Saturday, December 3, 2022

Ten Theater Projects in 2022

"Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson" at Cleveland Public Theatre's Pandemonium
Sarah Blubaugh & James Alexander Rankin
Photo by Steve Wagner

Folks have asked, David! Why a degree in playwriting? Aren’t you already an accomplished, professional playwright?

No, the answer to that is no, I am not. I am a playwright with an obnoxious social media presence which might lead one to think I am successful, if they weren’t paying close attention.

The fact is, I have done lots of plays in the past, and they are good plays, but they are not great plays. One or two may be considered very good. And I have never had a production at a professional house. Apologies to all the theaters that have supported my work in the Cleveland area, no shade, but I would very much like to have a full production at an AEA house.

This year, however, I have had a large number of original pieces, generated through my graduate workshops and elsewhere, that have been workshopped or produced. It’s been a pretty remarkable year.

Hannah Woodside & Adam Harry
"The Ocean Breathes Salty"
(Convergence-Continuum, 2022)
1. The Ocean Breathes Salty (festival)

The year began with a ten minute play, as part of the NEOMFA Playwrights Festival, about miscommunication and loss, and that fucking bunny.

2. The Witches (workshop)

I learned so much through this process. Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, and this was one of those moments. Let’s say my heart was in the right place, but I did learn to lean back a lot through this experience, and I like to think I managed it the best I could.

I like to think that it was this experience which was greatly influential on the very next script I would complete which brings us to:

3. Scenes From a Night’s Dream (reading)

Here’s the thing. I once wrote about what was important to me, personally. And I produced comic strips and short plays and full-length plays that told people what was important to a narrowly-focused straight, white man. These plays have always been, not surprisingly, more successful with straight white men than they were with people who do not identify that way.

Then, I chose to expand my point of view, and so began to write about people who were not like me. Some attempts were not successful, and in the case of The Witches (first drafted before the pandemic) I learned a great deal about that.

However, I have produced scripts in the past two years which I feel have worked because I do more listening than I used to. But I have failed, to date, to seek into myself for that which is within me that might be universal, relevant, and possibly dangerous. And where better to find what passes uncensored and honest than in a dream?

This will be my Masters thesis production at Convergence-Continuum in February, 2023.   

4. Falling (short film)

For my graduate level class in illness narratives, I created a short film that described the sudden decline of our mother, the text taken from my daily writings at that time. It’s not something I want to be made available for public viewing, but who knows? Maybe I’ll do something with the script one day.

5. Theater Camp

This summer we used my short plays as splash scenes for the middle and high school students to concentrate on, in addition to larger and longer pieces from Shakespeare. Some parents took offense to the “political” nature of some of the scenes, but if you think moral relativism humor is political, well, there’s not much I can do about that.

6. Forget About Me: The Breakfast Club Play (reading)

One of my recent works was tapped by the folks at Purple Rose Theatre for a Zoom reading, which was very exciting. People claim to be exhausted by Zoom but there were around one hundred fifty participants, which would be very impressive for a live reading! Their theater has a devoted following, and the company specializes in new works.

The cast, the director, the entire program was supportive, productive, and I hope I have the chance to work with them again some day in the future!

7. Here’s To You, Mrs. Robinson (Pandemonium)

It was a delight to return to Pandemonium, having previously provided a scene from The Witches, a work in progress at the time. I have a bad habit of submitting unhappy scenes to this event, which is supposed to be a party. I took great pleasure in presenting something which, while still entirely me, was funny, dirty, and transgressive.

Apparently the Dawson’s Creek joke went over like gangbusters during each of the three performances.

8. I Hate This: A Play Without the Baby (film)

This was a such a big deal. It had been a year and a half since principal photography, and to finally release the work to an audience was so important. It’s now being used by University Hospitals to educate teams of nurses and doctors about the effects of child loss on the parents, and I am so grateful for that.

After Roe
9. After Roe (reading)

The man said write a play that will change the world. I don’t know if I managed that, but I can say that so far this has been a remarkable experience, interviewing fifteen subjects and then braiding (there’s that word again) their stories together into what I believe is a compelling and important narrative. I will be submitting this piece far and wide in the coming weeks.

10. Metropolis (in progress)

Still in its formative stages, this is what I am currently working on. Using both the film and the novel as source material, to create a stage adaptation of the most inspirational science fiction film in history. If it makes any difference, H.G. Wells hated the movie, which relieves a certain amount of pressure.

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