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Showing posts from June, 2010

Change the world? Nah. Change Act One.

Isn't it odd how role-models find us? I never thought, for example, that I would grow up to be a playwright. I wanted to be the first woman Pope.   Never mind that Presbyterians don't believe in the Holy See.  I thought I had the personality to break through all that nonsense. Although I've been writing for the theatre since I was an adolescent, I always considered my playwright activity a hobby - never a calling. In my mind, I saw myself more of an Eleanor Roosevelt type than a Beth Henley.  You know who Eleanor is, don't you?  And Henley?  That's what I thought. Let me help . . . Beth Henley wrote the wonderful play, "Crimes of the Heart" and then essentially, retired. Don't be embarrassed.  I never heard of Beth either.  Not until I started writing plays and paying attention to the ones I admire.  Before then, I considered myself a social reformer. Most of my professional life has been slapping back the powers-that-be, and educating the r

So little to make me happy

The kids were almost grown when I bought my first new refrigerator. I remember the day it arrived.  It was huge.  The door alone held the entire contents of the refrigerator it replaced. Two days after it settled into my kitchen, my friend Mary stopped by for a visit.  I ushered her to meet my new appliance and she smiled at the introduction. "You're happy about this, aren't you?" she asked.  "It takes so little." Mary was right. Writers thrive on simplicity; when our basic needs are met, we're in heaven. A bathroom with pipes that don't leak, a functioning furnace in winter and a well stocked refrigerator give the writer security, confidence and inspiration. I used to think I needed more - someone by my side to cheer me on, a band of jolly friends to applaud every effort and approve of every accomplishment. Now, I think and feel differently. The psychologist Maslov posited that human beings cannot function unless basic needs are met.

Hearing voices

I write my plays at W.A. Frost, an elegant Saint Paul bar in the heart of the city. August Wilson used to write here.  Last week the bartender showed me the bar stool where he used to sit.  Scruffy, distant, caught up in the crafting of his dialogue, Wilson drew quiet attention while he wrote.  "He talked to himself ," the bartender said.  "Got real animated too.  Like you." When I write my plays,  I record what the characters in my head say to each other.  In my imagination, I see their posture, watch their gestures, and write stage directions to replicate their attitudes and emotions. I didn't realize, however, that I'm mouthing their words.  Not until the Frost bartender told me so. "Must go with the territory," he winked as he poured me another glass of pinot grigio.  "You're all a little flaky, huh?" Writing plays is like writing fiction - only more so. The fiction writer creates the scene.  Pulling from a repertoi