Seven Devils: design meeting and set drawings

One of the great parts of the Seven Devils script development process is the design meeting. I got to spend part of an afternoon meeting with design fellow Sabrina Reed, my director Christy Montour-Larson, dramaturg Gay Smith, and Seven Devils artistic director, Jeni Mahoney, talking about the physical world of my play, Drift, and how it might be realized on stage. I talked about where the play came from, and about farming, and they asked all kinds of questions about colors and texture, and realism v. non-reality, my best imagined production and my worst.

It’s a helpful way to remind a writer who’s been living in his head for a while about some of the physical and visual possibilities of the staging of this piece, as it all starts to feel more real. And in the ends, we had a cool drawing of how one designer might set the play.

A rendering of a set design by Seven Devils Design Fellow, Sabrina Reed

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I’m back from Seven Devils. (Wow!)

Table work on Drift. Photo by Maggie Rosenthal

I’m finally getting a chance to catch my breath a little, after an extremely busy start to the year. It was all capped off with a 17-day stay at the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall, Idaho, where I workshopped my play, Drift.  I’d had the good fortune to be selected to work on my play, Flight, back in 2011, but had to leave after only a few days, due to a death in our family.  I’d been working and hoping to get back to McCall ever since.

Sheila McDevitt in the reading of Drift. PHoto by Sarah Jessup.

Jonathan Bangs in Drift. Photo by Sarah Jessup

Mirirai Sithole in Drift. Photo by Sarah Jessup.

Danette Baker in Drift. Photo by Sarah Jessup.

It’s a gorgeous place, and the first week I was there, I spent every possible moment working on the play with my director, Christy Montour Larson, dramaturg Gay Smith, stage manager Dana Reiland, and our fabulous cast of Sheila McDevitt, Mirirai Sithole, Jonathan Bangs, and Danette Baker.  I’d get up early and write, then rehearse all day, then come back and write some more. On Saturday night, we had a fully staged reading for a sold-out house. And the audiences there, after 17 seasons of the conference, are very smart and sophisticated when it comes to discussing new plays.

For the second week, I helped dramaturg a new play by Dayna Smith, which had a sit-down reading as part of its development. And I got to see readings of all the other plays by my fellow writers, attend a writer’s workshop from Elaine Romero, and go to a bunch of other fun events. And spend some time at the Burgdorf hot springs (super rustic, super relaxing) chilling out after a long week.

Seven Devils is the kind of experience that I’d want to give to every playwright at some point in their career. There’s an entire artistic community that forms with an intense focus on helping the playwrights explore, change, and refine their scripts. And they’ve also engaged the greater community–so local businesses donate space and material and money to help make it all work. Local residents help provide housing for almost 50 visiting artists who are coming in from all across the country.

I stayed in a cozy apartment above a garage about five miles out of McCall, surrounded by miles of pastureland, ringed by snow tinged mountains. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect spot to work on this particular play.

Now I’m back to my regular life. Excited to see my family, settling into summer . Working on a new play, with Blood on the Snow still running at the Old State House, and Both/And still at the MIT Museum.

But behind it all, I’ve still got the afterglow my time at Seven Devils. I made solid strides on Drift, and I got to work with some really great people. I hope to work with them again, and to find a way to get back to McCall someday. We’ll see what the future holds for Drift.

Seven Devils 2017! photo by Sarah Jessup

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A very busy month: events and productions of my work in May

May is a super busy month for my work.  Here are the events and shows happening around the country. I hope you can check some of them out.  (Please e-mail me if you do, or if you see me, come say Hello.)

  • Stop Rain, a short play, was produced at Actors Workshop in Ithaca, NY, on May 3.
  • My short play, Spitting Image was at Payson High School in Payson, AZ, on May 4.
  • My short play, The Discovery, was produced at the Bethune School, in Bethune, CO, on May 5.
  • My short play, Pumpkin Patch, was produced at the Henry W. Grady High School, in Atlanta, May 5-6.
  • My one-minute play, Polaroids, will be in the Gi60 International Play Festival on May 13, at the University of Leeds, 7:30 p.m.
  • My short play Eden in Chains will be in the Boston Theater Marathon on May 14 at the Calderwood Pavilion Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts. This event features 50 ten-minute plays by New England playwrights, from noon until 10 p.m. (My show is in the 9 o’clock hour.) Plus the event supports the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund!
  • On Tuesday, May 16, at 7 p.m., Porter Square Books will host the official launch for StageSource’s New England New Play Anthology, a fantastic collection that I edited, by some of New England’s best playwrights. We’ll have actors read from scenes from the plays.
  • On Thursday, May 18, at 6:30 p.m. I’ll be part of the Four Stories reading series at the Middle East Restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge. Actor Marc Pierre will read from my novel, Steering to Freedom, about Civil War hero Robert Smalls.
  • My one-act about quantum entanglement, Both/And, continues to run at the MIT Museum. This month it will play on May 20, 21, 29 at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • My one-act, The Next Big Thing, will be at St. Anne’s School of Annapolis, in Maryland, May 24.
  • On Tuesday, May 25, at 6 p.m., I will be giving a talk with Stephen H. Case at the New England Historic Genealogical Society about Benedict Arnold and his wife Peggy Shippen and their plot to betray America during the Revolutionary War. We’ll have actors read scenes from a screenplay that I’ve written based on Stephen’s book, Treacherous Beauty.
  • And at the end of the month (June 1, actually), Blood on the Snow will return to the Old State House for a 12-week run. Last year the show sold out very fast–this year there will be plenty of chances to see this site-specific play about the day after the 1770 Boston Massacre. (But don’t wait to get your tickets.)
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New England New Play Anthology is now published!

After a very long time, and a lot of work and support, all across the Boston and New England theater community, StageSource and the New Play Alliance have finally published the New England New Play Anthology!

I’m so proud to share these fabulous plays with the rest of the world. Our authors are:

Walt McGough, Melinda Lopez, Marisa Smith, Kirsten Greenidge, Johnny Kuntz, Steven Barkhimer, MJ Halberstadt, and John Minigan.

Special thanks are due to Laura Neill, Julie Hennrikus, Emma B Putnam, Brian Michael Balduzzi, Haley Fluke, Ty Furman, Alicia Bettano, Daniel Begin, Clare Lockhart, Jake Catsaros (who designed the fabulous cover), Naomi Ibasitas, Mary Frances Nosser, Michaela Tucci, Juliet Bowler, Steven Bergman, Ellen Davis Sullivan, Amy Merrill, Lisa Rafferty, Stefanie Cloutier, and Karla Sorenson, Ilana Brownstein, Charles Haugland, Jessie Baxter, and many more.

I hope you’ll buy a copy (via StageSource, but bookstores and Amazon also have it), not just to support new plays in New England, but to read these fantastic scripts by some of New England’s most talented playwrights.
http://bit.ly/NPAbook

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Escape to Wonderland coming to Colorado, April 9

My short play, Escape to Wonderland, will be part of One Night Stand‘s “Trains and Planes” evening at the Vintage Theatre in Aurora, Colorado, on April 9th.  I’ve had quite a few plays read by One Night Stand and I’m grateful for my work to be back again.  Here’s more details:

Take a Trip with One Night Stand Theater’s “Trains and Planes” April 9

Join One Night Stand Theater for sentimental journeys of the heart and dark trips of the soul when they present “Trains and Planes: Voyages by Air and Rail” on Sunday, April 9, 7:00 p.m. at the Vintage Theater in Aurora.

This one-night-only production features short plays and stories of travel and adventure:

  • Unseen forces on an Italian train bring two young travelers together in “Physics and Tea” by Ross Peter Nelson.
  • A treacherous journey to Denver connects a worried mother and a solitary hitchhiker in “After the Rain” by Julie Excell.
  • The widow at Gate 12 has an unexpected reaction to a plane crash in “Taking Off” by David-Matthew Barnes.
  • A chance reunion of old friends on the Boston Blue Line turns criminal in “Escape to Wonderland” by Patrick Gabridge.
  • A trip to the Santa Monica Airport with a plane-loving 10-year-old resonates decades later in “Tango Oscar Mike” by Beth Foster.
  • A child’s adventurous train ride from Chicago to Cairo is not what it seems in “Train Story” by Leslie Lewis.
  • Train folk songs and ghost stories are also on the show’s itinerary.

The show features actors MaryAnn Amari, Erin Bell, David Brandl, James Crapes, Emily Gomes, Joi Hiatt, Hilarie Nelson, Lauren Russell, and Doug Tisdale, with directors Tami Canaday, Cindy Hall, Brenda Hoskins, and James O’Leary.

“Our show’s theme is travel,” says James O’Leary, One Night Stand Theater’s artistic director, “but the real journey is the twists and turns in these plays and stories. These trips go in unexpected directions and wind up in unlikely destinations: some romantic, some tragic.”

One Night Stand Theater is a Denver-area theater company that has presented one-night-only evenings of theatrical staged readings over the past eight years, each with its own theme. Performances have featured the Wild West, folk tales, Shakespeare, Hollywood, and plays about war, romance, and the Bible.

“Trains and Planes” takes place on Sunday, April 9 at 7:00 p.m. at the Vintage Theatre, located at 1468 Dayton St., one half-block south of Colfax Avenue in Old Downtown Aurora. Tickets are $10. The evening is recommended for mature audiences. To make reservations, e-mail tickets@onenightstandtheater.org or phone 303-725-4959. More information is available at www.onenightstandtheater.org and at the One Night Stand Theater Facebook page.

 

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How Does It Feel To Be A Problem? running at Theatre Three

Brian Smith and Skyler Quinn Johnson in How Does It Feel To Be a Problem? Photo by Peter Lanscombe.

My short play, How Does It Feel To Be A Problem? is now entering its second week at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, Long Island, as part of their 20th annual one-act festival.  The play is about a white dad and his black adopted son, when they have to have “the talk” about how the world is going to treat the young teen differently than his white friends. Sounds like it’s been getting a powerful response so far. They produced Quack in the festival two years ago.

The festival runs through April 1.

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Both/And in “Love and Other Entanglments” at the MIT Museum

Image may contain: nightI’ve been commissioned to write a short play about quantum entanglement by the Central Square Theatre and the MIT Museum, as part of an exhibit around a really weird and cool experiment that’s been conducted by MIT Professors David Kaiser and Alan Guth and a whole team of super smart people. The resulting script, Both/And, will have its first public reading this Friday, February 10th at the MIT Museum in Cambridge at 7 pm, as part of a program called “Love and Other Entanglements” which will feature stories, music, and our play.

The script is still in development, so this is a chance for us to hear how it works for an audience. I’m thrilled to be reunited with director Rebecca Bradshaw (who directed my play Fire on Earth four years ago for Fresh Ink in Boston), and to be working with a talented and fun cast of Grace Trapnell, Susannah Wilson, and Josephine Elwood.

Come check it out!

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Santa is up and running in Orlando

PosterSanta Doesn’t Live Here Anymore opened at the Playwrights Round Table in Orlando last weekend, as part of their Launch 2017 Festival.  The festival runs through February 5th, with a terrific line-up of 8 new plays.

Tracey Jane Smith, and BeeJay Clinton and Ken Preuss. Photo by Robert Cunha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ken Preuss, BeeJay Clinton, Tracey Jane Smith. Photo by Robert Cunha

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It’s official: Blood on the Snow will return!

The announcement was made official today:  Blood on the Snow will return to the Old State House in Boston, for the WHOLE SUMMER.  Yep, that’s right, a 12-week run, opening June 1st. We sold out the entire run last year and the audience response was tremendous to this immersive show set on the day after the Boston Massacre. In the room where it happened. (an important meeting that might have determined the fate of America, not the massacre) Most of the original cast (who are amazing) are returning for the run. The folks at the Old State House/Bostonian society are amazing to work with. Should be a great summer.  Here’s a very cool trailer they came up with for the show.  Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but if you’re interested, get on the mailing list to find out when (I think it’s going to sell very quickly again).

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Santa Doesn’t Live Here Anymore opens in CA tonight!

Santa Doesn’t Live Here Anymore opens tonight at the Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro, California, as part of their Pick of the Vine Festival. It runs all the way through February 11th. I’m excited to be back in this festival–my play, Recognition was in it back in 2010. I just wish I could be there to see it!

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