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Centre Stage

A blog for women-related theatre issues worldwide.



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  • 02 May 2021 3:31 PM | Anonymous

    Member Joanna Pickering is a British actor and writer, currently living in the USA. She reads from her play Beach Break, and then talks with Jenni Munday about her current projects and where to from here after COVID.

  • 01 Apr 2021 4:51 PM | Anonymous

    Jenni Munday Interviews Amy Ostreicher about her work and Amy reads from her monologues.


    Read Amy's plays on New Play Exchange
    A
    my's Website https://www.amyoes.com/playwright
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amy.oestreicher

  • 01 Mar 2021 6:27 AM | Anonymous

    US member Ali MacLean reads excerpts from two of her plays “Sullen Girl” and “This Will Be Our Year”. She then joins Jenni Munday for a conversation about what motivates her playwrighting, researching dark subject matter, and what inspires ideas for new plays.

    Learn More about Ali MacLean
    Website: www.alimaclean.com
    Twitter and Instagram: @aliontheair

  • 25 Jan 2021 10:46 AM | Anonymous

    Jenni Munday in conversation with Julia Pascal, playwright and scholar.  Julia reveals insights into the background and writing of her play " Happy as God in France", and reads an excerpt from it.  Julia  also discusses her play "The Honey Pot" . 

    More about " Happy as God in France"

    Genre DRAMA

    Length FULL LENGTH

    Characters

    Hannah Arendt at 33                                            

     Charlotte Salomon at 25                                 

     Eva Daube   at 16                                                 

     Agathe Blumenfeld at 50                          

     Trude Gottlieb  at 22  

    Other roles are taken by the ensemble.

    As Happy As God in France. 

    The title references the joyful Yiddish invented by  Jews in appreciation of their new status as equal citizens in post-Revolutionary France. Its use here is ironic as the play explores French antisemitism In May 1940, German Jewish exiles, seeking refuge in France were ordered to report as  'Undesirables'.  Of those 8,000 women were deported to the largest of the many camps near the Spanish border.  This drama focuses on the largest of these, Gurs, whose history is hardly known.

    This text  investigates the false dream of safety in France through the lens of three  German Jewish women: thirty-four-year-old, political writer, Hannah Arendt; sixteen-year-old schoolgirl Eva Daube and twenty-four-year-old painter, Charlotte Salomon. They were incarcerated during in the chaotic days between armistice and occupation. The action of this play focuses on a decision of whether to stay, and hope for liberation, or escape in to a dangerous landscape.

    As Happy As God in France explores major events of the twentieth century as experienced by these women. Themes include the French betrayal of Revolutionary values, the abandonment of the Jews, sex, love, art, politics, resistance, survival, suicide and escape.   It is the first play about Arendt, Salomon and Daube in Gurs.

    The facts

    Hannah Arendt was in Gurs in 1940 for eight weeks. Charlotte Salomon is believed to have been incarcerated there before she was murdered in Auschwitz. Eva Daube was in Gurs. Agathe Blumenfeld and Trude Gottlieb are created from research in this hidden history.

     The play was completed in 2020 and has had no productions.

    To contact Julia about this play go to her website and use the contact form. 

    www.juliapascal.org

    If you enjoyed this podcast or would like to ask Hulia a question, log in to the site and leave a comment. 

  • 14 Nov 2020 11:51 AM | Anonymous

    When she was married to an Iranian, Eliza's interest in Muslim social and religious practice was acute and her interest has endured into the present.

    Eliza reads from a play that combines elements from an earlier play she was commissioned to write about Cliterodectomy.

    That play was not allowed to be performed at a university theatre festival in Turkey, because of its subject matter. Later, she incorporated it into another play about some actors rehearsing two short plays against a background of Muslim restrictions that require women actors to wear face coverings. That later play is titled Blue Sky Thinking and is available on Amazon.

  • 20 Oct 2020 10:31 PM | Jenni Munday (Administrator)

    by Bara Swain

    Fast forward.  My second monologue selected for “Climbing the Walls” has a comical history.  In response to a call for submissions for another Zoom opportunity, Theatre is the Cure (TITC), I followed their specific guidelines – and that’s an understatement.  The writing prompts were: (1) Theme: With/in / With/out (interpret as you like); (2) Prop: Something you’ll die without; (3): Location: somewhere dark, (4) Line: Nowhere but here, (5) Actor: wiry female, 20 something, funny, intense, androgynous but not boyish, adorable.

    Yikes!  With less than 12 hours to write, I dripped a pot of coffee, obsessed, googled, cranked out a monologue, submitted and waited for my acceptance or rejection notice.  Several hours later, I received a gentle reprimand.  “Your monologue is too long.”  Browsing the instructions again, I noticed that I overlooked one important element of the challenge:  a strict time limit of two minutes.  My unspectacled eyes misread the number and I crafted my piece for a time-frame of seven minutes.   Over the next few hours, I redirected my energy and dashed out a two-minute monologue and hit the “send” button.  Whoop whoop!  The Golden Girls was selected for performance.

    What I learned:  Read the instructions.  Then read them again. Acknowledge your errors and be grateful for a flexible Artistic Director.  Communication is key.  In fact, the “twenty something, wiry, adorable actress” was unavailable.  I reached out to a twenty something, wiry, adorable actress whose work I observed at the recent FAB Zoom.  Jessica Washington, whom I never met before, was cast in the role and, subsequently, invited to return for another program.  This type of networking serves the company, the actress and the playwright.

    Danielle Bourgeois in YOU MIGHT AS WELL 

    https://www.studiotheaterinexile.com/news/climbing-the-walls-you-might-as-well-bara-swain (inspired by a prompt from "Theatre is the Cure."

    Yikes!  But what should I do with my original submission?  I wrote a second draft of You Might as Well and reached out to Mara Mills to see if she’d consider a second monologue.  Upon acceptance, I incorporated several of her notes and brought actress Danielle Bourgeois on board under the direction of Christian Haines, a California resident.  In fact, I’d only met Christian weeks earlier when he was assigned to direct my Zoom play, Carolina in the Morning, as a first-time playwright applicant with Shotz-Amios.  I was eager to work with him again. This experience differed from the live Zoom events that I’d participated in previously and, truthfully, it was another wonderful collaboration.  With a stage and film background, Christian experimented with the Zoom format.  You can see his results and judge for yourself.

    CAROLINA IN THE MORNING, directed by Christian Haynes

    What I learned:  Mutual respect is the foundation for artistic relationships.  And it’s a win-win. Evaluate the abilities of your colleagues and their enthusiasm.  And give back!  This duo will be invited to our next program at Urban Stages.  Oh, I also learned that a rehearsal can be ruined by a thunderstorm.  Check the weather, playwrights, when you’re scheduling a final rehearsal!

    Meanwhile, I’ve had the opportunity to write several more monologues intended for Zoom with different outcomes.  During a 24-hour challenge with Vintage Soul Productions, I wrote three five-minute monologues for three specific actors who self-directed their performances – off-book! – over an eight-hour span.  Another monologue, You Can’t Argue with Fact, written for a recent TITC challenge was accepted and performed live last Friday under the direction of the Artistic Director, Hannah Logan, just as I was entering tech weekend for another project with Planet Connections Play Fest.

    What I learned:  When actors are self-directing their work, make sure that their audio-visuals are working.  One monologue in Vintage Soul Productions could only be heard in a whisper.  That was disappointing.  Another monologue wasn’t fully realized due to misinterpretation of the time and place.  The most successful piece was where the actress reached out to me with questions about the text, context and transitions.  Playwrights, be open to communicating with your actors.  Exchange contact information!

    Moving on: On Monday evening, The Southern Comfort Plays (a trilogy of short plays), opened and closed.  Yes, it was a one-night event. For this opportunity, I chose director Kim T. Sharp, a colleague of mine at my former stomping ground and my current home at Urban Stages.  These pieces were not written for the Zoom platform and, under Kim’s guidance, I made revisions to the story and tweaked the physical action.  The Planet Connection Associate Artistic Director cast the three plays and a rehearsal schedule was finally confirmed.  The rehearsal process for this presentation was intense but very satisfying.  The technical elements working on Zoom were challenging, from entrances and exits, to overlapping dialogue (it doesn’t work on Zoom), to the use of stage directions.   I was particularly impressed by the skills Kim displayed, from his supportive tone and his listening skills, to his discussions on character development. The cast of The Southern Comfort Plays were committed, professional, and hard-working.  Where I fell short as a playwright, their enthusiasm and gratitude sustained me. 

    THE SOUTHERN COMFORT PLAYS, a trilogy, directed by Kim T. Sharp

    Planet Connections Zoom Fest

    What I learned Know your venue and ask, in writing, what the expectations are for the guest artists.  After the fact, we learned that a technical director was assigned to the performance. In retrospect, our learning curve on Zoom has grown in leaps and bounds due to this oversight.  In all fairness, a designated stage manager was also offered to assist early on in the process.  We dropped the ball there.  Again, know the roles of each member of the “team” involved, from playwright to director to the producing organization … and the actors.  Are they union?  Non-union?  Respect everyone’s role.

    In conclusion:  Zoom is a platform that enables theatre artists to continue to create during this unprecedented time.  With all of its flaws and impracticalities, until our remaining theatres open and it’s safe for audiences to fill the houses, it’s a great and sustainable way to stay motivated, set goals, take risks, and be productive.  The Zoom cloud may be challenging and, yes, you may be elated, disappointed or frustrated with the process and the product!  But it’s a wonderful opportunity to build community, nurture relationships and begin new ones, as well.  (Thank you, Mara!)   

    Yes, it’s a learning curve but here’s the bottom line:  If you’re not in the game, you can’t play.  So let’s keep playing, playwrights!

    In the meanwhile, stay safe, everyone.  Oh, and if anyone can suggest a mnemonic for differentiating wild cats, send it my way!

    The article is reprinted courtesy of Mara Mills, Artistic Director, Studio Theater in Exile: www.studiotheatreinexile.com

    Here are some of my upcoming Zoom projects:

    UNFATHOMABLE, The Group Rep Theatre, CA

    FOLDED, Warner Theatre’s 9th International Playwright Festival

    FOLDED, Theatre Workshop of Owensboro

    ALL MOTHERS WERE SUMMONED, Ego Actus Virtual Play Reading Series

    JOANNA HOGG, Women in History, FAB@Barrow Group

    CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW, Pastiche Series

    RESPONSIBLE, Greenhouse Ensemble Quarantine Series

    THE AFFIRMATION PLAYS (audio), Borderless Productions

    UNFATHOMABLE, The Group Theatre, CA

  • 14 Oct 2020 2:15 AM | Jenni Munday (Administrator)

    by Bara Swain


    My anxiety level peaked last week when I couldn’t recall the words “kiwi” and “chili.”  I also summoned my Chihuahua, “Let’s take a walk, Melulah,” and asked my granddaughter, “Please pass me the red crayon, Tallinka.”  Neither my granddaughter, Tallulah, nor my beloved canine, Melinka, were nonplused.  That was reassuring.

    Bara's granddaughter

    Indeed, the strain of this uncertain and unprecedented time has been stressful and challenging, with coronavirus statistics and news headlines and media taking center stage in our fragile world.  No one has been spared the repercussions of today’s pandemic, no one! … including theatre artists and our communities.

    Enter Zoom.

    The first time that I participated in a Zoom chat was with my immediate family.  I swore and cried while I fiddled on my iPhone for entry, my only source for access due to a malfunctioning sound system on an antiquated laptop. (Why, oh, why didn’t I get it repaired last summer?)  By the time I navigated the cloud platform, I was in a full-blown tantrum, assuaged by my two year old niece’s acknowledgement, “I like your shirt, Aunt Bara.”  (It was an animal print.  Possibly a jaguar, a lion or a tiger.)

    Since my first Zoom experience, a loaner MacBook Air has enabled me to fully participate as a guest and participant on this modern video communication platform.  And I embraced every opportunity that I could!  With nothing to bookend my days in solitary, I pounded the keys of my computer with purpose, searched festival listings, submission opportunities and one challenge after the other.  (I also made three new best friends: an indoor bicycle, an electric coffee pot, and low dose Ativan.)

    What have I learned?  What are the pros and cons for a playwright on this cloud platform?


    While I continued to acknowledge my accomplishments with a double-order of turkey bacon or a pint of ice-cream, I learned that plays submitted prior to the shutdown that were intended for the stage were not as successful as pieces written specifically for the modern medium.  I watched with a critical eye while several of my one-acts were presented via Zoom:  My Heart Will Go On (Crafton Hills New Works Festival) and Folded (Geneva Theatre Guild Playwrights Play Reading Series), as well as inhouse Zoom readings of The Wonder of You (Shawnee Playhouse) and a monologue, Joanna Hogg (FAB @ Barrow Group). As a playwright who usually prefers a seat in a middle row of the house during the rehearsal process and performance, I was intimidated by the immediacy of simply “checking in.”  In preparation for my first event, I washed and moussed my unruly hair, embraced a new moustache depilatory and smiled with loose dentures, hoping that I looked a decade younger than the image on my half-fare metro card. 

    These initial experiences illustrated the most difficult adjustment for both playwrights and actors during performance:  There is no audience response on the Zoom platform.  While talkbacks play a critical role in play development, audible reactions are missing.  “Did that particular section work?”  “Was that line offensive or amusing or gasp-worthy?”  “Where did I lose the audience’s attention?”  “Did the ending land?  And was it satisfactory?”  I exited Zoom rooms utilizing my basic math skills.  “If there were 70 participants at the top of the show, and there were 48 at the end of the performance, then 22 audience members left.”  What?  Hmm.  Aghh!  I’m a failure.

    Setting aside my own insecurities, my first opportunities to write for the Zoom platform were validating and, yes, exciting!  When I was selected for Primary Stages’ “Coronalogues,” I was assigned two theatre artists:  actress Lizzy Jarret and director Emily Hartford.  To set the groundwork, I spent several hours speaking to – let me rephrase – interrogating my actress. In the shadow of the Smokey Mountains, I discovered that the displaced New Yorker liked roles that were “edgy” and, specifically, “tough, headstrong women.”  Lizzy was particularly curious about the theme of “being surrounded by death.”  Since most of my writing is informed by illness and loss, we were a great match.  Next, I asked her questions:  Can you do a southern accent or a cartwheel?  Will you show me your bedroom, your bathroom, your wallet?  Do you wear eyeglasses, PPE, a favorite scarf?  Do you have a hobby, sex toys, a pet?  What’s your family dynamic, your sister’s name, your place of birth?  Finally, I found my hook! – and Seventy-Seven was born, honing in on both of our strengths and accommodating Lizzy’s non-urban location – her uncle’s rural cabin in North Carolina with rustic furniture, picturesque landscaping and an unreliable internet connection.  I drafted the script, cut it to three minutes, and handed it over to our director. Once again, I felt like I’d won the lottery.  Emily was a generous, enthusiastic and conscientious director, whose goal was to serve the writer’s voice. Kudos to this theatre artist for surpassing my expectations with her creative choices – yes, the location was the bathroom! – and for supporting the story through her imaginative lens.

    What I learned:  Zoom can be a platform where intimacy and trust can be nurtured.  It’s also an excellent way to expand your network of theatre professionals and identify individuals with whom you’d like to work with again.

    Part 2 will be posted in the coming weeks... The article is reprinted courtesy of Mara Mills, Artistic Director, Studio Theater in Exile: www.studiotheatreinexile.com

    Bara Swain's plays and monologues have been performed across the country in more than 165 venues in 25 states and abroad.  

    www.BaraSwain.com


  • 11 Sep 2020 1:33 AM | Jenni Munday (Administrator)

    by Carolyn Gage

    Dr. Janice Liddell is an author, playwright, and retired professor and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Coordinator of Faculty Development at Atlanta Metropolitan College. She also served on faculty at Clark Atlanta University for nearly 35 years, as a professor of English, department chairperson and director of faculty development.

    Dr Janice Liddell

    Carolyn: Janice, you and I met online about fifteen years ago, I believe… on an international chat list of women playwrights.  And I remember you wrote a play titled Who Will Sing for Lena?  This is a one-woman play that gives voice to Lena Baker, a black woman who killed her abusive white employer in self-defense. Using the actual trial transcripts, you wrote a play that would enable audiences to understand her background and her motivation. That play has had a strong track record… and even a film?

    Janice: Yes, Carolyn we met on the ICWP chat list and, as I recall, we left the chat about the same time for some similar small “p” political reasons related to our respective identities as minorities on the list. I guess it would be in bad taste to go into any more detail. (lol)

    Carolyn: Well, not to keep readers in suspense, we were frustrated in our respective efforts to confront racism and homophobia. And, in fairness, it was fifteen years ago.

    Vanessa Adams-Harris in Who Will Sing for Lena?

    Janice: And yes, I had written Who Will Sing for Lena? around that time and since then, it has done fairly well in various places. But the film was a totally different project; it was, of course, related to Lena Mae Baker, but not at all related to my play. Believe it or not, the two are very different perspectives, even of Ms Baker. But as I have always said, Lena helped me to write my play and I told it the way she told it to me.

    Carolyn: I just want to tag onto that last comment. YES! Working with historical figures, and especially those in what I call “unquiet graves,” I have had that experience of a presence outside of myself standing by my side and nudging me to tell her story. Practicing theatre as a sacred art… full of miracles. So, I just want to say that this recent play of yours, The Talk, is absolutely brilliant, and I would like to see every community in this country mount a production of it. It’s packed with so much… history, politics… but the characters are believable, the dialogue is spot-on, and I had chills over and over reading it…  Beautiful craftsmanship, deep humanity…  just an amazing piece of theatre… but also a tool, a social justice project, a powerful, powerful way to bring communities together. I was so deeply moved by it.

    Janice: Wow, coming from you as a brilliantly successful playwright yourself, that is quite an endorsement. I am glad it affected you because, truth be told, it affected me even as I wrote it. But I’m sure you know that experience—of being carried away by the work as though you are channelling it. That’s a bit how it was for me.

    Carolyn: So…  “the Talk”…  First off, before we get into talking about the play specifically, can you tell us to what “the talk” refers?

    Janice: I always have trouble with titles so I just throw a tentative title at it with hopes that the real title will emerge at some point. But as I was conceptualizing the play and characters and got into writing, I realized The Talk was THE title for this play because in the play “the talks” are manifold. By now, most everyone knows that Black parents are “forced” to have a conversation with their adolescents about the “dangers” of the streets, especially those of encountering police officers who ostensibly are there to protect the citizenry. But Black citizens, especially Black males, have not really found this protection; in fact, it has been at the hands of officers that a hell of a lot of brothers have been killed—unarmed Black men, I might add. So, in the play The Talk is an obvious allusion to the conversation that the Black father has with his Black son on how to be safe when “driving, walking, sleeping, picnicking, etc. etc. while Black.” Specifically, Quincy Sr. has the talk with his son, Quincy Jr, who, not surprisingly, has his own ideas about staying safe. Then there is the talk that unfolds regarding both the mother and the father. As in so many Black families, the hardships and difficulties are often hidden from the youth with a kind of attitude that if we don’t talk about it, we can overcome it or even sometimes, if we don’t talk about it, it didn’t happen. So, we have a detailed talk about Lillian’s upbringing in an orphanage—the Carrie Pitts Steele Orphanage, an historical orphanage in Atlanta. And finally, the climactic talk is the one that reveals emotionally charged experiences that actually caused the family to migrate from Mississippi to Ohio—a route not uncommon for the underground railroad.


    https://unsplash.com/photos/zIHsQqJ71IE

    Carolyn: In The Talk, you have four generations of an African American family, on a Saturday morning… and there is a lot of conflict, because the two youngest members of the family, a brother and sister, want to attend a Black Lives Matter march and their parents don’t want them to go.  Can you talk a little bit about that conflict? They even make their son take off his Black Lives Matter tee shirt.

    Janice: This is a highly successful Black middle-class family and in their eyes, as in the eyes of many “highly successful Black middle-class families,” their success has resulted from them pulling themselves “up by their bootstraps.” They would likely never admit they went to university on an Affirmative Action program (as did I), for example. Additionally, they desire to separate themselves from the more “common” element of Black folks—separate themselves in every way they can. In fact, they tend to look down on the experiences of Black folks who, in their middle-class eyes, are financial, intellectual, educational, etc. failures in life. These parents have tried to shelter their children from these “failures” and serve as models for the successful route of Black people from poverty to wealth; from the ghetto to the suburbs. However, their middle-class Black children are highly influenced by the world outside of their “burbs.” Quincy Jr. is in college with youngsters from all walks of life; Miranda is so attached to her tablet and research on it that there is nothing that gets by her. The children and their parents are in totally different “realities”—and at this point, never the twain shall meet.

    Carolyn: But the whole power dynamic shifts when the grandparents and great grandmother show up for the brunch.  We see such a panoply of African American history in this family. It’s just wonderful.  Four generations… up from poverty to affluence… but the lynching remains a constant.

    Janice: With so many killings of Black males and the eruption of Black Lives Matter movement, I knew I wanted to write a play about this era, but I saw so clearly its connection to a previous era, and I wanted to make the connections. I wanted these two eras to guide the play, but not be the play. So, I thought hard and long about a way that wouldn’t be so hard-hitting, so didactic and came up with this wonderful multi-generational family. I don’t want to talk too much about THE lynching since it is the turning point of the play, but “lynching” per se is a constant trope in the play. Quincy Sr does not share with his children that a noose was put on his desk after he received a promotion at work; that he has definitely encountered racism in his rise to affluence. Lynching is an obvious parallel to what is occurring between all the young men and women who have been shot down by police officers across the country. In fact, the introduction of the play is a tight focus on all of these “lynchings” that have occurred from the killing of Trayvon Martin to the killing of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling on eve of the Black Life Matters march in Atlanta at the play’s rising (2016). And, of course, the final “lynching” provides a history of how this violent and deadly tool of racism and control has affected the lives of Black folks on both a micro and macro level.

    https://unsplash.com/photos/E77SjOPCE5Y

    Read the entire interview at: https://carolyngage.weebly.com/blog/interview-with-dr-janice-liddell-about-the-talk

    Jessica Washington is the most recent of several excellent actors who have played this role. Jessica has already won several awards for her Lena Baker presentation and she will likely astound you in this special 1 hour-long festival performance. You don't want to miss it, September 30, 2020--the first day!!.

    Janice Liddell’s play Who Will Sing for Lena is being performed at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival (ABTF) online.

    An incredible line-up that includes...
    WHO WILL SING FOR LENA? by Janice Liddell
    A true story, one Black woman's struggle in rural Georgia.

    Three Outstanding Production awards, Three Outstanding Actress awards (Jessica Washington) - AACT's State, Regional, and National Festivals.

    Get your FREE Black Theatre at Home Show Guide @ Atlantabtf.org/contact

    Enjoy FOUR DAYS OF BLACK PLAYS: Wed. 9/30 - Sat. 10/3


    Carolyn Gage is a lesbian feminist playwright, performer, director, and activist. The author of nine books on lesbian theatre and sixty-five plays, musicals, and one-woman shows, she specializes in non-traditional roles for women, especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history.


  • 16 Aug 2020 12:27 AM | Jenni Munday (Administrator)

    by Sandra Seaton

    In February 2019 I received the news that I had been awarded a commission from the Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center. There were approximately 85 semi- finalists for the award. My commission as librettist (author of the story line and words) and the commission of the composer, Carlos Simon, constitutes a team for the creation of a new opera. 

    In September I went to DC for a week of rehearsals at the Washington National Opera's rehearsal hall with the composer, conductor, singers. This was the first time I had heard it sung. It was wonderful! On Saturday, September 21st there was a workshop performance at the REACH, a brand-new facility at the Kennedy Center.

    On Friday, January 10th, I returned to DC for the premiere at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre.

    Marlen Nahhas, left, and Alexandra Nowakowski perform in Liliya Ugay’s “Woman of Letters.” (Scott Suchman/The Kennedy Center)

    I am so lucky the premiere was in January 2020. By March everything in DC was closed.

    Is this the first time you’ve undertaken a project like this? 

    I've been a librettist previously. I collaborated with composer William Bolcom on the monodrama From The Diary of Sally Hemings.However, this is my first actual opera.  (I have written a musical and plays with music as a character, but that is not the same as opera.)

    Since this was a commission, I started the process with three short proposals. The WNO liked one of my ideas the best. I then proceeded to write drafts in pieces and send them to the composer. I'm always excited about daydreaming about characters, living in their world. I believe in writing--creating characters and situations when I am doing things around the house, going for a walk, washing dishes, folding clothes--anytime I am doing something that I don't have to concentrate on, the writing takes over. The composer and I talked about my text. He set parts of it to music. I did a number of rewrites. We workshopped the piece in DC. Four months later it premiered.  The words were always first.

    Production photo by Scott Suchman.

    What will happen now with the work? 

    Several opera companies have expressed interest in the work. One of them wants an expanded version. The problem: as soon as COVID-19 happened, everything's on hold. Performances of my work for 2020 have been cancelled. I don't know when they will be rescheduled.

    What does this mean for your future, and future work? 

    When a piece receives strong reviews, that's a good sign. It gives arts organizations a reason to look you up. Since January, I have written a piece for a tenor that he will sing on remote with a pianist in another location. I have two new commissions for 2021. The success of the opera was a big factor in getting those.  Of course, who knows what the future will hold for this live art form.


    Production photo by Scott Suchman.

    Here are the links to three opera reviews:
    Monday, January 13th in the Washington Post:

    https://wapo.st/38iAPA7 

    Monday, January 13th in A Beast in A Jungle

    https://bit.ly/389uuHR

    and Saturday January 11th  in the Washington Classical Review: https://bit.ly/2NyOmvQ 


    Sandra Seaton is a playwright and librettist. Her plays have been performed in cities throughout the country, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and her libretto for the song cycle From the Diary of Sally Hemings, set to music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom, has been performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.

    Sandra Seaton 

     http://www.sandraseaton.com/

     www.facebook.com/sandraseatonwriter




  • 28 Jul 2020 12:13 AM | Jenni Munday (Administrator)

    by Lynette Grace


    Growing up I had always enjoyed reading various books by Dr. Seuss. After “Horton Hears a Who,” I also enjoyed reading, “Oh, the places you’ll go by Dr. Seuss.” I had no idea the places one simple act of kindness would take me or the people it would bring into my act.

    I was working in Atlanta, GA when I received a phone call from home that my Mom had died unexpectedly in her sleep. After attending her funeral I decided to visit with a woman who I considered to be my Spiritual mother and her family from my hometown of Ohio before returning to work. After going to bed I was awakened suddenly to what I determined to be an argument between my friend and her 16 year old Son.

    I got up to investigate but not to pry. To my horror I found that my Spiritual mother had been stabbed to death in the basement at the hands of her 16 year old son. Without provocation for reasons un-known to me he began stabbing me.

    He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for killing his mother and also received time for his felonious assault crime against me. I felt compelled to visit him in prison for answers as to why such a beautiful woman had to die. At our meeting he cried more than I did. He had gotten into trouble for stealing cars and breaking in houses and wasn’t supposed to be on the phone. When she kept catching him on the phone they started arguing and the argument escalated into him stabbing her to death.

    Since I was able to speak with him I received some answers to the questions that had been haunting me for years. It was almost time to leave the prison’s visiting room when he unexpectedly asked if I could forgive him for his actions against me. It didn’t take long for me to realize that since life had given me a second chance at life I couldn’t do less for him than to forgive him. I told him yes I could forgive him for his actions against me.

    He shared that with me visiting with and forgiving him it was as if a burden had been lifted off of him and he was able after all these years to be able to forgive himself. I too found that my visits with him helped to ease the survivor’s guilt I was feeling since I survived the attack and his mother had not.

    Soon after that I began to travel and to share my story of forgiveness and healing with others. Since he showed remorse and accountability for his actions and took the classes required for him to take I took a letter of support for him to the parole board. Unfortunately when the powers that be realized I was his victim our visits were discontinued.

    It has given me the opportunity to give testimony at the Senate and at the House of Representatives for bills going through legislation to give youths an opportunity to go before the parole board. I welcome the opportunity to share my story especially if anyone could be helped by it. My journey of forgiveness has taken me to Canada, London, England and Washington, D.C., where I have made great friends and have met a lot of fine people. After reading the story on the “Forgiveness Project Website,” a man came from Belgium to include our story in his book called “Hotel Pardon.”  I share the story in Prisons, Churches and Universities wherever I am invited to share the story of Forgiveness. My hope is that through my story of forgiveness that they can find healing and forgiveness not only for others that may have harmed them but for forgiveness for themselves as well. Oh the places forgiveness will take you if you will allow it to.


    Lynette D. Grace lives and works in Columbus, Ohio. You can email her at: Doorkeeper90@gmail.com

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