Archive for Habits Posts

published in Creativity, Death, Habits, Life After Loss, Playwriting, Procrastination, Saviour Play, Souls by Maryanne | October 4, 2017 | 4 Comments

Perilous Playwriting – Let’s Air Some Dirty Laundry, Shall We?

 

 

“Be truthful, one would say, and the result is bound to be amazingly interesting.”

― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Or…rather confusing for all concerned.

Picture, if you will, a boardroom table…

Six strangers are sitting around said table: a playwright, a dramaturg and four actors. All are gathered to read aloud a play script.

What, perhaps you wonder, might this be experience be like – for the (squirming) playwright?

Imagine a big pile of dirty laundry (belonging to the playwright) being dumped on the table and then the next eight hours are spent watching a small but determined group of strangers systematically sift through (and comment on) each and every piece of one’s (not only dirty but decidedly un-sexy) undergarments.

A tad uncomfortable?

Oh, you betcha.

For that playwright was me. The script was Saviour. And the “dirty laundry” was not just my chaotic thoughts and heartbreaking emotions experienced during the darkest days of my life, but also some marital laundry as well, such as two spectacular (but significant to the story) arguments that John and I had about my habit of procrastinating on my writing and my refusal to say no to unreasonable demands placed on my time.

And those were just a few of the facts (and the human response to those facts) connected to the real-life story. Add in a complicated plot, a completely imagined world (what the soul experiences as the body dies as the result of a brain-injury), and four well-developed but overly chatty characters still trying to sort it all out themselves, and let’s just say the script was in need of…some slashing ☹

Here’s a snapshot of Saviour:

Can one soul save another? A young couple, Sam and Adri, have an argument about Adri’s procrastination as a writer and belief in Virginia Woolf’s idea that in order to write well, women need a secure income.

Sam, a police officer, goes to work that night, falls through a roof and hits his head, only to discover it is Virginia Woolf who will take him to the moment of his brain-death. Meanwhile, Sam’s Sergeant guides Adri through the early days of grief – and tells her she will receive Sam’s wage for the rest of her life.

Saviour is about the need to live and die in peace – and just how difficult that can be to achieve. The play promises the audience a fast-paced, imaginative and compelling theatrical journey that has strong links to real-life events.

Though a love story, Saviour challenges the notion of romantic love and suggests instead the staying power of tough love.

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”

– Virginia Woolf


Although I haven’t yet personally experienced this as a playwright, I suspect a workshopping of one’s entirely fictional play would be uncomfortable. After all, regardless of the story’s roots, whatever we create is an expression of our imagination. It’s our story, our creation…our baby under the knife.

But add in the fact that it is based on personal events and boy oh boy, it can get really uncomfortable.

A workshopping of one’s play can be a very useful exercise (it certainly has been for me) but it is not for the faint of heart. You pretty much have to leave your ego at the door, put on your big-girl panties, shut up and listen.

The problem, of course, is that we can’t really leave our ego at the door. Like it or not, it goes where we do. The solution to this, I have found, is to take notes. Lots of notes. And remind myself, more than once, that I have chosen to be experience this because I am HERE TO LEARN.

In other words, my big-girl panties had to be very big…granny-panties, in fact.

There are times, of course, when the playwright does get to speak…like when one of the actors asked me a question about a character’s journey that I thought was blatantly clear. But guess what: if someone has to ask the question, it obviously isn’t clear – especially if everyone else around the table has the same question.

A good question – and there were plenty of them – is pure gold in terms of figuring out how best to move forward with the next draft.

I learned an awful lot in that eight-hour workshop, both about the Saviour play and playwriting itself.

Which brings me to my next point: I choose very wisely WHO I let sort through my dirty laundry.

I have been working with the Alberta Playwrights’ Network on the Saviour script for nearly a decade. Trevor Rueger, the APN’s executive director (and the dramaturg at the table), has earned my trust over the years. Trevor knows what he’s doing. I know he’s not only going to get the right actors to the table, he’s also going to make sure the workshop is of benefit to me. The learning curve for playwriting is steep…I need constructive criticism, honest feedback and useful guidance on that seemingly endless upward climb.

Yet at the end of the day, it is my play and deep down, I KNOW which nuggets of advice to run with – and which ones to leave on the table.

And how do I know? Because of the resounding “click” I feel in my soul when someone says something I needed to hear…like another little piece of the puzzle was just put into place. And since this particular play is about the journey of four different but interconnected souls – mine being one of those – this makes sense.

That the workshop was on the actual 17th anniversary of John’s death was deliberate. I knew magic would happen. And it did. It just wasn’t the fun, Disneyland kind of magic.

It was better.

Here’s what happened:

After an intense session of brainstorming in the afternoon, Trevor called for a break. But the actor who read the part of Sam (the character based on John) and I continued chatting. Or rather, he continued chatting. I scribbled in my notebook what he had to say.

Prior to the break, we’d all been discussing WHAT it would look like for Sam to achieve peace. Sam’s goal – what he had to achieve by the end of the play (which is the moment of his brain-death) – is to be at peace with his sudden death at the age of 32. But the group had been brainstorming about what specific outcome had to happen so that Sam could be “at peace” when he died.

Here’s what the actor who played Sam said to me on break:

“I think what would give Sam the most peace is seeing that Adri is okay…and by that I mean she is taking her writing seriously and that she does, at long last, believe in herself. He needs to see that she has become empowered by him, and his sudden death, to do what she needs to do, which is write. And when he sees that she is empowered and does, finally, begin to write three months after his death, he is able to die in peace.”

I nodded and continuing scribbling like a madwoman as this total stranger summed up Sam’s journey as it relates to Adri – and therefore, of course, John’s journey as it relates to me.

And the actor had more to say.

“Oh, and I think,” he added, “that’s what the connection to Jesus as Saviour is about, too. It was likely not the intent for Jesus to come back and single-handedly save humanity with a magic sweep of his hand. Rather, his job was to be a role model to empower people to save themselves and each other.”

So I HAD hit the mark!

I just need to make the story less convoluted. Easier said than done…but certainly do-able.

After the workshop, I returned to John’s sister place, where I was staying, and collapsed on their couch…overwhelmed and exhausted. I stayed there, staring at the ceiling and processing the day – until a steak dinner got me back on my feet.

The next morning, I woke up, dusted off my bruised ego and jotted down a summary of the key insights. Thanks to the workshop, I now have a clear idea of what needs fixing, why…and how to fix it. My imagination will take care of the rest 😊

You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes and failures. 

– Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life

 

 

published in Change, Environment, Face the Future, Habits, Inspiration by Maryanne | March 16, 2017 | No Comment

Concerned About the Environment?

Face the Future Spring 2017 Blog Series Begins Mar 24th

face_future

“We don’t have much time. If we truly care about the future of our planet we must stop leaving it to “them” out there to solve all the problems. It is up to us to save the world for tomorrow: it’s up to you and me.”

– Jane Goodall, Reason for Hope

Face the Future Campaign; Reducing Our Environmental Footprint One Step at a Time

I love this beautiful planet of ours and care deeply about the environment. I am extremely concerned about many environmental issues, from climate change and warming oceans to the plight of polar bears and the loss of wildlife habitat – and species – the world over.

“The science is clear. The future is not.”

– Before the Flood, an outstanding documentary by Leo DiCaprio & Fisher Stevens

My idea of the perfect Saturday afternoon is lying on the couch reading National Geographic, cover to cover 🙂 My idea of the perfect Sunday afternoon is heading to the woods or beach for a hike with my dog, followed by a couple of hours of puttering in the garden.

I recycle as much as I possibly can. I try not to buy anything unless I really need it. I compost my kitchen and yard waste. I use my reusable coffee cup 99% of the time. Likewise with my Nalgene reusable water bottle. I use a cardboard box and reusable grocery bags to carry my groceries. In the summer, I try to hang my clothes outside to dry instead of using the dryer. I walk instead of drive as much as possible…

But I do have a car. I heat my home with oil. I love to travel and take multiple flights every year. As much as I love the environment and do what I can to lessen my personal footprint, I also contribute my fair share – and perhaps more, when it comes to air travel – to the problems 🙁

Which is probably why I haven’t got the Face the Future environmental awareness campaign going until 2016. I actually planned on getting Face the Future started EIGHT years ago – but for one reason or another, I kept putting it off.

Yes, I was busy with life and other work projects. But I suspect a part of me also felt like a hypocrite. How dare I tell other people how to reduce their environmental footprint when my own footprint is, at times, pretty damn big?

And the answer is: I can really only provide suggestions to people on how to reduce their environmental footprint in ways that I have already reduced my footprint.

So that’s what Face the Future is: a rather personal campaign about raising awareness about environmental issues and providing people with tips on simple ways they can help reduce their environmental footprint or take positive action in some way…because every little bit helps.

So even though I am just one imperfect person running a tiny company with limited resources, I reckon nature needs all the support she can get at this point.

What is Face the Future?

Face the Future is a grass-roots on-line environmental awareness campaign initiated by my company, Pink Gazelle Productions Inc. The purpose of Face the Future is to raise public awareness about the potential global impact of individual actions, while inviting people to be part of the solution by making simple changes in their own lives.

By reflecting the cumulative effect of seemingly harmless habits – such as vehicle idling, regularly using disposable hot beverage cups instead of a reusable cup, buying single-use water bottles instead of using a reusable one, etc – the Face the Future campaign is a call to consumers to ‘face the future’ by thinking globally and then acting locally.

Spring 2017 Blog Series

The Spring 2017 blog series will run from Fri Mar 24th through till Fri Apr 28th.

The Face the Future campaign started as a weekly blog series in the spring of 2016 (April till June).

We also ran a short series in December 2016 with tips on reducing the environmental impact of Christmas.

To read these past Face the Future blogs, please visit our archives page.

Subscribe to Face the Future

If you would like to receive the Face the Future weekly blogs, please subscribe here.

“Giving up is a copout because no one knows what the future holds. And although it is true that each of us is insignificant, a lot of insignificant people add up to a real force. For me, the rewards of getting involved are that I will be able to look my children in the eye and say, ‘I did the best I could.’”

– David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance; Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

Together, we may still be able to change the future we are heading towards…because if we don’t, who will?

take care polar bear picture by Ella

Drawn by Ella, age 7

The next generation, that’s who. And how fair is that?

About Maryanne

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.

About Pink Gazelle Productions Inc

PGP creates authentic works that inspire people to effect positive change in themselves and the world around them. From books, blogs and e-mail campaigns to play scripts and screenplays, PGP is committed to encouraging people to pursue their dreams with passion and purpose. To receive our Weekly Words of Wisdom e-mail, please subscribe here.

published in Change, Climate Change, Environment, Face the Future, Habits, Inspiration, Nature by Maryanne | November 16, 2016 | No Comment

Are You Concerned About the Environment?

 

Face the Future Christmas Blog Series Begins Nov 25th, 2016

face_future

“We don’t have much time. If we truly care about the future of our planet we must stop leaving it to “them” out there to solve all the problems. It is up to us to save the world for tomorrow: it’s up to you and me.”

– Jane Goodall, Reason for Hope

A Bit of Background…

I love this beautiful planet of ours and care deeply about the environment. I am extremely concerned about many environmental issues, from climate change and warming oceans to the plight of polar bears and the loss of wildlife habitat – and species – the world over.

My idea of the perfect Saturday afternoon is lying on the couch reading National Geographic, cover to cover :) My idea of the perfect Sunday afternoon is heading to the woods or beach for a hike with my dog, followed by a couple of hours of puttering in the garden.

I recycle as much as I possibly can. I try not to buy anything unless I really need it. I compost my kitchen and yard waste. I use my reusable coffee cup 99% of the time. Likewise with my Nalgene reusable water bottle. I use a cardboard box and reusable grocery bags to carry my groceries. In the summer, I try to hang my clothes outside to dry instead of using the dryer. I walk instead of drive as much as possible…

But I do have a car. I heat my home with oil. I love to travel and take multiple flights every year. As much as I love the environment and do what I can to lessen my personal footprint, I also contribute my fair share – and perhaps more, when it comes to air travel – to the problems :(

Which is probably why I didn’t get the Face the Future environmental awareness campaign going until the spring of 2016. I actually planned on getting Face the Future started SEVEN years ago – but for one reason or another, I kept putting it off.

Yes, I was busy with life and other work projects. But I suspect a part of me also felt like a hypocrite. How dare I tell other people how to reduce their environmental footprint when my own footprint is, at times, pretty damn big?

And the answer is: I can really only provide suggestions to people on how to reduce their environmental footprint in ways that I have already reduced my footprint.

So that’s what Face the Future is: a rather personal campaign about raising awareness about environmental issues and providing people with tips on simple ways they can help reduce their environmental footprint or take positive action in some way…because every little bit helps.

Even though I am just one imperfect person running a tiny company with limited resources, I reckon Mother Nature needs all the support she can get at this point.

What is Face the Future?

Face the Future is a grass-roots on-line environmental awareness campaign initiated by my company, Pink Gazelle Productions Inc. The purpose of Face the Future is to raise public awareness about the potential global impact of individual actions, while inviting people to be part of the solution by making simple changes in their own lives.

By reflecting the cumulative effect of seemingly harmless habits – such as vehicle idling, regularly using disposable hot beverage cups instead of a reusable cup, buying single-use water bottles instead of using a reusable one, etc – the Face the Future campaign is a call to consumers to ‘face the future’ by thinking globally and then acting locally.

Spring 2016 Blog Series

The Face the Future campaign began in spring 2016 as a weekly blog series, whereby a short blog went out once a week (every Friday) from Friday Apr 22nd (Earth Day) until Fri June 24th, 2016.

To read these blogs, please click here.

Christmas Blog Series: A Few Tips on How to Reduce Your Environmental Footprint During the Season of Gift-Giving

Starting Fri Nov 25th, 2016 we will be sending out a weekly Friday blog (for just 4 Fridays) that will focus on providing tips on how to reduce the environmental impacts of the Christmas season.

Subscribe to Face the Future

If you would like to receive these Face the Future weekly blogs, please subscribe here.

“Giving up is a copout because no one knows what the future holds. And although it is true that each of us is insignificant, a lot of insignificant people add up to a real force. For me, the rewards of getting involved are that I will be able to look my children in the eye and say, ‘I did the best I could.’”

– David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance; Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

Together, we may still be able to change the future we are heading towards.  Because if we don’t, who will?

take care polar bear picture by Ella

The next generation, that’s who. And how fair is that?

“The science is clear. The future is not.”

– Before the Flood, an outstanding documentary by Leo DiCaprio & Fisher Stevens

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive the Face the Future blogs, please sign up here.