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Centre Stage

A blog for women-related theatre issues worldwide.



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  • 05 Jul 2021 9:38 AM | Anonymous
    Laura reads an excerpt from her play " Punk Grandpa" and discusses the writing of the play and how she began writing plays.


  • 27 May 2021 7:09 PM | Anonymous

    Christine reads from, and then talks about three of her plays:  Dying in Pittsburgh, Fragments of A Witches' Journal, and Old Hippie.

    Christine Emmert is an actress, playwright and director as well as enthusiastic fan of theatre. Living in the woodlands of eastern Pennsylvania with her husband Richard, she has been in the theatre world for over sixty years.

    Her work has been performed and read through out the English speaking world. She will be filming her one woman play, FROM OUT THE FIERY FURNACE, next month for the National Parks.

    This piece has been presented as a story of one woman and her stove to bring attention to the ironworking industry that flourished in the 1800s throughout the Northeastern part of the United States. You can read her occasional blog on
    chrisitneemmert.wordpress.com or access her on dakinichris@yahoo.com

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christine.emmert.54

  • 24 May 2021 3:28 AM | Anonymous

    Hard doctor’s fingers
   
    grab her tiny baby arm

    Failing tawny flesh    
    strained against the sharp until    
    pop    
    he forces it in    
    a new hole    
    the size of a bullet           

    Her final journey    
    paused impatient       

    Blown vein leaking    
    infant red    
    into tissue and    
    flies flies flies    
    in seared heat    
    of middle east last breaths  

    Family gone she is the only left    
    not for her to know no one notices    

    This home this God    
    forsaken inhospitable dust    
    thanks be to the occupying infidels    
    God help her and you go yourself lord    
    not Jesus this is no place    
    for children La ilaha illallah    

    Green lake of soldier urine    
    and poppies grow crimson    

    Row on row the vital provisions    
    rushed out to relieve in discretions    
    from distant lands so bombs bombs bombs    
    she is just culled lateral dam age    
    name unknown concussed    
    internal organs blown butchered       

    Impatience interstitial fluid    
    will not replace blood    
    lost why bother mere moments    
    he must move on no longer    
    he speaks when    
    “A Gift from US”    
    arrives it is not polite to    
    complain in horses’ mouths.    

    Supplies are supplies    
    are supposed so flies flies flies    

    No cries she also is polite    
    slipping away sixteen-gauge I.V. catheter    
    so-called sewer-pipe reserved for    
    major adult veins    
    major adult arteries    
    major adult surgeries       

    Needle one third    
    the size of her arm    

    Exploding vein    
    and tearing humerus    

    Muscle already that is cold    
    no more abductions here    
    statistics are needed not in    
    formation of actual people    

    And now she    

    these tiny baby    
    three months is    

    But one more.

    ------------------------------------

    Sandra Dempsey

    SandraDempsey.com

    ICWP Member Profile 

  • 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


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