Sunday, September 24, 2006

4 days in New York; A peek into the world of the New Dramatists selection committee

In the midst of all this blogging about why someone would choose (or not choose) to work in NY - I went to the great city for two readings: DRESSING THE GIRL and BEYOND THE OWING.

DRESSING THE GIRL was first on Thursday. It's a play I've worked on quite a bit and while there's no such thing as finished, I'm not working on it anymore.

Somehow, I convinced Olivia Honegger at the Relentless Theatre Company to not just do it, but do it in a dress shop. She, by some miracle, got Montmartre to host the show at the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle. This little site-specific idea turned out to be a good little gimmick to get people interested in the show and I felt it proved something to me about the feelings that rise up in people when they think about theatre: That the idea of going to a black box to sit in rows of uncomfortable chairs is dreaded. Moreso when they consider how bored they were watching the show they'd come to see.

Fortunately, boredom and dread did not happen on Thursday. In fact, putting it in the store gave it something different that was a real turn on. Though I'm not the first to do this, I know there will be more of this in my future. It may mean that I never do a show in a space that can hold more than 40 people, but theatre is not a mass medium, so, perhaps small invitation only "events" is the way to go.

It seems like a step backward to "parlor theatre" on one hand, but it offers an intimacy and closeness that cannot be replicated by any other art form I know of.

The second reading was a closed reading of a play I'm still working on: BEYOND THE OWING. It took place at the NJ Rep.

The actors were terrific, but I was unhappy overall with my own writing (I hate discovering how much work I need to do in front of other people). Though this play is a very big play with some real heat on it, it needs work. I'm hoping one of the theatres that's currently looking at it will see the value in it and help me develop it further.

The other exciting thing that happened during all this activity was meeting one of the people who served on the New Dramatists' selection committee two years ago when I was a finalist for admission. It was the first year I'd ever applied, so I thought it was actually an accident that I had gotten so far in the selection process - that they'd lost my application and rather than admit they'd forgotten to write me a rejection letter earlier, they just said, let's give this guy a little hope.

I was relieved to know there were several people on the committee who loved my script FIRE BABY and that the committee was split along hard lines over it. The people who got it were quite taken with the play's crazy bravado - if you want to call it that. The people who didn't get it found it "hateful" (a direct quote). But apparently neither side could stop reading the play.

This is how plays should be.

It gave me renewed faith that there are people who can see what I'm trying to do. Some even like it.

It also made me go back and look at the people who got in the year I was rejected in the first round (last year) and realize my writing is simply not like theirs in any way. Whoever was on the committee last year (it changes every year which I think is a good thing) was simply interested in a different kind of theatre.

It confirmed the fairness of the selection process, which I've read about - and been told about - from two different sources.

Naturally, I'll keep applying.


I also spent a lot of time seeing friends in New York, though the thing that sticks with me most about this trip was (unlike San Francisco) I was never struck by the feeling that I wanted to come back. If anything, knowing that the place was behind me for good, I was able to enjoy it more. It somehow inured me from all the grinding on 42nd street. It had none of the heaviness that can come with knowing you'll return to it tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow with no end in sight.

It was fun.

And the imporant part of that sentence (and this trip) is the verb tense.

Now it's all LA. All the time. From here on out.


D said...

Worthwhile musings as always.

I think you said you'd be in Ashland through Tuesday of next week., which means we'll miss each other again.

I arrive in LA on Sunday afternoon and leave on Wednesday morning. We're going to see Doubt on Tuesday night.

You missed an excellent eve last night - if you can get to Redcat to see What To Wear, jump at the chance.

Malachy Walsh said...

Though I've heard a lot about What To Wear, I'm more sorry I missed you.

This may be one of the last trips up to the OSF this season. Certianly, there'll be one in October, but through December I'll have to go all the way to Portland to see her, so any trips will be by air and thus, fit more neatly into a weekend.

So, I'll be around more.

Plus I need to find work. Soon.