Archive for the 'Playwrighting' Category


Posted in Playwrighting on June 22nd, 2015 by Eric Appleton

An interesting week at Western Michigan University’s inaugural Activate Midwest new play workshop and festival. Got to meet some other lovely early career writers, check out an unfamiliar department, and catch up with some old acquaintances. One of the highlights was the day with Sarah Ruhl. Here’s a slightly blurry picture of her (sitting there on the floor) with some of the students participating in the program (the festival is an outgrowth of the school’s playwrighting program).

Since my play is a sort of ghost story, it’s fun to note that an orb showed up in this flash photo, taken in a dusty black box theatre. . .


Posted in Playwrighting on June 16th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

I’m in Kalamazoo this week, workshopping “Ghostbears!” at Western Michigan State’s ActivateMidwest! festival. I am told that later this week we will get to have lunch with Sarah Ruhl.

Here’s the schedule for the first half of the week:

This is the Gilmore theatre complex. It’s huge. The black box is bigger than most proscenium theatres. . .

Here are two blurry photos of the students getting ready for rehearsal (all the actors are students) in the cavernous D. Terry Williams Theatre.


Posted in Playwrighting on May 15th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

At Western Michigan University today for a workshop of Ghostbears! as part of their Activate Midwest series. I arrived last night and had a chance to see the evening reading of yesterday’s playwright. This morning, we started with a cold reading, discussion with the student actors, and lunch and discussion with the grown-ups. Then back to the hotel room to write while the iron was hot.

Then I emailed the revised script in, and we had an evening reading of the new version in front of the rest of the acting and playwrighting students taking part in the program. It was generally agreed the work I’d done in the afternoon really pushed the play forward, and I feel pretty good about the next series of revisions.

Here’s a photo of the the students in the York theatre as we got going for the evening’s read:

Three Excellent Cows

Posted in Playwrighting on May 6th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

The Write Now! conference has been pretty amazing. Suzan Zader, TYA legend was there, and I got to have some one on one time with her to talk about “Three Excellent Cows.” What an amazing woman, and I really wish I’d known about her and her work years ago. Oh, and Liz Lerman was here for a session. Wow. Wow. Here’s a pic of fellow workshop participants Reina Hardy, Mark Costello and Bill D’Agostino with Suzan.

Here we all are, filing into the IRT’s Upper Theatre for the evenings process discussion with all four teams.

Afterwards, it was photo time — here are all the teams. The woman in the yellow sweater is Dorothy Webb, the founder of the workshop that eventually became WriteNow! I am now officially a Dorothy Webb Award winning playwright.

Oh yeah, there’s David Saar and James Still and Emily Tarquin and Katie Rasor and Dwayne Hartford and Talleri McRae and Kristen Boers and Mark Costello and Reina Hardy and Wendy Bable and Robert Richards and Henry Godinez and Jenny Millinger and Janet Allen and did I leave anyone out?

And what makes Dorothy even more fabulous — I got a chance to chat with her at the reception following, where I learned that she too was a designer, and had trained at SIU (Carbondale) in the days of Mordecai Gorelik and Darwin Reid Payne. She told me how Darwin Reid Payne had a scumbling technique that involved students using their bare feet to swirl and blend the paint. I cannot tell you how wonderful that brief chat was.

Three Excellent Cows

Posted in Playwrighting on April 28th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

More adventures here at Write Now! I spent yesterday afternoon and evening revising, and today we read through the revised script. I actually caused the office to run out of peach paper because of the new pages.

Here we are, breaking up after today’s rehearsal. A lovely group of actors who dived right in, asked a lot of interesting questions, and just generally attacked the whole thing with great gusto.

Afterwards, we had a meet and greet with the staff of the Indiana Rep, and then Talleri (our team’s dramaturg) and Dwayne (our team’s director — who was just named artistic director of Childsplay in the coming year!) and I got some food and went over notes.

Now I’m back at the hotel, and am about to crank out a fresh draft for tomorrow!

Three Excellent Cows

Posted in Playwrighting on April 27th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

My department chair was kind enough to let me go to Indianapolis to attend the Write Now! workshop and conference, so here I am. We’ve had readings of all four plays now, and my director and dramaturg have sat down with me and I now have a long list of things to consider as I move forward with revisions to “Three Excellent Cows.”

Meanwhile, between readings and lunch today (tacos!) we were given a tour of the Indiana Rep’s space. It’s a converted 1920’s movie palace that was built in Spanish Moor style. Here we are, all gawking at the wonderfully over-the-top lobby:

And then continuing backstage where the original proscenium decoration has been preserved:

Yes, those are daschunds holding up that urn. And that’s one of the most exciting fly rails I’ve yet run across:

Arrangement for Murder, No. 2

Posted in Playwrighting on March 31st, 2015 by Eric Appleton

Last night we had a small, somewhat cold reading of a murder thriller I’m working on for one of our Summeround slots. The summer audiences tend to like either light musical entertainment or murder mysteries, and we’re always limited by the number of available performers (students that stick around town over summer) as well as the fact that we stage the summer shows in our black box theatre, usually in the round, which means that shows that need to be technically tricky are often beyond our summer resources. Since I knew the parameters of our summer productions, I figured I’d go ahead and see if I couldn’t come up with a serviceable thriller.

Here’s Jim Butchart speaking with our four volunteer actors before the reading last night.

It went well.

Playwrighting Excursion

Posted in Playwrighting on January 13th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

I drove up to Minneapolis yesterday to attend a staged reading of my new play “Ghostbears!” at the Workhouse Theatre. It was chosen for one of their once a month new play readings — their Greenhouse Public Reading Series. Small space in north Minneapolis, but they were all lovely to work with and it being the first time I’ve heard other people reading the play out loud, I gained some good and valuable information on the piece.

Here’s a photo of director Richard Jackson (to the right) giving the actors their seating assignments before things get rolling.