Sunday, March 13, 2011

People everyone needs to have as teachers: Mac Wellman & Lisa Kron at the Flea

The Pataphysics Playwriting Workshops at The Flea Theater are intimate, four-session intensives for new work and new ways of working.

Mac Wellman
A 4-meeting, 2-weekend intensive. Arrive with blank paper and leave with interesting writing. Non-romantic writing & discussion.
Dates: April 16-17 & 23-24
Times: 10am – 1pm
Price: $325
Application Deadline: March 14, 2011

Lisa Kron
A 4-meeting, 2-weekend course for writers interested in exploring the elusive inner structures of dramatic action.
Dates: April 30-May 1 & May 7-8
Times: 10am – 1pm
Price: $325
Application Deadline: March 21, 2011

Application Information
Applications are being accepted electronically:

Email your cover letter, Bio or CV and ten-page sample to Gary Winter at If you do not receive a confirmation within 48 hours that we received your application, please email again.

Be sure to specify which workshop(s) you would like to attend, and mention if you have attended a Pataphysics Workshop in the past. The Pataphysics Workshops for Playwrights are produced at cost by The Flea Theater. A limited number of scholarships will be awarded based on need and merit. If you want to apply for a need-based scholarship, please do so under a separate letter. If you are applying to more than one workshop, one application will suffice. Please list your preferences. Thank you!

About Pataphysics

New Work and New Ways of Working
The Pataphysics Playwriting Workshops at The Flea Theater are intimate, four-session intensives for new work and new ways of working. Named for Alfred Jarry’s science of imaginary solutions, the workshops are a gymnasium for the writing brain—curious, particular, and rigorous. Students enter with blank sheets of paper, and leave with pages of notes, fragments, scenes, even entire plays unlike anything they would have written on their own.

Led by Master Playwrights
The Pataphysics workshops are led by master playwrights who are known not only for a distinct and groundbreaking body of work, but also for their ability as teachers. Each workshop, led by a master playwright pursuing his or her own train of thought, is geared to generate new material and new ideas through writing experiments, readings, and interesting talk. Master playwrights have included: Lee Breuer, Erik Ehn, Karen Finley, Maria Irene Fornes, Jeff Jones, Eduardo Machado, Chuck Mee, Paula Vogel, and Mac Wellman.

Workshop Structure
The workshops are structured around the idea that whatever is most immediately interesting to a teacher will make for the most engaging class. They’re an opportunity for writers, emerging and experienced, to challenge their own assumptions using strange muscles and surprising parts of the brain.

Each workshop meets four times over two consecutive weekends at The Flea. Class size is limited to thirteen and admission is by application. The Flea Theater runs these workshops at cost. Grants from The Flea Theater and private donations provide a limited number of scholarships for those who would not otherwise be able to attend.

Pataphysics is quite simply the best class I’ve ever taught. Why? Because everyone in the room knows why they’re there and comes highly motivated. That cuts through the bull. It lets us work as peers.”

—Jeffrey M. Jones

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Skype is the new Algonquin [David Wain] of MTV’s The State on a peculiar brand of stardom. “Often people would be like, I’m such a big fan of your work. I want to have a career like yours. And I’m like, great, can you buy me a slice of pizza?”

DW: Every writing partnership is different, but ours is very much us both just sitting there together at the screen and doing it. We very rarely write by ourselves.
BLVR: Who types?
DW: I type—only because Ken is not a very fast typer. Most of it is over Skype. Mostly we’re on Skype, screen-sharing, so we’re both looking at the same screen, and we’re listening to each other’s voice. That’s the way we’ve written the majority of our work together.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Found radio theatre, today at 4 is broadcasting a live feed from NASA mission control layered with ambient music. It's addictively ominous. Listen between 4 and 5 ET today for the 39th and final takeoff of space shuttle Discovery.

(Tuning in to preflight mission audio over the past 24 hours, I've been struck by the tension between the images in my head of what NASA mission control looks like — images from the cold war era, i.e. men in shirtsleeves — and the live voices I'm hearing, many of which are female.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On Intention

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that isn’t boring or unintentionally confusing

(Michael Mitnick interviewed by Adam Symkowicz)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Please Don't Start a Theatre Company

Ask yourself whether this is primarily a way to meet your own artistic or career needs. If so, then give yourself a time period in which you will devote at least at much energy to advancing your career in other ways as you were going to spend reading that Nolo Press book on how to incorporate.  Make meetings with larger theaters to see if you can join forces, try to see if you can connect with someone else with a space, an audience, some kind of demand that you can supply.

Rebecca Novick, "Please Don't Start a Theatre Company" (at 2AMt)

Friday, February 11, 2011

What does pro-am theatre look like?

The always restless American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage has launched an online journal of provocations, HowlRound. Here is Meiyin Wang on "The Theatre of the Future":

Theater will be performed by audiences—as in Rotozaza’s Etiquette—where two participants sit across from each other at a cafĂ© table, listening to instructions over headphones, moving around objects and participating in the enactment of a narrative. Or, as in Gob Squad’s Kitchen, where the collective attempt to recreate Andy Warhol’s underground movies, where by the end, the four performers are replaced by four audience members on stage, participating in this quirky meditation of the unknowability of the past and optimism for the future.

And furthermore:

I quote Ben Cameron, from the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, who spoke so beautifully at Under The Radar this January—who compared the religious reformation in the 15th century and our current Arts Reformation—“which is dramatically shaped by new technologies and a massive redistribution of knowledge. With the means for cultural and artistic production and distribution having been democratized. There is a term, pro-am, amateurs who are doing work professionally—a group expanding our aesthetic vocabulary, even as they assault our traditional notions of cultural authority and undermine the assumed ability of traditional arts organizations to set the cultural agenda.”
With increasing interactivity and participation from audiences who are no longer satisfied to be on just the receiving end, content changes. Form changes. Authorship changes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Winning things: in which sexually ambivalent siblings explore the limits of their postapocalyptic reality

A playwright is made out of muscle and blood.
It's a privilege to helm a dramatic writing program where the MFA candidates are working professionally in the field — and working now, during their time at Carnegie Mellon. The latest news:

Plight of the Apothecary by Liza Birkenmeier (MFA '12) opens this week at the Red Room in New York City (located above KGB Bar, where Brooklyn writers show their authenticity by drinking PBR). More from New York TheatreNet.

Liza's play Jib and the Big Still, which was written last semester as an assignment for CMU's collaborative class Theatre Lab, will be produced in the Chaos New Works Festival at Lincoln Square Theatre in Chicago this spring.

A full evening of one-acts by Peter J. Roth (MFA '12) will be produced in Los Angeles by Fresh Baked Theatre Company — including Quick and in My Arms, which was developed last month at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region II Conference.

Hole in the Head by Murphi Cook (MFA '12), The Wind Farmer by Dan O'Neil (MFA '11), and The Copper Anniversary by Peter J. Roth were selected from over 400 entries for readings at the Great Plains Theatre Conference. Two scripts from CMU were in the conference last year as well. Also in residence will be CMU dramatic writing alumnus Brian Silberman, as well as the fabulous Lee Blessing, Constance Congdon, and Caridad Svich.

And in observance of Valentine's Day, Dan's play The Seahorse is Monogamous – another project from the Theatre Lab class – will be at the Viaduct Theatre in Chicago as part of their DRAMEROTICA festival.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Don't let your children grow up to be theatre people.

This video from the Guardian attributes Julian Assange's isolated and nomadic personality to the fact that his parents ran a touring puppet theatre. Seriously.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What happens in Pittsburgh

Now it's Golamco's turn to blog about the CMU Dramatic Writing program: I spent last weekend in Pittsburgh. Until last Friday, everything I knew about Pittsburgh came from the movie Wonder Boys and from the Fallout 3 DLC titled The Pitt. So in my mind, Pittsburgh was full of super mutants and guys named Vernon Hardapple. Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

on one of two direct connections between a playwright and the Beastie Boys

The Scott and Gary Show (1983–1989). Left: Scott. Right: Gary.
Gary Winter: playwright, founding member of 13P, menace to society, and public access legend who allowed the Butthole Surfers and their ilk into the homes of New Yorkers with cable. Revisit this dark period in American history at the Museum of the Moving Image next month in their series "TV Party: A Panorama of Public Access Television in New York City."

Monday, January 24, 2011


Adam Szymkowicz has posted 300 interviews with playwrights, but this may be the best one yet: Anna Moench. Her advice: 

Get a news site to email you all the articles about some random country every day for a year. Become an armchair expert on something. It will probably start to show in your writing. Or even better, you may end up at some horrible party where some insufferable person is talking out of their ass about North Korea or whatever and you can be like "SHAZAM! I know everything there is to know about North Korea, fool!" That has never happened to me, but I haven't given up hope.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lesbian space alien craziness at Sundance

It was a delight to see the headline The 8 Craziest Sundance Films We Haven't Seen Yet pop up on Twitter, because #1 is Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, a documentary about playwright-turned-filmmaker Madeleine Olnek. Oh, wait, maybe it's not a documentary. Anyway, Madeleine and I used to be a writing group. It began as a proper group, but dwindled, as these things do, to a group of two. For a year or so we met every week to do automatic writing. Madeleine would set a timer and we would write for an hour. She had very strict rules: you had to bring a fast-moving pen and you were not allowed to stop writing or lift your pen from the paper until the alarm went off — even if all you could think of was "I have nothing to write. I hate writing. I am hungry." I wrote Aphrodisiaca play in which the characters tend to speak in very long monologues — during those sessions.

P.S. Bonus interview with Madeleine (nice clip too) including this exchange:
Do you only make comedies? Do you only make films with lesbian-related content?
I only make comedies, and will only ever make comedies. I think it’s almost immoral to make a drama if you can do otherwise.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First of all, let me say I’m just in awe of your use of language.

Talkback: a play about talkbacks by Liz Duffy Adams, "In Which the Great Majority of the Talkback Dialogue Has Been Collected Verbatim Over the Years, about Various Plays by Various People."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Combine these sounds (A) with these images (B).

Hotel Savant have a new play running in New York. I was converted by their previous work, The Archery Contest. You can listen to the text and sound score of that play here, but I'm not sure I can describe what it looked like in person. Imagine a cube, maybe eight and a half feet high, placed in the middle of a room. Have the audience sit close to it on all four sides. Now take each of the four vertical walls of the cube and divide them into three horizontal panels. Remove the center panel, so the actors inside the cube are visible from about the waist to the top of the head. That was what act one looked like. For the subsequent acts, have one of the remaining panels raise to the ceiling or collapse to the floor. Also, use any existing surface as a projection screen. If you've read this far, I hope you're booking a ticket to see the new show, Men Go Down Part 3: Black Recollections.