|Photo: Ze Laing Photography|
It's crazy to think that summer is almost over! But with the change in season comes lots to look forward to, too. MJ Halberstadt fills us in on his big plans for fall...
This fall I will be living and writing in Paris and London thanks to the support of Boston University Creative Writing’s Global Fellowship in Playwriting. I regard this opportunity as a tremendous gift and opportunity, but also an enormous responsibility (à la Peter Parker’s uncle Ben’s words of wisdom).
Here’s the itinerary in a nutshell: My boyfriend and I will fly to Europe at the end of this month. Nicholas will join me for my first two weeks in Paris (in the flat I’m renting in the 3rd arrondissement) before flying back to Boston (boo!) and beginning a new job (yay!) which leaves me on my own in the City of Light until Halloween when I will take the Chunnel to London and live with my sister and her husband in Ealing (West London). I return to the States shortly after what I imagine will be a very subdued Thanksgiving. During that time I am not working, I am not attending class and I am not logging onto Facebook because focus is going to be key.
For those who want to keep track (mostly my mother), I will be blogging about my adventures, misadventures and about my first opportunity to buckle down and put into practice everything I learned during the past year in BU’s MFA Playwriting program. I have a tremendous amount of work to do in order to squeeze my previous work through the filter of my heightened awareness of dramatic action and theatrical organization- but I only plan to spend a fraction of my ‘semester’ in Europe revisiting old work. That’s something I can do with a residency, even if it’s a self-prescribed residency to any closed-off room (although I certainly hope when the time comes, I’ll have something more picturesque available). Instead I have a few themes and ideas that I’d like to visit that are specific to Paris and London.
|Photo: Wikimedia Commons|
In Kate’s class I began a one-act play titled Darby & Joan which dramatized an evening in the home of the proverbial John Darby and his wife Joan (for the uninitiated, the phrase ‘Darby and Joan’ is popular in England and describes a quintessential couple of homebodies). While in London, I’d like to take the play a step further and introduce a real interruption to their lives and, perhaps, the framework of the play. I may also expand Darby & Joan to be a full-length. I’m also working on a one-act play titled Discord about an orchestra that receives a new conductor with some unwelcome ideas and the disgruntled principal violin II who was displaced from his post as concertmaster. While in Paris, I’d like to finally devote the time to get to know all thirty-six members of the orchestra. Two less-formed ideas involve a rivalry between the two Chinatowns in Paris and a comedy-of-manners in the style of Oscar Wilde, Noël Coward or Molière featuring female-led casts with characters who are of color, differently abled and/or LGBT.
I’m interested in the expatriate experience – there’s no shortage of writers, musicians and artists who have found refuge in spending time temporarily or permanently in Paris. I’m interested in race relations, and Paris is a city rich with very particular racial tensions. I’m interested in language, and since I only speak ‘un petit peu de francais,’ I’m anxious at the opportunity to struggle through day-to-day occurrences. In any of these cases, the plays I write might come out of my research of a single experience or event, or more abstract meditations on the ideas by themselves.
As you’ve probably gleaned, there’s a lot floating around in my head and it’s going to be very helpful to have the chance to buckle down and sort through it all. It’s probably for the best that Nicholas won’t be with me the whole time, otherwise I’d be tempted to turn the fellowship into a vacation. That said, I’ve got a few items on the itinerary outside the playwriting – we just bought Jonglez’ Unusual Nights in Paris and Frommer’s Paris Free and Dirt Cheap. I fully intend to brush up my French, spend a full week at the Louvre, gain five pounds and become a total wine and cheese snob.