An Interview I did with Ognian Georgiev, a Bulgarian broadcaster, writer and blogger!
2/28/14, 1pm UPDATE: In the past 50+ hours of my original blog post post going live, it has exploded like wildfire. This is my fault. I have encouraged people to share this blog on social media across Facebook, Twitter, etc. I originally thought I would get at best a 100 or so views. I wasn’t expecting the fast approaching 20,000 hits it has received so far. As the page view count grew so did my passion for this area and my desire to see it grow more.
As it has grown, I have received messages from all over the US expressing support and solidarity. I have also been told stories that break my heart about schools like this. These stories, coming out of Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, and others, continue to show that this is a subject which has touched off a lot of people. I have seen, in the very comments here, posts that I would consider bullying in nature, from fellow students and from parents. For that reason, I’m LOCKING THE COMMENTS SECTION DOWN and removing the sharing options. I’m sorry I have to be doing this, but I feel that it is for the students safety.
I have heard from fellow members of the senior class who played in the band that disagree with my statements and the facts as they were presented to me. I have invited them to share their thoughts.
I am also changing many aspects of this article, I’m removing the name of the town and the names of the students, from both the article and the comments section. I have also removed the original picture. This is for the students own safety and for their future.
I am also removing ALL contact links to the school in question.
I never imagined that this story would take off as it has, I never imagined it would become the juggernaut that it has become.
Thank you all for standing up for these two students. I am proud of what I wrote, I am proud of them. They are my heroes for taking an unpopular stand that they felt was right. #WeAreSeniorsToo-Everett Robert Emergency Room Productions Feb. 28, 2014 1pm
As I am writing this, my last blog entry, We’re Seniors Too, has been viewed over 12,000 times. This was certainly not something I anticipated when I sat down to write it. My posts are usually seen in the 20-30 view range. I thought maybe I’d crack into the hundreds. But not this. I didn’t expect my comments to be filled up like they have been, I didn’t anticipate the thousands of shares of it on Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t expect this:
— Hays Daily News (@NorthWestKansas) February 26, 2014
— Lee Weber, CSCS (@coachlaw71) February 27, 2014
Lee Weber is the head football coach in Council Grove, KS (239 miles east of Hill City). And I didn’t expect a retweet from Dr Chris Jocum of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (127 miles west of Hill City). But I got one:
— Chris Jochum (@DrJochum) February 27, 2014
I didn’t anticipate people from Colby, Dighton, Smith Center, Garden City, Hays, Phillipsburg, and other nearby towns to join in the discussion and stand up alongside these students. I didn’t expect it to be shared from people on the East Coast and people from the West Coast. I didn’t expect people in Texas and Michigan to share it. I didn’t expect page views from Canada, the United Kingdom, and Brazil and yet, they clicked and read. I shared my blog on a couple of writer’s groups on Facebook that I’m a part of. Locally, nationally, and internationally recognized writers from a variety of areas (playwrights, novelists, etc) “liked” the post, supporting student artists.
I don’t share this to “toot my own horn”, but rather to illustrate that this is obviously a touchy subject with a lot of passionate feelings on both sides. I didn’t expect or anticipate this outpouring of support or vitriol. I wrote my original piece to shine a spotlight on two students who I felt were getting the short end of the stick. I wrote it in a moment of heat and passion, but that isn’t to say I regret what I wrote, because I don’t. I said it then, I’ll say it now, Smalltown High School SHOULD have recognized its senior pep band members properly alongside its basketball players, basketball managers, wrestling managers, and cheerleaders.
I didn’t write the piece to disrespect Smalltown High or to “whine” about these students’ treatment and they didn’t make their sign to whine about being left out, despite what some may say. This isn’t a “boo hoo me” situation as one commenter suggested. I wrote it because I felt that respect needs to be given to all students regardless of what their activity is.
In the past day, I’ve heard several stories about students, past and present who haven’t been recognized. I’ve heard about the Smalltown High Senior girl who has sung the national anthem at several home games and yet wasn’t recognized for her musical contributions on Senior Night. I’ve heard from former students of Smalltown High about how they never got recognized for their hard work in band and in the arts. I’ve heard from former students from other towns about how they didn’t get acknowledged either but how that has changed in their towns (some of them just a short distance away from Smalltown.)
I didn’t write We’re Seniors Too to shame any student athlete, they work hard and deserve their recognition, but as I mentioned in the original article and in my comments, the pep band works hard at creating an atmosphere of excitement. As one former Smalltown High alumni told me in person, “What kind of game do you have without the band there?”
In theater, we have what’s called a “curtain call”. If you’ve ever been to a live show or seen a movie or TV show that features a theater performance of some kind, you know what a curtain call is. It’s the bow the actors take at the end of the show. I used the curtain call as an analogy in one of my comments and I’ll share it here as well.
Imagine you are directing a production of say, Macbeth, and you need several young men to be soldiers in the final act. They would be in one scene and have no lines. Extras, if you will. You recruit players from your school’s sports team, football or basketball or whatever, to play these soldiers and they gladly volunteer their nights to come and march and grunt across the stage. They do sit around backstage and wait for their cue, then they march and go back backstage until the curtain call. They do this for the final rehearsals and for the performances. Would you recognize them at the end of the show? I would venture that most if not all schools would. They would have them do the curtain call, invite them to the cast party, maybe even give them flowers, their names would be included in the program. As well they should be!
Why shouldn’t our student artists, who work tirelessly on new song selections throughout the year for pep band in addition to the concert and contest pieces, who volunteer their nights month after month, be afforded the same opportunities?
As usual, weigh in on Twitter or on Facebook using the hashtag #WeAreSeniorsToo.
Share this on and more importantly continue to share the original article on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you, on behalf of myself and these students, for your support.
I notice this trend right after I have something published or about to be published, my productivity seems to go down. I spend more time on Twitter, Facebook, forums, and groups. I’m sure my publisher loves hearing this LOL I do strive to get something published every year (and so far have been successful, ALLIE was made available in 2012, TOM in 2013 [both from Heartland Play Publishers] and now BASED ON THE… hitting shelves in 2014) and 2013 was a banner year for me production wise (SUNDAY DINNER was performed in NYC, THE WAY OUT WEST GANG RIDES AGAIN was a hit in Meade, KS). But I get into this rut, where I don’t want to blog, I don’t want write, I just want to take a break.
But for someone striving to make it as a professional writer, until I hit it big, I don’t know if I can afford to “take a break”. Even my “playwright hero” Neil Simon strived to have a new production every year for a long time. I struggle to crank out some 10-minute plays and a one-act and he was cranking out 3-Act plays. Maybe it was his training with Sid Ceaser that helped?
It’s not like there is no shortage of ideas, right now my mind is awash with ideas. A 10-minute monodrama on Charles Sternberg (an early pioneer in palentology and part of the famed BONE WARS), a 10-minute play on Charles Wilbour (an early Egyptolgist), a 10 minute monodrama on the legendary Pope Joan, a 10-minute LGBTQ monodrama, complete my duet S:he Said (a twist on Little Red Riding Hood with a Rashomon influence), complete my full length The Three Challenges of Puss In Boots, expand The Way Out West Gang from a short one-act (25 mins) to a longer one-act (40 mins), expand my noir thriller 10 Minutes To Live from 20 minutes to 40-60 mins, find homes from some of my other plays, and I saw two opportunities just today for 10-minute Children’s plays. I have no idea what I want to write, how I want to write it or where to go!
Mystery, political, thriller, adventure, fairy tale, true life?
Lots of ideas and yet…no motivation to write. I guess I just need to buckle down and WRITE and decide what happens, happens.
While I was doing my “other life”, my life outside of my writing and my acting and my theater stuff, last night (in other words my other job), I got an email from Sarah at the Stage Left Theater in Spokane, WA. It was simply titled “Congratulations”. It was a good thing I looked at the sender because I have a habit of deleting any emails that looks suspicious and usually those suspicious ones are titled “congratulations” or “The stamps you ordered” or something similar. But Dionysus has been good to me these final weeks of 2013, so I decided to look a little closer. (Side note, I don’t worship Dionysus, but as the Greek god of the theater, I thought I’d give him a shout-out here. However, I’ve been truly blessed by the Lord above.)
So glad I didn’t delete that email. My “microplay”, Sunday Dinner, was selected by the Spokane based theater for their upcoming, two-night festival “Fast & Furious”. The Fast & Furious festival is a showcase of 1-minute plays from over 50 different writers from across the United States.
Sunday Dinner, was originally written for and performed by Mind The Gap Theater in New York City for World Theater Day 2015 and they did an awesome job with it, but I’m excited to see it performed from a different cast of actors AND I’m excited as it marks my first piece performed on the West Coast. So no, I’m not personally heading west (unless some generous patron wants to fly me there), but my work is and that, to me anyways, is more important then me personally being there.
In other Everett news, I will have some new works published by Black Box Theater Publishing, coming in the new year. Four of my short plays (each around the ten minute mark) will be published individually as well as part of a collection titled “Based On The…” . I haven’t talked a lot about this because I was still in the editing process, but I’m happy to share that with you as we prepare to step into 2014. These works will be available on a number of platforms (ebook, print copy) and for purchase on Amazon. More information when it becomes available.
Finally, late in the evening of December 24/early Christmas morning, I got an email from Rebecca at Heartland Play Publishers. Someone requested the royalties to my play THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY OF TOM SAWYER AS TOLD BY BECKY THATCHER. No details on that yet, but I’m excited for whoever is putting it on, as that show has a lot of personal feelings for me and means a lot to me.
I’m going to try and squeeze in another blog post before the new year is on us, but if I don’t, Happy New Year and thank you for being a part of my journey
Check out this author interview I conducted earlier this week!
Book, movie, tv and product reviews, as well as author, publisher, agent, celebrity and business interviews.