An Interview I did with Ognian Georgiev, a Bulgarian broadcaster, writer and blogger!
Today is Tuesday and for most people that would mean another day at the office or in class but for a growing number of playwrights its a day to pull out a play they’ve trunked or a that needs dusted off or one they are working on and need a new set of eyes to look over because Tuesdays in the playwright community has become “Trade A Play Tuesdays” or #TAPT
So what exactly is #TAPT? Well it’s just as the name suggests, its a day where playwrights take the time to trade a short play (no more then 10 pages) with another playwright and you offer feedback on each others works. I’ve done this twice (for plays that I’m the process of developing) and both times the feedback has been great. But don’t take my word for it…
I’ve now had readings of my play by 6 members of this group. All of them contributed something useful, and several went out of their way to give me the encouragement a newbie like me needs.
David C Tucker
I have traded with Donna and I personally believe she should be paid for her feedback, it’s that valuable. I immediately adopted some changes based on her observations and look forward to continuing. I will definitely be trading again
Those aren’t the only ones that have participated, according to Donna Hoke, who started #TAPT,
There has never been a week where somebody hasn’t shown up with a play to trade, that there are continual newcomers, and that more than 500 trades have been made, which is more than 1000 plays.
Over a 1000 plays in the year that it has been going on! No wonder the competition is so stiff in every contest we all enter
So how did this all get started? Well according to Donna and the blog she herself wrote on it,
One Tuesday, I had just finished a ten-minute play that I wasn’t sure about. I usually don’t ask for feedback on ten-minutes, but this one was a little unusual, and I felt like I wanted some. So I posted on the Playwright Binge asking if anybody wanted to trade a ten-minute play for feedback. The response was incredible! I ended up reading 20 ten-minute plays that day, and got a ton of feedback on mine that helped shape it and make it funnier.
So today, I woke up, it’s Tuesday, I have a couple new ten-minutes, and I thought why not make this a regular thing? There are no development opportunities for ten-minute plays but, as with any play, a ten-minute can be improved with thoughtful feedback and attention. (You may also send ten-page scenes that you’d like some feedaback on.) So let’s provide for each other what doesn’t exist.
I know how invaluable getting feedback on a play can be. The ones that have gotten productions are the ones that get other eyes looking at them. Weather that’s from a trusted writing partner (as until recently, has always been the way I do it) or from a stranger, new eyes give us the chance to step back and hear others thoughts. I know when I’m writing a play, I’m pouring tons of creative energy into it and that often leaves me too close to the material to judge it objectively. That is where new eyes come in handy.
So who is this person who started #TAPT? Donna is a playwright, journalist, children’s author and crossword constructor from Buffalo, NY who also serves as the Western New York representative for the Dramatist’s Guild of America, which allows her to foster the playwright community in her area (which makes me want to move to the western NY area LOL) She makes her artistic home as an ensemble playwright at Road Less Traveled Productions, where the premiere of her first full-length production, The Couple Next Door, was the theater’s top-grossing world premiere and the sixth highest grossing play in the theater’s history.
So, playwrights if you have a 10 minute play or a 10 page scene you’d like some feedback on, I suggest participating in Trade A Play Tuesday!
Some helpful links:
#JeSuisCharlie In my play THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY OF TOM SAWYER AS TOLD BY BECKY THATCHER, I included, at the very end of the show, a bit of satire. Not the greatest writing in the world and that good of satire but a light poking at president of the time. The line goes “George? That boy was dumb enough to be president.” This was inspired, no doubt, from my love of Saturday Night Love, The State and other comedy groups. I found out later (not at the time of the performance) that one of the actors parents got upset at my friend who co-directed the show and accused him of bringing a liberal bias into everything he did there. People get upset at satire all the time, its how we respond that matters.
Satire, in all its forms, really is our expression of speech. That’s why we can mock President Obama the same way we mocked President Bush and President Clinton, and President Bush, and President Reagan and President Carter and President Ford and President Nixon and…well the list goes on.
As someone who cares about the arts, who supports the arts, who lives in the arts, the minute we silence one voice in one area, gives us the power to silence the voices of anyone we disagree with and that will lead to tyranny and the end of our humanity.
One of my favorite writers is the incomparable Harlan Ellison. Harlan once wrote a short story about a fickle “god” (in reality a computer) who manipulated and changed and warped a group of people for it’s own amusement. In the end there was one man who had no mouth and had to scream. Can you think of something so horrible? A need to scream, a warning to shout, anger to release, fear to vocalize and yet you have no mouth.
I am not that man. I have a voice. I am a writer, a wordsmith, an artist, a talespinner and a storyteller. I have a few publishing credits and a few people who follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I have a blog (obviously, you’re reading it now) and a few followers there who may read it (like you). I come form a place and background of some privilege (not as much as some, but more than others.) I have been blessed to travel to parts of the world that some of you never will go, I have stood on a volcano in Guatemala and on a beach in the Philippines. I have seen these countries natural beauty but also the dark side. Children in hospitals crying out and street urchins reaching, begging for a dollar. I’ve seen homes, shacks, that were barely liveable and offered no protection, let alone amenities. I have cried over the things I’ve seen. I can still feel the pull on my shirt of children going “Joe. Joe. Hey Joe, gotta dollar Joe?”
But I haven’t just seen poverty in foreign countries. I’ve seen it here too. I spent formative summers in high school working on Mississippi Delta, working on homes that should have been demolished, or watching dozens of people living in a house made for a few.
Some people will say I shouldn’t say anything even if I have a voice. To them I say, “If I don’t speak up who will” or as the famous saying goes “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” So I will not stay silent, not about Ferguson, not about ISIS, not about arts in schools and arts education or any other subject I feel passionate about.
There are people out there, in American towns like Ferguson, MO, who until two weeks ago, probably felt they didn’t have a voice. I KNOW that they felt they didn’t have a voice. I’ve heard their stories, people I know who are African-American and have experienced fear that what happened to Michael Brown, might happen to them. Fear, anger, and a lack of a voice lead to violence. When you answer violence WITH violence, the result is simply MORE violence.
When I was a kid, my folks had a gas grill, one day I was told to light the grill. I went outside, turned the gas on to high like I had done hundreds of times before, and went to light the match. Nothing. The wind was blowing and the matches wouldn’t take. I got more matches and finally got one to light the grill. However, I spent so much time messing around with the matches that when i touched the match to the grill, a flame leaped out and toward my face. I was lucky, I singed a few eyebrow hairs that’s all. What I didn’t know is that while I was trying to lit the grill to control the fire, the gas was building up until it “popped”.
That’s what happens when you have no voice. The gas just builds and builds and builds until it explodes.
I don’t have an answer, I wish I did. I pray I had an answer. I wish I could definitively say that if there was greater emphasis on arts in school, in painting, drama, writing, dance, etc, that the voiceless would find their voice. I think it helps. I know it has helped me, but that seems like such a simplistic answer in the face of such racial turmoil. So maybe we need a little more arts education.
I want to say that if we just talked better, opened up communication and learned from one another these things wouldn’t happen. And that would help, I’m sure of it. I know my personal views on certain issues (not related to race) changed when I met people that believed different than I did. So maybe we need a little more communication.
I don’t know the politics of race that well, but I’m a student of history. I just finished a couple of plays that, at least to me, resonate, in these troubled times. One is about a young girl who moves to Lawrence, KS with her family at the dawn of the Civil War and why they moved there (to stop the tide of slavery). The other is about the most unlikely Civil Rights advocate you can imagine, a “bad guy” professional wrestler named Roscoe “Sputnik” Monroe, who was responsible for the intergration of Memphis, TN in the 50s. Sputnik Monroe’s story particularly struck me. Here was the most unlikely of heroes, an ordinary guy, who saw and injustice and fought for it. He was arrested six times, he was threatened and he threatened to give up his livelihood if there wasn’t intergration and it worked. I dont’ know if this is the full answer, but we could use a few more Sputniks, good men who aren’t afraid use their voice to speak for those that can’t.
You may feel you have no mouth and you must scream, but I assure you, you do, just try.