Notes from a Staff Meeting – And A Writer’s Journal

So we have great new additions to the staff; have I mentioned that? About 100 times already? I’ll shut up about it; make them PROVE themselves a little more substantially, right? Okay fine. But still. Good stuff coming out of yesterday’s weekly meeting. To wit, and of interest to blog readers: We finally have our times for the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival! Here’s the info:

Piece: Honey Brown Eyes
Date: Sunday, August 31
Time: 7:30 PM
Venue: Terrace Theater

Piece: Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears
Date: Monday, September 1
Time: 2:00 PM
Venue: Terrace Theater

Great venue. Great opportunity to read through and rehearse and then hear the play aloud and even get some constructive feedback as we move forward and into real rehearsals on both world premieres! (We’ve had a great history with the Ken Cen’s Page To Stage Fest since 2002 when we workshopped The Last Seder, and we haven’t missed an opportunity in the six years since [no wait, I think we have missed one year; last year! Right? Hmmm.] The venue provides us with an audience outside of the Theater J Tea @ 2 library context and gives us a mid-way point through the developmental phase to touch base with our work and get invaluable feedback from folks. Over the years we’ve done Wendy Wasserstein’s three one-acts–later got whittled down to two–Psyche In Love/Welcome To My Rash/Third; as well as Oh, The Innocents, The Tattooed Girl, Either Or and perhaps there’s been one more, and if somebody out there remembers, let me know, please.)

Other programming extras from the staff meeting:

– We’re all incredibly disturbed and moved by recent reports of the alarming number of HIV cases in DC — in the black community particularly — 1 in 20, it was recently reported, and followed up in a Washington Post series (this link gets you part way there). We’re hoping to enlist Sandra Bernhard and company in helping us get material to our audience and into the community beyond, which will serve to help promote increased testing in our city, increased education about risk within the schools. Whatever little we can… We’ve been totally sleeping while this pernicious disease has once again dug its claws into a community, and is fostering damage. We had a good debate as a staff as to what we can/should do. Much more as we engage in a more serious exploration of what cultural organizations and artists can do in response to this new chapter in the annals of the epidemic.

– We’ve unveiled a programming component for our fall season, in conjunction with HONEY BROWN EYES, we’re partnering with our friends at Journeymen Theatre (who’ll also be producing a war related play, AS AMERICAN AS) as we do three readings on consecutive Monday nights under the banner “Ethics and War.”  We’re a day away from confirming rights and permission for all three scripts, but each one is a knock out, timely, wild, scary, inspiring (or just inspiring dread in one case).

– And yes, marketing updates, new subscription campaign initiatives, going over new adjustments to budget. All in a good hour with staff (well, the budget stuff took much longer than an hour, but we’ve splintered off by then). In short, the apparatus is all cranked up again. August is the month for getting ducks lined up in a row and that’s exactly what we’re doing. With much more to roll out, including Round Table discussion series topics for HONEY BROWN EYES and our Fall/Winter Tea @ 2 line up. Stay tuned!

And now, more notes from this writer’s journal (why do I share this with you? because, God-dang it,-it’s important, and everyday, I gots to be forging forward; here’s the latest):

So am meeting on August 21 with The Epic Theatre folk — doing a reading first of the latest draft of David Zellnik’s ARIEL SHARON HOVERS BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH AND DREAMS OF THEODOR HERZL which is now being directed by Daniella Topol. We’ve nominated the project for a big grant – we’ll see what happens, and we’ll see what shape the play is in and what next developmental steps want to be. Daniella’s also on board to direct the January presentation of BORN GUILTY and THE WOLF IN PETER and yesterday I sent a new pdf version of both plays up to them and for the Epic casting folks with a generous (long) list of character descriptions (there’s only 67 characters played by 8 actors, relax). And I’ve done some work on a new opening based on this series of Notes-to-self: opening to start with “what did you do during the war, daddy?”
An American resonance… with us in the closet, living in silence about what our boys overseas actually do, what our daddies and mommies are doing while we go to preschool…
Beyond that…
About being self-critical.
(Not a strong American tradition there.)
About trying hard to keep history alive, not for some “No Child” testing requirement, but for a national Cleansing of the Soul.
Fear Germany?
Learn from it. Be chastened by it. Be inspired by it.
Wild to write this, in a way. Heretical?
But tis the feeling.
The play, originally written back in 1990 to reflect unease about German Unification; fear the Big Germany.
Unease about our war. What we let happen. And how we appear to the rest of the world. Perpetrators.

How to get this idea in the play?

Why am I writing about my own playwriting this year?
Because if I don’t make it public, it might die entirely; the impulse to write to and insist on its importance. ‘Nuff said. Now do it.

And guess what? I did it. Sent off a new opening. Much more to come.


2 thoughts on “Notes from a Staff Meeting – And A Writer’s Journal

  1. I’m not remembering its title, but weren’t you at Page-to-Stage last year with a play you’ve yet to bring back: the NYJewish couple, she a drama teacher/he at an intl. non-profit, boy she mentors, girl he finds is his daughter by a Muslim colleague…..
    Or was that the year before?

  2. Ah, yes – you are so right!!! PROPHECY by Karen Malpede — which is in rehearsal now at the New End Theatre in Hampstead, UK in advance of its world premiere. We presented the reading of it with a New York cast, directed by John Vreeke. That was our first Page to Stage reading that was not a sneak peak preview of something that we were to be producing later in the year.

    Thanks for reminding me of that reading. With Maria Tucci, Larry Pine, Najla Said, Sam Robards and George Bartenieff, it was a great, All Star reading.


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