About Me

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I dig jazz and single-malt scotch.  I write plays; I direct them too. I love STAR WARS more than is healthy. I walk my dogs every day, unless it's raining or terribly cold.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Coming in October to The Planning Stage

In October The Planning Stage will be presenting Sometimes I Feel Like I Missed the Train by Michael R. McGuire @ The Golden Street Gallery in New London, Connecticut.

Here's a little about the play:
Fred, a socially awkward engineer, becomes obsessed with Susan, the married bartender at the local watering hole, setting into motion the destruction of her fragile marriage and family. Sometimes I Feel Like I Missed the Train explores sexual obsession, jealousy and the consequences of parents who cling to their youthful identities and ignore the responsibilities of parenthood.

Here's a little about Michael:
Michael R. McGuire is a 2005 recipient of the CT Artist Fellowship Grant for his play THE NEW GIRL from the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism. His plays PERSEPHONE RULES! (ADVENTURES OF A TEENAGE GODDESS) and THE MISJUDGMENT OF OENONE were published in 2004 by Brooklyn Publishers. His play SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE I MISSED THE TRAIN was read in NYC as part of the Lark Play Development Center's 2004 Playwrights' Week. His plays KITCHEN ROMANTICS, PERSEPHONE RULES!, AND IT'S ALL ABOUT MITCH were produced at New London's Secret Theatre. His play WHAT'S GONNA SET YOU FREE? was part of the 1995 Local Playwrights Festival at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and was later produced at the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut. McGuire has written numerous other plays, two novels and four screenplays.

We're still nailing down the dates, but we've got a promising cast and an interesting downtown venue. We'll keep you posted about the production.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Well-crafted plays...? Ho. Hum.

This was my response to an essay challenge. I thought I'd post it here too.
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I think a well-crafted play requires…RETHINKING!

Well-crafted—well-made—well-what?

We’re not making tiny ships to fit in glass bottles, we’re not making fine wine (again, made to fit in glass bottles), we’re not creating anything that can be weighed or measured or quantified. Not really.

We are making stories that look, at first glance, like writing. But that’s an illusion. The play is not the ink laid out on dead leaves. The play needs to be taken from the page, played on the tongue, worked through the body, and made alive on the air. The play is alive, moment to moment, whether in the rehearsal room or in the theater. The play goes on living in the imagination. The imagination of the director, the actor, the patron, even the playwright. The work of the play is to keep the mind occupied long enough to steal the heart of the viewer.

Well-crafted? Perhaps. But not always, and to my taste, rarely.

Look at the work of Sara Kane. Raw talent that squishes your lungs out in broad, clumsy scratches and strokes. reading her work changed the way I write, and it also changed the way I look at the world.

What about early Tony Kushner? The man grabbed on to big themes and big problems and organized them around the notion of angels, going as far as having one break through a ceiling. Who doesn’t recognize that moment now? At the time it was crazy. What guts to actually lay it on the page so that we could someday be in the room with it.

Plays are flawed creations. They have problems. It’s not the work of the playwright to smooth out things and make them tidy, palatable. The work of the playwright is to make the world of the play so compelling, to make the problems so interesting, that some director picks up the play and says, “I want to solve this problem.” It’s the problems, the grit, the contradictions, the impossibility contained within the play that makes it exciting, immediate, and interesting.

Craft? I heard Romulus Linney say that, “The craft of writing plays is applying the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair.” That’s craft.

A great play? It comes out of craft, but goes beyond that into something truer. And we know truth when it’s in the room with us because it will allow itself to be messy and flawed while in our presence. Good manners are for Sundays. Theater is a Saturday night occupation.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Rewrites. Rewrites. Roly-poly rewrites.


Working on rewrites.

Last week it was rewrites of A YANKEE TRADER, inspired in part by being asked by the LA director to work out the need for one of the technical elements that was causing some major headace and heartache. I reworked a scene where Patrick is playing the piano. i gave them two options. One that still began with the piano, but only had one sound q at the top of the scene. You see, the actor does not play piano, nor is there space enough for the instrument on the small stage, so they've been miming it with computer generated sound Qs. The coordination never came together on the lements. Plus, when the sound gets turned off, there is no resonance. The sound just stops. It was always a poor illussion.

I also wrote the scene without a piano at all, but a fine book of poetry instead. I'm not sure which version they decided to go with. My vote was for the poetry.

While i was inside the play, I decided to make some cuts and revisions. Some of the monologues needed curbing. I have a few more spots I think I'll trim this weekend. It was a little overwritten in spots. Too bad the company didn't have me come out several days earlier. I could have made these changes in advance of the opening.

Oh well.

This week I've been getting into MINOTAURS. TOREROS. Making some headway. I have a lot more work to do on that one.

And I'm making headway on a new script -- in note form. ARIADNE ON THE ISLAND might be popping out of my fingers soon.

We'll see.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006