Pulling Minutes Out of Thin Air or How I Made It to the Los Angeles Reading

By Jen Huszcza

I know I am not the first woman on the planet to complain about being overbooked and having a lack of time. Back when we all lived in caves, I’m sure the women were busy keeping the fires going in a time before lighter fluid or even matches.

Still, in the last few months, my life has become a caffeinated schedule. I try not to be too booked, but there are jobs to do and boats to sail (someone has to do it).

On the Sunday that the Planting the Seed LA reading was happening in downtown LA, I had to go into a job in Marina del Rey that morning.

The week before the reading, I was emailing Tiffany.

Where is my play in the order? I asked.

Fourth. She emailed back; then I promised to do my darndest to get there. The reading was scheduled to start at noon.

But theatre never starts on time in LA. 12:10. Three ten minute plays would take thirty minutes. 12:40. Please theatre gods, let one of those plays not be a two minute monologue. 12:32.

On the Sunday of the reading, I pulled out of the parking lot in Marina del Rey at 11:44. There was no traffic on Lincoln.

I might actually make it.

These thoughts whispered in my head as I settled in behind a Range Rover doing 65 on the 10 as we cruised toward downtown. It was a miracle. There was no traffic on the 10 on a sunny Los Angeles afternoon. I might actually see my short play read by actors.

There was no traffic on the 10, no traffic on the 110, no traffic on surface streets, nothing was happening at the Staples Center. I parked in a park-n-lock lot on 6th.

Then I realized.

I didn’t know where I was going.

I knew the reading was happening at LA Theatre Center on Spring. Do I walk right or left on Spring? My car’s clock said 12:10 as I turned off the car. If I go the wrong way, I’m done.

I asked the parking lot guy for directions to LA Theatre Center. He took a full minute to tell me he didn’t know. Oh LA Theatre Center, you elitist conclave you.

I was about to start running when the parking lot guy called over to a local lady who was pulling groceries out of her parked car. She didn’t know, but she asked Siri on her phone. LA Theatre Center (an extremely common phrase) baffled Siri, but the local lady and I had a nice chat about what a beautiful day it was.

As we walked down the sidewalk, I looked up and noticed a sign with LA Theatre Center and an arrow. I thanked the nice lady, cut right, and sprinted down the block. Realizing that I need more cardio in my gym workout, I huffed as I ran across the lobby and got on an elevator with two guys asking me if I believed in the Lord. I told them I was a female playwright. They said they’ve been seeing a lot of them that morning.

Off the elevator, I was no longer puffing. As I walked the last few steps, I felt myself grow taller and transform into a tall super heroic female playwright. I went into the room and immediately saw one of my favorite actresses, June Carryl, reading up onstage. Then I saw Tiffany and some other writers I knew. I was where I needed to be. I had walked in during the second play, but I had made it. I was as on time as I could hope to be.

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Catching Up

Wow – my head is just starting to come out of the ONSTAGE spin.  What a wonderful couple weeks.  Our Los Angeles reading went beautifully – beautiful actors, beautiful words… What a blast!  And the Los Angeles Theatre Center was the perfect place to hold our reading.

(If you missed the reading, you can watch the video archive HERE)

And if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, I’ve been busy writing about the ONSTAGE Project for HowlRound.com and traveling to the Great Plains Theatre Conference where I got to see a bunch of great new plays!  I definitely didn’t intend to leave you out of the loop – and if you’re connected with us on FB or Twitter, you’ve seen our updates – but you can read more about what we’re up to at the links below:

Read our Increasing Playwright Engagement Through Peer Review series on HowlRound.com

And check out our posts for the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative

And so now we get to work on our production in Prescott in the Fall, as well as plans for 2015′s fest.  We won’t be blogging as frequently as we were, but we hope you’ll stay in touch with us, keep us up to date on your successes, and continue to support our Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Project.

thank-youWith Gratitude for a successful 2014 reading series,

Tiffany Antone

 

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Planting the Seed E-Program

It’s here!  Months of planning all coming together
for today’s reading and we are SO excited! 

Join us at the LATC (514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles) at
or online at www.HowlRound.com  at 12pm PDT (Los Angeles) /2pm CDT (Chicago) / 3pm EDT (Toronto).

Planting the Seed LATC Program FRONT

Planting the Seed Program LATC - INSIDE You can read more about our playwrights HERE

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Meet Finalist Jennie Webb

Little Black Dress INK will be posting interviews with our ONSTAGE Project Finalists everyday between now and our May 18th Live-Stream reading at the LATC.  Bookmark our Blog or follow us on Facebook!

What can’t I say about Jennie Webb?  The woman is a force for change (LAFPI) and a mad creative to boot, and I adore her.

I also really, really like her play, Rebecca on the Bus.

It’s a tough piece.  And it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea – but this is of course why we had to produce it.  The play tackles rape culture and the grotesqueness of the oft-employed societal shrug that accompanies sexual violence.  Obviously, it’s a big issue – and it’s an issue close to the heart of LBDI’s goal to give voice not only to female playwrights, but to women.  

Which is why we’ve decided to partner with a guidance clinic that specializes in working with victims of sexual violence for this autumn’s production in Prescott.  LBDI always partners with a non-profit in order to share ticket proceeds with our community, and we look forward to working with this year’s partner organization on that front.

But back to the fabulous Ms. Jennie Webb.  Let’s meet this woman, shall we?

JennieWebb-LA FPILBDI: Why did you decide to submit your work to the ONSTAGE Project?

Jennie: Because Tiffany Antone is amazing and I want to be a part of whatever she’s up to. Seriously, I am so thrilled about Little Black Dress INK’s support of women playwrights, and love seeing the way the project’s grown.

(And I’m honored to think that LA Female Playwrights Initiative may have played a part in its initial creation!)

From Tiffany:  Yes it did, Jennie!  I have been so on board with the LAFPI, that when I moved to AZ I wanted to keep the action going – thanks for lighting that candle!

LBDI: Describe your writing space…

Jennie: I am lucky enough to live in a great part of LA (Eagle Rock), and have an office with a fantastic view. I like to think that opens up my world or creative mind (esp when the mind’s not being very creative), but it probably just gives me an excuse not to get up and take a walk.

LBDI: If you could be any cartoon character for just 24 hours, who would you be?

Jennie: Man. I so do not have cartoon characters in my head to even consider. Go-to: Wonder Woman? But I’m exhausted just thinking about what all that lasso action would mean.

LBDI: What was your first play titled/about?

Jennie: KILLING MISS AMERICA. It was co-written with Brent Morris (we ran a theater company for a short while), and about a fired female TV journalist who takes contestants hostage as a protest against the objectification of women and traditional standards of beauty. But it’s a dark comedy, so it all gets personal and goes terribly wrong.

LBDI: Which playwrights do you admire and what about them inspires you?

Jennie: I always wish my first responses were women, but to be honest on the top of my list are Ionesco and Beckett: the rhythms, the absurdity and the possibilities. Over the past few years I’ve become a fan of Suzan-Lori Parks for petty much the same reasons.  And of course Caryl Churchill.

LBDI: Why do you write for theatre?  (as opposed to other written media…)

Jennie: Laziness, because that’s what I know. I’m pretty sure I am the only playwright in LA who’s never written a screenplay. But I’m supposed to be starting on adapting a novel with my friend Janis Hashe (her novel) and other stuff (TV, webseries) keeps popping up in conversations. So we’ll see.  But fiction is too hard.

LBDI: What is your spirit animal?

Jennie: I just googled “What is your spirit animal” and took two different quizzes and apparently I’m a deer. Or an owl.

LBDI: Paper or Plastic?

Jennie: Neither. I have my own damn bags, thank you very much.

Jennie Webb is an independent Los Angeles playwright, currently in residence at Rogue Machine (where her dark retail comedy Yard Sale Signs premiered) and Theatricum Botanicum (where she runs workshops and “Botanicum Seedlings: A Development Series for Playwrights”). Her plays, including Remodeling Plans, Unclaimed Assets, GreenHouse, On Tuesday, It’s Not About Race  and Buying a House, have been produced in LA (most recently at Theatre of NOTE and Santa Monica Rep.), on stages across the country and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She’s been part of The Playwright Center’s PlayLabs, past Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festivals and the Virginia Avenue Project, and is published by Heinemann Press and ICWP. Her play Crazy Bitch will be developed at the 2014 Great Plains Theatre Conference. She is a member of The Playwrights Union, EST/LA’s Playwrights Unit, Fell Swoop Playwrights and co-founder of the LA Female Playwrights Initiative (LA FPI). jenniewebbsite.com + @jenniewebbsite

Don’t miss our Planting the Seed reading on May 18th.  Two ways to watch: Attend our reading at the LATC (514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles) or watch online at www.HowlRound.com.  The staged reading begins at 12 pm PST.

Planting the Seed LATC poster_web

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Meet Finalist Anne Hamilton

 Little Black Dress INK will be posting interviews with our ONSTAGE Project Finalists everyday between now and our May 18th Live-Stream reading at the LATC.  Bookmark our Blog or follow us on Facebook!

I’ve got to say, we received some pretty creative interpretations of this year’s theme Planting the Seed.  I so enjoyed reading these works by women who had run with the idea and landed in some delightfully messy or hilariously weird or painfully meaningful places with their scripts.  Anne Hamilton’s OFEM, a monologue featuring a feisty woman with some hilarious and passionate ideas about produce, was one of those pieces that was just so unexpected that it had to be included in our line-up!

So, without further ado, meet playwright Anne Hamilton:

Anne Hamilton - OFEMLBDI: Why did you decide to submit your work to the ONSTAGE Project?

Anne: I realized that I had some 10-minute plays and monologues that were worth submitting. I had heard of Little Black Dress INK and its mission to put plays by women on stage, and so when the call for plays came out, I realized that it was the perfect fit. I submitted a dramatic monologue called GROUNDING and a comedic monologue called OFEM.

LBDI: Describe your writing space…

Anne: I have an office in my home, where I work as a freelance dramaturg. That said, I take my laptop to many different locations in the house depending on my mood for the day. Do I want to sit on a comfy couch? A cushy chair? Do I want to look out the window at the tree blooming in my back yard? Do I want to sit outside in the sun with my dog by my side? I feel like a DJ spinning sometimes, because my artistic projects are set up all over the house and I go from one to the next, according to how the inspiration hits me.

LBDI: If you could be any cartoon character for just 24 hours, who would you be?

Anne: Without a doubt, Bugs Bunny. He is the ultimate cartoon character of all time. I admire his wit, his irony, his use of language, his passion for the task in front of him, and his use of different personae. Yes, I would be Bugs Bunny, and I would play tricks on everyone I know, and a few strangers, too.

LBDI: What was your first play titled/about?

Anne: My first play was called ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT, and it was a hybrid piece with dance, music and puppets about two women who lose the men they love in accidents. It’s about how grief moves through the body, toward healing. The women speak, but the men only dance. It’s about how grief and healing are ineffable, but there is movement in both.

LBDI: Which playwrights do you admire and what about them inspires you?

Anne: Oh, that is a big topic. As a dramaturg for the past twenty three years, I have been helping playwrights to develop their scripts and place them on the stage. I admire the ones I’m working with at the moment, and I admire the ones whose works I travel to see. There are just too many to name.

LBDI: Why do you write for theatre?  (as opposed to other written media…)

Anne: I started as a singer and a poet. Writing plays allows me to place lyricism on the stage. I have loved the theatre since I was in middle school and saw a high school production of GUYS AND DOLLS. I fell in love, and got more and more involved. I love creating theatre. I love how the words are expressed through the bodies of the actors in the collaborative process.

LBDI: What is your spirit animal?

Anne: The Barn Owl.

LBDI: Paper or Plastic?

Anne: Oh, paper for sure. I’m an eco-girl.

Anne Hamilton is the Founder of Hamilton Dramaturgy, an international consultancy based in New York City’s professional scene, and located in Bucks County, PA. She has over twenty years of experience across the country and internationally. The majority of her clients are located in N.Y. and L.A. Her clients have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur “Genius” Award, the Tony ® Award, and a Royal Court International Residency. In 2009, STAGE DIRECTIONS magazine named her a “trailblazer” in American dramaturgy.

Hamilton has consulted with Andrei Serban, the Joseph Papp Public Theater, the Harold Prince Musical Theatre Institute, Michael Mayer, Lynn Nottage, Yehuda Ne’eman, Classic Stage Company, B.T. McNicholl, Tina Andrews, NYSCA, Jean Cocteau Repertory Theater, Leslie Lee, Andrew Barrett, The New York City Public Library’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop, Tom Cavanaugh, and the Great Plains Theatre Festival. www.hamiltonlit.com.

Don’t miss our Planting the Seed reading on May 18th.  Two ways to watch: Attend our reading at the LATC (514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles) or watch online at www.HowlRound.com.  The staged reading begins at 12 pm PST.


Planting the Seed LATC poster_web

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Meet Finalist Brigitte Viellieu-Davis

Little Black Dress INK will be posting interviews with our ONSTAGE Project Finalists everyday between now and our May 18th Live-Stream reading at the LATC.  Bookmark our Blog or follow us on Facebook!

So many artists bridge multiple artistic fields – it seems almost necessary these days if you have any hope of surviving as an artist.  I’m constantly wondering if there will ever be a day when I get to focus on doing just three things instead of thirty!  But it’s always a joy for me to meet artists who are managing successful careers in more than one field, because their sense of vitality is contagious!  Brigitte is one of those artists.  She’s an actor, director, writer, and activist – and she’s written a beautiful play titled FLY GIRL FLY.

This lovely play is about longing, art, and the magic of stillness in a constantly moving landscape.  It was a big hit with the playwrights who read the script during our peer review process, and I can’t wait to see it this Sunday.

Readers, may I introduce you to Brigitte Viellieu-Davis.

BViellieu-DavisLBDI: Why did you decide to submit your work to the ONSTAGE Project?

Brigitte: A festival celebrating the work of women? I like everything about that – celebration, women, great work. I’m in.

LBDI: Describe your writing space…

Brigitte: I recently renovated my home office, and told my husband it is OFF LIMITS (he has a man cave in our home, so it’s all good). I used the Feng Shui Bagua Map  for my desktop and my book case and the placement of my desk.  I made a Pinterest Board for what spoke to me . I’m a Feng Shui novice, but there’s definitely something to it. And it’s amazing how decluttering and purposeful placement opens up the space to create in. Even visitors remark on the energy of the room.

LBDI: If you could be any cartoon character for just 24 hours, who would you be?

Brigitte: Bugs Bunny, of course – he gets away with everything.  Or Betty Boop (no explanation needed).

LBDI: What was your first play titled/about?

Brigitte: It was a collaboration developed over a few months of etudes and improvs with director Daniella Topol and a group of 6 actors — our source material being seven stories from the LIVES section of the New York Times Magazine. We wove the characters’ lives together into one piece with intersecting journeys.  It was called “Lives of the Times.”

LBDI: Which playwrights do you admire and what about them inspires you?

Brigitte: Tony Kushner – “Angels in America” changed the way I think about live theatre;  Anton Chekhov, and our American Chekhov, Tennessee Williams – for their complex and fierce female characters; Thorton Wilder for timeless truth telling; Jane Anderson because she tells stories nobody else tells. And I’ve worked with Eve Ensler and Anna Deavere Smith — they have influenced me tremendously in seeing the arts as an agent of civic dialogue.

LBDI: Why do you write for theatre?  (as opposed to other written media…)

Brigitte: I just write. I know the theatre the best because I’ve had the most opportunity to work in the theatre, but I’ll write anything. Right now I’m working on a screenplay. I just love stories…in all their forms.

Here's a photo of my garden in NJ.

Here’s a photo of my garden in NJ.

LBDI: Paper or Plastic?

Brigitte: I bring my own bags everywhere. I always have a chico bag in my purse.  I like my ocean, I like my trees. My back yard is a certified urban wildlife habitat…no kidding. I compost, we have rain barrels, recycle…I’m not messing around when it comes to Mama Earth.

...and the bird station (notice my NWF certification sign in the background). I'm a total Greeny Nerd. I feed my spirit animal because it's just good karma.

…and the bird station (notice my NWF certification sign in the background). I’m a total Greeny Nerd. I feed my spirit animal because it’s just good karma.

LBDI: What is your spirit animal?

Brigitte: I use bird metaphors often in my work. Besides “Fly Girl Fly,” “Frida Liberada” (Frida Set Free or Uncaged), my play about Frida Kahlo, comes to mind. What kind of bird?  It changes with my mood.  Beware my “bird of prey” days. :)

Brigitte Viellieu-Davis is an actor, director, writer and activist who has performed extensively in regional and Off-Broadway theatre, including Westside Arts, Hartford Stage, Ensemble Studio Theatre, City Theatre, Peccadillo, Bricolage, Portland Stage, Capital Rep, The Public Theatre, Urban Stages, The Drama League, 24 Hour Plays, Gorilla Rep, Irondale Ensemble Project, and the Moscow Art Theatre. Television credits include guest star roles on Blue Bloods, Gossip Girl, Law & Order, Law & Order: S.V.U., One Life to Live, All My Children, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. She is the playwright and director of Frida Liberada, about legendary artist Frida Kahlo, and The Whole World’s a Talkin’ for young audiences. She holds an M.F.A. in Acting from Carnegie Mellon University/Moscow Art Theatre and a B.A. from Purdue University. Brigitte has worked closely with some of the most exciting pioneers in socially relevant and activist theatre, including Eve Ensler (Brigitte played Eve in the Regional premieres of The Good Body) and Anna Deavere Smith & The Institute on the Arts & Civic Dialogue. – See more HERE.

Don’t miss our Planting the Seed reading on May 18th.  Two ways to watch: Attend our reading at the LATC (514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles) or watch online at www.HowlRound.com.  The staged reading begins at 12 pm PST.

Planting the Seed LATC poster_web

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Meet Finalist Denise St. Pierre

Little Black Dress INK will be posting interviews with our ONSTAGE Project Finalists everyday between now and our May 18th Live-Stream reading at the LATC.  Bookmark our Blog or follow us on Facebook!

One of the things that we really like doing with our festivals is including monologues and short scenelets between pieces.  It helps with flow, the audience gets to enjoy more work, and the pieces take place in front of the curtain while we set up for the next play.  While we didn’t get enough scenelets this year to include them, we did get a couple of really enjoyable monologues.

Denise St. Pierre’s monologue, The Beginner’s Guide to Gardening, captured our imaginations right away, and we can’t wait to see Los Angeles actress Emma Fassler perform it this Sunday!  Till then, enjoy our interview with the fabulous Ms. St. Pierre!

Denise-photoLBDI: Why did you decide to submit your work to the ONSTAGE Project?

Denise: I was no longer content with letting my work sit untouched, unread, and unseen in the dark recesses of my computer — it is no better there than it is unwritten. The theme piqued my interest in that it forced me to commit thoughts I’d long wrestled with to (virtual) paper, to see if I could fashion myself a stance instead of staying precariously divided. The prospect of being aligned with a host of inspiring female playwrights certainly didn’t put a damper on my enthusiasm for the project either.

LBDI: Describe your writing space…

Denise: My writing space is wherever I have an idea and an implement. On a good day, it’s at my desk on my computer. On an even better day, it’s wherever I am on whatever I can write with.

LBDI: If you could be any cartoon character for just 24 hours, who would you be?

Denise: Anya from “Anastasia,” because she doesn’t take shit from anybody, and isn’t afraid of both saving others and being saved. I’d gladly supplant her post-film dramatics, since that’s when she gets to elope with the dreamy Dmitri. (What can I say? I’ve got a thing for John Cusack.)

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

Denise: My very first play was a woefully misguided “two-hander” with an omniscient narrator who commented on the action of two young folks (named Cary Grant and Sloane) falling in love, and it will never see the light of day. It was called “Tilting at Windmills,” was embarrassingly derivative, and ended with an Elvis song (which says everything you need to know, really.) I’ve recycled bits and pieces of it in new projects, but the play itself is textbook overwriting. I’d like to call my second play, “Bette Davis Eyes,” my first real stab at the craft, but alas, that would be evading the toughest of truths: that the first go at anything is usually an unmitigated disaster.

LBDI: Which playwrights do you admire and what about them inspires you?

Denise: I’ve left the theatre agape after seeing the works of Tom Stoppard and Tony Kushner — both are so infuriatingly witty and brilliant — which simultaneously gave me hope in the prospect of life as a playwright, and crippling doubt that I would never reach the heights of these modern masters. Sarah Kane was the first playwright I read who took the form to another level, and who pushed the boundaries of what you’re even allowed to show onstage (and while I have also written a play that began with onstage masturbation, I don’t think I’ll ever craft a finale as stunning as a vulture descending to devour a corpse.) I recently started reading Neil LaBute, and I truly admire his keen ear for dialogue that is both realistic and engaging — nothing rings false in his work.

LBDI: Why do you write for theatre?  (as opposed to other written mediums…)

Denise: We are words, and playwriting is the only medium I’ve tried that has the potential to capture both the impassioned frenzy and the careful curation of human dialogue. Having spent a good part of my life rehearsing conversations in my head and then blurting out nonsense in the moment, I’m always keen to translate this oddity into art. That being said, there is the unique euphoria of sitting in a dark theatre and listening to my words in an actor’s mouth — it’s a brand of excitement that you just can’t replicate. There’s also an intense beauty the collaborative refashioning of a play in the hands of a gifted creative team — when a director effortlessly communicates the subtext of a scene, or an actor redefines your vision of a character with a single twitch of his hand. Theatre is full of loaded moments, and I’m happy just to be a cog in the glorious machine that realizes them.

LBDI:   What is your spirit animal?

Denise: Tina Belcher.

LBDI: Paper or Plastic?

Denise: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.”

Denise St. Pierre‘s first short play, “Bette Davis Eyes,” premiered at the Bishop’s University New Plays Festival in 2012, and will be revived at the Toronto International Fringe Festival in 2014. Her second short play, “Sehnsucht,” premiered at the New Plays Festival the following year and is currently licensed by YesPlays.com. Denise, a born and bred Canadian, graduated from Bishop’s University in 2013, where she studied under noted Canadian-American playwright George Rideout and served a term as the editor of The Mitre, North America’s longest-running literary journal. She spent the first third of 2014 interning at a literary agency in New York City and will be attending Simon Fraser University in the fall to pursue her Master’s in Publishing.

Don’t miss our Planting the Seed reading on May 18th.  Two ways to watch: Attend our reading at the LATC (514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles) or watch online at www.HowlRound.com.  The staged reading begins at 12 pm PST.

Planting the Seed LATC poster_web

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Meet Finalist Jen Huszcza

Little Black Dress INK will be posting interviews with our ONSTAGE Project Finalists everyday between now and our May 18th Live-Stream reading at the LATC.  Bookmark our Blog or follow us on Facebook!

Jen Huszcza is one of three 2014 Finalists whose work has been featured in all three ONSTAGE Project festivals!  We’re obviously big fans of her her sparse dialogue and clean writing style.

In the Dirty Laundry Festival, her play Rinse told the story of a water-torture victim and his assailant on the verge of religious epiphany.  For From the Mouths of Babes, Jen wrote POP, a brilliant satire on the economy featuring banker-babies playing with balloons. This year, Jen sent us Flowers – a wonderfully understated little piece featuring three men sitting on a porch, drinking beer and talking about failed romance and potted plants.

We love this playwright, and can’t wait to share her piece in this year’s festival!

playwright jenLBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to the ONSTAGE Project?

Jen: The Planting the Seed theme inspired me. There are many possibilities from a seed.

LBDI: Describe your writing space…

Jen: I don’t have one specific writing space. I have many different spaces. I like to write in motion.

LBDI:  If you could be any cartoon character for just 24 hours, who would you be?

Jen: I can’t picture myself in animated terms. If I could be any fictional character for 24 hours, it would be Yoda. I would use that time to rearrange my furniture.

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

Jen: My first plays was called Viper. It was about the ruler of the universe who falls for the wrong girl.

LBDI:  Which playwrights do you admire and what about them inspires you?

Jen: Playwrights I admire: Beckett, Gombrowicz, Shepard, Churchill, Fornes, Foreman

LBDI: Why do you write for theatre?  (as opposed to other written media…)

Jen: I don’t write for theatre. Theatre can crumble into ash as far as I’m concerned. I do write in other forms, but I write plays because I enjoy it. There’s also usually an idea in there somewhere too.

LBDI:  What is your spirit animal?

Jen: Sorry, I don’t have a spirit animal. The human animal is hard enough.

LBDI:  Paper or Plastic?

Jen: Paper. It won’t last a thousand years and is good for writing on.

Jen 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! were performed in Little Black Dress INK’s first two festivals.

Don’t miss our Planting the Seed reading on May 18th.  Two ways to watch: Attend our reading at the LATC (514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles) or watch online at www.HowlRound.com.  The staged reading begins at 12 pm PST.

Planting the Seed LATC poster_web

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Meet Finalist Katherine James

Little Black Dress INK will be posting interviews with our ONSTAGE Project Finalists everyday between now and our May 18th Live-Stream reading at the LATC.  Bookmark our Blog or follow us on Facebook!

Katherine James is one of three playwrights participating in our ONSTAGE Project for the third time this year.  She’s written some lovely pieces for us in the past, but her play The Old Salt really touched hearts this year – it was one of our highest scoring peer-reviewed plays!

The play focuses on an elderly sailor who’s just moved into a condo in Marina Del Rey.  Trying to navigate a deep loss and this new beginning makes meeting his gregarious neighbor a difficult chore, but by the end of the play we’re left feeling hopeful that these two salty dogs are going to become fast friends – just what both of them need and deserve.

So, without further ado, we’d like to introduce you to the fabulous Katherine James!

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to the ONSTAGE Project?

Katherine JamesKatherine: I just love the big vision that Tiffany has for us all. I am majorly into the 50/50 by 2020 movement. AND I know that when a ton of creative and brilliant women get together to create theater the whole world can skyrocket into a brave new time.

LBDI: Describe your writing space…

Katherine:  My major space is called “The Inspiration Room”. For many years it was called “Jordan’s Bedroom”. It is filled with all our theater and show biz memorabilia, all our theater books, all the plays I have written and am currently working on and thinking about. There is a window which pours in light. There is a couch that is covered in deep purple velvet with lipstick red throw pillows. There is a “table” which is really my mother’s hope chest (a cedar chest). There is my grandmother’s cast iron stove with flowers on it. There is a ceiling fan which is bright yellow and has the face of the smiling sun in the middle. There are costume and prop pieces all over. There are also sentimental projects I haven’t yet finished – like putting the photos from 1995 – 2005 into albums. There is the radio that my grandfather owned. There are the books in Swedish that my great grandmother brought from the old country. Stuff like that. Stuff that inspires me as an artist. By the way, the room formerly known as “Nathan’s bedroom” is now “The Meditation Room”. Thank God children grow up and leave home – how else would we move on to exciting new times in our lives?

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

Katherine:  “THE KATH AND JESS SHOW”. I first started writing shows with my best friend, Jessica Murray, when I was 6 and she was 7. We wrote an original musical review weekly.

LBDI:  Which playwrights do you admire and what about them inspires you?

Katherine:  I love all playwrights who are “the real deal”. Really write from the heart and head. So — the dead ones I am really crazy about are Shakespeare, Coward, Wilde. I could see a great production of MIDSUMMER or PRIVATE LIVES or EARNEST right now and be hit by a truck and die a happy woman. I love new playwrights. For example, Tiffany, I find you inspiring. Prolific, deep, mysterious, funny – I love that you ask big questions and write plays that are highly theatrical. Sometimes I just get blown away by someone like a Sara Treem. I am especially affected by women playwrights. So many ways of telling our stories – stories that deserve telling and being told in “our” way. Maybe that’s why even the dead playwrights I am so crazy about were crazy about women in ways other than as wives and mothers…hmmm….

LBDI: Why do you write for theatre?  (as opposed to other written media…)

Katherine:  I was born to write for the theater. I have written for other things – you know, like film, television, blah blah blah…but…I hear voices and I see a stage and I feel a big question coming on…pretty much all the time.

LBDI:  What is your spirit animal?

Katherine:  Cat. Definitely Cat. Dogs adore me, and I them but I sure wouldn’t want to be one…

LBDI:  Paper or Plastic?

Katherine:  Actually, we have to supply our own bags now which suits me fine…but…I used to love a paper bag in a plastic bag. That way you have the square and wonderful form of the paper but if whatever in it is spills, then you have the protection of plastic.

Katherine 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.

Don’t miss our Planting the Seed reading on May 18th.  Two ways to watch: Attend our reading at the LATC (514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles) or watch online at www.HowlRound.com.  The staged reading begins at 12 pm PST.

Planting the Seed LATC poster_web

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Meet Finalist Sharon Goldner

Little Black Dress INK will be posting interviews with our ONSTAGE Project Finalists everyday between now and our May 18th Live-Stream reading at the LATC.  Bookmark our Blog or follow us on Facebook!

I’ve never met Sharon Goldner, but man – she seems like a hoot and a half!  Two of Sharon’s plays made it into our Semi-Finalist round, and I stewed and stewed on which one I was going to have to omit from our final line-up.

It all Starts with Celeste and the Hard Boiled Egg was one of the biggest surprises for me, as a producer.  It scored quite well in the Peer Review, and when I read it I got a few chuckles from the play’s two female characters who engage in an unexpectedly easy-to-derail lunch-time conversation.  I found the play entertaining, but didn’t realize just HOW entertaining it would be once actors got a hold of it.  I produced the reading of this play in Waco partially because I wanted to see if the script jumped off the page or landed somewhere in talky-talky land – it positively leapt off the page and had us all guffawing as two of Waco’s talented performers – Barbara Bridgewater and Susan Anderson – adopted the roles.

The piece would have been a fantastic addition to our Planting the Seed line-up, but Sharon also wrote this fantastic little play about a couple of eager sperm just waiting to catch up with Ova, and, well… who could resist producing that?

So, it is with great pleasure we are including Sharon’s play, Little Swimmers, in this year’s festival.  Let’s meet this fantastically funny writer!

2012-09-29_19-25-54_773LBDI:   Why did you decide to submit your work to the ONSTAGE Project?

Sharon:  I decided to submit my work to the ONSTAGE Project because it seemed like one of those rare opportunities that is too good to be true, & as it turns out: it is rare, & it is an opportunity, & it is good & it is true.

LBDI: Describe your writing space… 

Sharon:  Ah, my writing space is … on my sofa that nobody else sits on but me!. I write (*gAsP*) the old-fashioned way, from brain to pen to paper, transcribing to computer later on. It makes me feel closer to the alphabet this way. And the alphabet is every writer’s friend!

LBDI:  If you could be any cartoon character for just 24 hours, who would you be? 

Sharon:  I imagine if I could be any cartoon character for 24 hours I would have to go with Mickey Mouse. Most cartoon characters subscribe to a nudist philosophy , while Mickey sports some really nice fashion sense. Also, heis the ambassador of smiles, to young & old alike, though I suspect with all of that happiness he generates,he is probably in therapy himself.

LBDI: What was your first play titled/about? 

Sharon:  The first play I ever wrote was called Bob & Marlene’s First Date. It is about Bob and Marlene who are out on a date that is not going very well to begin with, and Marlene’s mother keeps calling her daughter with various bits of dating advice that no daughter should ever hear her mother talk about. When Ida, the mother, tells Marlene she should tongue kiss Bob, the audience laughs, but secretly they are going poor Marlene … poor
poor Marlene.

LBDI: Which playwrights do you admire and what about them inspires you? 

Sharon:  I’d be very remiss not to say that Shakespeare inspires me because when I read Julius Caesar back in the 10th grade I was like Whoa. Somebody can actually write like this?! That was a very big moment for me.  Of the modern playwrights out there today, I have to say I love the work of Rajiv Joseph. He has an amazingly weird sensibility that I relate to.

LBDI: Why do you write for theatre?  (as opposed to other written media…)

Sharon:  I write for the theater because things have a way of coming full circle. When I was a kid I would re-write fairy tales as plays on looseleaf paper and distribute the scripts to the neighborhood kids to act out. When those teenage years hit I forgot about everything that had ever given me pleasure. Then I went to college where I went on a short story binge that lasted for many, many years. I re-discovered playwriting a few years ago and after many tearful episodes of apologies for abandoning the art form that I was truly meant to create, playwriting forgave me, and we have been partners ever since, stronger than ever. There is something about manipulating the alphabet on paper to create characters and dialogue, AND then seeing it all step into real life on the stage… there is no other wow like this medium.

LBDI: What is your spirit animal? 

Sharon:  I would like to think that my spirit animal is a dolphin because I have been enamored by them since reading Meet the Dolphin in the second grade. But truthfully, my spirit animal is probably a little lap dog that likes getting belly rubs and fed treats.

LBDI: Paper or Plastic?

Sharon:  Definitely paper. I am obsessed with recycling. Can recycling be a hobby?

Sharon 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.

Don’t miss our Planting the Seed reading on May 18th.  Two ways to watch: Attend our reading at the LATC (514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles) or watch online at www.HowlRound.com.  The staged reading begins at 12 pm PST.

Planting the Seed LATC poster_web

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