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A CAR PLAYS PLAYUH
Mar 14, 2012
Moving Arts’ production of The Car Plays: San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse closed on Sunday after a sold-out run and extension. This production may be over, but the promise of a future Car Plays production lives on. Right? At least in my mind it does. Anywho…
Because I love this production and just can’t stop spreading the word about it, I have yet another story to share with you. This piece is a particularly exciting and insightful article written by Actor/Director/Writer/Producer Michael Shutt for Bitter Lemons about the experience from an actor’s perspective and everything that he has learned in having to repeat a performance over and over and over again. The man has performed 375 times as part of this unique production. 375times! He kind of knows what he’s talking about.
If you want the real inside view of The Car Plays, then you should read this article. Go on. Read it. Now! Here it is:
This time in San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse… in the parking lot, of course. The production is a co-production between Moving Arts and the La Jolla Playhouse and is part of the WOW Series at the playhouse. I’m psyched that my play “It’s Not About the Car” is a part of this production and even more psyched that I get to see it on Friday. It runs from February 23 – March 4.
Before We Go Home by Richard Martin Hirsch | Directed by Darin Anthony A couple (Michael Shutt & D.J. Harner) finds the prospect of a short drive home unexpectedly daunting after circumstances lead them to make a painful decision.
Selkies by Lila Rose Kaplan | Directed by Casey Stangl A secret is revealed when two old friends (Wendy Elizabeth Abraham and Rebecca Davis) visit the seals off the coast of California.
The Audience by Kiff Scholl | Directed by Matt Bretz What is supposed to be a compelling night of site-specific theater, comically devolves, as the play never starts and the audience is forced to fend for themselves. With: David Youse and Ron Morehouse.
Alright by Alex Lewin | Directed by Robert Castro After a family spat, a sullen teenager (Matthew Bohrer) decides to spend the night in his car. But his father (Eddie Yaroch) won’t let him simply stomp away anymore.
One for the Road by Michael Shutt | Directed by Matt Thompson One last drink, one last kiss, one last choice: One For The Road. With: Thomas Hall and Kevane La’Marr Coleman
Reveille by EM Lewis | Directed by Sam Woodhouse Leonard’s only son has signed up for the military. He leaves for boot camp this morning. With Will Tulin and Michael Zlotnik.
The Duo by Jessica Smith | Directed by Jason Duplissea On the fateful day of the Comic Con costume contest, two friends (Peter James Smith and Tony DeCarlo) confront the future of their dynamic duo.
Dead Battery by Lee Wochner | Directed by Paul Stein A bereft mother (Sara Wagner) searches for clues to her son’s death as she cleans out his car and struggles to cope with her loss.
It’s Not About the Car by Stephanie Alison Walker | Directed by Claudio Raygoza Vic (John Polak) surprises Marla (Rhianna Basore) with a car for her birthday, but all she really wants is a divorce.
The Carpool by Jennifer Barclay| Directed by Delicia Turner-Sonnenberg Mr. Blackwell (Charles Maze) has been doing lots of naughty, naughty downsizing around the office. The members of the carpool (Samantha Ginn and Reed Willard) are out to set him straight.
Disneyland by Paul Stein | Directed by Dana Schwartz On their freeway-congested drive to Disneyland, Dad (Trey Nichols) pulls the car over to scold his two misbehaving kids. No Matterhorn ride and the long trip home might be the resulting possibility.
Outside, Looking In by Michael David | Directed by Sara Wagner A lonely, middle-aged woman of privilege finds unexpected compassion on the streets of San Diego. With: Lisa Goodman and Sean Tweedale.
Skipped by David Myers | Directed by Seema Sueko A drunken teenager (Zachary Martens) tries to dodge the cab fare. But this cabbie (Albert Park) is onto him. And he’s not taking it anymore.
We Wait by Steve Lozier | Directed by Lisa Berger Two loyal dogs wait in a hot car for their owners, wondering if they will ever come back… With: Wendy Waddell and Judy Bauerlein
The Love of Make-Believe by JJ Strong | Directed by Kiff Scholl A maid-of-honor and a best man (Laura Buckles and Donald Rizzo) indulge in a post-reception tryst that leaves them both hopelessly caught between their pasts and futures.
When my ten-minute play, The Chocolate Affair, was published online by Walter Wykes at 10-Minute-Plays.com, I had no idea I would get as many requests as I do from college and high school students around the world. Something about this play really appeals to high school and college students looking for a ten-minute play to direct for student showcases, workshops, one-act festivals and even Forensic competitions.
Side note: Before publishing The Chocolate Affair, I was not aware that the term ‘Forensic’ relates to Speech & Debate. When I received my first request for use of my play at a Forensic tournament, images of Catherine Willows from CSI flooded my brain. I was more than confused. Then I Googled it (like a good little playwright) and discovered the NFL. No, not that NFL. The National Forensic League. Duh.
As I was saying, The Chocolate Affair has been around the world a bit. From South Africa to Singapore to India to Australia as well as here in the United States and even in the virtual world of Second Life. Not bad. I wish I were that well traveled. But so far none of these schools has been willing to foot an international flight for the playwright. One day, right?
Well, I did get to see the production in Second Life. I had to create an avatar just to see it. And when I finally figured out how to get my avatar into the theater, I couldn’t get her to sit down. She just kept standing on theater seats. Up on the seat, down on the floor. Turn around. Do it again. It was really hysterical. What made it even more funny was my husband (who is a computer consultant) watching me attempt to control my virtual self. Though he was no help, thank you very much.
And I wasn’t the only one having problems. Though most of the other avatars were sitting down like good theater patrons some seemed to have the same problem I was having. One avatar had his back to the stage through all of the plays. And another just kept walking up and down the aisle. Forget about cell phones ringing, you had to worry about your avatar jumping up in the middle of a play. It was just moments before the plays began that I finally got my stubborn avatar to sit properly. It was a relief.
No one wants to be that avatar. Am I right? I’m right. Just ask Felicia Day. Which reminds me. Do You Want to Date My Avatar was not only brilliant and hilarious, it sticks. It’s now in my head. And will probably be there the rest of the day.
What was I talking about?
Oh right. Online publication of ten-minute plays.
Now to the point of this post…
I’m happy to report that my two-person ten-minute romantic dramedy The Big Ride is joining The Chocolate Affair on Ten-Minute-Plays.com. And it has a competitive spirit. It’s already talking smack. Claiming it will get more productions in 2012 and go to far more countries. So far The Chocolate Affair (TCA) isn’t letting The Big Ride (TBR) ruffle her feathers. She’s quite secure in her popularity. In fact she applauds TBR for his ambition and even wishes him well… which only further irritates motivates him. Still, TCA’S feathers remain unruffled.
Is this a healthy sense of self? Or is it an inflated ego? Time will only tell as these two ten-minute plays battle it out in 2012. May the best short play win.
LOVE IN THE TIME OF FORECLOSURE… THE BOOK!
Oct 11, 2011
t’s here! My first book. Love in the Time of Foreclosure.
What’s it about? It’s about how my husband and I created our dream life in the face of losing our dream home. It’s the story of how we saved our marriage while losing everything else. It’s about how love conquers all… even foreclosure.
In 2008, my husband lost his job soon after we had completed a major renovation on our Silver Lake home. Our only back-up plan was to sell the house. We listed the house, found new jobs (at a combined 60% less than my husband’s previous salary alone) and quickly found ourselves fighting foreclosure at the beginning of the housing crisis.
We made a pledge to each other to rise above our financial crisis. We were committed to learning everything we could from the experience and actually creating the life of our dreams. Love in the Time of Foreclosure tells the story of how we did that. The ups, the downs, the maddening struggle for a loan modification, the re-calibrating of our priorities and perception of the world, the selling of everything and everything else in between.
Who would buy it? According to author Janelle Brown, “anyone who owns, has owned or fantasizes about owning a home.” It’s also the perfect fit for anyone who is in foreclosure, worried about foreclosure, unemployed and/or struggling with something major in their life or relationship.
PRAISE FOR LOVE IN THE TIME OF FORECLOSURE
Stephanie Walker has the wit to transform the shame and anxiety of foreclosure into a genuine human adventure. Its a rare story-teller who can endure the soul-shaking loss of a home, and the concurrent stress on relationships, and see through that – one’s higher priorities in life. Stephanie does this with the kind of humor and personal insight that challenges the fierce attachment that we have to bricks and boards, and she leads us to a new understanding of what’s really important as “home”.
–Dick Gordon, “Host of “The Story”, heard on public radio stations, nationwide.”
Stephanie Walker writes about tough experiences with honesty, humor and a good dose of optimism. Her story is a window on a downturn that affected millions of Americans—for worse, but also sometimes better. There are life lessons in here for all of us.
“Love in the Time of Foreclosure” is essential reading for anyone who owns, has owned, or fantasizes about owning a home. Stephanie Walker’s personal real estate horror story is wrenching and emotionally honest, as she explores the impact of home ownership on relationships, dreams, and self-identity.
– Janelle Brown, author of “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything” and “This Is Where We Live”
WHERE CAN I BUY IT?
Love in the Time of Foreclosure is available for the Kindle on Amazonand for the Nook on Barnes & Noble.
Well, after something like ten years of submitting ten-minute plays to Actors Theatre of Louisville, I am finally a finalist! (I’m glad I didn’t give up.) It’s exciting being a finalist, but it doesn’t really mean anything. Just keep writing. And submitting. And put it out of my mind.
The letter says they will announce the winner in January 2012 and that they will consider all finalist scripts for inclusion in their annual winter production of ten-minute plays as well as the Humana Festival of New American Plays in March of 2012. (That would so amazing! But trying to put it out of my mind so as not to obsess.)
The play that is named a finalist is Edward Cullen Ruined My Mother’s Love Life. I really love this play so I’m especially happy that this is the one that cracked the Heideman nut.
Submissions are open for the 2012 Award so it’s time to submit again. I just need to decide which play to send. And I need to send it fast because they have changed their submissions and are only accepting the first 500.
I am so happy to be a part of this exciting project.
A description of the event from ABT’s site:
RIPPED is based on the 1930’s WPA era program that brought Orson Welles, Arthur Miller and Clifford Odets into public attention. We incorporate scripts from the original 1930s LIVING NEWSPAPER juxtaposed with new material ripped from today’s headlines. Like the original productions, the artists incorporate vaudeville, traditional scenes, music, dance, visual arts, and with the addition of electronic media as well. This reading series cultivates new material and allows audiences to discuss topical issues together. We are developing material for a production series in September 2011.
My plays selected for the sixth edition of RIPPED are An Average Mandirected by Heather Meyers and MELT directed by Kate Buddeke.
And full details for anyone who wants to attend:
AMERICAN BLUES THEATER COMPANY PRESENTS
RIPPED: The Living Newspaper Project
on Monday, July 18
at the Joffrey Ballet Tower–10 E. Randolph St., Studio B, 7pm
Suggested $10 donation.
In addition, we’re collecting school supplies, office supplies, and computer equipment for Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
Bring some new notebooks and pencils. Thank you for making a difference!
THE HUFFINGTON POST CALLS HOLLYWOOD HILLS A “FAVORITE”!
Jun 16, 2011
I’ve been trying to live vicariously through everyone involved in The Car Plays this year since I can’t be there in person. Since I can’t be Skyped in to the performances (too bad) I have been settling for looking at everyone’s pictures from the event.
However, I haven’t been able to get my hands on a picture of my play Hollywood Hills – directed by Zeke Rettman and starring Jenn Swirtz and T. Lynn Mikeska.
Perhaps it had something to do with last night’s full moon, but somehow Wyatt Closs of The Huffington Post heard my plea. Not only did he call Hollywood Hills a “favorite” (!!) he also included this A-MAZING photo from last night in his story about The Car Plays.
Hipsters by Jason Duplissea was Wyatt’s other favorite.
This is the kind of press I love!
My only complaint? The playwrights were not credited in the piece. Ugh. Is it just me or does that happen a lot? I guess we’ll just have to credit the playwrights here and now. (again… for good measure.)
As you know, Hollywood Hills was written by me (Stephanie Alison Walker) and Hipsters was written by Jason Duplissea who is a Moving Arts company member. Hipsters is directed by Miles Feld and stars Terrence Colby Clemons & Melanie Minichino.
Hello, HuffPo writer Wyatt Closs. I’m so glad you liked my play! And thanks for fulfilling my wish to see a production pic… and an awesome one at that!
Producers: Paul Stein, Steve Lozier, Kim Glann, Cece Tio Assistant Producer: Lem Thornton Stage Managers: Cirby Hatano, Bradley McCoy, Dylan Gardner Carhops: Terence Anthony, Kiff Scholl Walking Tour Guide: Rebecca Davis Runner: Tara Thomas Dressing Room: Donna Peacher-Hall
Disneyland by Paul Stein Director: Dana Schwartz Starring: Madelynn Fattibene
Flooding by Jami Brandli Director: Kiff Scholl Starring: Peter James Smith & John Copeland
Cruising Con La Virgen by Joe Luis Cedillio Director: Dino Dinco Starring: Edward E Cohen & Abel Soto
Am I Losin’ by Ron Klier Director: Ross Kramer Starring: Derrick LeMont* & Andrew Miller
The Love of Make-Believe by JJ Strong Director: Kiff Scholl Starring: Laura Buckles^ & Donald Rizzo
Drop-Off Day by EM Lewis^ Director: Michael Shutt^ Starring: VyVy Nguyen & Porter Kelly
Sunday in the Hood by Terence Anthony^ Director: Jason Duplissea^ Starring: Larry Powell*, Jenny Gillett^ & Jason Duplissea^
Prom: Time Out by Meghan Gambling Director: Jenifer Yeuroukis* Starring: Sarah Greyson & Katie Malia
The Audience by Kiff Scholl Director: Matt Bretz Starring: Kim Ward & Casey Nelson
Abraham & Isaac by Allain Rochel Director: Nataki Garrett Starring: Alex Morris & Edward Rowley
We Wait by Steve Lozier^ Director: Armina LaManna* Starring: Corey Klemow* & Herb Hall*
Hipsters by Jason Duplissea^ Director: Miles Feld Starring: Terrence Colby Clemons & Melanie Minichino
Dragon Compact by Cindy Marie Jenkins Director: Kelly Lohman Starring: Amanda Troop* & Richard Miraan
Tommy Got His Gun by Sara Israel Director: Reena Dutt Starring: Wilson Bethel & Grace Eboigbe
Hollywood Hills by Stephanie Alison Walker Director: Zeke Rettman Starring: Jenn Swirtz & T. Lynn Mikeska
Producers: Paul Stein, Steve Lozier, Kim Glann, Cece Tio Assistant Producer: Lem Thornton Stage Managers: Cirby Hatano, Bradley McCoy, Vesna Hocevar Carhops: Michael David, Kiff Scholl, JJ Strong, Sandra Vahtel Volunteers: Jackie Moses Walking Tour Guide: Rebecca Davis Check-In: Julie Briggs
Before We Go Home by Richard Martin Hirsch Director: Darin Anthony Starring: Michael Shutt^ & D.J. Harner*
Todd’s Hollywood Tours by Trey Nichols^ Director: Julie Briggs Starring: Brent Popolizio & Mary Beth Pape*
Choke Chain by Jennifer Maisel Director: Sara Wagner^ Assistant Director: Terence Anthony^ Starring: Lauri Hendler & Tammy Klein
Chasm by Lee Wochner^ Director: Patrick Varon Starring: Nick Cernoch* & Jennie Kwan*
Two Fellas, One Fella by Paul Stein Director: Michael David Starring: Jon Amirkhan^ & Dan Wingard*
Custody by Morgan Krantz^ Director: Steve Lozier^ Starring: Tony DeCarlo & Sean Eaton
Shampooed by Fielding Edlow Director: Ron Klier Starring: Jennifer Christopher* & Kieren van den Blink
Bunker Hill by Michael David Director: Paul Stein Assistant Dir: Jonathan Josephson Starring: Jack Sundmacher*, Rick Kent, Tania Getty
The Audience by Kiff Scholl Director: Matt Bretz Starring: David Youse* & Ron Morehouse
Warriors by Will Hackner Director: Vesna Hocevar^ Starring: Morgan Krantz^ & Darren Capozzi
Disneyland by Paul Stein Director: Dana Schwartz Starring: Trey Nichols^
The P.T.A. by Dana Schwartz Director: Julie Briggs Starring: Evie Hammer^ & Krista Conti
What Happened to Us by Bryan Davidson Director: Aaron Henne Starring: Paul Vroom & Maya Parish
Waiting for the Tow by Herman Poppe* Director: Kimberley Browning Starring: Lauren Letherer & David Lee Garver*
The Love of Make-Believe by JJ Strong Director: Kiff Scholl Starring: McCready Baker* & David Bertolami
THE CAR PLAYS TRAILER
Jun 9, 2011
Because it’s so hard to explain how the car plays works, here’s a video that will show you exactly give you an idea of how it all happens…
To experience it fully, you’ve got to be there in person. If you’ve been before, please share your experience in the comments below. Thanks!
THE CAR PLAYS AND RADAR L.A.
Jun 8, 2011
I’m sitting in a theater on Santa Monica Blvd. with a bunch of people I’ve never met before. I’m nervous. And a bit intimidated. Why? Because I will be hearing my new short car play read aloud in front of this room full of artists. Actors. Directors. Playwrights. Will it read well? Will they like it? Will they like me?
I was invited to be here by Lee Wochner– playwright and facilitator of my Saturday playwriting workshop. His theater company, he tells us one Saturday, is doing this thing called The Car Plays. Plays in actual cars. He suggest we try our hand at writing one.
WRITING A CAR PLAY
The play had to be set IN a car. The car had to be central to the play. Without a car, the play could not exist. The play couldn’t conceivably take place anywhere else. These were the rules. The car couldn’t start. The audience had to be IN the car with the actors, but the actors couldn’t touch the audience. Again, no touching the audience.
We were encouraged by Paul Stein- then Artistic Director of Moving Arts- to think about the range of experiences that happen in cars. Especially in Los Angeles.
So here we are in this theater… the intimidation quickly melts away leaving the truest form of collaboration imaginable. We playwrights hand our plays over to actors and they read them cold. After each read Paul asks, “Is this a car play?” And we say why it is or why it isn’t. We get feedback. We give feedback. We laugh. A lot. We play. We go back and rewrite. It’s bliss.
PLAYS IN CARS ON HOLLYWOOD BLVD.
A parking lot on Hollywood Blvd. Four rows of five cars. At least I think there were four rows that first time around. The audience buys a ticket to a ROW. They are guided to their row by car hops.
I am one of those car hops. I tell the audience that each person will have a partner. There will be two audience members per car. In one car you might be in the front and another in the back. Depends on the car. And, audience members are not allowed to open or close the doors. That’s my job. Got it? Car hops will close and open the doors for you. The door opening and/or closing, you see, is a cue to the actors.
Confused yet? Imagine having to explain this to Actors Equity.
Each car is a different play. Each one is ten minutes. Once the audience is loaded into each car and all of the doors are closed, the plays begin. Noises emerge from the cars. Screams. Laughter. Dialogue. Actors get in and out. Props are thrown onto roofs of cars. We carhops watch the parking lot filled with cars with 15 different plays happening simultaneously.
We watch Paul Stein to give us our cue that the ten-minutes is up. Once the ten minutes pass, we begin opening doors whether or not the play is finished. The logistical nightmare of The Car Plays requires this ten-minute rule to work.
The play is done when the ten-minutes is up. Period.
My favorite part of car hopping was opening the doors to let the audience out. The look on their faces. Would it be exhilaration? Relief? Horror? Happiness? Each car was different. And each audience member had their own reaction.
Part of Paul’s job was to choose the perfect balance of plays ranging from drama to comedy to the utter bizarre and confrontational. Each row had a mix of everything. Some were interactive, most were voyeuristic.
Would the audiences like it? Would they come?
Well, come they did. In droves. With only two seats available per play, they sold out so fast.
Did I mention that the actors had to perform their play a total of fifteen times per night?
MY THREE CAR PLAYS
I ended up having three car plays produced throughout Moving Arts’ various productions of The Car Plays.
Back Roads is about an elderly woman and her daughter stranded on a deserted stretch of road without a cell phone. It was directed by Herman Poppe and starred Helen Slayton Hughes and Mary Beth Pape. Back Roads went up in the first and second installments of The Car Plays.
It’s Not About the Car is about a man who gives his wife a car for her birthday, but all she really wants is a divorce. That one was directed by Lee Wochner and starred Joe Ochman and Liz Harris. It went up in the second and third installments and is worth noting that in the 2009 production Liz broke her arm right before and still performed brilliantly. With a broken arm in a sling!
Hollywood Hills is my dark comedy about two Hollywood starlets in the making drunk, high and lost in the Hollywood Hills on the way to an after-party. It was first directed by Paul Stein and starred Kathi Chandler and Jennifer Kingsley and went on to be published by Smith & Kraus.
PRODUCING THE CAR PLAYS
Imagine being a producer of this event. For just a second. As I said, just imagine having to explain to Equity what it is you want to do. You want to put the audience in a car with the actors and have the actors perform the play fifteen times, FIFTEEN TIMES in a row. And having them agree.
This is where I bow down to Paul Stein, Michael Shutt, Ronnie Clark, Christel Johnson and Lisa Marschall… the original producers of The Car Plays. They were the ones who had to figure all of this out. How to explain to audiences what they’d be seeing. How to arrange for all of the cars. How to time fifteen plays to start and stop at the exact same moment. And a million small details I’m overlooking, forgetting or just never knew about.
I became a producer of The Car Plays when I was the interim Managing Director of Moving Arts. So I have an idea of how difficult this show is to produce. But I was lucky because I was producing with the original producers and didn’t have to figure any of this out. They’d already done the hard work.
People would ask why Moving Arts didn’t produce it more often seeing how popular it was. Well, because it’s just not that easy to do.
Terence Anthony can attest to that. He was the artistic producer of The Car Plays in 2009 when they were done in Burbank with Steve Lozier as Managing Director of Moving Arts and Cece Tio as a producer. Am I missing anyone on that one? I might be. That one happened right as my husband and I were moving out of L.A. so I wasn’t as involved in that one. I did get to see it, though.
PLAYS IN CARS IN DOWNTOWN L.A.
The Car Plays are back! And Paul Stein returns as Artistic Producer of The Car Plays with Kim Glann, Steve Lozier and Cece Tio. Moving Arts was asked to bring The Car Plays to the upcoming RADAR L.A. Festival downtown Los Angeles. And yes, they are already sold out.
The theme of this production of The Car Plays is L.A. Stories. So it’s appropriate that my play Hollywood Hills is a part of it.
This time Hollywood Hills is being directed by Zeke Rettman and is starring Jenn Swirtz & Lynn Mikeska.
I’m immensely proud to be a part of The Car Plays once more. I only wish I could be there to car hop again.
If you want to check it out but didn’t snag a ticket, you could always offer to volunteer as a car hop.
You get to see a unique perspective that way.
Brave audience members get into cars. Doors slam shut. A beat of silence. Then… theater.
THE CAR PLAYS: L.A. STORIES
“This unique melding of site-specific theater and freeway crawl should be hailed as a local treasure… the production’s voyeuristic appeal is undeniable.” —LA Weekly
Responding to the vast landscape of Los Angeles, Moving Arts presents a series of intimate ten-minute plays in which audiences of two move from vehicle to vehicle, experiencing works by different playwrights in a dramatic setting familiar to all Angelenos—the car. After being ushered to a rear seat, the car doors close and the drama unfolds as people in the car break up, make up, make out or even deal with a dead body or two, just inches away. Ten minutes later, the doors open, a seat in a new car awaits, and a fresh story begins. In the course of about one hour, five evocative L.A. stories are revealed.
Conceived by Paul Stein
Produced by Paul Stein, Steve Lozier, Kim Glann and Cece Tio
The Car Plays were conceived by former Moving Arts artistic director, Paul Stein. Moving Arts had recently lost their theater space downtown L.A. Paul grabbed the moment to try something he’d been thinking about for a long time. Paul talks about the inception of The Car Plays in his first person article “RADAR L.A.: The Car Plays: L.A. Stories for Moving Arts” in L.A. Stage Times.