Tom Minter's Off The Stoop Blog

a playwright's journey, creating, connecting, and conversing.

Archive for January 2011

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In 2004, in the Theater section of the June 20th edition of the New York Times, Jesse McKinley wrote an article entitled: THEATRE; Workshopped to Death.

This article identified a growing theater practice of putting plays through protracted opportunities, such as table readings, and workshops; the reasons suggested were twofold, and interrelated: money & risk.

It was articulation of a sharp moment of reality for the theatre world, playwrights, producers and audiences. It was a moment bemoaned as the possible ratification of a worsening trend.

That moment has indeed achieved some permanence in our theater culture; and having read, Hey, Kids, Let’s Put On A Reading, an article that appeared in the Theater section of the New York Times, by Erik Piepenburg on January 20th, 2011, I find myself even more concerned.

Being in on the ‘table reading’ is now seen as a commitment to the ‘journey’ of the play; supporting this opportunity, an audience feels it is directly supporting the opportunity of new work, and new voices –while, through the looking glass, in the current reality for playwrights, there is a new basement; and to achieve entry, you’d best be an even better and more fierce politician than before; this new tier is the bottom line of a company’s financing.

Having turned table readings into legitimate theater experiences, we distance plays even further from performance and production, and further codify the economy’s dominating strictures of money & risk.

We also seem to forget that this stricture did not always form policy, or substantiate a portion of a company’s demographic; and in forgetting, expectations are redefined; though there may be benefit in this, for theater audiences, and a broadening of their education in a play’s genesis, I believe it conversely shortens a writer’s reach; imagination will shirk from fully utilizing the ‘tools’ of stagecraft -multi-media, technology- as it is a layer of magic that often must be witnessed to be understood, and is never easily put across at a table reading.

In fact, the details of ‘stage directions’ is an encumbrance in a reading presentation, and if the play is too full of ambition, or if its presentation is a synergistic layer of production, an audience might lose the tale at table..

And what company would want to take that risk?

In adapting, we seem to be creating a new kind of entertainment; hopefully it is not one where we are endowing companies with the imperative to offer easily imagined fodder, being, as they are, momentarily short on forks and knives..


Written by tomminteroffthestoop

January 23, 2011 at 1:25 PM


with one comment

…I don’t know why I bother; the aim should always be for “balance”, not something level and static.

The autumn holiday chute from Halloween- which is now virtually stitched to Christmas shopping (gliding over Turkey and Stuffing), rapidly rattling us through New Years, into the back wash results of many manic compromises, debilitating family encounters, and possibly humbling overdrafts- has now idled into the slow grade of mounting another year..

I’d handily been keeping sight of the days I made my way through; come late October I suddenly found myself on a hurtling roller coaster of deadlines, advancements, impediments, vistas and victories; and now it is late January.

…time to account for the end of 2010; I’m feeling like narcolepsy had touched my shoulder, and released me three months later..

This isn’t the case; the truth is that work in the classroom, work on In The Shadow of the Phoenix, and a vortex of anticipations surrounding burgeoning acclaim for The King’s Speech, have consumed time in a way I’d never experienced before.

The school year is now in its lurch to June; the students I’m working with have grappled with their imagination and gripped stories which are being melded to music; visionary beasts on shimmering crystal islands have voice and melody; a genie wishes, and a little girl works magic; and a class identifies African American singing pioneers, and create a video documentary of the investigation.

…in the personal career sphere..

The development of In The Shadow of the Phoenix has migrated from the frame of a “three part” serial – to a “six part” serial. Writing out Episode One, and then putting together the mosaic of a treatment that explains the narrative arc of the subsequent five episodes has seen me banging on the computer, almost ceaselessly, for the last 45 days..

Then there is the advancement of The King’s Speech; now enveloping 14 BAFTA nominations!

..So; the immediate wrestle, of creating structure for the serial, is accomplished; students work happily towards their deadlines..

..and in the pause, I keep perspective; as the many gifts of good fortune, balance with reality and the truth of living; giving understanding to how fragile it all really is..

Written by tomminteroffthestoop

January 21, 2011 at 9:14 AM

An incredible Opening

with 2 comments was an incredible opening event, in DC, at Gallery Plan b last night; Rod Glover has struck out in a wonderful new direction, utilizing textures and char, leading an observer into an artist’s envelopment of Nature; a dance that weaves associatively, between forest and fables; it is in perfect resonance with Paula Amt’s new paintings, of structures and figures, in which are powerful character details; and, to my dark mind, enticements to an undiscovered story from the Brothers Grimm, in shades of entrapment and dusk!

Hurry, if you’re in the area, go see the exhibit; many pieces are already red tagged, designated “sold”, and justly heading for places in personal collections!


Written by tomminteroffthestoop

January 16, 2011 at 10:14 AM

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