Posts Tagged Theatre

Playwright!!

My cell phone just rang.

It was a number I didn’t recognize. Since the majority of those are telemarketers, I didn’t pick up. Then the voice mail beeped.

One of my plays has been chosen to be performed this Saturday at Carpenter Square Theatre!

I gotta tell you – this does not get old!!!

Playwrighting is something that we came to late in our creative dreams. Growing up, I wanted to be a 1) country music singer, 2) mystery author 3) actor in major motion pictures 4) movie director….and then at some point after that…then came The Theatre!

I pursue each and every one of those goals (and a lot more besides). But as a writer…it is astounding to see your creation -which exists as words on a sheet of paper – come to life in front of you. It is a thrill to see an actor interpret your words. Yes…there are sometimes when you want a scene to play out a certain way. But…I enjoy the thrill of seeing someone find some interpretation in those words that I have not even considered.

Besides which – theatre people are cool! As a collective group: they share: they share their talent with the world. Being an actor means that something inside of you is bursting forth. That takes guts. Theatre people are courageous. Most of us avoid uncomfortable situations – but theatre people will play any situation or any character. Theatre people don’t mind the spotlight, in fact, they welcome it. Theatre people are about inclusion. They are all about embracing our differences and finding some way to be a bridge to human connection.

It is a huge honor to get to be a part of this community!

To the Carpenter Square Theatre troupe – thank you!

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The Stevens Sisters

When you are a writer, there is nothing quite like having an actor bring your stories to life.

This weekend, we went to the theatre to see our play, “The Stevens Sisters” performed.

The organizations that presented the play festival are the Town & Gown Theatre and Troupe d’Jour in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The proceeds from the festival went to benefit a local charity called Kickin’ Childhood Hunger.

Our play was directed by Sharyl Pickens, and it was acted by Shelli Aliff and Sharyl Pickens.

This was the finest acting that I have seen on one of our plays thus far. It’s wonderful to see how talented actors can bring words to life. Before this, the play only existed as black ink on white pages.

Then you see it live and see it embodied. I don’t care how many times you see your work performed…this does not get old.

Theatre people are fun people! It’s fun to get to be around people who “do what we do”. For a couple of hours this weekend, we saw stories come to life in front of our eyes. The outside world drops away. You forget your troubles. You forget your cares.

“The Stevens Sisters” is by Amanda Ball and Karen Ball. This was the first time that Karen has had the opportunity to see one of our works performed live.

As a matter of fact, it was the first time she has been asked for an autograph!

 

Actor Shelli Aliff, Playwright Amanda Ball, Playwright Karen Ball, Actor/director Sharyl Pickens.

Long live the theatre!

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The theatre…and decisions

I’ve been actively pitching plays to theatre associations and theatre troupes for several months now.

We got a call yesterday. One of the Oklahoma theatre troupes is going to put on one of our plays. We wrote a comedy, something far beyond the vein of anything we’ve done before. And I can’t wait to see this one. When we did the read thru, I read each character, in character, and we laughed and laughed.

So…to SEE this one performed..I can’t wait.

It’s an amazing honor to be chosen. What blew me away: they offered me a chance to direct it. Even before we pitched this play, I had said, “I soooo want to direct this!”

So, that is a dream. What an honor.

But the thing is: and I agonized over this yesterday:…I turned it down. I turned down the offer to direct. Our play still gets performed.

But, I had to make a choice, and to make an intellectual decision. I called my partner both before the decision was made and after, and hashed through it. As she said, “Only you can decide if you can do this.” It’s  not directing that’s hard (although…yes it is very hard and challenging.) The hard part is doing the directing, and putting enough time and effort into it to do a good job…and still do everything else in my life. Just dealing with real life issues for the next two months is challenging enough, without this added responsibility.

And for my creative life, I have so many things going–things I’d hate to lose the momentum on. If I said yes to this undertaking…then my only creative accomplishment for the next two months would be directing. Everything else would go on hold. And I CAN’T lose the time.

We have sooo much going right now. My plate is as full as it’s ever been. I cannot figure out how to work one more thing into the mix. And that’s the literal truth.

So, I made a decision and as I told my partner, “a decision I’ll probably regret for the rest of my life”, but I turned it down.

Am I at peace with this decision? Not yet. I know it’s right, for me at this time. But still…to have had this opportunity. How do you spell regret?

So…I need to focus on current projects:

*writing on LD (screenplay)–which is coming along, and the re-write is much, much more difficult than I ever dreamed. Usually on a project, I know what needs to be done. But this one…you tweak and think about it for days, then rewrite, then think, then adjust…yeah…it’s daunting

*writing on Assumptions – I put a big fight scene at the end of Act I. Does it work? Is it strong enough?

*finalizing co-writing on a short play monologue. It’s almost done, but for my day job and lack of energy. So, that’ll be done in a few days

*working on MIDI in my home studio

*Need to record piano work for a libretto. I’ll do this in my own studio.

*I’m gearing up to get back to the big studio. 2 things holding me up. Need to work on guitar issues (same old story for the last 2 years, but I am working on it. The Strat sits here next to my easy chair.) And the weather. I don’t make a lot of out of town appointments in wintertime. Who knows when a storm will come up? And it’s not worth being out on the wintertime bad roads.

[ In fact, there’s a major motion picture being filmed in OKC right now, and I haven’t submitted myself for it. There’s too much risk. Ice, snow, whatnot. I can’t commit to a job, then not be able to actually ‘get there’. Moral of that story: don’t film a major motion picture in Oklahoma in the middle of winter.! LOL]

So…yes…things happening here. We have a short film in pre-pre-pre production. I wrote on a romance novel this week. So, even with wintertime, the writing seems to be percolating!

So…yeah. What dreams of yours have landed in your lap and you’ve had to turn them down?

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So…when exactly did we become playwrights?

I just received notification.

A short play I wrote, has been selected to be performed.

OMG…I am so over the moon! To date, we’ve had one play performed, so this makes two!

It will be at the Spokane Stage Left Theatre as part of their Fast and Furious selection, January 31 – February 1, 2014.

I am so thrilled and excited and honored to be chosen.

Playwrighting is something we’ve come to, late in this creative journey. I didn’t dream all those years of being a playwright. I didn’t know this was on the horizon.

When you’ve worked for DECADES for something, and achieved success (even the tiniest glimmer of success)…it’s wonderful.

But…and I didn’t know this…till the last year…when you come into something, something like playwrighting, and you haven’t spent your entire life honing it, agonizing it, nurturing it, giving up pieces of your life to further its goal….

It’s amazing to just bask in the accomplishment–of something that wasn’t a piece of agony for your whole life.

If anything, there is a bit more joy, because playwrighting didn’t have that low point. It’s just been there.

I think we completed our first play in 2010 after working on it for a couple of years. Then I had a period of time, without doing much pitching or submissions on that one. But, then this time last year, my co-writer and I wrote another play and it was the one that got chosen and was performed earlier this year. So…that lit the fuse. We started writing plays. I think we’re up to seven completed plays now (some solo written and some co-written.) And we are working on the BIG one…I think it’s on the third draft, so it’s coming along.

Along with the creativity, comes the pitch and the promotion. I haven’t been able to pitch songs like I have been in the past. Something has held me back (maybe I’m supposed to save my good songs to record myself??), but pitching photos and poems and essays and…plays…has been easy. So…if the universe makes it easy, then that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. So, of the seven plays, I have made maybe 40 pitches in the last year. It takes time, just like everything else. You have to see who is accepting plays and put your proposal together, and make sure your work fits their criteria.

Breaking into playwrighting is hard, but then again, so is everything else!

If you don’t try…then why even bother to get out of bed, each day? I’d rather try and fail, than be afraid to try anything at all.  As a matter of fact, about 2 hours before I was notified about the Spokane theatre, I received a rejection letter from an Indiana theatre, and even getting that…I was happy. Yes, it’s a rejection letter. We didn’t get picked there. But…just getting the letter means that you’re in the ball game. You tried. You made the effort.

So, to have tried…and succeeded? I’m still shaking my head in disbelief.

Thank you, thank you…Spokane Stage Left, for chosing my play. It is such an honor to be chosen.

Thank you for all that you do, to promote the arts!

Amanda Ball

–playwright

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