For Playwrights

On Monday I attended Artistic Freedom & Artistic Responsibility Forum at Seattle Repertory. There are many accounts and recaps of the event from The Stranger, Seattle Times, and this heartfelt response from Sharon H Chang. You can also watch the whole thing at Howl Round or look up the #SeattleAFAR Twitter feed for more reactions. 

During the conversation, Pamala Mijatov (my director for Chaos Theory) dropped my name because of a casting note that I try to put before my plays in some form or another. She read the note and encouraged people to use it as a cross stitch sampler because she’s clever with them words. Shortly after the forum, I started receiving requests for the text in full so I decided to post it here. Feel free to take and modify as needed for your plays and in your casting notices.

While I’m happy that it was mentioned, I’d also like to say that it’s not a solution to the problem of diversity on stage. And it certainly doesn’t address the problems of diversity in other areas of the theater production including administration, directing, dramaturgy, design, etc. But it’s one possible tool you could use as a playwright. 

If diversity is important to you as a playwright, tell your director. Insist on not defaulting the ethnicity of your characters to white, able-bodied, skinny people. Be demanding about it. You should also seek out artists who you’d like to see speak your words. For better or worse, like hires like. So the way that we buck that trend is to recognize it and work against it. We’re only going to get better as a community if we are actively trying to improve. So, especially if you’re a white playwright working with predominantly white people, this little notice on the second page of your script might help to serve as a reminder that it’s 2014 and we are a diverse nation with diverse people. Our productions should try like hell to reflect that. But it’s only a reminder. And a reminder only works if you act on it.

“About casting: Families can be multi-racial, members of friend groups do not look like copies of each other, and the default appearance of characters should not be able-bodied, slim, caucasians. In short, this should not be a homogenous looking cast, and certainly not all white.”

One Minute Play Festival

Seattle participated in its first One Minute Play Festival a few weeks ago in the midst of Chaos Theory‘s run and a whole slew of job-related things. You can watch the full thing at Howl Round TV here.

Or, for your reading pleasure, here are the pieces I submitted.

“With a” directed by Desdemona Chiang

Two women, SONJA and DUNCAN, sit next to each other looking out. Maybe they just tried to have sex. Maybe they are at the end of a very long day in which, yet again, they didn’t say anything new or interesting to one another. They have heard each other’s stories. It’s over. They both know it. They look as if they have sat there for a long time. DUNCAN tries to say something and can’t quite do it.

SONJA: I think it was when

DUNCAN: No it wasn’t

SONJA: Yes, it was. It was when I asked you if you’d ever change your mind about oysters.

DUNCAN: That’s ridiculous.

SONJA: I know.

DUNCAN: We’d only been dating for a month.

SONJA: But that’s when I knew. That’s when I knew we weren’t…

They sit.

SONJA: Should we yell, or something?

DUNCAN: Do you want to yell?

SONJA: I just thought. You know. After three years. Shouldn’t it end

DUNCAN: with a bang?

SONJA: Yeah. Stupid.

DUNCAN: I could yell, if you want.

SONJA: That’s sweet.

DUNCAN: I guess we should go.

They sit.

SONJA: Or. We could

DUNCAN: Sit here?

SONJA: Yeah. For just a little

DUNCAN: A bit longer.

SONJA: Yeah.

They sit.

End.

 

“In Line” directed by Ali El-Gasseir

Three strangers stand in line. The world is on mute.

ONE: You’re standing in line.

TWO: You’vebeenstandinginlineforthelongesttimeyoucanpossiblyimagine.

THREE: You’ve been standing in line on the worst week of your life. You got dumped, of course. That effing bill got sent to collections because hospitals can’t send bills to your email like normal people.

TWO: Seriously, has the line moved at all?

ONE: Just one inconvenient piece of business before you carry on with your day.

THREE: When you get home, you’re gonna pour the largest bourbon in the largest glass in the world and cry. Softly. All night if you have to. Show them all you can commit to something.

ONE: It’s moving slowly. No need to get bent out of shape about it.

TWO: You could have done this any other day. But no. You’re here on your day off. Like a genius. You could be in bed, moron.

FOUR enters talking on a cell phone and cuts the line obliviously. They each want to react and confront him, but they don’t. They may cough and subtly try to get FOUR’s attention, but mostly they just stare angrily at him. FOUR talks on his phone completely unaware.

ONE: What a jerk. Someone should say something.

TWO: Screw this day.

Next.

FOUR is next. The line moves.

THREE: You will sell your soul to Satan if that guy gets syphilis in the next twenty-four hours.

End.

NEXT UP:

Gala Schmala at Theater Schmeater – Seance featuring Julia Griffin and Karen Jo Fairbrook, directed by J.D. Lloyd; June 6-14

On The Boards Northwest New Works – That’swhatshesaid featuring Erin Pike and directed by Katherine Karaus; June 13-15

 

Chaos Theory Press and People Quotes

chaos theory cover photo

Chaos Theory premiered at Annex Theatre April 18 – May 17, 2014.

Frannie – Keiko Green 
Bach – Evelyn DeHais 
Seth – Drew Highlands 
Mack – Jana Hutchison 

Stage Manager – Kaeline Kine 
Scenic Designer – Robin Macarteny 
Costume Designer – Amy Escobar 
Lighting Designer – Gwyn Skone 
Sound Designer – Kyle Thompson 
Props Designer – Robin Macartney, Emily Sershon 
Production Manager – Catherine Blake Smith 
Technical Directors – Ian Johnston, Emily Sershon 
Graphic Design – Ash Williamson 
French Translation – Evelyn DeHais 

Production photos.

PRESS

Preview from Capitol Hill Blog

Preview from Capitol Hill Times.

Review from TheSunbreak.

Meaker shifts the audience/performance relationship drawing us into the concerns of the characters by resting our entire understanding of the play on the question the characters must answer. Their search goes from frivolous to effective, but Meaker is wary of copping out with a deus ex machina or a simple twist (a la Sixth Sense or Fight Club). As with the rest of this very real universe of soft-edged gender and orientation this is not a world of either/or, but of multiple possible answers. Meaker suggests the possibilities without committing to any one. In Chaos Theory uncertainty is, for once, both comforting and satisfying.”

Review from Seattle Weekly.

“Amid this absurdity, Meaker and director Pamala Mijatov force us to make sense of the action, but in the end we succumb to the hopelessness and futility of existence, love, and identity. Chaos Theory starts off gimmicky and cute, yet it ultimately makes us, and Frannie, confront the limits of common sense.”

 In local playwright Courtney Meaker’s new absurdist tragicomedy (aptly subtitled “A Play Seeking Order”), there seems to be exactly that—a series of events that don’t fit together. That doesn’t mean there isn’t exposition; in fact, Chaos Theory is replete with rather dense character development, plot twists, and pathos.”

Review from Drama in the Hood.

“…the play written by Courtney Meaker was intimate, polished, and had the audience feeling as if they were a fly on the wall of a hilarious sitcom.”

“Though the play has a blatant speculative science-fiction slant to it, it is surprisingly and refreshingly character-driven. The play grapples with ideas of perception of reality, time relativity, gender binaries, friendship dynamics, and heart-wrenching moral dilemmas.”

“Thanks to Meaker’s smart writing and the excellent cast, the play had me wishing I could be friends with Frannie, Seth, and Bach, and be a part of their quick back-and-forth verbal banter.”

“Prepare to have your brain twisted into a pretzel with ideas of alternate realities and parallel universes. Though the events of the play were confusing at times, the writing and acting never felt pretentious or overbearing, because the characters felt just as confused and conflicted as I felt sitting in the audience. Reminiscent of Inception, the ending will force viewers to make their own mind up about what really happened, what is about to happen next, and whether the characters are actually experiencing reality or the alternate realities of a parallel universe.”

Review from Seattle Actor.

One of the things I like best about Meaker’s writing is the inclusion of LGBT characters without that ever being part of the plot; without that ever being a problem in itself, rather they are just part of the world.”

Seattle Playwright Courtney Meaker has made a very impressive introduction into the local theater scene. Her play “Buckshot” was a strong announcement of her confidence and skill in telling intimate stories of real people. In her newest play, “Chaos Theory” now being presented at the Annex Theatre under the accomplished direction of Pamala Mijatov, she is even more ambitious.”

 Social Media

Joe Zavadil, Actor, via Facebook – My sister and brother in law wanted to see a show while they were in Seattle, so I took them and my nephew (who live here now) to the best theatre in town. The Annex did not disappoint. All four of us were impressed, amazed, and enthralled by ‘Chaos Theory”. The script is one part Ionesco, one part Pirandello, with some Christopher Durang and Tina Fey thrown in. The cast is spectacular; the is staging innovative, all around one of the best, funniest shows I have seen. Thanks for impressing the outta towners, y’all! 

Walking While Fat and Female – Or, Why I Don’t Care Not All Men are Like That

I started walking between 5 and 12 miles a day about year after I moved to Seattle. The main motivator was a crippling anxiety about being late coupled with an inconsistent public transportation system (that will now become less consistent, yippee). Additionally, working in an industry with late nights (I house manage for various theaters) means that if you’re reliant on public transit, you will be waiting for an hour at a scary bus stop with Mr. and Mrs. Meth Addict at 1:30 in the morning. Walking became a way for me to take control of my commute. It was my time. Four mile walk to work. Four mile walk back. In the rain. In the dark. In the cold. Every season. Sometimes with tunes. Sometimes with “Stuff You Missed in History Class.” Sometimes talking to myself. And sometimes with silence.

When I moved to Seattle I weighed 260 pounds. Because I walk so much (and lead a pretty active life here) I now hover between 175 and 190 depending on the the time of year. And I’m fucking strong. I run several times a week and I’m training for my first triathlon. But I’m still fat. And I’m good with that.

I never started walking places to lose weight. I started walking because I like to walk and because it was a chance for me to have my time before and after a stressful day. It was a chance for me to explore the city and see it in a way that people driving past wouldn’t ever be able to. Walking became a lot more than just my time though. It’s how I started writing again. Being in my head with time just for me to talk out an idea, or listen to character voices jump-started my imagination after a few years of feeling lost.

So, why not walk?

According to a number of men who seem to come crawling out of their hidey hole around this time of year here’s why:

  1. I’m a woman.
  2. I’m fat.
  3. I’m sexy.
  4. I’m a cunt.
  5. I need a man.
  6. I’m walking.
  7. I’m walking with another woman.
  8. I have tits.

Last night, I was walking across a crosswalk while fat and female. Two guys in a white SUV rolled down their window to say. “Hey, cunt. Cunt. Hey. You’re fat. Fat, fat cunt. Fat. Fat. Cunt. ” I didn’t even realize they were talking to me at first. By the time I’d made it past their car, the guy in the passenger seat had rolled down his window to continue yelling at me. Changing it slightly to make it very clear, yes they were talking to me, and yes, they wanted a reaction. I didn’t have one. I was in my time. My time to walk, to think, to decompress after a long day. I just kept walking.

That’s my automatic response of self-preservation. Just keep walking. Don’t react. Don’t turn to look at them. Don’t stop. I’m a hot head in certain situations. I work customer service so I’ve got it pretty well under control, but in the heat of the moment if I don’t count to 10, I will say or do something that will escalate a situation. And when you’re a woman who walks home alone at night, you learn not to escalate. Because whoever is yelling at you from their weapon (a car is a weapon) could decide to hit you with it. Or could chase you. Or could jump out and run after you at the next stop light. So I keep walking.

Being a woman (cis, trans, or otherwise) means that you grow accustomed to men and sometimes women, commenting about your body on a regular basis without provocation. When I run, there’s the occasional man that feels it’s his duty to tell me, “You go, honey. You’re gonna lose that weight!” as if that’s why I’m running, to fit in with what the expectation of what a woman should look like and be. I’m a good fatty. I run. I’m trying to be thin.

A man once came up to me on the street just to tell me that I was too fat for the dress that I was wearing. Thanks, arbiter of my fashion fat. I couldn’t do it without you.

A huddle of male teens asked me to suck them off as I walked past them after 9 pm. They made it clear that they didn’t want to fuck me. I was too fat for that. But oral sex would be all right. They were doing me a favor, you see.

Again. I don’t escalate. I don’t acknowledge. I’m not saying this is the right way to deal with these situations. I’m saying it’s how I deal with them. I’ve tried others. But there’s no reasoning with stupid. And there’s also a greater risk of escalating a situation when you engage it. Being a woman means that I already feel unsafe 50% of the time. And when I’m alone, I don’t need to feel even more unsafe just to make a point. No matter how much I want to say, “Fuck off” or “You know someone has said the same thing to your mama, right?” I just keep walking or running past because saying the greatest, most eloquent, feminist statement is not worth dying for, right?

So, I do what I believe most of the women I know do – try to talk about it. Share it with people after it happened. Let them know that it happened. That it keeps happening. But then, I’m met the resounding, “Not all men are like that, you know.” (Seriously, do you want a cookie for not being a douche?) Or, “Walking by yourself is dangerous.”

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not feeling like I can say anything to the jerks* that yell at me. Like I can’t react. And that I can’t even share that this experience happens daily with supposed allies. Not all men shout at me from cars. But the ones that do shout at me are the ones that make it unsafe to walk in my city. And you telling me that not all men do that doesn’t make my walk, or drive, or existence safer. It makes it more challenging to say, “This happened and it was wrong.” It makes it harder to call out this behavior for what it is – misogynistic, sexist, rape culture bullshit behavior. I don’t care that not all men are like this. I care that it happens. That it continues to happen. That it’s common. That it’s so common that when I hear a woman start talking about it with other women, those women can point to at least one similar incident that’s happened to them in the past two weeks.

I want to share these stories. I want to know when it happens to other women, my friends, and colleagues. And I want the men and women in my life to know that it happens, too. It’s not isolated. And even if not all men are like that, it sure happens a helluva a lot, so maybe start being on the lookout for it. Be an actual ally in this instead of just saying that you aren’t like that, but what I do is dangerous. That being out past 9 is dangerous. That helps no one, least of all the women who have to be out past 9, or the women who should go out past 9 because it’s a fucking right to be out whenever the fuck we want to be.

Me walking home at night or in the day time (harassment isn’t just a nighttime activity) is as safe as you driving your car home, by which I mean, it’s inherently dangerous. Everything has risks. But walking while fat and female – that’s apparently the riskiest of all, dude.

*In a previous version, this was “fucktard.” A number of people reached out to me to tell me that they found that to be offensive to those with an intellectual disability. I did not intend to use language that was insulting. However, intentions don’t matter. I respect that it was offensive and have removed the word from this post. I hope I will be able to remove it from the posts that have now circulated the internet, though I likely won’t be able to edit them all. Thank you.

One Minute Play Festival, Schmee Gala, NWNW and more!

It’s been crazy pants town time (this is a combination of words that vaguely go together) at Meakerland. Here’s what’s coming up or down the pipeline. (What direction do pipelines go?)

One Minute Play Festival May 10 & 11

A little over a month ago, I received an email from Dominic D’Andrea about writing for the One Minute Play Festival. I wrote two, one- minute pieces for the festival. With a will be directed by Desdemona Chiang and In Line will be directed by Ali El-Gasseir. The festival will take place at ACT Theatre. The full list of playwrights and directors is here. It includes some of my favorite playwrights including Keiko Green, Stephanie Timm, Wayne Rawley, and Juliet Waller-Pruzan. Purchase your tickets here.  

seth and bach popcorn pretzelChaos Theory Through May 17

CHAOS THEORY, a play seeking order opened! Reviews are coming in and they’ve been highly positive so far. We still have four weeks to go so I’m anxious to hear other thoughts about the play. Getting to hear how people are making sense of the world is what truly excites me about this piece. Are Frannie, Bach, and Seth the same person? Is Mack/Josie real? It’s been great to hear audience reaction and theories about the sanity levels of the characters. Plus, it’s funny. Get your tickets at Annex Theatre.

Gala Schmala June 6 – 14

Doug Staley from Theater Schmeater contacted me to write a short piece for the upcoming gala, which will also be the first performance in the new space. The guidelines for the piece was incredibly effing broad – history of theatre/backstage feel. So I wrote a two-hander about Charlotte Cushman called Séance. The Gala will feature many of my favorite people including fellow playwright Keiko Green who’s currently playing Frannie in Chaos Theory (it’s all connected) and Raymond Williams who’s my marketing buddy with Macha Monkey Productions. Tickets on sale soon!

That’sWhatSheSaid at NWNW Festival June 13 – 15

It’s getting closer. Northwest New Works Festival produced by On the Boards is getting closer, and That’swhatshesaid is going to be an epic part of it. The final draft has been submitted. Erin Pike and Katherine Karaus are hard at work to make it honest and piercing. This piece is highly conflicting for me. It’s purposefully taking female characters out of context and putting them in the mouth of one female character in a way that was not intended by the playwrights. As a playwright, this would drive me nuts. However, it’s so interesting to hear what female are characters are saying in the 10 most produced plays, especially from this past year where the list was actually more diverse than it has been in years. I think this piece is going to be highly polarizing and, quite possibly, difficult to watch. (Spoiler: women were written to cry a lot and have quite a few random outbursts.) Tickets are going on sale soon.

After that? I don’t know. Hit me up.

A Few Questions about Chaos Theory from Annex Theatre

Photo Ian Johnston. Drew Highlands, Evelyn Dehais, Keiko Green, and Jana Hutchison.

Photo Dangerpants Photography. Drew Highlands, Evelyn Dehais, Keiko Green, and Jana Hutchison.

Annex Theatre sent me some questions regarding Chaos Theory – a play seeking order. Here’s some of the  endearing snark I served up.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Like where you’re from? Why you wanted to be playwright and how it all came to be?

I’m from Middle Tennessee originally, in a conservative hamlet called Franklin, where I confusedly returned post-college to work as a Borders bookseller,  because I didn’t know what I was going to do with my degree except pull it out at dinner parties for my middle school beanie baby collection. In this dark time in Tennessee, I mostly drank whiskey secretly in my room of my parents’ house and straightened books on shelves and talked to a bunch of conservative Christians during the 2008 elections about how it’s not that they hate gay people they just didn’t want to be around them (whoops). So yeah. After a year of that nonsense, I moved to Seattle, started touching myself again, and wrote some plays – mostly about the end of the world.

What inspired you to write Chaos Theory?

People don’t make much sense in a way that makes sense – does that make sense? We’re predatory about weird things (like the chair we sit in every day and milk). Most of us enjoy feeling altered (drugs, booze, etc.). And we define our realities by the people who surround us. So what happens when the people who make us who we are go away, or start slipping away for no discernible reason? Chaos, baby. Chaos. And I was reading Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku so the story just started falling into place.

Without giving too much away can you give us a little snippet of what the show is about?

A group of friends start to build a machine. Or, maybe they’re going crazy. Who’s to say? Stuff happens. Stuff doesn’t happen. Sex. Dopplegangers. People who don’t know how to talk about their feelings try to talk about their feelings. Maybe things get cold.

Do you have a favorite character? If so who and why?

It changes for me pretty regularly, and not just because the cast does such a good job of embodying them. I don’t know. Seth is the one who says funny things and people don’t really hear him. I identify with him a lot. I call this the Fozzie principle. Frannie is the one who throws herself into her work instead of dealing with (at least one) reality. And Bach. Yup. Bach’s my favorite. The funniest best friend with the amazing ability to pick up women with a single wink. Yeah. Bach’s the best.

What made you decide to propose this play at Annex in particular?  

Annex seemed like the best home for it. I didn’t have a director at the time that I proposed it, but I wanted to show the play to Annex because I saw the type of work that they were doing and I wanted to be a part of it, even if it wouldn’t be for another year. As luck would have it, Pamala really connected with the script and Annex took me on. No waiting. It was the most awesome phone call to get.

What is your favorite food and why?

I fucking love Mexican food. I live next to the Rancho Bravo Taco Truck in Wallingford. I’m a regular. They see me coming. They know. We share knowing winks. When I first moved to Seattle, I lived next to Paseo. I still have dreams about those sandwiches.

Chaos Theory opens on April 18th (that’s only a week away) and runs through May 17th. I’d love for you to be there. Get tickets.

Chaos Theory – a play seeking order April 18 – May 17

 

Chaostheoryteaserposter

 

When her lover disappears, Frannie sinks into a pajamas-only depression.  Her friends try to distract her with a book on chaos theory…little knowing they’re headed down a slippery path through enticing alternate realities.  Does this Machine they’re building actually work, or are they luring each other into collective delusions of wish-fulfillment?  Is life better with a laugh-track?  And what if these seductive changes bring about the end of the world?  Featuring Evelyn DeHais, Keiko Green, Drew Highlands, and Jana Hutchison.

April 18 – May 17 at Annex Theatre (Tickets)

Production Team 

Stage Manager – Kaeline Kine
Scenic/Props Designer – Robin Macarteny
Costume Designer – Amy Escobar
Lighting Designer – Gwyn Skone
Sound Designer – Kyle Thompson
The Machine Designer – Emily Sershon
Production Manager – Catherine Blake Smith
Technical Directors – Ian Johnston, Emily Sershon
Graphic Design – Ash Williamson
French Dialect Coach – Evelyn Dehais

Regarding the possibility of multi-orgasm storytelling

All right, the title is kind of click-baity, but I promise I have a point. Recently, a friend asked me for playwriting book recommendations. Aside from the fact that I was tickled  someone asked me, I realize that I don’t have a lot of books about playwriting that I actually enjoy reading, or even that I find useful. It’s not that playwriting books are bad, it’s just that they all tend to say the same thing. The old standby (and most often recommended) is Backwards and Forwards by David Ball. He, like most writers who write about writing, only talks about one way of storytelling – what I’ve come to call “The Solitary Orgasm Method,” or when I’m feeling particularly plucky, “Missionary.”

Notice - it only peaks once

And only one climax

Of course, this is the standard. It’s the way most plays and fiction are written. For the Women #4 Project, I’m in the process of reading the top 10 produced plays of the past season and thanks to a sick day in bed (thanks norovirus?) I binge re/read almost all of them.  The majority of these plays tread this well-worn path. And that’s how it has started to feel – well-worn. We’ve conquered traditional storytelling! It has been beaten to death with a shovel, and crippled and sewn back together, and walked a mile in your shoes, and etc. etc.

What is it about chronologically linear that’s so compelling, or if not compelling, prevalent? I came to a few conclusions,

  1. It’s easier to write.
  2. It’s easier to understand.
  3. It has a long history.

But those things don’t inherently make it better. Non-traditional/non-linear narrative is not incomprehensible and not uninteresting. After reading the third traditionally linear play in a row, the strings started to become too clear. I found myself ahead of stories, expecting twists, knowing where the next fight was breaking out. But also, more importantly, I was bored. I ended this marathon of a reading session, by re-reading one of my linear plays. Sadly, I was bored by that, too. I thought, I’m a writer! I’m creative! I should be doing something different. Right?

Shouldn’t we crave breaking out of the comfort zone fort we’ve built ourselves out of pillows and blankets and teddy bears? They are very comfy pillows, sure. But is it as satisfying as it could be? Why do we get trapped here? There aren’t any rules about it. I’m gonna say it again. There are no rules that say THIS IS THE WAY A STORY HAS TO BE OR THE WORLD WILL CRUMBLE AND NOTHING WILL MAKE SENSE ANYMORE (first person to mention the dead, white, guy who made up a bunch a rules gets punched in the jugular; if I wanted Aristotle’s opinion I’d go back to my undergrad Introduction to Theatre History class). And yet, I often feel stuck in the Strict-Rule-Land of Aristotelian Unity.

There’s nothing wrong with traditional storytelling, structures with only the one, ahem, climax. But I’ve come to think of this as a very masculine way of approaching story. Think about it. Men very rarely have the potential for multi-orgasm. Women on the other hand – whew boy. We can have way more than one. What about a story that goes fast, slows, fast, medium, fast, slow, etc. building and crescendo-ing in little ways and then big ways; spinning into so many directions we can’t think straight, and then approach clarity(ies) over and over again? How do/can we move toward a more prevalent, feminine story structure with multiple peaks and valleys? Sure, multi-orgasmic structure doesn’t serve all stories. However, does Missionary have to be the default? Does Missionary, in fact, serve all stories?

Our own timelines and histories might be linear, but the way in which we recall them is not. In the course of one conversation our minds jump from thought-to-thought, memories, images, that one embarrassing moment from seven years ago that still makes us cringe. It’s the emotion that matters, whatever the timeline. So, let’s try to write a few plays that may mess with tradition. Buck (yes, buck) tradition. Or, at least toy with the notion the next time you sit down to write instead of auto-piloting to a linear structure. How about when we’re stuck on where to go next with our story we start with changing up the structure. Rearrange those scenes. Forget backwards and forwards. There are diagonals and zigzags in there.

So I made this little exercise (not exactly an original one at that) to apply to future plays when I’m either early in the process of writing it, or maybe when I go back for a re-write to shake myself up: Erase the idea of rising action coming up to a single peak. Instead imagine a series of branches reaching out concluding, or cutting off into something else. Or, several balls of yarn that all got released and are rolling in different directions. Or waves. Or, hell, a Pick Your Own Adventure book. Think of an image that will change the structure from the expected to the unexpected and try to shape the story around that picture instead.

And then, spend some alone time in your bunk.

Got an image to add to this non-linear story structure exercise? Leave a comment!

Updates from the Whiskey Bar

I was trying to come up with a metaphor for how busy I’ve been but the only ones I came up with were bee or beaver related, and who needs more beaver references? (I love beaver! Okay that’s it. I’ll stop.) Over the past four months I’ve closed Buckshot, cast and had the first read-through of Chaos Theory, a play seeking order with Annex Theatre, had The Inevitable End of Christmas Present produced and directed by Rachel Delmar at Playing in Progress SnowGlobed, participated as a virgin playwright in 14/48 The World’s Quickest Theatre Festival, and I can finally announce that I’ll have a piece in On The BoardsNorthwest New Works Festival 2014. I’m ready for a nap. Or, drink more whiskey. One of the two.

honeytoad

On the accolades front, WRECKED season two was nominated for Best Writing in Comedy Series (as well as six other awards) by the Indie Series Awards. It’s also an official selection for LA Web Series Festival and HollyWeb Festival. These festivals and awards ceremonies are happening in the spring, right around the same time everything else I’m doing is going on, so if you have the money to fly down to LA and live tweet it for me, that’d be great. I’m so proud that WRECKED is selected alongside so many other amazing series, like Husbands and Out with Dad. While I share a writing credit on many of the episodes of WRECKED season two, the episode Kitchen Sink is all mine. You should watch it.

About Woman #4 at NWNW: I know several talented women in Seattle. Not least of them is Erin Pike. A few months ago, shortly after writing this about Sugar Daddies, Erin and I met up for a drinks to talk about a collaboration. She wanted to look at the depiction of female characters in contemporary theatre. Spoiler alert – when they aren’t being under-represented or entirely omitted, they tend to be shells of characters. They ask questions. They back up other statements. They worry about their weight. They sometimes have opinions. It’s not all damning. But there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement with the portrayal of women (not just in theatre, btw, but that’s what we’re looking at specifically). When she decided she wanted to submit it for NWNW, we  cut the sample of plays down the most produced plays in the past year. We’re using this list from TCG. The piece for the festival will be a one woman show, 20 minutes long, and constructed entirely from the dialogue spoken by women in these plays. To paraphrase the director of the piece, Katherine Karaus about all three of us working together, it’s likely going to be the most misogynistic collaboration ever. We’ll see. We’ll see.

UPDATE: WOMAN #4 IS NOW (FANFARE):  That’sWhatSheSaid. 

chaos theory

About Chaos Theory, a play seeking order: Chaos Theory will feature the amazing talents of Keiko Green, Evelyn Dehais, Drew Highlands, and Jana Hutchison directed by Annex Theatre Artistic Director Pamala Mijatov. The design crew includes some of the most amazing artists in town including Robin Macartney, Gwyn Skone, Amy Escobar, and Kyle Thompson. The images on the right are samples of potential PR images so it might change. Here’s a wonderful synopsis (I hate writing them – this one was written by Annex PR peeps and it’s delightful):

When her lover disappears, Frannie and her friends seek solace in a book about chaos theory that leads them to build a machine that might take them into other dimensions—but instead they fall into different realities and just might bring about the end of the world. Featuring Evelyn DeHais, Keiko Green, Drew Highlands, and Jana Hutchison.

(It is in no way affiliated with Team of Heroes but there’s been some confusion since a character in Team of Heroes was called Chaos Theory.)

About 14/48 The World’s Quickest Theatre Festival: I felt touched (slightly inappropriately but in a good way) at being invited to participate as a virgin playwright in 14/48 at ACT Theatre in January. 14/48 was one of the first performances I saw when I moved to Seattle several years ago. Sometimes looking like it’s more fun to participate in than to watch (I can now safely say that having done it) the experience was highly rewarding and one that I hope to do again. Writing two 10 minute plays over the course of 48 hours, working with two different directors, and seven different actors, not to mention a slew of talented musicians, and designers, I felt incredibly humbled. My buddy, Catherine Blake Smith summed up her experience as an audience member for both nights here.

While all of this was happening, The Sunbreak.com, my critic home took a hiatus or hibernation, depending on who you ask. The maintaining of The Sunbreak is incredibly difficult, time consuming, and not exactly lucrative, but as far as an arts resource in Seattle it’s top notch. As of this writing, I’ve been told that it will make reappearance in the next month or so (awesome), but sadly, I think my time with them is over. I’ve reached a point where it’s hard to see a show that I know no one involved. I’ve shared too many drinks with too many artists to continue at The Sunbreak. (Though if you buy me a whiskey you’re more than welcome to get a theatre rant from me.) While I still hope that the big houses start to produce more plays by local playwrights, take risks, and stop focusing on the plight of middle/upper class white guy, I don’t think I’ll be voicing them at The Sunbreak. I do believe there are reasons to hope, though.

Seattle Rep produced Bo-Nita last year by Elizabeth Heffron, a local playwright (who’s balla), and it was incredible, not least of which because of Hannah Mootz. ACT continues to open its doors wider to the community for projects like Seattle VICE and riskier endeavors in their CHL spaces. Though its mainstage is still lacking in richer work, I hope that they start to take risks in the years ahead. Balagan too, is getting larger, and starting to focus on Seattle original musicals. In the mean time, my heart lies with the fringe theatres (lies like a trampy mcproud slut) because they are unafraid, boldly soliciting work from local artists that speaks to where we are now, not where we were three years ago in New York.

Last, but not least, a big thank you to my good friend, Tom Fucoloro. My site had been down for eight months due to an update issue with WordPress. He fixed it. Thank you, Tom!

Buckshot World Premiere by Macha Monkey Productions

Buckshot premiered on November 8, 2013 in Seattle, produced by Macha Monkey Productions and directed by Peggy Gannon.

Katie Driscoll and Gianni Truzzi in Buckshot. Photo by Shane Regan

Katie Driscoll and Gianni Truzzi in Buckshot. Photo by Shane Regan

Cast 

Katie Driscoll – Alana

Daniel Wood – Saul

Megan Ahiers – Mel

Jordi Montes – Jax

Narae Kang – Jalyn

Gianni Truzzi – Uncle Hal

Randall Brammer – Booker

Reviews

Seattle Actor

“I’ve seen quite a few plays about childhood abuse in one form or another, but this one was especially strong dramatically because it never tried to hype any of the drama. Again, Driscoll’s natural, ordinary, decent and conflicted Alana was our path to that involvement. I am in deep admiration of Meaker’s script, Gannon’s direction and the cast’s performance. This is really a show worth getting to and one which, I predict, will lead to rich and important conversations after.”

The Stranger – An Exercise in Ambiguity, Buckshot is an Unsettling Family Drama

“Buckshot, a new play by Courtney Meaker, is an exercise in prelude—it ends precisely where a news story, based on police reports and interviews with rattled neighbors, might begin. It is also an exercise in ambiguity, picking apart how years of memories and influences can lead a person to do something that, from a distance, might seem insane.”

“The rest of Buckshot is a slowly widening crack in the door of Alana’s consciousness…”

“Meaker’s play is a world premiere with a promising premise that, with a little tinkering, could become something even better.”

Seattle Gay News – Blast from the past – Buckshot explores the choice between fighting childhood demons and letting them go

“This is an enjoyable evening, even with a difficult topic, and Meaker’s script does a great job of inserting regular life and doses of humor throughout Alana’s struggle to find a way to manage her past.”