First Company Meeting of the new season, and boy are there things to talk about at this meeting! And I am so superdeduper excited because three new girls that we are quickly falling in love with will be joining our meetings! I don’t really have much to say except that I wanted to document my excitement at the first meeting of the new season. Its a nice milestone and follow up to our great season kick off event (photos/vido blog coming soon)! So much is changing at Teatro Luna— so many new hurdles (CCPA– more on that soon) and on and on that we haven’t been able to fully RE-LAUNCH as promised.
Please come out to see Dominizuelan at the Chicago Improv Festival on Wednesday, April 21st! Our ensemble member, Diane Herrera, will be a guest performer with them as well! Details are below:
The 16th Street Theater, 6420 16th St, Berwyn, 708.795.6704 Tickets: $16 (available at the box office or on-line) Dominizuelan [opening act] ImproTOP [closing act]
For tickets, buy them at the box office or on-line:
Dominizuelan: These two ladies rocked it last year at CIF and we expect more of the same. They are totally committed and utterly fearless in both their character work and their exploration.
Impro Top: ImproTOP is to Mexico City what iO & Second City are to Chicago. They have been performing in Mexico for over 13 years and this is their American debut. In 2009, their improv show, “Hazme Reir y Seras Millonario”, was a series on Mexican television and it was a great success. This year, they have been working with Mexico’s most important cultural institution CONACULTA. At CIF, they will perform two shows, Improbroadway (their improvised musical), and Improteptl (their prehispanic improvised tale). The cast of five will improvise bilingually in English and Spanish.
For our February PlayLab 1, the participants shared the first drafts of their 10-minute plays based on the theme “THE MOON”. All I could think as we read through them was “WOW”. It has been so inspiring to see these women develop into playwrights–their plays were creative, fun, and interesting. It will be hard to choose amongst the submissions–I wish we could produce them all-but alas. We have only 10 slots for this particular festival.
Even though the participants had a great start to their plays, there were some notes that kept cropping up–these notes are fundamental for any playwright, beginner or experienced to follow:
1) Be sure to HEIGHTEN and EXPLORE the CONFLICT inherent within the scene. Remember, conflict is what drives drama, so having two characters agree on a point is not as exciting as having the conflict with the scene between the characters. That’s not to say that they
argue throughout the scene…but that they are in conflict with the situation or the other character.
For example–two sisters talk about the death of their mom and both agree that they miss her very much. Nice scene, could be loaded with humor to make it fun and interesting. BUT–how much more interesting would it be if one sister had an unresolved issue with her mom, and is
glad the old bat is gone? Or if she was going to tell it to her domineering older sister that she has always cowed down to? All of a sudden, the scene is more intense because of the conflict between the two sisters.
2) BE AWARE OF THE ACTION WITHIN YOUR SCENE. Remember, there should be events that led to action. Be sure to look for passivity with the characters–are they moving forward to the next action, or are you just writing to write?
For example–best friends meet up in a coffeehouse, and one confides that she’s leaving her husband. The passive way of continuing the scene would be to have the other friend just listen to the wife’s complaints like any good friend would. Truthful, but boring! What’s the next action? Will the wife decide to kill the husband? If yes,
then make sure that the trigger is there that leads to that action (the friend suggesting the murder, or the friend admitting an affair with the husband, etc).
3) What do the characters WANT?-again, this is about heightening the scene, to make it more intense and dramatic. Be sure that your characters are there in that scene for a reason. If needed, give them a secret that only they know about and write with that secret in
mind…if you’re in a tough spot this might sharpen the focus of the character.
For example–two people at a laundromat, one accuses the other of stealing her clothes. Fun, intense, action-filled, but what if you’re lost on the motivation of the thief? Give them a secret–they are the mother of the accuser and wanted a memento of her lost daughter…it doesn’t need to be said within the play but now you have motivation driving the thief to the action of stealing.
4) TODAY IS THE DAY–we use this phrase all the time, to emphasize that THIS is the days of all days that the characters chose to act, and the scene written is a result of that action.
For example–a scene with a married couple at dinner. Eh…so-so. A scene with a married couple at dinner and the husband tells the wife that he’s leaving her for his Starbucks barista–TODAY IS THE DAY! Insta-drama!
The thing is, you can be an excellent writer–but can you be an excellent playwright? Can you write dialogue that leads to action? Can you write dramatic conflict that actors can flesh out, without bogging it down with exposition?
As we continue our labs, the participants will be writing a one-act play that should be completed by the end of the program. I’m looking forward to reading what these ladies have to write!
Please feel free to reply with comments, etc…looking forward to updating you with more on PlayLab 1 in March!
Our directors lab last month was led by Derrick Sanders. Derrick has had such amazing experiences ans a director; working with August Wilson, artistic director of a theater company; directing for any number of great theater in Chicago, NY and elsewhere.
All I wanted to do was ask him questions. How do you maintain power as a director? How do you run your rehearsal room? Where do you find your inspiration? What is your process before a show begins? Is it the same every time?
Derrick was gracious enough to answer all of our questions no matter how seemingly pedestrian.
Am I exposing myself here?
I guess I am.
As a new director I was intimidated. I have very little experience and the craft is still unfolding in front of me every time we meet. I don’t feel like I have a solid process. I get really anxious about having to have all the answers.
I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW!!
I don’t have to have all the answers and being willing to admit not knowing is a powerful thing. I know that. In my mind.
But not my heart.
Does that make sense?
It sounds cheesy and cliche but as a director I want to be able to help guide my actors, designers, crew to express clearly the message the playwright has laid out for us.
Do professional directors feel power within themselves because they trust the process or their research?
Is finding that power a matter of practice and doing it over and over and falling on your face?
The prospect of falling on my face with so many people counting on me is…unnerving.
Do directors feel terrified every time they work but have become so good at managing the personalities in the room they are able to muscle through?
Lots of questions in this blog huh.
For the next part of the lab Derrick began to tackle composition.
My tension starts to rise.
I had been reading out our textbook “Play Directing: Analysis, Communication and Style” by Francis Hodge. It makes it all seem so complicated and formulaic. I am not formulaic by nature.
Do directors really have all of this going on in their mind at any given time when they are working on a scene? Points of power and planes and 120 degree angles and the like.
I mention this to Derrick.
He responds that it’s good information to have and know and that different directors use that information in different ways.
Tension still rising.
Now having some distance from our lab and preparing to enter into another process there are a lot of things swimming in my mind. The most compelling of which is something I have scoffed at when I’ve heard it mentioned in the past.
My husband talks about needing SPACE. That to be creative requires lots of SPACE and TIME. And I’m all – who has space and time? I have a career and a business to run and two kids I don’t have time to create space.
It’s interesting to me now to try to carve out time to be inspired. Time to find images. To shift my perspective from panic to pleasure.
Derrick said that he has pictures he took on his iphone, of people he saw on the street who resembled characters in a play he is working on.
How fun is that?
The director of our next month’s lab talked about how she listens to lots of music to get inspired and watches lots of movies.
So I’m off to fill my ipod and carry around my Flip and will try to keep reminding myself to make it fun and find inspiration in the tiny spaces I have in my life.
Did I also mention I got rid of cable? Thought that might open up some time since I won’t be watching Supernanny til midnight.
And am giving up drinking until June when my next project opens. I’ll keep you posted on how that one is going.
Comments, smart remarks and inspiration are welcome.
Non-Equity General Season Auditions & Interviews for Teatro Luna: Monday February 15, 2010 & March 13 2010
Our 2010 General Season Auditions are coming up and we are looking for talented Latinas of all ages and backgrounds.
MACHOS: Looking for Latinas of all ages and types to tour with our hit show MACHOS. The ideal person is willing to wear facial hair and able to travel. Bilingual English/Spanish is NOT necessary.
HALF: Looking for writers, performers, and musicians to work on creating a new ensemble devised full-length performance. This is a chance to experience Teatro Luna’s unique development process from the very beginning!
LUNADAS READING SERIES: Looking for actors of ALL racial/ethnic/gender identities for the casting pool of a bi-monthly reading series.
AUDITIONS: Monday February 15th from 9 am – 2:00 pm, by appointment only. We will also be taking appointments for March 13, 2010 10 am – 4 pm For more information, and to make an appointment, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your resume & headshot. 2649 N. Francisco Avenue 2nd floor, Chicago IL 60647 On Francisco between Diversey & Logan Blvd.)
Happy New Year! Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays–I’m happy to be back with an exciting synopsis of our January PlayLabs. As always, there were some wonderful scenes read and some great discussions! So first, we’ll start with:
PLAYLAB 1-JANUARY 9th
Our reading assignment was “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. The last time I read this play was in high school, when I was a 17-year-old wondering why we were reading about this old man loser…what did this have to do with me at all? Fast-forward to years later, and I’m blubbering through this play as I’m reading it…why did it hit me now? The same words kept being repeated throughout the discussion–”broken dreams”, “failed goals” “loss of hope”. We all agreed that the character of Willy Loman served as the ordinary everyman trying to be extraordinary by being “well-liked”. We compared the loss of Willy’s dreams to the loss of the American Dream–the hard realities that we all have to go through in life’s journey (which is why Willy Loman is a more poignant character at this stage in life than as a teenybopper trying to get an A in English).
“Death of a Salesman” is structured differently than the other plays read in our labs–in this case, Miller used flashbacks as Willy’s memories and entwined them with the current-day action. One example of this technique is early in the play, when Willy is playing cards late at night with his next-door neighbor and he remembers a conversation he had with his late brother. As the memory progresses, Willy starts talking to his brother out loud, in present-day, and his neighbor grows confused, then concerned with Willy’s behavior. An embarrassed Willy ends up running the neighbor out of his house. The participants all agreed that the technique of integrating Willy’s memories moved the action forward more effectively than just using plain exposition.
According to David Ball, in his book “Backwards and Forwards”: “Action occurs when something happens that makes or permits something else to happen”. According to Ball, action is one event that leads to another event, and these actions are what makes up any play. For example, you can say “How are you?” to a friend, and she can reply “Fine.”. The “How are you?” is the first event that comprises the action–the “Fine” is the second event that completes the action. As Ball says, “The first leads to the second; the two compose an action”.
Ball has assigned terms to these events that make up an action–the first event is called a “trigger” and the second event is a “heap”. Again, an event is anything that happens–but it takes a subsequent event that happens as a result of that FIRST event that comprises an action. Now, according to Ball all plays can be mapped out by their action, not only from beginning to end, but backwards–from the end to the beginning, all based on the “triggers” and “heaps”.
We will be discussing action in further detail in our February PlayLab–we will be analyzing our next reading assignment and the actions within the play to further understand triggers, heaps, etc. It should make for a great discussion–I’m looking forward to it!
This month’s writing exercise was:
TAKE ONE OF YOUR PREVIOUS EXERCISES AND REVISE IT TO TAKE PLACE IN A DIFFERENT LOCATION.
SELECT A LOCATION THAT ADDS A NEW OBSTACLE FOR AT LEAST ONE OF THE CHARACTERS OR INCREASES THE URGENCY OF THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE CHARACTERS.
The scenes that were presented really benefited from the change in location–the characters were more clearly drawn, and there was definitely more action within the scene, instead of just exposition or talking heads. I think there is definitely some room for expanding on these scenes, if the participants wanted to do so. That’s the most exciting part of the PlayLab 1–seeing where someone can expand on their work and start to write more…either about a character, or a situation. We are now beginning to work on projects that will lead to a one-act play by the end of the session. I’m looking forward to seeing these one-acts develop over the next few months!
Keep up the good work, ladies!
PLAYLAB 2- January 12th
Our assignment for this lab was:
WRITE A SCENE BASED ON A PAINTING.
We had some fun scenes based on this exercise–participants had playful ways of incorporating the painting into their scene. Whether it was literal (referencing the actual painting within a hilarious scene about a high-school field trip to an art museum); or figurative (a surreal scene about a magical parrot or a scene about profession of love before an arrest), it was an entertaining night! The best part is having new artwork to love now as well!
I’m excited to announce that THREE of our PlayLab 2 participants have completed their full-length projects. Two of the participants, Kristiana Colon and Petrucia Finkler, will have table readings of their plays read at Teatro Luna in late February/early March 2010. I’m so excited to attend these readings, as I feel I’ve only caught glimpses of these fabulous plays, and I’m ready to hear the whole play read out loud. A table reading is such a valuable tool for a playwright–when you’re dealing with dialogue, it’s so important to have other people read your work out loud. Sometimes a monologue is brilliant tragedy on paper, but when read by an actor turns into melodramatic tripe. Also, it’s important to see how the play “moves” when read aloud–will the actors be able to catch what you’re trying to accomplish? Will the plot be clear? Will you be able to relate to the characters?
Our third participant, Mishelle Apalategui, is having her play, “Shiny Boxes”, produced by the Dream Theatre Company in February. The information on this show is below:
AELITA & SHINY BOXES
by Bil Gaines & Mishelle Renee Apalategui
Thursday, February 4 through Sunday, February 21, 2010 at Dream Theatre 556 W 18th Street.
Performances run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00PM, and Sundays at 7:00 PM.
Street Parking is available. Tickets are $15-$18.
773-552-8616 / email@example.com
I can’t wait to see it!
As long as I’m plugging shows, last week I was able to catch another show written and performed by two of our PlayLab 2 participants–Lorena Diaz and Wendy Mateo make up the comedy group Dominizuelan, and their current show is running at ioChicago:
Dominizuelan Presents: People in the City
Thursday nights until 2/25 at 8PM in the Del Close Theater
Tickets are $10.00
For more information, call the iO Chicago Theater Box office at 773.880.0199 or visit the Dominzuelan website at http://dominizuelan.com.
You do NOT want to miss this show–it’s hilarious, fun, and a STEAL at only $10. These ladies will be also writing and performing in the next Teatro Luna show, “Multiple Americas” in May, so get a head-start in checking them out. You will NOT be disappointed–I was literally crying from laughing so hard!
February’s PlayLabs are when the 10-minute play festival submissions are due, so I’m DEFINITELY looking forward to those labs. I can’t wait to read what the participants have written based our our MOON theme. We are going to have some very interesting pieces to present, and I’m also very excited about working with the Directors Lab as well, as they will be directing the 10-minute plays chosen for the festival.
As always, I welcome comments, suggestions, etc for the blog. Thank you for reading, and looking forward to catching up with you in February!
Hello, all! I’m back with another exciting synopsis of our November PlayLabs. There were some wonderful scenes read, some great discussions, and the best news–the announcement of the theme for our 10-minute play festival! Without further ado…
PLAYLAB 1-NOVEMBER 7th
Our reading assignment was Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Some of our participants had been in a production of Our Town at one time or another, so it was very interesting to hear their take on the play. What struck me was how layered their analysis of the character they played was, given the apparent simplicity of the show. One point that kept cropping up in our discussion was how deceptively simple this play is-the set is a couple of chairs, ladders, a bench. Yet for all the simplicity of the show (the Stage Manager announces the theme of each act), all of the participants were able to find a deeper meaning behind the script and the characters…which lead to our discussion of character.
According to David Ball, in his book “Backwards and Forwards”: “Scripts contain bones, not people”. He goes on to state that “character is revealed primarily by what a character does. Yet even the best of plays presents only a skeleton, because much of what the audience perceives as character has to do with the actor”.
With this in mind, we took one of the characters from “Our Town”, Simon Stimson, and sketched out the “facts”–what we knew about the character from his actions and from what other characters said about him. By just listing the facts (not interpretation), we were able to give details that would guide a director and actor through the role. However, these facts (Simon is a drunk, he is the choir director, his wife is constantly looking for him) are only the “bones” of the character. It is the actor and director that work together to “flesh” out the character–he could be portrayed as anything from an arrogent SOB to a pathetic has-been, depending on the actor’s interpretation. One of the participants talked about her experience playing Mrs. Soames, the busybody of the town, and how she saw this character in more of a sympathetic light…so she chose to play her as someone who had good intentions behind the nosiness and gossip.
This month’s writing exercise was:
“A” must tell “B” something without “C” knowing. None of them may leave the stage.
This was not an easy exercise-how can you prevent a character from knowing what’s going on right in front of their nose? I am glad to report that our participants rose to the challenge with some very entertaining scenes.
Keep up the good work, ladies! I look forward to our January PlayLab to see what else you have in store for us!
PLAYLAB 2- November 10th
Our assignment for this lab was:
WRITE A SCENE BASED ON A FAVORITE OR PARTICULARLY STRONG PERSONAL MEMORY.
Try to include what you felt, what you saw, what you heard, what you smelled? Does the time of day, time of year, weather, or setting color your memory of this event? What is important about this memory? Why does it remain so strong for you.
WRITE A DETAILED SUMMARY OF THE MEMORY BASED ON THE QUESTIONS ABOVE, THEN WRITE THE SCENE BASED ON THE MEMORY.
You may change the outcome if you wish-what else might have happened? How do you wish this event had ended? What is significant about the way it did end?
What was especially lovely about this exercise is hearing the memory-having the details behind each memory (what time of day, the weather, even down to what the person was wearing) really lent to an honesty within the scenes. Even when the scene was far left of the actual memory, I noticed that the participant’s attention to detail prompted sharper writing and more attention to environment. I would strongly recommend this exercise to any writer who might feel “stuck” with their project.
The writers of PlayLab 2 are on notice now to start bringing their projects to a close–we are hoping that in 2010 we can offer each PlayLab 2 participant a chance for a reading of their full-length project, depending on the finished project. I’m looking forward to checking in with the participants in January, to see how far they’ve come with their plays!
We have our theme for the 10-minute Plays Festival! To honor Teatro Luna’s 10 year anniversary, we decided on the following theme:
What does that mean? Whatever inspires the PlayLab participants! Is it a scene about the cycles of the moon, or will there be a scene about someone mooning over a celebrity? Will there be a literal scene about the Man in the Moon, or an abstract scene of lovers meeting by moonlight? Whatever THE MOON means to our participants, is what we will be accepting as submissions. Again, we will have our PlayLab participants submit their 10-minute plays, and we will choose 10 10-minute plays to produce for the evening. They will be directed by our Directors Lab participants as well.
We have now closed out 2009, and what a year it has been! I’m looking forward to what 2010 will bring!
As always, please feel free to post any comments, questions, etc for this blog!
Until next year!
So the PlayLabs 1 and 2 have been up and running since June, but we figured it would great to keep all updated on our progress with both! So a short synopsis on both of the October PlayLab workshops:
PLAYLAB 1-OCTOBER 3RD
It was a small yet mighty group for this PlayLab–our reading assignment was Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, and we had a lively discussion about how the play relates to us today. We were all able to draw parallels between the three sisters and points in our own lives where we’ve been “stuck” or “living in the past”, and we talked about how that universality makes this play relevant even today.
We also discussed the challenges in reading the play with the amount of characters, the loooong names, and the fact that it was a five-act play as opposed to the two or three act plays we are used to in modern times. We all agreed that we would like to see a live version to see the work fleshed out–it was a reminder that in our own writing we need to be sure to give our characters distinct voices so they are not lost within the play, and how we are writing within our times of shortened attention spans so it would be a challenge to mount a 5 act play like Chekhov’s in today’s world (not impossible, just challenging).
The women of PlayLab 1 are doing a great job with their writing assignments–I can definitely see the improvements over time in each of their work just by the quality of writing in their exercises. This month’s exercise was:
One character is high status, one character is low status–the high-status character asks for something from the low-status character, which the low-status character does not want to give.
Our lovely participants came up with some great scenes–from sorority sisters to city officials to old neighborhood “friends”, they were very fun to read and entertaining. Keep up the good work, ladies!
PLAYLAB 2- October 13th
Our assignment for this lab was:
Write a scene inspired by music
It’s always interesting to see what songs inspire writers in their scenes–we had songs like the Glee show’s cover of “Don’t Stop Believing” set up a scene about alien invasion, or drumbeats inspiring a scene about oppression and revolution…Nina Simone inspired a father/daughter scene that was heartbreakingly honest, while Adele’s “Daydreamer” and “Ghosts in the Water” by Julian Velard colored a scene about a woman’s recollection of a Halloween party. Last, Portishead was the inspiration behind a continuation of a play where the dead feed off feelings like vultures and patterns are sustained, broken and remade.
The most exciting news to come from October is the confirmation that Teatro Luna will be producing a night of 10-minute plays to coincide with the Latino Theatre Festival as well as TL’s 10 year anniversary. We will have our PlayLab participants submit their 10-minute plays, and we will choose 10 10-minute plays to produce for the evening. They will be directed by our Directors Lab participants as well. We are working on a theme that the 10-minute plays will be set agains–any ideas?? Let us know!
Well, until November…feel free to post any comments, questions, etc for this blog!
Until next month,