If you don't consider yourself a writer (which I don't, despite having been paid for it as an advertising pro all my life, and having written a batch of plays), but you write periodically (which I do), you might find yourself (as I did) compelled from time to time to do almost nothing but write.
I do (at this time) consider myself an actor/director/producer, but circumstances (and perhaps some psychological need, given recent family turmoil and tragedy) have pushed me to write, almost on order.
The circumstances involved the St. Louis Fringe and its sister/host Grand Center for the Arts. The Fringe invited Midnight to do both a show in the Fringe specific, coming up in late August, and a short in their Five-Fifths (a fund-raising evening where five different theatre companies are given an assignment within a given theme, and asked to create a short piece.)
This year's Five-Fifths theme was The Brothers Grimm, and Midnight's assignment was Rumplestiltskin, easily one of the weirdest, hardest to get a handle on tale the Brothers included. Midnight partner Sarah Whitney had been aching to do something about our new President, and this one just fit the bill. From the king demanding that gold be "spun" out of straw, it was an easy leap to "fake news" being spun out of the king's rantings. I produced the script quickly, with a fairly brief rehearsal period to refine.
We were lucky in casting with the acting pro and standup comic Donna Weinsting agreeing to don (so to speak) wig and serve as our foil. The title became (T)rumplestiltskin (thanks to Carina, Sarah's daughter), and the effort became a fun evening. We enjoyed creating it, and performing it.
Right on Five-Fifths tail was Theatre Crawl, where a couple dozen theatre companies get their own space in Grand Center, and then present the same 20 minute piece 12 times over two days to different audiences. Again, with only 20 minutes and dead simple staging to fill, I took on the scripting again, working towards a two-character one-scene piece. Emily Leidenfrost, who I'd enjoyed directing in Clayton's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE had said she was interested in doing something again, so I wrote for her and me – landing on an embittered, veteran waiter trying to keep a young waitress/actress from the dangers of the restaurant business. The result was TONIGHT'S SPECIAL, and it proved a hit to our dozen audiences – amusing them, drawing them into a drama, but hopefully leavin them with a smile and a touch of hope that people can get along.
The bigger effort, and one worked on simultaneously with these short pieces was Midnight's show for The Fringe. This would be an hour show, and for two previous Fringe's Midnight was present with two great shows, very Fringe-worthy, but originally created by other playwrights. This was troublesome in two ways: one, Fringe truly should be a venue where one present's one's own creative inspirations and passions, and two, after paying rights for the shows, a company can lose one's shirt.
An old thought resurfaced – a late night, stoned, old Beatles' fan fantasy – and THE EVEREST GAME was born – a Fringe fantasy where a good old Beatles' fan runs into a genii from a bottle, and uses his wish to go back in time to try to save the world by keeping The Beatles from breaking up.
We're in the middle of rehearsal now, and having a ball (with the lads being played by women – it's always been my feeling that certain personalities, particularly of our times (like JFK and Marilyn) can't be portrayed by normal human beings. And The Beatles are like that.)
Writing these plays have been a source of deep satisfaction for me during this sometimes hellish summer. And I'm pretty sure I haven't hit bottom. A new one just began, and I'm hearing echoes of a few more down the road.
(Scripts for (T)RUMPLESTILTSKIN and TONIGHT'S SPECIAL are on this website. And soon, THE EVEREST GAME.)