May 1999 Regional Conference, Dayton Ohioillustrated with photos by ear
Report by Linda Eisenstein
SATURDAY 22 May 1999Diane Taber-Markiewicz & Carole Clement led us in a
circle of remembrance for our beloved Kay Unruh DesRoches
playwright, teacher, producer, visionary from Winnipeg
We talked about her, wore our bells -- sharing member Aerily Annie's beautiful, magical anklets with those who didn't
have them -- and Sandra Perlman brought a gorgeous Tibetan chime that resonated out to the universe...
Mary Donahoe: Jane Chambers Playwriting Competition
Mary, on faculty at Wright State University, is the 1999 Jane Chambers
Playwriting Competition coordinator.
She shared with us "most common reader critiques", including:
It doesn't GO anywhere.
Nothing seems to happen.
The dialogue isn't varied.
All the voices sound like the same voice.
It's a lecture about an issue, not really about characters.
There is no "voice of authority"; that is, on this dramatic journey you don't
sense that you're in the hands of someone who has a strong vision and knows what she's doing.
She explained the contest guidelines:
The request for "feminist scripts" is not doctrinaire -- essentially, it means plays that put women's lives at their center,
not the margin, that are pro-woman.
There is no length limit.
There is no restriction re: produced/unproduced.
Also, the guideline that says there should be "a majority of performance opportunities for women" is now liberally
interpreted: i.e., if you have a play with 2F, 5M, but clearly the central role is female -- like this year's winner,
Elizabeth Wong's CHINA DOLL, about the life of film actress Anna Mae Wong -- it definitely qualifies.
Also, re: the intimidating sentence about "A letter of recommendation from an A.D., literary manager, or someone at
ATHE who knows your work is preferred" -- forget it! NEVER keep from sending a script if you don't have this letter.
It's only used to give production history info, *never* given to the folks ranking the scripts. An accompanying
production history works just as well. (We told her they should change this wording, since it makes some playwrights
think they need a "name" recommendation and keeps them from submitting.)
The Jane Chambers is a competition with much prestige, and they treat their winners well -- including promoting
the winning script (and finalist/honorable mentions) to hundreds of professional theatres.
So, no excuses: send them your play!
After lunch: More excellent readings -- this time excerpts of plays by
Tami Canaday - "Punk Girls" a dark comedy of young womens' friendships
Hilda Vleugels - "You Can Have Him" a ribald comedy of 3 marriages on the rocks
Note: this was the first time our prolific "Neil Simon of Belgium" had ever heard her work done in English!
Linda Eisenstein - "Have a Holy Martyr Day" a closeted parochial schoolteacher's comic life-crisis over activism
leads to romance
For me to hear my play-in-progress read was a personal highlight, because "...Martyr" was a piece I'd been stalled on --
so it was unbelievably motivating to hear it so well-done and to hear all the audience laughter. Also, in the "small world"
category -- my talented young director/actor, Denise Astorino, was somebody I'd met before -- she'd been one of the
young students from Lorain Community College in the cast of ICWP member Geralyn Horton's play "INTERCOURSE OHIO"
when I programmed it in a CPT New Play Festival many years ago. (1993?) She remembered us both from way back then.
Note to self and others: NEVER underestimate students. They can grow up to become excellent colleagues, eagerly receptive to your work.
Diane Taber-Markiewicz - "Headwind"
an independent 19th century woman's friendship with a young assistant -- in a time of persecution