So far this week is a blur of early mornings, auditions, rehearsals, workshops and cafeteria food. I haven’t been too far off of the Central Washington State campus, but I can tell you that Campus Burger across the street from the school is super delicious. But back to the festival, because like I told myself, I’ll not be happy with life if I spend this whole week in bacon burger heaven.
I got here mid-day on Monday, and realized it was three hours before I could get into my room (my DORM room, because I’m too much a cheap skate to pay for a hotel). I got a free muffin with purchase of hot drink at a coffee shop and settled in.
After reading and trying not to sleep for three hours I finally was able to check in. Once in the dorm, which is filled only with folks here for the conference, I remembered theater kids are super loud. ESPECIALLY when hundreds are pushed together onto one campus. I’ve thought about 18-year-old me a lot this week, back when I was an actor, and I shiver. Luckily living with my two kids has trained me to sleep through anything. And sleeping, undisturbed by anyone wetting the bed or having bad dreams has been fantastic.
Tuesday I got to meet my great director, Ben Gonzalez, who teaches at Washington State University and then we sat all day watching auditions. It was like the marathon day at the SF Olympians auditions, but this time I knew NO ONE. Faces were hard to keep track of so I had to trust the little stars I put next to people’s names. We got all of our first choices and my cast is SO great. I’ll try and get a picture with all their young faces, it’s funny to have 18 year olds play 40-50 year olds, but they’re killing it.
Tuesday night I got to watch scenes that the various school brought in and I was especially impressed with a slowed down fight sequence one school had added to Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone. So creative and hilarious. It really made me think about how much liberty people can take without changing the play.
Yesterday I got to sit in on two great workshops, Finding Face: A Playwriting Workshop for Writers and Actors taught by Kamarie Chapman, a Adjunct Professor with Western Washington University. It was a hoot and I left with a fun way to deepen characters and to create them. I am going to steal so much of this workshop and keep it in my back pocket for a day when I might be teaching workshops of my own. After that, because the stars have apparently aligned to help me with the toughest project currently on my plate, the playwright EM Lewis taught the workshop: Writing Our Own History: A Playwriting Workshop. I can’t wait to share all of her insights with my Loud & Unladylike ladies!
After the worksop, I sat in on the reading of the full-length play award winner, Nicole Greene’s, play Death Would Serve Me, a history play set in World War I, because those stars are apparently working overtime in my favor. The respondents, EM Lewis, Jayne Wenger, and David Moberg, had such thoughtful words to share about the piece, and even though they weren’t talking about a play I had written, I learned a whole lot.
Then we had a playwright reception, which was so great because while there are hundreds of actors all over the place, it’s hard to locate the handful of playwrights here. I was really excited about how many of the playwrights invited are women. Of the 14 honored playwrights, NINE of them were written by women. I’m really enjoying meeting so many new people that create theater, the other writers especially.
After the reception, I had rehearsal, which Ben, my director completely impressed me with. Again, he was doing some things that I can’t wait to steal!
My final activity of the day, before I passed out in my little dorm room twin bed, was attending and speaking at the Planet Earth New Play Festival presentation. The same group that partnered with PlayGround this past fall held a competition for college students, and got to see the same eye opening film that the PlayGround writers pool did back in Berkeley. I talked about my inspiration and process for writing Reading Babar in 2070 and it was pretty fantastic to get up and talk in front of people again, almost makes me miss being an actor.
Today is nearly as full with readings, rehearsals, and a production. They’re keeping me busy up here, but for someone who always has to split her time between theater and rearing children, it’s been very special to concentrate all of my focus to one place. Also makes me excited to get home and hug my kids.
Hope to catch you up again later, maybe even with some pictures! Until then, have a good one!