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 ofthe 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:
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!
Ear-worms are fingers tapping your soul asking you to remember.
And I still find it so hard to say what I need to say.
What follows is mere rumination.
I’ve been imagining myself a playwright of late. Again. I’ve begun project after project…and even completed a couple (DETAILS TO FOLLOW IN THE COMING WEEKS).
When I started writing poetry, which may in fact be my first calisthenics endeavor with words, I thought, ‘this must be the hardest thing to write.’ Then I took on the short story and discovered poetry was easier than I thought…because the short story was near impossible. From there, I took on the novel…because it’s only MORE of a short, right? A longer short, if you will. How much more difficult could it be?
Was I in for a surprise! Culottes are not pants. The novel was difficult in its own unique way. I came upon issues that had nothing to do with the short story, even though they resemble one another in so many ways. I might argue that the short story is more difficult than the novel overall…because of what you have to put into it and the confined perimeters you are given and forced to squeeze those ingredients into. It’s a bit of a magic trick, really. But the novel…the endurance one needs to see it through to the end! The novel is almost a physical feat. It’s so exhausting.
All these word trials combined can’t really prepare one for playwriting. If novel writing is bringing a story to life, then playwriting is bringing characters to life. It’s about getting your characters to say precisely what they need to say. No FAT. No un-wanted words. It’s the novel without the movement, for the characters themselves perform the movement. You don’t get to DESCRIBE…you just get to talk.
My ‘mentor’ and idol, W. Somerset Maugham, once said, “Thank God, I can look at a sunset now without having to think how to describe it.” (Read his THE SUMMING UP) This was said in a sort of elation as he had moved from novel writing to play-writing. He was thrilled to be spending more time in dialogue and less tedious time building up the area around the talking. And I agree with him fully and completely.
But there is also an element of playwriting that is terrifying. It’s like removing all the trees the novel provides for shading. You are starkly naked against the stage. The reader is not going to be taking the description you wrote and running it through their imaginations and making it even bigger and better than what you originally gave them…AND crediting you with the entire picture formed by the marriage of your prose and their imaginations. The characters literally need to carry everything forward in a play. If it’s not seen and heard, it doesn’t happen.
And THIS is what I want for myself? THIS is my ultimate goal as a writer? To write conversations that must have the fortitude to stand alone? I must be crazy. Poetry makes the world prettier, short stories and novels makes the world vivid and in front of you and alive.
Plays, for the playwright at any rate, give only bodies talking. Theatre does not end with the playwright. Theatre merely begins at the end of the playwriting. The breath gets blown into the play via the director and the actors, and the dramaturge before that. The play is merely mud until those elements mould it into existence–words on paper. The playwright provides the mud and the director and actors mould it into the golem. The whole is a collaborative effort. Where a novelist needs no collaboration outside of those who polish their piece and make it its most presentable, the playwright needs a stable of people to carry their work forward. The novelist has to imagine a person sitting in a room, lounging in a chair, book in hand…their imagination knitting with the words on the page to form something greater than the sum of the novel’s parts. The playwright needs to count on the faith of many believers taking to the stage and presenting their words to a person sitting in a room, sitting in a chair, eyes wide open taking in the show. The playwright needs to step back and allow what it is they wrote to take on a new life, to become something other than what it is they wrote…something better.
I suppose there is always a collaboration. The novelist and the reader’s imagination. The playwright and the busload of people injecting the words with imagination, movement, and the business of performing them. I really must be crazy, because I do both of these things. But both are wildly rewarding in their own way. Each one gives back as much as you give into it. To see your words brought to life by actors on the stage is an alchemy I’ll never get used to. And to hear that your novel has touched a reader…untold joy. Every once in a while I reach a place of reflection and realize what these things mean to me. They are everything. The word is the light, indeed.
I’m writing a play right now, writing the conversations that will hopefully be brought to life on the stage. One must believe in that eventuality when writing a play. It is the only way for the play to be born…it must leave the page. Its characters must take flesh.
And with every line of dialogue, I remind myself that nothing can be extraneous on the page. They NEED to say only what NEEDS to be said.
And I still find it so hard to say what I need to say…
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS ONE I WROTE FOR THE WCDR WORDWEAVER NEWSLETTER, FOR THEIR MAY/JUNE 2009 ISSUE. It describes my very first foray into play-writing. It’s a little aged today, as I have now had 10 short plays produced…6 of them for Trafalgar24. I just wanted to give a little flavour into the experience from a playwright’s POV. It’s an amazing experience.
The extraordinary Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. Currently an all-girls boarding school…
The grand entrance hall leading to the staircase to the 2nd story of the castle…
Standing guard in the main foyer of Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario…
Following the article, I have posted some info on this year’s (2017) Trafalgar24 event. GET TICKETS! I promise you, it will be an experience you’ll never forget. One of the best nights out of the year, for sure.
Here’s the article:
A Playwright’s Dream – Trafalgar 24 by Driftwood Theatre
It’s Friday the 13th and we are in a dark basement corridor of a haunted 19th century castle. Out of the eerie silence come the first ear-shattering shrieks.
“Margo! Margo!” A girl runs towards us. She is lost, panicked and terrified.
So begins the unfolding of one of my lifelong dreams. The girl’s shouts are words I penned twenty-four hours earlier when I was locked into that basement and forced to write a 10-minute play.
Forced is an exaggeration. The fulfillment of my dream actually began a month earlier when I wrote a hesitant e-mail to Ruth Walker. I had received a WCDR e-mail calling for playwrights for Driftwood Theatre’s 6th annual Trafalgar24 event and I ruminated over whether or not I should apply. Actually, I painfully agonized. I asked Ruth if I was completely crazy to even consider contacting Jeremy Smith, Driftwood’s artistic director.
When I received Ruth’s encouragement (instead of the expected laughter), I sent Jeremy an e-mail. I began with the truth: I am not now, nor have I ever been a playwright. I followed my confession with much pleading and begging. You see, I had always imagined myself as a playwright. Imagination is a wasted gift when not forced into action.
Much to my surprise—and horror—I received the following reply from Jeremy: I am delighted to inform you that if you still have an interest in staying up all night in a haunted castle between Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 13, we would love to have you.
Fast forward a month and here I am in the dark basement corridor, in the back row of a standing-room-only, sardine-packed audience. The young woman is lunging toward us, shrieking out her lost friend’s name. I’d like to say I wrote a dramatic play that would move my audience to tears—I went in there with visions of Blanche Dubois meets Phantom of the Opera—but that would be a lie.
When we arrived at the castle twenty-four hours earlier, we playwrights were each given a sheet of paper. Mine included three things: headshots of my actors, the room I was assigned to and the play’s theme—Friday the 13th in a haunted castle. I took one look at my actresses and I knew what to write. I sat on the floor of the basement corridor and attempted to bring my newly acquired vision to life.
Within an hour and a half, I victoriously announced: Done. Comedy. Now I can relax about deadline & edit.
Throughout the hours of edits that followed, I was comforted by one fact: Lucy Brennan was upstairs. I interrupted her and commiserated with her a few times throughout the night. We even went on a Tim Hortons’ run with some of the other playwrights. She was my unwitting rock. She had no idea how much comfort I took in knowing she was a mere staircase away.
Come morning, the playwrights were allowed to go home. As we drove to our beds, the actors and directors swarmed the castle. They only had a few hours to read and rehearse the ten plays we had left behind. It was all very The Elves and the Shoemakers if you ask me.
Opening night! The Trafalgar24 play-creation festival is a fundraising event for Driftwood Theatre. What’s special about Driftwood is that they bring professional theatre to Ontario communities for pay-what-you-can admission. Trafalgar24 helps to make this possible. The event had a wonderful silent auction and a dessert table to rival every dessert table ever assembled on this or any other planet. It also had a dizzying array of talented actors and actresses who poured their hearts into roles that did not even exist less than 24 hours earlier.
I was now an audience member. Each person in attendance viewed six of the 10 plays. I saw some incredibly heart-wrenching performances. I travelled from the library to the cathedral to the piano room and beyond—Lucy Brennan’s was my favourite! I was mesmerized by the beauty of the night—flawlessly orchestrated by all—including the stage director, WCDR’s own Nancy Melcher.
I made my way to the basement. In the hushed moments prior to my character’s screams, I noticed the evening’s emcee standing to my left. Neil Crone, the man who has given me years of poignant laughter, was about to watch my words brought to life. I was suddenly more terrified than I had been when faced with the impossible demand of writing a play in eight hours. But I had forced my imagination into action. I was now a playwright.
‘Lucy‘ made her way onto the set and was startled, poked and prodded by the wickedly playful ‘Margo.’ Neil Crone laughed! I will beg Mr. Smith to allow me to be a part of the next Trafalgar24. If he doesn’t grant me the incredible honour of being playwright, I will be there in the audience watching another year of magic unfold. Only a fool would miss it!
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.
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
SYNOPSIS: After a bad wedding experience, Emily and Jarod are ready to avoid them at all costs. Or are they?
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?
[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.
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]
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).
Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, as the sun comes up on a previous Trafalgar 24 all-night playwriting event! The playwrights, like elves, leave the castle at 6am…to make way for the actors and directors…
One of the beautiful sights the castle has to offer to a wandering playwright in the middle of the night…
Standing guard in the main foyer of Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario…
The grand entrance hall leading to the staircase to the 2nd story of the castle…
The extraordinary Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. Currently an all-girls boarding school…
Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario
Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Labels! They’re so difficult to own. I reluctantly called myself a writer because I was one who put words down on paper. Then, when my first novel was published, I reluctantly called myself an author. In between, I was a poet and a columnist and a freelance writer. These things that define me, if only momentarily, are also the things that seem too monumental for me to be. Even now, it seems impossible. Each one of these labels.
I’m thinking the greatest of my unfathomable writerly accomplishments is, however, none of the above. The whole time I wrote these other things, I imagined a day when I would only write plays. I mean, dialogue is king, right?! Why would I want to do anything else besides put words into the mouths of characters? What’s cooler than seeing your characters come to life on the boards? I can’t think of anything.
Ever since I first read Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare, Molière, and, finally, W. Somerset Maugham, back in high school, I’ve been a bit obsessed with the idea of becoming a playwright. A Streetcar Named Desire blew me away. Entirely. The raw savagery of Stanley Kowalski, mixed with the tragic delusional broken princess of Blanche Dubois was flawless. Even though Tartuffewas written in 1664 it still stands in a league of its own as a comedy. Not to mention Maugham’s The Bread Winner and The Constant Wife…but comedies that have lasted. I don’t even know where to begin with Shakespeare. I just love his plays. I had an English teacher in high school who was a bit of an eccentric–okay, a lot of an eccentric–he used to get us to push the desks to the walls and perform Shakespeare moments together in the centre of the classroom. These were divine moments.
I’ve had many pivotal moments as a writer when I experienced epiphanies about LABELS, as they pertain to writers. One of the biggest was when I realized Matthew Quick wrote both YA Lit and Adult Lit. This gave me permission to do the same. I know it shouldn’t be out-of-the-box thinking that one could cross-pollinate genres, markets, styles, and types of writing. One should just write what calls out to them the loudest to be written. But sometimes it takes seeing other people do things before you can give yourself permission to do them.
The second such epiphany I had was that I could be a novelist and a playwright. Maugham was right there in front of me, all that time. I even had his memoir about skating the duo existence of novelist/playwright to refer to. The Summing Up is one of my favourite books on writing. Why? Because it speaks to me. Maugham was honest about how he discovered his love of writing plays over novels. This quote sums it up nicely:
“Thank God, I can look at a sunset now without having to think how to describe it.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham
Writing plays removes the need for descriptive prose. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, so the saying goes. But when you don’t have the prose between the lines of dialogue, you are faced with only your characters. You are left with conversation. This is, for me, my favourite part of novel writing. It’s nice to slip out of the need to piece together an entire world of description in order to tell a story. When I wrote my first short play, I knew I had found something I would always love. When I saw that play performed, I was hooked forever. Those were my words coming out of the characters’ mouths. It was a thing of magic!
I once wrote on this blog about how to write a 10-minute play. I wrote that post after having had 7 plays performed. I think the advice still stands today. I’m only one 10-minute play shy from having had 10 of them produced now. You can read that post here: HOW TO WRITE A 10-MINUTE PLAY
I will probably always write novels. As freeing as it is to have the director and the actors create the world surrounding the story, it is also rewarding to create that world yourself through prose. BUT…I don’t think I will ever feel as alive as a writer as I feel when I’m writing plays. I love writing the dialogue. I love walking around the house by myself reading the lines aloud to hear if they sound ‘right’. I love working and re-working each line until it does sound right. And I love sitting in my seat in front of the stage seeing real live people perform the words that came from my pen. I feel most evolved as a writer when I can sit back and watch my words take flight. There’s nothing like it. It’s a kind of happiness that begets desire. To watch one’s own play must be a high akin to the high an actor gets at the sound of the applause.
“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” ~ Walt Whitman
Try new things. If you’re a poet, don’t be only a poet. If you’re a novelist, don’t be only a novelist. If you’re a sci-fi writer, don’t be only a sci-fi writer. Labels for writers are interchangeable. Unless you wish only to have one, you can have as many as you desire. Writers have great opportunities to allow themselves to constantly evolve. It’s scary to step out of your comfort zone…but only until that next zone you find yourself in fits as nicely as the last one did. Find your happiness as a writer in this hour. If there is something you want to try, don’t let fear stop you from doing so. Let your fear be the fuel you use to tackle it.
So NaNoWriMo was a complete wash-out. As in, I have not written a single word this month. Unless, of course, you count the 75,000 words of outrage I have shared with the universe via social media.
I have, however, been contemplating plays. There are things brewing…and I’m hoping to tap into them soon. I love plays. They’re like novels without the work. Dialogue is the candy of the novel, which explains my love of the play. There’s none of that pesky prose getting in the way…the space between the talking is non-existent. It’s rather blissful. It was W. Somerset Maugham who said, “Thank God, I can look at a sunset now without having to think how to describe it,” when he moved from the laborious novel to the stage. I so totally agree!
I’m okay with dying during NaNo. Something is coming down the ‘pike. I’m going to be ready for it. Because, for me, the play’s the thing…
While you’re waiting for my next novel to release, or my next play, you can check out the novel that was my favourite to write (god…it’s so hard to say that with a degree of firmness…they’re all a thrill to write!) THE REASONS is available at KOBO only. You can grab it by clicking on the book cover below and heading on over to Kobo:
Here’s the book trailer for The Reasons. Nahko of Nahko & Medicine for the People was kind enough to allow me to use one of my favourite MFTP songs (GHOSTS EMBODIED) in this trailer:
Discover Medicine for the People too. If you haven’t yet, you have no idea the beauty you’re missing out on!
Or perhaps you just want to stay here on my site and read one of my 10-minute plays. My favourite is THE HISTORY OF US. The one that received the most traction is THE SPEECH, a comedy.
Me? I’m just gonna sit here and await the next inspiration. My soon to be characters are chattering in the background. (-:
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
SYNOPSIS: Emmett knows he would be happier if he could just leave his home behind him.
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.]
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s almost that time of the year again. The Alumnae Theatre is about to come to life, thanks to Dominik Loncar and his 9th Annual InspiraTO Festival!
Last year, I was fortunate enough to get one of the Playwright Mentoring spots with the festival. Dominik coached and mentored six recipients of this mentoring fellowship, and we each had a play in the festival (mine was PERFECT TIMING). When the call went out for plays to be performed in the neighbourhood surrounding the theatre, I jumped at the opportunity. So I actually had two plays in the festival (the second was WALK-INS WELCOME and it took place at a neighbourhood salon). It was an amazing experience and I learned invaluable lessons from Dominik, my dramaturge, my director, and my actors. I was able to be a part of each step of the process. Amazing stuff!
This year, I hope to attend as an audience member. The festival takes place May 29th – June 7th. I am just getting back from my Camino walk in Spain at this time, so barring any unforeseen circumstances I will be able to catch some of the plays near the end of the festival.
I suggest you take in this festival. It is filled with incredible talent…a real NOT-TO-BE-MISSED event. I was able to take in every play last year, and they were all fantastic.
Some of the details:
This year’s festival is to showcase 21 ten-minute plays – 12 from the playwriting contest, one artistic director’s play and 9 from the new playwriting academy (this academy has sprung from last year’s mentorship spots – the brainchild of Dominik Loncar)
There will also be site-specific plays (plays that take place in venues around the neighbourhood of the theatre)
The festival runs from May 29th – June 7th
Ticket sales will soon be announced – This is a hot ticket item, so get your tickets early!