Thursday, August 30, 2007

Making excellent use of that chill time

You too may freak out your friends and family with this fun program, courtesy of those inventive people over at Blabber.

Be honest with me: you didn't think that was Burl Ives in the picture, did you???

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Vacation, all I ever wanted

Yes, I am actually on vacation from Portland Center Stage. It's a Big Deal -- three weeks away from the theater along with an oft-reiterated VOW not to check email, not to check voicemail. So far so good, but it's freaky how often the thought occurs to me that I could be monitoring my work via remote control.

A while ago a neighbor, Harry, asked me how things were going at the theater. Just as though he had pressed a red button, at once I launched into my usual jeremiad:

ME: Oy, it's frantic, there's so much going on, I don't know how we're going to get it all underway..." etc.

HARRY: But isn't that how you like it?

ME: What do you mean?

HARRY: seems like it's the same for all the theater people I've ever known. They're always overworking and desperate to get something going and they seem to be enjoying that.

Does that seem like an obvious observation? I was flummoxed, momentarily. Because I was thinking: my god, Harry's right. As much as I complain about the work load, the anxieties, the exasperating aspects of constant collaboration....I'm also feeding off the nervous energy. And now I notice I miss it. So it turns out that theater is more than an excuse to drink a lot of coffee; it has a way of becoming its own raison d'etre, a handy energy sop, because you can never ever finish all there is to do.

So now I'm on the road. Yep: GONE. Checking in, as you can see, just not with PCS. Because I've done the week-off-at-home thing, where the idea is to push through with my own writing, and you know what? If people find out you're in town, you've just bought a work-at-home week. SO. It's three weeks of roaming around, in town and out, promising myself I won't cave into my genetically encoded workaholism and read those PCS emails, though I can hear them piling up from here: bing bing bing.

YOU, though. You are welcome to reach out and fondle and I will respond in kind....yes that's right, I'm talking to youse.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

more technomania

So I add a tag-board -- see it there, to the far right, just under my pulchritudinous visage? -- and then within an hour, a shout out appears, courtesy of the glam Marc Acito, of How I Paid for College fame. A celeb! On my bloggling!

But then: you're all celebs to me -- from the dashing Enrique Urueta to the ever-lurking Ken Roht to my own dear sainted mother -- but MARC ACITO. I have taken the liberty of imbedding HIS visage, in another portrait by the tireless Gwenn Seemel. Now you too can accost him on the streets....

By the way, just in case you're not a charter member of the computer cognoscenti, the idea of the tag-board is that now you can leave messages for me, or for yourself or for others, on the board without having to comment on a posting. My assumption here is that the astral plane teems with people hoping to do just that. Leave messages, I mean, not teem.

Have at it. Please.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

molto spiritoso!

Demon video provocateuse Rose Riordan strikes in her relentless drive to freak me out on acid. This time she's enlisted the help of the evil genius of IceTruck. Click on the above link to check it out, and then -- if you like -- accept the invitation at the end to foist this onto another vicitm...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

PlayPenn + YOU

Wow, two outstanding opportunities in one evening (if you check out the next post as well, I mean). PlayPenn is a recent and welcome addition to the tiny universe of good developmental festivals for orginal playwriting; take advantage of its open submission policy while it lasts!

I admire these guys. Admittedly I'm partial to them because of their excellent taste -- by which of course I mean that we're in perfect accord -- inviting in boundary-busters such as Jordan Harrison and
Sheila Callaghan -- so what's not to like??


PlayPenn 2008 Submission Guidelines

PlayPenn, Philadelphia’s professional New Play Development Conference invites you to submit a sample of your work for consideration for development of the full-length play during our 2008 Conference.

The 2008 conference will be held in Philadelphia from July 13 – 27 at the Adrienne Theatre. Invited playwrights will have the opportunity to work with a director of choice, dramaturg and professional Philadelphia actors over a two week period that allows for 29 hours of rehearsal and staged reading time. The public staged reading will be presented over the final weekend of the conference. PlayPenn will provide travel for casting for both writer and director, travel to and from the conference, housing, per diem and an honorarium.

Since 2005 PlayPenn has developed as many as six plays each summer. We offer a process that focuses on writers’ needs, providing rehearsal time, dramaturgical assistance, ample time to write and ultimately a public forum in which to view the work accomplished over the course of the development period in the form of a staged reading. Within reason, playwrights are given responsibility and freedom to pursue their own goals with collaborators of their choosing. Plays developed at our 2005 and 2006 conferences have been, and will be produced by Great Britain’s National Theatre, The Roundabout Theatre (Fall ’07) (THE OVERWHELMING by JT Rogers), The Humana Festival, Illusion Theatre (ACT A LADY by Jordan Harrison) and Crowded Fire Theatre (WE ARE NOT THESE HANDS by Sheila Callaghan) and more with SCARCITY by Lucy Thurber scheduled to receive production at the Atlantic Theatre in the Fall.

What is PlayPenn?

PlayPenn is an annual conference for the development of new plays, the advancement of new voices in the theatre both locally and nationally, and the cross-fertilization of writers, directors, dramaturgs and actors.

PlayPenn is a new play development conference. The goal of the conference is to develop plays, through a process of collaboration, experimentation, rehearsal and rewriting rather than fully realized productions of finished works. By focusing on playwrights’ needs PlayPenn makes the fundamental work of the theatre possible without the constraints and pressures of production, promotion and commercial consideration.

By providing a laboratory and the necessary tools for playwrights offering the potential for the most progressive and substantive results for playwrights’ work, PlayPenn’s process is helping to develop the next generation of playwrights for Philadelphia, the region and the nation.

PlayPenn’s National Advisory Board

Lee Blessing
Walter Dallas
Russell Davis
Steven Dietz
Liz Engelman
Frank Gagliano
Sara Garonzik
Bruce Graham
Lillian Groag
Jeffrey Hatcher
Robert Hedley
Michael Holllinger
Willy Holtzman
David Strathairn
Tazewell Thompson
Michele Volansky

For more information visit our website at


Because of an increasing number of submissions PlayPenn is receiving each year, we can only consider a single submission from each playwright.

Your submission should include:

1. Ten pages of a play you feel will benefit from the process and resources offered by PlayPenn, simply bound. Plays that have been previously produced are not eligible for consideration. The play may have been previously read or work-shopped.

2. Your full mailing address, phone number and e-mail address

3. A cover letter containing information about the development of the play and where it is at this point in its development.
4. A short synopsis of the play.

5. Breakdown of the cast (how many in the cast, doubling, etc.)

6. An up-to-date resume and short bio.

*** If you would like confirmation of receipt of your submission,
please include a self-addressed, stamped postcard.

We encourage you to submit using double-sided printing and staples or paper clips to reduce the use of paper and your costs.

Send your materials to:

220 West Evergreen Avenue, D-2
Philadelphia, PA 19118


paul meshejian, artistic director
220 west evergreen avenue, d-2
philadelphia, pa 19118
215.242.2814 (fax)

Need funds? Try the Scientific Method.

Seen this one? If you have a script along scientific lines, or were thinking about writing one (come on, I know you already have your Sloan proposal at the ready), here's your chance. It doesn't cost to enter and the brass ring's worth 10K. Also the dazzling list of people they've invited in as judges in the past is encouraging: Luis Alfaro, Morgan Jenness (full list below).....a very good sign that.

Overall it seems like a great outfit -- even if they don't know how to spell dramaturg.



Website: E-mail:

The Professional Artists Lab and the California NanoSystems Institute at the
University of California, Santa Barbara continue their collaboration with
the third STAGE International Script Competition, open to plays about
science and technology.

The winner of the Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating
Exploration (STAGE) Competition will receive a $10,000 USD prize, along with
opportunities for developing and promoting the winning script, including
access to advice and guidance from professional theatre and film artists as
well as experts in the fields of science, engineering and technology.

Submitted plays must explore scientific and/or technological stories,
themes, issues or events. (The competition is not open to plays written in
the genre of science fiction.) Entries must be postmarked by December 31,
2007. The winning play will be announced in July, 2007.

Scripts will be judged by an esteemed panel of jurors from both the arts and
sciences. Previous judges included:
Nobel Laureates David Gross (2004 Physics) and Alan Heeger (2000 Chemistry);
playwright and MacArthur Fellow Luis Alfaro; award-winning theatre, film and
television director Arvin Brown; Dr. Polly Carl, Producing Artistic Director
of the Minneapolis Playwrights' Center; Obie Award-winning playwright Lonnie
Carter; award-winning playwright Constance Congdon; award-winning playwright
and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher; Morgan Jenness, dramaturge and literary
agent at Abrams Artists Agency; Professional Artists Lab
Playwright-in-Residence Barbara Lebow; Eduardo Machado, award-winning
playwright and Artistic Director of New York's INTAR Theatre; and Tony and
Olivier award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and director Mark Medoff.

For details about the competition and submission guidelines, visit For questions or additional information, please

Information about the winners of the second round of the STAGE Competition
may be found at:

STAGE endeavors to:

- foster new and imaginative voices and methods of storytelling.
- catalyze the development of art that depicts the technological age in
which we live.
- cultivate appreciation and collaboration between the two cultures of
science and art.
- promote understanding of the sciences in the public arena.
- accomplish all of the above within an international community.

The Professional Artists Lab ( is a dynamic artistic
laboratory in the Department of Film & Media Studies and the Media Arts &
Technology Program at UCSB, in which professional actors, directors, writers
and producers create and develop new works in film, theatre, television,
radio and multi-media performance.

The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) (, one
of the prestigious California Institutes for Science and Innovation, focuses
on dramatic breakthroughs in materials, devices and resulting technologies,
made possible by controlling form and function at the nanoscale. These
breakthroughs are being accomplished through the integration of many science
and engineering disciplines, and will have broad applications for innovation
in communication, biomedical, energy and environmental technologies.


STAGE Script Competition
Professional Artists Lab
CNSI - MC 6105
3241 Elings Hall - Bldg. 266
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6105

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Noticed this tonight on a wryly observed website called The Playgoer and wanted to share it:

Since the question has come up . . . let's clear up this playwright/playwriting confusion once and for all.

The term playwright bears this wonderful anachronistic notion of the dramatist as "handicraftsman." (Hence "wright" as in shipwright.) It's very much in the same vein as dramaturgy, which, as Michael Feingold once helpfully pointed out in a column, is an etymological cousin of metalurgy.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Playwright" dates from 1616--yes, the very year of Shakespeare's death. But it was his rival Ben Jonson who is credited with coining the term (or at least authoring its first extant appearance):

1616 B. JONSON Epigr. xlix, in Wks. I. 781 Play-wright me reades, and still my verses damnes, He sayes, I want the tongue of Epigrammes; I haue no salt: no bawdrie he doth meane. For wittie, in his language, is obscene. Play-wright, I loath to haue thy manners knowne In my chast booke: professe them in thine owne.
I'll leave it to the more adventurous antiquarians out there to unpack that.

Note the hyphenation. It also appears as such in OED's next historical example...

a1677 M. CLIFFORD Notes Dryden's Poems (1687) iv. 16 Wherein you may..thrive better, than at this damn'd Trade of a Play-wright
...where apparently this guy Clifford is telling Dryden to avoid the profession, even back then!

My off-the-cuff historical diagnosis is that we see here the growth of the theatre business in 17th century England, after such hitmakers as Shakespeare and Jonson proved one could make a profession out of poetry for the stage. Concurrently in this period you also will see dramatists referred to flat out as "poets," in Restoration prologues, for instance. ("Our poets," etc) But that fell by the wayside once plays turned pretty consistently to prose by 1800. And so "playwright" was all that was left, I guess. And so it remains.

Notice also how the hardwiring into the word of menial craftsmanship--as opposed to ethereal poetry and high art--coincides with that ol' anti-theatrical prejudice. While many a dramatist to this day would be proud to be deemed a good craftsman, they don't share that honor with would-be "novelwrights" and "symphonywrights." Come to think of it, "Dramatic Composer" doesn't sound all that bad, does it?

As for the verb form, "Playwriting" is totally legit since it's actually a different word, not "playwright" modified--that is, "writing plays" as opposed to being a "wright" of plays. OED does recognize "playwrighting" but only dates it from 1892--which is puzzling since "wright" as a verb seems to have gone out of style around...oh, 1616. "Playwriting" actually appears to predate "Playwrighting" which shows it's not some corruption. Maybe putting that hyphen back in would help: play-writing?

We also might be interested in reviving what Carlyle in 1831 termed the "playwrightess."

Monday, August 6, 2007

PDX = new plays for now people

The fabulous new publication PDXmagazine continues to champion the worthy cause of NEW PLAYS NOW in both its print and its virtual pages. Read all about it at:

I'm especially glad to see this article (by actor/writer Patrick Wohlmut) because, as the article points out, all the playwrights profiled are either current members of PlayGroup @ PCS or alumni of it. That's the ultracool Ebbe Roe Smith in the picture to the left, captured in his natural habitat by photographer by Amaren Colosi.