Friday, April 24, 2009

Work and Plays

Reporting on Day Two of the 2009 William Inge Theatre Festival in Independence, Kansas…

I spent yesterday morning deep in the world of writing plays and creating characters. I participated in a workshop on writing from the senses with Lynne Kaufman, who has a good sense of what helps a writer get in touch — literally and figuratively — with what surrounds us, and then had a fun time watching Daniel Tatar, who makes a very comfortable living working in TV and films in Los Angeles, coach students on how to pull off that killer audition that will get you a part on a TV series, even if it’s only as an extra or a walk-on. Hey, it beats not working at all.

I also attended a session where Barbara Dana — actor, writer, and gentle soul — spoke about her ten-year mission to write a novel about the early life of Emily Dickinson. I bought the book — A Voice of Her Own — and I’m thoroughly enthralled by it after reading only thirty pages of it. (By the way, she will be taking the stage as Emily Dickinson later this summer in The Belle of Amherst, the play based on the life of Dickinson made famous by the astounding performance of Julie Harris in the original Broadway production.)

Last night we saw a staged reading of Diagram of a Paper Airplane by Carlos Murillo, the winner of this year’s Otis Guernsey New Voices award.

Today will be another round of workshops and a conversation with Tom Jones, one of the honorees this year, followed by a memorial to Robert Anderson, and then tonight the big gala dinner and silent auction.

So far the weather has been great; highs in the 80’s and sunny. Over the last 19 years I have memories of springtime in Kansas, including a close encounter with a tornado in 1991 that left us all a little shaken, (they didn’t particularly care for my comment, “Look, there’s a dead witch under the house and everything’s in color!”), and four days of rain in 1993, and one particular festival were it was looking like snow every day. There’s no rain in the forecast this week, which means I can forgo my annual visit to Wal-Mart to replace leaking shoes.

Ironically, I remembered this morning that I forgot that yesterday, April 24, was the 445th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare. Well, that’s okay; I’m going to Stratford, Ontario, in August. I’ll make it up to the Bard then.