Talk back after the December 07 performance with writers and directors.
Ossining Public Library Budarz Theater 53 Croton Avenue Ossining, New York 10562
Admission is FREE
Actors of "Restructuring" on a break.
Howard Weintraub as EMPLOYEE
Femi Alao as EMPLOYER
Synopsis of "Restructuring"
A middle-aged employee who works with machines leaves his job on Friday, but he returns on Monday morning to find that the company has a young, new owner and the warehouse is completely empty except for one piece of modern, advanced technology. The employer expects the employee to continue working there with this symbol of progress, but the employee has no knowledge, skill, and interest when it comes to current technology. Modern technology divides these representations of the past and future that have a difficult time communicating with and understanding each other. Mixing comedy and drama, “Restructuring” is a slightly absurd play that asks is technology moving too fast, are some people and hundreds of years of progress being left behind and forgotten, and is technology conditioning how we work and function as a society? What will be the end result when the employer pushes the employee to perform work that he was not hired to do?
Reminded the other day of how much I love this Bob Dylan song. Poetry.
"Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what did you see, my darling young one? I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’ I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’ I saw a white ladder all covered with water I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son? And what did you hear, my darling young one? I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’ Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’ Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’ Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’ Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son? Who did you meet, my darling young one? I met a young child beside a dead pony I met a white man who walked a black dog I met a young woman whose body was burning I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow I met one man who was wounded in love I met another man who was wounded with hatred And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one? I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’ I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest Where the people are many and their hands are all empty Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten Where black is the color, where none is the number And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’ But I’ll know my song well before I start singin'"
In an age when commercial theater uses the movies as muse, it’s kind of refreshing to hear what’s cooking at the Steamer Company Firehouse in Ossining on Oct. 19, when art—actual art—will inspire works of theater.
There’s an element of surprise in the “Living Art Event,” a joint production of the Ossining Arts Council and Westchester Collaborative Theater. A docent will lead a gallery tour during which, on a sudden, a one-act play will be spring to life. All of the plays are directed by WCT member Michael Thomas Cain.
WCT, an Ossining-based theater lab, commissioned plays inspired by six works from a recent OAC members’ show. Their creations will be unveiled in four one-hour tours—at noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.—on the second floor of the Steamer Firehouse, 117 Main St., Ossining. The last tour will be followed by a meet-the-artists reception at 5:30, with refreshments. Tickets are $15, $25 for the final tour and reception. Buy them at the OAC website or at the WCT website.
Docent-led tours take ticketholders through a gallery of artwork created bymembers of the Ossining Arts Councilwhile Westchester Collaborative Theater actors bring several of these artworks to life.
Gallery tours will stop in front of specified artworks asWCT actors perform plays inspired by the particular pieces. The exhibit space will display numerous artworks for viewing. Plays will be performed for six of them. WCT memberMichael Thomas Cain is directing/is a dramaturg for all plays in this event.
There will be 4 hour-long tours at: 12pm, 1:30pm, 3pm, and 4:30pm
There will also be a reception with the artists, playwrights, & actors at 5:30pm
""I'd like to see people getting a lot more for what they invest in the way of effort and time. It's insane for human beings to work their whole lives away at dull, stupid, routine, anesthetizing jobs for just a little more than the necessities of life. There should be time-money-for development. For living.""
"Naturally, the better a reader understands the political, religious, and literary assumptions of a writer, the easier it will be to recognize the allegorical significance of his or her work. John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, for example, is a famous seventeenth-century allegory based on the Christian doctrine of salvation. In order to appreciate the complexity of Bunyan's work, readers would have to familiarize themselves with this doctrine."
“But what strikes me most when I remember Paula’s
teaching is her presence as much as
the content of her teachings. I think in this country we have an obsession with
content and curriculum, all the while devaluing presence and proximity, which
are two teaching values hard to describe or quantify (or, indeed, teach). Paula
has a tremendous gaze, a tremendous listening power and the most intelligent
curiosity of anyone I have ever met. She took me seriously…
I remember again that time slowed down as Paula
looked at me in her uncanny way and said: “I think you should write that play.”
(How many plays has Paula help conjure into existence, I wonder, by saying to
another playwright: I think you should
write that play? Hundreds or thousands, most likely.)
And so I did write that play, under her guidance. It
took me twelve years to finish, and it was called Passion Play. My senior year, I met with Paula every week at Café
Zog on Wickenden Street. Over coffee and a cookie, she would read my new ten
pages, and she should tell me every book I needed to read, and always, she
named the exact book I needed to read at the exact time I needed to read it-a
kind of psychic superhero librarian. I devoured medieval theater and German
expressionism. I finished writing the first act of Passion Play…
The night of the opening, my mother flew into town
from Chicago to see the play. We were driving down the hill towards Trinity
Repertory Company to opening night when we were blindsided, hit by a car going
very fast on Hope Street, I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in the back seat and I
hit my head and blacked out. Before I blacked out, I remember thinking: this is
how death comes, quickly.
I woke up and my mom thought maybe we should go to
the hospital for an MRI and I said: are you kidding let’s go to my play we’re
almost late. So we went to my play and there was a standing ovation and I
remember feeling such an out of body sense of rapture seeing the play in three
dimensions with actors acting and lights lighting and people watching. I knew
then that I would spend my life doing this and not look back. (I got an MRI the
following day. It was normal. It did not register the change of vocation.)
When I reflect on all the things Paula taught me,
among them, Aristotelian form, non-Aristotelian form, bravery,
stick-to-it-ive-ness, how to write a play in 48 hours, how to write stage
directions that are both impossible to stage and possible to stage: the
greatest of these is love. Love for the art form, love for fellow writers, and
love for the world…
So, back to the abstract question: is playwriting
teachable? Of course it’s not teachable. And of course it is teachable. It
lives in a paradox. It is as teachable as any other art form, in which we are
dependent on a shared history and on our teachers for a sense of form,
inspiration, example, and we are dependent on ourselves alone for our subject
matter, our private discipline, our wild fancies, our dreams.
The question of whether playwriting is teachable
begets other questions, like: is devotion teachable? Is listening teachable? Is
a love of art and a willingness to give your life over to art teachable? I
believe that these things are teachable mostly by example, and in great silences. There is the wondrous noise of the
classroom, the content, the liveliness of the teachings themselves, the
exchange of knowledge, and then there is the great silence of relation. Of
watching how great people live. And of their silently communicating: “You too,
with your Midwestern reticence, can go out into the great world and write. And
when we fail, we’ll have some bourbon, and we’ll laugh.” This is all part of
the teaching of playwriting over time, and it’s unbounded by the classroom.
Just as love is unbounded by time…
Having young children, I think about pre-school a
lot. About Maria Montessori, who revolutionized early childhood education by
giving children the ability to be independent learners. I think: what would the
graduate playwright version of the Montessori classroom look like? It would
give playwrights freedom and implements, and would let them direct their own
courses of study. In short, it would give playwrights actors. The teachers
would be a listener, a first audience. It strikes me that people who are
defensive about the teachability of playwriting are uncomfortable with the
humble but important position of being a first audience. Or perhaps they worry
that if playwriting is teachable it dampens their originality, or the originality
of their students. But I believe that humble, anti-guru teaching like Paula’s
encourages originality by respecting the privacy of her students, never interfering
with their unconscious processes…
I’m not sure who that person would be. Less brave, I
think. And so the best I can do to thank her is to try and encourage other
young writers as they test their fragile bravery on the world.”
In Conversation Daniel Goldfarb & David West
“David West Read: …We are all familiar with the
negative stereotypes of writing teachers as failed writers, or at least jaded
and embittered writers who take out their anger on the students, crushing souls
and stamping out voices. Fortunately, you were never like that. You made me
feel like I could pursue a living as a writer, but perhaps more importantly,
you were in the middle of your own career, and had been through some of the
struggles we would all inevitably face, and yet had come out the other side
with your infectious love of the theatre intact…
The best time to start building those professional
bridges is not after you’ve finished the program, but while you’re in the thick
of it-connected with other writers, actors, and mentors, seeing shows and
hearing your work out loud…
I was writing the play without thinking of any
producorial concerns, and even though I would probably write the play
differently if I were starting now, I’m so grateful that you didn’t dampen my
enthusiasm or halt my process with playwriting rules and regulations. You emphasized
writing from the heart, and writing to the end. Very basic points, but
essential for a writing student…
When you’re teaching a class of writers with diverse
voices, how do you resist the temptation to impose your own methodology on
their plays-in-progress? I would imagine that your students often make choices
you wouldn’t make in your own work, or aspire to a kind of theatre that you
wouldn’t necessarily pay to see (unless you were supporting a former student,
Daniel Goldfarb: The goal is to help a student write
their play, not the play you want them to write. You do this by asking lots of
questions, and being really specific in where the play has you and loses you. I
try not to get prescriptive, though it can be hard. I am open to all kinds of
theatre-and although I have my preferences, I really try and keep those out of
the classroom. When a play is working, it’s important for a teacher to stay out
of its way. It’s when it’s not working that a teacher can ask questions that
impose a sort of structure or form so, no matter what kind of play it is, it
can find its motor…
David West Read: I had teachers who made it feel
like more of a writing group than a writing class. When you realize that your
teacher and the other students are there to help you finish the play that you
want to write, you start to look forward to bringing in work and receiving
feedback, because it allows you to move forward. Without that positive first
experience in playwriting class with you, I wouldn’t be writing plays, so for
that I’m very grateful.”
What Guild Membership Means to Me/Susan Birkenhead
The Dramatist-September-October 2013:
"Writing can be a lonely occupation. No matter how many collaborators I have, (and because I work in musical theatre, I have many), there is always the moment when I'm left alone with a blank computer screen, and the nagging fear somewhere within me that this time, I'll reach for the words, and they won't be there. Even when, by some miracle, they are, I still face a thousand uncertainties and missteps on the way to hearing that song sung, on a stage. People who don't do what we do-
who don't face the terrors we face daily-
who don't sacrifice precious time with family, or friends-
who don't know the solitary joy of having written something you know is really good, or the awful realization that something you've just spent three days on, and thought was brilliant, is really terrible-
Only those who have lived, and continues to live this life, can know what it takes to do it.
What a comfort it is then, to belong to a community of writers-a group of people who have been in my skin. I use the term, "community of writers', because that, for me is the single most compelling reason to belong to the Dramatists Guild.
I love the fact that this community of writers has seen to it that we have artistic control over our own work...because we've all, at one time or another, been forced to defend our work under pressure.
I love the fact that this community of writers has protected me in the past, and will continue to protect me, and my fellow writers in any and all business deals in the future...because we've all been tempted to 'give in' in the face of fierce negotiations, just to 'get the show on'.
I love the fact that this community of writers watches out for new members with the same fervor and commitment it reserves for its most famous and successful members...because we've all been new and hungry, and willing to sacrifice almost anything to get our work on.
I love the fact that this community of writers, through the Dramatists Guild Fund, is able to help members in distress in a quick and meaningful way...because we all know how precarious this life can be.
I love the fact that this community of writers feels a responsibility to 'pass the torch' to the next generation, and large numbers of us have become mentors to so many.
Most of all, I love the fact that we all know the real cost of "finishing the hat", yet we go back and do it again and again and again, because it's what we do.
When I was first asked to join the Guild many years ago, by a distinguished member, she said, "You'll love it! It's the best club in New York". Every now and then, I stop for a moment, and consider the giants who have been members. Cole Porter, Arthur Miller, Richard Rodgers, Tennessee Williams, Jule Styne, and on and on and on. Or I look around the Council table at the giants who still sit there, and I grow a little light-headed and think to myself, "I belong to this club.""