Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I attended the Master Class Series at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Manhattan last night.  This wonderful series gives an inside view of the creative process from masters of the craft of playwriting in an intimate setting.  It was a terrific experience!

Charles Mee, the playwright and author, led the talk and offered many gems to our group of about twenty-five playwrights/actors.  Mr. Mee has a diverse background.  He's a Harvard graduate.  He's written many plays and books.  He's an historian, a political activist, a husband, a father and a friend of the theater world.  He's currently teaching at Columbia University's School of the Arts.

As a new playwright myself, I enjoyed listening to Mr. Mee.  He said to trust ourselves when writing.  His goal when writing is to please himself only and not an audience.  This was a hard concept for us to come to terms with because most writers want to be liked by their audiences.  We sometimes don't feel validated unless someone tells us our work is good or professional enough or "ready"to be seen.  Mr. Mee says otherwise.  He said instead to trust our voice, our talents and write what we like as lovers of art.  Our own sense of what is long, slow, boring, untrue, off the mark or useless will speak to us.  We don't necessarily need a workshop, a staged reading, a producer, an agent or an audience to validate what we've written.

How freeing is that concept? 

Mr. Mee also advised to take in all sources for sparking our creativity.  He encouraged us to visit museums, listen to music, see plays or read them, see the composition in everything and the artist's style in all forms of art.  His ideas are to start with the classics, the Greeks and go from there up to modern time.  His website http://charlesmee.org/indexf.html is amazing.  He puts his work up online and encourages others to "steal" from it or to add to it.  Mr. Mee says no play is an original.  Most of us are "stealing" or "borrowing" from other artists all the time by what speaks to us, or influences us, and I agree.  

Who has influenced your voice or your work?  We don't literally steal their work, but their structure or tone or voice may appeal to us and inspire our own creations.  How many playwrights try to mimic Neil Simon, David Mamet, Sam Shepard, or Arthur Miller?  How many actors steal from Marlon Brando, James Dean or Meryl Streep?  We study and learn from the masters and then add our own nuance.  One generation influences the next and on we go.

The Master Class continues weekly until April 19th.  I highly recommend it.  The Cherry Lane Theatre is a wonderful place tucked in on the side streets of Greenwich Village.

Special shout out and big thanks to Nancy McClernan and her NYC Playwrights group http://www.nycplaywrights.org for giving me the opportunity to attend this great talk. 

Until next time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I just found out that my one-act play EXTREME GREEN will be produced by the Thespian Production Theater in Fort Myers, Florida.  My play is one of five chosen for their spring production.  The production dates are April 23-24th, 2010.  So if you're in that area... please come see my play be performed.  If not, I'm told the theater will probably supply me with a DVD copy of the play so I'll be sure to post it here for your viewing.

This is the same play I had produced in 2009 in Chicago.  It's a social comedy about the local food movement and how two men clash over their passions for a piece of land in the city. 

I'm beginning to work on a full play next.  Playwriting is a joy.  I'm sorry I waited so long to delve into this medium.  Actors are wonderful people to work with and have interpret your writing off the page.

It's snowing here in NYC!  Actually it's a blizzard!!  Amazing and beautiful.  I'm enjoying this winter wonderland.

Until next time. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Wow, it's February already?  How did that happen?  Feels like we were just tooting party horns only yesterday.

So I'm writing to you in pain.  Not the existential pain us writers feel from time to time, but true physical pain.  I have tendonitis in my arm.  I wish I could say I got it from pounding my keyboard and printing out numerous scripts, but no -- I got it from pulling a heavy cart of laundry up five flights of stairs to our apartment in NYC.  Yes, it's a walk-up.  No elevator.  I've done it a million times before (groceries are fun too), but this time my upper body said "Really?  Are you serious?".

My left tricep feels like it's on fire and has the worst dull pain in history.  I imagine this is what childbirth must be like -- only if I carried the baby in my forearm.  So I'm still writing, but I have to stop and stretch often and eat Advil like Tic-Tacs.  I can't sleep on my side.  I have to lie on my back, zombie-like.  It's amazing how our trusted, familiar bodies -- can just turn around and betray us so quickly.  It's like my arm felt ignored and suddenly needed to remind me how important it is in my life... just like how my lungs reminded me how precious it is to breathe after battling pneumonia once.  There is so much we have to be grateful for... when we're healthy and painless.  So much we take for granted.

But, the important lesson here is to work through the physical pain.  I can't use it as an excuse not to write or even to workout.  My arm hurt riding my stationary bike yesterday.  Okay, Good Lord, how is that possible?  I wasn't even using my arms to pedal the bike... but, the slightest pressure on the handle bars reminded me of just how important arms are for balance.  Thank goodness it's not my right arm that's going through this torture.

And if worse comes to worse, I'll type one handed. 

Good thing I'm going on vacation soon for a long weekend in Florida.  Sun and beach water might be just the medicine I need to heal. 

Be well, peeps.  I'd give you a fist-bump if I could.