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Friday, October 22, 2010

Provincetown Extravaganza!

(I'm the 2nd from the left in the top row surround by the brilliant actors, from the top left: Sonya Raye, Vincent Siders, Michelle Clunie from Showtime's Queer as Folk, Darlene Van Alstyne, Georgia Lyman. Bottom row: Lynda Sturner and Latez Crawley.)

I just rolled in from a little land I like to call gay heaven: Provincetown, or "P-Town" as it's affectionately called by those who have been too drunk there to say 3-syllable words. You may recall my shameless plug last week (you know what they say, self-promotion's a bitch, but somebody's gotta do it). So I am Anna Renée Pattison for those who missed the first self-promo. I am a recent "grad" of the BPT Playwriting Program. ("Grad" providing I pass my classes this semester.)

My play, Memorial, which takes place both in a present-day courtroom and in Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, was part of BPT's Groundfloor Reading Series last spring.

Can I share a private moment with you? There is nothing more terrifying than your first reading in front of God-only-knows-who decides to sit in one of those black chairs to judge your "in-progress" work. If people are more afraid of public speaking than death, I can't imagine where a public reading would factor in. Imagine if you will, that you're in high school and write ad nauseum about the boy or girl you're obsessed with (including the graphic stuff you can't say out loud) in your nerdy floral print journal your mom bought you.
Your best friend steals it and organizes a school assembly where they get the drama department to act out every last word from your daisy-covered journal. Said object of obsession is sitting in the front row. The assembly lasts 6 hours or just feels like it. Then there's a question and answer session following, where you're tied to chair onstage. I think if you can imagine what that's like, you may have an idea about how vulnerable and horrifying the first reading of your play is. So why do I do it? I guess I'm sort of a masochist...but I also do it for the exciting parts that follow. Like, after that excruciating school assembly, that chick or dude you think you're going to love forever shockingly approaches you and gives you a kiss. Was it worth it? Hell yes. I was lucky enough to get proverbially kissed--we haven't hit a home run yet if you know what I mean, but things are looking good.

Memorial was read again last week at the Art House in P-Town, but this time was a totally different experience. For one thing, I had revised, revised, cut 30 pages, revised, cut a character, changed a character's gender and sexual orientation, revised more, edited more, and revised. Oh yeah, and I revised the play. But it was also different because we had three and a half days of rehearsal (instead of 3 hours), the director knew the play inside and out, and we had lights, sound, costumes, and props thrown in the mix. Also, the theatre had a full bar inside so there's a lot I probably just don't remember. Lynn d'Angona was amazing to collaborate with--which to me means I learned a lot from her, she was open to my ideas, and she was a brilliant diplomat. The actors rocked my world (see photo above) in ways you can't even imagine, which sounds kind of dirty but, you know. It was P-Town during Women's Week. What are you gonna do?

I was also lucky enough to work with an incredibly talented sound designer, Darby Smotherman, who is in her final year of the MFA Sound Design program at BU. It was an amazing experience and a great opportunity. Lynn d'Angona and I are now in the process of organizing meetings to get a full production in Boston. So, with any luck, that "girl I've been writing about in my journal" will want to commit to a steamy "relationship" with a 6-week minimum run. But I have to say, I'm enjoying the ride so far, and I've been lucky enough to work with some remarkable people along the way. I'm excited for what's next on the road ahead--and that's one too many metaphors so I'm out and I'll see you next Friday. Peace.

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