My 24 Hour Project Script – A Cup of Sugar

As is customary, I post my 10-minute play scripts after they are initially performed. Also, as is customary, I offer my scripts up free of charge for other theatres to produce if they wish to do so. My only stipulation is that they ask permission by emailing me at kevintcraig @ hotmail.com first. I like to know when and where my plays are being performed. I had one of these short scripts performed across the world, from Australia to India to several states in the USA. It’s a thrill for me to know they are getting traction.

The 24 Hour Project was a fundraiser for MYSTERIOUS ENTITY THEATRE. Mysterious Entity is a company of theatre artists based in Peterborough, Ontario. The 24 Hour Project took place at GORDON BEST THEATRE in downtown Peterborough.

From their website:

mysterious entity represents:

-theatre as empowerment

-innovation and exploration

-communities in creative exchange

-complexity and diversity

-theatre as a communal experience

-making change by connecting audiences and artists

Headed by Em Glasspool, the 24 Hour Project was such a exciting dynamic piece of theatre. 5 playwrights – 5 plays – from inception to performance in 24 short hours. Em himself even acted in one of the short plays. This was the first short play festival in which I took part where there were almost no prior stipulations set out for the playwrights. We weren’t even kept to the usual 10-minute timing format. This made it a little bit more exciting for me, as I was able to wander off in any direction. The only string that tied each play together was a single sentence that had to be used in every play. On Friday night Em ran around to other patrons at the ONLY CAFE in Peterborough and asked them for text messages on their phones. He’s braver than me…it was interesting seeing strangers open up their phones and give their text messages freely.

The sentence that appeared in every play?

“I just discovered eleven ice cream sandwiches in my fridge.”

The text actually said FREEZER, but there was a bit of lost in translation happening. In my opinion, this made the sentence even more interesting. (-:

So, without further ado, here is the script from this past Saturday’s 24 Hour Project,

TITLE: A CUP OF SUGAR

PLAYWRIGHT: K Thomas Craig

SYNOPSIS: On again off again warring siblings get together to meet the new boyfriend and sling some more arrows.

CHARACTERS:

  • JOEY
  • BEN – Joey’s new live-in boyfriend
  • DARLENE – Joey’s older sister
  • WILSON – Darlene’s husband
  • HARPER – Joey’s neighbour – a flamboyant old queen who feels more comfortable in a caftan than a pair of jeans. (Present however the director/actor sees fit)

SETTING

JOEY & BEN’S APARTMENT

DARLENE [arms folded in a hostile stance. Looks around, appraises the place]: I guess it’s okay. It is a little minimalist though, Joseph. Don’t you think? Your last place with Collin was so nice.

JOEY: It’s Joey.

DARLENE: What. Are you twelve?

JOEY: The name’s Joey, Dar. Always has been, always will be. My name; my rules. And you were supposed to come in peace, goddammit. You said you would come in peace.

DARLENE: Release the fangs, little brother. I see you still have that charming confrontational attitude you’ve always had. The revolution’s over Joseph. Time to step down off that mountain.

JOEY: What does that even mean? And, it’s Joey.

BEN [looking to Wilson]: Were they always like this?

WILSON: Depends on what you mean by always.

DARLENE [turning quick to Wilson]: I thought you weren’t going to talk to the boyfriend?

WILSON [shrugs]: And I thought you weren’t gonna start in on Joey the second we got in the door?

JOEY: Why wouldn’t you talk to Ben? What’d he ever do?

WILSON: I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just being pissy earlier. You know how it is.

BEN: No worries, Wilson. It’s all good. I get it. I’m the new guy. Allegiances and all.

DARLENE: But do you really get it, Ben? Collin was around for forever. He was my brother-in-law. We loved him. That kind of makes you the other man. The homewrecker.

JOEY: Homewrecker, Dar? Really?

DARLENE: If you get to be Joey, then I get to be DarLENE.

JOEY: Collin cheated on me and then left me for another guy. Ben had nothing to do with that. We met after. Collin’s gone because of Collin. Can we stop using his name? I’ll have to get the apartment smudged to rid it of his bad mojo.

DARLENE: You never mentioned that. How was I supposed to know what happened?

JOEY: You’re never around. How was I supposed to tell you?

WILSON: Tough break, kid. Sorry to hear that. And sorry I wasn’t here.

JOEY: It’s in the past now. But thank you, Wils.

WILSON [ruffles Joey’s hair]: No sweat, kid. So I guess this means I can be nice to your new beau now, all things considered.

BEN: Would definitely be appreciated.

WILSON: Let’s start over, shall we? [holds out his hand] I’m Wilson.

BEN [shakes Wilson’s hand vigorously]: Ben. Nice to meet you.

DARLENE: My friggin’ guitar’s busted up, otherwise I’d play Kumbaya for you, boys. Can we put a cap on the cheese before we get too carried away? I didn’t bring my macaroni with me.

JOEY: What’s wrong, DAR? Can’t stomach civility? You really do take after Mom, don’t you? If we’re not throwing punches, you don’t know what to do with your hands. I get it. That’s why pockets were invented…repressed rage. Just shove those fists right down in there and things’ll work out fine.

DARLENE: Why do I bother trying to reconnect with you? Could somebody remind me why we do this dance every few years? It would be so much easier to just be done with you and your theatrics.

WILSON: French toast.

BEN/JOEY: What?

WILSON: French toast. French toast!

DARLENE: Not called for yet, Wilson. I’m holding my own. I’m the picture of pleasantry.

BEN: What’s not called for? What’s going on here?

DARLENE: I wasn’t talking to you. [turns to Joey] Joseph, why is your new man being so nosy?

JOEY: It’s Joey. What’s French toast?

WILSON: It’s our safe word.

JOEY: Safe word?

DARLENE [glares at Wilson for spilling the secret]: He says the word, I remember I’m trying to be nice to you. French toast is two words, Wilson. I told you that earlier. I thought we were going with lemonade. Are we safe yet?

JOEY: Really? You need a safe word? You need to be reminded to be nice to your own brother? Your little brother, even?

BEN: I once poured an entire Long Island Iced Tea over my sister’s head. I can appreciate French toast in this context, babe. A safe word might have prevented that terrible situation from happening.

WILSON: There you go.

[WILSON and BEN high-five]

DARLENE [to Wilson]: I preferred your plan to be combative and non-communicative. You being nice just makes me look like an asshole.

JOEY: Or… maybe you’re doing that all by yourself.

WILSON: French toast.

[There’s a knock at the door.]

JOEY: Saved by the bell. [calls out] Door’s open.

HARPER [from offstage]: Hello? Hello, my little piggies. It’s just me. It’s Auntie Harper. Hello?!

BEN: Come in, Harper. We’re just visiting with Joey’s sister and brother-in-law.

HARPER [from offstage]: Oh, sweeties. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.

DARLENE [stage whisper to Joey]: Why don’t I believe that?

HARPER [holding out a measuring cup, purse first, barging into the room]: My lovelies, Auntie Harper needs a cup of sugar. I’m making a batch of muffins and Heather’s on a sugar cleanse. The bitch tossed all my white stuff down the chute. Blames me for the new roundness in her hips, if you can believe it.

BEN [taking the measuring cup from Harper]: I’ll see what I can do.

JOEY: Let me come with.

DARLENE: It takes two to pour a cup of sugar these days? Did I miss that memo?

[BEN and JOEY exit to retrieve the sugar]

WILSON: French—

DARLENE: Don’t even bother. That ship has sailed.

HARPER: Honey, I’m not much for ships. I’m a landlover. But I do like the French. What are we talking about?

DARLENE [gives Harper the side-eye]: You’re just a bit too high-octane there, mister. If anyone ever needed a safe-word, it’s you. Do you stop to breathe or are there gills in there somewhere?

HARPER: Miss Thang, no. You need to cool your jets, honey. Don’t go doing this nasty business in these lovely boys’ home. You’ll spoil the atmosphere. You need to land now and push the broom aside.

WILSON: Whoa-hoa-hoa. [goes to high five Harper and backtracks not soon enough…realizing too late what he’s done]

DARLENE: I suppose you’re fully on Team Joseph now too, are you? That didn’t take long.

WILSON: Joey.

DARLENE: Good Lord in heaven. Have I no allies today?

[JOEY and BEN return with an empty cup]

JOEY: I’m so sorry, Miss Harper. I was certain we had sugar. We just had tea last night. We’re right out.

HARPER: That’s okay, honey. Remember… Heather has a key. The evil witch probably came in here and took all your sugar too. She’s good, that one. Diabolical.

BEN [hands Harper the measuring cup]: Sorry, Harp. I guess we don’t get any of your yummy homemade muffins now?

HARPER: I have a tasteless sugar-free vegan cardboard and sawdust recipe somewhere. I’ll dig it out just for you, child.

BEN: That’s okay, Miss Harper. Don’t trouble yourself.

HARPER: Truth be told, Ben, I was just being nosy anyway. Just checking up on my boys. Mother hen’s gonna be henning.

[Harper looks to Darlene and points their fingers at their own eyes and then rotates them towards Darlene, bouncing back and forth a couple times]

DARLENE: What’s that supposed to mean.

HARPER: Means what it means, Joey’s sister. I got my eye on you. I’ve heard stories. I’ll be watching you.

DARLENE: Of all the—

WILSON: French toast.

DARLENE: Joseph. Joey. Are you telling family secrets? To strangers. You know I love you, don’t you? You know my anger is usually out of love, right? You get that, don’t you?

HARPER: Sister, anger’s just a recipe for sadness. Anger’s a muffin without the sugar. Nobody wants a sugarless muffin, honey. Where I come from, that’s just a rock. Something to throw. My understanding is Joey’s all you have and you’re all he has. Why complicate that tenuous bond with anger? It’s lazy of you.

DARLENE: I didn’t come here to get lectured on my relationship with my brother. Especially by the likes of you. We’re doing fine, thank you very much.

JOEY: We are?

WILSON: French toast. French toast.

HARPER: All’s I’m saying is family, chosen or otherwise, is all we got. Wouldn’t you like to be around more often? Aren’t these two of the loveliest boys you ever met?

DARLENE: Well, I only just met Ben. I don’t really know him all that much.

HARPER: I dislike when my point is proven so quickly by the other side. Honey, you’re doing all my work for me.

DARLENE: Did you come here to attack me?

WILSON: French toast.

DARLENE: Okay, Wilson. We all get it. Enough with the French toast.

HARPER: Oddly, that is the one thread in this conversation that has me absolutely perplexed. Does it have something to do with the sugar ruse? Because I wasn’t really looking for sugar. We’re all clear on that, aren’t we?

JOEY: But our sugar has been confiscated. So.

BEN [to Wilson]: Want to see the den? I should show you the den.

WILSON: I thought you’d never ask.

[BEN and WILSON exit the stage]

HARPER [to Darlene]: Look. You could be a really sweet girl for all I know. If you’re even half as lovely as your brother here, you’re my kind of people. I just came to let you know how special he really is. I mean no foul.

DARLENE: I’m sorry. I get my back up sometimes. [turns to Joey] You know Momma always played us against each other, don’t you?

JOEY: Which is why we really should call a truce, Darlene. This war’s gone on long enough.

DARLENE: I swear, sometimes I feel like my life is nothing but a walking disaster. If I don’t get angry and defensive it’ll all just slip away from me. Best to have the upper hand. Take it by the throat and choke.

HARPER: Honey, please. I just discovered eleven ice cream sandwiches in my fridge. If that’s not disaster porn, I don’t know what is. You get to be my age and you find your toilet paper in the microwave and your dishtowel in the freezer. I’m just saying take it easy. Learn to exhale.

DARLENE [sighs]: What I wouldn’t give for an ice cream sandwich right about now.

HARPER: Honey, you’re welcome to them. The point I was making, however, is that all eleven have perished and died to death. They’re as soup as soup gets. My addled old brain mistook the fridge for the freezer and joy has died this day. There’s no coming back from that kind of mistake.

DARLENE: Well, it must have been a twelve-pack, no? Perhaps there was a little happiness on the way home from the store?

HARPER: See what I mean. There’s hope for you yet. Find the good bits. If you can’t sift through the wreckage and find the light, there’s no point breathing.

JOEY: Why do I feel like a third wheel in this conversation? Are you two actually getting along?

DARLENE: Oh, for heaven’s sake, Joseph—um—I mean, Joey. Are you jealous now? I can’t talk to your neighbour?

HARPER [raises their measuring cup to the sky]: You know. I think my work here might almost be done. I should be off before I overstay. Leave them wanting more, my old daddy used to say.

JOEY: Thanks for looking in, Harper. Appreciate it.

HARPER: Son, you moved in next door to a hurricane. I’m always gonna barge in on things. Especially when I sense a problem brewing. Neighbours borrowing a cup of sugar is almost never about the sugar.

DARLENE: I’m not sure what just happened here, but maybe thank you for the distraction?

HARPER: Honey, all I’m here for is sugar. I don’t know what it is you’re referring to. I’d certainly like to know this French toast business, though. But we’ll keep that for another time. You make sure you check in more often, now. Joey told me some nice things too, you know. He misses you when you’re not around. Family’s all we have in the end, ain’t it. Chosen or otherwise.

[BEN and WILSON return to the stage]

BEN: Leaving so soon, Harper?

HARPER: Honey child, I’ll say it yet again. I came only for a cup of sugar.

DARLENE: It was nice to meet you.

HARPER: The same to you. Maybe next time you can stop by for an ice cream sandwich. I’ll be sure to put them in the freezer this time ‘round. I’m 708. Just two doors down the hall. Don’t, whatever you do, knock on 706. Old man Jones’ll tear you a new one just for knocking.

DARLENE: That sounds nice. The ice cream sandwich, I mean. I’d like that.

HARPER: Well, the invitation’s real.

JOEY: Thanks, Harper.

HARPER: Child, no need to thank me for crashing your party. You should never reward bad manners.

JOEY: No. Really. Thank you. [kisses Harper’s cheek]

HARPER: Best be on my way now. I’ve been holding this ridiculous cup long enough.

[HARPER exits]

DARLENE: Should we maybe try this again soon, JOEY? Our place? Supper? Next Saturday? We can have a real visit, maybe get to know Ben a little better if that’s okay?

JOEY: I’d like that, sis. Yeah, let’s do that.

FADE OUT

END PLAY

Again…if you wish to use this play, please feel free to do so. Just…PLEASE email me first. At kevintcraig @ hotmail.com Thank you so much!

The 24 Hour Project – Peterborough Play Festival – Sat July 6th

MAUGHAM

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!

nervous

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:

Five Plays in a Single Day: The 24 Hour Project Returns to Peterborough on July 6

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.

61871491_756538584760839_995632818610503680_n
Come out to THE 24 HOUR PROJECT in Peterborough, Ontario tomorrow!

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….

And YOU!

email – emglasspool@gmail.com to sign up!

THE 24-HOUR PROJECT FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE LINK

The 24 Hour Theatre Project – A Fundraiser for Mysterious Entity Theatre

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

gbt.jpg
Google Map 216 Hunter Street West for Directions.

Sponsored by Steamwhistle!
Sponsored by Black Honey!

PRICE: $10 for 5 original works of theatre!

To sign up for this event: email – emglasspool@gmail.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:

24hr.jpgOTHERS 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!

Find out more about MYSTERIOUS ENTITY THEATRE HERE.

Hope to see you there!

Godspeed, Sam Shepard – Do Not Go Gentle…

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

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“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…

 

The Stage or the Page? Writing the Baby or the Embryo

I was recently asked the question, ‘What do you like writing for more…the stage or the page?’ My answer was simple. I didn’t even have to think about it. It was an emphatic YES!

With a gun to my head, along with the pressure of having only ten seconds to either give one up or die, I would probably use the little time I had left to say goodbye to loved ones. Admittedly, the decision is not Sophie’s Choice or anything as life or death crucial as that…but it feels that epic. It’s a choice I would never want to make.

I always say that writing for the stage is like writing a novel without having the added responsibility of working with all that clunky, incipient prose that shows up between the dialogue. That’s why I love being a playwright. I need only worry about putting words into my characters’ mouths. All the movement and action (business) can be on the director and actors to decide. All the setting can be created by the set designers. The rest of the theatre crew deal with all that prose that doesn’t have to be there on the page. At times, that feels like getting a get-out-of-jail free card. Score! I can have fun just making my characters talk!

And it’s a lot of fun. But…there’s also something missing. I absolutely love building worlds and making sure every little detail is as it should be. The reader will hear the dialogue in a novel. And that dialogue better be authentic. There’s nothing more irritating than dialogue that simply does not sound authentic. But the reader will also see the prose. How they see everything that surrounds the dialogue is up to me. I love getting that right. I would sorely miss that if all I did was write plays. Yes, a playwright works with stage direction…we do use prose outside of dialogue. We have to at least let the rest of the theatre crew know the scaffolding that surrounds the conversation. But we don’t get to visit the minutiae of the scenes we create. I love to write my novels cinematically. I write so that the story rolls out as though it were playing out on the big screen. I like to be in control of all the details. In order to do that, I need to embrace all aspects of story. I need to paint the scenes in full.

On the stage, it’s all there in front of the audience. To an extent, what they see is the playwright’s vision. But in another way, it could be diametrically opposed to the playwright’s original vision. Outside the characters on the stage, and the words they speak, most of what the audience is seeing is director, actor, and set design interpretation. This isn’t a bad thing. Playwright’s understand that they are, in a sense, giving up a lot of control when they write for the stage. That is, in fact, part of the thrill of play-writing for me. I love to see what the other people involved in my plays do with them. I love watching the actors form their characters. Ultimately, I end up loving the characters they create a lot more than the ones I sketched out. And the directors seem to know exactly where to put the business of the play. It’s an art-form to move the actors about the stage and have them perform the best possible movements at the best possible times. That’s why a good playwright will keep the stage direction to a bare minimum. They know that the next stages of the play’s development will be for others to interpret. A theatre company is a cohesive unit. A lot of work, and a lot of trust, go into making a good play.

A still from my play, Perfect Timing. From the 2013 InspiraTO Festival, performed by Liam Doherty & Jennifer Gillespie on the main stage of the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto, Ontario (June, 2013). Perfect Timing was directed by Kim Sprenger and dramaturged by MC Thompson. Photo Credit: Ismail Atiev

In the end, the difference between playwriting and novel writing comes down to collaboration. While I’m writing my novel, I want to be the director, the actors, the set designer, everything. I want to have full control. I understand that at some point an editor will come in and make crucial improvements upon my creation, but I don’t take that into consideration while I’m creating. While I’m writing my play, I have forethought. I consider that the director and actors will work with what I give them. I understand that the creation process will still evolve when I am done with the words on the page.

Ultimately, it takes a writer to create a novel and a village to create a play. So don’t ask me what I would rather do. I love the solitary world of novel writing. I love to sit down and write something and present it to the world complete. Voila! But I also love to collaborate with the wonderfully creative and talented world of the theatre. I love being a part of something that is so much bigger than me, but that ultimately starts with me. When you write a novel, you pass your fully formed baby on to the world. When you write a play, you’re passing an embryo on to doctors who will know exactly how to bring it to fruition. I’m okay with both methods. As a writer, I’m blessed to have experienced both. So take that gun away from my head. I have a novel AND a play to write.

You can catch 2 of my plays on TUESDAY AUGUST 1st from 7pm-9pm in PORT PERRY, when they are to be STAGE READ by the folks at Theatre 3×60. Click the image to visit their page and purchase tickets ($10 gets you in to see both plays read — The History of Us AND King of the Crease)

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Staged Readings of Two of My One-Act Plays…

THE HISTORY OF US and KING OF THE CREASE, two one-act plays I wrote, will be stage read NEXT TUESDAY (AUGUST 1st, 2017) from 7pm-9pm at Port Perry Church of the Ascension (266 North St. Port Perry).

Thanks to THEATRE 3×60 for putting this on. I was thrilled to find out that they were doing this with both of the first two one-act plays I have ever written.

If you recognize the title of the first one, THE HISTORY OF US, it’s because it began life as a 10-minute play…which I wrote for DRIFTWOOD THEATRE‘s TRAFALGAR 24 Play Creation Festival. I was fortunate enough to land two incredible actors for the original production of this play. Both Christopher Kelk and Adriano Sobretodo Jr. were phenomenal in their roles as Alzheimer’s suffering Charlie Wilkins and his son-in-law Ben. Making a ten minute play into a one-act was a difficult task, but creating more for and about these two characters was a labour of love. Charlie suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and is mourning the recent loss of his wife, while adjusting to the changes taking place in his life. These changes include moving in with his son and his partner…and dealing with the complications this entails with other family members.

In King of the Crease, we have retired NHL goalie Frank Eno, who is struggling with aging and chronic back pain. His live-in adult daughter has a suitor who Frank admires while others in his family do not. It’s the story of a father and son, in the end…disguised as more of a family drama.

I hope you will join THEATRE 3×60 next Tuesday to see how these two plays pan out on the stage.

3xCanadians Staged Readings – Kevin Craig, August 1, 2017

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Port Perry Church of the Ascension (266 North St. Port Perry)

Theatre 3×60’s summer company performs staged readings of Kevin Craig’s King of the Crease and The History of Us.

CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO BE TAKEN TO THE THEATRE 3×60 WEBSITE AND A DIRECT LINK TO WHERE YOU CAN BUY TICKETS TO THE EVENT FOR $10 EACH:

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BUY TICKETS HERE: https://squareup.com/store/theatre-3×60

 

A MESSAGE FOR WRITERS AND PLAYWRIGHTS: Staged Readings are interactive and the audience has an opportunity to provide feedback on the plays being read. These readings are GREAT WORKSHOP OPPORTUNITIES for playwrights and wanna-be playwrights. It will be a learning experience for anyone thinking of taking on playwriting. And, yes…it will be a terrifying experience for me, the playwright. I’ve never done anything like this, but I have an open mind and a desire to better my playwright skills. This is just the kind of opportunity that could make me grow as a playwright. For my local writer friends, this is an invaluable experience…come, learn, contribute feedback. I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

I See a Ship in the Harbor…

 

I can and shall obey…

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.

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The great W. Somerset Maugham, 1942. Because he said a novelist can become a playwright…I write.

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…

 

 

 

 

A Playwright’s Dream – Trafalgar 24 by Driftwood Theatre

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.
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!
 
END OF ARTICLE
Want to learn more about the 2017 Driftwood Theatre Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival? FOLLOW THIS LINK TO READ ABOUT THIS YEAR’S PLAYWRIGHTS, JUST ANNOUNCED!
 
 
HERE’S A LINK TO THE DRIFTWOOD THEATRE WEBSITE. Don’t miss Trafalgar 24 2017. You’ll love it!

Listen Now! The Recordings of My STORYLINES Interview & Play Performance from Hunter’s Bay Radio…

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:

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Click This Picture to Visit My Books on Amazon!

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!

Thank you, Christine! And thank you Hunter’s Bay Radio. And thank you, Tobin Elliott. And thank you to Driftwood Theatre and their Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival, at which THE SPEECH was created!

Find Me on Hunter’s Bay Radio! The Speech rises again!

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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!

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:

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