Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Contest season

Quite a switch from last month. In January, we were forced to postpone our meeting for the first time due to a late-day snowstorm. Yesterday, on the other hand, we enjoyed unseasonably balmy weather, with a high of 64 degrees. We had a good turnout as well, with 13 people attending, even though three of our regulars couldn't make it due to rehearsals or teaching classes.

We opened with the beginning of Grant Swenson's relationship dramedy Cassiopeia. The play centers on a hard-working sister and her ne'er-do'well brother. After a brief scene between the two of them, they go their separate ways and the subsequent scenes in which they meet old flames are played simultaneously on opposite ends of the stage. Grant was concerned that this might be confusing, but the consensus is that it worked well, drawing an intriguing contrast between the ways the lead characters handle their romantic relationships.

Next up was Barbara's 10-minute entry into the FAC's Rough Writers contest Georgia and Beck. The play centers on Georgia O'Keeffe's relationship with Beck Strand, who followed O'Keeffe to New Mexico and was inspired by her famous friend to take up glass painting. This setup allowed the play to explore a lot of interesting ideas about art. Barbara said she weaved in many direct quotes from O'Keeffe, and everyone agreed this was particularly well-done as they did not stand out as quotes.

After that we read the beginning of Act II from Chuck Cabell's fable Jurgen the Pawnbroker. Here the wisecracking hero is allowed to go back in time to when he first met his formerly beloved wife Dorothy, leading to an hysterical sex scene in which his wife all too quickly returns to her aged, present-day state. As before, everybody loved the rich characters and witty dialogue.

We next read the beginning of my cocktail party farce, Butterfly Effect. I first brought the play a couple years ago but hit a wall when I reached the midpoint. I've rewritten it extensively since then, and am now determined to complete it this year. My main concern with this section was whether the main character was likable despite his faults. The consensus was that he isn't but could be if I cut out his berating of his wife and better sell his position as an underdog vs. his rival.

We wrapped up with Tim Phillips' entry, which will not be summarized here because it's going to be submitted to a playwriting contest that requires anonymous entries.

I'm glad to see people bringing their contest entries to our meetings and I'd like to encourage everyone to enter at least one of them. I keep up with playwriting opps around the country, and let me tell you, we're lucky to have three contests in a city our size.

Our next meeting is Monday, March 9. See you then!