gun control

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 😉 )

Theater as a means for social change

This is an issue I’ve been struggling with since the Sandy Hook/Newtown, CT school shooting. How should we as artists, playwrights, directors, and actors respond to such a tragedy. How do we share our voice and our beliefs. should we even say a thing? Do we have a responsibility beyond just entertaining?

I recently submitted a piece to the group NOPASSPORT for their Gun Control Theater Action event (to be held Jan 26 at Theater J in Washington DC). And while I haven’t heard if my piece was selected or not, but it did get me thinking. Can theater be an effective tool for societal change?

Obviously, I think it can be or I wouldn’t have spent two days writing and polishing and editing a 10 minute play for that purpose, focusing my attention on something else, a light comedy or farce perhaps. I’m reminded of a quote John Cheever said, “Art is the triumph over chaos.” Theater is an art and without it, in any form, we are allowing chaos to truimph. So, as artists, we have a responsibility to be an agent of change in our society. Every great story has a character going through an emotional or physical change from who they were to who they should be. This, in turn, should challenge the audience to examine their own life and change.

I also think that we are a visual society. That you can express in characters what is often not heard in debate. You can debate about AIDS vicitms or homosexuality if you con’t know such people, but when you watch a piece such as ANGELS IN AMERICA or RENT, you come face to face with people who are suffering from AIDS or are real people who happen to be gay, or suffer a hate crime. NEXT TO NORMAL brings us face to face with mental illness. O’Neill’s THE HAIRY APE displays his concern for the working man and society’s attempts, at that time, to look away from them.

So yes, I do think that theater not only SHOULD be an agent of social change, but has a responsibility to do as much.