Friday, April 29, 2011

Highland Center, Indiana ready for its reading

I was sitting in The Burren on Monday (right before the open mic for playwrights with STAB) with Krista D'Agostino, one of the founders and the artistic director of Holland Productions, and we were talking about Highland Center, Indiana and it suddenly hit me we were talking about my play. It was quite an out-of-body experience. We were talking about it the same way we would talk about any other play from oh, say, Sam Shepard, and it was all hanging together and I was pretty darn happy and proud all of a sudden.

Its first reading is on Tueasday at 7:00 at Boston Playwrights' Theater (unabashed self-promotion.) Along with Krista directing (an extraordinarily talented director who made me so happy when she emailed me and said she LOVED the play), the cast is like the New York Yankees of Boston actors.

Hank: Daniel Berger-Lewis
Alice Anne: Sarah Newhouse
Henry: Will Lymon
JP: Bob Pemberton

And we're still looking for a Billy.

Here's something the theater put together on the play. 

I'm pretty happy with the script. I say "pretty happy" because experience has told me that I could open it up tomorrow and see so many new things. Things to add, things to take out, changes in direction. But I'm confident that it's ready for Tuesday and, after months of anxiety, that's a really good feeling.

Another good (and scary feeling) is knowing I have two other plays in the works. It's such a good feeling to know I have things to work on, and it's scary to think that I have to get them finished. They gnaw at you, and it gets really annoying that there are these stories that are inside me and sometimes I wish I could just lie on the beach and stare at the water and let my mind just drift. They're little bastards in the sense that they demand so much work and energy from me. Why can't they just write themselves?

And frankly, as exciting as everything is right now, I know I'm ready for some downtime on the beach, not that that's going to happen. I was the T this morning (up at 5:30 after not sleeping all night; too much on my mind) out of the house at 6:20 to make sure I was on time for our 8:00 Contemporary Drama class) and I was thinking how I need to get away from schedules and people who are bound by their schedules. It was a year ago Sue and Kathryn and I were in Costa Rica, and then Sue and I just kept wandering, finding ourselves in Panama, and I realized this morning that since last summer I've been getting up every morning and the first thought in my head has been, what do I have to do today [for school?] And while I'm having a great time, I did so much "work" on the beaches and jungles and buses in Central America. I need that to get away. Even here at BU I see people who are no different than people in the corporate world (surprise, surprise.) People who cling to schedules and jargon and a way of life (here it's the academic world) and I always get so bored with convention, no matter what kind.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Taking the time to put it down...

We're winding down the final days of the Spring semester at Boston University, and way back at the start I wanted to blog and write all about my experience and bring people along with me during this phase of my life. It's an exciting time. Most people my age are "positioning" themselves for retirement. Thinking about hanging on to that job for the homestretch, dreaming about the house in Florida and playing golf everyday (nothing sounds worse to me than that.) I'm not ready for the rocking chair, not by a long shot. I still have plays to write, mountains to climb, people to love. Still so many places I want to travel to. Every day is a new day, precious, full of opportunity to grow and learn.

Today is Saturday, and I'm teaching a workshop on writing ten-minute plays for Write Here, Write Now. It's a program for the LGBT community, and the reason for it is in their mission statement. I want to help anyone who wants to learn to write. This opportunity came to me from a grad student at Umass, and as soon as I got the email I knew it was something I wanted to do. I never thought about the obstacles facing someone who is LGBT. To me, writing is so free. You don't need a license, you don't even really need a degree. I proved that with my career. I just wrote and proved to people that I could do it and for a long while they paid me a lot of money to do it. You just do it. I'm so excited to hear what my students have to say today, those first ten minutes when people are telling why they are there, what they want to do.

I wish I had been able to find the time (and the energy) to put it all down, all the steps, the up and downs, the joys and the frustrations, the disappointments and the anxieties. It's all there, a very exciting life. I would have like to have been able to go back and read about it, when I finally am in the rocking chair. But I haven't even been writing in my own journal. I used to get up in the morning, pour my coffee (I'd set the coffee maker the night before) and go straight to the computer and write in my journal for about a half hour, still in that dream state. It's what I told my students to do, write in their journals every day, if not at a specific time every day, but I couldn't do it. Between the marathon of writing two full-length plays in less than a year, and the weekly sprints of writing a ten-minute play plus reading three or four plays a week and doing the background research on the play and the playwright, teaching, grading fifteen essays every week plus rewrite, seeing theater including staying out late on the weeknights because that's when the cheap tix are, and just thinking and planning for the long-term (what am I going to do when I graduate?) I didn't have the time or energy to set the coffee pot the night before.

I don't know how some people do it. Right now I'm following this guy who as I write this is on the north face of Everest.  He's 69 years old and he's attempting two summits of Everest back to back. If that's not enough he's blogging. He's finding the time. Kind of puts me to shame, doesn't he.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Allen Johnson's Another You: a critical response...

As an assignment in Contemporary Drama we had to watch two films on and write a review of one.

First, the one thing that I'm learning in that class is that there is some amazing, mind-blowing theater out there, and that there are artists that are raising the bar to extraordinary heights. Scary? Yes it it, but I always wonder if I can measure up.

And it's not arrogance, but pure joy that makes me try and try and try again. It's not about money. It's not about success or fame. It's saying what you want to say, what you think the world should hear. There's no amount of money or attention that can equal that.

Anyway, here's my response to Allen Johnson's Another You.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Here's where I've been blogging of late--if you're interested...

My hope was to blog all through the school year and record and share my experiences as the oldest living grad student at BU. What's the saying about alligators in a flooded swamp. If you follow me on Twitter (@johngf) you'll see that a lot of times I feel lucky to get to bed before midnight when I've been up since 6:30 and have to be up the next morning at 5:30. Broke and sleep-deprived pretty much describe my world.

And when I do blog, I've been blogging for our Contemporary Drama class, taught by the incomparable Professor Ilana Brownstein. Friday (today) at 8:00. Winter mornings were tough. But every class I leave with my head swirling with ideas, my fingertips tingling to hit the keyboard.

So, anyway, here's a taste. Check out the blog, too, for the other students' postings. Some really cool, talented, dedicated people are blogging there. 
Web Analytics