Monday, October 31, 2011

The Resident Playwright in the Offseason

Hey dudes,

Endstation's resident playwright Joshua Mikel here to fill you in on a little of what I do in the offseason.

While most of the company members' plates are full with preparations for next season, my job as resident playwright when I'm not in residence is basically what it is when I am: to write (just in less beautiful locales). But even more so, my job when I leave Amherst is to seek productions for the plays I've written. So I've been writing, rewriting, seeking out folks to produce my stuff, and luckily have had some good fortune thanks to it.
(The first read through of "Aesop, Come Back!" at Mount Paran with directors Meagan Morgan and Adam Slocum and the 27 actor cast!)

While up in Amherst this summer, I was in early talks about writing a commissioned piece with an old friend of mine and FSU alum, Meagan Morgan, who is the theatre director at Mount Paran Academy in Kennesaw, Georgia. I did a great deal of research for the piece up in Amherst which would eventually become "Aesop, Come Back," a modern adaptation of (my favorite) Aesop's fables. It went into rehearsals soon after my return from Virginia, and eventually opened with seven performances in one undoubtedly tiring weekend for the actors and crew. I got a chance to make it up for a number of the rehearsals and finally the last performance, and was so proud of the work Meagan, Adam (codirector), her crew, and wildly talented group of 27 (yes, Twenty. Seven!) middle school actors had done. After the performance, I made some small changes to the piece cutting the proverbial fat and shipped it off for the folks at Playscripts to consider for publication, as I think it would be an excellent piece for middle schools looking to cater to a huge group of actors. I'll be sure to brag about that if I get some good news back from the Playscripts folks.

("Shelter" Poster I created for the production at LHU)

This year at our festival Ad Hoc reading series I workshopped a piece I wrote called "Shelter." It's a play about three siblings trapped in their parent's bomb shelter post apocalypse, and it's maybe a bit more cheery than that might lead you to believe. After the reading, Endstation's education director, Angie Gallagher, got in touch with me about producing the piece up at Lock Haven University where she's on faculty. I, of course, agreed. It's rarely that easy to find productions for one's plays, but then again, I've never gotten a premiere production that didn't at first begin with a friend championing my work.

(Shelter at Lock Haven University. L to R Corey Wilson, Cody Goldberg, and Kathleen Good)

The best part of the deal is that the LHU student association and Players Club (their theatre troupe) found the funds to have me up for the beginning of the process and have me back for the production. So just a couple weeks ago I went up for the beginning of rehearsals, and was able to work with Angie and the actors. During my stay I had some invaluable time to make changes on the script alongside the team, and left having penned three new drafts of the play, worked out some huge logistical issues, and got it to a spot where I think I can't do much more with it until I see it produced. I even got an early look at the set for the piece from Lock Haven's technical director and set designer David Tidwell.

(Undressed set rendering for "Shelter" at LHU by David Tidwell)

You can see more about the production by following the Facebook page the Lock Haven team created here:

While I was up at Lock Haven I also received the good news that my play "The Red Pants Blue Pants Marionette Spectacular," (a one act comedic farce) which had a closed reading up at this year's festival was a finalist for the Thornton Wilder Playwriting award, and would be published by Playscripts Inc. I think it will be a good fit for high school competitions. You'll soon be able to read and order books of the play here:

And the good news kept on coming when I received word from Playscripts that my 2010 Endstation Post Haste piece "PIRATES! Theodore Thud and the Quest for Weird Beard," which was published by Playscripts earlier in 2011 would be receiving its first production from none other than Ashley Byrne, a Lynchburg native, and director at Holy Cross Regional Catholic High School. They're planning to do a production November 3rd for the community at 6 PM. Please check it out!!! It's a ton of fun for kids, and in the vein of my other TYA play performed at this year's festival "Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island."

(Holy Cross' production of "PIRATES!" in rehearsal)

My next project I'm writing is a ten minute piece for our good friend, playwriting initiative alum, and artistic director of Tympanic Theatre Company in Chicago Dan Caffrey for a night of ten minute plays they're calling "Deliver Us" based on the album "Nebraska" by Bruce Springsteen. It promises to be a good time, and they've assembled one hell of a group of playwrights to write the pieces that will be performed.

Well, I guess that's enough braggin' and BSin' for now. I absolutely can't wait to be back up to Amherst next summer. Until then, take care and thanks for reading!

+joshua mikel


~Shelbie said...

Go, Josh!!!

Aaron said...

This is just. So. Great. Strong work, brother.

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