Guest Blogger: Playwright, Allie Costa

It started with a photograph of a girl I’ve never met.
While scrolling through my news feed one afternoon, a picture jumped out at me. This picture, seen here.
whosheRANII wondered who that girl was, and what her story was. Suddenly, inspiration struck. I opened up a new Word document, pasted that picture in the title page, and started typing. My fingers were ahead of my brain. Before I knew it, two characters were talking to each other: a couple mourning the loss of their daughter. Caught between anger and acceptance, Rhys and Simi struggle to make sense of their loss and try to find strength in one another in the process.
WHO SHE COULD HAVE BEEN is unlike anything I’ve written before. Not in style, necessarily – I like realistic drama. Not in cast size – I seem to be rather fond of two-character stories, aka two-handers. Not in length, as I am very much in the groove of writing ten-minute plays right now. Rather, it’s the subject matter of this particular piece that’s new territory for me. I’ve experienced grief in my life, but haven’t written much about it, and I’ve never had children. But I’ve lost people I’ve cared about, and I’ve seen grief touch, twist, peel, and push people in so many ways. I drew from those experiences and observations as I sketched quiet Simi and fiery Rhys.
Who is the girl in that photograph, really? Research revealed the picture’s true origins: it came from the Bohemian Rani Festive 2013 Collection by clothing designer Sapana Amin. And now you know where Rani got her name. (Character names are very important to me – but that’s another story for another time.)
I will forever be grateful to my friend for posting that photograph. Thank you, Charity, for the unintentional inspiration. Thanks to Sapana Amin, her model, and her photographer for planting the seeds for my story. Thanks to Little Black Dress INK, Tiffany Antone, Kate Hawkes, Shondra Jepperson, and the Sedona cast and crew for bringing my story to life.

– Allie Costa
http://www.alliecosta.com

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Waco Recap and Pics!

Wow – there is something to be said for direct ratio of sleep one gets to the tasks one is juggling.  I had a WONDERFUL time directing this weekend’s reading in Waco, TX, but I have to admit: I’m only just now coming back on-line.

Fortunately, the reading went so well that I spent Monday in happy repose :-)

We had a small but enthusiastic turn out in Waco – and our audience left wanting to see more new works read.  (cue happy dance!)  Marla Dean, one of our ONSTAGE semi-finalists drove up from Austin, and we were SO happy to have her in the audience as the actors reading her play, The Environmentalists, rocked our socks off.

IMG_0541

Susan Anderson (Actor), Marla Dean (Playwright), and Karen Savage (Actor)

I did manage to snap a few pics of the reading from the sidelines, so I’ll paste those below, but first I just want to send out a HUGE thank you to everyone who participated in Sunday’s reading.  And if you’re wondering how the reading went in Santa Barbara, please check out Playwright, Katherine Jame’s awesome write up HERE.

Special Thanks to the Waco Civic Theatre for welcoming us and giving us a lovely theater in which to work!

Waco Planting the Seed Read 1

Cason Murphy (Stage Directions), with Susan Anderson and Karen Savage in Marla Dean’s THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS

Waco Planting the Seed Read 2

Naomi Paulino (Stage Directions) with Beauen Bogner, Cason Murphy and Karen Savage in Jen Huszcza’s FLOWERS.

Waco Planting the Seed Read 4

Cason Murphy, Beauen Bogner, Barbara Bridgewater, and Karen Savage (Stage Directions) in Tiffany Antone’s FANCY TOMATOES

While we head into our final two readings (May 4th in Ithaca, NY and Sedona, AZ) we’re narrowing down our Finalists and hope to announce them next week so stay tuned!

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Our Santa Barbara Reading

Katherine JamesBy Guest Blogger, playwright Katherine James

Saturday night – April 12, 2014 – Santa Barbara.

I feel like I had waited forever for this glorious and magical evening.

When my play, The Old Salt, was chosen as a semi-finalist I put the date on my calendar with a wish and a prayer.

Would I be able to put myself first in my own life just for that day?

So much had gotten in the way of that principle I try to center my life around.

I clung to it through the roller coaster ride that has been my life lately.

At one point, when the surgeon who performed my baby granddaughter’s open heart surgery on my 62nd birthday a mere 10 days ago announced, “There are two things that have to right themselves in her heart. If they don’t, she’ll need more surgery and be in the hospital for longer than a week.”

I knew were the baby still in the hospital I just couldn’t.

Couldn’t.

But…

She came home 4 days earlier than expected.

Strong – feisty – caring.

To be in the presence of someone who cares so much about living every moment of life fully and gloriously makes everything else fall away.

Of course I was going. And my husband, Alan was going with me!

He found the most amazing “last room available” spot for us at the Hotel Oceana in Santa Barbara – overlooking the sea – and off we went on Saturday morning.

What a way to come back to life.

The act of going to the wonderful festival at Left Coast Books would have been enough to affirm that.

Of course, waiting for me was so much more.

The extraordinary Kate Bergstrom – brilliant actor, wonderful director, sensitive writer who was producing this part of the four-city festival.

Emma Fassler – such a talented actor! I had been a fan for years through Theatricum Botanicum.

In addition to Kate and Emma, there was a wonderful ensemble of actors: Phil Levien, Nick Sheley, Jenny Marco, Carol Metcalf, Simon Taylor and Bill Egan.

I was one of four playwrights who were there. Kate Bergstrom (of course), Anne V. Grob, Christina Pages and me. The three other playwrights, Sharon Goldner, Inbal Kashtan, and Jessica Abrams were missed – but we had their wonderful work that we got to celebrate.

And celebrate we did.

There is nothing more sacred than being in the sacred space that is created when a group of theater artists assemble and make art.

We all soared as the pieces soared.

We laughed.

We cried.

We learned something new about ourselves.

We chatted and praised and accepted praise.

I left feeling whole.

Feeling like the next steps in my life were unfolding beautifully before me.

I emerged healed once more.

I thought about Tiffany Antone –

How generous, brilliant, ceaselessly amazing, compassionate and endlessly creative.

How lucky I was to have met her through Theatricum Botanicum’s Seedlings New Plays Program.

How fortunate I have been to both act in her work and to direct her work and to be a part of a circle of artists who get to say their artistic lives have been touched by hers.

I felt us all connected – in all the four sacred spaces where theater is being made by amazing women because Tiffany made it so.

I inhaled, I exhaled.

I won’t physically be in Waco, Ithaca or Sedona – but I will be there in spirit.

Onward and upward!

 

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Guest Blogger: Playwright, Anne V. Grob

headshotPOETRY ON MY MIND
by playwright Anne V. Grob

April is Poetry Month, and I am continually reminded of how familiar poetry and theatre are to one another.

In his 36 Assumptions About Playwriting, José Rivera writes “theatre is closer to poetry and music than it is to the novel.” When I first read this line, it resonated with me in a deep and reflective way, although I was hard pressed to find the words to explain why.

I wrote poetry as a child, and over the years at various times in my life—on special occasions, feeling moved by an event, or just being playful. As I explored other forms of expression through writing, I often regretted having abandoned poetry. But now I realize that poetry never abandoned me. Rather, I can see how its influence inspires my efforts to put pen to paper, particularly through playwriting.

At a recent table reading of one of my plays, a compliment by a fellow female playwright crystallized my thoughts about the connection between poetry and theatre. “Your writing is like poetry, I was deeply moved,” she said softly. What a wonderful gift she gave me with those words, and I hold that standard as the bar to which I aspire. I believe this is the intention of theatre—to move us, to allow us to feel, more so than to think. As in Aristotle’s Poetics, we go to theatre to experience emotions in a safe setting so that we can go about living our lives.  By identifying with a character or a universal truth dramatized on stage, the audience is able to experience an emotional catharsis, and that feeling is so memorable, it has the ability to Plant the Seed that resides within us always.

The Planting Moon sprang from the seed of a memory, an experience both poignant and profound. The remembrance of the night of my mother’s passing, flooded by recollections of a lifetime of events, feelings and emotions, found their expression in journal entries, stories and poetry, a fairy tale, and finally in the dramatic form of a play. Extracted from a longer piece I am composing, The Planting Moon is very personal to me. And yet it is my hope that my story will offer you an experience that moves you and brings you closer to your own truth.

The Planting Moon is set in a cemetery. As the daughter tells her mother about a dream, she invokes an image of the house where she grew up. If she could describe it in a poem, it would be titled Wallpaper, and would read as follows:

When Mrs. Blandings built her dream house,
she painted every room a different color
Not the blue of a delphinium, but a robin’s egg blue.
And the yellow, not the bright yellow of a sunflower,
but the soft yellow of the market’s best butter
When my mother built her dream house,
she papered every room a different pattern
Colonial estates in a field of celery green
white cranes on a dark green ground with papery pink anemone
circus animals, clowns, balloons and trains in orange and teal
cherries and apples and grapes and lemons
in cornucopias, baskets and bowls
each room an endless Andy Warhol
glimpses of wallpaper remain on faded photos
birds fly into dreams and train whistles jog memories
wallpaper since painted, paneled, mirrored, covering memories
silencing the witnesses to our lives
we were the fourth wall but we didn’t know it then
once I tried to return, to find a piece of wallpaper left behind
I scratched off old paint, hoping
a glimpse of the wing of a bird, the petal of a flower
but it was lost in the while of the moment
When I built my dream house the canvas was white
the stories were yet to be told
or perhaps they were there, somewhere in the Wells of time

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Guest Blogger: Playwright Inbal Kashtan

DSC_0119By Playwright, Inbal Kashtan

You’d think that I’d be used to the clueless things that well meaning people say when they hear I have cancer; I’ve been dealing with these responses – and with the cancer – for almost seven years. Certainly my skin has thickened, and my initial shock and dismay have mellowed into something approaching humor. Now I am almost thankful for those clueless responses, because they have turned out to be reliable muses.

Well meaning people – WMPS, as I call them – first appeared in my long play, Interference, as a chorus that provides much needed comic relief in a play about a woman who is wrestling with life as she nears death. Watching the response to that chorus in the first public reading for Interference was supremely gratifying: people roared with laughter at the absurdity of the “well meaning people,” even while the chorus offered an uncomfortable mirror. I then wrote a play for the San Francisco One Minute Play Festival that consisted of a brief interaction between a woman who is facing a cancer recurrence and an acquaintance. The WMPS chorus and the one-minute play provided the seeds for WMPS* and Warriors.

I’ve heard that some playwrights develop a full idea, including knowing the ending, before they begin writing a play. I can’t quite fathom how they manage to do this; my mind is not nearly so well organized. I resist outlines; I don’t even follow my daily to-do lists! But even if I could write this way, I think I wouldn’t want to. Part of what I love about playwriting is the heady experience of having no idea about what’s going on. There’s an idea; sometimes not even quite that. Perhaps just a line of dialogue, suspended in my mind, or a memory. Then I sit down to write, more an observer than a writer. Someone says something. It surprises me. I have no idea where it’s going. Then the other responds; the dialogue takes off. I still I have no idea where it’s going. I type faster and faster trying to let go of thinking altogether, put my brain in neutral, and let what is true emerge between the characters. I can’t predict where they are going; trying to steer, however subtly, stifles their unfolding dialogue.

So I had no idea what will happen at the end of this play until it happened. For someone who identifies strongly with nonviolence, it was a hilarious turn of events. For someone who has been on the receiving end of nearly all of the statements made in the play, it was exhilarating, even cathartic.

Next, I plan to work on another play on the theme of people’s reactions to the news of cancer. I don’t know what exactly will happen – as I said, I can’t plan it out. But I do know that something must be different – not only for Samantha and Brandi, but in our culture. We need to discover what it is we want from each other when we have bad news – and how to ask for it. We also need to know how to open ourselves to other people’s bad new and offer them the kind of companionship they want. I’m excited to discover how my characters will navigate this new-to-them terrain.

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Meet our Semi-Finalists: Waco, TX edition!

Planting the Seed poster smI am SO excited.  We’re talking seriously, over-the-moon, EXCITED.  Not only do I get to work with some amazing partner producers in multiple cities to bring life to 28 new plays, but I also get to produce a reading of 6 of them right here in my (new) base of operations, Waco, TX.

I never thought I’d be living in Waco, TX.

But after eleven years in Los Angeles, and three back in my home-town of Prescott, AZ (where we’ll be producing our Finalists this September), I found myself relocating to Texas in support of my fiance’s graduate school pursuits.  (I just keep moving further and further away from the West Coast!  Maybe eventually I’ll wind up on the East…)

Fortunately, everyone in Waco has been incredibly welcoming.  So welcoming, in fact, that they’re even letting me bring the LBDI ONSTAGE Project to their civic stage.  So I have to give a HUGE shout-out to Waco Civic Theatre for being just SO awesome, and opening their doors to the our Planting the Seed National Festival of New Work!

So, who wants to meet our Waco playwrights?

SEEDS OF REBELLION, by Kay Poiro

IMG_2195Kay Poiro is an award-winning screenwriter and internationally produced playwright. In 2012, her feature script “Ridgeway Mystery Club” won Best Screenplay at the 8th Annual L.A. Femme Film Festival. Her stage plays have been performed across the United States and around the world, including London, Sydney, India and Korea. In 2010, her play “Bless Their Hearts” won the Audience Ovation Award at the Fire Rose Productions’ Ten Minute Play Festival in Los Angeles. Kay is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and lives in Maryland.

SPECIAL DELIVERY, by Marj O’Neill-Butler

Marjorie_O'Neill-ButlerMarj O’Neill-Butler, a member of the Dramatists Guild and the International Center for Women Playwrights, is a produced playwright of TRUE BLUE, eight Theatre for Children scripts, short plays SPARTAN WOMAN, AT THE BUS STOP, LIFE IMITATES ART, LEAVING HOME, WHAT IF?, SCAVENGER HUNT, MISSED CONNECTIONS, ELF YOURSELF, CHAIRS, ONE LESS and a reader’s theatre script THE WOMEN OF THE BEAT  GENERATION.   Marj was commissioned this year to write a new full-length play: DESPERATION.  Her short play MISSED CONNECTIONS was published in 2013 The Best Ten-Minute Plays by Smith and Kraus. She has studied playwriting with Leslie Ayvazian, Carlos Murillo and Christian Parker and attended the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive in DC in 2010 and 2011.  She is proud member of Equity and SAG-AFTRA. Visit her online at www.marjorieoneill-butler.com.

FLOWERS, by Jen Huszcza

playwright jenJen Huszcza is a playwright currently based in Los Angeles.  She has a BFA in Dramatic Writing and an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU.  After many years in New York, she moved to Los Angeles for better weather and more trees.  In Los Angeles, four of her plays have been presented as staged readings in the Monday Night Living Room Series at The Blank Theatre in Hollywood.  She wrote and acted in Gunfighter Nation’s collectively written piece, LA History Project: Pio Pico, Sam Yorty, and the Secret Procession of Los Angeles, presented at the Lost Studio last year.  She is a member of the Playwrights and Directors Lab at the Actors Studio West.  She blogs for the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative. In addition to plays, she has written ad copy, film reviews, blogs, bad poetry, screenplays, an unpublished epic novel, and several short stories.  Jen’s plays Rinse and POP! wer performed in Little Black Dress INK’s first two festivals.

IT ALL STARTS WITH CELESTE, by Sharon Goldner

2012-09-29_19-25-54_773Sharon Goldner‘s award-winning plays have been produced (2010- present) multiple times in NYC; Brooklyn, NY; Baltimore; FL; and singularly in WI; PA; VA; OH; & MN.  Her work appears in Smith & Kraus’ Best Female Stage Monologues 2013. Currently, she has a play being workshopped in Newfoundland, Canada.   Sharon is a member of the Dramatists Guild. Additionally, over 30 of Sharon’s short stories have been published in literary journals across the U.S, and England, and she is a 3-time Pushcart Prize nominee for her short fiction.
*Sharon has two pieces in this year’s ONSTAGE Fest!

 

THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS, by Marla Dean

Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 12.53.30 PMMarla Dean, an adjunct Humanities professor at the University of Kaplan, teaches creative writing at the University of Phoenix, and Acting as well as Introduction to Theatre at Austin Community College.  She has spent most of her adult life developing new work for the stage and recently completed her first novel , “SIMPLE MACHINES” with her co-writer Manuel Carreon.    She is a director of some fifty plays and musicals and a playwright of both comedy and drama.  This is her first ten minute play.

FANCY TOMATOES, by Tiffany Antone

TiffanyTiffany’s plays have been read and/or performed in Los Angeles, New York, D.C., and Minneapolis.  Her newest play, Cricket Woman Mother Earth (or) A Nasty Comeuppance, was a 2011 O’Neil finalist.  Her plays Ana and the Closet and Twigs and Bone were both Jerome Finalists and O’Neil semi-finalists for 2009 & 2010.  Her play The Good Book is available through Samuel French.  Tiffany’s play In the Company of Jane Doe has won numerous awards and received its first NY production last spring with CAKE Productions. Tiffany was a 2008 Hawthornden Fellow and a 2009 Sherwood Award Finalist with CTG, and was recently awarded the 2012 Bucky Award for Outstanding Literary Artist.  Tiffany holds her MFA in Playwriting from UCLA, and currently lives/teaches in Texas where she writes for stage and screen.

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Meet our Semi-Finalists: Santa Barbara Edition

Our first reading is fast approaching and we couldn’t be more excited!  We hope you’ll join us in Santa Barbara on April 12th @ 7:00 p.m. at Left Coast Books & Gallery.  Our Producer and Director, Kate Bergstrom, is even providing wine!  Huzzah!

And in the meantime, let us introduce you to the awesome playwrights whose work is being read:

THE PLANTING MOON, by Anne V. Grob

headshotAnne V. Grob is a playwright and artist residing in Irvine, California. A native New Yorker, Anne was thrilled to have her play One Fifth produced at the historic Greenwich Village Player’s Theatre in their Short Play Festival last June. Anne has had staged readings at South Coast Repertory’s Playwriting and Screenwriting programs and is a member of Orange County’s New Voices Playwrights Theatre. As an artist, she creates mixed media collage and has exhibited at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art and Huntington Beach Art Center. She is also an art educator at Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach. Anne is currently exploring the interface of art and theater through her dramatic writing of short, one act, and full length plays.

MAN IN A MACHINE SHOP, by Christina Pages

Christina Pages(1)Christina Pagès, a native of Kent, England, received her Ph.D. in English in 1993, at the University of South Carolina where she held a post-doctoral position as visiting Professor until 1995. She published part of her dissertation in Theatre Survey 31:1 (May, 1990) 85-106. Since 1995, when she came to California, she has focused on creative writing.  She received a publication award from the International Society of Poetry in 2004 for her poetry collection, Shadow Words (Watermark Press, 2006), and was the California State Poetry Society’s 19th Annual Contest Winner in 2005.  She was also winner of California State Poetry Society’s monthly contest in January and October 2008.  She has published several single poems in anthologies and literary journals.  Her second full collection of poetry, Remember Not to Forget and Other Poems was published by Summerland Publishing in November, 2013.

THE OLD SALT, by Katherine James

Katherine JamesKatherine James (MFA from A.C.T.) has been in the theatre since her father first put her onstage in one of his shows at the age of five. Still crazy about the theatre fifty-five years later. An accomplished actress and director as well as playwright, she currently makes her home in Los Angeles where she is part of the Theatricum Botanicum company and on The Seedlings (new plays) Committee. Recent projects include a workshop of her jamming spoken word opera, OLYMPUS, at the Sontag Greek Theatre, staged reading of THE OLD SALT at Theatricum, and DIRTY LAUNDRY for The Dirty Laundry Festival. She has been the artistic director of Free Association Theatre for 35 years.

WMPS* AND WARRIORS (*WELL MEANING PEOPLE), by Inbal Kashtan

DSC_0119Inbal Kashtan has written a full length play, Interference, and numerous short plays, some of which have had performances or readings on both coasts. She has also written and performed short solo work in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is a Playground “Writers’ Pool” company member. Two of her short plays will be part of The Fringe of Marin in May, and Interference will have a reading in April in San Francisco. B.C. (Before Cancer), Inbal co-founded BayNVC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world that works for all, a passion that now infuses her writing. Her family and community are an ongoing dream come true.

 

HAPPY RETURNS, by Jessica Abrams

IMG_7071Jessica Abrams is a playwright, television writer, storyteller and actress. Her plays have had productions and readings all over Los Angeles, with “The Laughing Cow” receiving Pick of The Week by LA Weekly. It is now published by Off The Wall Plays. In addition to performing storytelling events, she writes dance reviews and blogs for the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative. Her most recent project is KNOCKING ON DOORS, a web series she wrote, directed and starred in.   Watch it HERE.

LITTLE SWIMMERS by Sharon Goldner

2012-09-29_19-25-54_773Sharon Goldner‘s award-winning plays have been produced (2010- present) multiple times in NYC; Brooklyn, NY; Baltimore; FL; and singularly in WI; PA; VA; OH; & MN.  Her work appears in Smith & Kraus’ Best Female Stage Monologues 2013. Currently, she has a play being workshopped in Newfoundland, Canada.   Sharon is a member of the Dramatists Guild. Additionally, over 30 of Sharon’s short stories have been published in literary journals across the U.S, and England, and she is a 3-time Pushcart Prize nominee for her short fiction.

SOIL, by Kate Bergstrom

Kate Bergstrom headshotKate Bergstrom, the head of Drama at Laguna Blanca School, is a Santa Barbara native and graduate of UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film & Television with a degree in acting and directing. As a director, her thesis production of Woyzeck with an all-female cast was featured as a sponsered department show. She has spent the last three years working as an educator, director and performer in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, bringing theater into classroom curriculum through Blue Palm, a Silver Lake arts education organization and the Laguna Performing Arts Department. As an actor (AEA), she has performed in everything from Medea with Annette Bening to an installation as part of Suzan-Lori Park’s 365 Plays/365 Days.

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OFEM – A Comic Monologue on American Food Attitudes

Anne HamiltonGuest post by playwright Anne Hamilton, whose short play OFEM will be featured in our Ithaca, NY reading.

I have been eating organic food for about fifteen years. I needed to regain some health after the exhaustion I felt after graduating from Columbia University and starting my career as a dramaturg in New York City. I started ordering deliveries from Urban Organics, based in Brooklyn, after a recommendation from Lynn Nottage.

In 2004, I moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a beautiful region filled with farms and natural reserves. I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor of a Community Supported Agriculture project at Blooming Glen Farm. As a CSA member, I often visited the farm to help with chores, like replanting onions, helping to hang garlic in the barn, and at the end of the season, to pull up tomato vines from the fields so the farmers could prepare the soil for the next season’s planting.

While on the farm, and also while hanging out with health-conscious new friends, I noticed that there is a particularly ferocious atmosphere in Bucks County with regards to food. Some are outright food preachers, espousing one type of diet over another, and some are more low-key but equally obvious about showing their attitudes, usually with a gesture of rolling eyes, or a sharp intake of breath when an opinion is mentioned that they don’t agree with. I’ve never been in a place where food attitudes were so important socially.

One day I was considering this fact, and I started thinking about writing a monologue that would push the envelope on dramatizing the food attitudes of urban and rural Americans.

As a serious example of such dramatization, I remembered an excellent monologue named A CHIP ON MY SHOULDER by Carol K. Mack, which appeared in the League of Professional Women’s New Play Festival in 2009 at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City. In it, a woman named Annie, played by Kathryn A. Layng, gives a speech at a podium thanking Monsanto for its strides in food manipulation and production. She refers to an implanted electronic chip which the company has offered, and is now becoming a normal part of American life. It was a truly intelligent and chilling piece.

With admiration for Carol’s satire, I was inspired to move in the other direction, and my mind took a wildly comic turn. What if a group of female farmers, due to their feminist leanings, decided only grow to food that is round, or round-ish? What if they went further and banished phallic-shaped objects from their diets? What would cause them to do such a thing? And what if we visited them on the day that this new food movement was rolled out to the public?

And so, OFEM, or, the Ovo-Farmer’s Emerging Network was conceived.

Its leader, Sally Parsons, is giving a speech to launch the network, and stands at the podium in iconic magnificence, like Rosie the Riveter and Emma Goldman combined. Her speech has the passion of an early 20th—century union organizing appeal. As she rails against the “Farmer Man”, she goes over the top with a litany of vegetables and fruits which will and will not be grown by OFEM. And at the end, like a suffragette leading the charge to new freedoms and rights, she invites her listeners to participate in the movement and usher in a new era for humanity.

Sally is over the top, and obviously, her message is larger than life, but it makes a point about attitudes toward food consumption, both slightly mocking, and also, deeply respectful, because it points to the power – the anarchism, one could say – of influencing society’s attitudes by taking independent control of food production. I love her enthusiasm. Isn’t it anarchic to make a stand against oppressive food attitudes? And also against mainstream food growth systems, whether they’re corporations, or family businesses?

OFEM expresses what I consider a lot of time to be the silliness and offensiveness exhibited by privileged, wealthy foodies. I want to say to them, “Come on, people, it’s food. It’s nutrition. Be thankful for the hard work of the people who labor to bring it to you.”

At the same time, I respect their choices. Food consumption involves personal, ethical, financial and sometimes medical choices that I might not be aware of.  So in the end, who am I to judge?

I hope that everyone will enjoy Sally’s speech. Who knows? Maybe I’ve created a viable movement! Power to the farmer!

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SWAN Day Action Fest – WHAT A BLAST!

photo(2)Oh wow – what a FANTASTIC day of theatre!  I was SO thrilled to be at the Samuel French Bookshop today to watch the SWAN Day Action Fest (produced by  Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative with a little help from LBDI.  Yay for creative partners!)  We had a great crowd, lots of laughs and connections being shared.  Huzzah!

photo(2) photo(2)

photo 1

Special shout out to Joyce at the Sam French Bookshop for being such an awesome supporter and welcoming us into their greenroom for the day.  We had a great crowd, and it was truly awesome to get to see new work read amongst the Sam French bookshelves.

It was also wonderful to get to meet some of our ONSTAGE Playwrights at the event!  Talk about synergy.  And LBDI had a great time live-Tweeting the event :-)

Thanks to everyone who came out – let’s do it again next year!

Action Fest poster

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To Waco We Go

By Playwright, Jen Huszcza

Lately, I’ve been down on theatre. It’s thankless. It’s no money. It’s dying. Do I even want to do it anymore? Then, Tiffany sends me a call for plays with a theme that gets my playwriting brain working, so I write some plays and send them off.

playwright jenThis time, the theme was Planting the Seed. When I thought of planting, I immediately thought of flowers, so naturally, I had to write a play called Flowers for three male actors about social immobility and top soil.

Then a few days ago, I received a happy email from Tiffany. My play was a semi-finalist, and it was getting a reading in Waco, Texas. I howled and laughed in delight.

First, Little Black Dress INK produced my work in Arizona. Now, the reading is happening in Texas. I’m playing the Red States. Yes!

I will admit that the first thing that pops into my head when I hear Waco is that the Branch Davidians had a standoff with the FBI in 1993. I remember that sad business. February through April, twenty one years ago, it was happening.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is also a good Theatre Arts program at Baylor University in Waco.

Wanting to learn more about Waco, I googled.

According to the official City of Waco website, Waco also is the birthplace of Dr. Pepper and has a Dr. Pepper museum. Oh yes, I’m a pepper. You’re a pepper. She’s a pepper. He’s a pepper.

Another random fact about Waco: they found mammoth bones along the Bosque River, and there’s a Waco Mammoth Site (closed on Sunday and Monday, $7 admission for adults).

So Waco has tragic history, theatre people, Dr. Pepper, and old bones. Yep, I think my play will fit right in.

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