Category Archives: playwright

2011 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Naming

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Look
See what I hold in my hands
Not a full something, yet
Until I name it. 
Until it is named.
What I call is will make it real
Balancing the name,
Carrying the name,
Wearing the name,
Becoming or disavowing the name,
Until, eventually, forgotten,
It falls apart from memory.

Look
What I name it has it's own power
Be it meek and mild
or strong and fierce 
The naming carries weight
And what I give it now
Will last a lifetime
And maybe more
It will be up to the named.

Look
Be witty or obtuse
Symbolical or Syllable driven
Contrived or Biblical
New Aged or Traditionalist
What is named becomes real
The reality is complete
The character is yet to be set
Where do we go from here?

The Sanguine Milk of Human Kindness

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“He is so thoroughly mean and evil,” she said.

“Yes, he is.” After some more observing, he smiled, and added: “I like him.’

“So do I.”

They were enjoying the musical very, very much, and the male lead had the audience in his hands. William was dancing while dangling from the the main support beam; Hannah maintained her form, as she was in her best gown for opening night, and stood swaying from the flies. In shadow, they stayed out of the way of the stage crew, as they had done ever since they found the playhouse, soon after it was built in 1931.

Feeding gently on the various thespians and crew over the years kept them both sated and happy; never a death, never anything more than a slight “case of the vapors” (so long ago), or a need, now,  for extra vitamins and “recreational” medicines. This was bliss for the two, and they knew how to show their appreciation.

They had experienced many plays over the past eighty years, from joyous to downright dreadful. The really good ones sent them into flights of fancy; the horrible ones they hid from, cringing in the wings on opening nights, hoping against all hope that something would pull together. Those nights, they slunk off and drank their sorrows away, elsewhere.

Tonight was not one of those nights. This musical was magic, the leads were solid, and the cast’s enjoyment in their craft was infectious. Hannah did not have to convince William in the least. This was a night for celebrations.

“Time?” he asked, raising his eyes to meet hers. She was already changing shape, losing mass in the way their kind just did, and her dress transformed with her into bat like form. William always thought this revamp suited her well, but he was funny that way.

“Time,” Hannah answered, and off she flew, with William close behind her.

They both flew over the audience, causing quite the sensation. The audience “Ooooed” and “Ahhhhed”,  a mixture of pleasure  at the song being sung and also noticing the two Civic Center Bats (capitalized, as they were part of the mythos) flying overhead.

It was said when the Bats flew out, the play was a hit. When William and Hannah did not take to wing, the play was a flop, and everyone knew it. The actresses and actors, and finger crossed directors, collectively held their breaths, so to speak, trusting the bats on a wing and a prayer.

Well, two sets of wings, and a lot of prayer.

William stayed up high, as was his want. Hannah dove over the stage, circled once over the male lead, showing her approval, and then flew back to the flies high above the stage. William was already there as she misted back to humanoid form. He walked over, adjusted her dress just so, and gave her a kiss. Hannah returned the kiss, deeply, and the two of them watched the rest of the performance from way above the stage.

He had his arm around her shoulders and she had her arm around his waist.

When the show was over, they roundly joined  in the applause, shouting “Bravo!” and “Encore!” with the rest of the assemblage. Except for their extended canines and the fact they were hanging upside down from a catwalk, they were like the rest of the crowd: appreciative for a show well done.

The cast came out for it’s encore, and the theater quieted down. William and Hannah, who had been privy to all the rehearsals, knew the encore song quite well. They held hands while they sang along…

“The milk of human kindness is the loveliest drink in the world, the loveliest drink in the world, that’s what people think in the world…”

Soon, show over, crowds gone, the cast and stage crew packing up for the night… feeding time…

It was the loveliest drink in the world

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Author’s Note

I was told a tale by the male lead of the musical “Scrooge”, now playing at the Muncie Civic Theatre in Indiana. I met Todd Terrell many years ago at the Indiana Thespian Festival, where I was a Guest Artist, running theater  workshops for truly amazing High School students. Todd was in charge of it all at that time, a well respected theater teacher.

I am equally sure he is an excellent actor. If you live in the Muncie, Indiana area, RUN to get tickets. The show only runs in December.

Todd briefly mentioned the Civic Theater bats to me, how they flew out on his opening night, how he got a standing ovation on said night, and how when the bats (who lived somewhere in the theater) flew, that show was always a hit. The ones where the bats did not fly, well…there was guano on the stage, and the audiences knew it .

So…hearing the story and the theatrical superstition around it, I just took it that one (or two) steps beyond. Hope you like it.

The song lyrics of “The Milk of Human Kindness” are (c) by Leslie Bricusse and I only used what was freely offered on line. If you want the whole song, there is a thing called royalties. Pay them…it’s good karma.

Interview With The Writer: JC Martin, of Fighter Writer

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Why An Interview on Tale Spinning?

I will be co-hosting, in October 2011, a month long Fiction Writers Blog Fest called The Rule of Three. We created a shared world set in the town of Renaissance, gave it it’s setting, some of it’s history, the potential for it’s future…but the stories of the inhabitants of Renaissance, ah…those we’ll find out together. (For my teaser story, click HERE).

All the information will be unleashed on Wednesday, August 31st. Plenty of time to sign into the project. The Basics: create a 3 person story arc, one posting per week for three weeks (with prompts provided if you need them), each posting dealing with the story you are building towards through the POV of one of your three characters. There will be one more posting, the culmination of the story you’ve been telling week by week, one final burst into the story you’ve set in Renaissance.  Yes, very Rashomon.

As to the interviews…I’d like you to meet my c0-hosts.

Interview With The Writer: J.C. Martin

I was recently introduced to JC Martin the person though a shared acquaintance, Damyanti Biswas. I had been familiar with her through her blog, J.C. Martin, Fighter Writer, and I know she is very well known and well liked in the blog universe.

JC is joining Damyanti Biswas, Lisa Vooght and myself as we embark on a fiction writers blogfest that we created. The full announcement will be going up on August 31st, but you can get a sneak peak here (story and link to some of the information). JC brings a lot of writing and blog fest experience to our small but humble group, and we are lucky to have her aboard.

Can you tell the readers about JC Martin the author?

I’m kind of new to the writing world. In the past, I’ve dabbled a bit in writing fan fiction and other bits and bobs, but the last year was my first as a serious writer. To free up more time for writing, I had a career change, leaving school-teaching to become a full time martial arts instructor. So far, I’ve had some short stories published in various anthologies, plus I set up and co-edited the charity anthology Stories for Sendai. I begin querying my novel right about…now! *eep*

Oh, and you can find me blogging at J.C. Martin, Fighter Writer. I’m also on Facebook and on Twitter.

How would you describe your writing style?

Feedback from a couple of agents described my style as “very commercial”, so it looks like I’m not going to be the next Toni Morrison. 😉 Doesn’t bother me, though, as I write stories that are heavy on the action. I like to think of my style as the lovechild of Stephen King and old-school James Patterson: simple, straightforward language, with a heavy-hitting story.

Are you a writer who blogs or a blogger who writes? Is there a difference?

I believe the difference lies behind your intentions of starting a blog. If your blog is there to establish a platform, then you’re a writer who blogs. If you’ve just been keeping an online journal and decided to pursue a career in writing, then you’re a blogger who writes. I’m one of the former. Blogging’s still pretty new to me.

What writer(s) have inspired you, and why?

Stephen King’s perseverance through hardships and his wicked imagination. His part-memoir, part-how-to book On Writing has been one of the most useful books on the craft I’ve read.

What are your thoughts about self publishing? Have you already or do you plan to?

I think it can work if you have marketing savvy and an established fan base, but there is a lot of work involved that will take time away from writing. Apart from Stories for Sendai, and perhaps another short story collection I’m working on, I’m planning on going the traditional route with my novels, just for that extra little bit of guidance along the way. Plus, I believe traditional publishing will expose my book to a wider audience.

I know you like Blogfests. Can you tell us what draws you to them? What was your favorite one?

They can be fantastic writing prompts that really get the creative juices flowing. Plus they are excellent places to meet fellow writers and to discover new talent. I enjoy reading all the different takes on the same theme, and to learn more about my writer pals. I’m not sure if it counts as a blogfest, but I enjoyed Rachael Harrie’s 2nd Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade. The writing challenges were tough but fun, and very useful. Also, any blogfest on writing queries, pitches, or involving an agent is a win in my books!

You are one of the co-hosts of The Rule of Three Fiction Writers Blog Fest. What excites you about this, to take this on?

Damyanti @ amloki approached me about the blogfest, and because she’s a good friend, I knew she must be onto something. I’m excited to read all the fascinating takes on the town of Renaissance by participants that will incorporate the rule of three, plus I’m intrigued by the additional mystery prompts. This sounds like the most challenging blogfest ever! It’s definitely the biggest I’ve helped organize, but I’m in great company!

Anything else you’d like the reader to know?

Can I do a shameless plug here for Stories for Sendai? 100% of profits go towards aid efforts in the earthquake and tsunami hit regions of Japan. There are 19 short stories and a poem written by wonderful writers who contributed their works free for the good of the cause. By purchasing a copy, you’ll not only be doing your bit for charity, you’ll be helping these writers gain some exposure! E-book version available on Amazon and print versions available here and here.

If you could have a summit with world leaders, and they HAD to answer your questions, what two or three questions would you want answered most?

Uh-oh…I’m not a politics/world events kind of gal. Maybe…how they plan on preserving the wildlife in the world’s oceans, rainforests and natural habitats, without compromising the livelihood of the peoples living within or near these habitats? Oh, and it would be awesome if some sort of international writing grant could be set up so writers can concentrate on writing, and not have to get a full time job!  😉

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Thank you very much Jin. 

Please come back the next two days, as Lisa (8/29) and Damyanti (8/30)  explore the same questions, and continue to meet the three amazing women I am working with.

Be HERE on August 31st for the full disclosure of The Rule of Three: Renaissance, where everyone has a secret!

This Is My Father Speaking (…everywhere I look…)

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Everywhere I look…it’s Nazi, Germany.
Everywhere I look…it’s…
 
Be careful where you walk now
Be careful where you tread
The dead are down below us
Tons of earth upon their heads
 
Be careful what you say
Where you look or how you sigh
Stay silent in your prayers
Today again they passed you by
 
And the children couldn’t cry out
As the adults closed their eyes
Whether gas or guns
What did it matter?
The dead they are disguised
 
I know, I know
For the heaps that went to hide them
Were piled on by my hands
My sweat mixed with the earth,
to make this travesty of man
 
I know, I know
That their wails were also for me
As I worked so ever harder
To be left alive…to survive
To hide my shame
 
Surrounded by the hardened, the criminal
and the strong
Each day’s survival for me then
Meant another in the hole
Another hundred in the hole
Another thousand in the hole…
 
And the children couldn’t cry out
As the adults closed their eyes
Whether gas or guns
It just didn’t matter
The dead…so many…are disguised
 
Everywhere I look, it’s Nazi, Germany
Everywhere I look, it’s…
Everywhere I look…
It’s………………………..
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To listen to the music that accompanies the above lyrics: everywhere I look
Lyrics and Music (c) by Stuart Nager
“everywhere I look…” Logo by Chuck Davis

I wrote the above in early fall of 1997. My father had almost died and was in the hospital. He was a concentration camp survivor (Auschwitz), and his mental scars were always there. He said this to me: “Don’t you see? Everywhere I look, it’s Nazi, Germany.” I’m not going into the full context of this here (you’ll have to come see my play based on all this “everywhere I look…”). I did go home soon after that, and wrote those lyrics.

They went into the drawer, were taken out every now and then, and I had the music in my head from the get go. I don’t play a musical instrument, so I had musicians help me out (Thank you, Josh, Chris & Natty) to transcribe what I heard inside.

Over the years, I started to write a play around the song, dealing with true stories of what I knew of my dad, and my stories of bigotry and mass hatred that continue today. I finally “finished” the play in 2007, pushed along as I achieved my Masters in Oral Traditions. It was performed in NYC in 2010 and I am still shopping the play around to perform it elsewhere. Please contact me for more information.