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After-the-Fact Log of My 24-Hour Playwriting Experience

Friday July 3, 2009

See earlier post Preparing for 24 Hours of Frantic Playwriting

So yesterday I did indeed hand in my entry for the Toronto Fringe Festival's 24 Hour Playwriting Contest. I was thinking of blogging throughout the contest, but decided against that pretty quick - a few Twitter updates were all I managed. But before the whole experience disappears into an even blurrier memory than it already is, I'll outline how the 24 hours played out for me (Since judging for the contest is done blind and is going on right now, I'll avoid making any actual reference to the content of my script). Besides the Twitter updates these times are all approximate, but roughly speaking here's how my day o' play went down:

JULY 1st

6pm-7pm
Arrived at the Fringe Beer Tent and asked a volunteer where the playwrights should be for the contest launch. Was told the launch would be inside the Fringe Club (which is not what the email said). Went inside, where a sign directed me back o…

Preparing for 24-Hours of Frantic Playwriting

Friday June 26, 2009

I'm registered to take part in the Toronto Fringe Festival's 24-Hour Playwriting Contest. I've thought about entering before, but this is the first year I've actually taken the plunge. On July 1st all participants (there's a maximum of 60) will be in the Fringe Club Beer Tent at 7pm to hear about four things which must be incorporated into their play. We'll then have until 7pm the next day to return with a hard copy of our shiny new script in hand.

Because you can't submit by email, I'm actually thinking of this as more of a 20-Hour Playwriting Contest. I figure I'll need to be happy with the draft by about 3pm on Thursday to have ample time to check for typos and spelling faux-pas, fix any formatting I've ignored in the rush, print out and re-check a clean copy, and get me and it back downtown from Etobicoke.

With time so very limited, I'm trying to get as ready as possible in advance. So far the list of things to do …

New Website (Yes, You're Looking at It)

Monday April 20, 2009

I guess it's fitting that the first news on this website is the existence of this website. Fitting, or perhaps ridiculously circular. Either way, here it is. Less blog and more official-site-type-thing, this will be the place for writing samples, information on current and past projects, and the occasional career-related news item. Like this one.

Okay, that clinches it. My vote is for "ridiculously circular".

Favourite Books & Other Print

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Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
This book was a landmark in my development as a young reader. It was the first time I recognized that if I liked one book by a certain author, I would probably enjoy their other books as well (next up was The Trumpet of the Swan). It was also the first book I remember reading that prompted me to consider the characters as actual individuals, and not just as character types. (Oh Templeton, are you the reason I love pet rats?) Read about my long-standing error regarding the gender of E.B. White on my blog. Green Grass, Running Water by Tom King
Altering the linear nature of a narrative is commonplace in visual media, but in this novel King's method of telling is as playful as the story itself. Engrossing, socially relevant, chock full of cultural references and funny as hell this book is layered like few others.
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" a poem by T.S. Eliot There's something addictive about the rhythm of J. Alfred'…

Favourite Films

I marvel at people who can name a single favourite film. Here's just a little bit of the list (in alphabetical order, because that's the only way that seems fair):

The Fisher King
(1991)
This is the movie I will always wish I had written. Damn you Richard LaGravenese! (Who also wrote "The Ref") Legend and myth and fantasy and reality blend together so seamlessly and shamelessly. A monstrous red knight and an awkward attempt at eating chicken balls, together at last.

The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Yes, I'm a sucker for cute talking animals. Beyond that however, this Disney film is a wonderful example of the simple kind of stories that are getting told less and less often, even for kids. This film didn't have razzle-dazzle, sight gags or sarcasm for the grown-ups because it didn't need it. The story about two friends the world wouldn't let stay together is good enough for all ages as is.

The Shawshank Redemption
(1994)
This and "Run Lola Run&qu…

Comes With Realistic Battle Sounds

Co-written with Evan Dickson, Rob Harding, Peter Kelly, Marc Mayer and Drew Woodley Stage play: Comedy - One act (10min), 5M/1W A squadron of little green army men toys come to life when one of their own is MIA. Really, this was just plain silly. Wonderfully, wonderfully silly. I do wish I had some pictures.
Production Information:
Comes with Realistic Battle Sounds was produced as part of the Ground Zero student run theatre festival at York University. It was performed by the authors and directed by James Fraser. Patient, patient James.

All the Light-Hearted Souls

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Stageplay: Drama - one act (10min), 2M
"I never tried to help people. I never tried to make the world better. I just sat around making bad jokes and using up the air." After an unfortunate encounter with some woodworking machinery, Alex finds himself on the threshold between life and death, challenged to justify his detached and carefree ways. This piece was written especially for 8-0-8 Productions first collaborative show, nigh. Six scenes by six different writers were selected, each depicting an encounter between the recently deceased and a Gatekeeper standing guard over the other side. Production Information: November 2005at the Birds and Stone Theatre in Calgary, Alberta by 8-0-8 Productions as part of the collaborative show, nigh. Directed by Meg Wilkie, starring Jed Tomlinson as the Gatekeeper and Ted Lach as Alex. ["Theatre Preview: The beginning is Nigh" by Fiona McLay, The Gauntlet; Nov. 3, 2005]Status: Read the full scri…

Lifeline

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Stageplay: Drama - Theatre for Young Audiences, One act, 2M/1W
A high school student craving internet fame enlists a classmate to illustrate her self-published e-zine. When desperate and disturbing messages begin arriving from a young fan on the other side of the country, the two clash over their responsibilities to someone they'll never meet.The first draft of this work was written with the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council. The grant was through the Theatre Creators' Reserve program on the recommendation of Toronto-based Theatre Direct Canada. An excerpt of the first draft was read as part of Theatre Direct's Seedling Festival of New Works for Young Audiences on June 16th 2007 at the Tarragon Theatre.

Status: In revisions. Completed script under no obligations.

Safe as Housewares

Comedy, one act (37 pages), 2M/1WFrom the Lunchbox Theatre website:
You'd think sealing off your front door with a solid wall of hedge would deter people from dropping by uninvited, but as Lance finds out in this heart-warming comedy, there is no force on earth as unstoppable as a bride on her wedding day. This play was developed as part of Lunchbox Theatre's Petro-Canada Stage One play development series. It received two public readings, April 23rd & 24th 2007. Status: First option to produce with Lunchbox Theatre, Calgary.

Excerpt: "Longing for Nostalgia"

Longing for Nostalgia

By Marilyn Anne Campbell


At RISE

A large rectangular wooden box sits center stage
with two plain chairs, one on either side. Upstage a
few cardboard boxes have been stacked - the kind
you would use to pack childhood keepsakes in your
parents' basement. They are variously labeled
"Brian", "Tasha" and "Corey".

Standing downstage, TASHA and BRIAN don't
acknowledge the presence of each other or of
COREY, who is seated on the box behind them.

TASHA: (to audience) If someone was ever like, 'what was your defining moment', you know, or 'what shaped you for the rest of your life?', I've always known what my answer would be.

BRIAN: (to audience)My sister gets melodramatic.

TASHA: (to audience) Or at least I used to know. Until now.

BRIAN: (to audience) I can’t remember if she was that way as a child or if it was a case of, once she had the material she decided to run with it. Chicken or the egg, I guess.

TASHA: (…

Longing for Nostalgia

Stage play: Stylized comedy, one act (21 pages), 2M/1W
When Brian and Tasha learn their brother Corey has been killed, they awkwardly reminisce about a past they remember differently. Corey meanwhile insists he isn't dead, but nobody seems to be listening.Longing for Nostalgia slips between past and present, forcing Corey to take on all the other roles from the siblings' past as they try to sort through the major events of their lives.
Status: Available for premiere productionRead an excerpt online nowcontact the playwright to obtain a full reading copyMembers of the New Play Exchange may download a full copy

Inheriting James

by Marilyn Anne Campbell

Stageplay: Drama, flexible one- or two-act (69 pages), 3M/3W
After a car accident took the life of her father and left her best friend James in a waking coma, Shannon left her hometown and shut herself away behind a daily grind. Now James' mother has passed away leaving a pop culture obsessed church minister and a local pariah to champion the plan to have Shannon return and take charge of James' care. As Shannon struggles with the request, the ghost of her father and the still-active consciousness of James work to make their presences known. Inheriting James has been through several drafts and a private staged reading (thanks again to all participants!). The script is under no obligations and is available for first production.

False Fire

Adapted from William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Screenplay: Feature-length, Crime/Noir/Shakespearean

Having his father killed was the easy part. Now to take over as Chief of Police Hamlet King has to frame his uncle, fool his mother and exploit the press, all while ditching a love-struck one-night stand. But has his corruption gone too far for some of his once loyal gang?All of the dialogue in False Fire comes directly from Shakespeare's original work, but changing the context has changed the meaning of even the most well-known speeches. The result is an exciting crime drama that holds an extra thrill for anyone who's read or seen Hamlet.

Full Stage Script: "All the Light-Hearted Souls"

"All the Light-Hearted Souls" was produced by Calgary's 8-0-8 Productions in November 2005 as part of their collaborative stage show "nigh". Six scenes by six different writers told individual stories of encounters with The Man, the gatekeeper between life and death. "All the Light-Hearted Souls" was directed by Meg Wilkie and starred Ted Lach as Alex, with Jed Tomlinson as The Man. This scene opened the show.

All the Light-Hearted Souls

By Marilyn Anne Campbell

At RISE

The MAN waits. Mid-40s ALEX ambles in
from off stage. Dressed in dusty work clothes
and a ball cap, ALEX peers around, casually
checking out the sparse surroundings.

MAN: Were you looking for something more?

ALEX finally looks to the MAN

ALEX: Uh, hey.
(ALEX pulls off his cap awkwardly, not sure if this is a formal affair.)
I guess I was expecting fancier. But you know, I like this. It’s simple.
(He tucks the cap in the back of his pants.)
I wish they still buried people in plain pine boxes. I…