Power of Silence

The anagram of “listen” and “silence’ is very interesting.


Saw on the Pinterest of Emily Vincent

The words play into each other so well, in life, in friendship, and certainly in theater and playwriting specifically.

One struggle for Americans is the ability to appreciate silence. There’s a need to use the phrase, “well, this is awkward,” or some variation of it. There’s an inclination to fill the empty space with something anything due to the discomfort of our own thoughts or the worry of another’s. (This is not representative of every American, but certainly many from personal experience and observation.) It’s something I took personally at first when one of my friends from Europe pointed it out to me about the way I spoke and the amount of words I used. But I learned to appreciate the feedback as a gift.

But there is something beautiful and powerful about silence, whether it is a mutual silence or one’s own while listening to someone or something else. There is a special uniqueness that only subtext/reading between the lines can bring. So much can be learned by both what isn’t said and the body language that can accompany it.

While there can be a tug and pull between a Director and the playwright’s stage directions, many times there are intentional pauses and beats inserted with the hope of creating these special silent driven moments like intenseness and suspense – which can be applied to pure comedy, romance/sexual tension, reflection, secrets, growing anger, a lingering pain, the ability to almost hear when someone is looking in your direction, etc… Silence is a way of drawing the audience into the characters, emotions, and thus the world they are embracing in the dark of the theater. It’s a technique I hope to better learn, fine tune, and integrate going forwards.

I saw the spectacular use of this last week in the Woolly Mammoth Theater’s Production of Kiss. They exercised this technique in multiple ways, both for comedy and to provoke a deeper meaning in the political message and empathy I feel they were trying to relay and have everyone rally around. This play shook me in ways I’d like to delve into in a different post. But at the end, there was a serene sadness and understanding. One wasn’t quite sure when they play would end until the actors, still in character storm off rather than taking the time to acknowledge the end and bowing or receiving applause. This may seem odd, but if you are there, caught in the moment, especially in that intimate theater, it will make more sense.

If you are intrigued about the gift, the power of silence, here is a great article from the Guardian about a perspective on silence.


Update – Strategy to Make #52PlaysByWomen Accessible

Stoked to share that we have collected 52 recordings of plays by women, consisting of video and audio of radio plays/podcast plays here

We hope this will help people make their pledge to this movement possible!#52playsbywomen #femaleplaywrights #playwriting #theater #writing

We will keep collecting recordings that are made available to the public.

Ending the Lull

Maybe it was the rain? But then again rain can have an inspiring effect. 

Recent inspiration catalysts.

More likely it’s the influx of recent creative joys me spark from the anticipation of upcoming writing jam sessions and the bliss from seeing a great play and the thrall of embracing a stellar book series. Meat of one of the latest projects is cooking well as the marination and spice make it succulent.

Writing/Art Lulls

So…you’ve just had a whirlwind of theater…via plays you’ve written, acting, directing, some combo of the aforementioned, etc… And now production activity has come to a temporary standstill.

On the one hand your art (whatever it may be) thrills and is full of awesome fun. On the other hand, there are no official deadlines except those of your own making or until an opportunity arrives (festivals, friends doing showcases, etc…). So what to do? To write/create or not to write/create – that is the question. Then there is also your mood and the weather and how the weather affects your mood.

To end on a more positive note – when this procrastination air begins to stick like a gross unwanted feeling or cabin fever, take small steps…a small doodle, journal/blog entry…find the inner joy. One especially great thing is find fellow artists and have a jam/writing/acting session, meetup, whatever you’d like to call it. Guess I’m in need for one of those soon. There are works swirling around in the ‘ol noggin, time to get them more on the paper or at least into some bullets.

Side Splitting, Pearl Clutching Performances – THIS Weekend!

Join Rabble Crew Productions at DCAC for a hilarious weekend of light theater! Shows both nights are from 8:00 pm – 9:15 pm.

Night 1: Sketchy comedy (think SNL) written
and performed by local women.

  • Friday night is Star Johnson, Cristen Stephansky, Yvonne Paretzky, Kristina Brooks, and Madeline Farrington performing ten brand new bawdy, pearl-clutching, off-color sketches. There might be a sock puppet involved.

Night 2: Riotous (Stage) Readings that’ll have you LOL-ing all night!
Tickets are $10, cash at the door or online at rabblecrew.brownpapertickets.com.

Getting pumped for night 1 of hilarity!

  • Here’s a sneak peak for night 2’s stage readings!

“Extra Virgin” by Jen Williams

– Cherry poppin’ good!

Featuring: Christina Wilharm, Jenna St. John, James Cullen, Peter Orvetti, and Eileen Haley

“Shut-in” by Matt Spangler

– Who knew that Godzilla was such a cry baby?

Featuring: Merancia Noelsaint, Banks Cancún, Brian Lewandowski, Sarah Hensley, Tony Green, and James Cullen

“Pacing” by Jessica Bylander 

– Who needs couples therapy when you have a marathon?

Featuring: James Cullen, Jenna St. John, and Sarah Hensley.

“GOT” by Matt Spangler

– Hidden deep underground, there is a group of gullible humans who think they are the back-up government for the universe.

Featuring: Eileen Haley, Brittany Sankofa, Banks Cancún, and Tony Green.

“Friends Against Humanity” by Ayan and Dara Gold

– A party game for backstabbers, threesomes, and sperm donors.

Featuring: Eileen Haley, Sarah Hensley, Tony Green, Merancia Noelsaint, Christina Wilharm, and Brian Lewandowski

Stage Directions read by Peter Orvetti

Readings directed by Dara Gold.

Hashtag 52 plays by women

The #52playsbywomen sounds very neat! In a nutshell: “Could you see a play by a woman a week for a year and tell everyone about it on Twitter?”
Going to try to find feasible and affordable ways to make this possible.

One way recently discovered is to read the scripts (some here: http://venusinorange.com/free-play-reading-list-52playsbywomen/), but nothing can replace a live performance 🙂

Oooo! Idea in the moment as this blog post is being written. Maybe we’ll do podcasts/radio dramas or filmed stage readings (possibly cold) of the scripts to help people participate! While not quite the same as a staged show, it can help busy actors participate in an easy way and make female playwright scripts accessible to more people! More brainstorming to come.


On Monday, a brilliant new international theatre parity advocacy call to action launches on social media: #52playsbywomen. This international campaign has been started by American writer Laura Annawyn Shamas.

Could you see a play by a woman a week for a year and tell everyone about it on Twitter? (Readings count and if there are not enough performed plays available by women writers in a specific region, reading a play by a woman playwright instead that week is fine.) This should last for a year, so that each participant will have experienced #52playsbywomen.
The rules are simple:

I. Pledge to see a play by a woman (including woman-identified) playwright each week for a year. If you’d like (optional), you can announce your pledge on social media, something like:
“I pledge to see a play by a woman playwright each week for one year to support #52playsby women. Follow…

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On-the-Go Theater


Edited from pics from: clker.com/ and yourgreen2go.com

What is this you ask? It sounds a lot like asking for a doggy bag when you leave a restaurant. It’s kinda like that, but waaaaay better 😉

Theater becomes one of those loves that gets sacrificed for the “I’m too busy” or “I have to pay the bills” reasons. Both are very valid, but fortunately there are ways to end your painful sacrifice; such as, on-the-go theater.

Example of a rehearsal of an on-the-go short-term play at a local university.

Example of a rehearsal of an on-the-go short-term play at a local university.

For these types of theater, it’s important to note that the process can have a very rough feel. Rehearsals will be non-traditional and many scripts are in-the-works/being work-shopped as rehearsal is happening. They are great for community theater, especially if there is a limited budget. But at the end of the day, the shows turn out awesome and they are sooo much fun to do!

There are many forms of on-the-go theater.

  1.  Short term theater: This can be broken down into 2 sub-groups:
    • 24 hour theater: Literally only a one day commitment. There are many ways to produce these type of shows.
    • Over 3-8 weeks from the moment the playwright starts writing. For this there are typically 2-5 rehearsals and then show time!
    • Both of these types are fantastic for people with full time jobs, other priorities, and passions.
  2. Blind Theater: This is a growing trend. This is where the actors either:
    • Receive the script as they walk on stage, or
    • They are pre-casted, but do not meet anyone (no other cast members, or even the director) until 24 hours before the first performance.
  3. Stage Readings: When you have the script in front of you. Some have few to no rehearsals. And you may get the opportunity to help workshop a new script.
  4. Pop-up theater: Like a pop-up restaurant where actors and artists show up and put up a show. These shows are typically free too, so it’s great for people who love watching theater. Improv groups have been known to do this.
  5. Traveling Theater: Be prepared to perform or rehearse anywhere. If there are good dimensions, space for props and costumes (if there are any, simple is best for this style), and

Venues/rehearsal spaces good for on-the-go theater include:

  • University campuses that allow public use or if there is a student in the cast who can secure permission
  • Public Libraries
  • Coffee Shops
  • Public parks in the warm months (make sure you don’t need a permit)
  • Community Centers, and
  • Churches

Irony of Writer’s Block

TTHEhe recent posts have been alot about inspiration and the writing process because the 31 Days Playwriting project is still happening and well, blogging thoughts is a gateway to other future ideas. So here goes some more thoughts on the splendor and rancor behind the “ugh” “uch” and “aha” feelings of writing. 🙂

Writer’s block can be a very personal struggle. Sometimes you want advice for it, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes when you do, the advice just plain doesn’t work for you. It may work, but not in that moment, etc… One of the suggestions I have heard is that it’s good to designate a time and place for writing. But for some reason, especially recently, that particular tidbit of advice has not been working.

It’s like the the hardness of a desk/table and the rigid timing is confining my thoughts. I get into this weird mindset where I both want to write and do not want to write. Or even if I want to write, I think that I do not to write what I had been brainstorming or writing. But when I am walking home or on a lunch break, or I’m doing something else and time becomes precious, both inspiration and my passion re-ignite. Maybe it’s the adrenaline or that writing is a way to distract me when I’m bored with something else. That’s one things that’s so great about 24 hour or on-the go theater is that you just got to make it happen and you don’t overthink. This constant inner-battle is incredibly frustrating. And sometimes that re-spark is not for the thing I had intended to write at all. Writing is wonderful, fun, finicky, and incredibly frustrating. But doing it is bliss, so I continue nonetheless.

Outside the BOX: Rethinking Costumes & Sets

Pure beautiful inspiration by artist Alexa Meade via her live exhibition in “My Modern Met.” Sparks potential ideas for staging shows. 🙂

Fun Gif of one of her pieces:

meade gif

By Alexa Meade. Discovered gif on Brit Snapper’s Tumber.

I love how she describes her works: “These aren’t paintings on canvas. These are paintings on real, live humans!” –Alexa Meade Art (video edited by Abbey Sacks Art)

Check it out in this kickass video and some pics below.

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