I could not have asked for a better group of people. We made it to the top 12, and I’ve never been so proud. The emotional weight of All of the Everything resonated throughout the room. These phenomenally talented theatre artists worked so hard to make my words come to life, and there are not enough words to express my gratitude towards them. They believed in a play that I’ve been told is not possible or could not work on stage, and made it come to life.
So excited to be working on a play that I’ve finished, but never heard aloud before. It’s a play that’s gotten me some personalized rejection letters, but I’m so glad to take some time to deepen my exploration of the post-apocalyptic world in my play Drapetomania.
What is New Leaf?
New Leaf is a local new play development program that focuses on uplifting the work of Minnesota-based emerging playwrights. This Fall, New Leaf will launch in collaboration with the Playwright Cabal and Arts Nest to present staged readings of five new plays between September and December 2019. Each event concludes with a facilitated feedback session between the audience and artistic team. By the end of the collaboration with us, we aim to elevate the playwright to the next level of their development process. All events are free and open to the public.
GEMMA IRISH (September 10th) “The Co-op Wars”
HEATHER MEYER (October 8th) “Eat, Slay, Leave”
RACHEL TEAGLE (October 22nd) “Under”
ALAYNA JACQUELINE (November 19th) “Drapetomania”
KATHERINE GLOVER (December 10th)
Artistic Producer: Sophie Peyton
Super excited to be teaming up again with Lucas Skjaret, Artist Director of Market Garden Theatre.
Performance Dates: 9/15, 9/20, 9/22
When: All @ 7:30 p.m
Where: The Crane Studio, 2303 Kennedy St NE #120, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Okay so this first one was a little rough. I got a little distracted.
BUT HEY! A week late is better than never doing it.
CONFESSION: I was actually asked this question in a writing group. We had about 5-7 minutes to write a short vignette. The story below is based on the paragraph I wrote in that session.
This is really my first short story in–what feels like–forever, but it’s been a few year.
THE MAGIC OF A STORY
The young girl was excited to visit her uncle because of the vault of fantastical stories he had at the ready. But he didn’t just read them. No, he would put on full productions around the house with costumes and props made from blankets, pillowcases, and her aunt’s church lady hats and scarves. It was like magic the way all the characters came to life through one man. The young girl would always bring extra books for him to read just in case he ever ran out of tales, but he never did. He would always say, “there’s nothing more magical than sharing a story.”
For the young girl’s birthday, she got a massive book of short stories. The first page of each story had the title in elaborate writing with a beautiful African illustration next to it. The corners of each page were highlighted in gold and attached to the headband of the book was a silk bookmark with Akwete cloth-style design. This book has always–with no competition–been her favorite, and the person she wanted to share it with most was her uncle.
On the young girl’s next visit to see her uncle, she showed him the glorious book that was almost too heavy for her to carry. He picked up the book and flipped through pages, admiring the gold page corners and African illustrations.
“Will you read me a story?” She asked with high expectations.
Her uncle smiled and sat her on his lap, “why don’t you read to me for once?”
She protested, saying, “I’m not as good as you. I can’t do the voices.”
“Will you try for me? Just one story and then you can pick any story you want me to read and I will.”
The young girl agreed. She opens to the first story with a marvelous illustration of a bird made up of all the colors weaving a nest. Her uncle was impressed by how well she could bring a story to life. Of course, she stumbled over some vowels and consonants, trying to think of different voices for each character. But it was a wondrous feeling to close his eyes and picture the world his young niece painted with words.
When she finished, she moved the Akwete bookmark to the end of the story to ensure she wouldn’t lose her place. She then closed her eyes and flipped the pages through her fingers, allowing the story to choose itself. Finally, she lands on a page. She opens her eyes to find her finger two thirds through the book on a picture of hippo surfacing from the dark water. Disappointed, she starts her flipping again, but her uncle stops her.
“But I don’t want to story about a hippo.” the young girl whined.
Her uncle flips through the pages, studying each page and sporadically giving deep-thinking grunts. He turns back to the picture of the hippo and places the book down on the chair with the pages facing him.
As always, he grabbed his magic props and costumes and changed his voice to introduce new characters. It was the greatest story he ever told. The young girl watched as he jumped back and forth, in and out of the narrative to turn the pages of the book. He put all of himself into this story, and by the end, he was sweating, entirely out of breath, as if he had just given birth to all the characters in the story.
The young girl was speechless. She had never heard such an amazing story before told with such joy and commitment.
She left her visit feeling excited to devour the rest of the book. However, when she got home to show her mother the story, she realized she never moved the bookmark to the hippo’s story. She only remembered it was toward the end of the book.
The young girl flipped through the catalog of African animals. In her young mind, it felt like days. After flipping through the entire safari, the young girl finally meets eyes with the hippo staring through its brow in the water. Before showing her mother, she begins to read the story, just to refresh her memory–she didn’t want to leave any moment out. However, after the first sentence, she noticed something was different. She didn’t remember the story starting here. She continued reading to find that every word was changed.
The young girl went crying to her mother, hiccuping for air between each syllable.
“The book is broken.” she wiped her nose with the back of her hand.
The mother picked up her daughter, “What do you mean?”
“The book won’t give me the right words.” The young girl opened the book and pushed it towards her mother. “This isn’t the same story!”
The young girl collapsed into her mother’s arms, wondering what she’d done wrong. The mother tried to find the words to explain why the uncle’s stories will never match the book’s narrative. Until she remembered, there’s nothing more magical than sharing a story.
The young girl looked up at her mother with all the innocence in the world, “it’s magic.”
She hands the book to her mother. “It’s magic! He shared it with me. I share it with you. We make the book change. We make the magic!”
The young girl turns the pages with the cover facing her. “It’s your turn, mommy!”
The mother looks at the hippo, and the words across the page–knowing the narrative, character, and words have never and could never change. Yet, she still opened the book hopeful.
The mother began to read the first sentence, and much to her surprise, she did find a new story. No words rearranged or disappeared, but she felt the magic. She felt the spark of inspiration that one sentence can give to anyone willing to unlock their imagination and connect it with another person. A person who needs it. This one sentence has an infinite amount of paths that could lead you to stories full of great quests and journeys and battles, tales of the truest of loves that flow deeper than beauty, and fables with admonishments of all the ways the world can hurt you.
The magic of sharing a story is in both the teller and the listener agreeing to bend the universe to create something just for them that will only last for a moment.
So clearly I haven’t been doing the best with my blogging. I guess I don’t really like that word “blogging.” It rhymes with horrible words like flogging, clogging, JOGGING–I actually don’t mind jogging if I’m not being timed or chased by something.
I know people that are very diligent and successful with their blogs. I just don’t think I have enough of my mind to then sit and write about it consistently. At least, not in a way that I can articulate well enough to share with others. I think that’s why I’m in creative writing… That’s actually exactly why I’m into creative writing. I can write an entirely fictitious story around a nugget of truth about me. Sometimes I leave the hints of me exposed, while some of the time I’m buried deep inside the narrative or spirit of characters. I’m the invisible structure of each story I tell.
So why am I blogging now–I’m assuming you’re wondering this if you’ve read this far. The answer is…… I’m not. This is not a blog. I want to use this as a brave space to challenge myself.
I’m challenging myself to write in a form that I don’t usually play in. The beautiful craft of short storytelling. I don’t really play in this world because… I write scripts for the stage, screen, and television–I have yet to be paid to write for screen or TV, but I still write the scripts and create show bibles. So I want to challenge myself to write in this genre.
I am going to post to this weekly. Depending on how life goes, that might change to bi-weekly… Maybe monthly. But for the start of this, I’m challenging myself to do this weekly.
How long are you going to do this? Again, if you’ve read this far, I’m assuming you’re genuinely invested. I want to try to do this for a whole year.
The short stories that I’m writing are going to be inspired/prompted by–what I like to call–Child-Like Questions. These are questions that seem so simple to answer as a child, but as you grow older, they become increasingly more complicated. For example, are you someone’s favorite person? As a child, you’d definitely say “yes” with all the confidence in the world, probably with a laundry list full of people–real and makebelieve. However, now, as an adult, it’s a lot harder. You’d be grappling with the technicalities of the questions. “Do I have to be their only favorite person? Like, can it be a group of us?” “I think plenty of people like me, what does favorite mean?” The hardest thing about this question is we all grapple with the idea that the answer might be “no.”
I can’t take credit for that question. I first heard it watching Miranda July’s short Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?
Challenge #5- The last one for right now
There won’t be a lot of editing involved. The goal is to finish, not perfect. None of them will be done, but they will be due. There will be issues with grammar and plot holes. But I will still unapologetically post.
That’s all for my challenges right now. I might make up more later.
So excited to have the most amazing production team a playwright could ask for… Renaissance Theatreworks will be producing my play All of the Everything for the Samuel French Short Play Festival.
If we make it to the finals, we will perform Saturday, August 24th at either 2:00PM or 4:30PM
My play All of the Everything got into Samuel French’s Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival!!!