Dramatists Guild of America

New Year, New Goals, New Shows

2016 has come to a close and 2017 has begun. In the past I’ve talked about how I’ve wanted to spend the new year blogging more, writing more, producing more content. I think I write a variation of this blog every year. this year, the goals are the same; blog more, write more, create more content.

Lets look at what I’ve written in the past year though. I adapted my play  #JohnDoe from podcast format to stage format and had it performed by my local theater, Hays Community Theater, in late April/early May. You can watch these (not very well recorded but still) performances on my YouTube page.

In late May/early June I worked on three new short plays; The Suicide Club (based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson), A Knack For Living (a play set in the old west), and Moonlight (based on The Moonlight Road by Ambrose Bierce). At least two of these will be performed in the upcoming season of Sherri’s Playhouse, heard on the podcast Chatting With Sherri (the same podcast where Murder At Home and #JohnDoe premiered). In addition, I wrote some new 10-minute plays including Thoughts And Prayers in response to the Orlando shooting in June, which was performed in Kalamazoo, MI.

In December, I started work directing a new play for Sherri’s Playhouse as well, Sherlock Holmes and the Terror By Night Train. I came up with the story, my writing partner wrote the script, and I added in additional material. I’m really proud of this cast and can’t wait to share this story with you. It’s coming January 29th.

What does 2017 hold for me? I’m hoping to get Warning Shots, my monologue for young female actor, into the hands of some students for forensic competitions this year. I’d also like to get Superstar, a 10-minute two-hander, into some students hands as well. Both of these are available here on my website, along with some other free scripts. I’m working on an adaptation of the medieval poem The Owl And The Nightingale,  that I think would make for an interesting contemporary political themed piece.

Other goals include getting #JohnDoe into other theaters, seeing more productions of Tom Sawyer and Allie in Wonderland, getting a production of my adaptation of A Christmas Carol and continue writing about the arts and arts advocacy as needed.

So here is to more blogging, more writing, more content creation in 2017 (it probably won’t happen by the way 😉 )

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ARToberFest

Many people have heard of Oktoberfest, a celebration of German, Volga, and Bavarian culture. It traditionally runs 16-18 days starting in mid to late September and ending around the first of October in Munich. Oktoberfest has since spread to several major cities and college towns. My own town, Hays, KS, has been celebrating for almost 40 years and coincides with Fort Hays State’s Homecoming celebration.

The month of October is also National Arts and Humanities Month, a time to celebrate the arts. As President Obama has said, “The arts embody who we are as a people and have long helped drive the success of our country.”

That’s why I am suggesting a change in October, instead of celebrating Oktoberfest (or in addition to), I want to encourage you to celebrate ARToberFest. See a play or a musical, write a play or a musical, read a book or write a book, read a poem or write a poem, draw or paint or visit an art gallery. Find a way this month to celebrate the arts. Then end the month with “All Hallow’s Read” and give away books with treats at Halloween.

#TAPT or Trade A Play Tuesday

Today is Tuesday and for most people that would mean another day at the office or in class but for a growing number of playwrights its a day to pull out a play they’ve trunked or a that needs dusted off or one they are working on and need a new set of eyes to look over because Tuesdays in the playwright community has become “Trade A Play Tuesdays” or #TAPT

So what exactly is #TAPT? Well it’s just as the name suggests, its a day where playwrights take the time to trade a short play (no more then 10 pages) with another playwright and you offer feedback on each others works. I’ve done this twice (for plays that I’m the process of developing) and both times the feedback has been great. But don’t take my word for it…

I’ve now had readings of my play by 6 members of this group. All of them contributed something useful, and several went out of their way to give me the encouragement a newbie like me needs.

David C Tucker

I have traded with Donna and I personally believe she should be paid for her feedback, it’s that valuable. I immediately adopted some changes based on her observations and look forward to continuing. I will definitely be trading again

Stephan DeGhelder

Those aren’t the only ones that have participated, according to Donna Hoke, who started #TAPT,

There has never been a week where somebody hasn’t shown up with a play to trade, that there are continual newcomers, and that more than 500 trades have been made, which is more than 1000 plays.

Over a 1000 plays in the year that it has been going on! No wonder the competition is so stiff in every contest we all enter

So how did this all get started? Well according to Donna and the blog she herself wrote on it,

One Tuesday, I had just finished a ten-minute play that I wasn’t sure about. I usually don’t ask for feedback on ten-minutes, but this one was a little unusual, and I felt like I wanted some. So I posted on the Playwright Binge asking if anybody wanted to trade a ten-minute play for feedback. The response was incredible! I ended up reading 20 ten-minute plays that day, and got a ton of feedback on mine that helped shape it and make it funnier.

So today, I woke up, it’s Tuesday, I have a couple new ten-minutes, and I thought why not make this a regular thing? There are no development opportunities for ten-minute plays but, as with any play, a ten-minute can be improved with thoughtful feedback and attention.  (You may also send ten-page scenes that you’d like some feedaback on.) So let’s provide for each other what doesn’t exist.

I know how invaluable getting feedback on a play can be. The ones that have gotten productions are the ones that get other eyes looking at them. Weather that’s from a trusted writing partner (as until recently, has always been the way I do it) or from a stranger, new eyes give us the chance to step back and hear others thoughts. I know when I’m writing a play, I’m pouring tons of creative energy into it and that often leaves me too close to the material to judge it objectively. That is where new eyes come in handy.

So who is this person who started #TAPT? Donna is a playwright, journalist, children’s author and crossword constructor from Buffalo, NY who also serves as the Western New York representative for the Dramatist’s Guild of America, which allows her to foster the playwright community in her area (which makes me want to move to the western NY area LOL) She makes her artistic home as an ensemble playwright at Road Less Traveled Productions, where the premiere of her first full-length production, The Couple Next Door, was the theater’s top-grossing world premiere and the sixth highest grossing play in the theater’s history.

So, playwrights if you have a 10 minute play or a 10 page scene you’d like some feedback on, I suggest participating in Trade A Play Tuesday!


Some helpful links:

Donna Hoke

Trade-A-Play Tuesday

The Official Playwrights of Facebook Group

The Playwright Binge

The Playwright Purge