Playwright

Fringe Fest Recap: #Mephistophilis, Add Your Comment Below & More

During opening weekend of the 2016 Rochester Fringe Festival, I helped write, produce and act in an evening of all-new, original, one-act plays titled, “We Wrote One Acts About the Internet, and You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened Next (WOW!).”

As is obvious by the title, all one-acts were written within the theme of the internet (an idea sparked from long-distance texting with friends Leah Stacy and Pete Wayner, who helped write, produce and act). #MEPHISTOPHILIS was the first to be written, earlier this year over a random weekend in February when I was brave enough to finally turn off Netflix. The story follows Mephistophilis (Meph) — a demon borrowed from Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. When the value of souls drastically deflate (due to humanity’s obsession with technology), Meph gets fired from Hell and gets a new job at a women’s shoe store in NYC.

The evening consisted of four plays total:

  • PRODUCT NAME BY PRODUCT COMPANY, written by Kevin Carr
  • #MEPHISTOPHILIS, written by Kevin Carr
  • TERMS & CONDITIONS, concept by Leah Stacy, Kevin Carr
  • ADD YOUR COMMENT BELOW, written by Leah Stacy, Pete Wayner

While it’s always an honor to have your work performed (or, say, even looked at), it’s even better when you produce the performances and both shows sell out. I’d say we were lucky with a good venue. Writers & Books is a small community theater and book store in the heart of Rochester’s arts district. The venue size was perfect — small but not too small, intimate but not awkward.

Due to some last minute snafus we weren’t able to fully stage my longest play, #MEPHISTOPHILIS. This was a bummer. Instead, we opted for a staged reading. This means the cast does their best with my script while sitting in chairs. It’s frightening, really — how transparent a staged reading can be. There is no set design to distract, no lighting, no costume change. (more…)

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Famous Writers in Hell, a recap

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing Famous Writers in Hell, a one-act play I wrote and submitted to the 16th Annual Rochester One-Act Festival. What an experience! I’ve said this so many times now it sounds cliche, but there is no stranger (or awesomer) experience than seeing written characters come to life.

The festival was written, directed, and produced entirely by University of Rochester students. The quality of production and acting was to be a surprise to me, being unfamiliar with UR theater besides one performance. I had no idea what to expect! Just to be safe, in the months prior to the festival, I convinced myself everything would be awful and that I should prepare for the worst.

“Probably be poopy!” I would say. Or, “Oh yeah, that’s coming up?”

Also, I thought it best to stay away from the production team as much as possible. The director seemed both capable and passionate; besides, I wanted to see someone else’s interpretation. Since I’m busier than a vacant badger, it wasn’t very hard to keep my distance. I’m glad I did. The surprise of the performance was an experience I doubt I’ll soon (if ever) forget.  (more…)

Becoming a Playwright, Old Moldwarp

Good news, friends! My play, “Famous Writer is Hell” was selected and will be performed at the 16th Annual Rochester One-Act Festival. Woot! The play is about, as you can imagine, famous writers in hell. For their eternal punishment, Hemingway, Shakespeare, and Plato are forced to listen to undergrads misinterpret their great works. Insanity ensues.

“Famous Writers” was technically my first complete play. I thought the idea was pretty good, so I ran with it. I used every resource I had to refine the play, and in the end, my characters will come to life on stage. Pretty neat.

This achievement is especially gratifying considering that, last year, after my first playwright class, I came home terrified, insecure, and intimidated. The level of writing ability my classmates exhibited was well beyond my own. To quote myself, “Crap. I have some work to do.”

But if I’ve learned anything since moving to Rochester (other than how to keep the Polar Vortex from freezing your face off), it’s that good things happen when creative people surround themselves with other creative and more talented people.

Challenges emerge. Feedback fosters. Inspiration happens.

There’s a stigma of loneliness attached to writing: a lonely dark road, a closet with desk, just sit down and give yourself to the loneliness. Give me a break. Writing doesn’t need to be that way! Creative communities, I think, should be emphasized more in writing curriculums. These last few months, the workshopping and feedback processes have been just as key as the actual writing and editing part.

SIDE NOTE: All this said, I usually only write when I’m by myself. Writing, however, should never act as an excuse for loneliness, but as a motivator to experience life. (more…)

Saturday Skit: Give ‘Em God

The following is a scene from a larger one-act play I’m writing called GIVE ‘EM GOD. It’s about my experiences leading worship and growing up inside the church (very much still a work in progress). I’m hoping to have it finished as a final project for my playwright course in a couple weeks.

GIVE ‘EM GOD: Scene 5

College Nights

(Spotlight over YOUNG TAD and YOUNG DEBORAH, sitting on the floor in the corner. They are outside. YOUNG TAD is smoking. The Moonglows’ “Ten Commandments of Love” plays quietly in the background, repeating if necessary.)

YOUNG DEBORAH: I guess… I never really thought about it.

YOUNG TAD: Yeah?

YOUNG DEBORAH: Yeah. You know. You grow up in the church and learn not to question things. Certain things.

YOUNG TAD: So you just—

YOUNG DEBORAH: Shut it out, really.

YOUNG TAD: And here you are in college, and your professors tell you differently.

YOUNG DEBORAH: I guess so.

YOUNG TAD: Before you didn’t think much about it.  Now you have to think about it. That right?

YOUNG DEBORAH: It scares me. What if they’re right and biology and evolution and big bang and… explains all this? It’s Santa Claus all over again. How fashionable… lying to children. Somedays I do feel I’ve lost my faith. But I look everywhere for it. The cupboards, the closet, under the bathroom mat. The toaster if I’m hungry. Lord. Somedays I don’t find it.  (more…)

Saturday Skit: Science

The following is a short skit I wrote for my playwright class. Enjoy!

SCIENCE

(Lights. A public bathroom. There are seven urinals against the wall. NARRATOR stands on the corner of the stage; he wears a suit. When men enter the restroom, their movements and talking freeze as the NARRATOR speaks.)

NARRATOR: The Three P’s of Pissing. There are three instincts every man of good character must possess inside an office washroom: Position, Poise, & Posture. Here, you will find seven urinals—ladies and gentlemen—and three washing stations. We are at Brodducks & Sons Insurance Agency, corner of Park & Granger. Ahh! Yes. Our first specimen joins us. Barry, 32, man of one wife and infant child.

(BARRY enters. He stops and surveys his urinal choices.)

Ahh. All to himself. What shall he ever choose?

(BARRY selects the first urinal in the row.)

NARRATOR: How expected. How common. That’s what we get with Barry, isn’t. Yes. That’s what we expect. Notice, if I may point out, ladies and gentlemen, Barry’s posture. He’s slumping, relaxing in his own world. No poise to speak of, no. Can you blame the man? No one else around. Go ahead, Barry. Take a load off. The first urinal in the row is always chosen by men outside the pack. Familiarity. What anthropologists call “comfortable.”

(OLD BILL BAILEY enters. He stops and surveys his urinal choices.)

NARRATOR: Here we go! Let’s see what Old Bill Bailey will choose. Ladies and Gentlemen. This is where the show begins. The second male in a washroom has the worst fate; his choice claims everything. The third and fourth male don’t matter; their urinal selections are consequential to space. But Old Bill Bailey, he can choose whatever he wants, but be careful! Ladies and Gentlemen. To choose the farthest urinal—on the other side of the room—most certainly, no man of good conscious could. And Old Bill Bailey is a man of good conscious. See, choosing the farthest urinal—on the other side of the room—suggests one of two things:  (more…)

The Best Writer in the Room (Give or Take 30 English Students)

As many of you know, I just started my Junior year here at the University of Rochester, NY. I’m studying entrepreneurship but also creative writing, as a minor. I’m a transfer student which means I came from a community college.

In the first week of school, my playwright professor led the class in a writing “Impulse” exercise. Basically, it goes like this:

You close your eyes and relax. A detailed scene is spoken before you and after a few quiet moments, you write non-stop for fifteen-minutes.

I’ve done these exercises before but have never really appreciated them. Often, other writers tell me the importance of writing a first draft non-stop without editing. Personally, I hate doing that. I don’t know why. I stop and read and edit. I’m positive it’s why my blog posts take so damn long.

Regardless, I did the impulse-exercise and the results came out as expected: a jumbled mess of words and a decent start. Nothing to write home about.

I was ignorant because I assumed everyone around me had a similar situation. A complete mess. But I was wrong. The professor asked students to read their work. Out-loud. Yes. I was wrong.

I listened to my classmates read their work, and it was absolutely amazing. I’m surrounded by wonderful, talented writers. In the fifteen minutes of writing, most (if not all) managed wonderful characters, detailed settings, and accomplished word-usage. I looked down at my work:

The cat go meow. Dog chase it on park. Cow go moo. 

Crap. I have some work to do.

Chicken Scratch

For most of my academic career, I’ve been the best writer in the room. That reads kind of cocky, but it’s true. Students in community college just don’t care. I put actual effort into my papers and found it really easy to impress my instructors and fellow students. Scholarships, literary journals, 4.0, etc.

At Rochester, the tables have turned. I’m no longer the best writer in the room. It turns out, everybody in the room is a good writer and often better.

Wait. Don’t Go! I’m not fishing for compliments (I promise).

As tempted as I was to drop-out and reenroll in community-chicken-college to satisfy my comfort zone, I know it would do me no good. It hurts when you learn you’re not the best at what you thought you were. I’m a decent writer; I know that, but I need to grow. That’s okay. I can always get better.

Despite the gross sense of intimidation and inadequacy I’ve faced this last week, I’m absolutely positive I’m in the right place. Every writer needs a push, and I’ve been pushed. In fact, since that first class, I’ve been working on my writing more than I ever have. Thank God for that. 

(I know it’s healthy because it stings).

Ever find yourself in a similar situation? Any advice? How do you write a first draft?