Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Well I've finally finished. And I even changed the date and time on every post to reflect the time that I received it. You see, I DO care.
So thank you all for coming out to play in the shorts! And for those of you who shot me messages over the course of the day, thanks for entertaining me. We had a great time seeing you guys bringing the writers' late night ramblings to life.
All of you new people, welcome to the Phare Play Phamily! And for those of you who've been away for a while, but came back to play - it's good to see you again! Hopefully we'll see more of all of you.
Monday, March 30, 2009
After drawing Chinese New-Year as my holiday and Ghost Hunter as my profession, I had a number of initial ideas that I thought would work well, the first being a noir-style detective story about a woman murdered in (where else) Chinatown and a medium who had to contact her spirit to find out who the killer was (it would've been her sister who hired the detective in the first place. How's that for a twist?), the next being about astronauts hunting ghosts in outer space with specially made ghost-killing rockets that the Chinese made as a way to keep evil spirits from ruining their New-Years festivities (I have no idea why this was going to take place in outer space. I just thought it would be cool). Then I came up with the idea of starting the play off with having my actors lying on the ground looking up at clouds and saying what they looked like and one of them (probably the Asian one) said, "That cloud looks like Chinese New-Year!" Believe it or not I wrote over five pages of that before I realized that I'm a horrible, horrible writer. Oh, and the clouds were going to turn into ghosts and attack the actors in the dramatic finale. How was I going to pull that off on stage, you ask? Easy, ghosts are invisible. Duh! Then at some point in the evening inspiration struck me like a bunch of alcohol poured down my throat and I came up with the idea of having a panda rape one of my actresses off stage for shits and giggles (because nothing goes better with shits than giggles). I think that was actually the inspiration for the whole show and I worked backwards from there.
Needless to say I found the script to be a riot while I was throwing it together at 3:00 in the morning, but when I woke up and re-read it in a more lucid state of mind I realized that I had just unleashed unmitigated evil (and a very un-funny show) upon the world. Do I have time to go back to the cloud idea before I meet my director? No, no I do not.
Thankfully my director is a 24 hour lush (or at least that's what I assume since she actually thought the script was funny) and she even got an obscure reference to "The Muppet Movie" that made no sense what-so-ever in the show's context, so I knew my script was in good hands. Now if only the actors who were unlucky enough to get picked by me didn't mind making total asses out of themselves onstage or derogating their own nationality and ethnicity, I might have a decent show.
Fortunately all the above was true (especially about the director being a raging alcoholic. Rumor has it she's Irish) and they managed to turn my script from (and I am quoting myself during the award ceremony here) "crap into... good crap." And of course 'good crap' was meant to be a compliment when I said it, I'm just a worse public speaker than I am a writer.
I also have to say again how impressed I was with the level and amount of talent on display throughout the night. It was beyond what I'm used to seeing on Broadway stages. As I was watching the pieces I was constantly thinking to myself, "I hope I pick that actor next time," or "I'd love to see what that director can do with my next awful play." I told one of the actors in my show that I still think about him saying, "Dum-dum-dum-dum-Dumbledore," during the last Short-Shorts, and now I can't wait until April 24th so I can randomly say, "Oh, by the way, happy Arbor Day everyone," to everybody I run into.
Oh, did I say this blog was going to be quick? I meant, "so-long-that-nobody-will-bother-to-read-the-entire-thing."
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Finished final draft, then realized my friend who speaks Spanish was online, so asked him to make sure my Spanish in the script was correct. (Two of my actresses had "fluent in Spanish" in their Special Skills) Glad I checked with him- he gave me much better phrasings. Final draft done! Now, shower, breakfast, and I'm on my way back into the city. Woooooooo
From Duncan Pflaster
Had dinner. Took a revivifying nap. Ready for another go at the draft. My gmail tells me it's raining. Perfect.
My cat is totally confused- He keeps thinking I'm coming out to feed him, when it's just to get coffee or water.
All done. Printing out the copies now.
This is the part when I think that what I just wrote is mostly crap and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Or is any good. Or funny. But both times I have been proven wrong by wonderfully talented actors and directors so now I just have to hand this beast over and say a prayer.
YAAAAA sleepy okay. Time for beds.
The working title of my piece is: Don't Pan-do What Pan-do Don't Pan-does (it's a Simpsons reference), but I'll probably end up calling it: Oliver's Awesome Play of Coolness Starring Oliver Thrun as The Guy Who Wrote It!
P.S. I wrote a play for Blake about a funeral in Marion a while ago and he never did it and I forgot about it until now and now the Sarah Palin references are too old and they won't be funny any more and he never even told me if I liked it. I mean if HE liked it. You can tell him from me that he's a funky-head! Get down with the funky-head! BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA!!!
From: Bill Bria
This could be funny. With the right people. Hopefully it's the right people. I always feel this way at about this point, though, that what I have is really sub-par. I need to pull a rabbit out of my hat with these last 3 pages.
I really want to make a meta-reference so that the audience knows that I know that this concept has been done before...but then I think that maybe it's too on the nose. I might delete it. Okay fuck it, I'm deleting it.
(fun fact: it was a "Truman Show" reference)
Update. I’m getting super punchy and starting to space out.
Running out of pages (at a full 10 now). And need to close up the story.
Praying I get a director with a sense of humor.
I’ve eaten pizza, a pb&j sandwich, and 1 Dove chocolate.
40 year old virgin on tv. not the same on cable.
I sense an impending smack from the wife when she watches this tomorrow.
Lalalalalalala. Bed looks comfy.
Okay, 5 pages in and the play is VERY WEIRD. Though very much enjoying writing lines for Spunky Reporter Alice "Ace" McAllister.
It's 1am, and my hard drive is backing up. I'm going to get more coffee.
I may have gotten too high concept for my own good. Just the concept mind you, the execution won't require anything technically crazy.
It's not funny yet. I hope it gets funny. 4 pages in.
I find myself not writing for the actors per se, but trying to make sure everyone gets a decent role/enough "stage time". Don't want to give out any small parts. That's the actor in me talking.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thoughts/questions from a train ride home...
Basically, would any of the following come under the umbrella of inappropriate, tasteless, frowned upon, or generally preferred to be absent in the performance:
whores (references to and/or representations of), elegantly outrageous cursing, drug references or use (simulated, at least during the performance), or more whore references/representations - to the point of including it in the title.
Let me know...
OMG, Zack, Emily, and I got stuck on a train to Queens- someone pulled the emergency brake, and we were stopped for like 10 minutes. Booo. Finally home now, with coffee, at 11:30.
So, I've got Butler to a Millionaire Superhero, Secretary's Day, and FOUR WOMEN. Looks like some hot lesbian superhero action coming up. Hope they don't end up like The Silhouette from Watchmen.
Can you be a butler if you're a girl? I guess buttling isn't exclusively male.
On Saturday afternoon, I'm having auditions for my next show, so I won't be getting a lot of sleep tomorrow. So today I'll be sleeping as much as possible during the day (unemployment hurrah), then going to see my friend's show Who Am I, then I'll be ready to START WRITING!
I'm less worried this time around, now that I've done it once. The first time I was nervous until we got our rules and assignments, then I was immediately inspired. Christine says she has an awesome theme this time, so I'm looking forward to it.
Oooh, I'd better get new batteries for my camera.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I'm one of the actors and this will be my first time doing one of these in theatre form. I've done three 48-Hour Film Projects and one of those ended in a car going 100mph down a busy highway only to miss the 6pm deadline. I'm glad I won't be risking my life for this one :)
I'm pretty psyched because as an actor, my job is just to show up and play for a day. Yes there is memorizing lines and blocking and all that but it all just gets lumped into the "play" category for me so I guess that's why I do what I do.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
tiny dog who barks
tenacity is key -yea?
you make me hate life
crazy bass thumping
Who gets crunk at 6 PM?
and plays "Yooz a Hoe"?
I want some flan why do you
laugh at my white ass?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
It may not have surpassed the movie/seven deadly sins theme of November, but it was going to be good. And of course, as much as I try to remember, not a thread of it will come to me.
Oh well, back to the drawing board...
- Christine Weems
I completely forgot that I had agreed to do this last year, which, for those who know me well, shouldn't come as any surprise since I have the memory of a goldfish that was just swallowed by a shark (Why is it so dark in here...? Oh, that's right...), so I made plans to go to Philadelphia for the weekend. I got my bus ticket and booked a hotel room and was planning out my trip when I suddenly remembered (or probably more accurately received an e-mail reminder from Christine) that I had to stay up all night writing a play. So I cancelled all my plans and begrudgingly went to the theater to find out what "The Man" wanted me to write about ("The Man" being Blake... and Christine).
Now, I'm also not one of those writers who likes to drink the devil's semen (or coffee, as it is commonly referred to as) so I prepared myself a big bowl of cereal and a six pack of Corona and said, "Screw thinking! I'm just going to write the first thing that comes out of my head and hope my actors can read it!" the whole time thinking about how I should be looking at a bell with a giant crack in it. "Ha! 'Crack...' like a butt. That's funny. Maybe I can work that into my show?" (And in case you're wondering, no, the crack joke didn't make it into the show. It was replaced with the much funnier 'poop' joke) That pretty much sums up my entire creative process right there.
So the next morning I gave my script to the director and tried to pretend that I knew what I had written. Then I called all my friends and said, "Hey, I forgot to tell you about this thing I'm doing tonight and if you don't come I'm not going to be your friend anymore," to which they replied, "Aren't you supposed to be in Philadelphia?" Jerks...
Then came the performance and my show was the last one to go up. All the other shows were clever and funny and it was sort of intimidating to see the plethora (Ha! 'Plethora...' that sounds like something that comes out of a vagina after it gives birth. Maybe...) of creative people who were involved in this project and all the time and care they put into it. I couldn't believe that these shows all came together in such a short amount of time. I could toil endlessly on a script and it would never be anywhere near as good as what everybody else presented at the show. Needless to say I was dreading seeing my half-assed script played out on stage and felt so sorry for giving my director and actors nothing to work with. Fortunately, like everyone else I had already seen that evening, they had what we in the biz call "talent," and they turned the notes I had scribbled out in between drunken matches of Super Smash Bros. into something that was actually watchable, and even, dare I say, entertaining.
So suddenly missing out on Philadelphia and trying to resurrect the remains of our founding fathers to become my legion of mindless undead ghost assassins (I did mention that was why I was going to Philly, right?) didn't bother me so much. In the end, this was a far more rewarding experience (because after everybody left I found buried treasure under the Roy Arias stage).
Wow! That was longer than I expected. But before I go, I just want to say that I can't wait to see you all on the 21st for what I imagine will be an even better event than last year! ... What? It's on the 28th? Fuck! I was going to go to the Alamo that weekend!
Emotion #1. Panic. That moment where I rather get into tunnel vision. I grab my wife (regardless of whether she's amidst conversation or not), hail a cab, and grab a pen and paper. It's usually a short drive from the theater to home, so I've got precious moments to plot, scribble, and create new curse words to describe my temporary contempt to the required parameters (our given line, theme, cast, etc.) A few times I've wisely pre set the coffee machine with a bit too much coffee and ready to spring into action with just the flick of the switch. Lap top starts up. Temporary work station created. And then that fleeting moment....."oh crap." My biggest moment of panic was last year as I acted like a petulant brat, whining about the prospects of writing about the '80s. In the end, it turned out to be one of my stronger 'WWSS' ventures, but there's always that moment where you wonder how, where, and what you'll pull out of the dark recesses of the mind.
The other moment is the sweet to the aforementioned bitter. That moment when you find yourself so immersed in your project that you become lost. There's a time or two where you laugh over something you've written. I don't even realize it until Christine asks me what's so funny. I'm brought back to earth but at the same time realize I did something good. It grows from there, often in leaps and bounds. Characters find their arc and have their conflict and resolution identified. The story has a through line and is funny (as possible within one's own humble opinion).
I guess you can't have one without the other. After all this occurs, I back up the file and get a few hours of sleep, only to see the cycle start again as the actors and directors enter into moment #1.
- Michael Weems
But later that day at the performance the jitters came flying back. Was my play funny, or did it just seem that way in my caffeine-induced state? People ultimately DID laugh, and my play won "Best use of line" so it worked out.
I love doing the Who Wears Short Shorts festivals because there's such an element of excitement throughout. You literally have no idea what is going to happen. There is no time to plan, you have to go with your gut and not look back! I have never felt so much excitement in the air as when I sat in the audience and watched the plays go up.
I can't wait to stay up all night writing and do it again!!
Monday, March 9, 2009
Maybe. But who cares when the process and the results are so much fun! Can't wait to get it on. And guys, I promise, NO space/time continuum scene changes. Probably. :)
That was quickly remedied when we decided to try and do what I affectionately refer to as kamikazi theatre. Putting up a one act festival in a mere 21 hours.
We called it "Who Wears Short Shorts?" because at the time, we were doing quarterly nights of one acts that were all called Something Shorts - like Fall Shorts, Inside Carl's Shorts, etc. As you can tell, it has been consequently abbreviated down to WWSS.
The first time we attempted this - Blake masterminded most of it as I was on board as a director for our inaugural outing. We had five writers, five directors and only 19 actors. The theme was homecoming (a theme of "The Cherry Orchard"). The line was "What the hell is this piano doing here?" since we had a piano in the theatre that we couldn't really move out of there. The writers had no page limit and twelve hours to come back to us with something. The directors were each given a random prop that they drew out of a bag and that's what they had to run with. The winner for best show was "Don't Eat the Neighbors" by Jennifer Spragg directed by Vallen Pilgrim starring Angela Donovan, Emily Ehlinger, Emily Mostyn Brown, and Jasmine Spiess. We had eight people show up between the two shows - mainly because I think at the time, no one really knew what to expect.
Oh how things changed when we did it later. And we had to do it again because people had too much fun with it the first time.
The second time around, I had suggested superheroes as a theme. Of course, Blake blabbed it too early to the participants and so we had to alter it a little bit. The theme ended up being superhero sidekicks (fitting since the show we were doing at the time was "Carl the Second"). The line was "Someone give me some Vaseline and help me take off my rings, ‘cause I’m gonna beat this homey gee, til he can’t homey see!" (That line was all Blake's doing!). And we decided to make everyone use the same prop so Blake brought every one a roll of paper towels. We had still did five shows with 20 actors participating. Again, Jen Spragg took home Best in Show with "The Chip Hydeberger Show" directed by Chris Simon starring Emily Ehlinger, Jason Gaffney, Nick Santasier and Lizzie Schwarz.
When we did WWSS Cubed, we had so much interest that I was able to pull out of directing and help Blake plan. We upped it to six shows with 24 actors being a part of it. This time the theme was "Music Over Time". Each writer picked a decade and they had to somehow incorporate music from that time. The universal prop was a deck of playing cards. The line was done madlib style - "Our love is like a BLANK (insert an appliance of some kind here) - BLANK, BLANK and BLANK; but I’m okay with that." Kendall Rileigh won the show this time around with "The Fish Can Dance" - her ode to the music of the 90s, directed by Vallen Pilgrim and starring Mark Anderson, Robert Carroll, Erin Fehr and Pete Kilcommons. She also won best use of line for this gem spoken from Robert to Mark - "Our love is like a furnace: hot, steamy and closeted; but I’m okay with that." For more about this night - I did end up writing a blog entry about it which can be found here: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=210827182&blogId=372560359
And our last outing - WWSS4: Four Your Shorts Only. We went with a movie theme. This time, we upped the stakes - seven shows, seven writers and directors and 28 performers. The line was still a madlib : "On a day like this, I want _____, ______, and ______; a spanking would be nice, too". To even make it more random, we had the writers draw their four actors out of a bowl (we used to plan it out in advance) as well as their genre (they each got a movie genre) and sin (yes, they each had to use one of the seven deadly sins). Then the directors drew the names of writers out of a bowl the next morning (again, it was something we had previously planned out) and the order the shows would run in was done in the same manner.
As many of you may know, it was crazy successful with a beyond sold out crowd the second show - people were actually sitting on the stage! The winner was Oliver Thrun's "Force the World to Die" directed by Chrissie Kahler and starring Branden Hayward, Natalie Neckyfarow, Klemen Novak and Steve Ringwald. Their theme was Spy Flick and their sin was Gluttony. I even hear that someone had taped one of the shows and it can be found on youtube...
Duncan Pflaster, one of the writers, wrote a great article about his experience which can be found here: http://thefabmarquee.blogspot.com/2008/11/and-all-coffee-payed-off-duncan.html
And that brings us to our yet to be titled and themed WWSS5. Oliver will be back to defend his title on March 28th! Hopefully you will come witness the insanity and fun!
Signed, Christine Weems
(former WWSS director and Executive Director of Phare Play)
Leading up to March 28th, we're using this as an open forum for past and current participants to write about their experiences with the Short Shorts. As you can imagine, everyone always has crazy stories when you are trying to put up a show in only 21 hours.
Then once WWSS5 begins, posting will stop to the blog. What we are asking the writers to do is while they are writing, to email their thoughts, frustrations and experiences during the course of the evening. Then during the day, all of the participants will be asked to text their thoughts, experiences and comments while the process is going on. And within a week all of these will be subsequently loaded up in to the blog and labeled by show so you can read them all in chronological order or by particular show.
It's like Twitter or the constant updating of your facebook status, but for the public to see. It should give you a fun look at the insanity behind trying to mount a show in less than a day.
Here's how it works:
SEVEN CAFFEINATED WRITERS: Bill Bria, Emily Ehlinger, Duncan Pflaster, Ben Plopper, Zach Rothman-Hicks, Oliver Thrun and Michael Weems
Friday, March 27th: They meet at the Beckmann theatre in midtown at 10PM to get their themes, script guidelines and the headshots/resumes for the actors they have to write a play for. They go stock up on coffee/Red Bull and write all night and come back at 10 AM on Saturday morning with six copies of their completed scripts ready to go. There they meet up with -
SEVEN IMMENSELY CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Kelly Barrett, Chris Bell, Nina Capone, Paul Falcetta, Randa Karambelas, Brooklyn Scalzo and Andy Travis
Who also show up at 10:00 AM on Saturday, March 28th at the Beckmann theatre. They are then handed a script and given about 30 - 45 minutes to caucus with their writer. Then about 11:00AM, the writers go home to sleep and the directors meet up with their -
THIRTY BRAVE AND ENERGIZED ACTORS:Donella Alanwick, Melisa Breiner-Sanders, Micah Chartrand, Catherine Corbett, Chris Cramer, Emily Evans, Erin Fehr, Alec Head, Graeme Humphrey, Ben Klier, Jeff Kroh, Andrew Lazaroff, Derrick Marshall, Elizabeth May, Michael McKeogh, Lauren Meley, Alisha Norris, Kate O'Phalen, Blaine Pennington, Annie Pesch, Cara Picone, Gillian Riley, Eddie Rodriguez, Alicia St. Louis, Dani Suder, Alexia Terrell, Adia Tucker, Steve Unwin, Jere Williams and Danny Wiseman
Who then go out into the city with their directors and casts to rehearse for a good five hours or so. Just enough time for the actors to be fully blocked and off book.
Then there are two shows - one at 7PM and one at 9:30PM that very evening. There is also an audience vote for fun awards like Hottest Cast and Best Use of Prop. Come be a part of the fun!
It's at the Beckmann Theatre at 314 West 54th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.
Tickets are $15, but only $12 with a student ID or if you're a PP-er.