Saturday, September 17, 2011

An Idea

I've got an idea for this thing. I call it the Secular Artists Alliance. I've gone so far as to register the domain name. Beyond that, however, it's just an idea. As I wrote on the placeholder page, "My hope is to turn this into a forum for artists of all disciplines who have, or have been inspired by, or are maybe just curious about, a secular worldview. I'd like this to be a place where artists can come for support, networking, feedback, and inspiration."

Now how do I do that?

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Plan

The time has come -- is, in fact, long overdue -- for me to find an agent. There, I said it. I have put feelers out, and several friends have given me recommendations on where to submit, and even been kind enough to offer themselves as references. Time now to put together some resumes and headshots, write me up some cover letters, maybe tack on some quotes from reviews, and see what happens.

I have, on occasion, sent my stuff in to agents before. I have encountered no success. I also sent my stuff in unsolicited. The agents had not seen me, I had no recommendations, and few reviews to speak of. I think I've got a better handle on what I'm doing this time.

I'm fast approaching a "now or never" point in my life. Without going into detail, let me say that certain aspects of my working life in which I had been comfortable have recently become distinctly un-comfortable. I was complacent; now things are shaking up and it is time for me to get my shit together.

The funny thing is, when it comes to theater, I have never been busier. The show I wrote opens in two weeks. I've been cast in a show at my home theater that workshops this fall, and performs next winter. I've just joined a company that performs Shakespeare for high school students. And I have an audition coming up about which I am very excited. If I get that, that's five plays I'll be acting in this season. That's crazy. And awesome. But also crazy.

But as busy as I am, I have bills to pay, and my old comfortable plan doesn't seem like it's going to pan out the way I'd hoped. So now it's time to step up my game. Part of me wishes that such a move could have been played out more on my own terms, but at the same time I know myself well enough to know that if circumstances hadn't dictated it, I might have been content to let things ride as they were indefinitely.

I hate to be so vague. Nobody should be worrying about my health or anything like that. It's just time for a change. And it's stressful as all hell, but in the end I think it will turn out to be a good thing.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Other Side of the Table

I stage managed a play once in college. It was a one-act. I've since directed a couple of short late-night pieces, and "directed" a solo piece my friend Joanie did several years ago. In that instance, I just met with her a couple of times, gave a couple suggestions on blocking and pacing, and had a little input on the lighting. I have also done fight choreography on a number of shows, but was never intimately involved in those productions. Usually I'd just be asked to stop by once a week or so and check in. If I was more involved, it was because I was also performing in the show. The point is, until now I've never observed the production side of a full scale theatrical production. It is fascinating.

Actors spend little time exposed to the creative processes of the designers on most shows. This isn't a knock against actors; it's just that their work and the designers' work are done in separate places and follow different schedules. Actors usually only experience the last few stages of the designers' efforts. Working as the writer on The Count of Monte Cristo, I have a whole new perspective on the kind of work that goes into building a set, or lighting it. For weeks, thoughts and images would be passed around, ideas discussed, research referenced. Discussions would revolve around, say, a photo our set designer found of a cathedral. He would point out the feel and texture of its marble floor. This would be combined with a painting our lighting designer had found, showing stark beams of light coming through a small window, illuminating and isolating a small corner of a larger, darker space. Our costume designer would discuss images from the time period we are creating, and would remove or enhance certain details depending on what best told our story.

We are in tech now, where all of these elements and many others are finally coming together onstage, to be combined with the work the actors have done in rehearsal over the last several weeks. My job is almost done. I am reminded of the time I saw Tom Robbins give a reading. He was asked about his writing process, and how he approached revisions. He said that he doesn't stop tinkering and tweaking until the publisher finally tells him it's gone to print and it's too late to change anything else. I completely understand what he meant by that. I find myself constantly wondering if it would help if I changed this line here, cut that line there, clarified this little thing here, gave this line to that character, snipped a word or two from this speech. I don't mean to be picky. It's just that I want it to be perfect.

We have our first audience in less than a week. I am giddy with excitement. I love my cast and production team, and I am so proud of this show. I can't wait for everybody to see it.