Month: April 2013

  • Yet Another Crazy-Busy Week/Weekend

    My days kind of blur together. It’s the frantic pace at my day job. I really should start keeping a diary again in order to keep track of the days. Meaning, keep track of all the small moments and events that add up to a life.

    Perhaps I can do a bit of that here with a recap of all that’s transpired.

    Here’s what happened:

    I wrote my final blog post for TheatreFace where I’ve been a featured blogger for a year an a half. I had to part ways because I began to notice that I was spending too much time and energy composing those bi-monthly blog posts. That is, too much time and energy in comparison to working on my plays. I have limited free time and wanted to prioritize my playwriting.

    After work I wandered around downtown to do a bit of shopping and eventually found my way to Haight street because I wanted to go to Amoeba. Aside from a huge selection of music, they have a good amount of movies and I was going specifically to pick up Ginger Snaps. Last time I was at Amoeba they had it. “Had it” past tense because it is no longer there.

    The Fitgerald sisters look equally disappointed that I was unable to find/buy their movie.

    Disappointed I picked my way through several movie genres before leaving with Amelie (I have the VHS and was glad to upgrade it), Fright Night (the 80s version of course) and An American Werewolf in London (which included a second DVD complete with a featurette about the movie). Joy was mine as all three were $5 or less. Whoo!

    I discovered that my refrigerator is indeed on its last leg the proof of which was in the milk (not pudding) that came plopping out of its container. This of course made me weary to trust most of the food in the fridge. Thankfully a torta shop opened up two blocks away and I was super happy with my torta de milanesa with a good side of nostalgia.

    I spent the morning working on a 10 page excerpt for a submission. And while I got everything I wanted to fit into 10 pages, I now wonder if they are the right 10 pages.

    After lunch I headed to the Mission to meet Heather, a director based in the South Bay who happened to be in SF for the day. I walked up and down Valencia street dismayed at the gentrification. I know it’s good for the businesses who were there before the transition, but man alive it was kinda sad to see the street scrubbed of any personality and individuality. Times they are a’changing. Heather and I talked theatre over coffee and dinner (at least the pupuseria I like is still there).

    I got up early to do laundry because Sunday afternoon was going to be all about Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen. Aside from laundry I spent the morning continuing my work on the submission I’m working on. And I have to say, I’ve developed a true gift–if I do say so myself–for trimming down summaries/synopses/artistic statements to meet word count guidelines. I trimmed a 168 word summary to 150 without really losing much. Which means I probably had a few unnecessary words/phrases to begin with. Either way I’m close to finishing the submission. I just need to work on the cover letter and finalize that 10 page excerpt.

    But back to Lawrence of Arabia. I met my best friend at the Castro Theatre were we spent 4 glorious hours watching one of the greatest movies of all time. It was amazing. I had purposely not watched it (I own it) for a while because I wanted to truly enjoy this experience. What a visually stunning movie.

    See that speck in the distance? That’s Omar Sharif making his entrance (you may need to click on the image to see him). This scene makes you marvel at the scale of the desert.

    The movie started at 2pm and we got out at 6pm. So there was little energy for house cleaning when I got home.

    So that was my weekend. So much was done, so much still to do.


  • AlterLab Retreat Recap

    So much to process…

    In a good way.

    I spent the majority of my Saturday and Sunday up in San Rafael at the home of Ann Brebner. Ann is one of the AlterLab playwrights who, like me, participated in the residency last year. Ann’s play The Dead Girl, which she wrote during last year’s residency, is currently in rehearsals and will open later this month at AlterTheater.

    Ann lives in this lovely home with a fire she can turn on by remote control and a wonderful backyard garden filled with all sorts of flora.


    My local coffee house.

    Saturday began with me heading to The Blue Danube to pick up tea bags (for tea I made once I got to Ann’s house) and coffee. The coffee was for Denmo, one of the other playwrights in the AlterLab residency who was kind enough to pick me up both days and drive me to San Rafael.

    When Denmo and I arrived at Ann’s house we found it filled with people, including the final AlterLab playwright Larissa Fasthorse. The other people were actors that AlterTheater had brought in to read my current draft of Wolf at the Door and two local dramaturgs.

    After the read through I took copious notes during a feedback session that I led. I have lots of ideas that I’m excited to incorporate and explore for the next draft–success!

    My copious notes.

    After the actors departed it was just the AlterLab playwrights and Jeanette who runs AlterLab, though Jeanette would say that we are in charge. ;)

    The afternoon was filled with a writing exercise and discussion about the projects we’re currently working on.

    Sunday began with a bit of a late start. Not the retreat, but me and my ride. We did arrive in time to catch the very end of the few pages Larissa had brought in. We quickly caught up (read through the pages) and joined the conversation that the pages had inspired.

    I then had the group read my prologue for Alcira so I could get some early feedback as I get ready to start and finish my first draft of the play.

    During lunch Larissa and I found a patch of sunshine in the outside garden patio and talked about allergies and napping, among other things. And the weather was perfect over the weekend, blue sky without a hint of cloud.

    The afternoon became more targeted as we did a series of writing exercises to help one another explore our respective projects. I asked for my fellow playwrights to contribute four questions for an interview I plan to do with my character Rocio (character interviews as one of my go-to writing exercises).

    We finished the day by stating our goals. That is, the goals we’d like to complete before our next retreat in July. For our next retreat I have to bring in a new draft of Wolf at the Door and a no-matter-how-rough draft of Alcira.

    I left with some my thoughts churning. I had all sorts of great notes, feedback and ideas for my next round of rewrites. And I had all sorts of confidence issues that suddenly came swimming to surface which I plan to unpack in another blog post.

    More soon,

  • AlterLab Here I Come

    This weekend is the second AlterLab retreat of the year. They’re quarterly this year, as opposed to monthly which was the format last year.

    At this second retreat of the year I will hear my second draft of Wolf at the Door read aloud. And, as was the case when I brought in the first draft of The River Bride last year, it’s underwritten. I tend to do that, underwrite my plays that is. I flesh them out over the course of subsequent drafts. But when it comes to this fairy tale cycle, so far the plays are right around the one hour mark. All my other plays wind down around the 90 minute mark, which is what I would hope the fairy tale plays would be. But they aren’t. And I’m not going to try and drag out the narrative for 30 more minutes just for the sake of making the play longer. I’m a big believer in form = content. And if the narrative is over, it’s over. Meaning, if the story has been told in 60 minutes then that’s all the time it needed.

    Wolf at the Door is currently 50 pages. I imagine another 10-15 pages will surface in the next draft. What I need to get out of the read through is a sense of what’s missing and where are the places in the play–its crevices–where I can open up the world and flesh out the narrative.

    It’s slow work. Lately, anyway. The day job stress has been on the increase ever since October and my free time for writing has been whittled away. And I am tired of it. Tired of the day job draining my energy, tired of the stress, tired of having to choose between friends and writing. I want a change and need to figure out how to engineer it.

    But that’s another topic entirely. I was talking about AlterLab.

    I am looking forward to spending the weekend with the other artists all talking about our work. Ann, whose play The Dead Girl, is in rehearsal. She wrote it last year in AlterLab and this year AlterTheater is producing it. Bravo! So I’m sure Ann will give us the inside scoop about all that’s going on.

    Larissa is bringing in pages for the play she’s writing for the AlterTheater ensemble and I have no idea what Denmo is working on, though at the last retreat she and I discussed her amazingly vivid dreams which I secretly hope she’ll turn into a play. I’d love to see that as her dreams had a surreal MirrorMask quality to them.

    Images from the movie MirrorMask

    Keep an eye out for AlterLab highlights early next week.

    More soon,

  • An ATLAS Program For Playwrights

    Theatre Bay Area‘s annual conference is coming up and in preparation for it TBA’s Facebook page was putting out calls asking for artists to identify what issues they’d like to see taken up for discussion. The call went out to actors, then directors and finally for playwrights. Here’s what I wrote in response:

    I’d love to see a year-long career planning program similar to ATLAS to help playwrights focus on creating a career path. Not a residency for workshopping scripts. This is about mapping out a career and identifying the goals that a PW needs to reach for in order to get the momentum needed to push their career forward.

    What’s ATLAS?

    Advanced Training Leading Artists to Success (ATLAS) was initially developed by TBA in 2008 as a resource for actors to identify personalized career goals and to better understand where they fit in the Bay Area theatrical landscape. In 2012 they launched their inaugural round for directors.

    Reading about how ATLAS participants were mapping out career goals is kinda what inspired me to start developing my annual workplans. And watching friends go through the program I began to wish there was one for playwrights.

    Good news!

    I got a response to my Facebook comment and it looks like TBA will be taking up the issue, and hopefully launching a version of ATLAS geared for playwrights.

    This calls for a bit of a celebration.


  • 2013 Workplan: First Quarter Check-In

    I didn’t do quarterly check-in’s last year so I know they actually help me keep on track, focused and also help me see what I’ve accomplished. As I mentioned earlier this year my annual workplan is a living document so this check-in will allow me to report on what I added to it, what opportunities popped up that I was able to pounce on.

    Overall Goals

    • Write at least 3 blog posts a week: Well, I have definitely not been blogging as much here on my own site as I’d like to be. This quarter I am making a change that will free up my time and bring me back here more. Which is good. I like writing about my process as it helps me keep focused, creates a sort of accountability and also becomes a dramaturgical gold mine when needed.
    • Go to at least 1 play a month: I went to a few plays earlier this quarter. Though in March I decided to take a two month break so I could focus on writing. 
    • Website update: It looks like my graphic designer best friend will be able to take on my project in August. This gives me time to switch my blog to WordPress so that she can eventually switch it to SquareSpace where my website will be. At least, that’s the plan.

    1/02:  Yes, I Said Feminist Gala call for 10 Minute plays–Submit Her Story ✓
    1/14:  Leah Ryan’s Fund for Emerging Women Writers [PB]–Submit Heart Shaped Nebula
    1/14:  NALAC fellowship [PB]–>Submit application ✓
    1/15:  Ashland New Play Festival  [PB]–Submit The River Bride
    1/30: SF Playhouse call for plays about women and immigration [PB]–Submit Woman on Fire
    January was a solid month. I did everything outlined in the workplan.

    2/10: Mixed Blood Theatre [PB]–Submit 10 page query Woman on Fire
    2/10: eSe Teatro’s Multicultural Playwrights Festival [PB]–Submit Woman on Fire
    2/15: SF Playhouse [PB]–Submit 10 page query Heart Shaped Nebula [Haven't done yet]
    2/17: Miracle Theatre [PB]–Sent email to AD (rec from O.S.) to introduce self. Attached The River Bride and Heart Shaped Nebula. [good news, they will read both plays] ✓
    2/27: Berkeley Rep [PB]–Submit Heart Shaped Nebula [Haven't done yet]
    2/27: Wolf at the Door rewrite [W]–Rewrite should be underway [Started]
    Okay, with February you’ll see that one opportunity popped up, the eSe Teatro submission call. And I’m a bit behind on query letters/submission to theaters.

    3/17: Inkwell–Submit Woman on Fire[Wanted to send them Nebula, then realized it was too polished for what they were looking for, so sent Woman on Fire]
    3/10: Orland Shakespeare Theater PlayFest  [PB] [Missed deadline. Was focusing on Inkwell submission and lost track of this one. Had wanted to send them Nebula]
    3/15: Princess Grace Foundation Playwriting Award [PB]–Submit American Triage
    3/15: South Coast Rep [PB] [Had planned to send Nebula query, but luck prevailed. Colleague sent contact there Nebula and River Bride]
    3/15: Urban Theater Company [PB]–Submit inquiry for American Triage [Still need to do. I foresee a big query letter push in April]
    3/25 Wolf at the Door rewrite [W]–Rewrite should be almost done on 2nd draft [Currently finishing up second draft. Still feel it needs lots of work.]
    March kinda got away from me. I did get in two important submissions, but missed a deadline opportunity and have a lot to do by way of sending work to theatres.

    Here’s the final tally:

    • 1 10 min. play submission
    • 2 award submissions
    • 1 grant application submitted
    • 3 new play festival submissions
    • 3 queries to theatres
    • rewrites on 1 play
    • 1 development opportunity submission

    Next quarter I hope to up those queries to theatres and not miss any deadlines.


  • Weekend To Do List

    • Hang out with my best friend.
    • Rewrites. I have AlterLab in a week and need to get my draft to them next week so they can print out the scripts for my Wolf at the Door table reading.
    • Read two plays by a fellow playwright. We swapped plays recently. Our deadline for reading was April 1st. We’re both about a week behind.
    • Clean. My. Casita.
    • Take my two minute pitch about myself and my plays and attend the Yeah, I Said Feminist speed dating/networking event for women theatre artists.
    • Hunt down some rhubarb and bake strawberry rhubarb empanadas.
    • Laundry. Good gawd when am I gonna find time to do laundry? But it has to get done…


  • Poet, Playwright…Novelist?

    “You should write a novel.” That’s what my coworker said to me last week out of the blue while we were taking a bit of a break.

    “That play of yours that won all those awards. Write it as a novel.”

    Huh. I hadn’t thought of that.

    “That play” she’s referring to is Braided Sorrow, the first play I wrote. And considering that it’s told in non-chronological order, it could be an interesting novel of vignettes sort of like Indiana, Indiana by Laird Hunt (which is a wonderful read by the way).

    I mean, each scene could be fleshed out into a chapter and I could explore the inner thoughts of characters, revel in descriptive prose to make the world arise in the mind of the reader.

    Interestingly enough novelist was what I wanted to be when I was a girl. I sat at my parents’ Apple IIGS typing away at my science fiction novel. So I guess I’m coming a bit full circle, aren’t I?

    I think I have a summer project. Though I don’t think I’ll finish it by summer’s end. But at least I can open up some time to start it. Here we go, gente. Braided Sorrow: A Novel.

    p.s. I know, I know it’s been ages (in blogging terms) since I last posted. That will change soon. I am making some changes that will allow me to refocus on my own blogging here. More soon.