Tuesday, September 28, 2010

James Dean from the movie Giant
We just returned from the James Dean Festival in the actor's hometown of Fairmount, Indiana (see video link below).

It was a great trip, especially since I'm a long-time James Dean fan.  I've always had a photo or two of him displayed somewhere on my desk or at home (there's one in our bathroom -- how's that for devotion??).

Dean was cool personified.  He had a hard life (losing his mother at age 14 and being raised by an aunt and uncle).  But, all that grief and angst didn't stop him from leaving a small Midwestern town and eventually conquering Hollywood.

James Dean died at age 24 in a car accident in California.  He lived life in the fast lane right up to his last breath.

Driving through Fairmount, where he was raised, it's easy to imagine him strolling the narrow sidewalks on Washington Street, studying drama at the local high school and dreaming big.  What was it that propelled Dean to leave this tiny Indiana town and head to New York?  What gave him the confidence to think he could compete for parts with New York actors?  Make it to Broadway?  Study at the Actor's Studio?

Talent and drive.  He had both.

James Dean only made three movies:  East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant.  All classics.  He also had parts in many TV shows and commercials from the 1950s.  He died before his last movie was released.  He died young, but sure left a mark.  Fifty-five years later fans still make their way to Fairmount, Indiana to pay their respects to their favorite rebel.   

Dean would be 79 this year if he had lived.  

We miss you, Jim!  

Enjoy the video, Bloggers.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SI82NJApfw

Until next time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Come September, many of us return to class.

I'm not an official student anymore, but I attend a weekly playwrights meeting in Manhattan.  It runs from Sept-June and is worth attending at least once if you're in the city and a writer.  Professional actors -- from SAG and Equity -- also attend the meetings and do cold readings of new plays chosen for the night.  It's fun, exciting and theatrical.

In order to get your work read aloud at a meeting, you must first become a member of The NYC Playwrights group.  For $60 dollars, it's well worth it.  NYC Playwrights meet every Tuesday night on W. 54th Street.  It's a great way to network with fellow New York actors and writers and hear some interesting new work. For details, go to http://www.nycplaywrights.org/

During our latest meeting (and first for the season), I met a playwright who told me she just had her first full-length play produced by an Irish theater in NYC.  She's a professional chiropractor from New Rochelle, NY and usually writes poetry.  But she wanted to try to write a play and so she did.  Soon after a theater selected it for their major production.  First time out of the gate and she got produced.  She said she received a standing ovation after the show.  Talk about beginner's luck... or the luck of the Irish... either way, she had no idea what she was doing, but the "words and characters just poured out of me."

I mention this only because sometimes as writers we tend to box ourselves in and label ourselves.  Writers will say "Oh, I only write screenplays" or "No, I could never write a novel." or "I couldn't imagine ever writing a stage play."

Why not?  What's stopping you... but you? 

If you're one of these people -- drop, roll and reread the paragraph above.  Break out of your claustrophobic, self-imposed pigeon hole.  If you're a writer, don't be afraid to try all formats... screenplays, novels, plays, poetry, a blog, a short story... whatever you like.  Just try it.   

Dare to write whatever you like however you like.  

And that next standing ovation could be for you.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Outer Banks, NC   Photo by: Carolina Correa

Well, it's Labor Day and summer is unofficially over.

It felt like it the past few days when the weather in NYC went from hot and humid to breezy and cool.  Most New Yorkers will tell you that fall is their favorite season and for good reason -- there is nothing lovelier than autumn in New York.

I had a fairly productive summer as far as writing goes.  I've been working on my full-length play.  It's much harder work than I imagined, but I keep chugging along.  I've had a couple of short plays produced and sometimes even 10 minutes of hearing my dialogue seems "long" -- I can't imagine an hour or two of it!  The poor audience held captive in their seats.  I'm reading lots of successful plays  and those famous playwrights do go on and on... page after page... act after act... and the actors have a tremendous amount of lines to remember... but, hey, that never stopped Arthur Miller, Marsha Norman, David Mamet or Neil Simon.  Those writers are heroes to me and it's fun to read their work and to imagine that they too once stared at a blank page.  It takes courage to write -- to fail -- to be rejected -- and even to succeed. 

September has started off with a bang for my writing.  I got word that my short play Extreme Green is making its way finally to New York this November 5 and 6th, 2010.  It received a staged reading in Chicago at the Chicago Dramatists last year and then went on to be performed in Fort Myers, Florida by Thespian Productions -- and next up, it will come to the Big Apple with Thespian's New York productions.  It will be exciting.  I'm looking for a director and will cast it soon.

The next day I got word that I sold my other play NetFits (about a couple fighting over their joint NetFlix account) through www.productionscripts.com

Production Scripts helps to market plays for playwrights all around the world.  Their website allows high school drama clubs, theaters and actors to find new plays to perform.  NetFits sold to a high school drama club... somewhere in Illinois.  It will be used for a workshop reading there.  How cool is that?  And I also get a $3.57 cent royalty too! 

Okay, so yeah -- I'll remain a starving artist in New York... but I couldn't be happier!

Happy Labor Day to you.  Keep reading and keep writing!