Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Projects for 2016

For convenient reference, and by way of explaining why I don't have lots of time anymore for random blogging, I'm posting a list of the projects that I have coming up in 2016.

Major Projects

Juana, or the Greater Glory in the Loud & Unladylike Festival: This festival, which honors lesser-known historical women, has commissioned me to write a full-length play about Princess Juana: Spanish princess, member of the powerful Hapsburg family, and the only woman ever to become a Jesuit. I'm working hard on the initial draft and will be going on a writers' retreat with the other L&U folks this weekend. Once the script is in better shape, I also hope to write some blog posts geeking out about my historical research -- Spanish royal history is completely fascinating and not nearly well-known enough in this country. Besides, do you expect me to spend six weeks reading the writings of Ignatius of Loyola and just keep my thoughts to myself? Juana will have a public staged reading in mid-July, directed by Claire Rice: date TBD, but either July 14, 15, or 16.

You'll Not Feel the Drowning in Custom Made Theatre's Undiscovered Works program: San Francisco's Custom Made Theatre Co. has started a new-works development program and my script You'll Not Feel the Drowning (originally written for the 2015 Olympians Festival) was one of four plays selected for it! I was not expecting this to happen -- the draft that I submitted is a really odd length, 35 minutes, and more than with any play I've ever written, my feelings about this script shift from day to day. Still, I look forward to developing this piece in a focused, systematic way, until it becomes something that I truly love and no longer feel uncertain about. Drowning will have two developmental readings at the Gallery Café on Nob Hill, on May 14 and September 13, both directed by Gabe Ross.

Macaria in the SF Olympians Festival: For the sixth year in a row, I'll be writing a Greek-myth-inspired play for the Olympians Festival, which is happening in October this year. The theme of the 2016 festival is the Underworld (including, intriguingly, a week devoted to Egyptian mythology) and my subject is Macaria, Hades and Persephone's daughter, the Princess of the Underworld. You can read more about her, and my play, here. It will have a staged reading on October 14, along with readings of plays by Bridgette Dutta Portman and Elizabeth Flanagan.

It's a fun coincidence that I'm writing Juana and Macaria in the same year: both Juana and Macaria are rebellious teenage princesses of rich but death-haunted kingdoms, who dress in black and have fateful encounters with their possibly-crazy grandmothers. I can tell that these two scripts will influence one another in fruitful ways!

Other Projects

"The Dryad of Suburbia" in ShortLived 2016: This happened last weekend, and after four performances and a hard-fought battle, my play came in second -- 1908 points to 1969. And the winning play, "Goodsell, Good Life," by writer-performers Tommy Lazer and Suzil Von, featured funky dance moves and a fog machine -- I mean how could I be expected to win against that?

Pint-Sized Plays 2016 at SF Theater Pub: For the second year in a row, I am Tsarina (producer) of the Pint-Sized Plays, though this year I'm bringing on a Tsarevich (deputy producer) in the form of Alejandro Torres. Bay Area playwrights, the Pint-Sized script submission call should be posted on the Theater Pub blog next week. The performances for this will be August 22, 23, 29, and 30, in the PianoFight bar.

Arts journalism: I've been writing a column for the Theater Pub blog every two weeks for almost four years, and... well, it might be time for me to transition into a different role over there. Still, I credit this columnist gig with making me a much better writer, more comfortable with both personal essays and interviews/journalistic pieces, and in 2016 it looks like I will be doing some freelance arts journalism for higher-profile venues. Yes, I'm being vague on purpose, but All Will Be Revealed soon.

The Weekend Without a Summer: 2016 is a great year for British-literature nerds. Besides being the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, it's the 200th anniversary of the "Year Without a Summer," during which Mary Shelley got the idea for Frankenstein and the Romantic poets got up to some of their most characteristic shenanigans. Huge nerds that we are, my friend Stuart Bousel and I are planning a five-day celebration of the Romantic movement over Labor Day Weekend. It will be Gothic, it will be sublime, it will be mad & bad & dangerous to know.

Travel: With this busy year ahead of me, I'd assumed I wouldn't have time to take a vacation and would have to white-knuckle it till November, which was a depressing thought. (I spent much of February feeling lethargic and overwhelmed.) Then I reviewed my calendar, realized that if I played my cards right I could go away for two weeks in late April, and, with a much sunnier spirit, got to planning a vacation. NYC, Paris, and Oxford, here I come!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Dryad of Suburbia" in Shortlived 2016 next weekend

"Dryad of Suburbia" poster by Cody Rishell.
I'm pleased to announce that my 10-minute play "The Dryad of Suburbia," originally commissioned by the San Francisco Olympians Festival in 2014, will receive a full production as part of PianoFight's Shortlived competition next weekend!
What should loving but stressed-out modern parents Tom and Heidi do when their young daughter starts claiming that she has a mystical connection to the oak tree in the yard? It's not easy to be a tree spirit in a suburban neighborhood that's blighted by both conformity and drought.
The world premiere of "The Dryad of Suburbia" is directed by James Nelson, featuring actors Leah Shesky and Raymond Hobbs. We had a dynamite first rehearsal last Monday (Leah and Ray even started improvising in character) and I look forward to seeing the finished product on Thursday, March 17.

Shortlived is the nation's largest audience-judged theater festival. As a newbie playwright in S.F., I attended nearly every round of the 2010 edition of Shortlived, met several great people who are still in my life today, and finally developed an intuitive sense of what makes for a good short play. (I have thoroughly romanticized this period of my life and wrote about it for the Theater Pub blog last year.) So I am excited to finally have a script of my own in the festival and a shot at the prize! I'm also glad that "The Dryad of Suburbia" isn't just sitting in a drawer anymore. It caused me a lot of stress while I was writing it -- I had to scrap my original idea for a dryad-themed play and write this one at the last minute -- but it got a great reception at the staged reading in 2014 and now it will have a future life.

There are 4 performances of "The Dryad of Suburbia," March 17 through 19 at 8 PM, plus March 19 at 5. Tickets here. Facebook event here. Come one, come all -- and vote early and vote often for "Dryad"!