Hello from Chicago

A handful of months have passed since my last update to this page–pandemic fatigue and an 800-mile move are hefty distractions. Here’s the latest:

The production of True West that I began work on in the spring finished rehearsals in October and we were able to record the production, edit the video, and post it online. There were all sorts of exciting hiccups along the way, including neighbors who were somewhat alarmed by the sounds of Sam Shepard coming through their walls via raised voices, but we put together a show we’re very proud of. Our two leads, Justin Walker and Logan Schmucker, were able to work together in the same space (Logan’s apartment kitchen), while our two supporting actors, Joanie Schumacher and James Bascomb, participated remotely. Rehearsals and our performance recording happened via Zoom, Facebook messenger, and Google hangouts. In addition to directing remotely (essentially being a floating head in the room during rehearsals), I taught myself a little film editing to make the final product possible. True West is a play that’s resonated with me since the first time I read it, back at CTY in 2002 (Hooray for Crafting Drama with Bo Wilson!). I feel truly lucky that this opportunity came along–or, more accurately, that we made this opportunity come to be. Theater as we know it isn’t possible right now, but for the past several months, these four actors, one fight choreographer, and I got just about as close as possible to the real thing. And it felt great.

Here’s the link to the show. Take a look. Enjoy.

In other news, I had a preliminary reading of my newest play, All the Things We’re Supposed to Be. It was my first time hearing the piece out loud. I put together a truly exceptional cast and the reading was wonderful, moving, and enlightening. The discussion with the cast gave me genuinely helpful guideposts for how to move forward with rewrites, so watch this space for more news about this play. It’s a special one and I think it’s going to go places.

Finally (for now), The Workshop Theater is continuing its tradition of producing the Out of the Hat festival, where writers are given a prompt and asked to write a short play on that theme for a randomly assigned group of actors. The theme this year is “Luck” and I was fortunate enough to be assigned three fantastic actors–Joe Franchini, Kevin Stanfa, and Annemarie Hagenaars. Inspired by my conversations with them about the characters they love to play/are sick of playing/have always wanted to play, and our combined thoughts on the subject of luck, I came up with Coin Flip–a fun little play I’m really looking forward to sharing with audiences soon! The Workshop has assembled a knockout group of writers and actors, and the festival will feature more than a dozen wildly different plays, all on this fantastic theme. We’re filming the readings next week, and they’ll be available for viewing in late November. Stay tuned!

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