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The exhilaration, exultation, expectations and experiences of writing plays and getting a play produced or noticed.
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The continuing story about life among the plastic people
SCENE: BARBIE and her entourage, KEN and GI JOE, arrive at the Olympics. Ken is in charge of carrying suitcases
Like...bring me my cosmetic case, Ken. I have to beautify myself for the press. Stop dragging your feet!
(crawling on his knees)
I can't help it, beach babe. Your luggage is weighing me down
Oh plleeze! You're always making excuses to get out of work and stop calling me beach babe!
Yeah sissy boy! Real men don't talk like that. A hundred push-ups will take care of your shoulder problem, soldier. Down on your knees and start pumping
Did you have something special in mind for you and me?
Did I tell you to leave your stupid surf board back in Malibu, Ken?
No can do. Me and my board here are close buds. Where I go - he goes. Right, Shane?
(KEN caresses his surf board)
You gave your board a name? Like...that is so...like...really sick and lame
We should'a lost him at the airport, babe. What good is he if he can't even carry suitcases?
The world knows us as Barbie and Ken. We're always gonna be together even when we break up. Barbie and Ken...Barbie and Ken... 'Oh look - Barbie and Ken have a new fashion line.' I'm sick of it! I mean, of course, it's sickening how close we are
...I love you, Shane...
All you gottta do is give the word and Ken and his wooden friend will surf the waves forever, if you get my drift.
Somebody say surf's up?
(cups his hand behind his ear)
What are you doing, Ken?
Surf's up! I can smell it! Time to hang ten off the top!
Like...put your clothes back on. There are no waves here
Must be the smell of the salt water taffy that's confusing me
Or all that water that's gone to your brain. Oh no! What are they doing here?
(The BRATZ approach)
What are YOU pathetic pieces of plastic doing here?
We were invited.
Yeah...we have an official invitation.
(extends invitation to show BARBIE)
(cont'd) Where's yours, Barbie
Like...um...well... Oh look, Ken! Our taxi has arrived
(waxing his surfboard)
Just a sec - I gotta shine my board. Never know when I'm gonna need it...gotta be surfing-ready
You bought...him, along?
You know he's my one and only! Like...we're together forever!
Hey! What about me?
GI Joe here guards by body. It's insured for five million dollars, y'know
That's not all I do for her, right babe?
(unknown to BARBIE, reporters are standing behind the group, taking notes. They all get on their cell phones upon hearing GI JOE's statement)
I just got a big scoop right here at the Olympics games. Not new medals. GI Joe and Barbie are testing mattresses again.
At long last, "Old Soldiers" has left the building in a manner of speaking. After choosing an ending to this play that has been in the creative process for more than a year, I finally bid it a fond adieu, wished it well and submitted it to the BBC International Playwriting Competition.
As people reading this blog are aware, the play had its beginning as a short story that evolved into play based on the strength of its main character, Joe McKenna. There was something about Joe that begged to be explored further as described in a blurb taken from the synopsis:
"As an ex army man and soldier, 85-year old Joe McKenna is a man of habit. He is a widower whose only companionship is his 12-year old dog, Daisy. The aging process has taken its toll physically and emotionally, turning him into an embittered man full of resentment towards society and what he perceives to be life's injustices. He is a lonely soul with too much time to think about the past and knowing that the future will leave him dependent on the kindness of others."
As a play, Joe was joined by three ex-army buddies along with some other interesting characters that helped propel the story along. Having never written for radio, the big challenge was to incorporate sound effects. In any case, Joe's fate - and mine - are in the hands of the judges since the competition closed on January 31st.
Meanwhile, another play, "Retribution" is taking an interesting turn. Submitted it to the Sundog Theatre, "... a performing arts organization in Staten Island that provides entertainment for adults and children in the form of contemporary and original theatre." It was selected to be part of a play reading series - all being well - to take place in summer. The drama focuses on Sue Ellen Parker, a hairdresser, who exacts revenge for a horrific past crime committed against her in the past. Must have re-written this play at least a dozen times until it felt "right."
At present, I'm at the finishing stage of completing "Neighbors" a comedy, two-act play that had its beginning as a 10 minute play. The story line focuses on two neighbors and their long-standing feud over what one believes to be the erroneous placement of shrubs, which divide both their properties. Very enjoyable to write and with definite production potential. Will put it to sleep for a while and then re-read it and start the re-writing process. Amazing what time can do for one's perspective. I've completed plays that I thought couldn't be improved only to realize that the content was garbage, which in turn caused a complete re-write of the play(s).
As usual, will keep readers of this blog and/or others who drop by from time-to-time updated.
As is the case with many writers of all genres, there is a tendency to start projects that atrophy in cyber space over the years. Okay - clarification: this the case with this writer. I started out writing "Neighbors" as a short, cute-y play-ette a while back and decided that there was potential for a longer two-act version. The premise is, two fueding neighbors living next door to each other, is a common story line but somehow, the characters in this play seem to beg for further exploration. Who am I to refuse?
Here is a small taste of the play. As always, comments welcome. Please ignore the formatting.
By Eleanor Tylbor
It's nearing the end of the year and I'm feeling introspective. Usually, this is also the time when that "so what did you accomplish this year, Eleanor?" question starts slowly creeping into my psyche, goals yet to reach.
- theatres who were the lucky recipients of my plays still haven't discovered that my plays would be the perfect vehicle to attract new theatre patrons
Really, and at least in my humble opinion, my usage of words and story lines are good and I should know, seeing that most likely those plays were hibernating on/in my word file for years before they saw the light of day. It's merely a matter of time before somebody discovers that they are a perfect fit for their needs
- in spite of good intentions, still haven't submitted my one and only screenplay, "Skate!" written years ago.
This children's script is languishing in never-never-land because most likely it requires yet another re-write. The story is based on a childhood experience and thinking back, I wrote it with the help of Syd Field's how-to-write-a-screenplay step-by-step. As a member of a writing forum at the time, I threw caution to the wind and shared a scene or two with other screenwriters for feedback. Reaction was mixed with advice that included not bad for a first shot, amateur effort, interesting story line and go back to the beginning, try again with a re-write, which I did. While going through a box of papers containing writing-related material produced over the years, I came across a manilla envelope, flap enclosed, with the word, "Skate" written across the front. Staring at it for a few minutes, I debated as to whether I should open the envelope flap and go through it .This most likely would result in angst-ing over what is written and what should have/could have been written. Amazing what perspective will do for a story.
- two of my still-in-progress start-up plays are making more-or-less steady if slow progress.
Why is it that some plays almost write themselves and in others, there are barriers that suddenly arise? Some characters endear themselves to me and make the task easier while others are difficult to get to know.
If you want to see where you've come from and where you are now, browse through old writing projects, especially plays. In addition to hard copies, my Word file is filled with various versions and updates of plays. The problem is that many of them are identified merely by numbers, for example: "blah-blah, #1" or "blah-blah #2" and so on. It's those old insecurities that creep up causing me to question as to whether version one and subsequent re-written versions should be deleted in case they are superior to the latest updated version. I mean, version six could contain gems that could be used in version seven and so on. A while back and upon the realization that I submitted the incorrect version of a play to a theatre, I sent a follow up email apologizing for the mistake and re-sent the right version. Some things can't be undone and sending the wrong version is one of them. That has to be the only reason for the rejection.
What is progress, anyway, and how do you measure or quantify it? Finishing a play, for me, makes the effort a worthwhile endeavor. The big challenge being the production hasn't happened - as yet - note the words 'as yet' - but as I always tell myself, hope springs eternal. Is there anything else?
Yours forever in playwriting,
"A playwright lives in an occupied country. And if you can't live that way, you don't stay. (Arthur Miller)
SCENE: PLAYWRIGHT ELEANOR is sitting at the computer, reading over her plays and contemplating making changes and revisions to one or two...or more.
AT RISE: Various characters from Eleanor's plays, start to feel threatened and express their feelings
There definitely has to be some changes to dialogue...
(upon hearing this, one of the characters from "THE LEMON" feels a growing sense of panic)
Oh no you don't! Finally, after years of waiting, you provided an ending to my car problem.
True but somehow, the ending doesn't seem to be strong enough. Refresh my memory, again?
My car, a.k.a. "The Lemon", a car used by many people over many years, was stuck in an intersection without any means in which to move it. Remember?
Yup - recall it well. True you had to wait but I finally did give you a decent ending
There! So you acknowledge that it's finished!
Finished as in, for now, but not necessarily forever. We live for change, my dear
Don't have much choice, do I, but if you really feel it will enhance my personality...but please don't demean my character. You sometimes have a habit of doing that
I'll keep that in mind
(MAURICE, a minor character from the play, "A WEDDING" chimes in his two-cents-worth)
Excuse me... Hello? Playwright - as you will recall or maybe not - you couldn't make up your mind what type of background I should have. In the end, you didn't endow me with any special qualities other than my social breeding mixing with the upper class rich
With all due respect, Maurice, you are a minor character in a major play
Minor in your eyes but not in the eyes of the two families organizing the wedding. They couldn't do without my help in choosing the right invitation. I do have impeccable taste
True - in the end you did provide some comic relief
I resent that! I play a very important role. Perhaps a few more lines would be nice?
(Word gets out to JOE MCKENNA, the main character in the play, "OLD SOLDIERS" that Eleanor is thinking change...again)
What's this I hear that you wanna do some re-writes? No way, Jose!
But Joe - it took me three years and numerous re-writes to get you where you are today. Sometimes...many times it takes a lot of re-writes to get it right. Didn't I finally submit the play to the BBC International Playwriting Competition? Perhaps you all will get the chance to tell your story
The guys want me to tell you that if you change one more word, they're walking! They really mean it!
This isn't anything new to me since I've had them walking in many directions over time
I'm outta here. The guys are meeting back at the bar. Just remember you were warned! Not one word changed or else!
The soldiers are complaining? We started out at a senior's center and moved around so many times, I'm still dizzy.
Of all the plays, you people are my favorite characters
Hey! I thought I was
Actually...when it's all said and done, you all are my favorites
(SARAH, a lively and somewhat ditzy character from "Gin..." steps forward to make herself heard and is joined by BECKY, another of the card-playing ladies)
So...like...why do you wanna change us? You're not going to write out my goldfish, are you? Goldie would be very hurt even though she didn't have any lines
Sarah...Sarah...Sarah...you and your goldfish friend have exactly the same thought process
Thank you. Goldie would be pleased to hear that
Just so you know, people, it's not easy to get the right words that will move the story along AND make sense at the same time. Then I have to worry about rejection when I finally decide to submit a play, not to mention the never ending question of the reason behind the rejection. Was it the story itself? Or maybe the ending or perhaps too many or too few characters? It's always those nagging whys. Okay people! This playwright gets your point! No more changes!
Can we have that in writing?
(keying in words)
'I, playwright, do declare that I won't make any changes to my plays, today'
Wait a minute! Just today? What about tomorrow and next month?
Beggars can't be choosers. A playwright's gotta do what a playwright has'ta do beside change is the key to a better future for you all
ALL THE CHARACTERS TOGETHER
Been there, heard that
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By Eleanor Tylbor
-SANTA CLAUS – the jolly, old elf himself
- RUDOLPH AND THE REINDEER GANG
AT RISE: A MUCH MORE PLUMP THAN USUAL SANTA IS SITTING AT A TABLE, SNACKING ON COOKIES
This is an expected surprise, boys. To what do I owe this visit?
We're here to give you a message, Santa
You want one of these cookies? Why didn’t you say so? Plenty enough to go ‘round
Is there an echo, here? Did you not make me, Rudolph, the spokes-deer? Maybe one of youse wants’ta take over?
DONNER AND BLITZEN
Hello? D'ya mind?
Oh my-oh-my! I do love watching the train speed around the track. Um - what’s that? Worried? About what, boys? Now just look at this train go! The elves finished it this very morning
DONNER AND BLITZEN
One more word from either of youse…
What’s this all about, boys? Could someone tell me?
My shape? I’m Santa! This is the way I've always looked
This is not news, Rudolph. Now if you'll excuse me…I’m very busy here…
Maybe I did put on a few extra pounds here and there…and there… But you can't expect me to lose weight in such a short time. Christmas Eve is a week away
OTHER REINDEER (PEERING IN AT WINDOW)
Like I was sayin’… You gotta do something 'bout it, boss, or we're stayin' Pole-side this Christmas!
Mother Claus! We have a major problem!
From now on they'll be no more hot chocolate or cookies for me!
Every time you get the urge for a cookie, think about the children!
SCENE: SANTA IS EXERCISWING ON HIS EXER-CYCLE IN RED LONG-JOHNS
DONNER AND BLITZEN
SCENE:THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. A VISIBLY MORE SHAPELY SANTA CALLS IN THE REINDEER
After finally letting go of "Retribution" and "Old Soldiers" to share with the world - one hopes - it's time to think about developing new plays. Even writing the words, "new plays" gives me an unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach knowing that merely developing the basic structure of a new play and getting into the brain of new characters takes time. Be that as it may, toying with the idea of creating a play based on my childhood characters. These are people encountered along the way of growing up that remain vivid in my memory, who left a lasting impact on my life in some way. The first step is to decide the direction the story line will take and how to tell the story. Will share progress as things develop.
In other areas, I'm also looking for potential fits for my two full plays. It's been a while since I've focused on finding the right theatre that sees merit in them. Both are comedies but with dramatic overtones as is my "thing." Spent a lot of time this weekend checking out theatre sites to assess which would or could be interested.
There's progress in other areas having at least submitted my short i.e. less than 20 minute, plays to various short play festivals. Haven't heard back one way or the other, which is always unsettling for me. I'm really focusing on having patience and letting things take their natural course. It's always that "just tell me one way or the other!" feeling that impels me to send off something to the effect:
Sent you my play, blah-blah, a few days/week/months ago. Not sure if you received it since my e-mail system sometimes, somehow, someway, occasionally loses e-mail messages in transit. In this regard, did you receive it? If so, when do you anticipate reading it? Really - it's good. I'm sure audiences will love the story and it only took one/two/three...more years to write.
So if you could check through your files and get back to me, I'd be most appreciative. If not - I can wait.
Meanwhile, there are a number of un-finished and/or un-developed plays that have been languishing in never-never-land, waiting to be developed. Everyone deserves a second /third/fourth...chance to be born, even plays.
Update: Just received an e-mail notification that my 10-minute play-ette to the Snowdance 10-minute Comedy Festival was rejected (again) and didn't make the grade, obviously. Actually, perhaps in retrospect, the writing was on the proverbial wall since they specified that entries be mailed in. In order to cutback on mailing expenses, I e-mailed the contact person and asked if they also accepted entries by e-mail, and he indicated I should send it anyway, which I did. I mean, there can be no other reason why it was rejected being that it was well-written, funny-bordering-on-hilarious and other similar adjectives that adequately describe my entry.
The official refusal read (in part): "I'm sorry to inform you that your entry was not one of the 9 chosen for production. Please accept my sincere appreciation for your time and effort. With so much good material to choose from no entry should feel disappointment or rejection - I wish we had the ability to produce them all." Uh-huh...yup... Oh well...we go on... Read the rest of this post
The playwright, daring to feel somewhat upbeat and hopeful, shares her playwriting progress.
"So Eleanor - what's the latest on your playwriting projects and more specifically, you-know-who?"
Very pleased to be able to report that Joe and the gang are no longer in limbo. They have paid their bar bill and have returned to leading more normal and completed lives. Having gone through so many changes over the years, they are questioning what to do.
"I've completed my mission but feel something is missing," Joe told the guys during a get-together at their favorite watering hole, to discuss the experience.
"She took us in so many directions that I was getting dizzy," Mac added, finishing his beer and allowing a loud burp to escape. "Now why did I do that? My inner motivation is missing and now I'm forced to make decisions on my own."
"That is like...so disgusting," Mike said. "You would never do that in the past."
"Only if I was directed to do so. Life has become more complicated these days."
The only remaining task before hitting the "submit" button is to number the pages. Converting "Old Soldiers" from a short story into a radio play, a completely alien medium for me, has been a challenge to say the least. It meant having to lengthen the story and give each of the characters their own personalities. There were a number of re-writes and endings but it's over. Hopefully.
"What about your other projects?"
Progress in this area also having submitted "Retribution" to a theatre and now comes the inevitable wait to hear back one way or the other. I'm also checking into theatres for a good fit for my two two-act plays, which have been languishing in limbo for a while, now. I'm also toying with and thinking about (a good start) writing a play based on childhood experiences and characters. We'll have to see which direction to take and where the focus should be.
Arthur Miller shared at some point, "A playwright lives in an occupied country and if you can't live that way, you don't stay."
Joe McKenna and all my other characters waiting for show time would agree.
People who drop by this blog are aware of the problems encountered with writing and more importantly, completing the "Old Soldiers" play. In the way of a quick backgrounder, the play had its origin as a short fiction piece - one of my all-time favorites - that I decided to try and convert into a radio play for submission to the BBC International Radio Competition. Thing is, I've never written a play specifically for radio, which is a challenge in itself.
Did regular check-ins on the BBC competition site for information and updates, hints, etc. but somehow omitted reading the section covering how to lay out a play for radio.
Up until this point, I've been using a playwriting format and adding regular '"SFX" or sound effects where and when necessary. So I'm up to the 43 pages point, nearing the end and during one of my regular check-ins discover to my angst that it ain't gonna work. If I would have checked still further (hind-sight is so easy), there is a section devoted to laying out a play for radio, which I for whatever reason overlooked. As I neared the end, there was this gut feeling something was missing or awry. According to the "how-to" section, there are definite guide-lines including line spacing, etc. to which one must adhere. Going by the BBC requirements, my unfinished play as it now stands would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-odd pages. The finished product can't be more than 54 pages.
The reality that my version didn't meet their i.e. BBC strict guidelines was followed by a quick R&R - rant&rave - around the house yelling, "Noooooo" accompanied by "why me?" and the inevitable, "Joe and the boys will never get their story told."
"That's it!" I told myself along with "I've had it!" resulting in walking away from the computer for a few hours.
"So where are you at now, Eleanor?" you're probably asking yourself.
After reflecting on the turn of events and the time invested in working on the project - we're talking years here - I decided to once again (how many more times one asks oneself) attempt to re-write the play with the given guidelines. It will require eliminating some scenes and adjusting the story line, which I've already started to do. The problem is that some of the new scenes that will have to go are really relevant and are dialogue rich. Oh well. Nobody said it was going to be easy.
Sorry Joe and the guys. You're gonna have to wait a bit longer.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE:
Good news! It appears that after re-formatting the layout of the play as per the BBC requirements, it appears that everything just may fit perfectly. However, there are some modifications that will have to be made to the story line for flow purposes. It all depends on whether or not the ending will fit in with the current trend of the story line. The good thing is that there is still time to make the changes.
Will update here as we near the end...one hopes.
Well it's about time, Joe McKenna and his soldier friends would comment, upon learning that the story is winding down - or up depending on the way one views it. There's still plenty of time left before the BBC International Playwriting Competition deadline but given my propensity for procrastinating, I've been focusing my efforts on streamlining the dialogue and working on the plot line.
One of my concerns, other than sound effects, is using radio format but thanks to Google, found a site that supplied an example of how a radio script should be written. The script, as it is now, is written as a play but according to the site, there will have to be some changes.
Reading the lines over silently to myself, it seems to flow well but the story line may have to be lengthened to accommodate the radio format, which shortens the page count. Doesn't really change things since the ending will be that much more dramatic. Before submitting it, I'll actually read it out loud and time it.
The play content is a mix of drama mixed with humor to break up the tension. The quartet of Vets have been there, seen that and are at the point in their lives where they accept death as the final battle and the end to their painful physical decline. They cling to each other for moral support, commiserating life's 'downs' and celebrating their 'highs.'
In fact, somebody overheard the guys getting ready to say their final goodbyes at the local bar.
Well - it's almost over. Won't be long, now
What's almost over? What are you babbling on about?
She's nearing the end
You mean -
Who told you?
If anybody knows what's going on, it's me. Take my word for it
She's been nearing the end how many times now?
This time it's serious. We better drink up, make our final toasts and get ready to say our goodbyes
What's going to happen to us after "The End"?
With luck and some positive action taken on her part, we'll become famous and become household
names in the theatre world
Hey! That ain't so bad!
Let's celebrate in honor of the final scene. Mike - didn't you say you were buying? 'Bartender - a round for me and my best friends, here'
JOE, MIKE, AL, MAC (together)
(holding up their glasses)
To the final scene!
Some calendars note that today being September 28th, has been put aside to celebrate National Good Neighbors Day. The origin of this not-so-well-known holiday (I wasn't aware of its existence) dates back to the early 1970's, when one Mrs. Becky Mattson from Lakeside, Montana, recognized the importance of good neighbors, and started the effort to make this a National day. Assisted by congressman Mike Mansfield, she succeed in getting three presidents (Nixon, Ford, and Carter) to issue proclamations, along with numerous governors. In 2003, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution, sponsored by Montana.
To mark this interesting holiday, I'm sharing the short/playette version of my play, "Neighbors" It's based on the real life feud between two neighbors that lived next door to each other down the street from where we lived, over the placement of shrubs on what both believed to be on their property. Never did find out the end result but their verbal updates inspired the play.
PORTMAN releases his hold
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Okay. I admit it. I've been lazy and unmotivated lately. My playwriting effort has been limited for the most part, to short plays/sketches because they come easy to me and they are also easy to submit to various short play festivals.
While in submission mode and providing an accompanying description as to my background, the thought occurs to me as to whether I should label myself "playwright", having never had a play produced. Is a professionally produced play necessary to give a person who writes plays, "playwright"? Is the mere act of completing a play alright to call ourselves playwrights? Just some thoughts. But I digress.
My playwriting achievements as I've frequently shared here in this blog, are two two-act plays, which have been submitted to perhaps two dozen theatres, a one-act play submitted to six sources, in addition to numerous short-shorts i.e. 10-20 minute and under play-ettes submitted to numerous competitions. They - the plays - are all still waiting for the theatre world to discover them, as is the playwright.
All of this is leading to a very interesting blog passed on by the Playwright's Competition Calendar, a blog to which I'm subscribed, focusing on rejection. Written by Monica Byrne, a writer and playwright, she shares a blog focusing on what she calls, her "anti resume, resume." In it, she lists her rejections and breaks it down further in percentages.
In my case and if a similar exercise was pursued, there would also be a section for started-but-not-completed plays, completed plays languishing in cyber space due to fear of rejection or plays with themes that don't seem to fit theatre's niche.
Excuses thy name is Eleanor but I found Monica's anti-resume somehow comforting. Perhaps playwrights or aspiring playwrights will feel the same way: http://monicacatherine.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/my-anti-resume/
Some of the zoo denizens are gathering together to discuss what they feel are unsatisfactory working conditions. A high-pitch whistle breaks the quiet of the night. The whistle is repeated again and again. A boa constrictor (MR. SQUEEZE) slithers out from the shadows.
(running his hands up and down his tail)
(bouncing out from behind a tree)
This morning, not usually part of my condo cleaning routine, I decided to clear out the hard copies of my writing output. Why? Really don't know. Included in the clean up were printed columns and articles amassed over the years, which had turned yellow and were collecting dust in a large cardboard box stored on a shelf. Combing through the plethora of paper (plethora of paper - these three words have a certain ring to them) were plays that had been tossed in with the rest of the stuff for lack of space.
Amongst them were a few new short-short 10-minute play-ettes written with the intent of having them performed in front of an audience (a familiar theme) but somehow ended up in the "have to think about this further" state, a plethora of copies of "A Wedding!" a.k.a. 'Make me a Wedding', one of two full plays. Can't remember the reason behind printing 12 copies of 120 pages but most likely given the time period of the printing, it had to do with an opportunity to self-produce the play.
Thinking back, there had been an attempt at producing it on my own on less than a shoestring budget. However - hate the 'howevers' in life - many problems arose from the onset not the least of which, was the inability to acquire actors or people with acting experience that felt confident enough to memorize lines. They came, they left. They came, they left, to the point where the play was no longer viable. It was obvious when chunks of the play had to be cut along with characters to make up for the lack of actors. The "actors" who did stay didn't always show up for rehearsals having bowling or weekly mah-jong commitments while others went on extended vacations, or so they told me. The experience was akin to the play, "Noises Off" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105017/).
At the bottom of the pile were stacks of copies (again) of "Gin..." my other play that has yet to see the light of day. Both plays are comedies and in my opinion, they're funny. At least I laugh every time I read them.
So now the dilemma is should they stay or should they go since I've updated them both at least a dozen times over the years. It's always interesting to read them over and evaluate the progression of the story line to their current incarnation. Alternatively, I could return them to their former storage place, think things over and wait until the cleaning fever passes. Definitely a better option.
"So, Eleanor - what have you been up to lately? Started any new plays, one hopes?"
Regretfully, no, but I did finish my final re-write of "A Thief on the Beach" and am satisfied with the end result.
"But Eleanor - that's not a play! It's a story! It's time you started on a new play or at least finish those that are languishing in cyber never-never land and waiting for an ending!"
True.. but my philosophy (major cop-out) is that a literary completion is a completion is... In as far as a new play(s) project is concerned, haven't come up with a burning idea or concept that moves me enough to explore.
"How about the one-act play that you submitted recently?"
Still waiting to hear back as to its fate, if at all. Hope springs eternal and all that.
"Is there anything new to report?"
Actually, yes. Maybe. Plans are in the works to produce and present an evening of sketch comedy. Proposed the idea to our writing group and to this end printed up a sampling of comedy sketches for all to read. They (sketches) were enthusiastically received and some of the people expressed the desire to be part of the project. I'm in the process of narrowing down the plausible sketches or those that will please a wide variety of tastes and ages. They will be distributed and we'll evaluate who will fit which sketch. Hopefully, the people that do commit to the project realize that there is a lot of rehearsal time involved.
Comedy, as anyone who has attempted it will attest, is a difficult challenge with timing plus delivery being everything. This is a concern. A number of the potential sketches have been shared here in this blog over time in addition to others actually performed a while back.
Meanwhile, we'll have to evaluate the comedy potential of the potential performers, which will be done next week, hopefully. To be continued... Read the rest of this post
Over the years, my children's manuscript, "The Very Best of Friends" a.k.a. "A Thief on the Beach" must have been tweaked at least a dozen times, if not more. The original story was written a while back - this means at least twenty years ago - but the basic story line remains the same.
The tale focuses on two best of friends, Jeremy Goat and Freddy Fox, who compliment each other but not necessarily in a positive way. The young goat has an uncontrollable, voracious appetite for just about everything and the sly fox lives to play pranks on the community of animals living in Pottersville, located "a half mile down from the best beach around."
The story has always remained close to my heart and hence the reason for the various updates over the years. When it comes to updating, I'm the 'queen of tweaking." The pattern is to "fix" it, put it away for a year or more, pull it out of storage periodically, "fix" it again and so on. It's been a while since the friends have seen the light of day in the true sense of the word and a read-through brought with yet more changes.
Reading through it, I found some inconsistencies along with one or two superfluous characters that were eliminated. No sooner had they disappeared then they were brought back in a different form. I spent the weekend updating/tweaking/fixing - call it what you want - and managed to re-write four pages. So far, so good but then I always say that. There are a lot of positive messages within the story line, which is one of the main reasons I've stuck with it, in addition to light humor.
This time round I'd really like to seek out a publisher, electronic or print, not sure yet. Being that it's for young children although adults would also enjoy the story, it would require illustrations.
It also lends itself to a cartoon, given the dialogue and characters but first things-first, the priority of which is to finish the last re-write.
More progress reports to follow. To paraphrase the mischievous Freddy: "what are we waiting for?"
As shared in a previous blog, I'm working on tweaking or re-writing one of my current short plays, "The Lemon." A comedy, I've always liked this play-ette and it's for this reason I'm providing an excerpt. As always, comments welcome.
The story focuses on a woman (PENNY), whose newly acquired more-than-gently used car is stalled and her saga to get it moved out of a busy intersection. Her cell phone dead and unable to contact the car dealer, she is forced to use a public phone that is otherwise in use by a female, and a verbal battle of wits ensues between them.
by Eleanor Tylbor
CAST OF CHARACTERS
PENNYI don’t believe this! How many more things can go wrong, today?
Aside to Female Phone User: 'Scuse me, lady, but I gotta use that phone!’
‘Blow it out your nose, idiots! You'll get more out of it!'This is so typical. Finally, I get a cell phone and forget to charge the battery.
ASIDE TO PERSON ON PHONE: “Chloe, if anything happens to me, call my parents and tell them that I love them. Oh and you can tell my sister she can have my Manolo Blahnik Shoes.’
I can’t take it! This…this… woman transferred me to an automated answering system! What ever happened to live conversation with a real person? Gone with the wind just like service in general!
Second-guessing is not a good idea, especially when dealing with an established story line. As shared here in this blog ad nauseum, I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to editing my plays. Actually, one play in particular ("you couldn't be referring to 'Old Soldiers' now, could you, Eleanor?") which could be but not necessarily so, depending on yet another read-through evaluation of the story line and dialogue flow.
The reason for this conclusion came as a result of a sleepless night and for whatever reason - it's better than counting sheep - started thinking about the characters in my various plays and whether they are believable. It's been my experience that the lack of sleep precipitates my old friend, creeping doubt, to make its presence known. The play, as anyone who has followed the saga of writing and finishing 'Old Soldiers' knows, has had many incarnations and updates. The uncertainty last night was that maybe the original story line, is in the end, the best one after all.
This conclusion was reached at two-thirty a.m. until four a.m. in the morning while staring up at the ceiling. That's when self-doubt works best providing visual images of the characters playing out their scenes. Questions arose to the surface as to the various re-writes and incarnations and the rationale behind making changes.
Issues like whether or not Daisy the dog character is relevant and is her inclusion necessary? What would happen if she was dropped? Given that the dog is featured in one scene only, does it play an integral part of the whole? More importantly, would Daisy be insulted?
"Why drop me?" Daisy would most likely ask if she could. "After everything that Joe and I have been through, together, over many years, my contribution is important."
In the first copy of the play, there was interesting verbal inter-action between Joe and a bus driver discussing the reason for Joe's trip. It was subsequently dropped in later re-writes but I'm toying with the idea of writing it in, again. My thoughts behind this is that perhaps it would provide more background information on the character.
When sleep finally took over, I was no further ahead than before other than the conclusion that this is a really good play - if it's ever really finished. Whether that feeling of not one more word can be added or deleted will ever be experienced.
And there-in lays the problem.
As a writer and one that enjoys expressing myself in a comedic manner, I've written and frequently shared some of my creative output. A lot of the content is based on personal experience and conversations with people, some of whom I know while others are interesting strangers encountered while shopping and experiencing life.
Last week our Writer's Corner group participated in the reading of four sketches by members:
- Arks to Go: focusing on a conversation between the owner (Noah) of Arks to Go ark building enterprise and a female who believes another flood is imminent.
- Keep Your Eyes on the Fries: a frustrated shopper's attempt to buy some frozen fries on special at the supermarket
- A Fish Tale: the owner of a dead pet fish approaches a funeral parlor to bury her fish
- The Missing Sock: a frustrated woman who has dealt with one-too-many missing one-socks, presents it as a missing-sock-case at a police station
Since it was a 'cold reading' by those present, many of whom have never read a script before, the end result was surprisingly good. At least three have committed to being part of a sketch comedy project, where the sketches will be performed for various groups as fund raisers, etc. We'll see how things develop with regular updates provided here, of course.
On a personal note, hoping that this project will attract the attention of a producer/theatre/whoever (hint-hint), with the intent of getting my two-two act comedy plays produced somewhere down the line. Hope springs eternal... Read the rest of this post
Every second Tuesday afternoon, our Writer's Corner group meet to share our latest creative writing output. Interestingly enough, the participating writers are also talented artists, all of whom know each other on a personal friendship basis. It's sort-of an interchange and exchange of creative abilities. I've always believed that people in the various creative arts will find each other i.e. like-attracts-like.
In any case and rather than produce a new writing piece to add to my extensive collection, made a decision to give my comedy (at least I believe they are) sketches/play-ettes shared in this blog, a chance to be heard. To this end, I've selected three favorites to be performed in front of the group, assisted by a fellow member of the writer's group. We've worked together in the past a while back when there were plans to present my two-act comedy, "A Wedding!" Although the play never got beyond the rehearse and read-out-loud stage, the two of us have remained friends over the years and she likes the idea of doing the sketches, be it read out loud from sheets. It will be interesting to gauge the reaction of the listeners and I'll share the end result here. The intention, depending on the reaction, is to possibly perform the sketches in front of groups to get my plays "out there."
Speaking of plays, sent a submission query to the Theatre Unbound in Minneapolis, MN, having found a call for plays a general "submissions wanted" section of a playwriting site. They responded with, "Due to a staffing shortage we are not able to accept script submissions as we had originally intended. Please check our website in 6 months for change to this status and for script requirements."
Will follow up in six months. Oh well... We live in hope.
As an aspiring playwright (insert deep sigh here) continually seeking out potential submission sites, it occurred to me that it would simplify the process by keeping track here of where the plays go and the end result. Sometimes the end result is made known with a rejection note while other times the fate of the submitted play is never known.
Not sure how many hopeful and striving playwrights read this blog but perhaps it would be helpful and somewhat cathartic for me, to share the names of the various theatres/groups/whoever and the end result (where applicable) when sending out one of my plays. I'll also add commentary (where applicable) and any commentary (when applicable) passed along by the contact person. In sharing, we all learn.
The most recent play submitted was my one-act, which also happens to be one of my favorites, "Retribution" sent to the Sundog Theatre in Staten Island on April 9. Came across this theatre while conducting my daily search and the theatre just stood out as I combed through the various sites. After querying them, did further checking with their mandate being: "Sundog Theatre is a performing arts organization in Staten Island that provides entertainment for adults and children in the form of contemporary and original theatre." Having visited New York but never Staten Island, this theater excites me quite a bit. Here is the coordinates of their web site: http://www.sundogtheatre.org/
The content is definitely not for young children and although I mentioned this in my communication with a theatre administrator, she mentioned that on occasion they do perform other types of plays and to pass along the play, anyway. At this point, I'm waiting to find out whether or not my "baby" has found a home and obviously hoping - really hoping - that it has. I've sent a follow-up query and patience isn't one of my strong points but I'm philosophical in that whatever happens - happens (profound Eleanor - profound!).
Additionally, I've also been querying some theatres that are presenting short play festivals. Having written quite a few, it might be a good fit.
Riff-Raff Productions in the UK sounds like an intriguing concept worthy of further thought and investigation.
There are a few other theatres I'm waiting to hear from as to whether they accept play submissions from outside their country of origin. Meanwhile, will provide updates here regarding the end result(s).
As anyone who has read this blog will attest, my quest to give my one-act play, "Old Soldiers" 'legs' so to speak, borders on the obsessive. There is something about the characters and the story line that has become part of my psyche and touched my soul. They have become as close to me like extended members of my family.
In the way of background information although I've probably shared this in a previous posting, the story line it is based on an interview with army veterans conducted a while back for my newspaper column, focusing on their Remembrance Day memories. Somehow, it caught my imagination and slowly developed into a short story, actually more towards a novelette.
Over the years it was tweaked and eventually put into cyber storage. The characters, though, wouldn't be forgotten, which led to the creation of the one-act play.
As a member of a small writer's group, we read our latest projects out loud for critique and comment, resulting in helpful feedback. Old Joe McKenna and his army buddies decided they wanted to come out of cyber storage and be heard. Who am I not to grant them the opportunity? The original story is dramatic with serious overtones, whereas in the play version the characters have been flushed out to make them individuals in their own right and to propel the story along.
In reading the story, it was so quiet you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. The characters were ready for their public debut and as line after line was recited, their story played out in my mind. Needless to say, Joe and his buddies were enthusiastically received and there were calls by everyone to extend it into a book. The listeners wanted more and there was a half-hour discussion and suggestions offered as to where the story line could go. In explaining that I was working on a play version, they also wanted to hear the play read out loud. I'm very superstitious in sharing in as far as my new plays are concerned although it is a valuable opportunity to gauge their reaction to the contents. We'll see.
Meanwhile, Joe and the guys have left the room, happy that they had a chance to be heard. It's the least I could do.
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