Archive for Playwriting Posts

Shaping Our Lives – Lessons Learned from Eyebrows & Play Scripts

 

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”

― Joshua Becker

What do eyebrows have to do with a play script…and more importantly, what do they have to do with you?

I was looking in the mirror the other day and it occurred to me (not for the first time) that I scarcely have any eyebrows left.

I’m not the only who has noticed this. In the summer, a friend (after one too many drinks, mind you) commented that I looked “rather like an egg.” With such candid friends, who need adversaries?

Anyhoo…last week I paid a visit to my hairdresser and she offered to wax my brows.

“NO!” I cried. “I have nothing left to wax. I already look like an EGG!”

“Trust me,” she said.

So I did. A few strips and several plucks later, she leaned back from her handiwork and smiled. “Voila!”

I looked in the mirror and low and behold, I had eyebrows again.

By removing the “peach fuzz” (her words not mine; 14-year-old boys have peach fuzz, not 50-year-old women) from around the actual brow, she’d given shape and clarity to my eyebrows. They were still thin but at least you could SEE them.

Maryanne in Saviour play workshop, Jan 2019

Fast forward a couple of days and I found myself in yet another workshopping of my play script, Saviour, throught the Alberta Playwrights Network. The last time my Big Fat Greek Play Script had been workshopped by professional actors, it was a whopping 143 pages. That bad boy sized script would translate to more than two and a half hours performance-time.

Ugh.

This time around, however, I was heading into the workshop with a 119-page script…better but it still needed a good trim. My goal is to get the script to about 100 pages (which would translate to approximately one hour and forty-five minutes performance time).

Thankfully, this workshop was only 3 hours – versus the 8-hour workshop I had in 2017. This meant that after the actors had read the script out loud, there was limited time left for discussion. So what little discussion we had was very focused and succinct…and therefore extremely helpful to me, the playwright.

L to R: Col Cseke, Kathryn Kerbes & Trevor Rueger in Saviour workshop at APN, Jan 2019

 

Kathryn Kerbes reading the part of Virginia Woolf

 

L to R: Trevor Rueger & Val Lieske reading Saviour at APN, Jan 2019

I left the workshop with a very clear idea of what had to be cut and what sections needed clarification. I went home and, while it was still fresh in my mind, immediately made the rough changes on the actual printed copy of the script. The next morning, I sat down at my computer and started making the changes in the word doc.

And voila! My Pleasantly Plump Play began to shrink even further…and low and behold, the essence of the play emerged.

Just like the brow trimming, it was only by removing the extraneous bits in my script (that I had been unable to see) that my play began to take shape.

My challenge to you (and me) for 2019

What extraneous bits could you trim from your life? Are there any habits, behaviours, attitudes, beliefs, thought-patterns, relationships or activities that you could delete (or at least cut back on) that might help give you more clarity about your purpose?

Just as it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees (or the eyebrows for the peach fuzz), so too can it be difficult to live up to our potential when we are being pulled in a dozen different directions…many of which are likely NOT helping get us where we want to go.

If the shape of your life is not quite as you’d like it, I challenge you to trim a component (or two) that is no longer serving you. And I shall do the same 😊

Related blog by Maryanne

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

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 Achieving Your Dreams, Beauty, Inspiration, Playwriting, Travel by Maryanne | January 24, 2018 | 16 Comments

Surprise! Greetings from Newport

 

Smiling Sadie

“Learn to recognize omens and follow them.”

– From The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

If it’s okay with you, I think I will return to blogging weekly on this road trip. Not only is the scenery spectacular, I dare say some interesting stories also seem to be emerging 🙂

After leaving Cannon Beach (I was a bit sad to leave our sweet little Sunflower Cottage), this was our first pit stop:

Hug Point, just south of Cannon Beach, OR

Then a couple of miles down the road, we had to stop again because THIS was the view:

Oregon coastline

A couple of hours later, we came to one of my all-time favourite places on the planet (which I visited a few  years ago but was grappling with nasty cluster migraines at the time…ugh):

Boiler Bay, just north of Depot Bay, OR

When I got back in the car, I remembered a comment from a WWOW reader (from last week’s blog) who suggested that I stop at the Tidal Raves Restaurant in Depot Bay for the world’s best crab cakes. I’m in!

So I google the address and low and behold, it was five minutes down the road. So I pull into the parking lot, belly up to the bar and order myself a round of crab cakes. All was calm while waiting for said crab cakes. I just sat there, minding my own business, watching the waves and sipping a coffee. And then the crab cakes arrived:

Crab cakes at the Tidal Raves Restaurant, Depot Bay

Yum! But it was what happened right after the crab cakes arrived (and I promptly began devouring them) that something interesting happened. The two older men who had been sitting beside me the entire time suddenly decided I was rather fascinating. They asked me where I was from, what I was doing, where I was going, etc.

They were in Depot Bay for a tennis tournament and were just waiting for the rest of their party to arrive for dinner. I asked where they were from.

“Ashland,” said one man.

Perhaps noticing my blank look, the other man asked me if I’d ever heard of Ashland, Oregon.

“No.” I said.

Then I was treated to an extensive description of where Ashland is (near the California border), why it’s so great (it has the world’s largest not-for-profit Shakespeare festival that runs for 9 months of the year and stages half Shakespeare plays and half everything else), which celebrities have homes there (Johnny Depp, Neil Donald Walsch and Bill Gates) and why I have to go (because of the vibe…it’s very special).

Now, here’s the odd thing: I didn’t tell them I was a writer, or that I was in the middle of writing a play or that I loved theatre. They just seemed to think that Ashland was very much a place I needed to check out.

After my crab cakes were devoured, the rest of their party arrived so they said good-bye and went to sit at the table. But a moment later, one of them raced back over to me, leaned down and whispered in my ear, “I am independently wealthy. I could live ANYWHERE in the world and I choose Ashland. You have to go!”

“Okay,” I said with a smile.

Then off he went to join his buddies. And I, stuffed with crab cakes, waddled back to the car and headed to my VRBO digs for the next week in Newport, a.k.a “Crab Cottage”:

My Newport VRBO, “Crab Cottage”

The lovely and spacious Crab Cottage is owned by a commercial fishing family. After the 300 square foot Sunflower Cottage in Cannon Beach, Sadie and I are losing each other in 1000 square feet.

Mr Crab stained-glass window on front door

 

The beach at the end of our street in historic Nye Beach

 

Yours truly on a break from writing

As with most of my writing projects, the Bungalow by the Sea play script is turning out to be a valuable (but rather uncomfortable at times) learning experience about life. As I try to make sense of my seven noisy years in Sidney, BC (albeit through the character of “Josie”), I thought this passage from The Alchemist to be rather apt:

“Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that we learned along the way…so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved towards that dream.”

– Paulo Coelho

In hindsight, it’s almost as if the seven years I spent trying to write in the world’s noisiest bungalow by the sea was instrumental in me mastering the lessons I needed to learn for the next leg of my journey…which is now.

Sadie on Agate Beach, Newport, OR

“If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And if you improve upon the present, what comes later will also be better.”

– From The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I’m not sure if I’ll be adding Ashland to my trip itinerary or not – but I’m definitely looking into it 🙂

That’s it from the peanut gallery…take care, thanks for reading & see you next week!

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, Collaboration, Creativity, Dreams/Goals, Playwriting, Writing by Maryanne | December 6, 2017 | 4 Comments

Write On – Exploring What We Know May Teach Us What We Need to Learn

 

MA writing in Anacortes, WA

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

– Anais Nin

Greetings from Victoria!

My apologies for not getting a blog written last week. I was on Orcas Island (San Juan Islands) in Washington state and the power kept going out. And when the power was on, I was madly writing The Neighbours play script – now tentatively titled Bungalow by the Sea.

The good news: I made tremendous headway on the play over the past two weeks – thanks in huge part to Lynne Karey-McKenna, an actress and director who is helping me develop the script. Lynne also has a background in psychology, which is turning out to be rather handy.

Lynne reading script

Getting the key scenes in place has been relatively straightforward since the play is based on my real-life experience of living next door to noisy neighbours on a busy street. There’s no shortage of comedic scenarios to draw from…blaring music, spectacular arguments, boa constrictors in the shed, bandsaws, an old fridge in the yard, power washers, raging bonfires, leaf blowers, nail guns, rats in the crawlspace (mine), trucks roaring by, etc.

The sound tech is going to LOVE producing this play when the time comes!

The not-so-good news is that trying to determine the main character’s (“Josie”) motivation for putting up with the noise and madness for seven years has been a little…uncomfortable, shall we say.

For who in their right mind would STAY – when they don’t have to?

It’s a good question…one this particular playwright is in the midst of trying to answer.

I am (obviously) a firm believer in the old adage: “Write what you know.” I like this advice not because it’s easier to write what we know – but rather because writing what we know has tremendous potential to teach us what we need to learn…if we can get out of our own way.

But writing, of course, isn’t the only way to explore potentially useful lessons that may be hiding in a difficult life experience…or, perhaps more importantly, our response to that experience.

MA & Lynne by fire at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island

Working with Lynne on Bungalow by the Sea is helping me do just that – kicking, screaming and arguing all the way, of course…rather like my former neighbours. But there have been an awful lot of laughs, as well…for good ol’ “Josie” is quite the nutty character herself 😉

As for life on the road?

Ahhh…plenty of valuable lessons being offered up here, as well. As an example, I am learning (whether I like it or not), to be flexible. This has never been a strength of mine.

I am a planner…I like things to go according to plan. I love order. I need to be organized.

Hah! All of this has now officially flown out the window of my jam-packed CRV.

For as a friend recently asked (in a kind way): “Uhhh…isn’t the point of a Bohemian adventure to NOT plan every detail and just go with the flow?”

In theory, yes. In practice, this micro-manager has some adjusting to do.

Here are a few more photos from my travels over the past couple of weeks:

Lovely shot of dusk at Eastsound on Orcas Island

 

Waterfall on the way to Mt Constitution, Orcas Island

Great shot of Sadie & her pal, Monte, in Anacortes, WA

 

Wow…poor old Garfield didn’t fare so well after Sadie & Monte got a hold of him 🙁

 

My writing assistant slacking off by the fire…again!

A note about WWOW…

So that I can focus on my road trip and bigger writing projects over the next few months, I will be sending out a WWOW blog every second Wednesday, instead of every Wednesday.

See…look at me learning to be flexible 😊

Related blogs by Maryanne

It’s Never Too Late to Revise – Lessons in Creative Collaboration

It’s Never Too Late to Revise – Part 2

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