Women’s Comedic Monologues – Introducing Jessica Glassberg

It’s a whole new week, which means we have a brand new video for Women’s Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny! Here is Jessica Glassberg reminiscing about the traumatic days of adolescence in her monologue “Always Awkward.”

 

 

To see more from Jessica, check out her website.

And don’t forget to follow her on twitter!

 

Selecting America’s Best Short Plays

For years now, Bill Demastes has been selecting and editing together the best short plays in the U.S. for the long-running series, The Best American Short Plays. The newest volume in the series, The Best American Short Plays 2012-2013, includes works from a wide variety of writers, from seasoned playwrights to college students. Many ask, how exactly does Bill pick the “best” plays out of such a huge selection of eager voices? Mr. Demastes has been so kind as to write us a post giving us some insight into his quest to find the best plays in America.

 

First, let me say that I love this job. I get to read hundreds of plays from some of the best new talents in the country, and I get teasingly exciting submissions from many of the most established writers today. Judging from the number of high quality submissions I receive from year to year, I can say that

Bill Demastes taking a break in his Baton Rouge office.

Bill Demastes taking a break in his Baton Rouge office.

creative talent in New York City is definitely alive and well.  (That might actually be an understatement.) What’s equally exciting to me is that talent exists across the country, in Baltimore, Atlanta, Knoxville, Athens, New Orleans, Kalamazoo, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Southern and Northern California, and even up there in Alaska. Where next?

People often ask me how I pick the plays for each volume. It is a very difficult decision, and there are no real rules to this procedure. I read for fresh writing, stuff that reads like spoken language. Neat ideas certainly help, but well-done, quiet vignettes and reminiscences work well, too. I’m a sucker for surprise endings and good jokes. Political messages are not what I look for, but well put together and heartfelt pieces often catch my eye. I love comic word play when I see it. Not a big fan of gratuitous profanity–can’t the effect be better generated through wit rather than coarse bludgeoning? 

After I pull together a large list of plays that I like, I look to see what common threads course through most of the works and try to string together something of a theme for the volume. This is a difficult task. However, if you look hard enough, common threads do surface among good writing since all really good work deals somehow with the common experiences of love, hate, loss, regret–the things that occupy those moments in our lives beyond the empty hurlyburly of simply making a living.

I frequently hear from authors included in these volumes that their works find their ways onto the stage thanks to the exposure from these volumes. That’s a very gratifying thing. In a world where being a playwright is no easy occupation, it is a good thing to be able to help in some small way.

I look forward to the publication of this new volume, certain the playwrights and plays I’ve included will not disappoint. And I welcome submissions of scripts that have been produced over the past theatre season from any and all–including recommendations from discriminating theatregoers.

The SAVI Singing Actor on Dramatic Circumstances

The musical theatre technique blogger, The SAVI Singing Actor, has written a comprehensive review of William Wesbrooks’ Dramatic Circumstances. Check it out!

 

Once upon a time, there was a professor who taught singing actors about how to perform00103894 songs. He worked in a big city at a university with a big reputation, and many students came to study with him. He loved his work; he loved being able to help students, and the things he taught them were genuinely helpful. After awhile, he thought to himself, “Maybe I could help more students if I were to write about the ways I train my students in a book.”

Yes, this is my story, but it’s also the story of Bill Wesbrooks, Director of Vocal Performance at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at NYU. The difference between Bill and me is, he’s actually written the book. It’s called “Dramatic Circumstances,” it was published a few months ago, and it’s a great addition to the literature of singer-actor training.

 

Read the rest HERE
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Harold and Stella: Opening night!

fringeThe two-person play “Harold and Stella: Love Letters” opens at the Hollywood Fringe Festival tonight (Friday). Here are some details from the Festival website…

 

In 1942 Stella Adler (queen of modern acting) and Harold Clurman (dean of American theater) were living on opposite coasts of the country as the U.S. entered the Second World War. They began a steady stream of correspondence to buttress their long distance romance, letters that reveal times as tempestuous as their relationship. Through their words, we enter the lives of two artists unflinchingly committed to their work while struggling through creative, financial and romantic uncertainty.

 

Sheana Ochoa, author of Stella Adler’s new biography, Stella! Mother of Modern Acting will be at each performance to sign copies. Enter discount code “BOOK” to receive a signed copy of the book along with your ticket at the discounted price of $35. Visit the festival website HERE for more details. Hope to see you all there!

Happy Tony’s!

What with the 2014 Tony’s happening this Sunday, there is no better time to brush up on your Broadway trivia! Test your knowledge with a few questions from The Broadway Musical Quiz Book. The answers will be posted next week. The questions we’ve chosen to ask have everything to do with Broadway’s most well-known duo: Rodgers and Hammerstein, of course. Think you know your Broadway stuff? Give it a go!

1) What is there to say about Oklahoma! (1943)? It marked a watershed in musical theatre history. Even poor souls who know next to nothing about musicals have heard of it. Richard Rodgers’ folksy melodies and Oscar Hammerstain’s easy, conversational lyrics helped give this tale of cowboys and farmers its naturalistic feel. Which of the following critters is not found in Oklahoma! (the show, not the state)?

A. a hawk

B. a lark

C. Rams and ewes

D. a field mouse

E. a little brown maverick

 

2) The duo followed Oklahoma!‘s triumph with another success, 19945’s Carousel, based on Ferenc Molnár’s Liliom. Fortunately for Rodgers and Hammerstein (and musical lovers everywhere), Molnár approved many changes to his play, including a drastically softened ending and its relocation from Hungary to New England. During the Boston tryouts, Hammerstein (or director Reuben Mamoulian, depending on which source you read) came up with a new concept for the deity figure: he became “the Starkeeper,” perched on his ladder, polishing the stars. How was this character previously depicted?

A. as a calm sea captain in a celestial boat

B. as a stonecutter

C. as the owner of the mill

D. as Billy’s angelic counterpart, the operator of a heavenly carousel

E. as “Mr. God,” sitting quietly in a New England parlor, with “Mrs. God” playing on the harmonium

 

3) 1949’s South Pacific  returned the pair to the heights, capturing the Pulitzer for drama and running 1,925 performances. based on James Michener’s stories, it concerns the romance between a navy nurse, Nellie Forbush (Mary Martin), and a French plantation owner, Emile de Becque (opera star Ezio Pinza). The subplot involves the tragic love affair of a young officer (William Tabbert) for an island girl (Betta St. John). What does Lt. Cable try to give Bloody Mary (Juanita Hall) after he renounces Liat?

A. a boar’s tooth necklace

B. his grandfather’s watch

C. DiMaggio’s glove

D. “fo’ dolla'”

E. a blueberry pie

Happy Birthday, Arthur Conan Doyle!

Arthur Conan Doyle is widely regarded as one of the world’s best storytellers. Although the author dabbled in various vocations during his life, such as medicine and sailing, Conan Doyle showed an inclination towards storytelling since his early childhood that was passed down from his mother. “In my early childhood,” Conan Doyle once remarked, “as far as I can remember anything at all, the vivid stories she would tell me stand out so clearly that they obscure the real facts of my life.” This passionate response to fiction grew with Conan Doyle into his teenage years, although the style he developed wasn’t exactly the sophisticated and eloquent one we are most familiar with! This excerpt from Sherlock Holmes FAQ gives some insight into Conan Doyle’s affinity for “Penny Dreadfuls”:

 

00117258It was during his final year at Stoneyhurst [his Catholic school] that Conan Doyle first became aware that his youthful love of storytelling had grown into a teenaged ability to captivate audiences. While editing the school magazine, he also threw himself into the composition of serial stories, lengthy epics of adventure and derring do more appropriate, perhaps, to the pages of a penny dreadful than the august halls of a Jesuit college.

Penny dreadful were the bane of the faculty’s existence, cheap (as their name implies), lurid (ditto) magazines into which the most sensational, shocking, and horrifying fiction imaginable was shoehorned, in bite sized quantities, and every installment ending upon a new note of cliff-hanging calamity, to ensure the reader had no alternative but to return for more in the very next issue.

Fifty years on, radio and movie serials would seize upon a similar notion to keep their audience coming back; today, television offers the same diversion. Different crimes for different climes. In 1870s England, with radio and television still far off in science fiction-land, penny dreadfuls were the public enemy number one. And Conan Doyle discovered that he had a rare talent for writing them.

He read his tales aloud to his audience, seated on a desk while they crouched on a floor around him, spinning out sagas so suspenseful that he would occasionally threaten to end a tale early because he knew his anxious audience would not hesitate to bribe him with apples and cakes, if only he’d read another page.

Still in his teens, Conan Doyle had discovered for himself the secret of great storytelling (if not necessarily great stories). “When I had got as far as… ‘slowly, slowly, the door turned upon its hinges, and with eyes which were dilated with horror the wicked Marquis saw…’ I knew that I had my audience in my power.”

Watch: Inside Look at Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ

 

Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ by Tom DeMichael  (coming this Fall from Applause Books) focuses on films that give audiences two hours where they can forget about their troubles, sit back, crunch some popcorn, and visit worlds never before seen… worlds of robots, time travel, aliens, space exploration, and other far-out ideas. This book takes a look at the genre’s movies from the last 40 years, where the dreams of yesterday and today may become tomorrow’s realities. Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ travels to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… visits a theme park where DNA-created dinosaurs roam… watches as aliens come to Earth, hunting humans for sport… and much, much more.