Author Topic: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)  (Read 7803 times)

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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2016, 02:16:27 PM »
That bites. Sorry for you, friend.

Thanks, but it doesn't matter.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2016, 04:27:29 PM »
Sorry to hear about this, Sforzando.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Online Brian

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2016, 04:35:22 PM »
Even reading the first two sentences, I was upset, but the rest - no playwright and no play, strike that no living and working artist at all, should have to endure this kind of treatment and rudeness. Even were your play without merit and unstageable, the back-door treachery and cowardice of the theatre would be hard to forgive. As it happens, I've of course read it, and I know that it has merit, is bracingly intelligent, and speaks to your experience in and knowledge of the theatre and effective stagecraft.

What we have here is a failure to honor good (?) word - and I'm very sorry to be reading of it.

And, as an aside, one thing distinguishing you from Saul D. is that you would greatly appreciate a reading of your play to assess its merits and refine it, while Saul D. needs hear no performance of his music whatsoever to convince himself utterly of its greatness.

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2016, 05:19:28 PM »
Thanks to all of you, and especially Brian.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2016, 07:48:24 PM »
Sorry to hear this, but remember that while putzes abound everywhere, not every theatre group is run by putzes. So don't sour on everything just because of this.

Offline Jo498

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #25 on: July 31, 2016, 11:27:14 PM »
Sorry to hear about that!
Just a somewhat random thought: Do you think your play might work as a radio play with some changes? Nowadays something like that could be produced with two or three actors, maybe as a webcast even. And it might even reach a larger audience than a staged version.
I don't know about the US but in Germany there is still an amazingly strong tradition for radio plays (Hoerspiele). Although one could have expected the form to become obsolete with widespread television in the 1960s/70s, it didn't go away.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #26 on: August 01, 2016, 03:47:36 AM »
Sorry to hear about that!
Just a somewhat random thought: Do you think your play might work as a radio play with some changes? Nowadays something like that could be produced with two or three actors, maybe as a webcast even. And it might even reach a larger audience than a staged version.
I don't know about the US but in Germany there is still an amazingly strong tradition for radio plays (Hoerspiele). Although one could have expected the form to become obsolete with widespread television in the 1960s/70s, it didn't go away.

The play needs seven distinct actors, and numerous passages are conceived visually. In any case, radio plays are uncommon in the US, and even if they were, where would it be broadcast? I'm thinking (and have been thinking) of a different approach: line up a group of actors, pay them a small honorarium out of pocket if necessary, and do a production in a private home that could be recorded using a webcam and uploaded to YouTube. A form of self-publication, if you will. It wouldn't have the imprimatur of acceptance by an established theater company and might be laughed at if I put it on my résumé, but so what? Just as blogging has become a well-known vehicle for authors to get their names out there, there should be no reason not to think outside the box, and to take advantage of new technology to do the same with theater.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #27 on: August 01, 2016, 03:56:49 AM »
As it happens, I've of course read it,

Its available to be read? Where? I'd be very interested.

Sorry to read of the setbacks.

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2016, 04:12:44 AM »
Its available to be read? Where? I'd be very interested.

Sorry to read of the setbacks.

Please PM if interested.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2016, 04:16:29 AM »
Not that anybody's holding their breath (except me), but the dates for my reading have been postponed until July.

But meanwhile this past weekend at Brooklyn College, NY, I had a very short play performed as part of a group of 25 1-minute plays for actors between ages 10-16. What better topic than Chopin's "Minute Waltz," and in my play, a young pianist quarrels with his friend over the tempo of that piece until the pianist’s little sister sets them both straight.

That took more time to write than the play takes to perform, but I'm told all the plays will be uploaded to YouTube and I'll post the link when it's ready.

According to my contact at Brooklyn College, BTW, this upload to YouTube is still in the works but not there yet.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2016, 04:46:05 AM »
The play needs seven distinct actors, and numerous passages are conceived visually. In any case, radio plays are uncommon in the US, and even if they were, where would it be broadcast? I'm thinking (and have been thinking) of a different approach: line up a group of actors, pay them a small honorarium out of pocket if necessary, and do a production in a private home that could be recorded using a webcam and uploaded to YouTube. A form of self-publication, if you will. It wouldn't have the imprimatur of acceptance by an established theater company and might be laughed at if I put it on my résumé, but so what? Just as blogging has become a well-known vehicle for authors to get their names out there, there should be no reason not to think outside the box, and to take advantage of new technology to do the same with theater.

Sorry to hear of your initial setback, you never know the integrity of those you are dealing with until it comes to the nut-cuttin'. So now you know. :-\

That said this self-publication idea has a very good sound to it. If your actors can project some credibility, then at the least it would be available as a calling card for future efforts. And gives you something to work on while pursuing future projects or alternative presentations of this one.

8)
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Offline Florestan

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2016, 04:53:17 AM »
Drat!

Even reading the first two sentences, I was upset, but the rest - no playwright and no play, strike that no living and working artist at all, should have to endure this kind of treatment and rudeness. Even were your play without merit and unstageable, the back-door treachery and cowardice of the theatre would be hard to forgive. As it happens, I've of course read it, and I know that it has merit, is bracingly intelligent, and speaks to your experience in and knowledge of the theatre and effective stagecraft.

What we have here is a failure to honor good (?) word - and I'm very sorry to be reading of it.


+ 1 to all of the above.

But hey, all the disgrace and dishonor is on them, not on you.

I'm thinking (and have been thinking) of a different approach: line up a group of actors, pay them a small honorarium out of pocket if necessary, and do a production in a private home that could be recorded using a webcam and uploaded to YouTube. A form of self-publication, if you will. It wouldn't have the imprimatur of acceptance by an established theater company and might be laughed at if I put it on my résumé, but so what? Just as blogging has become a well-known vehicle for authors to get their names out there, there should be no reason not to think outside the box, and to take advantage of new technology to do the same with theater.

Excellent idea. Screw the established theater companies, set up your own independent one. Might work far beyond your wildest dreams.

And anyway, cheer up: the play is very good and original.

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De l'automne
Blessent mon coeur
D'une langueur
Monotone.

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2016, 08:37:32 AM »
This is the letter I sent to the theater's owner. No doubt I am still licking my wounds at this point, but I have every right to do so. I expect nothing to result from this, since bad actors (pun) always find excuses to justify and rationalize their bad behavior. But within the limits of my ability, I want at least to tell these people what I think of them.

Quote
I am writing to express my great displeasure and disappointment with the treatment I have received from [E] Productions concerning the proposed staged reading of my play Capriccio Radio, and in particular the behavior of your artistic director [D].

As I’m sure you’ll recall, I first mentioned the possibility of your presenting my play at last fall’s Gala in [C]. At the time [D] appeared receptive to the project, and early in 2016 I gave him a script, asking merely for a private reading where I could get a group of actors to let me hear the script. After reading, however, [D] told me he “loved” my play and offered 2-3 public staged readings sometime in the summer, followed by Q+A sessions. Naturally I was very pleased by this and delighted to accept.

As time went by, however, the offer was reduced to two readings tentatively set for June 17 and 24, and later still it was reduced to a single firm date, July 31, which according to [M] (who was assigned to direct) would be the last possible date you could schedule this year. I was told by [M] orally and via email to expect two rehearsals and a final run-through; and on July 17 we spent a half-hour discussing casting, publicity (which would include notices on FaceBook, DebsWeb, and Newsday), and other issues.

I arrived for the first scheduled rehearsal on Sunday, July 24, only to find the theater locked. On calling into my landline I found a voice mail from [M] cancelling the rehearsal at an hour’s notice, allegedly because three of the seven cast members had conflicts, but also offering to reschedule for Tuesday or Wednesday, July 26 or 27. Even this was not a major concern as sometimes productions pull themselves together on short notice.

My first inkling that something was seriously wrong occurred on Monday, July 25, when I saw a FaceBook page for the staged reading of [A]'s play today, but nothing about my own. Tuesday and Wednesday went by with no further word from [E], and by Thursday I sent an e-mail to [D] and [M] asking for an explanation. As I write at 1:00 PM on Saturday, there has been no response.

In other words, [E] has apparently cancelled my reading, without notice, explanation, or discussion. If [D] didn't like the play, he did not have to offer the readings. But he said he “loved” the play, he did offer the readings, and [E] had at least four months to work out casting, rehearsals, production dates, and publicity. As it is, I invited a dozen people for tomorrow and now have the embarrassment of telling them all not to come.

Those are the facts which I have stated as objectively as possible, and I have attached texts of all relevant e-mails and voice mails. From the start, [E] has failed to make good on every assurance it has given me, and instead of the hoped-for positive outcome there has been a total breakdown of trust and good will.

I would hope that if in future you work with original plays and new playwrights, you will make a greater effort to conduct yourselves with integrity and professionalism.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 09:10:14 AM by (poco) Sforzando »
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #33 on: August 01, 2016, 09:14:16 AM »
You were admirably civil, and really, your communication is not merely a complaint, but an encouragement to them to be more professional in their activities.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #34 on: August 04, 2016, 09:14:04 AM »
Not surprisingly, I haven't yet received a reply to my letter to the theater owner. No doubt they simply want me to go away so they can forget about their bad behavior and pat themselves on the back for having gotten rid of a pest who simply wanted them to live up to their word. Or at least have the decency to offer an explanation. An apology, I'm sure, would be too much to expect.

But as one door closes, another opens. I just sent off a comedy about a theater trying to cast Shakespeare's "Cleopatra and Antony" (yes, you got that right), and have an acceptance from an off-Broadway theater in NYC to produce it on Sept. 7-8. I'll have to bear the costs of rehearsal space myself (hope it's not too much), plus a small fee to the theater, but better that than no production at all.

In addition, I had some nice comments recently from an online workshop where I participate from time to time. Concerning a short play set in an old-age rehab center where a lonely man and a widow are recovering from serious injuries, one playwright wrote: "I absolutely loved your wonderful little play.  It was by turns funny and touching and thought-provoking, and I really enjoyed the contrast between the man and the woman. I have almost no critical comments - just want to say how entertaining it was to read, and how it seemed so fresh, without a single cliche in it.  So much humor in his retorts to her, and in her asides while she's rambling on.  This is EXCELLENT work and I suspect you will get numerous productions of it.  I wish I could offer help but you don't need any! Thanks for sharing such a good piece of work with me."

There was also a recent contest where playwrights were asked to come up with a short dramatic adaptation of a major literary work, intended for HS or college students. I picked the "Divine Comedy" (why do anything easy?) and spent four days writing a parody in which a HS girl (Donna) undergoes a parallel Dante-inspired journey of her own, accompanied by her Uncle Virgil, Aunt Bea, and two "cameo" characters playing all kinds of minor parts. My reviewer:

"This play written for high school and possibly college & Middle School is excellent in that regard. The play sets a tone of casual discovery which will permit students to explore this great work. To do that it doesn't skip the hard questions nor does it try to answer them. My thought is it would wet the student's appetite for these issues like God and the nature of sin, the presence of the devil and the after life.

I particularly like the voice in this work. It is mature yet fun loving, it is clear without being doctrinaire and it is respectful to Donna and young people in general. It actually reminds me of Boccaccio in its light and easy humanity."

Neither of those comments is equivalent to acceptance by a theater, but it's nice to know my efforts aren't totally hopeless.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 09:10:44 AM by (poco) Sforzando »
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #35 on: August 04, 2016, 09:52:57 AM »
Splendid!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #36 on: September 16, 2016, 12:54:45 PM »
I have been away from this beloved space for a while, deeply involved in producing and directing the comedy I mentioned about a little theater trying to produce “Cleopatra and Antony.” If you read the recently resurrected “Fidelio” thread, you’d find my little play is surprisingly relevant, as its main subject is gender-blind casting in Shakespeare, with some comments on the use of boy actors in Shakespeare’s time.

This is by no means a retread of the movie “Shakespeare in Love.” That delightful movie is a romantic comedy about a man in love with a woman; mine is a farce about a little theater trying to cast Shakespeare’s most ambitious play and finding its choices for Cleopatra come down to a potty-mouthed boy of 10 (who was played in my production for Manhattan Repertory Theatre by a girl of 13), his brassy stage mother (who was a female, but could have been played by a big guy in drag), and an M-F Egyptian transgender of 18 (who could have been played by either a female or male, but who in our cast was a young African-American woman).

The whole thing was both a lot of work (from which I am still recovering) and a lot of fun. I initially had no end of trouble trying to find a director, until Manhattan Rep’s artistic director told me just to do it myself. (Which I should have done with the other play I’ve been discussing, as I didn’t feel the director assigned my play on classical music either understood it or had much interest in it.) There were also several initial hurdles in casting, with people unexpectedly bowing out or not being eligible because of Equity issues. Turns out that I lucked out on several of the six parts, and only one of the actors was to any degree temperamental. But with considerable input from this very good cast, the production went quite well and especially on the first night got a lot of laughs.

I was out a few hundred bucks, mostly for renting audition/rehearsal space and unavoidable travel. Next time I'll be upfront and ask if any of the cast will let me use their homes to rehearse. But fortunately the first night was the one I have preserved on video, and even though I might cut a minute or so later on, I think this is one of the better pieces I’ve yet written.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2016, 01:10:45 PM by (poco) Sforzando »
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline Spineur

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #37 on: September 16, 2016, 01:05:12 PM »
Very nice writeup Poco.  I wish I could talk about my work as well as you do.  If you have some excerpt on video, I would love watching it.
A woman voice glides like the wind
Of black, of damp, of night
And all it touches in this flight
Suddenly is over.

Anna Akhomatova

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #38 on: September 16, 2016, 01:38:48 PM »

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: A staged reading of my play on classical music
« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2016, 03:54:31 PM »
Well, thank you for that. But just bear in mind that this was a tiny little theater on Manhattan's West Side, the sort of hole-in-the-wall you find all over the city that seats just about 50 and puts on numerous 2-night productions of this type all year around. Those who eagerly search the NY Times looking for a rave review (or any review) from Ben Brantley will be sorely disappointed.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

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