2008 Ohio University Seabury Quinn Jr. Playwrights’ Festival
DARRAH CLOUD: I grew up in a post-war housing development in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. My parents were card-carrying agnostics living in a neighborhood of Traditional Jews (the synagogue was at the end of our street) and Catholics (their church was across from my school.) I spent many a Saturday morning sitting in our window watching those going to temple walking past our house in their best clothes on their ways to Skokie Valley Traditional, and many a Sunday morning watching those going to church pile into station wagons for the short trip to St. Joan of Arc. On steaming hot days in the summer, I didn’t envy them. All the rest of the time, I did.
From childhood on, I actively searched for a religion to which I felt I belonged. I tried the Big Three; I chanted with Buddhists; I visited the B’ahai, who’d built by far the coolest temple up north on the lake. Meanwhile, my mother constantly took us out of school for matinees downtown: I saw Eve Arden rave in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Sandy Dennis run her fingers through raw hamburger in And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little, As You Like It, with a whole bunch of old people in it, The Organic Theatre’s famous mostly-nude adaptation of Animal Farm, with a whole bunch of young people in it,Oliver! and a million high-school productions of Oklahoma! When I graduated from Goddard College in the late ‘70s, I thought I had found my true religion: poetry. This was because I got into the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in Poetry, and I thought it was a sign.
A week into grad school, I realized that sitting around all day writing poetry was not enough for me. Also, I could not quote Yeats. I had wasted my youth on horses, odd jobs and road trips, and couldn’t quote one great writer, let alone a poet. I was an embarrassment to myself. I avoided facing this by enrolling in a course called Basic Playwriting taught by a grad student named Lee Blessing. When the head of the Playwriting Department suddenly quit his job, he was replaced in a matter of hours by an insane Scottish playwright named Tom McGrath, whose exquisite play, The Hard Man, was a huge influence on me, and subsequently by Phil Bosakowski, who taught us that plays were agile things which could be written in a matter of minutes, put on by oneself, and moved on from, like stepping-stones, to new places. To me, it seemed like writing a play was just a matter of pumping up a poem. Thus began my journey towards Theatre, my passion, the temple, the church where I belong.
The sheer joy of writing sustains me through good times and bad, allows me to discover things I didn’t know, to work out problems I’m too immature to handle yet, to feel love and gratitude in an often unlovable, ungracious world. I like lending this out in teaching. A practical person, I like teaching people how to sell what they write. I crave the freedom of working on a novel in obscurity, and I enjoy the restrictions inherent in writing a villanelle, or a play, or a screenplay. I love inventing people and deeds, and I love working my own life into a character’s, so that I can deny that I ever personally thought or did such things. I teach from the experience of almost thirty years of daily fighting and flying with my talent and my shortcomings and the infinite possibilities inherent on a blank page. I like engaging in dialogue over new work. I ask students to read constantly in order to find out how other writers handle certain things. I encourage a habit of writing to form. I know the psychology of being a writer as well as structure and form, and enjoy sharing this as well. I like helping writers get over the fear of revision, find inspiration, and see all the fantastic possibilities in their ideas. I love narrative and I love busting narrative. I love the stage picture and all the elements of performance that one can bring into an evocative piece of theatre. If I have a static philosophy, it’s something like, as Roethke put it, “…I learn by going where I have to go…”
My most recent play is What’s Buggin’ Greg, winner of the Macy’s New Play Prize, which will be produced by Cincinnati Playhouse and tour during the 2012 season. Other recent work includes a film, Ninja Mom: Mother’s Day, Makeover! a theatrical musical based on the life of Estee Lauder, and new plays, Our Suburb and The Posthumous Democrat. I am also working on a novel called Mass For Shut-Ins. My stage adaptation of Disney’s classic, Snow White, just finished playing at Disneyland for the past 5 years. I’ve written extensively for television, including movies of the week for CBS, NBC and Hallmark. My adaptations of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! and The Boxcar Children, with composer Kim D. Sherman, have toured all over the United States. O Pioneers! was filmed for American Playhouse with Mary McDonnell in the lead. My play The Stick Wife continues to be produced all over the U.S. and Europe. Hearts Are Wild, an original rock musical with composer George Griggs opened in Pittsburgh at City Theater in 2006 and Sabina, a chamber musical about Jung, Freud and Sabina Spielrein, with book by Willy Holtzman and music by Louise Beach, is in the works, as is Club California, a musical about prostitutes in Kosovo, with composer Craig Safan. Heartland, an original musical, also with Kim D. Sherman, has been produced in regional theaters since 2000. I’ve won numerous awards, including an NAMT Development grant at Human Race Theatre, a Rockefeller grant, an NEA and a Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Award. I am a member of The New Dramatists and The Lark Theatre in New York City.
Educational Background: MFA in Poetry, University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop; MFA in Playwriting, University of Iowa; BA in Liberal Arts, Goddard College
BRIAN DYKSTRA is an actor, poet, and playwright. He has numerous credits including BRIAN DYKSTRA SELLING OUT, HO!, and A PLAY ON WORDS. You can find more information at his website: http://www.briandykstra.net/
DAVID TONEY’s acting career spans thirty-two years. His credits include A Free Man of Color directed by George C. Wolfe and Julie Taymor’s Broadway and WorldTour production of Juan Darién. Off-Broadway he has performed as Clarence in Richard IIIat the Pearl Theatre Company and Once on this Island at Playwrights
Horizons. Regionally he has appeared as Lucio in Measure for Measure and Alonso in The Tempest at the Folger Theatre, Army in the Persians at The Shakespeare Theatre, Othello at The Shakespeare Theatre, Virginia Stage Company and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing also at The Shakespeare
Theatre, and as Doaker in Arena Stage’s production of The Piano Lesson. Other regional plays include Jacques in As You Like It at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Splash HatchOn The “E” Going Down at Yale Rep, The Fool in King Lear, West in Two TrainsRunning and William in Broke-ology at the Kansas City Rep., Mizinga in TheOverwhelming directed by Ed Herendeen, Joe Levay in Stickfly and Turner in TheHistory of Light at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. The plays Stickfly and The History of Light were directed by Liesel Tommy. Other regional productions includeTrinidad Sisters, Playboy of the West Indies, Polk County, Book of Days and thirty-five other productions at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. He was also the recipient of the Helen Hayes award for Outstanding Actor in a Resident Play for the role of Holloway in African Continuum Theatre Company’s production of August Wilson’s Two Trains Running. His film and TV credits include Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, The Cosby Show, The Thomas Crown Affair and Dr. Marquay on All My Children. Also an accomplished acting coach, David has led many New York based acting seminars drawing upon his certification as a teacher of The Grand System. His teaching credits include Intensive Character Development and Sketch Comedy Writing at The Theatre Lab of Washington, D.C., The Glidden Visiting Professor at Ohio University and Visiting Professor at Howard University, Washington, DC. Mr. Toney’s playwriting credits include Kingdom (a meditation on Richard III) / published by Dramatic Publishing, Elysian Fields (a musical adaptation of King Lear set in Reconstruction Alabama), The Soul Collector also published by Dramatic Publishing and sponsored by the Ford Foundation. The first musical adaptation of the children’s book The Snowy Day / (premiering in the 2011-2012 season of Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park, MD), Coming Home and The Last of Midnight. His play Kingdom was a finalist for the 2004 Theodore Ward Prize. Kingdom was also a part of the 2005-2006 season at the ETA Creative Foundation theatre in Chicago and was nominated for the Helen Hayes/Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical in Washington, DC. His play Coming Home opened the Atlas Theatre Center in D.C. and in 2009 he was selected to be the August Wilson Playwright in Residence at the African Continuum Theatre of Washington, DC. A member of the WGA for twenty years his film and television writing credits include staff writer for Fox’s In Living Color, screenwriter for New Line Cinema’s House Party III, head writer and story editor for ESPN, Sony Wonder and Jumbo Pictures. His animation development and writing credits include head writer and story editor for Hoyt and Andy’s Sportsbender, Dragon Flyz, VanPires and TheResonator for the company Abrams Gentile Entertainment and the French company Gaumount Entertainment. In 1995 David was the co-winner of the “Script to Screen” screenplay competition, sponsored by the Independent Feature Project and Writers Guild of America for the screenplay Sticks and Stones.
SANDY SHINNER is the Producing Artistic Director at Shattered Globe Theater. Shinner, who served more than 25 years as Associate Artistic Director at Chicago’s Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theater, has directed over 100 productions in her career at theaters including Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival and Steppenwolf’s First Look Rep, created and produced the nationally known IGNITION! Festival at Victory Gardens and was co-director of the award-winning Access Project.
2008 Festival Line Up:
MFA FEATURED PRODUCTIONS
INHERIT THE WHOLE
by Dana Lynn Formby
Directed by David Haugen
May 21, 23, 29, & 31, 2008
8pm – Hahne Black Box Theater
Synopsis: A shotgun named Mabel plus an orange juice container minus a dead father, divide by back property taxes, equals all the evidence Doug Cranzin needs to defend his inheritance from the taxman. His one-man war is interrupted when his family comes to claim what’s owed to them leaving Doug wondering who the real enemy is.
by Nicholas Sgouros
Directed by Brian Evans
May 22, 24, 28, & 30, 2008
8pm, Hahne Black Box Theater.
Synopsis: Los Angeles, 1948. Annika Gold was once Hollywoods’ biggest star, but that star has begun to fade. Just as she is to be cast in the comeback role of a lifetime, the death of her ex-husband, a Communist sympathizer, puts her future in the pictures in jeopardy. Will she risk becoming a victim of the Blacklist by honoring her husband’s memory or will she submit to the studio’s pressure and accept the lure of top billing and her name on the marquee?
Wednesday, May 21, Forum Theater, RTV Building
GESTALT – 1PM
By David Mitchell Robinson
NEW YORK CITY 523 – 4pm
‘ROUND HERE – 8pm
by G. William Zorn
THURSDAY, May 22, Forum Theater, RTV Building
MIDWAY – 1pm
by Garret Schneider
SUGAR PLAYS – 4pm
by Dana Lynn Formby, Nicholas Sgouros, G. William Zorn
THE ORDAINED SMILE OF SAINT SADIE MAY JENKINS
by Reginald Edmund
Friday, May 23, Forum Theater, RTV Building
INHERIT THE WHOLE – 8pm
by Dana Lynn Formby
THE JESUS FACTOR – 11pm
Guest Performance Written & Performed by Brian Dykstra
Saturday, May 24, Forum Theater, RTV Building
UNTITLED – 1pm
by Ryan Dowler
THE WEDDING CAMPAIGN – 4pm
by Kara Dunn
ANNIKA GOLD – 8pm
by Nicholas Sgouros