Here we go to our first presenter’s conference in Durham, NC! Arts Market 2013 . Very excited, and hoping to get lots and lots of bookings. Getting the press kits and other marketing tools together. I will present 15 minutes of O’Keeffe! with a total of 5 minutes to get the set off and on. Yeah. . . . thankfully I will have my loving and capable niece, Veda Renfrow, sound and light tech to assist. My bro-in-law Bryan Jones, videographer, has put together a fantastic promo for me. I am still thankful to my website creator/manager/guru Rick Dickenson. My hubby Jon Piro helps more and deals with more crap from me than I can ever say. . . my dear friend Tom Nevels is putting me up. . . I’m so blessed to have all of this support. It truly take a village!
“Development” is a word that playwrights both embrace and loathe.
Once I am past that delightful, solitary struggle to get the play onto paper, looking so neat and controlled, black against white, solid format—I realize that it’s not a play until it’s worn by bodies and the words are spoken aloud. That means involving others. Giving it to others. Giving it up. LOSING CONTROL. Actually, I’m okay with that. Some playwrights struggle, I think. Being an actor and director I know the play can’t live without collaboration. It needs designers, costumes, lights, and a set. RUMPUS ROOM is ready for this next step. It needs bodies and voices.
I am lucky to get this illusive next step which is a staged reading at Barter Theatre as a finalist in the Barter’s Appalachian Play Festival, July 5, 2013, at 1pm. Nick Piper is directing, and I hope to meet the cast later this month and have a chance to converse with them. If I’m lucky, the play will be produced. Between the reading and the production however, I can bet that I will once again go back to the drawing board and tinker for yet another draft. Because that’s what playwright’s do. And then it will go into rehearsals, where most likely the director and I will wrestle and collaborate and fight and compromise and agree and disagree on changes. And that’s “development”. And after that first production, it might change again.
That’s if I’m lucky. However, the play could get stuck in the development rut of being tossed around from theatre to theatre from reading to reading. Or I could self produce. We shall see.
The good news is that I really, really like this play. I can not wait to see it, to hear it. That alone is pretty cool, I think.
RUMPUS ROOM had its first reading at Washington & Lee University, Feb. , 2011 as part of the Flournoy Playwright Festival
It is the grateful recipient of the 2011 Martha Hill Newell Playwright’s Fund
Synopsis for RUMPUS ROOM
Audrey, a mother and lapsed poet in her mid 40’s, wants nothing more than to be Super Mom, Super Woman, Super Daughter and the Next Great American Poet, but raising children, her husband who is deep in the throws of mid-life crisis—and her aging mother is in the way. When her mother Ruth Ann has to move in with the family, the precarious balance tips further. Her children Cora, 8, and Dallas, 14, act out in alarming fashion, Ruth Ann’s dementia has humorous yet dangerous consequences, husband Keith is developing a secret life while Audrey fights to keep her and everyone else’s head above water. In the end, Audrey is no closer to “doing and having it all”, but instead discovers getting down and dirty with the rumpus beats being a passive by-stander. RUMPUS ROOM shows the condition of the sandwich generation at its messiest, reminding us that if you resist change, you’re not living or embracing life to its fullest. A comic drama with elements of magic realism.
Because I’m an artist and now and then can make my life solely from the arts, I think about this topic a lot.
Because I’ve taught at universities and have had to hold the nervous hands of parents as they ask, “But can my child make a living?”
Because I’ve had students answer the question, “Why do you want to be a theatre major”, say, “I want to teach, because you know, I won’t be able to make a living out of it.”
Because that answer makes me very sad.
At these times my mind drifts to images of the Renaissance (which one? Doesn’t matter but best to start with the Italians and move toward England). I think of the work of literature, visual art, dance, opera, music, theatre, stage design alone…. all of the advances done during a time when the arts held an honored and respected place in society. No matter that for a while women weren’t allowed or encouraged in these areas at this time–let’s over look that for now.
There is no simple answer to this. So much to consider. The price of Broadway. A ticket to see “Book of Mormon” can cost up to $400 something. A young actor living in Jersey City who takes the PATH into Manhattan to pound the pavement for agents and auditions and temp or wait tables is not going to afford to keep up with what’s on Broadway. Who is the demographic for Broadway? Yes, sure, thank God for TKTS.
I have heard someone quibble over a $10 ticket to see a local production.
In London I paid 5 pounds to see Mark Rylance play Olivia in “Twelfth Night” at the Globe. I stood for nearly 3 hours as a groundling and would have gladly stood three more.
What is the worth of art? No, you can’t eat it. Well, some you can–okay. But I’m sure the question is asked, “what’s it worth when you need food, shelter, security, health care?”
I am by no means flush, and my ability to travel to England and Ireland this past year was a chain of serendipity that only comes along once in a lifetime–but in the past year I’ve witnessed:
Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met
The revival of “Evita” on Broadway with a bunch of incredible unknown actors
a writers circle in the East Village
The Gregory Brothers in concert
Bruce Springstein in concert (nothing less than a religious experience)
“Twelfth Night” and “Hamlet” at the Globe, London
“Sunshine Boys”, West End
“The House”, Abbey Theatre, Dublin
Several student productions at Radford University that were delightful, especially seeing the talented professor Jennifer Juul perform
My son perform in “Eric and Elliot’ with Roanoke Children’s Theatre
The Radford High School choir
An afternoon at the Albert and Victoria Museum, The National Gallery, the British Museum, The Tate in London
Seeing an original Stieglitz print of O’Keeffe at the V & A.
Floydfest–all of it.
Seeing the small but impressive and beautifully vulnerable exhibits of my friends Elois Philpot and Jennifer Hand.
I know I”m leaving some out but here’s my point:
I may not be able to plug any of these experiences into a socket and run it as long as it’s 3 year warranty would last like you would an appliance. None of these I wear. I don’t have anything I can hang on the wall.
But they have enriched this journey of my life. Some were shared experiences, once in a life time occurrences like seeing Hamlet with my son at the Globe, and both of us tearing up just because. Marveling at the silver settings in the V & A with my pal Michele Wagner. Hopping into the fountain at the V & A. Michele and I just pinching ourselves watching Mark Rylance. And seeing the Boss perform live for the first time with my man. My glee was unbounded. The magnitude of Springsteen’s showmanship and artistry is infinite live.
I will carry these experiences forever. Even if one day I lose my memory, they are embedded in my soul. They have become a part of me. I can revisit and relive the experiences whenever I like as long as I like. As long as I can.
And I think that makes art worth it.
I’ve noted this before, but everybtime I return to the script, I seem to find something new I’d never realized before. It’s like the 50 something actor discovers a new meaning the 28 year old playwright had no idea she had written.
I’m beginning to think that I wrote the play back then, for myself now. Which is weird, but cool thought. I like it, anyway.
Some new discoveries are movement based, more humor (thank God!), and quietness. Hands.
When I originally rehearsed the play years ago, I didn’t have a dog. Now we have sweet Decaf who has decided he does not like Miss O’Keeffe. Whenever I am rehearsing where he is, he looks at me and begins a low growl. It’s very funny.
Rolling the shoulders and asking myself am I promoting now, or should I rehearse?
I will never have my family sit on the front row when I perform ever again.
I think it’s quite appropriate to launch my website and my blog Art Matters, on Nov. 15, 2012, which just happens to be the 125th birthday of Georgia O’Keeffe!
Happy Birthday Miss O’Keeffe!
This is one of my favorite photos of her because it’s so unexpected. We tend to think of the O’Keeffe icon, strict bun, black and white in person and image. But my research, and what I hope comes forth in my one woman show, “O’Keeffe!”, is an artist who like all artists struggled and loved, and unlike many, lived a long, long time. Georgia O’Keeffe, 1887-1986.