Sunday, July 8, 2012

Playwriting Contests and Movie Shoots

On Wednesday through Thursday, I participated in the Toronto Fringe Festival’s 24-Hour Playwriting Competition. Sixty playwrights were given four items/ideas at the Fringe Club that they had to incorporate in their up-to-45 minute works (a lemur ball, the deepest trench in the ocean, a zeitgeist, and “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”) and then we were sent off to write, write, write! (The running of the playwrights; it’s a bit dangerous, really.)

Even with having to teach a class in the middle (8:30am on Thursday) I managed to pull together what might be one of my favourite scripts that I’ve written. I’m not going to tell you about it, because they are in the middle of judging and it has to be anonymous.

I don’t write enough creatively lately; it’s all either academic or personal essay format. I was always known as a playwright but my output these years has not been what I’ve wanted it to be. I love playwriting contests with a time constraint in the way I love academic papers with deadlines; I write best when I’m forced to write with a defined endpoint. That’s when things get done. To be fair, I’m less good at writing at 5am than I used to be if I try to do it more than one day in a row. I wound up writing a piece that was almost 8,000 words long, and I like most of those words. After, I went to bells rehearsal, and then had some celebratory drinks with two of my other successful 24-hours playwrights. Which is a great thing in itself, when you consider that not all playwrights even finish. They’re judging them this week; there are three cash prizes, but the winner gets a staged reading directed by and starring some real theatre luminaries. I highly doubt I will win any of these things, but it is nice to dream and it was great to participate.

Saturday, I shot a short part in a short film that is being submitted to the Toronto After Dark festival.  I don’t do a ton of acting these days, so it was a lot of fun.  The movie, Zombies: A Silent Massacre, is a comedic mockumentary about the Zombie Sympathizer movement, who is trying to get the public to understand that zombies are people, too! (Particularly in light of a recent unfortunate incident.) No, I don’t play a zombie. For better or for worse, lately I’ve been typecast as a doctor; a friend’s stock footage for his website a few months ago, and now this. People just seem to want to see me with a lab coat on, and a stethoscope around my neck. In undergrad, I was constantly cast as a principal or headmistress, and now this; I don’t know whether I’m moving up in the world, or not, though the “principal” designation is closer to my current professor profession.

The shoot was a couple of hours, and featured me being interviewed about the origins of the zombie phenomenon, why they grunt, and what I think about them. I remembered my lines, delivered them to the director’s approval, and tried not to be unnerved by the camera in my face. In many ways, I miss acting. It’s definitely the role with the most direct connection to the audience, and it’s exciting. Being behind the scenes as a playwright or dramaturg is great, but it’s nice to be out there, as well.


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