Friday, August 31, 2012

On Stage

When you put things on stage, the words in people's mouths, the action in real bodies in physical space... expect honest emotional reactions to manufactured lines and contrived circumstances...  Sometimes, what seems to work in black and white on a sheaf of paper simply doesn't in the world the play is creating.  It makes the world show its seams where it's been stitched together and is unraveling.  Or it simply crumbles.  Or, one could say, "it's not working."  Which is essentially what the director called me to say last night.  In a kind way, of course.

One scene in particular.  And I'm not telling you which one.

There is the side of me which wants to say, "No. No.  Let me explain it to you and prove to you why it should be the way it is."  But they know a lot more about what works on stage than I do.  And I tried this on the phone... it's not totally effective.  (haha)

There is a side of me which says, "I give up.  I'm new at this.  I don't know a thing about writing plays.  Just leave it.  If I knew how to make it better, don't you think I would have done so in one of the other four drafts?  I don't know how to make it better."  But I don't want to be a quitter.

There's a side of me which says, "Deep breath.  Their suggestions are good.  Just take all of them, fix it the way they want it, and they won't bother you any more."  But I don't want to be a pushover.

There's a side of me which says, "You can't take all of their suggestions simply because they are their suggestions.  This is your play.  Have some artistic integrity."  But I don't want to be an egotistical jerk.

There's a side of me which says, "Whaaaa.  I want my mommy."  But I don't want to be a whiner who doesn't suck it up and get the work done.

There's a side of me, somewhere, which says, "Get at it, Britt.  Make it better.  They're here to help you and your work succeed.  (And they don't want to look like idiots on the stage, so they're pretty motivated to help make it better for their own personal reasons.)  Push yourself.  Dig deep.  Make it better.  You can only do that through listening, working hard, and taking risks.  You trust them and they're trusting you to do better than your best for the script."

So.  That leaves me a holiday weekend full of stewing, examining, stewing, rereading, experimenting and... revising.  Again.

For a stay-at-home mom who doesn't have the time to attend a low residency MFA program, how do I not recognize this as a dream come true?  These are industry professionals with years of experience under their belts devoting their time and energy to my writing.  Is the lesson Be careful what you wish for, it might come true?  No.  The lesson is do the work, your dreams can come true, and when they do, do that work too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dear Skip Bayless, My ESPN Boyfriend...

Well, after much thought and pondering and editing, here is the email I just sent to one Skip Bayless, my most favorite ESPN crush:

Skip! I hate Tebow, but I love you. (In a non-creepy way. I don't want to offend Ernestine. Or my husband, though he totally knows about my ESPN crush.) My friend Britt Kaufmann and I wrote a play called "Between the Tackles" about 3 guys watching NFL football - you have 8 chances to come watch it in Burnsville, NC, at The Parkway Playhouse, starting September 22. (Look it up here: You can bring Stephen A. and embrace debate with my son, Franco, in our Steelers room. (For real.) Doesn't that sound like fun? I thought you would agree! "Don't disrespect me" and give us a shout-out. I'll be watching!! Thanks a bunch! Love, Stephanie Stark Poling

I just know he is going to totally mention us, probably tomorrow, so I hope everyone and their brother is watching ESPN's First Take at 10:00 Eastern on ESPN2. (They should pay for me for my awesome ambassadorship...)

I told ol' Scotty P. I invited Skip and Stephen A. to stay in our Steelers room for the opening night show, since it is only courtesy to inform one's spouse about your plans for overnight guests who are most certainly guaranteed to show up. He looked at me like I might be crazy and wondered aloud if I love Skip Bayless more than I love him.

It's not more, it's just different...

Just kidding!

The next marks on my list: Mike and Mike, as soon as Golic returns from his vacation. After that, the PTI fellas - Wilbon and Kornheiser.

A woman's work is never done...and none of you ESPN fools are safe. Beware!!

Monday, August 27, 2012


In case you were wondering, I'm a dork.  But, if you'd like to be a dork like me, and be dorky enough to wear matching T-shirts, you now have that opportunity:

If you too would like to own one of these sweet shirts, you will need to leave a comment below with your name and your size & then figure out how to get the $ to me.  (Cost is $10 for a plain one and $13 if you want your last name on the back. This is a tad bit over actual cost, with the extra going to the Parkway Playhouse.)      ~bk

First Rehearsal

So, I dropped in on the first rehearsal yesterday to bring the cast and crew food for their lunch break.  (Last year, when I did this for the cast of An Uncivil Union I brought them a food based on the script:  corn bread and rabbit stew.  I even gave Ryan Robertson, the male lead in AUU, a bacon bouquet on opening night -- because the men in the play steal 500 lbs of bacon.)  So, maybe there was some concern when I said I'd show up with food... but hopefully they were happy with humus & pita, dehydrated green beans, potato chips and ribs.  You'll understand once you see the play.

I got to see the cast rehearse the last two minutes before half-time.  (Yes, Steph & I are encouraging the use of "half-time" instead of "intermission.")  I wanted to stay for more because it's so exciting... but I had kids in the car and when I finally rejoined them I was bombarded with, "Where were you?"  They'd even sent one of their numbers out to scout for me.

Anyway... it's very exciting.  Very exciting.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Production Meeting

Steph and I were invited to the Production Meeting this morning to explore some of the particulars about staging/costuming, rehearsal schedules etc.  I'm not sure there were any set-in-stone decisions made, but it was good to have all the powers-that-be (actor, stage manager, director, writers, artistic director, costume designer, set designer -- and most people were wearing multiple hats) in the same room talking about the same thing.  And that thing was our play. It's exciting to hear people planning how they're going to take this idea we came up with in our heads and make it happen... in real time, with real people and real props... in front of a real audience. 

I tried to be more cognizant of staging with this play, so hopefully that will pay off for everyone involved.  (Ask the costume and set designers after the play is over.)  I do feel like I was an asset at the meeting, though I'm guessing the biggest contribution I made was changing a poopy diaper. 

Then, after a while, the Parkway Playhouse staff was done with us, because there's still another play to open before ours.

Yep.  That's right.  We get to follow the greatest playwright of all time.  Awesome.  It's a good thing we're fans of irony and juxtoposition. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More work...

After the first table reading, Steph and I were tasked with tightening up the script and addressing several nebulous/confusing bits.  And adding more meat conversations.  This we tackled and churned out draft number three.

As a playwright there are many things in your control, for example the whole bloomin' story... and the rewrites.  Also, there are the rewrites.  However, as I have said before... in order for the play to be performed the writer has to also relinquish a lot of control.  One of those things writers don't have control over is casting and actors' schedules etc.

So, in order to put together the best cast (which I'm pretty excited about) the play has been shifted back a week.  This means opening night is September 22 and closing will be October 6.  This also means super-comfortable temperatures at Parkway Playhouse.

Feel free to reuse the following graphic on your own blog, website, fb page or wherever!