Archive for the ‘guest blogger’ Category

Charlotte Meehan: Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Charlotte Meehan, Artistic Director of Sleeping Weazel and a past contributor to ArtSake, is about to premiere a new play, Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: a User’s Guide at the Boston Center for the Arts. Here, she shares how her personal background and the country’s “mad time” have shaped her new work for the theatre.

(l-r): Veronica Anastasio Wiseman, Stephanie Burlington Daniels

Some thoughts on the state of our union… and theatre’s place within it

The opening of my new multimedia play, Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: A User’s Guide, is a singular experience in my life as a playwright, as I consider this production a social intervention during a particularly mad time in U.S. culture. Who would have predicted two years ago when I began researching and developing the script that Donald Trump was about to descend on the scene of a national election and eventually win the Republican nomination for the highest office in the country (and some say the world)?

During these past two years, we have also seen a rise in police brutality against African Americans, or at least an increase in the reporting of it, along with rapidly multiplying acts of gun violence and mass shootings the likes of which this country has never before seen. I have asked myself, over and over, what is going on here? To boot, the daily rounds of hate speech this election cycle provides is starting to remind me of my childhood on the right wing fringe in which my father, a regional leader in The John Birch Society, would frequently say, “terrorism is the answer.” For entertainment value, he threatened on a regular basis (and even once at my cousin’s wedding) to bomb the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Charlotte Meehan, photo by Tina HoweAs I grew into adolescence, I came to realize that my parents’ way of life – their right wing extremist political views and their Pre-Vatican II religious zealotry – were far outside the social norms of the day. This was the 1970s in Levittown, Long Island, where they were also part of the parents group that fought to ban books, including The Catcher in the Rye, in the Island Trees public school district. I was not even attending public school and yet my parents were intent on “being involved” in community efforts to rid the country of whatever they considered sinful ideas. The principal and the priest at the draconian Catholic school I attended convinced my parents that I had “liberal tendencies” and should not be sent to college where I would gravitate towards the Marxists and Jews. I guess they were right about that, at least.

In Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: A User’s Guide, I portray two Christian housewives who found The Movement to Restore Decency (aka MOTOREDE) and find themselves falling into sexual escapades with each other. In the midst of all this, they decide to buy some guns, they get into big trouble with their pretty awful (onscreen only) husbands, and they even begin chatting with the real God, who is far more reasonable than their fundamentalist Christian leaders would have them believe. It’s mayhem through and through, conveying at every turn the impossibility of adhering to an outmoded morality system no one actually upholds. In real life, my mother and her friend did actually found MOTOREDE, but the story turned out differently for them. Rather than getting “the hots” for each other, as happens in the play, my mother’s friend took up with the local Chief of Police and left her family for him.

Without giving too much away, the play also deals head-on with news stories of today, particularly regarding gun violence, and employs Acts of God to snap its characters back into some semblance of reality, from which they quickly retreat, once the ground beneath them feels solid again. Sadly, this is all so close to what’s happening in mainstream politics at the moment that I hardly see it as an exaggerated version, constructed for dramatic effect, of life as we know it. All I can think is that the past eight years with our first African American President, a diplomat and an intellectual, have threatened some to such an extent that they are willing to support a crazily greedy, megalomaniac to be the next leader of this country. However, like President Obama, I generally believe that progress will continue, even as the tidal waves of ignorance and fear try to wash it away.

Through director Robbie McCauley’s clear-eyed vision, Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness provides an invitation to meditate on the insanity and to collectively find a way out of its maze.

Charlotte Meehan
Artistic Director, Sleeping Weazel
September 13, 2016

 

Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: A User’s Guide
September 15–17 and 22–24, 2016, 7:30 pm
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

Images: (l-r) Veronica Anastasio Wiseman and Stephanie Burlington Daniels from CLEANLINESS, GODLINESS, AND MADNESS; Charlotte Meehan, photo by Tina Howe.

A View From the Mountain: Bread Loaf 2015

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Recently, writer Donna Gordon attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont. In this guest post, she shares her experience and personal history with the conference.

View of Bread Loaf Mountain, photo by Don Shall

Attending the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Ripton, Vermont in August was not necessarily an invitation to commune with the muse, secure an agent, or sign a book deal. What the experience did offer and deliver in spades was an opportunity to spend ten days on the idyllic mountaintop – surrounded by green fields and an umbrella of blue sky – to workshop a piece of writing, meet with already accomplished writers actively publishing work worthy of fellowships and awards, and learn about the state of the art changes and patterns in the publishing industry. One-on-one meetings with agents and editors were also arranged in a relaxed environment on the yellow Victorian porch of the Bread Loaf Inn or in the hazy sunlit lounge-like Barn, where in almost every conversation the importance of narrative voice and standards of excellence were highlighted.

Bread Loaf has a laid back atmosphere with its signature Adirondack chairs, surrounding scenic trails, and moose-crossing signs. The pastoral campus hosts the larger inn, and the accompanying fields are strewn with guest cottages. But coming here is a big deal to a lot of people and marks a kind of validation for the approximately 200 writers of fiction, poetry and nonfiction who attend. Categories for acceptance include fellowships, scholarship, contributors and auditors. This year 27% of applicants were invited. And of those, only 5% received financial aid. But the conference is so renowned for its workshops and networking opportunities, that people came from as far away as India and Iceland. Bottom line: writers here are treated with respect. And this becomes most evident in those private or small group meetings with the pros, including publisher Fiona McCrae of Graywolf, and agents like Janet Silver and Mitchell Waters. Instead of waiting for the dreaded “no” that writers often encounter with online submissions and protracted email exchanges with literary magazine editors, the face to face meetings allowed for more intimate conversation, “tell me about your project,” and, “please send me your manuscript.” Just being here meant we had been filtered through a large screening process.

The Barn at Bread Loaf, photo by Don Shall

Set in the Green Mountain National Forest, Bread Loaf is the oldest writers’ conference in the country. The conference dates back to 1926 when poet Robert Frost and novelist Willa Cather decided to start a summer writers’ camp on a horse farm near Middlebury College. Over the years, it’s drawn the participation of writers at the top of their craft, including Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Anne Sexton and Eudora Welty. This summer MacArthur recipient and poet Terrance Hayes was there, and through a discussion of the poetry of Langston Hughes, rallied every one of us to find our political point of view. While I was there, three Bread Loaf participants had books reviewed in the Sunday New York Times.

Morning lectures on topics ranging from, Notes on the Dramatic Image by Charles Baxter to After the World Ends: The Artist’s Response to Crisis by Stacey D’Erasmo, roused people to thoughtful appreciation and were delivered to a consistently packed house in the Little Theatre (most of the lectures available online through iTunes U). Afternoons were devoted to craft talks ranging from Chris Castellani’s Mixed Signals: Modulating the Third Person, to Randall Kenan’s The Last Word: Notes on Endings, to Afaa Michael Weaver’s What Matters in Writing a Bop. Evenings were reserved for readings by faculty, fellows and scholars in the Little Theatre. The Blue Parlor was a place for contributors in all genres to read their work to a live audience. The conference also hosted a road race, two dances and a gala reception in the middle of a goldenrod studded field at sunset.

Bread Loaf Inn, photo by Don Shall

Bread Loaf accommodations in both the Inn and the cottages are spartan but clean. Most people share a room with one other person. The dining room tries hard to suit the likes of the masses and special dietary options are available.

Bread Loaf Dormitory, photo by Don Shall

Years ago, the conference had reputation for hedonism – some called it “Bed Loaf.” But Michael Collier, who took over as director in 1994, runs a tight ship with a structured agenda. A watchful eye is maintained by staff, ensuring that things go smoothly.

Still, writers are writers and given to creative twists and turns. Forty years ago I came to the conference as a young poet assigned to work with Donald Justice. I had a roommate from somewhere in the Midwest who kept her hair dryer running all night long in order to sleep. I had a riveting conversation in the middle of a field with poet Gregory Orr during which he told me how he had accidently killed his brother during a hunting incident. Back then I was living poem to poem. This year I came back as a fiction writer with a novel to try to pitch.

Ann Hood ended the conference with a talk entitled, Why Write? “Where the imagination runs supreme and creativity is a given, our minds are stretched,” she said. “We write to live.”

Adirondack chairs, Bread Loaf, photo by Donna Gordon

View from cottage porch, Bread Loaf, photo by Donna Gordon

Related reading: ArtSake’s post on artist residencies and travel.

Donna Gordon‘s fiction and poetry have been published in Story Quarterly, Ploughshares, the Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, Boston Globe Magazine, and the anthology Sister to Sister. In March 2015, she won the chance to meet and play tennis with Serena Williams, an experience she wrote about for Medium.

Images: top four photos by Don Shall, used with permission of the artist; bottom two photos by Donna Gordon.

Artists on How They Get By

Monday, June 30th, 2014

On June 4, 2014, a group of artists are convened at Lesley University in Cambridge for an event called How We Get By, about the realities and struggles of artists’ financial lives.

Tim Devin, one of the event organizers and a past guest blogger for ArtSake on copyright issues, has written this guest post about what transpired on June 4 and where the “getting by” conversation is headed next.

Introduction
How do artists make a living in our increasingly-expensive city? That’s something Jason Pramas, Matt Kaliner, and I started talking about recently. Artists don’t really like to talk about how they make money, since it usually has very little to do with their creative work. They avoid the issue for a variety of reasons, but the largest one is that they want to project an image of being a successful artist, and the current notion of what a successful artist is involves making money from your work.

This situation, of course, creates a number of problems. If you don’t know how other people get by, then you’ll never know about other ways you could be doing it yourself. And since people don’t like to share the fact that they often subsidize their creative work with money earned from day jobs, then it’s never clear how effective the standard grant and gallery systems are at supporting the region’s creative output financially. And perhaps most importantly, it leaves unexamined the assumption that successful art is defined by the revenue it generates.

Jason, Matt and I thought it might be good to get a group of artists get together, and share information on how they get by. We felt that having people speak publicly about this would raise these issues nicely, and get people talking about changes that could be made, and about other ways to get by as an artist in Boston.

We were lucky enough to get a raft of amazing people to speak, each with a different viewpoint and approach to making ends meet. Artists included Andi Sutton, Coelynn McIninch, Dave Ortega, Dirk Adams, Emily Garfield, Greg Cook, Heather Kapplow, and Shea Justice. Two of us organizers, Jason Pramas and myself, also spoke. We also invited Melinda Cross, who is involved in an artist housing coop to talk about that as an option, and Gregory Jenkins, who is the executive director of the Somerville Arts Council. Matt Kaliner moderated the discussion.

Lesley University hosted the event, and almost 100 people came to learn about other ways of getting by. Ho Yin Au and Ellien Laramee-Byers were the photographers. Ironically – or tellingly – since we couldn’t get a budget, everyone involved (photographers, speakers, and us organizers alike) worked as volunteers.

Getting by
The discussion was pretty wide-ranging. One issue that kept coming up was juggling paid work with creative work.

Andi Sutton, who works at a local university, said that she came to terms with the need for a day job early on, and now views herself as having two careers. She said that she is lucky to have an understanding boss, who affords her a certain amount of flexibility when she needs to do something for her art. Far from being a barrier, Shea Justice spoke about working as an art teacher as a benefit to his creative work. He draws energy from his kids, and often goes to museums on field trips. Both talked about the benefits of stable jobs.

But many of us exist in more precarious ways. Dirk Adams, who installs art shows, spoke about how unsteady his jobs are — opportunities often come up at the same time, forcing him to choose one over the others, after long dry spells of no income. He said that having to hustle for paid work draws energy away from his creative work. Heather Kapplow goes through cycles where she works a lot and saves up, and then works freelance sparingly and tries to keep as much of her time for her art. She said that a few scheduled freelance projects fell through recently without much warning, forcing her to make some difficult choices.

Jason Pramas, who is 47, told us that he had started working at 16, but had only been able to find a steady full-time job for six of those years. I read a statement from an anonymous artist/musician who is lucky enough to own her own two-family house, but can’t afford decent health care on her intermittent income from her creative work and the money she gets from renting her upstairs unit. She worries about what will happen to her as she ages and incurs more medical expenses.

Which touches on one of the central themes of the night: frustration. Frustrations with the economy in general, with the area’s high cost of living, and with the art world. Greg Cook pointed out that so much of the existing art system doesn’t work for you if you have a job. For instance, who can afford to do residencies? They involve traveling somewhere, and not working a paying job for weeks if not months on end, in exchange for space to create but very little financial compensation. Heather Kapplow said that since she does conceptual art, she has difficulty making money off of her work, since there are few mechanisms to support conceptual art financially. Personally, my work has never been a big income-generator, so I tend to make things inexpensively so I can keep doing what I want to do. But I worry what would happen if I wanted to branch out and make other kinds of art — would I be able to afford it?

Other speakers shared how they cope with the high costs of living in the area. Dave Ortega and Greg Cook both talked about personal thrift as a way to get by. For example, Dave spoke of his own “Thoreau-inspired lifestyle” which includes sharing a small apartment, and not owning a car. But the region is consistently listed as one of the most expensive places to live in, and rents keep going up, so these solutions may be only temporary. Dave, who lives in Somerville near the proposed Green Line extension, wondered how much longer he’ll be able to afford living there. Coelynn McIninch suggested people consider Fitchburg as an alternative, and told us about the area’s affordable apartments and studio spaces.

Mutual aid is another good way to cut expenses. Melinda Cross spoke about the two coops she’s involved in: a long-standing residential coop, and a relatively new papermaking coop she formed. Both help participants save money, while at the same time building strong bonds that can be called on when you need support from others. Coelynn told us that she often trades her photography services with other artists when she needs their help. She said you don’t have to be best friends with people you exchange help with, which provides for more exchanges, since you’re not limited by your friendship circles. The audience loved this idea, and during the discussion portion someone floated the idea of a website where artists could offer and exchange services. Jason talked about the need for creative workers to organize in their own political and economic self-interest—pointing to the Boston Visual Artists Union of the 1970s as a relevant historical model.

Underlying a lot of these issues is the notion of identity. In a culture where who you are is often gauged by how you earn your keep, this places people who identify as artists but don’t make much money at it in a tricky situation. Coelynn took this issue head on by saying point blank “Never apologize for what you have to do to make your art possible,” a statement that brought on a round of applause — showing that the artists in the room were concerned about validation as much as they were about economics.

Greg Jenkins ended the night by speaking from the perspective of an arts organization. He stressed that artists needed to prove why communities should support them. He pointed out that a lot of this discussion stems from bigger problems – the economy, the recession, the art world. He suggested that artists identify specific problems, and work with arts organizations on solving them; “that’s what we’re here for,” he said.

Conclusion
The night raised a number of issues, the most important being how little money is in the art system right now. A lot of people said that they were both surprised and reassured to learn that so many artists are in the same boat as they are. Many said that they always assumed other artists were doing a lot better financially, and that they themselves just needed to try harder, or catch the right breaks, to make it. Creative people often do things for free to build their CVs, but as we learned, even artists who show internationally don’t really make much money. This is something we might want to reexamine.

The question then becomes: what do we do with all of this information? The day after the event, we organizers set up a group page on Facebook to discuss the event. Over 200 people joined immediately, and started a lively discussion. People shared dozens of articles and thoughts and ideas on how to change things.

This energy led to a second meeting, also at Lesley, on June 25th, to determine if people wanted to start an artist-led organization. Over 40 people showed up, and the 2 ½ hour discussion ranged from reexamining the role of the artist in the community, to talks about alternative economics; from tips on the best way to pressure politicians, to talks about housing and grants, and ideas on alternative venues and ways of reaching people.

A third meeting is being planned for July 16th, to discuss what kind of organization or organizations everyone involved wants to form. There don’t seem to be any hard answers right now — or rather, there are dozens of views about what the problems actually are, so having everyone agree on an answer is moot — but the questions being raised are exciting. While no one questions the support we all get from existing arts organizations, the spirit in the air seems to be that maybe the missing element is something that we artists can do for ourselves, if we band together. Maybe by banding together, we can all figure out another way to get by.

Further research:
How to find funding as a Massachusetts individual artist
What makes for a good day job as an artist?

Tim Devin‘s projects deal with community and social change. His work has been included in art and urbanist shows across the US, Canada, and Europe, and have been featured in such news sources as NPR, CBC and, more locally, the Boston Globe. He’s the chair of the board of the Somerville Arts Council, which is part of MCC’s local cultural council network.

Images: Tim Devin, Andi Sutton, Heather Kapplow, Dirk Adams, Dave Ortega, Melinda Cross, Gregory Jenkins, Emily Garfield, photo by Ho Yin Au; Andi Sutton, Heather Kapplow, Dirk Adams, Dave Ortega, Melinda Cross, Gregory Jenkins, Emily Garfield, Greg Cook, Shea Justice, Jason Pramas. Standing on right: Tim Devin, Matt Kaliner. Photo by Ho Yin Au; Jason Pramas, photo by Ho Yin Au; Dave Ortega, Melinda Cross, Gregory Jenkins, Emily Garfield, Greg Cook, photo by Ellien Laramee-Byers; Shea Justice, Coelynn McIninch, photo by Ho Yin Au; Dave Ortega, Melinda Cross, Gregory Jenkins, Emily Garfield, Greg Cook, photo by Ellien Laramee-Byers.

The Photographic Journey of Mari Seder

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Whether teaching art workshops in Oaxaca or here at home at the Worcester Art Museum, past MCC photography fellow Mari Seder has continued to explore the intimacy of families as connected to their homeland and faith. Her photographs continue to combine a poet’s heart, a painter’s hand, and a photographer’s eye.

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With the grant money I received from MCC many years ago, I used the large 20 x 24 Polaroid Camera at Mass College of Art to photograph old toys. Since then, I’ve continued this project by photographing old toys in both the United States and in Mexico with a digital camera. Two years ago, two of the large Polaroid photographs traveled to Poland for an exhibition there.

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Though retired from my teaching job in Worcester, I’m finally doing what I love to do by giving workshops at the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester and in Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca is an exciting place to be as there is a huge tradition of art and the culture is fascinating with its traditions. I belong to photography collective and it has given me a chance to connect with other Mexican photographers.

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My early photographic projects in Mexico were of home altars in Mexico. This was important to me because it gave me the chance to connect with Mexican families, to see how they lived and to understand the culture more deeply. The project resulted in several exhibitions: one at Quinsigamond Community College, another at the National Catholic Museum of Art and History in New York City and the third at Galleria Henestrosa, Casa de La Ciudad in Oaxaca.

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Two years ago my work was shown at Centro Manuel Alvarez Bravo Fotografia Museo. It consisted of small Polaroid Transfers entitled “Cuba: Time Suspended / Cuba: El Tiempo Suspendido.” Some of these had been previously shown at Lehigh University Museum Gallery. In 2006, I was invited to show six photographs of my Cuban altars in the Havana Biennial in the exhibition “Havana: The City and the Photographers.” I was very proud to have my work next to some of the great Cuban photographers and well as a small selection of photographers from the United States.

–          Mari Seder

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Learn more about the artist and her work at www.mariseder.com.

Lowell Folk Festival and Food Carver Ruben Arroco

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

MCC Folk Arts & Heritage Program Manager Maggie Holtzberg recently paid a visit to Ruben Arroco, an artist working in a fascinating tradition: carving works of art from fruit and vegetables. In the following post, re-published from her blog Keepers of Tradition, Maggie shares the experience, in preparation for the Lowell Folk Festival this weekend, July 26-28, 2013.

Earlier this spring I was searching for someone who specializes in the tradition of carving fruits and vegetables to demonstrate at the folk craft area of the Lowell Folk Festival. This year the theme is carving traditions. After following up on a few leads, all within the Asian community, I eventually gave up on trying to find someone to demonstrate this culinary skill.

Then, just six weeks shy of the festival, I received an email from Craig Gates of the Lowell Festival Foundation. He’d been contacted by Ruben Arroco inquiring whether he could demonstrate fruit carving at the festival this summer. Serendipity? As it turns out, Ruben recently demonstrated fruit carving at the Rock ‘N Ribfest in Merrimac, New Hampshire. When someone came up to him to ask if he would be at the Lowell Folk Festival this July, he thought to himself, “Why not?” Hence, his inquiry. Craig passed him on to me, with the thought that it was probably too late and that I could “let him down gently.” Instead, I was thrilled to learn of this local chef who had trained in the Philippines, has been an executive chef for 30 years, and now specializes in customized fruit and vegetable carvings.

So last week, Phil Lupsiewicz and I drove over to the Highlands neighborhood of Lowell to interview Ruben Arroco. Ruben, his wife, and daughter live in a newly built enclave of condominiums tucked into some lush foliage just off a busy street. Ruben welcomed us in, offering us freshly brewed coffee and slices of tiramisu cake. Presentation was done with the utmost care; the cake was served on white porcelain plates decorated with mango carved to look like roses. Amazed at the trouble he had gone to and delighted in sitting down to this unexpected afternoon treat, Phil and I readied our recording equipment.

Ruben placed a round watermelon on a rotating board, securing its base with a rolled dishtowel. Then he picked up a very sharp tool and began to work. “I just start by looking for a nice surface and just make a little peel. I peel that until I see a little red color. Like so. . . I’m going to make the center petals of the flower. Most of the time they use a knife to make a circle – but I just use a cookie cutter to make a round shape. This is how it’s started. See, I love that color right there, it’s coming out, the red color. Then you start making the petals. . . ”

Ruben makes most of his own carving tools out of specialized stainless steel. I ask if fruit carving is a relatively rare skill to have. “It is. This is actually a 700-hundred year old art that originated in Thailand.”

Ruben learned to carve fruit during his training as a hotel chef in the Philippines. “There is a place in the Philippines – Paete, Laguna – where people there make a living out of carving wood. Some of those guys, I was lucky enough to work with in the hotel. . . If you see a chef doing this, most of the time, if you ask, ‘Are you from [Laguna]’ the answer is yes. If you can carve wood, you can carve this – so I kind of learned it from them.”

Ruben picks up a specialized tool he made which creates V-cuts in one movement. “Even just making simple V-cuts transforms it and gives it that nicer look. You go around making these V-cuts, like that. Separation of the petals from the part that you carved, that’s very important. The part that is removed, they call that the negative side in the carving world. If you don’t remove that, you won’t see what you just carved.”

I wonder aloud if there is something hard about making art which is so ephemeral. It can take from seven to ten hours to create, yet it’s there to be consumed. Ruben says, “Even though it takes a long time to make, the best part of it is when we bring it to the party and everybody likes it. Even though it took me seven hours to make, it always feels like it only took me a half hour when everybody likes it.”

“Most of the time, we bring it to the party and then they call me back say, ‘We have a problem.’ ‘What? Why, what happened.?’ ‘Nobody wants to touch it!’ So I tell them to find a kid and tell him or her it’s for them. They won’t care; they’ll just start eating it.”

Come to the Lowell Folk Festival this July 27 and 28 to watch Ruben and 15 other traditional artists demonstrate their remarkable carving skills.

Learn more about Ruben and see more images in a profile on WBUR’s Artery.

Getting More Out of Getting Online

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

This January-May, a group of artist-entrepreneurs will hold a series of workshops in Jamaica Plain called Focusing Your Art Career. We’re delighted to welcome one of the workshop leaders, Jessica Burko, to share keen insights into optimizing your online presence as an artist.

Getting More Out of Getting Online by Jessica Burko

So, you make stuff.

You are an artist/designer/craftsperson/artisan. You also have a blog/website/online shop and frequently update your Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Pinterest feed/page/profile/boards. You stay connected with your fellow creative professionals using your MacBook/iPad/smart phone and you feel like you are doing everything right, but the sales/press/shows aren’t increasing like you thought they would by now.

Huh.

It sounds like you are keeping up with the latest greatest technology, but not really utilizing it to its full potential to maximize your full potential. Don’t get lost in an avalanche of meaningless chatter while you engage, just be sure to update regularly, make targeted connections, and create significant dialogue. Closer attention to what you are doing online, in addition to where and when you are doing it, will help you focus and make the most of your time.

Instead of… spending all day tweeting your every move
Try… tweeting consistently but meaningfully by sharing relevant news and links about your work and the work of others in your field.

Instead of… posting photos of your nephew’s birthday party on Facebook
Try… creating a fan page that you update several times a week with new work.

Instead of… blogging about irrelevant topics
Try… publishing articles related to the type of work that you do, or a how-to article with step-by-step photos.

Instead of… friending every unknown who sends you a request
Try… just friending people you know personally, would like to know, or people who are in your field.

Instead of… following everyone who follows you
Try… to follow only those people who tweet items meaningful to you, and make sure to occasionally retweet what they share.

Having a strong online presence can be extremely beneficial to your art, no matter what type of media you explore. The key is to make the most of your time online, and not get distracted by the everything swirling around you. Falling down a rabbit hole is very easy to do with so many connections leading here, there, and everywhere. If you find that you’re spending too much time friending your pals from kindergarten, and not enough time in your studio making your actual artwork, try setting a timer so that you spend only a specified amount of time online, and the rest of your day using your hands for more tangible endeavors.

Generating opportunities takes effort, and marketing what you do to the right audience is more than half the battle. Online networking is an excellent way to increase your visibility, create buzz, gain sales, and expand your circle to lead to any number of exciting new paths. You may be the master of your virtual domain, but there are lots of other ways to market your work and develop your professional muscles while you flex your texting thumbs. There’s a new series of marketing and business workshops for creative entrepreneurs called The Focusing Series.

Developed by Boston artist Anna Koon, this series includes such pertinent topics as, How to Setup and Sell Online, Time Management for Creative People, The Art of Branding and Photo-Documenting Your Art. For a PDF with full details on this series click here.

Jessica Burko is a professional artist, independent curator, and the Executive Director of Boston Handmade. Beyond exhibiting, selling, and promoting her own artwork she has worked as a professional Arts Marketer since 1997 and since 2002 has operated Burko Design offering marketing and PR services to artists and arts organizations to assist them in achieving their professional goals. Burko is located in Boston, MA, has a BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, and an MFA in Imaging Arts & Sciences from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Christian McEwen’s World Enough & Time

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Throughout her creative life, Christian McEwen‘s (Playwriting Fellow ’11) encounters in art and literature have taught her a deceptively simple lesson: slow down. The writer, who has worked in poetry, prose, film, and theater, recently published a new book, World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down (Bauhan Publishing, 2011), about how slowing the pace of life can lead to breakthroughs in learning, wellness, and – perhaps most pertinent to artists – creativity.

We asked Christian if we could share a section of her new book, as well as some of the tactics she suggests for expanding creativity through a more measured mode of living.

A TINY STONE, A FISH
When I spoke with Thomas Clark at his home in Pittenweem, I asked if there were any assignment, any special “homework” he might propose for an apprentice poet of today. His answer startled me.

“I would ask the young poet to choose some simple task, something very ordinary and non-utilitarian, and ask them to repeat it at regular intervals. For example, one might climb a hill, pick up a stone, carry it back down, and then take it back up the hill the following day.”

The task would be pointless in and of itself. But doing it would create what Clark called “a continuum,” a context in which small events could resonate: a counter-story to the larger, public one.

Clark’s response sounded a little crazy to me at first. But the more I considered it, the more I came to see it as a kind of koan, one of those wise, unsettling conundrums from which, with luck and diligence, a certain striking revelation may emerge. “To learn something new,” said the naturalist John Burroughs, “take the path today that you took yesterday.” All professions have need of such devoted practitioners, willing to push past their own boredom, their own comfortable familiarity, in order to arrive at something new. As Proust once said, “The true journey of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having fresh eyes.”

One thinks of Goethe, who trained himself to watch leaves as they grew, remembering each stage with such clarity that he could actually “see” their metamorphosis. One thinks of Denise Levertov, in her last years, addressing poem after poem to the peak of Mount Rainier, just visible above the rooftops of Seattle. Above all, perhaps, one thinks of the Swiss zoologist Louis Agassiz, and the extraordinary assignment he once gave a student.

In 1859, when Nathaniel Shaler applied to study at the Harvard laboratories, he was sent to Agassiz for an entrance exam. The first part of this had to do with languages and scientific classification, and Shaler passed with flying colors. He also trounced Agassiz in an impromptu fencing match. The second half of the exam was both simpler and more complicated. If focused on a certain preserved fish.

“I want you to examine this,” said Agassiz, presenting him with a fish in a tin pan. “I’d like you to find out everything you can, without damaging the specimen.”

Obediently, Shaler set to work. He expected Agassiz to return within a couple of hours. But Agassiz did not come back. Not that day, nor even that same week. Shaler kept on patiently, studying the fish, and on the seventh day, Agassiz finally put in an appearance.

“Well?” he asked.

Shaler pointed to all the details he had learned about the fish: its teeth, its jaws, its fins and scales and so on. Agassiz listened carefully. “That’s not right,” he said. And once again he vanished for an entire week.

Shaler returned, disconsolate, to his tin pan. Was Agassiz completely crazy? Perhaps he should have let him win that fencing match? But even while he puzzled over the professor’s methods, Shaler began to recognize how much he was benefiting from them. Each day he was learning more and more about that fish, a hundred times more than had originally seemed possible. And by the time he was accepted at Harvard (after a further two months of disentangling a box of mixed fish bones, and reassembling them into their different species) no one could have said that he was not truly qualified.

Tactics

  • Choose any routine activity and allow it to become an end in itself. Pay attention to how this feels.
  • Make a list of slow activities: a long train ride, a hand-written letter, gardening, etc. If possible, do at least one such “slow thing” every week.
  • Buy a small notebook and carry it about with you at all times. Look and listen, write down what people say.

Christian McEwen, reprinted with permission from
World Enough & Time (Bauhan Publishing, 2011)

Hear an interview with Christian on the radio show Writer’s Life.

Christian McEwen has upcoming readings on November 3, 6:30 PM, with Mark Statman at the Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York, NY; November 10, 6 PM, at Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls; November 13, 4 PM, at Grace Church in Amherst (short reading and presentation); November 17, 7 PM, at Sky Lake Lodge in Rosendale, NY.

Christian also runs workshops on writing, creativity, and “slowing down” (those interested in hosting a future workshop should contact the artist). Upcoming workshops: January 27-29, 2012, Rowe Camp and Conference Center in Rowe, MA; February 25, 2012, 10 AM-3 PM, Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center in Westfield, MA; March 1-11, 2012, Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, NY.

Ann Wessman’s Memory and Loss

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Artist Ann Wessman has created an installation born from love – and pain. Tonight, Friday, October 14, from 5:30-7:30 Ann will be at the Kingston Gallery for a reception.

My brother David died of HIV/AIDS in 1996. He had been diagnosed in 1985 and was considered a “long term survivor” among that huge first wave of young gay men infected in the early 80’s.

While he was relatively healthy for eight years, the period from 1993-1996 was fraught with intermittent unbearable suffering. During that time I for some reason keep telling myself, “do not forget this.”

It has been 15 years since David died. I watched him descend into dementia as a result of central nervous system lymphoma, a symptom of AIDS. I also watched my 102 year old grandmother lose her memory in the last year of her long life and I watched my mother succumb to Alzheimer’s disease and a broken heart.

As I witness my own memory faltering, in what I assume is the normal aging process, I have become interested in the idea of memory and how it is maintained, particularly in the digital age of fragmentation, sound bites, etc.

How will we remember in the future, will it look different than it does today?

This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of my brother, David Christopher Peters, 1955-1996, and to all we have lost to AIDS.

– Ann Wessman

Ann Wessman- Memory·Loss
Kingston Gallery through October 30, 2011

Image credit: All images are by Ann Wessman.

Copyright, Appropriation, and Creatives

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

In May 2011, artists Tim Devin and David Taber organized a conference in Cambridge called Play-Jurisms, exploring the complex thicket of copyright, appropriation, and ethics in the work of contemporary artists. We asked the two collaborators to share their observations from that weekend, which approached the idea of creative property from all angles.

How does copyright really work? How can you protect your creations from being stolen? How much of another person’s work can you include in your own before getting into trouble?

We started talking about appropriation last fall. The more we looked into it, the more interested we became – and the more we learned how complex it was. We figured that other creative people in the area would want to know about these things as well, so we organized Play-Jurisms. The conference took place May 21- 22, 2011, at the Democracy Center in Cambridge. All of the sessions were free, and all of the speakers were volunteers.

Two intellectual properties lawyers led things off. Between them, they delivered easy-to-understand explanations of intellectual property law as it relates to creative work, and provided an incredible amount of background information.

Miguel Danielson, principal at Danielson Legal LLC, began by explaining some basics including what copyright is and how it is enforced. He told us that every expression that “shows a modicum of creativity” and is “expressed on a tangible medium” is automatically copyrighted. The phonebook, for example, is not copyrightable. Even though copyright is an automatic right, if you want to make sure you have undisputed standing in court, it is best to register your work with the US Copyright Office, which costs $35.

Danielson also spoke about legal provisions for fair use. Fair use exceptions to copyright law allow for the use of other peoples’ work for educational purposes; commentary; parody (comedy that mocks the original work – but not satire, which makes broader social statements); or “transformative” uses that create a unique work. One important limit to fair use is that the new use cannot have a “negative market impact” on the original work, he said.

In general, he said, case law does not provide a particularly clear guide for how future copyright disputes will turn out.

Danielson’s presentation is available here. The examples he used are worth checking out – including a case that pitted 2 Live Crew against Roy Orbison, and one involving Demi Moore’s body and Leslie Nielsen’s head.

Sheri Mason, who is an associate at Morse Barnes-Brown and Pendleton PC, and is the Director of Legal Services at the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, presented next.

Discussing recent trends in copyright law, Mason said the courts have been increasingly tough on people using “fair use” defenses in recent years. In particular, she cited Richard Prince V. Patrick Cariou, in which the court found that Prince’s alterations of Cariou’s photographs were not transformative.

Mason also discussed recent developments in moral rights – rights explicitly offered to visual artists in the United States under the Visual Artists’ Right Act of 1990, and given to other creators to some extent through other laws. Moral rights include the right to be credited and its opposite, the right to publish work anonymously or under a pseudonym. They also include the right to the “integrity” of visual works; that is, the right not to have your work mutilated, distorted, or modified. There are limits to moral rights, however. For example, Mason spoke about a case where landscape design was found to not be copyrightable, and therefore not protected from mutilation.

Mason also discussed Creative Commons – a license that allows others to use your work for free, as long as they agree to certain conditions. (Such conditions could include making the new work available for reuse as well, or not reusing the original work for profit.) Creative Commons works are still copyrighted, but the creator is voluntarily giving up some rights, she said.

Next, we heard from James O’Keefe, the founder of the Massachusetts Pirate Party, a newly formed political party that pushes for copyright-reform and open government.

O’Keefe spoke about how copyright had evolved, and why the way it is now isn’t necessarily the best thing for us. He began by telling us how copyright had been created in Europe to protect religious and political interests, then business interests, rather than individual creators’ rights. He then talked about extensions of copyright that we’ve seen since the early 20th Century in the U.S. – from 14 years to life-of-the-author plus 70 years – pushed for by corporations, particularly one seeking to protect a particular large-eared cartoon character.

O’Keefe made the important point that culture is what has come before, and for culture to move on, we must build on that past. As copyright bars more and more uses of previously created material, it bars what forms culture can take. (Here’s O’Keefe’s presentation.)

We finished up the first day by watching Craig Baldwin’s documentary Sonic Outlaws. This film explores the legal issues around Negativland‘s parody of U2 and Casey Casem. It also included a number of interviews and short vignettes about other copyright-questioning artists such as John Oswald and the Barbie Liberation Organization.

The next day started with Don Schaefer, an artist and artists’ rights advocate. He is part of the Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition and is the founder of Pro-Imaging, an international group aimed at promoting artists’ rights.

Schaefer argued in favor of copyright, saying that while its current iteration is a “bad performance,” protection is necessary to ensure that creative people are reimbursed for their time and effort. “We live in a predatory culture,” he said. “There’s no reason for us to be predatory towards each other.”

Schaefer recommended that people collaborate, instead of appropriating from each other; besides being a legal alternative to appropriation, collaboration helps build community, and can lead to further creative opportunities.

After Schaefer, we had a panel discussion about appropriation. On the panel were Danny Mekonnen, Dirk Adams, and Alana Kumbier.

Mekonnen, founder of the Debo Band, a local Ethiopian group, discussed the ethics of cultural appropriation. Mekonnen, himself an Ethiopian-American, spoke of appropriation as being a potentially meaningful exchange and bridge between cultures. During his career, he has worked with a number of Ethiopian musicians here and in Ethiopia. His group has covered their songs, and given them credit. Part of the importance of his work, he said, involves giving recognition and credit to older artists; he also believes in educating his audience about Ethiopian culture.

In his opinion, talk about appropriation as all-or-nothing isn’t right – the reality is more nuanced. Borrowing is fine, but hiding where you borrowed it from is problematic. (Mekonnen explores this idea further in this article.)

Dirk Adams spoke next. Adams is a performance and sound artist, and is also half of the multimedia group Gang Clan Mafia. He said we live in a pervasive information culture, where media has become part of our language. Since this is our culture, it doesn’t make sense to not refer to that culture in creative work. He uses snippets of pop culture to tell stories and create sensations through his work, which he wouldn’t be able to do without appropriating those snippets.

The third panelist was queer burlesque performer and zine-maker Alana Kumbier. Kumbier told us about a zine she edited called “Because the Boss belongs to us” and a cabaret show she’d put together called “Queers Do the Boss.” During the cabaret event, performers did imaginative interpretations of Bruce Springsteen songs. The zine told stories about Springsteen’s influence in the writers’ lives. Kumbier viewed the event (and book) as commentary and social satire, and therefore completely defensible. She said being able to freely discuss and interpret the work of iconic cultural figures who have influenced us is important for self-expression and self-understanding.

The panel raised a number of interesting issues. For instance, do the ethics of appropriation change if the performer is or isn’t making money? Second, there are two ways to reimburse the original creator – through a change of money, and through attribution, which helps get the original creators’ name and work out to a larger audience? In recent history, being reimbursed with money has been the primary goal – but is money really more important than attribution?

After the panel, we had a workshop by Heather McCann and Alana Kumbier. McCann and Kumbier are both librarians, and are part of Boston Radical Reference, a group of librarians who offer their help for free to cultural and left-leaning groups. For Play-Jurisms, they had created an online reference guide listing sites that had legal, free sound, video, and images that creatives can use.

After a short break, we had some free food, and then saw two performances. The first was by Gang Clan Mafia, who performed their new piece, created for the event, called “Gang Clan Mafia Sing Happy Birthday to You, Pac Man.” The piece involved sampled and sequenced sound snipped, as well as video and performance actions.

Factory Seconds, a Somerville-based brass band, closed out the weekend. Dressed in their teal-and-black colors, they played fun and imaginative interpretations of familiar tunes.

– David Taber and Tim Devin

Tim Devin is a Somerville-based artist. His projects have involved community, public space, books, zines, maps, walking tours, and giving things away for free. Tim is a member of the Rise Industries art group, and is on the board of the Somerville Arts Council.

David Taber lives in Somerville, plays low-brass for the Factory Seconds, occasionally writes zines, and thinks much about politics, culture, how to write fiction. Full time, he is a reporter at a newspaper in Boston.

All images courtesy of Tim Devin and David Taber.

Guest Blogger: Peter Snoad

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Recently, Peter Snoad (Playwriting Fellow ’09) had a highly successful run of his new play… nearly 1,000 miles from here. We’ve invited Peter to guest blog about the experience, as well as the trials and tribulations of bringing a new play to the stage, be it here in Massachusetts or elsewhere on the map.

A Time of ‘Crisis’
“So when is it going to be done here?”

That’s a question I’m often asked by friends and neighbors in Boston when a play of mine is being produced out of town. Most recently it was my new comedy, Identity Crisis, which had its first staged reading by the New Provincetown Players at Provincetown Theatre last year, and received a workshop production in January at Centre Stage in Greenville, South Carolina.

Greenville? It may not strike a chord with many theatre aficionados in our neck of the woods. But Greenville has been named one of the 100 Best Arts Towns in America. Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, and once known as the “textile capital of the world,” the city has remade itself, literally and figuratively, in the last 20 years. It’s now a thriving little cultural mecca, with a renovated and vibrant downtown that sits astride the rambling Reedy River and its scenic waterfalls. Greenville boasts no less than four theatre companies, two large performing arts/events centers that regularly feature national touring companies, a resident symphony orchestra, a light opera, a bevy of artists’ studios and galleries, a dozen or more ethnic restaurants (Persian anyone?), and a minor league baseball team, the Greenville Drive, that’s a Boston Red Sox affiliate. (Greenville has another Boston sports connection: Kevin Garnett of the Celtics is a native of nearby Mauldin. Also born-and-bred in Greenville: Keith Lockhart of the Boston Symphony.)

Centre Stage, with its modern 285-seat theatre, has developed a national reputation for fostering new plays. Since 2002, it has run an annual New Play Festival, attracting hundreds of scripts from playwrights across the country and overseas. The four selected finalists are brought to Greenville on the theatre’s dime and their plays receive a rehearsed staged reading with a local director and actors. The winning play is produced as a workshop production, generally the following season, with the author receiving a percentage of the box office in line with industry standards for a regular production. (In many contests, the production of the play is the prize, so Centre Stage is respectfully generous by comparison. Also, the “workshop” designation leaves open the possibility of the playwright landing the highly prized “world premiere” with a theatre in a larger market.)

Under the leadership of festival chair Brian Haimbach, who teaches theatre at Greenville Technical College, the New Play Festival has developed a growing local following. My first experience of it was in 2006 with my play, Guided Tour, which won the festival that year. The staged reading for Guided Tour attracted 50 people; last October, the audience for Identity Crisis was three times that number. Plus, with funding support from the Dramatists Guild of America, the professional association of those who write or compose for the theatre, Centre Stage now has a playwright-in-residence for the week-long festival. Last year, it was the talented and generous Deborah Breevort (Women of Lockerbie, The Poetry of Pizza). Deborah was on hand at each of the readings to offer her thoughts on the play and to lead audience discussion; later she gave each playwright personal feedback on her/his work. Audience members were given a role in choosing the festival winner by filling out a brief evaluation form after each reading.

Before Identity Crisis was read, I was a tad anxious about what people would make of it. The play is a comedy about race and identity that imagines a growing phenomenon that no one wants to talk about: white people are turning black. Well, as it turned out, my fears were unfounded. The audience – diverse but mostly white and older – laughed a lot, and many were quite effusive in their praise on the evaluation forms.

After Identity Crisis was declared the winner of the festival, we quickly went into gear to plan for the workshop production in January. I was delighted to learn that Peter Saputo, who had directed the reading of Identity Crisis, was willing to direct the full production, too. A veteran actor and director with more than more than 40 years of stage and film experience, Peter had helmed the first production of Guided Tour at Centre Stage in 2007. He did a brilliant job, he’s a consummate collaborator, and I was thrilled that we’d be working together again on Identity Crisis – albeit mostly at long distance via e-mail and phone because I couldn’t take time from my day job to attend rehearsals.

All shows have their moments (or periods) of crisis before everything somehow magically comes together (or not, as the case may be.) But Identity Crisis endured one quite unexpected bump in the road: the weather. Accustomed to the balmy low 50’s this time of year, Greenville got clobbered with a freak snow and ice storm five days before we opened. Cast and crew couldn’t get their cars out. The streets of Greenville were ice-rinks. Two precious days of rehearsal – in production week – were lost.

Thomas Azar (left) as Alan and Jason Farr as Frankie in a scene from Centre Stage Theatre production of Identity Crisis. (Photo: Wofford Jones).

Thomas Azar (left) as Alan and Jason Farr as Frankie in a scene from the Centre Stage production of IDENTITY CRISIS. (Photo: Wofford Jones)

Still, the show must go on, and it did. We had a stellar cast, a great stage crew, and under Peter Saputo’s skillful and creative direction, Identity Crisis came to life with brio. We had only one published review – the winter storm’s aftermath kept other critics away – but it was positive (“a clever, funny script… a great way to get out of the cold and warm up with some laughs.”) And clearly word-of-mouth helped build the box office: almost 900 people saw the show, and the last of the seven performances was the best attended (190). Not too shabby for a brand new play by an author with next to no name recognition. All in all, it was a very satisfying experience. And once again, the Centre Stage folks excelled with their kind hospitality. They respect playwrights and they treat you right.

So what’s next for Identity Crisis? I’d love to get it done in my hometown, obviously. But it’s tough. Yes, there’s a burgeoning new play culture in Boston, and a number of theatres, large and small, mainstream and fringe, produce at least some new work. By my calculation, these include (in alphabetical order): the Actors Shakespeare Project, American Repertory Theatre, Another Country Productions, Apollinaire Theatre, Boston Actors Theater, Boston Playwrights Theatre, Central Square Theatre, Centastage, Company One, Huntington Theatre, New Repertory Theatre, The Orfeo Group, and Whistler in the Dark. And in recent years, some established companies have made institutional commitments to nurture local playwrights and new work; for example, the Huntington has a Playwriting Fellows program and a “Breaking Ground” reading series. Meanwhile, seasoned and budding playwrights alike continue to have opportunities to hone their craft through long-running writing groups, such as Playwrights’ Platform, and Write On!, sponsored by Centastage.

Still, when it comes to getting an actual production of a full-length play, the odds are long for “emerging” playwrights anywhere. (Funny phrase, that: “emerging” from what? Obscurity? A cocoon? The purgatory of cliché?). This is partly due, of course, to economic pressures – larger professional theatres simply can’t afford to take too many risks. They need to stage the tried and true, plays by a “name” author, or new plays that at least have the imprimatur of a rave New York review, in order to put butts in seats and pay their bills. Smaller companies on shoestring budgets have more freedom to be adventurous. But even those dedicated to producing few plays can be tough nuts to crack. Why? Because so many playwrights are writing plays – albeit of varying quality and stage-readiness – and there are relatively few production opportunities.

These and other perennial challenges of bringing new work from page to stage will doubtless get an airing at the upcoming Boston Theatre Conference 2011 February 27-28 at the Paramount Theatre in Boston. The theme of this year’s conference is “Home Grown” and the breakout sessions include one on “Supporting New Works by Local Writers.”

Nationally, the Dramatists Guild – of which I’m a proud member – is holding its first national gathering in its 100-year history: Playwrights in Mind: A National Conversation, June 9-12 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. The stated purpose of the conference, which will feature nuts-and-bolts workshops, legal and business seminars, and other activities, is to “celebrate our community and ask the questions we need to answer about our careers and our craft in order to go forward in the years ahead.”

The ongoing debate about new plays and new play development was given increased visibility and more focused attention at a recent conference at the American Voices New Play Institute. A project of Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., the Institute is part of a major new Arena initiative to nurture and support playwrights and new American plays. It includes a pioneering online project, the New Play Map, in which theaters around the country can log onto a database and enter production histories for new plays, details about the writers, and other information. Writers can also add their own personal data to the map. The New Play Map is seen as the first step to fully illuminating the infrastructure of new play development in the U.S. That, in turn, it is hoped, will spur new ideas and collaborative opportunities for the cultivation of new plays.

What might the “map” look like locally? Pat Gabridge, a fellow Boston playwright, has done some revealing research on the staging of new plays in our region. Surveying the Boston theater scene, Pat looked at how many world premieres or “fairly new” plays were produced by 10 large and medium-sized theatres in Boston this season. Out of more than 50 productions, he counted 11 world premieres. Six of those were by local writers; of those six, four were not associated with Boston University (which produces only the new work of BU alums.) While he was cautious about drawing conclusions from these numbers, Pat wrote: “Most Boston playwrights aren’t getting chances here at home to fully develop their work, and to learn by seeing how those plays succeed or fail in front of audiences.” You can read more about Pat’s research – he also surveyed new play productions for Massachusetts as a whole, as well as for other New England states – on his blog.

Given these long odds locally, Massachusetts playwrights have to cast their nets far and wide. (One of my short plays had three productions in Australia and one in Singapore last year!). Like other playwrights, I’ll keep doing whatever I can to promote my work: build relationships with other theatre artists; enter contests; query theatres where it seems like a particular play of mine might be a good fit.

While this can be frustratingly time-consuming – every hour you spend sending out query letters and script samples is an hour you’re not writing – it’s a chore that doesn’t have to be lonely. I’m one of more than 600 playwrights who subscribe to the Playwright Binge listserv (started and managed by our own Pat Gabridge, as it happens) that is dedicated to helping each other do what writers are notoriously poor at doing: marketing our work. We share submission opportunities, offer practical advice, applaud each other’s successes, commiserate about poor treatment from producers, and in general provide mutual encouragement and support for getting our work out there into the world and onto stages.

When you’re engaged in an isolated labor of love in which the only certainty is regular rejection, it’s great to have a supportive community.

IDENTITY CRISIS by Peter Snoad will receive a staged reading at 8 PM on Saturday, February 26 at Stageworks/Hudson in Hudson, NY.

Peter Snoad (Playwriting Fellow ’09) writes his stuff in Jamaica Plain. For more information about his work, go to: www.petersnoad.com.

Images: Peter Snoad; poster for GUIDED TOUR, a play by Peter Snoad, performed by Centre Stage; Thomas Azar (left) as Alan and Jason Farr as Frankie in a scene from Centre Stage’s production of Identity Crisis. (Photo: Wofford Jones).


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