Reasons Why I Should Have Aced the NYC Midnight Challenge – AND Why I Don’t Think I Did

It’s all in the title. I thought I had trained well for this particular contest. I haven’t done a list in a while. This one is short, but makes for a great jumping off point.

Background: This past weekend, I was busy writing a short story for the 2nd round of the 2019 NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Each writer in the challenge is given three things to incorporate into their stories; a genre, a character, a subject. We were then given 72 hours turnaround time to submit a 2,000 word maximum short story to the contest. Round 1 of the contest whittled the pool of writers down from about 4,900 to the 750 writers who took part in this past weekend’s 2nd round.

Reasons Why I Should Have Aced the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

  • I took part in the Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival in Whitby, Ontario SIX TIMES. In this festival, the playwrights are locked inside a castle for 8 hours. In that time, they each have to create a 10-minute play that will be performed in front of six rotating audiences the very next evening
  • I took part in the Muskoka Novel Marathon in Huntsville, Ontario TEN TIMES. In this marathon, the writers are locked inside a room for 72 hours. In that time, they each have to create a full novel that will be judged by industry professionals in the months immediately following the marathon.
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This is the inside of the cathedral that is literally inside Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. I spent 8 hours inside this cathedral all by myself a few years back, tasked with writing a 10-minute play that was produced the very next evening in the cathedral. Each playwright gets locked up in the room in which their play is to be set. When the 8 hours are over, you are to submit your play to the director and actors. They are, in turn, given 8 hours to rehearse. Then come the audiences! Hundreds of people converge on the castle to see all the plays in rotating fashion.

That’s it. That’s my list. I was so certain that those two things were enough to get me into the shape I needed to be in to pown this NYC Midnight thing. Or is it pwn? Either way, I thought I was going to ace this.

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Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario

I have always said that of all the writing assignments a creative writer could have, the short story is the hardest. I have pounded out novels in one sitting TEN TIMES now. I’ve written plays while beating the clock multiple times, for various festivals. And the thing that finally got to me, the thing that defeated me, was this short story challenge.

I submitted with one hour and fifteen minutes to spare. It was a 72hr time frame for 2,000 words. I’m not a mathematical genius or anything, but that’s a far cry from writing 50,000 words in the same number of hours at the Muskoka Novel Marathon. Let’s see…carry the one, add the 3, subtract the 7 and multiply by 11 and what do you get? 694.44 words and hour for the MNM and 27.77 words an hour for the NYC Midnight challenge. The pressure should be stronger at the MNM, shouldn’t it?

 

Above are pictures from one of the many Muskoka Novel Marathons that I have participated in over the years. 40 writers + 72hrs = 40 novels! AND, we typically raise $30,000+ for area literacy programs each and every year.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. The real secret about the comparison between the short story and the novel is that you have to fit the exact same amount of story into each receptacle. And that’s only one of the factors going into my perceived failure this past weekend. You well and truly need to get the whole story into a short story…squeeze 50,000 words into its itty bitty living space and condense them down to 2,000 (or 2,500 , or 3,000 or whatever your limit is). This is not an easy task, and to go into it thinking it is an easy task is folly. The takeaway lesson should be—never be cocky about your ability as a writer. Every challenge is another series of wrenches thrown at you. You’re never ready for hurled wrenches…don’t make the mistake of thinking you are.

So, to review, NOTHING can prepare a writer for an on-the-spot writing challenge. I guess that’s why these contests work so well. It’s an amazing feeling when you push yourself to take a leap into the unknown. And I guess the thought behind the NYC Midnight challenge is… a writer is a writer is a writer. Any good one should be able to take what they’re given and pump out a result that is both entertaining and worthy of a read.

Boy, did I struggle with this one. It doesn’t matter whether you read regularly in every genre or not. If you’re not comfortable writing in each of them and you’re tasked to take one of them on…it’s bound to be difficult. That’s the thing that got me this weekend. By the luck of the draw I received a genre to write in that I have read voraciously over the years, but never once wrote it. I was afloat on a sea of confused desperation for the past 72 hours.

We shall see how this round of the challenge goes. If anything, I’m thrilled to have made the first cut. I can’t imagine that it’s an easy task to move forward in this challenge. I did it, and I should be happy about that. It’s all I can ask for.

To all those who pushed themselves to enter the challenge, congratulations! You took a leap and I guarantee you it made you a better writer. To those of you who moved forward into round two with me, even more congratulations! You did it. That’s an amazing achievement in itself. I wish all 749 of you the best of luck in this next round of judging! If a miracle should occur, I might see some of you in the 3rd and final round. But if not, do your best. You got this!

 

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!

The Train Wreck – A 10-Minute Play

Another year goes by, another 10-minute play is written. I really scraped by this year, I think. I thought I was writing a comedy…but I think I totally missed the mark. When it came time to submit it at the end of my 8 hours, I called it a DRAMEDY.

I had a chance to speak with the actors and the director of the play, and they seemed to genuinely love it. They did a FANTASTIC job in the performance I saw. Flawless. During the Trafalgar 24 evening, they performed the play 6 times…to a rotating audience that amounted to approximately 300 people. There was some laughter, but not exactly what I was going for. It’s a chance you take, when you write comedy. I really did lean on the drama side of dramedy this year. I just hope it was okay. I love the event…and I loved having a play in it…my 7th Trafalgar 24 play! And IN THE CHAPEL! The most beautiful room in the castle.

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Going to the Chapel… Trafalgar Castle Chapel in Whitby, Ontario. This is the scene of my latest play, The Train Wreck…

The prompt given to me prior to writing the play was:

The bride and groom have just left for their honeymoon. The groom was late to arrive at the wedding, and, the groom may or may not have struck the priest during the ceremony.

THE TRAIN WRECK (Originally written for the 2016 Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival in Whitby, Ontario)

TITLE: The Train Wreck

GENRE: Dramedy

SYNOPSIS: After a bad wedding experience, Emily and Jarod are ready to avoid them at all costs. Or are they?

CHARACTERS:

EMILY LANCASTER (Mary Krohnert) FORMAL WEAR

JAROD MAXWELL (James Dallas Smith) CASUAL WEAR

DESCRIPTION: Emily and Jarod are Maid of Honour and Best Man at a train-wreck of a wedding. Could this turn them against weddings forever?

SETTING

CHAPEL

 

[EMILY and JAROD walk up the aisle together, exhausted. Defeated.]

EMILY: Thank God that’s over!

JAROD [sits on the stairs at the front of the chapel, head in hands]: Oh my god. That was the biggest disaster I’ve ever seen. How did it crash and burn so quickly? [Looks up at Emily] What even happened? I just don’t get it.

EMILY: You tell me, Jarod. Isn’t the best man supposed to be the one making sure everything runs smoothly? Wasn’t it your responsibility to make sure the groom was in line?

JAROD: I will never get married.

EMILY: You’re preaching to the choir, believe me. I hate weddings. But it was still your responsibility.

JAROD: You have no idea how much I tried. I wanted everything to run smoothly. Honestly, I did. Have you even met Arthur?

EMILY: He just married Rachel. My best friend since we were practically fetuses. Or is that feti? What’s the plural for fetus? We were neighbours before we were born. Anyway, of course I’ve met him.

JAROD [stands up and paces in frustration]: Huh? The point is I had no control over what happened. Arthur was a one man wrecking crew. I just could not save it.

EMILY: Well, look on the bright side. They’re married. It’s over. Besides, I suppose all weddings are gonna have some glitches and bumps along the way. Right? Overall, I think it was rather grand.

JAROD: Glitches and bumps? Grand. Really? Which part of that fiasco on legs did you think was grand, if you don’t mind me asking?

EMILY: I’m not loving the sullen defeatist attitude you’re wearing. They both showed up. They walked down the aisle. They’re married.

JAROD: Rachel is your best friend. Since you were plural fetuses. Don’t you feel bad for her? Before he went insane this morning, Arthur was worried sick about screwing it up. He said she dreamt about her wedding her entire life. He had nightmares for weeks about pulling an Arthur on his wedding day. And if she’s not devastated by how it played out, I’ll eat my inappropriate wedding attire.

EMILY: That was one of the questions I had for you, actually.

JAROD: I know. I saw you ogling us throughout the ceremony. I felt the hostility. I’m sure everyone wondered.

EMILY: And?

JAROD: The tuxedos went over the balcony at the hotel this morning. It was an accident. Don’t ask.

EMILY: Why didn’t you just go downstairs and get them? How difficult would that have been?

JAROD: It would have involved swimming.

EMILY: Really? They fell into the pool?

JAROD: The deep end. I hate weddings.

EMILY: Well, at least you’re wearing pants. Did you see the look on Rachel’s face when Arthur walked in wearing his Bermuda shorts?

JAROD: They were a compromise. It was either Bermuda shorts or actual swim trunks. The loud theme of the Bermuda shorts had to be overlooked. They covered way more leg than the trunks.

EMILY: When you’re getting married and you lose the tuxedo at the eleventh hour, a compromise is dress pants, chinos, slacks. Christ, jeans would have been better. If there’s going to be bare legs at a wedding, they should at least belong to the bride.

JAROD: In his defense, he was packed for Bermuda. It is where they’re going today.

EMILY: I’m sure she’s pleased with him right now. She’s probably killing him in the back of the limo as we speak. I can’t say I’d blame her.

JAROD: Remember that time when you said Arthur and Rachel’s wedding was grand? Why, it seems like it was just five minutes ago.

EMILY: Well, yeah. When you start nitpicking at the flaws and put them under the microscope, I can see where it might be construed as a fiasco. I mean, I’ve been to saner weddings in the past.

JAROD: Saner? [JAROD walks to the podium, clears his throat. Theatrical] Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to celebrate the holy matrimony of Art and Rachel. [makes the motions of punching himself in the side of the head and flailing from the impact] [mimics Arthur’s deep hostile voice] It’s Arthur, asshole! [returns to his own voice] I rest my case.

EMILY: [trying not to laugh] Well, yeah. But did he really hit Father Frank? I mean, you seem to be over-interpreting that situation.

JAROD: Really, Emily? Am I? How does one over interpret a punch to the side of the head?

EMILY: There’s really no need for embellishments or exaggerations. That was hardly a punch.

JAROD: Why are you sticking up for my best friend and throwing your best friend under the bus?

EMILY: I’m not, really. It’s just, Rachel hides behind a constant resting bitch face. I can’t tell when she’s upset, because she always looks upset. Maybe Bermuda shorts and a sucker-punch aren’t really enough to put a damper on such a huge moment in her life. I mean, has she ever looked happy to you?

JAROD: She’s your friend, not mine. I hardly know her. Something tells me these things would be devastating to any girl who always dreamed of the perfect wedding.

EMILY: Maybe she should be happy with what she got. She could do worse than Art.

JAROD: Careful. Don’t call him Art to his face. You saw what happened to the last guy who did that.

EMILY: Are you even going to tell me why you were so late?

JAROD: We were earlier than we thought we’d be.

EMILY: But you were still over an hour late. Father Frank was ready to call it off. Rachel’s grossly overweight Aunt Helen was in her pew fanning herself, hyperventilating and mumbling, “Land sakes!” over and over again like she was about to meet Jesus.

JAROD: After we decided there’d be no way to dry the tuxes on time, I had a hard time getting Arthur out of the pool.

EMILY: So you did try to rescue the tuxes?

JAROD: Well, it was more like Arthur saw an opportunity to go for a swim. You know, I think he might have been still drunk from last night’s bachelor party.

EMILY: That’s what Rachel kept saying. “What if he’s drunk? What if he’s dead? What if he’s changed his mind?” It was fun to be here with her while you were out there swimming.

JAROD: I told you, I tried. And I was never in the pool. You seem to be waffling. Either the wedding was grand or it wasn’t.

EMILY: I’m just asking the questions I know Rachel would want me to ask.

JAROD: Right. Since you were friends ever since you were feti and stuff.

EMILY: Don’t make fun of me. I don’t have to listen to this. [turns and heads down the aisle] I’m not the one responsible for wrecking Rachel’s wedding. That’s your distinct honor.

JAROD: Wait. No. Don’t go. I’m sorry. I’m just frustrated.

EMILY: [stops and turns back to face JAROD] It was kind of funny when Arthur tripped up the aisle. [walks back toward the front and fakes a trip into one of the pews] I thought his mom was going to have a heart attack over that one.

JAROD: His mom is a heart attack. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’m surprised she didn’t show up in a grass skirt or a tutu. Your friend doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into. Arthur’s family is messed up.

EMILY: Anna Karenina?

JAROD: Huh? Are we naming Russian Lit novels? I see your Anna and raise you with a War and Peace.

EMILY: No. The line. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. The thing that’s broken in the Middleton family causes their son to wear Bermuda shorts to his own wedding. Rachel may have shown up in the right outfit, but her family is just as messed up.

JAROD: How so? I mean, Arthur punched a priest today.

EMILY: Last night, Rachel called off the wedding. Just to me, of course, but still. She said she didn’t deserve him. She thought he was marrying beneath himself. The drunk thug swimming in the hotel pool with his tuxedo was too good for her.

JAROD: Ah. I get it. Unhappy families.

EMILY: We all have our crosses to bear. Some of us are so mad at the world that we punch priests for saying our name the wrong way, and some of us just take it all out on ourselves.

JAROD: You’re bringing down the mood, Em. We still have a reception to get through.

EMILY: That’s another thing. Who doesn’t go to their own reception? They’re probably at the airport by now. If she hasn’t killed him and dumped the Bermuda shorted body, that is.

JAROD: Arthur’s dad insisted. That’s how the Middletons have always done it. From the chapel to the plane. La tee da.

EMILY: [looks at JAROD and gets an idea. Smiles] Come here. [they get in line with one another] While I have you here, I just want to try something out. [she walks him up the aisle arm in arm. She begins to hum Here Comes the Bride. He joins in while they stand at the front of the church]

JAROD: Um. Weird. That felt kinda good. It felt right, or something.

EMILY: Yeah. Um. No. Let’s not get carried away. We hate weddings, remember? I just wanted to know what it felt like. You were the closest available arm. That’s all. Don’t read anything into it.

JAROD: Well, yeah. I just mean…yeah. Whatever.

EMILY: When I get married, everything will run smoothly. My wedding will be absolute perfection.

JAROD: Mine too. Like clockwork.

EMILY: You probably should find someone other than Arthur to be your best man.

[they turn to walk back down the aisle to leave the church.]

JAROD: We really should be getting to the reception. With no bride or groom, won’t that make us the guests of honour or something?

EMILY: Hmph. I guess so.

[they start to leave the church, at first separately. They fall in together and lock arms, humming the wedding march again.]

JAROD: I’m surprised by how good this feels.

EMILY: Ack. Weddings are so damn romantic, aren’t they?

[they exit arm in arm at the back of the church]

 

END PLAY

 

As is always the case, feel free to use this or any other 10-minute play posted to this site. My only request is that you email me at kevintcraig @ hotmail.com and ask permission (let me know).

 

 

Panic is Behind Me – It’s Out of My Hands!

There is nothing I can do now. I have performed my duties as Elf Playwright. Whatever will be, will be. Que sera, sera.

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Just one of the many rooms in Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. Tour the castle while you watch plays take place inside 6 of its many rooms!

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.

TRAFALGAR 24 TICKETS CAN BE HAD BY CLICKING ON THIS!

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.

General Admission Ticket | $60

Twitter: #trafalgar24

Hope to see you there!

 

Ideas as Opiates – The Panic Begins! #MNM2016 #Trafalgar24

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.

ONE OF MY PAST TRAFALGAR 24 PLAYS

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!!

5979058

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.

 

 

Upcoming Events! #Trafalgar24 #AuthorsForIndies #OWC2016

Just a quick shout-out to the 3 upcoming events in my calendar. I am extremely fortunate to get these moments in my life where I get to fully immerse myself in the thing I love–THE WRITING LIFE. My immediate future is bountiful with writerly stuff.

Listed To Do List:

  1. TRAFALGAR 24 BY DRIFTWOOD THEATRE: Right around the corner–coming at me like a freight train–is Trafalgar24. This incredible play creation festival at Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario, is a highlight of the year. I can’t believe I get to participate yet again! My 7th kick at the can. I love the fear, the tension, the excitement, the horror, the panic, the joy of it. Being locked in Trafalgar Castle overnight and needing to write a 10-minute play before the sun comes up? Yes, please. I still haven’t figured out who the Elf is and who the Shoemaker is in this scenario. Sometimes I feel like the Elf, cobbling a play together overnight and leaving it behind for the shoemaker (the actors and the directors) to discover in the morning. And sometimes I feel like the Shoemaker…leaving my unmade shoes in the castle and having the Elves (the actors and the directors) come in and cobble my play into something presentable. Either way, I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it! And I love that I get to go back to the castle on the Friday night and see all 6 Trafalgar plays performed. Not to mention the cheese and cracker spread, the neverending flow of wine, and the beautiful dessert table! And…the amazing silent auction items! This is THE premiere event of the year in Durham Region. GET. YOUR. TICKETS. NOW:  Trafalgar 24 – Driftwood Theatre – Friday March 11, 2016 @ 6:30pm They do NOT make the audience stay overnight in the castle. Do not fear!
  2. AUTHORS FOR INDIES: This is a country-wide event. Authors hang out at bookstores and pimp their favourite books. It’s a way to thank independent bookstores and talk books. It’s a beautiful thing! I was invited to BLUE HERON BOOKS in Uxbridge, Ontario. The date is SATURDAY APRIL 30th, 2016. No matter where you live in Canada, make a trip to your local bookstore that day. Show the independent bookstores that you love and appreciate what they do! Also at Blue Heron Books on this day, will be: Linda Granfield, Ted Barris, Marissa Campbell, Guy Gavriel Kay, Jan Dolby, Rebecca Bender, Kate Hilton, and, Ann Douglas. JOIN US! BLUE HERON BOOKS
  3. ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE – Another year, another OWC! I was a founding member on the Board of Directors for the OWC. I worked on the organizing committee for a number of years. Though no longer affiliated with the conference, I have been facilitating as a Manuscript Mentor for the past two conferences. I get to take on that role again this year! And, naturally, I will also be attending. Who in their right mind would miss it? The conference takes place over 2 days. The FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS gala is on SATURDAY APRIL 30th, 2016 and it is open to the public. You need to attend the Sunday conference to attend the Festival. Tickets are $20 and anyone can attend. But get them fast. This is a much lauded literary event. The conference proper takes place on SUNDAY MAY 1st. Take a look at the day’s SCHEDULE HERE. Here are the WORKSHOP TOPICS. And HERE is the REGISTRATION PAGE. If you are a writer in the GTA (or beyond), GIVE YOURSELF THIS MOMENT…go to the Ontario Writers’ Conference this year. You won’t regret it. And a heads up for all—I went to dinner with Wayson a couple of weeks ago to celebrate Chinese New Year, and he is over-excited for another year at the Ontario Writers’ Conference. The Honorary Patron since its inception, Wayson brings an element of love and light to the conference that no other person could bring. SEE YOU THERE!

Trafalgar24 by Driftwood Theatre! A Return to Trafalgar Castle!

It’s that time of the year again to start thinking about the most magical event of the year! The Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival is approaching. Billed as “24 HOURS. 6 NEW PLAYS. 1 CASTLE.”, Trafalgar 24 is that and so much more! It’s a virtual whirlwind of creativity, dished out in the extravagant setting of a mid 19th century castle in Whitby, Ontario.

A little about the Castle: Nelson Gilbert Reynolds built Trafalgar Castle as a private residence in 1859. After losing his fortune to gambling, Mr. Reynolds was forced to sell the castle. It soon became the Ontario Ladies’ College, and eventually Trafalgar Castle School. To this day, it is a school for girls…complete with dorm rooms to house students from all over the world. Once a year, during spring-break, the castle is handed over to Jeremy Smith and Driftwood Theatre for their fundraising gala, TRAFALGAR 24.

From the Driftwood Theatre Trafalgar24 Webpage:

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

Now, here’s a breakdown of what happens from yours truly. I have had the extreme pleasure of being a playwright for this event SIX times! And this March (2016) I may or may not once again be having the honour of being locked into the castle overnight to cobble a 10-minute play for production the following evening. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. THURSDAY EVENING 10:00PM – 6 playwrights converge on the Castle. Jeremy (Driftwood Theatre’s Artistic Director) corals the playwrights and gives them their instructions. Write a 10-minute play in 8 hours. He gives them headshots of the actors who will appear in their plays and he tells them which room in the castle their particular play will take place in. Jeremy then leads the playwrights on a tour of the castle, stopping in each of the 6 chosen rooms to show them where the plays will take place. Typically, this is the room in which the playwright will write their play. They are allowed to use anything in the room chosen for them…but they are not allowed to add props that are not already there. That is that. 10pm arrives and the 6 playwrights retreat into their rooms and the playwriting begins. Jeremy goes home…plays are cobbled.
  2. FRIDAY MORNING 6:00am – 6 very tired disheveled playwrights are allowed to leave the castle. After, of course, they hand in their plays. 6 new plays. 6 worried, electrified, tired, sleepless, chaotic, changed playwrights. Never the twain shall meet— the playwrights escape and only then do the directors and actors converge on the castle. They all arrive at 6am. They are given their plays to read-rehearse-tweak-enrich-bring to life. I can’t tell you what happens in the next eight hours. I can only imagine that it is a more chaotic and boisterous eight hours than the eight hours before it! The creation really happens in this eight hours. I will always and forever be in awe of the product that comes from these eight hours. Actors and directors are wondrous creatures who should be revered.
  3. The tireless volunteers and organizers then prepare for the onslaught of the audience. This includes setting up the cheese and hors d’oeuvres tables, setting up the wine tables, and setting up the tremendous silent auction tables. REMEMBER–this is a fundraiser. The silent auction helps Driftwood Theatre’s fundraising efforts. They are, after all, a traveling theatre that gives Ontario Shakespeare in the Park all summer long. They need to fund this incredible Bard’s Bus summer tour. Trafalgar24 is the cornerstone of their fundraising efforts.
  4. THE AUDIENCE ARRIVES! I believe the audience is typically 300 people. These 300 are split into 6 smaller groups that will stay together the entire evening (apart from the breaks for hors d’oeuvres and wine, silent auctioning, speeches, and dessert). The 6 groups will wander throughout the castle, visiting each of the 6 rooms in which the plays will be performed and seeing each one in turn. So each play will be performed SIX times. Between performances, everything mentioned above takes place. Basically, it’s a magical night filled with theatre, wining, excellent food, shopping the auction items, and schmoozing. It’s a must see event that sadly only happens once a year.

So, that’s Trafalgar24.

Please visit the TRAFALGAR24 EVENT PAGE ON DRIFTWOOD THEATRE’S WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE.

If you are a member of the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION, you will have a special discounted price for tickets. If you are a member of the WCDR, you can book your discounted tickets WCDR tickets by calling 416-605-5132 or 844-601-8057.

I would like to thank Driftwood Theatre, and Jeremy Smith, for giving me my many opportunities to be a small part of this amazing event. Trafalgar24 is the crowning event of my writing year. Creating a play in 8 hours that will be witnessed ‘on stage’ by 6 audiences one short night later is an exhilarating, frenetic, terrifying, appalling, energetic, insane, impossible. All those things and more. I don’t think it matters what your role in the event is–playwright, director, actor, organizer, volunteer, audience, etc–if you attend, you will be amazed! YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS IT!

See you at the castle!

Leaving Driftwood Manor – A 10-Minute Trafalgar 24 Play…

This is the 10-Minute Play I wrote for the 2015 Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival – a fundraiser put on by DRIFTWOOD THEATRE.

Leaving Driftwood Manor was written on Thursday March 6th – and performed 6 times in front of a rotating audience of approximately 300 people on Friday March 7th. It was performed at Trafalgar Castle, in Whitby, Ontario.

This play is copyright protected. It can be used royalty free, with prior written permission. please contact me at kevintcraig @ hotmail.com

TITLE: LEAVING DRIFTWOOD MANOR

©2015

Trafalgar-24-header-2015-wide-fb-759x280

TITLE: Leaving Driftwood Manor

SYNOPSIS: Emmett knows he would be happier if he could just leave his home behind him.

CHARACTERS:

EMMETT ROBERTSON (Written for Shane Patrick McClurg for Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24)
CARTER ROBERTSON (Written for Andy Pogson for Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24)

DESCRIPTION: Emmett Robertson is finished with his home life. He’s ready to leave it all behind. If only he could.

SETTING – COMMON ROOM in a mansion

EMMETT [Standing at fireplace. Frustrated]: Father, father, father. Why? After all these years, you still lurk? [Waits a couple beats] I know you’re there. Leave me alone. Once and for all.

CARTER [Comes out from behind the wall]: That seems harsh, Em. How could you say something so—

EMMETT: It’s Emmett. I’ve told you. Numerous times. Not Em.

CARTER: Why are you so intolerant of me, Emmett? Haven’t I always had your best interests at heart? Don’t I cater to your every whim?

EMMETT: I can’t do this anymore. I want to leave this place. I need out of Driftwood Manor. I feel trapped. Smothered.

CARTER: I know, I know. No longer the little boy who ran these halls terrorizing the staff. No longer the boy who went hysterical with joy at the sound of my voice. I know, Em. [Stops himself] Emmett. You don’t need me anymore. I read you loud and—

EMMETT: That’s not true. I’ll always need you. But I need to have my life. I need to leave this old house and all the memories trapped inside it. I feel like the house itself is eating me alive.

CARTER: You always loved Driftwood. You wanted everything that went with it. You used to practice saying your name like an aristocrat because of this house. Emmett Forbes Robertson the third. Never mind there was never a first or a second. Or that Forbes is something you picked up out of thin air because you thought it had a nice ring to it. You were the Lord of the manor.

EMMETT: That was before I realized there could be life beyond these walls. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” You used to quote that all the time, didn’t you? Well, I’m ready. To give up my childish ways.

CARTER: Am I one of those childish ways? Because, for me, there is no life beyond these walls. My God, Em. Why now?

EMMETT: It’s been ten years.

CARTER: No. That’s not possible. It couldn’t be.

EMMETT: You abandoned our family that day. Just like that. You can try to be the superhero father figure all you want. It will never change the outcome. You checked out. One day there, the next day gone.

CARTER: Emmett, please. I never once left your side. Haven’t I always been here for you? Haven’t I spoiled you your entire life?

EMMETT: It’s not the same. And you know it. You can’t leave this house. It wears you like… like you wear it. You’re one. And you’re trapping me here with you.

CARTER: Leave, then. If that’s what you need to do. Who am I to stop you?

EMMETT [Shakes his head. Discouraged]: You just don’t get it. You ruined my mother. Destroyed her life. All the good you do in the world will never change that fact. She’s destroyed. I want to get her out of here. I will find a way to get her to leave here.

CARTER: Em, you can’t. You must make her stay. We must convince her it’s the only way we can still be togeth—

EMMETT: No. Dad. It’s my decision. If you were really around—around all the time—you would know she’s incapable of making decisions. She’s practically incapable of getting out of bed in the morning.

CARTER: If she would just see me, it would be different.

EMMETT: She’s never going to see you. Don’t you get it? She’s done.

CARTER: What if I was the one to leave? Would that convince her to stay? Convince you it would be okay for her to stay?

EMMETT: We both know that won’t happen. That can’t happen.

CARTER: This house has been in our family for five generations. Driftwood Manor is part of who we are.

EMMETT: That’s the problem. It possesses us. But there’s life outside these walls. And, unlike you, I want to find it.

CARTER: I didn’t mean to, Emmett. I swear to God and all things holy and hellish. I did not mean for it to happen. If I could turn back time, I would. Oh God, Em. There are so many things I would do differently. Please believe me.

EMMETT: Dad, please. I don’t want to blame you. I know it wasn’t your fault. You can’t be held responsible for the outcome. But it’s still there. It’s as final now as it was then. I need to get her out.

CARTER: Please. Your mother loves this house.

EMMETT: My mother has been virtually catatonic for ten years. Ten years. You don’t know anything about her. You only have to listen, to hear her crying. She never stops.

CARTER: I know I love her. And I know that when we took over this house from your grandfather, we had the world in our grasp. Your mother was the happiest soul on earth. We had so many plans.

EMMETT: And every single one of those plans came to nothing. This house hasn’t changed a bit since you got your hands on it. Strike that. It’s fallen into ruin. It went from being the most beautiful home in the city, to being something Miss Havisham wouldn’t be caught dead in.

CARTER: Don’t say that. It’s still as beautiful as it was the day—

EMMETT: And speaking of Miss Havisham, that’s exactly who Mom has become. Only, her knight in shining armour actually married her. He gave her a son. He showed her happiness before he ripped it all away.

CARTER: Please, Em. You’re tearing my heart out. I can’t bear to hear these things.

EMMETT: You need to hear these things. You need to listen to her wails as they fill up the night. You gave her everything she could ever dream of and then you systematically tore it all away from her. There is nothing left of my mother.

CARTER: If I could take it all—

EMMETT: Back, you would. I know. I know. I know. But you can’t.

CARTER: If you get her out of this house, I won’t see her anymore. Is that what you want? If you get out… I won’t see you.

EMMETT: Maybe I shouldn’t see you anymore, father. Maybe neither of us should. Maybe it would be healthier for us if we didn’t.

CARTER: I couldn’t bear it.

EMMETT: It’s always about you, though, isn’t it? You can’t bear it. Maybe there are other people in the world who can’t bear things, father. Maybe my mother can’t bear it.

CARTER: I’m sorry, Em. I’m so sorry.

EMMETT: I want to get her out. I want to get myself out of here. Before I become—

CARTER: Me. I know. I know. Before you become me.

EMMETT: Yes. That much, you understand. I’d do it to save her. And to save myself. If I only knew how. Why?!

CARTER: With no regard for me, you would do it.

EMMETT: Don’t talk to me about regard. Don’t. Even. Attempt it.

CARTER: I would have done anything to prevent it. Anything.

EMMETT: And yet, you did nothing.

CARTER: You were so young.

EMMETT: I was.

CARTER: You still are. You talk as though you’re old now.

EMMETT: This house takes the best of what we are and it swallows it whole. I can’t let it take Mom down any further. I want her to have a chance before it’s too late. She’s going to wither away and die in this house.

CARTER [Looking off into space, ignoring Emmett]: If you can’t make your own beautiful son a paperweight and have him ground you to the earth like a string on a balloon, what else is there? I was desperate to be rescued. And you were so precious, Em. So precious. I thought having you in my life would somehow rescue me.

EMMETT: Dad, stop. I can’t hear anymore.

CARTER: You can’t want to take her away from me.

EMMETT: I never like telling you this next part. Because I love you so much. But you always forget it. You never want to hear it.

CARTER: I don’t know what you mean.

EMMETT: Yes you do. You put it out of your mind intentionally to stop the pain.

CARTER: I never meant for it to happen. If I could take it back, I would.

EMMETT: You took me with you, Daddy.

CARTER: No. Stop talking, Em. Please. Stop talking. I can’t bear to hear it.

EMMETT: I can’t bear it, either, Father.

CARTER: I don’t want to know.

EMMETT: But you have to. I don’t have a chance in hell of getting out of this house, and you know it. And neither do I have a hope in getting her to leave. As much as I’m desperate to get her out.

CARTER: The house will rescue us.

EMMETT: No, dammit. It didn’t rescue us then, and it sure as hell can’t rescue us now.

CARTER: Then you will let her stay?

EMMETT: Did you not just hear what I said? I can’t save her. And yet, can you hear her crying? She has no one. No one, Father!

CARTER: I can’t bear it.

EMMETT: In all the world. No one.

CARTER: She loved having all this. Us. Driftwood Manor. Her life. Her family.

EMMETT: And now she’s stuck with it. With only a house. With nobody to help her out of it. Trapped.

CARTER: No. I won’t hear it.

EMMETT: You know the truth, Dad. You lurk around corners waiting for me to talk to you. But you never hear what I have to tell you.

CARTER: We can all be happy again. We can save your mother together.

EMMETT: She is beyond being saved, Dad. You took away the only thing that mattered to her. The day you killed us, you sealed her fate.

CARTER: No, Em. No. I can’t bear it. No. It can’t be true. No.

EMMETT: And ours. [Exits.]

END PLAY

If you choose to use this play, please email me to let me know where you are in the world. (-:

If you’re in Ontario, don’t forget to check out Driftwood Theatre this summer in a park near you! They bring HAMLET to Ontario parks this year! Look for the Bard’s Bus! Click the image below to learn all the details!

Bard's Bus Tour does HAMLET!
Bard’s Bus Tour does HAMLET!

Trafalgar 24 – Playwriting Most Frenetic (With Driftwood Theatre!)

Driftwood Theatre is…ahem…drifting into Whitby, Ontario once again! And guess what?!

I GET TO PLAY!

The play’s the thing. And with Trafalgar 24, that statement is never more real. Because with Trafalgar 24…6 plays are the thing.

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I look forward to this weekend all year long. And I hope and I pray and I pray and I hope that I will have the opportunity to be a part of this most amazing of events.

The extraordinary Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. Currently an all-girls boarding school...
The extraordinary Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. Currently an all-girls boarding school…

Deets:

24 ARTISTS. 24 HOURS. 6 NEW PLAYS.

From the Driftwood Theatre Website:

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.

This is THE must see GTA event of the year. Trust me. You do NOT want to miss it.

6th Time’s The Charm (All Six Times Are the Charm!)

There is a theme to this particular Trafalgar 24 and my involvement in it. It takes place MARCH 6th, there are 6 playwrights and this will be my 6th kick at the Trafalgar24 can! 666 –  I can’t even put into words how honoured I am to be chosen as playwright this many times. I live for this event. Let’s see if I can recall all the rooms I have written in thus far…

  • 2009 – The creepy cold dark hallway in the castle basement where the screeching pipes and spiders kept me company. I wrote a comedy about 2 bumbling women lost in the castle and out of their minds with fear and worry. It bordered on slapstick. I had fun. The play was titled PANIC IN THE BASEMENT
  • 2010 – There are two rooms in the front hallway of the main floor with pianos in them. One has two pianos and one has one piano. The lovely and infallible Lucy Brennan was in the room with one piano. She had ONE actor and wrote a stunning soliloquy based on the true history of Trafalgar Castle that the actor pulled off flawlessly. I was in the room down the hall with two pianos. For the life of me, I cannot remember which of these rooms is called the Piano Room, but I think it was mine? I remember there being some confusion at the time too. I wrote a comedy about an overbearing insane maniacal megalomaniac. The play was titled MAID OF HONOUR
  • 2011 – I got a room with an actual stage this time around. What fun I had with this one! It was in the Assembly Hall/Cafeteria…the main room where the wine and cheese and auction and announcements for Trafalgar24 takes place. I wrote a comedy about a woman terrified of public speaking and the man who tries to coach her at becoming a better speaker. The play was titled THE SPEECH
  • 2012 – The Lab! I got people to come up to the lab, to see what was on the slab…as it were. The play was in the hallway leading to the in-house cathedral in the castle. Don’t look at me like that! Every castle needs a cathedral, buddy. The laboratory is a science room for the all-girls school, when it’s in session. Despite the myriad of props in the room, I went with character driven plot. I wrote a comedy about a woman on the precipice of new age wisdom and insanity, and her pessimistic Doubting-Thomas friend. The play was titled ACRONYMS FOR HAPPINESS
  • 2014 – I returned to the castle in March of 2014 to attempt my first dramatic play. And I had the LIBRARY! I always wanted the library. (-: I had Christopher Kelk, too. A legend. An exquisite actor, I feared pulling his name as much as I envied the playwrights who had. I couldn’t imagine being tasked with putting words into Christopher Kelk’s mouth. I felt like I had made it to the show! Not to mention the amazing and equally intimidating Adriano Sobretodo Jr., who was to play alongside Kelk. I knew I had to try my hand at drama. I wrote a play about dementia, and how if effects its sufferers and those who love them. The play was titled THE HISTORY OF US.
The grand entrance hall leading to the staircase to the 2nd story of the castle...
The grand entrance hall leading to the staircase to the 2nd story of the castle…

There you have it. The history of my time at the castle thus far. I have no idea what will happen this year. Zero. Nada. Zip. I go in on a hope and a prayer. Once the 6 playwrights report to Driftwood Theatre’s Artistic Director, D. Jeremy Smith, we will be given the room in which our plays are to be written and performed, as well as head-shots of our assigned actors. That’s it. Then the locking up will ensue. We will be sent to our rooms and we will each have 8 hours to write and polish our respective plays. Anything can happen! In a castle that is as haunted as it is creepy and beautiful…usually anything does happen. But we don’t speak of the things that occur on the Thursday nights in Trafalgar Castle. That’s playwright confidentiality. Just picture us as the elves to the actor/director combos who will enter the castle on the Friday morning as the shoemakers. They will take our words and make them into life.

Standing guard in the main foyer of Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario...
Standing guard in the main foyer of Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario…

That’s where you come in. But you must act fast! This event, naturally, sells out every year. It’s magic to witness. And a shame to miss. So pick up your tickets today! ONLINE TICKET PURCHASING – GO TO TRAFALGAR SITE LINKED HERE AND CLICK ON THE BUY TICKETS BUTTON.

If you are attending the WCDR (Writers Community of Durham Region) February Roundtable Meeting at the Ajax Convention Centre, please know that my fellow Trafalgar 24 playwright RUTH E. WALKER will be there and have tickets available for purchase.

Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival is a fundraising event for Driftwood Theatre. Driftwood brings theatre to parks all summer long with their BARD’S BUS tour…an Ontario staple. From Driftwood’s site:

As Driftwood Theatre’s signature gala event of the season, TRAFALGAR 24 raises over $20,000 annually in support of bringing the magic of accessible, live theatre home to audiences across Ontario.

March 6, 2015 | Trafalgar Castle | 401 Richmond Street, Whitby, Ontario.

Immerse Yourself – Do Writerly Things and You Will Be a Writer!

This past weekend was a major ‘Writerly Weekend‘ for me. Well, technically the weekend actually began Thursday night. That was the night I was locked into Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. As one of six playwrights taking part in Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival, I was given headshots of two actors, a theme and a room in the castle in which to set my play. Oh, and eight hours to write it! (-:

This is the first of my 5 Trafalgar24 playwright gigs where I knew of the actors prior to writing my play. Let me tell you how much more intimidating that is! I had the amazingly talented Christopher Kelk and the equally stunning Adriano Sobretodo JR. I think I spent the first thirty minutes or so just looking at their headshots and thinking, ‘I have to write words that will come out of these two mouths!!!???‘ I have seen Adriano in various TV roles and I have had the good fortune of witnessing Christopher lob one after the other of his Trafalgar24 roles out of the park…not to mention some of his other works. They are both veterans in their field.

After my initial shock, I sat down to write a play. I really was incredibly fortunate to get two such talented actors. To be honest, I have yet to see a Trafalgar24 actor I wasn’t totally impressed with. The event attracts the best of the best to the ever-shifting ‘stages’ of Trafalgar Castle.

This was the first year I tackled a drama for Trafalgar. I just couldn’t put Christopher in a comedy. Talk about taking chances! But I believe the risk paid off. After seeing the play performed on Friday night, I knew I had made the right choice. Both actors performed beautifully, and the director, Carly Chamberlain, made some excellent choices in choosing the business of the play. I loved the direction. It’s the same every year. On Friday morning, I feel as though I am leaving the castle having left behind this meager offering of a few words on paper. And then the elves show up and make my Walmart flip-flops into Jimmy Choos. Every year, the director and actors transform my play into something far more spectacular than it was when I was finished with it. Theatre is such an extremely interactive and collaborative thing, and I am always amazed by the contribution that goes into a play once the words are on paper. It’s sheer magic.

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I did say it was a writerly weekend, right? Well, the WCDR Roundtable Meeting took place on Saturday. This was a special edition Roundtable. I was part of the planning committee for the WCDR U25 Panel Discussion, and it was an absolute pleasure to see it come to fruition. The panel was made up of Middle Grade (MG), Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) authors. And my own agent, Stacey Donaghy, moderated the event (quite beautifully, I might add).

When we set out to create this particular Roundtable Meeting, we had the concept of a mini half-day conference in mind. And that is exactly how it panned out. We had 3 agents on hand, taking pitch sessions from hopeful authors. We had the panel discussion, and workshops for both adults and young adults. There is a writing contest for the young adults who attended, we had a tremendous load of giveaways which were collected by various sponsors. The whole thing just had the feel of a conference, tightly compacted into a few hours on a Saturday morning.

To get the whole story of what you missed, click here. (-:

We were thrilled to have the following authors on the panel: Deborah Kerbel, Joanne Levy, K.A. Tucker, Norah McClintock, and Lesley Livingston. And sponsorship! We had sponsorship. (-: Penguin Random House, Writescape, and Ink Slingers were all generous in their sponsorship of the event.

The Panel - A Phono
The Panel – A Phono

I can’t really take all that much credit for U25. The brains behind the event was my writing friend, M-E Girard, someone who, herself, will be sitting on panels in the very near future. Remember her name. She’s a kickass writer who is about to explode onto the horizon. (-: As I recently stepped down from the WCDR Board of Directors, M-E did the lion’s share of the work on U25. And she did it up beautifully. I was happy to be slightly involved.

M-E and I, being silly at the podium. If Ellen can do it at the Oscars, we can do it at the WCDR Roundtable Meeting. (-:
M-E and I, being silly at the podium. If Ellen can do it at the Oscars, we can do it at the WCDR Roundtable Meeting. (-:

For those in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) who missed the WCDR U25 Panel Discussion, don’t forget that the WCDR Roundtable Meetings happen every month but one…throughout the year. Every one is a nugget for writers. You should seriously check them out. They take place in Ajax, Ontario…which, believe it or not, is only about half an hour from downtown Toronto. If you’re in Toronto, don’t be shy…because the Writers’ Community of Durham Region welcomes EVERYONE. And, honestly, there is life EAST OF THE CITY. The WCDR is only a short ride away. And it is a VAST and welcoming community. So over the top worth the drive. CHECK OUT THE MONTHLY MEETINGS HERE.

Whatever you do, and wherever you do it…make sure you’re getting enough WRITERLY things into your life. They validate the journey. Trust me! The more you live the writing life, the easier it gets. And TAKE CHANCES. Stretch your limits. Try things you never thought in a million years you could pull off. When I first petitioned Driftwood Theatre to take part in my first Trafalgar24 event, I had exactly ZERO plays under my belt. I didn’t let that stop me. We grow when we push ourselves. We discover that we’re stronger than we thought we were. Next time you see a writerly opportunity that sounds amazing, whether or not you feel confident enough to tackle it, take it on! You may have to put on your superhero suit…but that’s okay. Whatever works, right. Now go forth, and conquer your writing life. It’s waiting for you…