What a strange world we live in.
Yeah, that too.
But I’m talking about all of the exhortations to “write your own stuff” while being pushed into new directions and commented on as if your play belonged to the commenter, with not even a nod to what you were trying to do in the first place. That’s not exactly what this column is about, but as a jumping-off place, it’s what I’ve got.
When things are going well, you always want more. The metaphorical you, or the ubiquitous you, or in French (translated), ‘one’, or to take the mask off, me, let’s face it.
I’ve been fortunate enough, in my brief writing career, to have achieved each stage I’ve sought (no pun intended, but without the pun, it’s not quite true). So, each achievement, how’s that? All but one, that is, I’m not yet published.
Getting a scene published is less about the inherent theatricality of the scene than its literary merits. Yes, these are all my opinions, you’re more than welcome to disabuse me of my fanciful notions, but I’ll make a good argument for my side, so if you’re looking for discourse, enter here.
But I’ll digress from my larger thesis and stick to this idea for a minute: when I was a consistently working actor, rather than one who spends so much time writing that I don’t take time to properly prepare auditions or even go to them, and since I’ve already wandered well away from the thread of this sentence, I’ll begin again. When I was in acting class, lo! those many years ago, and looking for scenes and monologues, those books of scenes and monologues drove me nuts. Either the writing was very low-level and obvious, or the pages made no sense without the context of the plays they were from. I don’t know if this has changed, I certainly hope it has, I’m guessing that at least in certain circumstances it has because some of my colleagues consistently get into these anthologies and they’re good writers, my colleagues.
But the question here is the stages of achieving one’s goals. Or, achieving one’s goals in stages. Or on stages. Yes, that’s the one.
I’m in a funny period as a playwright, funny-strange, because for the first time in my writing career, I have nothing on the horizon. But writing, that is. I know how careers go, I’m quite grateful, in fact, for this period because I have so much to rewrite – getting the *second* reading or workshop or production is vastly more difficult than getting the first, unless you’re Ken Ludwig or Neil Simon – but I’ve also been feeling a bit low about the whole business.
And lo! and behold! the only other thing I feel great need of, one of which I’d lost sight, or let go, how do you let go of sight other than blindness and isn’t it a willful sort of blindness you have to don, like a flour-sack or maybe hanging victim’s black head-bag whenever you send your works out into the world to be judged and, usually, rejected? (No, mom, I’m not being negative, the odds are very much against folks even doing a close reading of a playwright’s work, much less liking it, much less having the resources to read or workshop or produce it.)
Lordy, I’ve done it again, perhaps my name is Digression Magid.
The thing other than publishing that I feel I lack, is reviews.
The conventional wisdom is, if it’s a short run, they won’t review it. If it’s a short play, it won’t get mentioned even if the festival of plays is reviewed because there’s only so much column-space a review is given.
My careers (I’m on my third) have always been achieved through left-turns and odd-luck. Things seldom happen for me in the accepted ways. So I am thrilled to link to a review of SHIFT!, a play I wrote for a Cleveland Public Theatre benefit, which is as of this writing playing in Houston at Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company. Oh, right, the review.
Happy weekend, all, I’m going to garden and, what else, write.