Sunday, August 19, 2018

Another Opening, another Closing -- the same night

I'm participating in another one-day play festival at the Ruskin Theatre in Santa Monica.  That's where five playwrights meet at 9:00 AM, are given a topic, two actors, and three hours to write a ten-minute play.   Actors and directors learn and stage them in the afternoon and tonight at 7:30 and 9:00 they're presented to you the lucky public.

It's a great writing exercise.  As fellow playwright, Matthew Weaver, observed:  You don't have time to question whether something is "good."   In a sense, the speed of the exercise forces you to get out of your own way.

A number of plays I've written for this project have been accepted in festivals around the world.  Two of them will be included in the Short + Sweet Hollywood Festival next month in, of all places, Hollywood.  One I'll be directing as well.

In fairness, some other plays I wrote for the Ruskin will mercifully never see the light of day again.  But that's part of the fun.  You never really know what you're going to get.  And that adds a charge of electricity to the night.

Anyway, here's where you go for more information.  And if you're there, stop by and say hello.  I'll be the one either beaming in the corner or hiding behind a plant. 


MikeKPa. said...

Hiding behind a plant, channeling Arte Johnson. Veeeeery interesting.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I'll try come by if I can. And this time 🙊. I promise. Otherwise, break a leg.

Norm said...

Good luck tonight

Janet Ybarra said...

Looking forward to your recap later, and, of course, break a leg. :)

Betty said...

Oooh, very excited to see they're doing your play "When Romcoms Go Bad" here in Pittsburgh next month!

Steve Lanzi (formerly known as qdpsteve) said...

Ken, one thing I imagine is nice about writing/producing these quickie one-act plays is that they're basically critic-proof. :-)

E. Yarber said...

The interesting thing about the Cafe plays is that they're so basic by necessity that you can often see the grain of sand the writer is trying to develop a pearl around. Last night, for example, your effort essentially BEGAN with a punch line, and the course you had to follow after that was escalating the gag into a little world of its own.

Your two characters started out by making an obvious left turn when they needed to go right, and the trick was to maintain a perverse logical progression by keeping them moving left at each step. Like the situation in today's post, they had to maintain an integrity to their chaos. The further they went in the wrong direction, the more victorious they felt in their own minds. The gap between their perceived success and the audience's understanding of the reality they'd face was where the laughs came in.

At that point, the capper had to be a final mistake that was sweeping enough to encompass all the previous errors. You managed it by switching gears from pop culture to a well-known literary reference, which bumped the material into a different sort of character. The only way to get out of the maze you'd created with the original punch line was to start over with a different punch line... and then end with a blackout. The audience intuitively understood that they'd gone all the way through a process and the hapless characters would merely repeat the same course after that, probably ad infinitum.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Damn, E. Missed you again! Was that you in the cab?