to stand on it and their heads might be out of sight! Nothing like Off-Off Broadway theater! I’m getting together a batch of CDs for Sherry – Roy Orbison, K.D.Lang, Patsy Cline, Greg Piccolo. Piccolo’s “Rockin Chair” is called for specifically in the script. I thought they’d ask his permission (though it might cost). I guess they’re not – figuring they can get away with it in a showcase. I’m torn two ways. I’d LIKE to pay Greg (son Jonathan was drummer for his blues band for two years).
APRIL 21: (Thursday) Yay! Just got a call from Joe Clancy, The Drilling Company A.D. They’re going to produce THE LAST FRONTIER in December. Not without rewrites… but they’re going to do it and he’s going to direct it. Big whew. *** Sherry came over to check out my Boston rocker for use in the show. She’s suffering from so many rehearsals, so much last-minute stuff. They really should have started rehearsals earlier. *** Went to “The Swan” produced by Nicu’s Spoon last night to check out the company. Not bad, but obviously not up to what’s needed to produce LOLA AND THE PLANET OF GLORIOUS DIVERSITY which I had sent to them. Will send PLAY NICE! That’s more their speed. Sending off WHITE LIGHT to a wild-sounding group in Toronto. Inspired by Richard Foreman who spoke at the Dramatists Guild yesterday. He and I really hit it off. We speak the same language, i.e., want to use pallets that contain not just words, but also music, light, sound, etc. *** I had no idea I had so many props in UNDERTOAD. The rehearsal reports for the past five days have been consumed with Vodka bottles, mason jars, pillowcases, lamp, radio, Coke cans… It’s great to sit back and not have to worry about any of it.
APRIL 23: Went to a rehearsal of UNDERTOAD. They aren’t loading into the theater until dress rehearsal on Monday (scary!) so this was in a rehearsal room. Okay. Not bad. I agree with Sherry that it needs about two week’s more rehearsal – so opening night (when reviewers are coming oh God) will be torturous. Why Joe asked Gus and Patty Hedlund to come from Connecticut to the opening is beyond me. Probably because there’s a “formal reception.” Puh-lese. What that means is probably cheap champagne and cookies. I don’t want anybody I know to be there! Joe is okay – he understands – but other people – no! Don’t get me wrong. They mostly know their lines and they hit the highs and lows, but it’s a complicated play with a lot of blocking, props, and sound and light cues. There are so many possibilities of screw-ups I’ll have my fingernails chewed to the bone on Tuesday! I’m definitely NOT going to the dress rehearsal! *** Today Kate is coming to borrow my Boston rocker for the set. They haven’t even rehearsed with it and it’s very important. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe!
BACK TO HOME
APRIL 25: (Monday) How did it get to be April 25 already? TOMORROW is opening night. I wake up this morning, realize what day it is, and want to crawl back under the covers and not wake up until it’s all over. I am avoiding Chashama like poison today. It’s out of my hands. Tonight I’ll go hear a reading of a new play by a previous student of Paula Vogel at Signature, hoping it will take my mind off the building of the set, the loading in of props and furniture (including my Boston rocker that Kate’s boy friend picked up yesterday), the running of lines, the cue-to-cue tech. rehearsal… Nothing has been done in the theater yet and it opens tomorrow night. I DO NOT want to go. But I have to. I wish nobody I know except husband Joe was coming. Why the heck are friends shelling out $25 to come to the opening? Why are they letting reviewers come to the opening? Why am I doing this? I don’t LIKE to suffer!
APRIL 26: Opening tonight. Waiting for call from Sherry to see if yesterday was a total disaster. The sun is shining outside, but I feel fairly black. What am I doing all day, ruining my eyes at the computer when I could be with my husband in his hot tub in the country, or hiking or visiting my kids and grandkiddies and sisters and friends and Mom? At the moment I feel like what I’ve been writing is shallow crap. *** It’s worse even than I thought. Phone call from Sherry around 2 p.m. They never got to a cue-to-cue, never had a dress rehearsal yesterday. The set designer/builder apparently learned nothing from being stuck in traffic coming from Connecticut on Saturday (missing that rehearsal he should have been at). Yesterday he got to the theater about four hours late and used up the entire tiny stage building and painting the bed when they should have been rehearsing FOR THE FIRST TIME in the space. Kate had a meltdown and wanted to cancel the show. Sherry remained calm, bless her, but she says the tension was overwhelming. The stage manager had to leave early. Just a huge mess. (Sherry blames herself because she didn’t remind the first time stage manager to tape the dimensions of the stage out on the rehearsal room floors. The stage is much smaller than any space they rehearsed in.) So they will hopefully get one run-through in before the opening tonight, but apparently the lights and sound guy won’t be there until too late for the run-through. In other words, it’s going to really be a dress rehearsal tonight. It’s going to be a disaster. I don’t want to go! And boy nobody better say “it always works out in the end.” I hate people who say that. It DOESN’T always work out in the end! It can be humiliating!
APRIL 27: (Wednesday) IT WAS GREAT! There IS a God! Don’t ask me how they did it, but from the moment Deshja opened her mouth I knew everything was going to be good. Standing ovation. And wouldn’t you know, the reviewers had called to say they’d come Thursday instead. *** Absolute zombie today even though I managed to get almost eight hours of sleep. Must be the anxiety catching up with me. Going again tonight to make sure it wasn’t a dream. *** Tonight there was a small, silent audience – about 10 people including me and Sherry. No laughs, but no creaking chairs. Disappointing but not a disaster. The show went well with gorgeous added snow (missing opening night). The Happy Eyes lamp bulb had burned out and too late to get a replacement. I suggested they buy two so there’s an extra. Hope there’s a bigger audience Thursday night when daughter Jody and the reviewers go!
APRIL 29: (Friday) Jody phoned in her (as expected) very critical review to me. Doesn’t like Madeline drinking throughout. Doesn’t like casting of Agnes. Totally confused by Act II. Her friend said she thinks the play is about resurrection and hope. Well THAT’S something. Audience was very small (eight?) and unresponsive. Bummer. *** Call from Playwrights and Actors Contemporary Theatre (PACT). They will do a reading of GRANNIE BIRD on May 11. Said they absolutely loved it. This perks me up a tiny bit. *** Email from Deshja: both Kate and Candace came down with the flu during last night’s performance. That explains a lot! Have to tell Jody but try not to make it sound defensive. Producers are canceling the Saturday matinee to have a bit of time to rest. Unfortunately that was the show all my ICWP buddies were going to. Only three had made reservations so far though. Better to cancel and rest. *** Judith Pratt, an ICWP lister from Ithaca went to last night’s show. We hung out at Starbucks and she gave me her rundown. Not nearly as dark as Jody’s synopsis. Mainly I was concerned if it wasn’t clear what was happening. Judith got it all, so I feel a bit better. Go to the show anyway to make sure it’s on an even keel (Sherry can’t go again until closing night. She’s given me permission to speak to the actors about line problems. I step over my limits a little by asking the actresses to make the Happy Eyes bulb on-and-off magical action more obvious to the audience. Judith had missed it entirely. It really needs to be restaged so the light is more downstage. Jody commented on how Bella is always saying she’s cold but doesn’t put something on. Tonight I dream about the jackets on stage – that Bella doesn’t put on. It will have to stay as is without Sherry here though. Don’t want to mess around too much.) *** BIG audience last night – about 30 people. Filled all but the back two rows. The only person I knew was Kevin Rehac from Oracles (my playwriting group). He was full of praise, bless him! They came through with shining colors again despite two of them being sick. (It was a bit off putting, knowing that, when the smooching happens onstage.) Happy Eyes blinked brightly and effectively.
MAY 2: My official stance now is that when a play is being produced -as opposed to developed- I don’t want negative feedback. It’s done. It’s over. Well of course I’m going to tweak and trim a bit, but I don’t need every last person thinking that I still want their developmental critique! Tell me what you LIKE, what you UNDERSTOOD, what you found great about the play. Since everyone will never (and should never) agree on a play, I don’t need to hear from those for whom it isn’t their cup of tea. All it does is causes me to second-guess myself. If I listen and apply it to the script, the script is weakened. *** Looking forward to the week when the audiences will be large and responsive and the actresses over the flu and back in the swing of receiving, sending and being in the moment. *** On other fronts, having trouble chasing down the PACT director for GRANNIE BIRD. This is coming up fast – next Wednesday. Have to gather a cast!
MAY 3: (Tuesday) Show went well tonight. Medium-sized audience. Not as responsive as I would have liked. I took notes for Sherry though because the acting seems to have flattened out. She will come tomorrow night and see for herself. She’s directing another show now so can’t keep as close a watch as she would like.
MAY 4: (Wednesday) Another medium-sized audience. Not getting home until eleven, then not getting to sleep until midnight or so is wrecking me. I’m a zombie during the days. Have to skip tomorrow night.
MAY 5: (Thursday) They canceled tonight’s show for not enough reservations! Damn! Between tonight and last Saturday’s matinee, about 20 of my friends have tried to see the show and not gotten in. Everybody can’t make reservations because of work schedules – not knowing if they can get out in time for the show and etc. Sherry says she never heard of cancelling as long as there are as many in the audience as there are on stage. The only good news is that there are 35 reservations for Friday and 30 for Saturday night so far. All I need is for them to cancel when my Mom is coming from Vermont, sister and her husband from Massachusetts, aunt from D.C. tomorrow night!
MAY 6: (Friday) Emails coming in that they’re phoning people with reservations for the matinee tomorrow saying (already!) that it may be cancelled. Cal and Roseanne were coming from Pennsylvania. Others who tried to come to last Saturday’s matinee are out of luck. This is crappy. I think it’s partly because the same people are the producers and the actors – both very tiring jobs. *** Ah well, have to focus on relatives coming in today and hope for the best. I’m glad I decided to skip tomorrow’s closing show. Tonight will be it for me. *** Capacity crowd. Even my dentist came! Many kudos. Many tears and laughs. It’s all good. Mom and Aunt Lynn weren’t at all put-off by the F-words and lesbian love-making (though more than once Mom commented that “That Bella character interrupted them just in the nick of time!”). Whew.
MAY 7: Capacity crowd again tonight. I hear that they couldn’t stop laughing when Bella opened her mouth. Good. A good finale. It’s been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. I’m exhausted!
MAY 8: Review online is stupid. They liked the script fine, but obviously left after Act I since there’s no mention of Candace’s beautiful Bella. This must be the people who asked for a copy of the script. It’s more a book report than a review of a piece of live theater. Poor excuse for a review. *** On the other hand, a piece written by Reed Bernstein is hilarious and very fine. I have to find out who he is and who this was written for. It was sent to me by one of the actors. *** Moral of the story: be clear with your producers about two things I never thought of before: (1) Find out how many rehearsals will be scheduled. Sherry says there should be one hour of rehearsal for every page of the play. (2) Be sure they won’t cancel performances unless there are fewer in the audience than there are actors on stage. (I understand that Kate and Deshja were overpowered by duties of production as well as acting in an emotionally exhausting play. I think they learned something too. Next, they say, This Woman’s Work will do a one-act festival.) I can’t say enough about how very professional they were as producers. They are delightful, warm, talented, and very hard-working women. I hope I get to collaborate with them again. Gave PLAY NICE! as well as a couple of one-acts to them as fodder. – Signing off to take a nap!
MAY 10: Still exhausted – and I didn’t do anything but GO to the play. Must be the stress. Digging into a minor rewrite. Sort of sculpting – to clarify beats, carve out excess, highlight certain thing. Still many people don’t think Agnes’ revelation is serious enough to warrant a whole play. Have to think about that. *** Meanwhile, reading of GRANNIE BIRD tomorrow by Playwrights and Actors Contemporary Theatre at The Lark. Nice and non-stressful. However, word has come that BRONCO BUSTER has been accepted for the XXX Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival in July. God I hope PACT (the group that submitted it) will take care of everything! I need a LONG vacation! After reading at Cornelia Street (new short story), I’m looking forward to flying to Columbus, Ohio, to see the premiere of my weird one-act WHITE LIGHT in a few weeks. Then taking Mom on a trip to see the Grand Canyon. Except for the UNDERTOAD rewrite, and rewrites of THE LAST FRONTIER, I’m just going to try to catch up with submissions. And NAP!
EMBRACING THE UNDERTOAD is named one of three finalists for the prestigious Jane Chambers 2004 Award.