One Year, Six Plays
It's almost August 2018, so it's been about a year since I relaunched my playwriting career. After the success of my first play, about 14 years earlier, I moved on. I had an intense job that sucked all of my energy. I had two children, then I remarried, and had another child. I figured playwriting was over for me, or maybe I would do it in my sixties, when I retired.
But 2018 was an extraordinary year for the world, and it turned out to be pretty important for me, too. I was scared and angry about what was happening in America when I first outlined a dystopian one-act play for high-school students called "City on the Hill," imagining an America not too far in the future where things were radically different. I had a chance to workshop that play with two high schools and a youth theater group, and the feedback was truly encouraging. The play is headed for an Arkansas production in March 2019, and will also be be featured in a student one-act festival in Texas.
I had barely finished that play when I was on vacation in Eureka Springs and got the idea for a zany story in the traditional comedy framework called "Shadetree Curiosities." I was actually writing it while still on vacation, and still managed to have a great time. After a reading with some friends, that play won my college alumni playwriting contest and is now seeking a production home that can handle a traditional comedy set with multiple entrances and levels. Maybe I will self-produce this one. And maybe I will adapt it to be appropriate for high schools.
My wife teaches drama at an Arkansas high school, and while I was there, teaching a playwriting session and working on sets, I got the idea for a play about a new high school theater teacher who discovers that her auditorium has a theater ghost. A few weeks later, another play, "Edgar: A Ghost Story," was born. The reaction to this play has been incredible. It will be performed in full version in both Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Biloxi, Mississippi, this fall. Also, the special one-act version of it that I adapted for festivals will be seen in the Arkansas Thespians one-act festival, as well as the Mississippi Theater Association's festival, in fall 2018.
In late Spring, I visited a restaurant in Weiner, Arkansas, on the way home from Jonesboro because it was featured in a friend's book about the best pie in the state. There, I had an experience that inspired a full-length southern gothic play called "Pie Town." That play has had a developmental reading and is now being considered for production.
In a sort of fever dream while waiting for a goat to have babies, I came up with a truly unusual science fiction/noir/espionage/alternate history story I am calling "Blood Moon." I'm very close to finishing a second draft, but Pie Town has been getting all of my attention lately. Only one person has seen "Blood Moon," but still, it exists!
Finally, devastated by the family separation crisis, I wrote a 22-minute one-act science-fiction play for young and adult actors called "The Violets." Only a few weeks after it was written, a local high school stepped up and said they would like to work with me on a black-box production.
Over the course of the year, I got to meet a lot of high-school theater kids, teach them about writing, and work with them on my plays. I was even named an Honorary Thespian at Troupe 2123.
Finally, just in the last few weeks, I have become part of a group called Rolling River Playwrights Collective, featuring myself, Judy Goss and Werner Trieschmann. This group has already held a large private reading, and I will be counting on these two colleagues to help me develop my technique.
One year, six plays, and I'm not stopping. I have spent the last month preparing a proposal and a detailed outline for an adaptation of a novel. I'll be talking here about that soon, and it's the most exciting project I have ever worked on. To all the friends and fellow theater lovers who have invested in my writing re-launch, thank you. Thank you for playing with my imaginary friends, and for talking to them as if they are real. Because they are!
Love to all of you.