Hi-Ho, the Glamorous Life: When Your Politics and Your Artistic Tastes Collide

Marissa Skudlarek continues the Marissa Skudlarek Chronicles.

The current Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles will be closing this weekend after 80 performances. After the show announced its plans to close, The New York Times published an article analyzing why it might have flopped so badly. Much of the article discusses whether this play about a Baby Boomer woman speaks to women of younger generations, particularly those in “the lively world of online feminism.” (The fact that younger women just plain don’t pay attention to Broadway plays as much as older ones do only merits a parenthetical. Look, I’m doing it again!) Overall, the article implies that whether or not you like The Heidi Chronicles is a matter of whether or not you agree with its feminist politics – though with the added twist that, in the 21st century, many self-proclaimed feminists have trouble with the play’s message.

Well, I could have told you as much. In college, I did a research paper on people’s reactions to The Heidi Chronicles, and made that same argument. My professor had asked everyone to pick a 20th-century play, find as many reviews of different productions as we could, and then write a paper discussing how the performance tradition and/or the critical reception of that play had changed over time. I elected to do my project on The Heidi Chronicles. It was early in 2006, Wendy Wasserstein had just died, and I wanted to write about her play as a way of honoring her. My research showed that, while the play was pretty universally praised in its first Broadway production in 1988 (it also won the Best Play Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize), more recent productions had had more mixed reviews, and the reviewers’ political beliefs always seemed to color their reactions to the play.

I’ll come out and say it: I’ve never seen a production of The Heidi Chronicles, but I’ve read it several times, and I do like it. Even though I know I supposedly “shouldn’t” like it because of the way it represents a very second-wave, elitist, white, bourgeois liberal feminism that it is my generation’s duty to move beyond. (Besides, like Heidi, I am a bourgeois white liberal woman who went to Vassar. To completely abjure those parts of me would be self-loathing.) At the same time, though, I totally get it when, say, a queer black working-class feminist says “You’re telling me I should like The Heidi Chronicles because it’s one of the most acclaimed and successful feminist plays in the canon, but I’m sorry, it doesn’t speak to me.”

And that’s what I really want to talk about in this column: what happens when you feel like you’re “supposed” to like a play for political reasons, but you actually don’t like it? And the inverse: what happens when you really enjoy a play that nonetheless has some elements that you know are politically iffy?

I consider myself a feminist, but that doesn’t mean that I love every show that promotes a feminist message. I get offended when people suggest that I “should” love a certain show because I generally agree with its politics. Politics is not and has never been why I go to the theater. On the occasions when I do like a show for feminist reasons, it’s typically because the show features complex and fascinating and intelligently written female characters, not because it strives to make an Important Political Statement About the Female Condition.

Let me give you two examples of plays I saw in 2014 where my opinion of the play’s politics did not match my opinion of its artistry. First, The House That Will Not Stand at Berkeley Rep. I really thought I was going to like this play: it had a majority-female cast and explored a fascinating but little-known piece of American history. In telling the story of free women of color in New Orleans, it showed the plight of women in a patriarchal society and their attempts to find freedom, power, and dignity. But I hated the play. I thought it was silly and melodramatic and overheated, and while set in the early 1800s, some of the characters behaved in unbelievably 21st-century ways. The leading actress gave such a mannered performance, and the writing was so overwrought, that, halfway through the show, I decided that I would much prefer to see it performed by drag queens. And then I felt like a terrible feminist.

Then, a few months after that, I saw Wittenberg at the Aurora Theatre. It doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test: it is written for three men and one woman. The woman (unlike the men) has to play multiple small parts, and all of her roles feel like afterthoughts. Her character was billed in the playbill as “The Eternal Feminine,” which I thought was just plain icky — putting women on a pedestal can be a form of misogyny, you know. And yet, despite all those caveats, I really liked the show. The writing was clever and entertaining. It dealt with some philosophical and ethical matters (the main conflict in the play is between Martin Luther and Dr. Faustus, professors at Wittenberg University) but it was not explicitly political in the 21st-century sense of “political theater.” And again, I felt like a terrible feminist. What was I doing, preferring this elitist, smarty-pants, Stoppard-lite comedy about three dead white men, to a politically conscious, highly emotional drama about women of color?

But I think I’m just going to have to go on being a terrible (read: complex, and not doctrinaire) feminist. Reducing a play to its political message means that you ignore the thousands of hours of craft and artistry that it took to create the play, in favor of promoting a one-sentence slogan or moral or tagline. I don’t want anyone to treat my plays that way, so the least I can do is accord that same respect to the plays of others.

Marissa Skudlarek is a San Francisco-based playwright, producer, and arts writer. She feels like most of the feminists she knows often worry that they are terrible feminists. Find her online at marissabidilla.blogspot.com or on Twitter @MarissaSkud.

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Working Title: Gods of the Trailer Park

Everyone’s pretty busy these days, so bear with us as the posting schedule figures itself out. For the moment, we’re getting caught up on Working Title, so here’s Will Leschber visiting Trailer Parks and Faultiness and pondering a U-Turn.

Who’s got the time? Even when I didn’t have a full time job or a newborn or a wife, for that matter, I still somehow never had enough time. Never enough time!! It’s not like we are immortal with an endless stream of years before us to get everything done. Well, now is no different. I hear-tell that as we get older time only slips by more quickly. But, I don’t need to tell this to you! You are already late for your meeting and have started reading three other articles, tagged yourself in two other photos and liked another one as you scan this blog. Don’t worry I got what you need. I know you need your film/theater fix.

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Since getting out on the town is nigh impossible for new parents, I hit up my friend Paul Rodrigues to ask him about a perfect film pairing for his new play. Faultline Theater is about to open Trailer Park Gods this weekend. Trailer Park Gods is by Berkeley playwright, Nayia Kuvetakis, and is describe as, “Mythos meets motor homes in this reimagining of Persephone and Hades.” Ancient Greek myth and trailer parks? There’s got to be a filmic link out there!

So I asked Paul, “Hey Paul!! …with Trailer Park Gods about to open, what film would you suggest to audiences to watch which feels like or reminds you of or would enhance the viewing of your play?”

Here is Mr Rodrigues’ thoughtful answer:

“My initial reaction to the question, is that I would pair Trailer Park Gods with U-Turn. They are both ensemble pieces with bold characters that bring a strong sense of place to the story. But more then that, their characters are trapped in these back water towns, and it gets claustrophobic as you are drawn in. Both pieces have a real rawness in their plots and characters, which can be difficult to face, but it makes for fantastic story telling. Lastly it’s been a real honor to work with such a fantastically talented cast, director, and production crew, and the same is true for U-turn, the cast is ridiculous: Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez (pre J.Lo), Nick Nolte, Billy Bob Thornton, Clare Danes, Joaquin Phoenix, Jon Voight, Laurie Metcalf, and directed Oliver Stone. Each one is doing fantastic work and making bold choices. I like to think that that is what we’re doing (and where we’re heading) as we enter our last week of rehearsal for Trailer Park Gods.”

If you missed U-Turn, this 1997 darkly comic, desolate gem by Oliver Stone it is available for rent on iTunes. The first half is hilarious and they last half makes you never want to breakdown anywhere near Apache Junction, AZ… where the Superstition Free ends and the armpit of the dessert begins.

No U Turn

There’s a reason you don’t wanna break down in some dry highway, Arizona town. Or any desert wasteland stretch of highway for that matter. Many more than one reason, I’m sure. I myself have a stranded road story as all good road warriors have. Somewhere east of the Sonoran Desert, right around Indio, California, headed through the conduit of my new life, I blew a timing belt and a few hours breakdown u-turned into stranded for three and a half days. Something happens when all outside forces prevent you from moving forward. An absurd quiet falls. Laying in my motel room, I wondered how many others are trapped here. Who is passing through and who has been passing through this town for years? And not made it back out.

Maybe these are the thoughts that stretch across time into the minds of the immortals as they blow around their trailer park town. Who knows… But if you want to know, I recommend checking out Faultline’s Trailer Park Gods and Oliver Stone’s U-turn.

Theater Around The Bay: THEATER PUB NEEDS ACTORS!

We are looking for actors for the June Theater Pub show!

A Wake by Rory Strahan-Mauk

A group of friends and acquaintances deal with addiction, death, race, and family as they mourn a young woman recently deceased from alcohol poisoning.

Characters

Angie – Female, non-white, dead, 20s

Hatchet – Male, black, 20s-30s

Porter – Male, non-white, 30s

Betty – Female, 20s

Sunshine – Female, white, 20s-30s

Unyque – Female, black, 20s-30s

Harmon – Male, black, 30s

Chase – Male, white, 20s-30s

Carmen – Female, non-white, 40s-50s

AUDITIONS:
Sunday, May 3 (Between 11 AM-4 PM, specific time will be determined when you request a time slot) at the Community Room in the San Francisco Police Station: 630 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

PREPARE:
1 contemporary monologue, and be prepared to read sides. Please email Rory Strahan-Mauk for an audition time slot – lawncare.rs@gmail.com

REHEARSALS:
5-week rehearsal process, beginning May 18

PERFORMANCES:
4 performances in June at PianoFight, 144 Taylor St., San Francisco, CA 04102
8 PM on Monday 6/22, Tuesday 6/23, Monday 6/29, and Tuesday 6/30

STIPEND:
Small Travel Stipend

It’s A Suggestion, Not A Review: Put Your Head on My Chest, and I’m Mr. Success

Dave Sikula on how to succeed- and feel like you’ve actually succeeded.

Frank has the definition – as you’d expect.

I have a feeling the seams are gonna show on this one, but go with me.

I arrived at rehearsal last Tuesday night just in time to hear part of a discussion about “success” in the theatre, and just what that word might mean. (I also heard my name being bruited about as a hashtag standing in for “not liking things,” but that couldn’t be more false. Why, just last week, I caught Sister Play at the Magic, and loved it. But I digress … )

I believe I’ve mentioned more than once that, at this point in my career, I have a pretty good sense of whether a show I’ve directed or am acting in is any good. (And let me qualify that; once we open and the finished product is in place, I have an idea. Many is the time I’ve come home from rehearsal and said that I have no idea of how it was going to go over – or been sure on the final Monday or Tuesday that we were as doomed as doomed can be, only to have the ship right itself yet again.) I can tell if I’m good or if the show is good, but is it a “success?” Boy, is that a can of worms.

There are just too many definitions for success. Is it financial? Is it a (sincere) standing ovation from the audience? Is it (appropriate) laughter or tears? Is it good reviews? Is it personal satisfaction? Is it knowing you got the most out of all the actors and characters? All of the above? Some of them?

I don’t know. I can be satisfied and delighted with something, but does that equal “success?”

This is the part where it’s going to get sticky. In my last couple of offerings, I’ve talked about the plan by Actor’s Equity to kill Los Angeles’s 99-seat plan. For those who came in late*, in brief, there was a waiver that allowed theatres with 99 seats or fewer to pay union actors less than scale (like, as little as $7 a performance) in order for them to do material that was more challenging or interesting or larger-scale or experimental than work for television or movies. (I also expressed a wish that we had something similar in the Bay Area – not because I think actors shouldn’t be paid, but because I think they should be able to work on whatever they want wherever they want.)

Equity members down there voted on whether they wanted to keep the waiver plan in place (with changes) or scrap it all together. By a 2-to-1 margin, they voted in favor of keeping the plan. It was strictly an advisory vote, so Equity’s New York offices announced Tuesday (as expected) that they’d be scrapping the plan and, basically, putting dozens of successful companies out of business and preventing the very actors they were claiming to protect from working. At least one company, the Long Beach Playhouse (worked there; did two good shows, two okay shows, and one that was one of the worst theatrical experiences of my life), announced immediately that they were going strictly non-Equity, and I heard of at least three cases where actors were literally physically prevented from auditioning for shows.

The Long Beach Playhouse = in business since 1929.

The Long Beach Playhouse = in business since 1929.

Okay, what does all this have to do with “success?” A lot, I think. Consider the sides. The theatres in question? Mostly “successful” both artistically and financially. The way the vote went? “Successfully” for the actors. Equity’s take on what they’ve done? A “success” for themselves and their members. And yet, all three of them can be seen in just the opposite way. Those theatres? Well, not everything they did worked. (I mean, no theatre hits it out of the park every time. If they did, they’d have a formula that every other theatre would copy.) The vote? Well, about half of the 6,000 (yes, six thousand) Equity members in Los Angeles didn’t even vote, and Equity “lost” the vote. Where’s the success there? And Equity’s plan to kill the theatres is seen as a strong loss by the dissenters (my Facebook feed has been afire with outrage all day). Three events. Three successes. Three failures.

Getting back to the inciting incident (remember my walking into rehearsal way back up at the top of the page?), I was reminded of another conversation I’d walked in on, discussing a recent production some of us had seen. Some (like me) had liked it, others didn’t, though each side could understand the logic of the other. Was the production a “success?” It certainly was for me in that it succeeded (that word!) in illuminating the story and text it was trying to convey in an entertaining way. For others, it was a failure because the very nature of its story and text were fatally flawed. One production. One success. One failure.

To bring all of this up to the present, the rehearsal I was at was for Grey Gardens. It’s a musical. A very good one. (One might even call it “successful,” if one were so inclined.) It ran on Broadway for “only” seven months, so one could term it either a success or not. (And, no; I’m not being paid each time I use the word “success” … ) I think this production will be a very good one. The cast is marvelous (I exempt myself from this assessment) and we’re having a great time even though we’ve barely started. There are two things to discuss here, though. The first – and more germane – is whether it’ll be a success. I believe it will work artistically and will sell very well (get your tickets now!), so from those standpoints, it was be a success. Though for all of that, I have no doubt that there will be people who see it and think it’s putrid and the worst thing they’ve ever seen. They’ll storm out at intermission, angry at having that hour of their life eradicated. No success there – unless there’s a perverse success in not succeeding …

But on a personal level, I’ll be dealing with not just my usual struggle with lines (though these are – knock wood – coming reasonably easily), but I’ll need to add music, lyrics, and choreography to the mix, and other assessments will come into play. Will I move (I won’t say dance) as directed? Will I get those damn harmonies? Will I get the lyrics right? For my purposes, doing those will constitute success. Will I be good while doing it? I’ll do as well as I can and then judge whether I think the results are good. As with the rest of the production, I know there will be people who will roll their eyes and shake their heads at how inept I am.

So, what’s the upshot? That there’s no such thing as artistic success. It’s too objective and personal. I can be satisfied or happy (or neither) about whether I think I’ve met my personal goals for the role and my place in the show. Whether that’s a success or a failure will be in the eye of the beholder.

(*Completely, and literally, parenthetically, in the late ‘90s, I directed a production of The Night Boat. It was an okay production of a not-very-good 1920 musical. About 20 minutes into the show, three women called the “Plot Demonstrators” came out and did a number titled “For Those Who Came in Late,” which recapped the plot to that moment. About 20 minutes before the end of the show, they came out again to tell how it all ended, so that people who had to catch trains would know how things turned out [spoiler alert: happily]. It was that kind of show … )

"The Night Boat's" original production. That kind of show.

“The Night Boat’s” original production. That kind of show.

In For A Penny: The All-Seeing Eye

Charles Lewis III SEES YOU.

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“O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!”
– William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act I, Sc. 1

I was originally going to write this post about the similarities between professional sports and theatre – what with baseball season now in full swing, the Warriors kickin’ ass in the play-offs, and Wrestlemania a few weeks back (the latter would have included several nods to my ‘Pub colleague and fellow wrestling fan Anthony Miller). But as I took a peek back at my last entry, in which I pondered on-camera work vs. on-stage work, I found myself stuck on a lot of recent conversations about the two possibly converging in order to survive.

Let me start off by saying something we all know: theatre is neither dying nor dead. It’s been around longer than any of us and will still be around after we’re gone. The reason for that being the fact that in the end all one needs for theatre is at least one performer and an audience. That’s why you can’t look any changes to it the same way you look at recent changes to film (going digital), television (cord-cutting and Netflix binging), or radio (also transitioning to digital and competing with Pandora/Spotify/Rdio/etc.). All three of those of those formats are technologies first, performance art media second (if that). Theatre should never be wholly dependent on technology (despite the fact that tech people are super-amazing powerful wizards in whose hands we put our lives and whom I love dearly).

But what about when theatre does incorporate tech? Hell, going from soft blue to a spotlight to a blackout can mean the difference between a play being brilliant or just confusing. In recent years we’ve all seen a significant rise in theatre productions incorporating technology not traditionally associated with theatre, even here on the indie theatre scene. Some of them, when done right, can add a powerful new element to the story (video projection), whilst others are just a plain intrusion to the entire process (tweet seats). And of course, there’s technology that allows you to watch theatre when you’re nowhere near the theatre. And that, my friend, is what I’ll be focusing on today.

Recently, as I was scrolling Facebook, I came across this article posted on the wall of Melissa Hillman, Artistic Director of Impact Theatre in Berkeley. It’s an op-ed blog about two new apps – Periscope (owned by Twitter) and Meerkat – that allow you to live-stream events directly from your phone. Naturally this has led to heated discussion as to when using such an app would be appropriate, if ever. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go to a play and sit behind someone holding up their phone or tablet like some concert-goer (something that actually has happened to me in recent years: once at a Thunderbird show and once at BOA). And that’s not even getting into the whole piracy question; the whole reason Google Glass is banned in American cinemas is for that very reason.

Still, I’m not opposed to the idea of live-streaming theatre. I mean, why not? The big guys are already doing it. I’ve been part of productions for the SF Opera that were either broadcast live or recorded to re-air on PBS. Fathom Events is a company specifically dedicated to transmitting live sporting events (like boxing and wrestling – I still mentioned wrestling this week) and performances into cinemas across the country; most notably those of New York’s Metropolitan Opera before they also re-air on PBS.

And we in the indie theatre scene have HowlRound TV. I’m sorry to say that I’ve never attended the One-Minute Play Festival (for which the ‘Pub’s own Marissa Skudlarek has written several plays), but I make it a point to watch HowlRound’s annual live-stream of the production. Now think of how many productions you’ve done that friends and family members wished they could attend, were they not halfway across the country. Before I inherited this piece of internet real estate from the esteemed Claire Rice, she made a Top 10 list of things she thinks theatre needs. After re-reading No.s 8 and 10 (and maybe even No. 5), I can see live-streaming of plays as something that could be a real boon to the indie theatre scene, if done right. In fact, in regards to No. 10, I’d love to see our friends at Theatre Bay Area take this under consideration, even if it meant teaming up with a company like HowlRound. Imagine the TBA Awards – which, incidentally, is now Claire’s jurisdiction – streamed across the country (nay, the world) for theatre-lovers all over?

And how, pray tell, do we do it “right”? I’m glad you asked. I happen to have a few suggestions that would appeal to both the folks at home and those with butts in seats:

1. Mic. The. Stage. I really should say “Use the best equipment” because this first suggestion comes from being told personally by a member of the 1MPF crew that they don’t have the capability to use HD camcorders, so the cameras they do use are archaic. I hope this is something they can solve soon, but I also hope they don’t resort to the mobile phone antics of Periscope or Meerkat. Still, I’ve always been able to see what’s happening on stage, even if it wasn’t always clear. But it can be a real pain in the ass to hear what’s going on. In a perfect set-up, there would be unseen mics either on or directly pointed at the stage, so as to not be drowned out by the ambient noise of the theatre. If live-streaming or recording for archives, tap into that audio. I’d like to actually hear a playwright’s words before I criticize them for using the word “irregardless”.

2. Good camera location. For the past few years now, me and Paul Anderson have been the officially unofficial chroniclers of the Olympians Festival. I take photos, he records video – not something we planned, just what happened. Both of us have to do these from rather static positions. When I saw the above article on Melissa’s wall, I immediately began thinking of exactly where I’d place cameras around Impact. Then I started thinking about The EXIT. PianoFight. Cutting Ball. Even the SF Playhouse. Each and every one of these venues could easily use some discreet, high-quality cameras that would transmit in crystal clarity whilst remaining invisible to the audience. Just be sure that your camera operator and sound person are part of the rehearsal process, so the folks at home don’t miss out on the moments that the live audience sees. Speaking of the live audience…

3. Audience quota. I’ve been in a couple different productions that had to cancel performances due small audiences. Let’s be real: with the average indie theatre ticket running somewhere between $15-$30, some folks would be tempted to never leave the house if they knew they could just watch it at home – that’s the “dying” aspect of theatre people fear. Now, I don’t know if services like HowlRound TV will always be free, but I certainly think live audiences should always take priority. Which is why I propose that live-streaming be done ONLY if a certain audience number is met each night. It doesn’t have to be a full house, but depending on the capacity of each theatre, there should be a minimum number of filled seats or no broadcast that night. This is less about the folks at home seeing the seats filled and more about the folks putting on the show being able to pay to keep the lights on. The actors can perform with a small live audience, but for the folks at home it should be a privilege.

And that, to me, is the point: this isn’t about taking away from live theatre, it’s about enhancing it for a wider audience. I’m not against the idea of apps for theatre. Hell, I get what apps like Periscope and Meerkat are trying to do, but they’re not solving a problem, they’re adding to it. But if a life of being a tech buff has taught me anything, it’s that’s folks will eventually choose low-quality convenience rather than having to wait for top-quality expense. That’s why VHS beat out Betamax and why people are losing their hearing with crappy digital music. Live-streaming represents a bold opportunity for indie theatre to get in on the ground floor of both a new technology and a new wider performance venue.

Technology in and of itself does not improve art; it’s just another tool of the artist. The most important thing to remember is that in the end, the folks at home and the folks in front of you are both hungry for the exact same thing: they want to see a good show.

Everything Is Already Something Week 55: The Birth, Life, and Further Adventures of a Play

Allison Page, reminding us how it’s done. Also that today is actually the day for her blog.

This is the life cycle of a play. Specifically, my play. The content of the play itself isn’t particularly important, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t even know which play it is. Process is interesting to me, so here’s one experience and how I reacted to it along the way.

CONCEPTION
One day, I had an idea.

INCUBATION
And then I didn’t write shit about it for at least a year. Not a damn word. I just sat around and brooded about it. For the record, I don’t necessarily recommend this. It’s just what happened.

SLOW GROWTH
I started jotting down notes, bits of scenes, but mostly character descriptions and vague plot outlines. Thought of a title right away.

FALSE LABOR
I met with someone about producing it. Yes, that means I met with someone about producing it before it actually existed apart from the most scattered outline ever. That person, though fairly positive about the project, ended up not following through.

HIBERNATION
Then the play just lived inside my body for a year and a half. I shoved it away in a drawer but continued to think about it, because the drawer in my brain wasn’t actually closed.

INDUCTION
Unable to give up the ghost, I met with a director and we decided to produce it ourselves come hell or high water because otherwise my sanity might be at stake. Thank goodness for collaborators.

THE HARD PART
For six months I actually worked on the damn script. And by actually, I mean that sometimes I did and sometimes I just pretended to. “I’m gonna stay home and write!” often means “I just watched 6 seasons of Frasier and I want to live in the ground with some moles.” but sometimes it means I’m actually writing. Usually for an hour at a time, and then a long lemonade break. And then another hour, and then I get too invested in a youtube video and it all comes crashing down.

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FIRST GLIMPSE
And then we did a first reading…with an unfinished script. I don’t mean that it needed more drafts (yes, it did) but I mean that it didn’t even have an ending. And it was 60 something pages. At this point we thought it’d be a 90 minute no-intermission play. LOLZ.

ONBOARD
The play is brought to a producer several months later who agrees to take it on. Now the director and I aren’t producing it alone. This is amazing. This is surprising. Oh dear god now it better be good…or at least finished.

THE HARD PART AGAIN BECAUSE THE HARD PART IS ALWAYS
Many more months of writing and not writing and writing and not writing and napping when I should be writing and drinking when I should be writing and watching tv when I should be writing. Still not finished though. Still missing the final scene. Three drafts in and still not a final scene. Approaching 100 pages. Surpassing possibility of having a 90 minute zero intermission show. Avoiding ending like the plague.

MORE BODIES
Two roles are pre-cast. Oops. Now one of those actors has to be on the other side of the country. Now one role is pre-cast. Auditions happen. They take 3-4 days and are exhausting but we end up with our cast of 5.

THE HARD PART AGAIN BECAUSE DID I MENTION THE HARD PART IS ALWAYS
Finally, mere days before rehearsal has started, I write an ending. A good one. I THINK. Wait, I know. I know the ending is good, and now I begin to wonder if the entire rest of it is terrible.

PAPER
In-house publisher at the theater would like to publish the script. Naturally I’m all for that. Oh god that means I have to send them a finished script. I turn it in on the exact date of the deadline. This endears me to the editor, who says most people don’t manage to get it in on time. I high five myself but only for that.

WORK
Rehearsals for five weeks. Relatively mild revisions during first couple of weeks. But those revisions fuck stuff up for printing in spite of/perhaps because of, locking the pages in Final Draft. Stage manager saves the day.

EMERGENCE
Opening night. Good feelings. Not perfect, but good.

SECOND WEEK
Boom. Got it. Feels fantastic. Hit its stride. Not a terrible piece of shit. Thankfully this is when the critics came, though only one of them actually had a review published. It was a really good review. This felt great and lucky because you very much cannot win ’em all.

This is what he DIDN'T say. Phew.

This is what he DIDN’T say. Phew.

THIRD WEEK
Thursday audiences are stupid. Not tiny, just sleepy. But the cast probably is too. What I really mean is that I hate doing Thursday performances and I probably will always feel that way. Consider whether we can change Thursday to be called Pre-Friday to give it a better association. Abandon that because it’s stupid.

FOURTH WEEK
Good. Good. WHAT. Closing night, a sudden not-great show. Lucked out with great shows the other weeks, suddenly closing night is this confusing occurrence.

AFTERMATH
Indescribable feelings. Not quite like sadness but not unlike it either. People keep asking what’s going to happen with it next. Uh, I don’t know. We did it. I did everything that I was going to do. Show’s over. Got it out of my system. Pried it out of my mind and flung it off of a spoon onto the eyeballs and earballs of several hundred people. Isn’t that enough? But it’s published, so now it’s this thing that people can buy and do. College students can mount shitty productions of it. Some director in Idaho can set it in 1940s Amsterdam. A company can do an all-nude version of it in a cornfield — but I’m not going to pretend I have control over that, or that any of those things are my hopes and dreams for it. To be honest, I don’t know what my hopes are for the damn thing. My biggest possible hope was to just get to DO it. And we did. And it seems almost foolhardy to want more for it. It’s lived such a good life with the people who love it and it’s nearly arrogant to think I can say “And now it’s going to do THIS, AND THIS! MY CHILD’S AN HONOR STUDENT AT THE ACADEMY OF DRAMATIC FARTS!” So I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m not out in search of more opportunities for it. I’m happy with it. I’m comfortable with it.

But if it gets a shitty college or all-nude production I will absolutely fly there and watch it because that’s my baby up there.

Allison Page is a writer/actor/comedy person in San Francisco. You can find her on Twitter @allisonlynnpage and you can buy the script of her play HILARITY on amazon.com.

Theater Around The Bay: PINT SIZED PLAYS SUBMISSION GUIDELINES!

Ashley Cowan is still on maternity leave, so we figured we’d run our call for PINT-SIZED PLAYS V again because- hello! EVERYBODY AND ANBODY IN THE BAY AREA CAN AND SHOULD SUBMIT! 

San Francisco Theater Pub is pleased to announce that our popular PINT-SIZED PLAYS event will be returning for a fifth year and that we are now accepting script submissions from Bay Area playwrights!

PINT-SIZED PLAYS is an evening of short plays that take place in a bar and involve people drinking beer. The 2015 PINT-SIZED PLAYS Festival will happen August 17, 18, 24, and 25 at PianoFight in downtown San Francisco.

The Rules:

* Plays must be no longer than the time it takes to finish a beer. This means plays may be as short as a few seconds, but no longer than eight pages.

* Plays must require no more than three actors.

* At least one of the characters in the play must be drinking a beer during the scene, and the play must end when someone finishes their beer.

* Plays must take place in a bar. This is for both thematic and logistical reasons. The plays will be performed in the bar space of the PianoFight building and the only set items we can guarantee are tables, chairs, and beers.

* Plays must respect the bar space. PianoFight is incredibly supportive of this festival, but in return, we need to be worthy of their trust. Don’t demand that actors do anything in your play that you wouldn’t do in a bar yourself (with some degree of sobriety).

* Submissions should be emailed to theaterpub@atmostheatre.com, with the subject line “Last Name, First Name – Pint-Sized 2015 Submission.” Attach the script to the email as a PDF or Word doc. All scripts should include playwright’s name and contact information.

* Submission deadline is midnight Pacific time, May 15, 2015.

Selected plays will be announced in June 2015.

The Suggestions:

*We especially like: plays that can be cast flexibly (with actors of any age, race, or gender); plays with good roles for women; plays that have fun with style, language, or genre.

* We especially dislike: plays that promote stereotypes or clichés; plays that have been previously produced; plays hastily rewritten to fit our parameters.

The Legalese:

* Open to residents of the following counties ONLY: San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Santa Cruz, Monterey, or San Joaquin. You must be able and willing to prove your residence and identity upon request.

* There is no fee to submit a play for consideration in Pint-Sized.

* Selected playwrights will receive a small stipend and the opportunity to have their play produced by San Francisco Theater Pub for four performances in August.

* San Francisco Theater Pub will handle all production responsibilities for the selected plays. We reserve the right to choose a director and actors for each play as we see fit.

* The submitted plays, whether chosen for production or not, remain the intellectual property of their authors. San Francisco Theater Pub makes no claims to these scripts and will not cut, edit, or otherwise change the playwright’s dialogue without the writer’s express permission.

* If you have additional questions, please email theaterpub@atmostheatre.com.

We look forward to reading your submissions!