Month: February 2013

Support the Arts follow up

In a follow-up to yesterday’s blog, today is Arts Day At The Capitol here in Kansas sponsored by the Kansas Citizens for the Arts. If you a) live in Kansas and b) support the arts and c) think that our government should too, I urge you to contact your district Representative or state senator and let them know!

Some facts about Kansas and the arts. In 2011 Governor Sam Brownback said that the arts “were not a core service deserving of public dollars.” and eliminated the Kansas Arts Commission and ended its 45 year history of supporting the arts in Kansas. It also brought an end to the nearly $2 million Kansas received in matching funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Gov. Brownback instead touted a private organization called the Kansas Arts Foundation, Inc. which in its first year raised almost $106,000 dollars to support the arts. That first year, they gave out ZERO DOLLARS in grants and so far this year have granted only $6,500.

Gov. Brownback has also proposed cutting the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (a government agency the legislature created in the wake of the KAC’s elimination) budget from $700,000/year to $200,000/year.

Again, I urge you to contact your district Representative, state Senator, and the Governor’s office and let them know you support the arts! If you’re not sure WHO to contact or HOW go to the link below.

http://www.kslegislature.org/li/

Support The Arts

I know I haven’t blogged lately, between the massive amounts of snow Kansas has received in the past week and personal things, I just haven’t had much to talk about it seems. Then I read this editorial from the Wichita Eagle about Kansas and the arts and it was time to speak and to blog.

If you don’t know, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said in 2011 that the arts “were not a core service deserving of public dollars.” This in turn prompted the Legislature to intervene. Now the Governor has proposed a $500,000 cut to the state arts budget by proposing a budget of $200,000 a year for the next two years. Governor Brownback also eliminated the Kansas Arts Commission and its nearly 45 years of experience in arts advocacy. In its place the state created the new Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. The KCAIC has two main programs; the Creative Economy Project Support and Creative Arts Industry Incentives and their main focus is on creating jobs and building public-private partnerships. However according to the Arts Advocacy group, Kansas Citizens for the Arts, “The new Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission is not doing enough to support the arts in Kansas. No funds have been granted yet, with the funding year almost half over, and the proposed programs are not what artists and arts organizations have said they need.”

The KCAIC also seems to be in a state of disarray  They held their first meeting in January and there is confusion about who answers to whom. And with this confusion and seemingly slowness to act, it doesn’t look like Kansas will be able to restore the $1.2 million in annual funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid-America Alliance that we used to receive, anytime soon.

The Governor’s plans for the arts, and one he heavily touted, was a private organization called the Kansas Arts Foundation. Their vision statement states that they are

…a unique charitable foundation that secures private funds and empowers Kansas Arts communities and talent, while impacting, inspiring and sustaining the future of the Arts culture for generations of Kansans to come.

That’s fantastic and we need more groups like this, private and governmental agencies working together. But so far they have had little to no impact. Last week they announced its first three grants, a staggering amount of $6,500 to three (deserving) groups.

Why is this so important to me? In the past, I’ve blogged about the importance for using theater as a means of social and societal change, but I try to remain pretty apolitical on here because I know that there are people of all political stripes who visit my blog and I try to appease everyone but on this I must take a stand. I’ve seen first hand how theater can draw a shy kid into the light. I’ve seen how painting can be a cure for depression. I’ve seen poetry used as therapy. I could go on and on but I won’t. I’ll also say I’ve seen colleges struggle to get money to put on quality shows and be more selective on who and how many or drop their theater departments completely in lieu of channeling that funding elsewhere thus denying students an opportunity to experience and learn something news and denying a community the chance to see something they’ve never seen before. I’ve seen community theaters using borrowed venues and hours of volunteer services struggle to have their work recognized by more than a handful or even a couple hundred people in a town with a population of almost 21,000 people. Support from the state, even in the form of small grants, could help these groups in so many ways.

So why should we support the arts? According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, there are 4 good reasons why the arts make a good public sector investment.

• ECONOMIC DRIVERS: The arts create jobs and produce tax revenue. A strong arts sector is
an economic asset that stimulates business activity, attracts tourism revenue, retains a high
quality work force and stabilizes property values. The arts have been shown to be a successful
and sustainable strategy for revitalizing rural areas, inner cities and populations struggling with
poverty.
• EDUCATIONAL ASSETS: The arts foster young imaginations and facilitate children’s success in
school. They provide the critical thinking, communications and innovation skills essential to a
productive 21st-century work force.
• CIVIC CATALYSTS: The arts create a welcoming sense of place and a desirable quality of life.
The arts also support a strong democracy, engaging citizens in civic discourse, dramatizing
important issues and encouraging collective problem solving.
• CULTURAL LEGACIES: The arts preserve unique culture and heritage, passing a state’s
precious cultural character and traditions along to future generations

And they have the research to back up their claims.

I’ve gone on longer then I intended to on this blog post, but this is something that I’m passionate in supporting. Garrison Keillor once said “People don’t come to America for our airports, people don’t come to America for our hotels… they come for our culture, real and imagined.” It’s time we remind our lawmakers of that.

If you live in Kansas, I urge you to take part in Arts Day At The Capitol. That doesn’t mean you have to drive to Topeka and be a part (though it would be great if you could), it means calling your state congressman and senator and tell them “I support the arts!” Let your voice be heard.

IMPORTANT LINKS TO FOLLOW!

Kansas State Legislature

Governor Brownback’s Twitter

Governor Brownback’s Facebook

Kansas Citizens for the Arts

Kansas Arts Foundation

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Wichita Eagle editorial that provided much of the research into this.

 

Monodrama vs Monologue

Today, I was watching this talk on TED.com and in it, Young-ha Kim uses the term “monodrama.” Now I consider myself pretty geeky when it comes to theater and theater terms and this one caught me by surprise. I had never before heard the term “monodrama” so I looked it up.

I found some great answers to this question. Answers.com defines it thus:

A monodrama has a beginning, middle and end, where a monologue can just be a fragment of speech spoken in soliloquy.

The Wikitionary defines it:

monodrama (plural monodramas)
(theater) A play in the form of a monologue

Whereas they define a monologue as:

monologue (plural monologues)
(drama) A type of art that consist of soliloquy, a long speech by one person.
(comedy) A long series of comic stories and jokes as an entertainment.
A long, uninterrupted utterance that monopolizes a conversation.

And the website Wisegeek, has a whole page to what a monodrama is, including this in their introduction:

A monodrama is a theatrical performance that involves one actor. It is similar to a dramatic monologue in that the audience witnesses the thoughts and actions of a single character. Rather than invite some type of interaction between the character and his audience, a monodrama follows a character’s internal development over a period of time. This type of performance can be found in musical theatre, opera, and plays.

The typical length for a one-person show is one-act or setting. The audience catches a glimpse into the psyche and life of a single character, but does not get to see that character interact with others. Some parallels to the genre exist in movie and television scripts, where single characters are seen contemplating their lives and decisions. In the typical solo play, the character’s experience may involve the resolution of a conflict, may show development of the character, or may be used to explore a theme the author wishes to convey to the audience.

That is one of the best definitions of it I found. So taking those definitions, we can surmise that a monologue is a single selection or speech that is most often part of a larger piece, whereas a monodrama is more dramatic and singular in form (a complete play in and of itself) that features one actor (similar to a one-person show). A monodrama is more about creating a character then making a speech.

Why did this interest me? Well as a writer of 10-Minute plays that often feature one actor, this is the kind of information I should know. As a director and educator, I should know the correct terminology. And while I still may refer to one of my pieces as a monologue, I feel they fit more into the form of a monodrama. Feel free to judge for yourself at my Smashwords page, where I have 3 such pieces published and 90% of it is free to read for yourself. You can also purchase those selections there for $0.99 apiece.

Playwright Advice

This morning I woke up to the sun shining through my window, my cat, Puck, sitting at the foot of my bed, giving me the most puckish smile you can imagine and my phone buzzing. I sleep with my phone near me. It serves as my alarm clock and is a lot easier to ignore when I don’t want to get up. It cuckoos instead of BUZZESSSS if you get my drift.

I open up my phone and scroll down through the notifications I got in the night. Weather updates, a paycheck deposited in my banking account, some new emails. As I always do, I opened up my emails and began filing through them when one caught my eye. A friend of mine, a fellow writer and playwright, had emailed me. Not unusual (in fact I hope to be working with him on some things soon) but always exciting. I open it up and see that a play he had written, and based on a true event, had received some extremely positive feedback from the family of those the play was about. In fact they expressed an interest in producing the play in their town as part of an upcoming summer celebration. Exciting news! But he also wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. The play (or rather musical) he had written had been for his school and he hadn’t been through any kind of submission or publication process and he wanted to know “what do I do?”

This is not the first time I’ve gotten this kind of question, either through Facebok, Twitter, or my email. “I’ve written a play, what do I do?” And if I’m getting these questions, what about the big name playwrights? So I’m going to write today about what to do once you’ve written a play and have a producer interested in producing it. And if you know me, you  may see some things that I advise about but don’t personally do. This is a case of “do what I say, not what I do.” Bad attitude, but when I bend one of these “rules” or suggestions, it’s because I have a good reason.

The most important thing you should know, after your play is written, what your rights as a writer are. The Dramatists Guild of America has a very well reasoned, and thought out “Playwrights Bill of Rights.” to me these aren’t hard rules that you have to follow, but what is your right as a playwright. If you choose to ignore them, the drama police aren’t going to come knocking on your door, but you may be shooting yourself in the foot.

1. ARTISTIC INTEGRITY.
No one (e.g., directors, actors, dramaturgs) can make changes, alterations, and/or omissions to your script – including the text, title, and stage directions – without your consent. This is called “script approval.”
2. APPROVAL OF PRODUCTION ELEMENTS.
You have the right to approve the cast, director, and designers (and, for a musical, the choreographer, orchestrator, arranger, and musical director, as well), including their replacements. This is called “artistic approval.”
3. RIGHT TO BE PRESENT.
You always have the right to attend casting, rehearsals, previews and performances.
4. ROYALTIES.
You are generally entitled to receive a royalty. While it is possible that the amount an author receives may be minimal for a small- to medium-sized production, some compensation should always be paid if any other artistic collaborator in the production is being paid, or if any admission is being charged. If you are a member of the Guild, you can always call our business office to discuss the standard industry royalties for various levels of production.
5. BILLING CREDIT.
You should receive billing (typographical credit) on all publicity, programs, and advertising distributed or authorized by the theatre. Billing is part of your compensation and the failure to provide it properly is a breach of your rights.
6. OWNERSHIP OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.
You own the copyright of your dramatic work. Authors in the theatre business do not assign (i.e., give away or sell in entirety) their copyrights, nor do they ever engage in “work-for-hire.” When a university, producer or theatre wants to mount a production of your play, you actually license (or lease) the public performance rights to your dramatic property to that entity for a finite period of time.
7. OWNERSHIP OF INCIDENTAL CONTRIBUTIONS.
You own all approved revisions, suggestions, and contributions to the script made by other collaborators in the production, including actors, directors, and dramaturgs. You do not owe anyone any money for these contributions. If a theatre uses dramaturgs, you are not obligated to make use of any ideas the dramaturg might have. Even when the input of a dramaturg or director is helpful to the playwright, dramaturgs and directors are still employees of the theatre, not the author, and they are paid for their work by the theatre/producer. It has been well-established in case law, beginning with “the Rent Case” (Thompson v. Larson) that neither dramaturgs nor directors (nor any other contributors) may be considered a co-author of a play, unless (i) they’ve collaborated with you from the play’s inception, (ii) they’ve made a copyrightable contribution to the play, and (iii) you have agreed in writing that they are a co-author.
8. SUBSIDIARY RIGHTS.
After the small or medium-sized production, you not only own your script, but also the rights to market and sell it to all different media (e.g., television, radio, film, internet) in any commercial market in the world. You are not obligated to sign over any portion of your project’s future revenues to any third party (fellow artist, advisor, director, producer) as a result of a production, unless that production is a professional (i.e., Actor’s Equity) premiere production (including sets, costumes and lighting), of no less than 21 consecutive paid public performances for which the author has received appropriate billing, compensation, and artistic approvals.
9. FUTURE OPTIONS.
Rather than granting the theatre the right to share in future proceeds, you may choose to grant a non-exclusive option to present another production of your work within six months or one year of the close of the initial production. No option should be assignable without your prior written consent.
10. AUTHOR’S CONTRACT:
The only way to ensure that you get the benefit of the rights listed above is through a written contract with the producer, no matter how large or small the entity. The Guild’s Department of Business Affairs offers a model “production contract” and is available to review any contracts offered to you, and advise as to how those contracts compare to industry standards.
Now some of these are regarding professional theater (like casting approval) and like I said, none of these are “set in stone” that you HAVE to do, just what you’re entitled to and are designed to protect you. However I think that the MOST important ones are “getting a contract”, “ownership of Incidental contributions”, and “ownership of intellectual property”.
The goal of every playwright should be to be produced (publication is a secondary concern) and these are designed to protect you as a playwright. Follow them or ignore them at your own risk.