14/48 Night One (2018)

Here we go for the fourth year in a row…

THURSDAY
7:12pm: Got to the meetup a little late; played a silly rock-paper-scissors game with the rest of the group; chatted, etc., as you do

8:03pm: The theme was pulled from the hat: Bears & Robots

8:04pm: Randomly, I was give the play #4 slot with 2 actors

8:05pm: I drove home and came up with the seed of an idea I liked!

8:25pm: I got home and the boys were silly, and we watched a little of the documentary Hoop Dreams (which I’m sort-of making them watch), then an episode of The Office (the American one) which is all they seem care about these days

8:26pm: I jotted down a couple of notes

9:45pm: Kids in bed, lunches not made; losing momentum

10:05pm: Role-playing my piece and trying to figure how I can mess with time and space and multiple characters from one actor; thinking, thinking…

11:35: Page one done! Talked to my dad about a couple of things on the phone, including getting someone to help clean his place, which I’m super excited about! Oops, time to get cranking on the play….

FRIDAY

12:27am: On page 3, hoping this weird time-shifting idea sticks together before I get too tired

1:02am: Page 4, is it any good?

1:32am: Page 5, worried it’s getting too silly

2:07am: Top of page 6, lots of edits to enter

2:42am: All right, I’ve got a rough draft. Just waiting for my son’s jeans to finish washing so I can get ’em in the dryer. Then… 3 hours of sleep till we get up for breakfast, I take kids to the bus, finish up the play, and send it in. Whoop!

5:45am: Alarm goes off, kid wakes up, I make some updates to the play and hand it to him. He read it and calls it “interesting.”

6:45am: Second alarm goes off, second kid wakes up. I make a couple more updates to it, he reads it and says “It’s cool, I like it!”

7:20am: Play submitted

8:45am: Director selected. It’s Lisa from GFT. Excellent!

9:20am: Show cast, first read-through in the can

9:55am: The day rolls on….

 

Upcoming fun things in October/November

Just a few things to highlight in the coming weeks (because I know you’re curious):

Wednesday, October 17th at 1pm: I’ll be a guest on KOOP Radio (91.7 FM) with the 14/48 crew. I’m super excited about this. In a way to promote the weekend speed-producing festival that is 14/48, I’ll be given 48 minutes to write a brand new play which will be performed by the radio hosts and a couple of 14/48 actors. I’ve never been under this kind of public pressure to create, and I’m pumped!!!

UPDATE: This happened, it was super fun. Three-page, original silly script based on the random prompt Winston Tastes Good HERE. Entire show #487 at THIS LINK. You might need to navigate to the show number once there.

Thursday, October 18th from 9pm to 7am: I’ll be writing a play overnight for 14/48 which will be performed on….

Friday, October 19th at 8pm: The first 7 of 14 new plays will be produced. Again, I love this speed-writing challenge! I’ll be there on Saturday, the 20th too, but probably not going to write for that second night as I have in the past (kind of excited to get some sleep).

Sunday, November 4th at 7pm: I’ll be doing a storytelling event at the Hard Luck Lounge in East Austin which is intended to be a push for getting out the vote on November 6th. The theme is loosely based around synchronicity and elections, and I’m still working on what to talk about. If you have any ideas…

That’s it. A burst of events within a couple of weeks. Also, I’m in the midst of rewriting a full-length play with Caridad Svich for a follow-up workshop to one she hosted in the spring. Hope to keep up with those weekly assignments too. We’ll see how it goes.

 

Chip on my Shoulder

I’m not sure if it’s post-travel edginess or jet lag or the current political climate or what, but I keep finding myself with a chip on my shoulder when I’m driving or in line at the supermarket or at the airport. Any time a dude behind me gets too close or makes some slightly sniveling face, I gird up and feel this internal challenge against him.

Okay, it’s definitely the current political climate and the state of gender dynamics, especially as played out in the media, post-Kavanaugh hearing.

It just feels like certain dudes are looking to bully their way past or pick a fight or something. Like they crave some kind of release.

Maybe it’s their anger I’m picking up on, but hoo boy, this morning a guy behind me in line for coffee got right up close and I could feel his eyes on my back, wanting me to take a step forward or do…. something.

And there was a part of me that kinda hoped he’d push me.

But he didn’t.

So that’s probably good.

Maybe it’ll pass. We’ll see. This upcoming election is gonna be a bruiser.

Intergenerational Friendships

My dad and I just spent a week together in Chicago on a kind of theatrical tour. We saw shows at the Steppenwolf (I’ve always wanted to see what it was like there), Victory Gardens, Chicago Shakespeare, Second City and Cadillac Palace (wow, that’s a lot).

We had mixed opinions on all those shows, and generally enjoyed them less than others we were traveling with, but it was a great opportunity to get a taste of the scene and the city.

One element of our trip included occasional panels with actors and directors who would talk about the shows they were in, and about the theater scene in Chicago in general, especially as it compared to other cities like New York, LA, Minneapolis and San Francisco.

One of my favorites of these discussions was with a group of young actors who were trying to make ends meet as they got a footing in the city.

At one point, they were asked what he “biggest surprise” was about joining the theater scene after studying performing arts in school. Most of them talked about how difficult it was to get agents to work for them, or about how expensive it was in the city, or about what kind of jobs they had to get to pay the bills. But one guy named Brandon also talked about how surprised he was by the intergenerational friendships he’d made over time. And it struck me that I feel this is true too, that being involved in the arts scene allows for a much wider breadth of friends at different ages and with different backgrounds than most professions.

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Adirondacks and Back

This thing happened over the weekend. Doesn’t quite feel real. Flew up to Albany, met up with some old and new work friends, ran a mess of miles in a beautiful place.

I loved it, feel like I have these great lasting memories of bonding slowly over a few days, getting worn out, running in the middle of the night, dodging lightning storms and drinking local beer with increasingly silly people.

(maybe all these relay races are my making up for never having done summer camp as a kid)

There’s talk of doing more of these races, maybe in Tennessee or New Jersey or wherever else. At this point it’s just talk. And I’m wiped out. And they’re all crazy. But…. it was a good time.

Goodnight.

1st leg at Saratoga Lake

a bunch of old-timers (and Sonali) squinting in the sun (our Van1)

Finally made it

Well, I’ve been thinking about this place since February 22nd

At the end of the walk this morning, a couple of hundred yards from the rental car place, I discovered a new brewery I’d never heard of before. I’m going to make a plan to check it out.

Today a friend was doing a birthday bar crawl and we ended up there, so…. made it. And… just for the record, I think this would be a great space for show at some point (see interior shot below).

 

Speaking of that, little tidbits in the works are:

  • My friend Raul and I are in the beginning stages of planning a benefit show in the spring for Vela Families
  • I’ve got a short fringe piece written for January that’s fully cast with awesome people and I’ve got Ellie M lined up to direct it
  • I’ve got a proposal in for the long fringe which may or may not happen (will figure that out within the next few weeks)
  • I’m slated to tell a story about tennis (probably) in a fringe piece my friend Marla is putting together
  • Got a last-minute call to run another relay race up north, and…. yikes, I think I’m gonna do it?
  • Headed out of town for another jaunt with my old man later this month too

Feels like lots going on this fall. Somehow it’s all holding together for the most part. And then it’ll all crash down and we’ll start over again.

More soon…

look at that clean smooth surface! (and a drum set even…)

Discussing Carrington with my Dad

I’ve been thinking about the movie Carrington lately. It came out over 20 years ago and stars Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce, about the shared lives of painter Dora Carrington and writer Lytton Strachey. I’d never heard of either real-life artist before seeing the film.

My dad recommended it to me recently which is why I watched it and why it’s on my mind. It’s a subtle, sort of meandering film focusing on characters and changes in their relationships over time.

My dad thinks it’s a fantastic character study with wonderful acting and nuance and subtle insights into human behavior and interactions.

I…. enjoyed a lot about it, but found it oddly lacking in recognizable shape or plot.

If you look at the Rotten Tomatoes page (52% good reviews) you can see a hint of the differing opinions about it (from “impressive” and “intelligent” to “cowardly and dull”).

Anyway, I get a lot out of the discussions of different types of art with my father. He’s a smart, immersive artist himself, and we’ve talked a lot about the differences between US and British and European films. This one (from the UK) is focused on interactions and emotional behavior, whereas US films (even independent ones) are more often about plot and arc and reaching a certain climax at a predictable stage.

I try to keep a balance of all these things when I write, but I’m quick to question a script when it doesn’t hit key milestones (three-act structure, etc.). I want to hold onto these other values (nuance, subtlety and emotional behavior) and work to draw them out without falling prey to more generic structures. It’s an ongoing struggle for me, and I feel lucky that I’m able to have these discussions with my dad which give me a broader picture of what can be compelling to different people, without dismissing stories that just don’t *feel* right for one reason or another.

Backing up the Back Pack

The Back Pack crew (coupled with their impostors for the night)

So I got this out-of-the-blue message last Friday from one of my favorite performance groups in town, The Back Pack. They asked if I’d be interested in taking a crash course in one of their performances and getting onstage Sunday night for a benefit night they were putting on.

Though I was worried about being able to learn everything that quickly, I figured it was one of those things I’d always regret if I didn’t do.

So I did it.

And it really did feel like a kind of dream come true. I ended up getting to play Katie’s role (we did a full-on gender swap of all the roles) and it was goofy, imperfect, a good workout, and a lot of fun.

I ended up pulling a muscle in my back at the end of it, after kinda dopily running and playing basketball earlier in the weekend, but it was well worth it. Still beaming from it, and won’t likely forget it. I was flattered to be asked and I’m proud of the way it ended up. That crew is awesome and are gonna keep accomplishing awesome things.

(and no, I have no plans to ever do it again, and that’s okay by me…) 🙂

Building Bicycles in Bangkok

one of the beach cruisers my friend is setting up in his new shop

Well, maybe Phuket, actually.

A friend of mine does computer consulting work in Thailand and is trying to open a bike rental shop. He’s invited me over to check the place out, maybe do some work on getting things up and running.

Things seem to be lining up okay for me to do it. Since life can seem pretty short sometimes, I feel like it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of, especially before I over-think it. I’ll be able to do some remote work while out there too so should be able to keep my current job.

So…. Thailand, here I come…. Maybe. The fall is the best time to go (as it always seems to be everywhere). Random opportunity, will probably regret it if I don’t do it.

Logistics, logistics. More to come….

 

Mr. Richard

This is a sad, kind of personal post, but I wanted to jot it down somewhere.

One of my kids’ preschool teachers, known as Mr. Richard, passed away over the weekend, and it’s really hit me hard.

He was one of the sweetest, kindest-hearted and generous men I’ve known. The whole class loved following him around the yard, climbing on top of him and learning how to drum from him.

One of his creative hobbies was traditional African mask-making (he changed his name to Ngadesa after a long visit to Africa). The kids and I went to an art show of his which was put together by an admirer. He sold every single mask he’d made and seemed completely humbled and overwhelmed by the attention.

I wanted to buy one from him at the show, and had a couple in mind that I thought would fit with my (so-called) décor. But my youngest son had his heart set on this one (pictured) which depicted a kind of gaudy rapper dude. TOTALLY my kind of thing.

Anyway, it’s up on my wall now and it’s fit in pretty well with the house’s style over the past ten years. It’s a nice reminder of him. He was only 44 when he died and we (the world) lost a wonderful human being. His impact on our lives was significant and beautiful and memorable. We’ll miss you and think of you often, Ngadesa.