29 1/2 hours + 1 day later (more or less): Sac City Playwriting Festival Comments

Well the 2010 29½ Hour Playwriting Festival is over, and I have to say it was a lot of fun.  10 completely original plays produced in 29 1/2 hours!  100 minutes, all on one stage, before a packed house.  A lot of hard work and some stress but it was fun.

I want to thank Luther Hanson for inviting me to participate as a playwright, as well as Christine Nicholson for all her hard work coordinating all the action.  There were 10 playwrights, 10 directors, 40+ actors, and assorted stage managers, lighting and sound people, photographer (Lori!) and staff to help with setup.  A big effort, lots of coordinating, but well worth it.

In case you don’t know the idea is that 10 playwrights are assigned a director and a few actors to work with, and a topic.  The topic for this year — “no polkas allowed.  no jokes about potatoes.”  Neat, right? How does one write a play around those two themes in about 6 1/2 hours?  Well you just do.  And I did.

I was assigned to work with director Kevin Menager, along with actors Alyse Vogel, Ellie Davidson, Jose Ruiz and Marissa Dean. We got the topic at around 1:15 Saturday afternoon, took a few minutes to discuss, and by 2:10 I was writing.  By 4:30 I had a rough draft, by 7 pm I was printing up copies, and by 8:05 I was reviewing with Kevin.  By 10pm Kevin was working out the production details.  By 9am Sunday morning we were rehearsing.

I learned a lot.  Particularly from Kevin.  He has quite a bit of experience in theater, way more then me.  I had never been anywhere close to a production process before, so I had no clue.  The big thing I learned was that a play is distinctly bound by time and space.  You have a time, a place, actors and stagehands.  Ten minutes, no more, a very small stage, not much time to prepare, and a very short time to get to know your actors and director.

By necessity the play is a collaboration between the writer, the director and the cast.  No doubt the limits of this relationship are tested in each case, the boundaries stretched or contracted as time and circumstance dictates.  In our case Kevin had the final say, but he discussed every cut, every change with me, made sure I was on board.  At each turn he was respectful of the people and the process.

And so The Glass Slipper Polka came to life.  Round about 9:30 on Sunday evening.  (By the way I should like to add that SCC sold tickets, so my play was seen by a paying audience!)

I’ve said before this blog is about process, not critique, but I will say I was impressed, and humbled, by the ability of the other playwrights.  Some really great work.

I’ll post my play here, with a caveat: it’s not exactly what was performed.  Because that’s the important point I’m making: I can write the play, but the production is bound by time, space and the particular necessities of the actors and crew.

So I’ll offer what I put down on paper, and let the next director bring it to life according to whatever the needs are at the time.  For your enjoyment and entertainment, one 10 minute play: The Glass Slipper Polka, by Scott Charles.

Many thanks to Kevin, Alyse, Ellie, Jose and Marissa!

Well that’s it for now!  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

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