It is time for the Winter 2022 edition of THE WESTCHESTER REVIEW! I’m so thrilled to announce that my play, THE HISTORY OF US, is featured in this issue!
First, a little background on the play. This was born in the library at Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario, Canada.
Every year (during March break while the school is closed), Driftwood Theatre has a 24-hour play creation festival within the castle. Here’s a rundown of the creation:
Playwrights enter the building
Each playwright is assigned pictures of their actor(s) and a room in which the play is to be performed
Each playwright spends the next 8 hours inside their rooms writing plays (They are to use only what is in the rooms…no additional props are allowed. They are also given a line they must insert somewhere in their individual plays)
In the morning, the playwrights go home (they write overnight for 8 hours) and the actors and directors arrive at the castle
Actors and directors rehearse the plays throughout the day
Evening – all plays are performed in their individual rooms to rotating audiences who each watch a performance of each play
I believe I was a playwright for this festival 7 times. I can’t even remember if that number is accurate. I wrote THE HISTORY OF US for Trafalgar24 2014. I was given the school library both to write and to set my play in. I was given pictures of the following two actors. So I was locked into the library with two pictures and I had 8 hours to create a play that would be performed 6 times the following evening to 6 full houses!
Knowing the works of these actors, I was IMMEDIATELY intimidated. I sat down and I got to work! I had to write SOMETHING worthy of these incredible actors!
THE HISTORY OF US is what came out. A ten minute play written in about an hour and then worried over for the next seven hours. I enacted it myself right there in the library…performing both roles over and over and over and over. Changing a word here, adding a word there, deleting a word there…until I was ready to let it go. From 10pm to 6am it was mine. After that, I had nothing more to do with it and I could only hope it was good enough to pass as a 10-minute play.
That’s the history of The History of Us. Now, it appears in the WINTER ISSUE of THE WESTCHESTER REVIEW and I could not be happier about its coming into print! Here’s links where you can read the play. Click the image to go directly to THE WESTCHESTER REVIEW homepage:
The History of Us is a 10-minute play that was written in the eight hours I was locked inside the library at Trafalgar Castle School in March of 2014. I should say it was written in the first of those eight hours, and tinkered with for the remaining seven hours. That was usually how my Trafalgar24 plays fell into place. A quick first draft as soon as we were locked in, and then tinkering for the rest of the night. I would read it aloud over and over and over again. Being alone in the room made it easier to not feel like a complete idiot as I walked about reciting the lines ad nauseum until each syllable felt right, or mostly right.
After its introduction at the Trafalgar24 play festival the night after it was written, it also had a live reading in Port Perry, Ontario, by the Theatre 3×60 theatre company (now Theatre on the Ridge).
Now, it gets to see the light again, in The Westchester Review! For the first time in print!
A little more background…
When playwrights enter the castle for the play creation festival, they are each locked into a different room in the castle. They must write a play that literally takes place inside that room. They cannot bring any props into the room, but can write anything in the room into the play. They are also given photos of their actors. And a line that must be in the play. So there are 6 completed plays that get performed throughout the castle the following night. Each will have one line in common. This aspect of the night is to give the 6 rotating audiences a clue…and they are encouraged from that clue to guess which Shakespeare play Driftwood Theatre will be performing in their Shakespeare in the Park series the following summer.
I wrote THE HISTORY OF US for these actors:
It was such an honor to be given these actors. I was so nervous putting words into Christopher Kelk’s mouth. If you have ever seen him performing, you would understand my fears. He’s a flawless actor! Adriano Sobretodo Jr. was just as brilliant. It was a thrill seeing these two actors bringing a play to life that I had just created hours before!
I’ll announce when this play hits The Westchester Review. I believe it will be sometime in the Spring of 2023.
One of my biggest writing idols is W. Somerset Maugham. Originally, I loved his novel Of Human Bondage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that book. It seems I come across the classics and the lives of the people who wrote them on my own. A kind of self-education if you will. It’s been, at times, a lonely journey, but also an exciting one. Often one title will lead to another to another and to another until I’ve discovered a whole new handful of great writers from the past. With Maugham, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon his ‘how-to’ autobiographical book THE SUMMING UP. I’ve characterized this book as being comparable with Stephen King’s ON WRITING. It has the same feel to it…it talks about writing and the writing process, but it also gives glimpses into who he was as well as displaying his delightful ability to entertain the reader with a great story even when writing and the writing life are the topics he is covering. Much like ON WRITING does.
I read THE SUMMING UP as I was first dipping my toes into the world of playwriting. Maugham was proficient and successful at both novel writing and playwriting. The Summing Up gave me hope that I too could make the transition from page to stage, so to speak. I still don’t think I’ll ever be a great playwright, but I love the 10-minute play format that I stumbled into a few years back. It’s electric, intense and exciting. It summons the same adrenaline rush I first experienced at my first 72hr Muskoka Novel Marathon. That fear that almost paralyses you, even as it propels you furiously forward to create. By the end, you need to have a finished product. The clock ticks, the words build upon themselves, the deadline approaches!
Tonight, I will once again find myself at the starting line of another 24-hour play festival. This will be my 8th. Much like the others, I will have 8 or 9 hours to somehow come up with a full 10 minute play. It needs to be handed in at 5am Saturday morning, along with 4 other plays from 4 other playwrights. At which time, the directors will descend and each will choose one of the 5 plays to direct. The actors will enter and rehearsals will begin.
At 8pm tomorrow evening all 5 plays will be performed for the festival audience.
This is addictive. The fear and anxiety I feel at this moment is laced with regret. WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF AGAIN!? WHAT IF THE NIGHT IS OVER AND I HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT?! WHAT IF WHAT I WRITE IS HORRIBLE!? WHAT AM I EVEN DOING?!
It’s all so very exciting and terrifying OH MY GOD!
Here’s a recent article about this particular play festival, if you’re in the area and are thinking about what you could do on Saturday July 6th:
I love the anxiety I’m experiencing at the moment. It’s the fuel that will drive me to figure something out, creatively. Hopefully something comes to me. I just picture the audience sitting there the next night…and the riot that would ensue if, in place of my play, there was simply a dark empty stage. I can’t let that happen.
WORDS, DON’T FAIL ME NOW!
From the Facebook Event Page, here’s the details…should you be so inclined:
The 24 Hour Project is Back!!! – brought to you by Arbor Theatre!
(this will also be a fundraiser for Mysterious Entity Theatre!)
taking place Saturday, July 6th at 8 p.m. at the Gordon Best Theatre! – 216 Hunter St. West
Sponsored by Steamwhistle! Sponsored by Black Honey!
$10 for 5 original works of theatre!
Here’s how it works… Friday 8 p.m. – 5 Writers begin scripts Saturday 6 a.m. – 5 Directors read scripts and each choose one Saturday 7:30 a.m. – 30 actors arrive and audition Saturday 9 a.m. – rehearsals begin Saturday 7:30 p.m. – Doors open at the Gordon Best Theatre Saturday 8 p.m. – 5 new plays!
This year featuring :
Writers: Linda Kash, David Bateman, Christopher Wilton, Nicky Gibeault, and K Thomas Craig
Directors: Kait Dueck, Lisa Dixon, Wyatt Lamoureux, Dane Shumak, Conner Clarkin
Actors: Randy Read, Charlie Earle, Meg O’Sullivan, Lindsay Barr, Johnathan Sharp, Benjamin van Veen, Tom Keat, Aedan Shaughnessy, Sarah-Jayne Riley, Hilary Wear, Anwen O’Driscoll, Star Slade, Tyrnan O’Driscoll, Ilan O’Driscoll, Mary Alice Osborn, Vasco Silva, and many more….
Serendipity is at it again, folks! Here I was minding my own business yesterday when Tracey, a friend of mine who lives in Peterborough, Ontario, messaged me to tell me about THE 24 HOUR THEATRE PROJECT taking place at the GORDON BEST THEATRE on July 6th. “You guys should go,” she said. (THANK YOU, TRACEY! You made my July!)
My first thought was, ‘How did I NOT hear about this event? Oh no, it’s too late to be a part of this event!’ Then I got proactive. Mid-messenger-conversation with Tracey, I took a pause to immediately email the organizer of the theatre project to ask how I could apply to be a part of the event NEXT year.
I happen to love this 24hr play creation format. I have participated as playwright in 7 of these events now…6 times for Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24 event, and once for the Uxbridge25 event a few years back. Admittedly, I got an extra hour at the Uxbridge event…they went with 25 hrs to be aligned with the 25th anniversary theme. But what’s an hour amidst the chaos of creativity? It basically means I got to dot my I-s and cross my T-s a couple more times.
To continue, I received a reply from the event’s organizer shortly after sending my email:
Thanks so much for reaching out – and…. this is wonderful actually because one of our writers JUST messaged me that she has to cancel. So – if you are available, I would love you to be one of our writers for this upcoming 24 Hour Project.
Major thanks to Em Glasspool, the organizer for this event, for the invitation!
So here I am, thrown into another wonderful 24hr festival! And I could not be more excited and terrified! I know, I know…terrified is such a serious word. But it’s also a lovely thing in these circumstances. Think of it as ravenous butterflies accumulating in my stomach at an unfathomable rate over the course of the next month, just waiting for their moment to burst out into the universe. What? That doesn’t sound lovely? But of course it is. It’s this magical threat of CREATIVITY AT GUNPOINT that I thrive on! I love it, I love it, I love it!
(Did I mention that the very weekend AFTER this theatre event I’ll be locked in a room for 72hrs with 39 other writers while I attempt to write a full novel from start to finish at the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON?)
So…the deets. You might be asking, “HOW DO I ATTEND THIS EVENT? WHEN IS IT? WHERE? TELL ME!?”
Be patient. First, a little about formatting. If you’ve attended any of the yearly TRAFALGAR 24 events, the format is very close to being the same. The major difference is this—THE PLAYWRIGHTS DO NOT GET LOCKED INTO A HAUNTED CASTLE OVERNIGHT. Otherwise, it’s extremely similar. From the promotional materials:
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS… Friday 8 p.m. – 5 Writers begin scripts Saturday 6 a.m. – 5 Directors read scripts and each choose one Saturday 7:30 a.m. – 30 actors arrive and audition Saturday 9 a.m. – rehearsals begin Saturday 7:30 p.m. – Doors open at the Gordon Best Theatre Saturday 8 p.m. – 5 new plays!
OOH! I’m so excited! The playwrights will be able to write wherever they wish. I’ll most likely just go home. We are required to email the scripts by 5a.m. Saturday morning. Then, I suppose, I’ll have a nap and prepare for the REAL MAGIC to occur. This isn’t my first rodeo. As a playwright at these events, one feels almost like one of the elves working throughout the night to leave behind shoes for the shoemaker to discover in the light of a new day.
BUT—there’s a big but here, folks—the truth to this story is the shoes are nowhere near polished and ready for market in the morning. The shoemakers have to work together to refine the shoes and make them better, make them worthy of the storefront window. The shoes don’t go on display until the next evening…until after the directors and actors perform the real magic. It’s what they do with the scripts they’re given in the morning that makes the script worthy of that evening’s audience. They’re sorcerers…I promise you. I’ve seen it time and time again. It’s my own play I’m watching, my own words being bounced back to me from the stage, but in the hands of these magicians they are made better, real, wondrous. I don’t even know what it is they do. They take these ugly ducklings with promise, run them through their paces and come up with something more fetching, more fluid, more MORE.
It takes a theatre family to raise a play. You really should consider being a part of the audience that gets to see these raw vignettes born only 24 hours before. There’s something magical and lively about this type of event. The newly-born creativity has this pulse running through it and the audience is just as much a part of it as the theatre group itself. The audience’s faith in what they’re about to witness is just as important and dynamic as the starter’s pistol 24 hours before…when not a single word has yet to hit the page.
For those of you in the back row…let me repeat…THE REAL ALCHEMISTS IN THIS 24HR FORMAT ARE THE DIRECTORS AND THE ACTORS!
Trust me, you’ll want to be a part of this.
AND…like Trafalgar24, this event is also a fundraiser for a very good cause. MYSTERIOUS ENTITY THEATRE. It’s a fundraiser for theatre itself, for creativity. Consider coming out to Peterborough for this event. You wanna see what happens, don’t you?
TAKES PLACE: Saturday, July 6th, 2019 at 8 p.m. at the Gordon Best Theatre in Peterborough! – 216 Hunter St. West
Sponsored by Steamwhistle! Sponsored by Black Honey!
PRICE: $10 for 5 original works of theatre!
To sign up for this event: email – email@example.com
This is a PAY AT THE DOOR event.
You can go to the Facebook Event Page for this event by searching THE 24 HOUR THEATRE PROJECT or BY CLICKING THE PIC BELOW:
OTHERS TAKING PART IN THIS EVENT:
Writers: Linda Kash, David Bateman, Christopher Wilton, Nicky Gibeault
Directors: Kait Dueck, Lisa Dixon, Wyatt Lamoureux, Dane Shumak, Conner Clarkin
Actors: Randy Read, Charlie Earle, Meg O’Sullivan, Lindsay Barr, Johnathan Sharp, Benjamin van Veen, Tom Keat, Aedan Shaughnessy, Sarah-Jayne Riley, Hilary Wear, and many more!