Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Playwrights' Playlist: Gordon Dahlquist

Gordon Dahlquist
Playwrights: What are you listening to?  We posed this question to those in our Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and here is what Gordon Dahlquist has to share with us.

"It doesn't have any specific connection to Tea Party, but I always listen to the same things over and over anyway, when I write." - Gordon

Monday, July 23, 2012

Playwrights' Playlist: Christopher Chen

Chris Chen
BAPF 35 Week 1 was great, an awesome slew of the best new plays on the underground that will surely impress their way to the mainstream of the new play world.  Riding the wave of inspiration form all of the plays that came crashing over us, we had an idea: "What are these playwright geniuses listening to while they write, and will that inspiration help us write? Right?!"

So here goes, our first, of many, Playwrights' Playlists for the blog. Each week we will ask a new playwright: What are you listening to?

Kicking off our new experiment is Christopher Chen, writer of The Hundred Flowers Project, with a few inspiring songs in his music library.  A few of the songs are directly related with his most recent work such as From the Air which Chris "appropriated and altered a lyric from for the play."


Did this help you write? Did this inspire you? Did this make you wish Music had never been a thing? Share your thoughts with us!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Living a Metaphor

by Aaron Loeb
Aaron Loeb
Playwright, Ideation 

This is an absolutely true story.

At the Playwrights Foundation BAPF retreat with my director, dramaturg and designer we decide to go for a walk and discuss the play.

The play is a twisty little set of passages. The management consultants it centers around have just gotten back to the office from Crete. They’ve left one labyrinth for another.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hell of a Way to Start

by Aditi Kapil
Aditi Kapil

It's Wednesday morning in San Francisco.

Excited to meet all the artists, sink into focus, write a lot.

Tomorrow afternoon it’ll be my turn to read my entire play, beginning to end, for the group [at BAPF retreat]. That’ll teach me to write an hour and a half of relentless comedy. My abstract compassion for the actor who has to sustain this role over a performance will no longer be so abstract.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My "First Love" Play

By Jonathan Spector
Director, Tea Party

I have been supervising the play selection for BAPF, on and off (under various titles), for the last six years.  My favorite moment in the process is invariably the first time each year that I read a play I fall in love with.  Usually this moment comes just after reading several plays that I don’t consider strong submissions, for one reason or another, and wondering why this year’s batch don’t seem to be as strong as the previous year.  And then I open THE PLAY, and just a couple of pages in, the temperature in the room seems to change.  I’m no longer reading dialogue executed with various levels of skill. Instead, I’m in the room in the present moment, living with a playwright’s voice. This First Love moment is significant not just for whatever that play might be, but for the possibility that the same kind of excitement and joy lies in many more of the as-yet-unread plays.
This year, my first love play was Tea Party. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Erasing History: My Moment in the Mind of Mao

By Desdemona Chiang

When Marissa Wolf called a month ago to offer me "The Hundred Flowers Project," I was ecstatic. Chris Chen is a dear friend, and I am very fortunate to have been around the social fringe of his process and thinking on this script for over a year. It is a piece that he has written, workshopped, re-written, re-workshopped, re-re-written, and now (with my involvement), currently being re-re-re-written. It has been previously led by three other directors in various incarnations, each contributing a significant imprint to its past prior to landing in my hands. I knew all this coming into the process, and had no doubt that the play had an elaborate history of its own. I soon found myself inheriting a script that I did not help develop, a schedule of design workshops that were committed to prior to my coming onboard, and a cast of actors hired by another director.

And suddenly, I understood why Chairman Mao had the desire to eradicate China's political history when he came into power.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Popping the Question

By George Brant
George Brant
Playwright, Grounded 

Oh, you can fool yourself. 

Perhaps it doesn’t come up the first rehearsal, or even the second.  Perhaps you’ve distracted them with the research images you’ve brought in, or the joke on page 12, or the debate over the proper pronunciation of a word you’ve made up. But don’t kid yourself; you’ve written a one-person show, sooner or later the dreaded question will rear its head.  Maybe it’ll be the director who poses it, maybe the dramaturge, most likely the actor.  Yes, let’s say the actor playing The Pilot*. Sooner or later, she will ask it:

“So.  Who am I talking to?”


Your gut/defensive/true answer: the audience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Christopher Chen
By Christopher Chen
Playwright, The Hundred Flowers Project

The central story of The Hundred Flowers Project involves a group of Asian actors making a play about Mao Tse-Tung called The Hundred Flowers Project, and, in a surrealistic twist, the play they are working on morphs into a play about the making of the play itself. Because of this play-within-a-play structure, I’m often met- when I describe the premise to people- with responses like: “Ooo, very meta.” It’s a response tinged with benevolent irony, as if the person is saying: “Good for you, trying something out. You must be aware this play-within-a-play thing’s been done ad nauseam, and I already feel above it and won’t think it’s clever... but good for you!”