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!
Same Shepard was a great American playwright. I loved the worlds he created for the stage. They drew me closer to that magical space of the theatre. At times, some of his plays–on paper–were a struggle to comprehend. But once they opened to you, they shone bright like a diamond. Others, well the moment you began to read them they felt like home.
When I think of my favourite playwrights, Shepard’s right up there with Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and, Molière. And a whole handful of others I adore.
Shepard left this mortal coil this week (Thursday July 27, 2017). I owe him such a debt of gratitude, for all his plays have taught me SO MUCH about the stage and actors and dialogue and setting and beat. When I heard of his passing, I went to one of my favourites and I re-read it last night while on the treadmill at the gym. And, as per usual, it blew me away. The man has some beautiful plays. And the man has some very perplexing and complicated plays. I went to one of his newer ones. I believe he wrote it in the mid to late 00s. The first performance was on March 3, 2009 in Dublin, Ireland. AGES OF THE MOON. It’s a shining example of his meticulousness, from setting the scene to dialogue to character direction. And it’s a lovely play, truly. A nice one to have read on the day I learned of the playwright’s leaving.
That play is also a shining example of how not to follow the rules while simultaneously following them. All the business of that play is on the paper. Playwrights are told often not to do this, to allow the actors and directors to form the business. And, yet, there it is on the page with Shepard. Sure, there’s an opening for interpretation in his plays, but he was one incredibly meticulous and thorough playwright. He knew his vision. It’s the thing that amazed me the most whenever I dipped back into his work. And I read it often.
When you want to aspire to be something, you read the most shining examples of that thing you aspire to be. Sam Shepard’s plays? They are my PLAY templates in the same way that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is my NOVEL template. When you find something that aligns closely with your idea of perfection, you revisit it often…you hope that you learn something by spending time with it. You hope that it seeps into your being by some magical form of creative osmosis.
While I’m watching two of my own plays being stage-read this evening, by Theatre 3×60, I will be thinking of all the wisdom I have gained through delving into the worlds that Sam Shepard created for the stage. I’m still a baby in the field of playwriting, but I’m doing my best to embrace the form. Shepard is one of the reasons I have come to love it. His words, along with the words of the other playwrights I have come to admire through the years, have ignited a spark in me. It’s the greatest kind of spark, and I’m in his debt for setting it alight.
I’m sure I will always open up a Shepard play now and again, delve into its complexity, learn from its wisdom. Shepard’s plays have been a constant learning experience for me. The way he tackled relationships really makes me want to be a better playwright myself. I’m going to miss having something new from him to read. But I already know his plays stand the test of time. I already know that I can slip back into one at any moment. And that gives this playwright comfort. We were so fortunate to have him.
“For me, playwriting is and has always been like making a chair. Your concerns are balance, form, timing, lights, space, music. If you don’t have these essentials, you might as well be writing a theoretical essay, not a play.” ~ Sam Shepard
“When you write a play, you work out like a musician on a piece of music. You find all the rhythms and the melody and the harmonies and take them as they come.” ~ Sam Shepard
To the man who hated endings, I hope he’s revolving towards another amazing beginning. Godspeed, Sam Shepard…
Ear-worms are fingers tapping your soul asking you to remember.
And I still find it so hard to say what I need to say.
What follows is mere rumination.
I’ve been imagining myself a playwright of late. Again. I’ve begun project after project…and even completed a couple (DETAILS TO FOLLOW IN THE COMING WEEKS).
When I started writing poetry, which may in fact be my first calisthenics endeavor with words, I thought, ‘this must be the hardest thing to write.’ Then I took on the short story and discovered poetry was easier than I thought…because the short story was near impossible. From there, I took on the novel…because it’s only MORE of a short, right? A longer short, if you will. How much more difficult could it be?
Was I in for a surprise! Culottes are not pants. The novel was difficult in its own unique way. I came upon issues that had nothing to do with the short story, even though they resemble one another in so many ways. I might argue that the short story is more difficult than the novel overall…because of what you have to put into it and the confined perimeters you are given and forced to squeeze those ingredients into. It’s a bit of a magic trick, really. But the novel…the endurance one needs to see it through to the end! The novel is almost a physical feat. It’s so exhausting.
All these word trials combined can’t really prepare one for playwriting. If novel writing is bringing a story to life, then playwriting is bringing characters to life. It’s about getting your characters to say precisely what they need to say. No FAT. No un-wanted words. It’s the novel without the movement, for the characters themselves perform the movement. You don’t get to DESCRIBE…you just get to talk.
My ‘mentor’ and idol, W. Somerset Maugham, once said, “Thank God, I can look at a sunset now without having to think how to describe it.” (Read his THE SUMMING UP) This was said in a sort of elation as he had moved from novel writing to play-writing. He was thrilled to be spending more time in dialogue and less tedious time building up the area around the talking. And I agree with him fully and completely.
But there is also an element of playwriting that is terrifying. It’s like removing all the trees the novel provides for shading. You are starkly naked against the stage. The reader is not going to be taking the description you wrote and running it through their imaginations and making it even bigger and better than what you originally gave them…AND crediting you with the entire picture formed by the marriage of your prose and their imaginations. The characters literally need to carry everything forward in a play. If it’s not seen and heard, it doesn’t happen.
And THIS is what I want for myself? THIS is my ultimate goal as a writer? To write conversations that must have the fortitude to stand alone? I must be crazy. Poetry makes the world prettier, short stories and novels makes the world vivid and in front of you and alive.
Plays, for the playwright at any rate, give only bodies talking. Theatre does not end with the playwright. Theatre merely begins at the end of the playwriting. The breath gets blown into the play via the director and the actors, and the dramaturge before that. The play is merely mud until those elements mould it into existence–words on paper. The playwright provides the mud and the director and actors mould it into the golem. The whole is a collaborative effort. Where a novelist needs no collaboration outside of those who polish their piece and make it its most presentable, the playwright needs a stable of people to carry their work forward. The novelist has to imagine a person sitting in a room, lounging in a chair, book in hand…their imagination knitting with the words on the page to form something greater than the sum of the novel’s parts. The playwright needs to count on the faith of many believers taking to the stage and presenting their words to a person sitting in a room, sitting in a chair, eyes wide open taking in the show. The playwright needs to step back and allow what it is they wrote to take on a new life, to become something other than what it is they wrote…something better.
I suppose there is always a collaboration. The novelist and the reader’s imagination. The playwright and the busload of people injecting the words with imagination, movement, and the business of performing them. I really must be crazy, because I do both of these things. But both are wildly rewarding in their own way. Each one gives back as much as you give into it. To see your words brought to life by actors on the stage is an alchemy I’ll never get used to. And to hear that your novel has touched a reader…untold joy. Every once in a while I reach a place of reflection and realize what these things mean to me. They are everything. The word is the light, indeed.
I’m writing a play right now, writing the conversations that will hopefully be brought to life on the stage. One must believe in that eventuality when writing a play. It is the only way for the play to be born…it must leave the page. Its characters must take flesh.
And with every line of dialogue, I remind myself that nothing can be extraneous on the page. They NEED to say only what NEEDS to be said.
And I still find it so hard to say what I need to say…
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS ONE I WROTE FOR THE WCDR WORDWEAVER NEWSLETTER, FOR THEIR MAY/JUNE 2009 ISSUE. It describes my very first foray into play-writing. It’s a little aged today, as I have now had 10 short plays produced…6 of them for Trafalgar24. I just wanted to give a little flavour into the experience from a playwright’s POV. It’s an amazing experience.
The extraordinary Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. Currently an all-girls boarding school…
The grand entrance hall leading to the staircase to the 2nd story of the castle…
Standing guard in the main foyer of Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario…
Following the article, I have posted some info on this year’s (2017) Trafalgar24 event. GET TICKETS! I promise you, it will be an experience you’ll never forget. One of the best nights out of the year, for sure.
Here’s the article:
A Playwright’s Dream – Trafalgar 24 by Driftwood Theatre
It’s Friday the 13th and we are in a dark basement corridor of a haunted 19th century castle. Out of the eerie silence come the first ear-shattering shrieks.
“Margo! Margo!” A girl runs towards us. She is lost, panicked and terrified.
So begins the unfolding of one of my lifelong dreams. The girl’s shouts are words I penned twenty-four hours earlier when I was locked into that basement and forced to write a 10-minute play.
Forced is an exaggeration. The fulfillment of my dream actually began a month earlier when I wrote a hesitant e-mail to Ruth Walker. I had received a WCDR e-mail calling for playwrights for Driftwood Theatre’s 6th annual Trafalgar24 event and I ruminated over whether or not I should apply. Actually, I painfully agonized. I asked Ruth if I was completely crazy to even consider contacting Jeremy Smith, Driftwood’s artistic director.
When I received Ruth’s encouragement (instead of the expected laughter), I sent Jeremy an e-mail. I began with the truth: I am not now, nor have I ever been a playwright. I followed my confession with much pleading and begging. You see, I had always imagined myself as a playwright. Imagination is a wasted gift when not forced into action.
Much to my surprise—and horror—I received the following reply from Jeremy: I am delighted to inform you that if you still have an interest in staying up all night in a haunted castle between Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 13, we would love to have you.
Fast forward a month and here I am in the dark basement corridor, in the back row of a standing-room-only, sardine-packed audience. The young woman is lunging toward us, shrieking out her lost friend’s name. I’d like to say I wrote a dramatic play that would move my audience to tears—I went in there with visions of Blanche Dubois meets Phantom of the Opera—but that would be a lie.
When we arrived at the castle twenty-four hours earlier, we playwrights were each given a sheet of paper. Mine included three things: headshots of my actors, the room I was assigned to and the play’s theme—Friday the 13th in a haunted castle. I took one look at my actresses and I knew what to write. I sat on the floor of the basement corridor and attempted to bring my newly acquired vision to life.
Within an hour and a half, I victoriously announced: Done. Comedy. Now I can relax about deadline & edit.
Throughout the hours of edits that followed, I was comforted by one fact: Lucy Brennan was upstairs. I interrupted her and commiserated with her a few times throughout the night. We even went on a Tim Hortons’ run with some of the other playwrights. She was my unwitting rock. She had no idea how much comfort I took in knowing she was a mere staircase away.
Come morning, the playwrights were allowed to go home. As we drove to our beds, the actors and directors swarmed the castle. They only had a few hours to read and rehearse the ten plays we had left behind. It was all very The Elves and the Shoemakers if you ask me.
Opening night! The Trafalgar24 play-creation festival is a fundraising event for Driftwood Theatre. What’s special about Driftwood is that they bring professional theatre to Ontario communities for pay-what-you-can admission. Trafalgar24 helps to make this possible. The event had a wonderful silent auction and a dessert table to rival every dessert table ever assembled on this or any other planet. It also had a dizzying array of talented actors and actresses who poured their hearts into roles that did not even exist less than 24 hours earlier.
I was now an audience member. Each person in attendance viewed six of the 10 plays. I saw some incredibly heart-wrenching performances. I travelled from the library to the cathedral to the piano room and beyond—Lucy Brennan’s was my favourite! I was mesmerized by the beauty of the night—flawlessly orchestrated by all—including the stage director, WCDR’s own Nancy Melcher.
I made my way to the basement. In the hushed moments prior to my character’s screams, I noticed the evening’s emcee standing to my left. Neil Crone, the man who has given me years of poignant laughter, was about to watch my words brought to life. I was suddenly more terrified than I had been when faced with the impossible demand of writing a play in eight hours. But I had forced my imagination into action. I was now a playwright.
‘Lucy‘ made her way onto the set and was startled, poked and prodded by the wickedly playful ‘Margo.’ Neil Crone laughed! I will beg Mr. Smith to allow me to be a part of the next Trafalgar24. If he doesn’t grant me the incredible honour of being playwright, I will be there in the audience watching another year of magic unfold. Only a fool would miss it!
Yesterday, the episode of the radio program STORYLINES, with host CHRISTINE COWLEY, on which I appeared, aired on HUNTER’S BAY RADIO. If you happened to miss that airing, Christine was generous enough to provide me with the tapes…and she has allowed me to use them however I wish to use them. Today, I share them here. In the episode, Christine interviews me briefly, and then the two of us perform my 10-minute play THE SPEECH…with the assistance of narrator Tobin Elliott.
So, here are the tapes. You can listen to them now!
In the interview, there is talk of my books, and other writings…particularly BURN BABY BURN BABY. You can check out my books on my AMAZON page…and order them from bookstores everywhere. Click on the image below to visit my page over on Amazon. You can read each book’s synopsis by clicking on the books on the Amazon page:
Much thanks to Christine, for providing me with this wonderful opportunity! Though I didn’t really know what I was doing, I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I usually write my lines knowing they will come from the mouths of others. It was terrifying and exhilarating to have the tables turned. I’m no actor! It gives one a deeper appreciation of just how difficult it is to deliver lines…couldn’t imagine doing it on the stage!
This morning, you can find me over at HUNTER’S BAY RADIO! Back in September I went to the Hunter’s Bay Radio recording studio to tape an episode of STORYLINES with my friend-in-writing CHRISTINE COWLEY. Thank GOD we did more than an interview, because quite often I’m a horrible interview subject when it comes to talking. I freeze and forget everything in the world I ever knew…especially when it comes to questions about my books. I’m the worst!
Tobin Elliott, Christine Cowley, Kevin Craig, Dale Long…at Hunter’s Bay Radio.
Christine and I, with the help of Tobin Elliott as narrator (reading the stage direction), performed one of my 10-minute plays for the show. THE SPEECH has gone a long way since I wrote it in the wee hours of the night inside a Trafalgar Castle for Driftwood Theatre’s TRAFALGAR24 Play Creation Festival back in 2011. It has been performed or read in several states across the USA, in Australia, as well as in Mumbai, India.
This morning you can actually HEAR the play. Christine and I had a lot of fun recording it…I have no idea how it sounds, so I will have to listen in myself to find out. Hopefully it translates well to radio.
It airs today (Thursday October 6th) at 10:00am Ontario time. You can download the Hunter’s Bay Radio app for your phone in the app store, or you can listen in online at:
There is nothing I can do now. I have performed my duties as Elf Playwright. Whatever will be, will be. Que sera, sera.
Right at this very moment there are 12 actors and 6 directors inside Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby, Ontario. Along with Driftwood Theatre founder and Artistic Director Jeremy Smith. They are reading 6 freshly inked plays. They might be laughing, they might be crying, they might be pulling out their hair, they might be looking for a corner to hide in. I have no concept of what they do for the 8 hours on the day of the Trafalgar 24 event. I write the play and I walk away. It’s their turn in the castle. All I know is that when I go back tonight those 12 actors and 6 directors will have hammered the 6 plays off the page and onto the stage. I still imagine their roles in all of this to be so much more difficult than mine. The real magic happens when the actors take up the words and when the directors take up the action. That’s why it’s so magically incredible to see my own play performed in front of an audience the day after I write it. The actors bring life to the characters and the directors bring life to the characters, the setting, the space. After my very first year at Trafalgar 24, I never again looked at actors and directors the same way. I used to think they had it easy. Now I know they get a rudimentary piece of archaeological hieroglyphs and they see whatever it is they need to see in it and they breathe life into it. They are magicians.
Tonight is when the audience converges on the castle. Tonight is when each of the 6 plays is performed 6 times. Tonight is when the wine and cheese and meats and crackers and desserts are spread out before you. Tonight is when the silent auction of awesome things takes place. Tonight is when Driftwood Theatre gets celebrated by the Durham Region arts community. If you live anywhere near Whitby, Ontario…you should click the link above and secure your tickets. Not only do you get your fill of wine and cheese and dessert, but you get to see 6 fresh plays while touring a beautiful 19th century castle. There’s nothing like it anywhere else.
Doors open at 6:30pm and the performances begin at 7:30pm.
FROM THE DRIFTWOOD THEATRE SITE:
Twenty-four artists receive a scant 24-hours to write, rehearse and perform six site-specific plays in Whitby’s beautiful 19th century castle. TRAFALGAR 24 is a theatrical event unlike any other, where the audience is right on top of the action as each of the 10-minute scripts play out around them in locations throughout the castle. At TRAFALGAR 24 audience members play a vital role of their own, helping to select one winning play to receive a commission for further development from Driftwood Theatre.
March 11, 2016 | 6:30pm Silent Auction Starts | 7:30pm Performances Begin | Trafalgar Castle, 401 Reynolds Street, Whitby
NEW for 2016 Trafalgar 24 Royalty VIP Ticket | $100 | Explore TRAFALGAR 24 like never before with a special Trafalgar Royalty VIP ticket. In addition to general admission, your TRAFALGAR 24 experience is enhanced by private pre-show reception with TRAFALGAR 24 playwrights, exclusive Auction Concierge service, and membership to a special VIP audience group guided by a famous Driftwood Theatre artist.
This is the time of year when my head sort of kinda explodes. In a good(ish) way.
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…” Wait! That’s not what I meant to write. Whenever I start a sentence with ‘Last night…’ I become possessed by Daphne du Maurier in the most peculiar way. I need to complete the sentence that is etched in my memory forever before I can continue on with what I was going to say. How’s that for a digression?!
Last night I went through the harrowing ordeal of registering for the Muskoka Novel Marathon again. It’s a treacherous time…believe me. The marathon takes place once a year (IN JULY) in Huntsville, Ontario. It is a 72hr novel writing marathon. Only 40 writers can attend. There are far more writers interested in attending than there are spaces for them to attend. So you have to be at your keyboard and at the ready come the stroke of 7pm on registration night.
I got in! I secured one of the coveted spots for myself. Then I discovered that all the spots were taken in 3 minutes. THREE MINUTES! That’s when I realized how lucky I was to have mad typing skillz. Gah!
Add to that registration pressure the fact that I will be locked inside a castle in Whitby, Ontario tomorrow, and ‘forced’ to write a 10-minute play overnight, and I’m about ready for cardiac arrest.
BUT. In a good way. I would not be happy if I was not in panic mode during these things. Confidence is the killer of creativity, is it not? Well…maybe not. But it sometimes feels like the anxiety and the fear are the driving force behind the engine that creates. FEAR—I’m getting locked into a castle and I have to write a play in 8 hours. A play that will be produced the following night—performed 6 times in front of a rotating audience of approximately 300 people. No biggie, right? It’s a thing. Confidence would surely threaten the process here, no? I need to go in thinking I can never pull this off…in order to pull it off.
The Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival is one thing. I need to go in there blind, without an idea–that’s how the process works. You get a room in the castle, and pictures of your actors. But the timing of the Muskoka Novel Marathon registration is so impeccable. Because today it’s not the play I’ll write tomorrow that I’m most hyperventilating about. Nah…that’s tomorrow’s nightmare. TODAY—I sit here registered and committed to the 72 hour novel writing madness heading my way without the first clue as to what I am going to write. Today is the day I need to begin the idea process that will have me jumping off the cliff into a brave new fictional world come July at the onset of the marathon’s starting bell.
From this point forward, I will be using ideas as opiates. I will smoke them, inhale them, inject them. I will run through a myriad of scenarios, settings, characters, synopses, and genres. I will try to fit puzzle pieces together without seeing the picture. I will reject ideas, rehash ideas, kick ideas to the curb, and embrace them. It will be a constant whirlwind of ideas. Which one will stick? Who knows. Will I pick the right one? Reject the wrong one? Who knows. It really is hit and miss. I have 72 hours to write an entire novel. It is mandatory that I find an idea appropriate enough to see me through those hours. One that doesn’t fizzle after a few hours. One that builds upon itself one idea after another, one sentence after another, one paragraph after another, one chapter after another…until it sees itself through. I need an idea pregnant with possibility.
Sure…I got my coveted spot at the Marathon. But as extremely difficult as it is to secure that spot–as barbarically stressful as it is–it’s nothing compared to the realization that you’ve made it. THAT YOU NEED TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING TO WRITE!!
Ideas as opiates. When my writing life is so rife with STUFF, I realize how extremely blessed I am to have this passion. I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night…thinking of the prospects of NOT making the registration cut. Because I WANT IT. I want these stressful situations that are do or die and depend on WORDS. Harnessing words is a beautiful thing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
This is the time of year when my head sort of kinda explodes. In a good(ish) way.