Missives from a sun-drenched state

...It's summer! Summer in May! Confusing but sunny! 

We got extra winter, like two days that could be legally considered "spring," and today it was hot, man. Still early May, and summer-hot. 

I predict fall in July, and then back to winter again by August. 

So, yes, fine, people from New England talk about the weather endlessly. But if you live here, I know that you too see it as a source of constant wonder. What will it do today? Huh, I guess it rained rabbits. That's weird, right? Why on earth did it do that?! Oh, tomorrow it's going to be chrysalis shells. Not baby butterfliesthey're already gone. No one knows where, but yeah. Just the shells.

The weather, man. The weather.

In other news! I finished all six of my books for Hallmark: they range from Now You're 30! to Now You're 80!, and they'll hopefully be at your local Gold Crown store sometime this fall-ish. Don't hold me to this. That's a completely baseless estimate based on things I think, not things I know. But I'm looking forward to seeing how they came out! My editor and I put a lot of work and love and also work into these.

On the playwrighterly front, my one-minute plays are going like hotcakes! (Terrible metaphor. There is not a finite number of times they can be performed. And what the willy is a hotcake, even? An olden-time pancake?) I just learned that five of them (two of them world premieres!) will appear as part of Youth Education On Stage's One-Minute Play Festival this July (7th, 8th, and 9th). That's in Williston, North Dakota, and if you live nearby you should go and support kids doing theater. (And afterwards spoil me with praise, false or no.) (And also the kids, I guess.)

This Sunday I'll be seeing the Boston Theater Marathon, and the day before ("Saturday," in the vernacular) I'll be seeing at least part of the Warm-Up Laps, which will also feature another one-minute play world premiere of mine! I'm particularly excited to see this one performed. It's a musical. A one-minute musical. Oh yes.

Lastly, I'm a little late in bragging about this, but because I waited there's now a video, the world premiere of yet another of my one-minute plays: The Successful Author's Morning Ritual.

I had imagined it performed by just one person, but they got all creative and used a bunch of people! I selfishly started the embedded video right where mine starts, but if you're a one-minute play aficionado you should definitely watch the whole show. 

Lastly, in light of all the very-short-play heat I'm experiencing right now, I've updated the "One-Minute Plays" section of my website with new production information and (and!) the plays themselves. You need merely click their titles, and hilarity awaits you in one-minute chunks.

"Chunks." Mmmm...

Enough about me. What's going on with you? What's news? How about that weather, huh?!

Missives from a snow-buried state

Winter came.

I've fallen off the blog-shaped wagon lately, and it's not because I have nothing to report—there's a lot of stuff going on, and I've been too busy with it all to write about it.

(That may have been what the kids these days call a "humblebrag." SO BE IT.)

Firstly, the "Books" section of my website lists the nonfiction titles I wrote for Hallmark Gift Books several years ago. Well, they've asked me to revise all five of them and to write a sixth, so I have found myself very, very busy with that. This project has an aggressive deadline, so I have not been allowing myself much in the way of sleep or haircuts. You will find me tired and my hair long. If you find me at all.

Secondly, I placed a couple short pieces from a longer play I had all but abandoned into two different forthcoming titles from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books: Duo! The Best Scenes for Kids Ages 7–15 and One on One: Contemporary Monologues for Kids Ages 7–15. So that's pretty exciting! New life for an old play.

Thirdly, my ten-minute social media comedy Going Viral was featured in the "Top 80" lineup at Short+Sweet Sydney last month. Here is a picture that I stole from the festival's Facebook page:

Big congrats to (left–right) Katherine Babatzanis, Max Mulvenney, and Tom Rose, as well as to director Christine Wykes. Wish I could have seen it! Also wish I could have seen Australia. It's probably warm there right now. And, you know, always.

Fourthly, and in other "wish I could have seen it" news, the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport, MA featured my ten-minute parental anxiety comedy The Formative Years in its 13th annual New Works Festival. Unfortunately, on account of obscene amounts of snow, they had to postpone the show until the following day, and so I couldn't see it. Snow. SNOW! I have been told, however, by not-at-all-biased parties who were able to attend that it went very well. "Funny," some even ventured to call it.

Fiftly, and lastly, the world premiere of my ten-minute existential comedy (oh yes) Character Development, Conflict, Scene Study, and Denouement happens tomorrow and Saturday, February 6th and 7th, at the Cohasset Dramatic Club in Cohasset, MA. This is a play cobbled together from various short things I wrote during my first 31 Plays in 31 Days attempt, and I'm very curious to see how it coheres as a whole.

That's it! That's everything. Stay warm, drink hot things, don't let the snow madness claim you utterly, etc.

The monthly braggadocio roundup: November 2014

These titles are misleading, as November has only just started, and so how could I possibly be giving a roundup of it...? But now I'm stuck calling things this way. I am trapped in my own lie. 

First up, Theatre KAPOW's 24-Hour Play Festival was awesome. I had so much fun. It was that rare writerly experience of knowing what you have to do, having a bunch of people actively cheering you on as you do it, and then feeling very proud of the result. 

I should have taken more pictures, but I think everyone was too busy doing the thing to document the thing. I did take one: that harrowing moment when the director and actors are reading the play for the first time. As you, the playwright, sit there and watch them read it.

They're a few pages in and no one's laughing oh god oh god. (Left to right: Jamileh Jemison, Jackie Marcoux, and Ben Bagley. Kelly Litt is sitting to Ben's left. He is not in this picture.)

They're a few pages in and no one's laughing oh god oh god. (Left to right: Jamileh Jemison, Jackie Marcoux, and Ben Bagley. Kelly Litt is sitting to Ben's left. He is not in this picture.)

Before this (actually only five hours before this), I had finished the play and written a blog post for Theatre KAPOW's website documenting (sort of) the writing process of the thing. You can read it here! An excerpt:

I started writing around 9:30pm and finished the first draft around 1:18 am. It clocked in at eleven pages. As I wrote to a friend on Facebook (because there was much Facebooking throughout this process): The only muse I've ever known is a gun pointed at my head. (Or a ticking clock. Whichever.)

True story. For the next couple hours I picked at the words, trying to artfully arrange them in a way that would make sense to people who are not me. I submitted the play at 3:13am, and was, evidently, the first of the five playwrights to turn in their play. Victory! (I think the second was like ten minutes later, but whatever, man. Primacy is mine.)

Then I slept for four hours, woke up very confused and desirous of strong coffee, and remained awake the rest of the day, working with the director, Jamileh Jemison, and the actors to make the funny funnier and the poignant poignanter. I had intended to slink off and nap at some point during the day, but I was having way too much fun sitting in on the rehearsal process and laughing at all of their jokes. 

Tech rehearsal! Left to right: Kelly Litt, Jackie Marcoux, and Ben Bagley. 

Tech rehearsal! Left to right: Kelly Litt, Jackie Marcoux, and Ben Bagley. 

This Dating Thing was the last play of the night, and I was so proud of it and everyone involved. The actors (Ben Bagley, Jackie Marcoux, and Kelly Litt) absolutely nailed it. And then it was all over. I helped with cleanup and then a bunch of us went out for dinner and drinks. And then I drove half an hour to my girlfriend's parents' house and slept the sleep of the wide awake yet sleep deprived.

Wax Idiotical Films put together a time-lapse video of the entire 24 hours. Behold!

It seems that I scratch my neck a lot.

The one thing it omits is the writing process, for which I have thoughtfully put together my own time-lapse video:

So! That was that. I'd happily do it again every weekend. Every. Single. Weekend.

In other news, I learned right before heading up to Derry that my ten-minute play The Formative Years will appear as part of the Firehouse Center for the Arts New Works Festival in Newburyport, MA, this January. And! Some days after that, I also learned that Going Viral will appear as part of Short+Sweet Sydney 2015 in January/February, which will be Going Viral's third Australian production. The other two made it to the Finals in each of their festivals, so here's hoping...!

Aaaaaaand lastly, if you're not sick of reading about me yet, I've just put the finishing touches on a themed evening of short comedy that includes many of my previously produced plays as well as some that are new to the stage. The title is tentative so I won't share it with you yet, but I've sent it out to interested parties both near and far, and we shall see what becomes of it!

Now for your random funny: Here is irrevocable proof that cats are deceitful and very likely planning the demise of all life on Earth

The monthly braggadocio roundup: September/October 2014

As I steel myself for the late-night lunacy of writing an original 10–15-minute piece for Theatre KAPOW's 24-Hour Play Festival (tonight! here's a writeup from the The Hippo! and another from NewHampshire.com!), I wanted to recap some of the stuff I've been up to the past couple months:

Summer ended, exactly as I predicted. You people never listen to me.

I completed this year's 31 Plays in 31 Days challenge at the very last minute, as is my custom. I think I hammered out seven short plays that Sunday. Maybe one or two of them turned out okay? That's not the point. THE POINT IS I WROTE THEM.

The Short+Sweet Queensland production of GOING VIRAL made it to the Finals and netted Shanay De Marco the "Best Actor in a Play" award. Congrats, Shanay! We have never met but I'm still excited for you.

Likewise, the Short+Sweet Hobart production of GOING VIRAL also made it to the Finals! The actors (grandparents Helen and Mike Edwards and their granddaughter Zoe Melville) even scored a very nice writeup in the Tasmanian Times:

The festival continues on Saturday with Program 2 which also has new Tasmanian plays and one memorable moment for a young, short and sweet Tasmanian actress.  Fourteen year old Zoe Melville has been going to one act play festivals with her Thespian Grand Parents, Mike and Helen Edwards since she could walk. Readers have no doubt seen Mike and/or Helen treading the boards in plays as recently as “The Phantom” at the Theatre Royal and “Waiting in the Wings” in 2013 at the Playhouse and as far back as 1950’s Uni Revues.

Coming from a family involved in the performing arts in Tasmania for almost 60 years theatre was bound to be in Zoe’s blood.  This weekend will be an experience she’ll never forget, sharing her first mainstream on stage appearance with her grandparents, two of Hobart theatres stalwarts.

Festival Director Ros Peck says “This is absolutely one of the highlights of this festival for me, Zoe has been an audience member for so long and to see her finally on stage and with her Grandparents gives me goosebumps, I’m so happy for her.”

They'll be taking the show on the road to the Deloraine One Act Festival tonight and tomorrow. Best of luck, guys! Break a leg? I always found that expression kind of violent. Please don't actually break your legs or any other appendage.

Looking ahead, GOING VIRAL has been shortlisted for Short+Sweet's Sydney show, which is, evidently, the largest 10-minute play festival in the world. Well! I don't know yet if a director has selected my play, but being shortlisted for this is still pretty cool.

And in news that is not GOING VIRAL, THE FORMATIVE YEARS will be making its international premiere at Playground: Fears in London. This will be my second Playground show, the first being (you guessed it!) GOING VIRAL in Playground: Deception. If you live in the UK you should go and laugh a lot at my play.

Is that enough bragging? I think so. I prepare now to reach into my sleepless brain and pull out (by force, if necessary) THEATRE.

Finally, unrelated to any of the above: Ultrafacts is my new favorite Tumblr. The grammar is not always great but the content is fascinating/shocking/funny/etc. I use it to harangue my girlfriend and coworkers with trivia they never wanted to know... but need.

Theatre KAPOW's 24-Hour Play Festival

I'm delighted (and a little frightened) to announce that I will be one of five playwrights creating new works in a very short span of time for Theatre KAPOW's 24-Hour Play Festival this October in Derry, New Hampshire. 

Behold! My mug! And the brave mugs of talented others.

I've always wanted to try something like this. And let's face it: I am no stranger to impossible deadlines. Should be fun and not at all fatal!