The Rewrite Stuff


The page above is a mess.  I crossed out every original sentence but one and replaced them with new words.  That should mean failure, right?

No, to me, that absolutely means success.  This is, I think, the fourth play I ever wrote, "The Murder of Gonzago, and this is how I rewrote a scene that I especially liked.  I gutted it and replaced it with all different stuff.  In my opinion, better stuff.  When you start writing plays, the rewriting is the hardest and least enjoyable part of the craft.  "I already wrote this perfectly.  Why do I have to change it?"  The more plays you write, though, the more you enjoy rewriting.

If playwriting is truly a craft, these are the times when you can best show your craftsman ship.  You're sanding down edges, you're shading things in, you're getting the curve of the nose of your sculpture exactly right.  You got the story and characters generally right on the first pass (hopefully), but this is the time where you show you can make them shine.  This is when you can make the world and the people in it just what you want.  You'll never get the play in your head to match exactly the one that's on the paper, but the rewrites are where you go from 70% to 90% to 99%.

That page is a mess, true, but it's the best kind of mess.

(And yes, I'm well aware that I have terrible handwriting.  But I'm a great typist!


An ad for the staged reading of

No, I'm not shilling for Gino's Pizzeria or advising you go back in time to see Richard III at Cinemapolis.  Up top is the ad for the first award I won, first place in Cornell University's Heerman-McCalmon Playwriting Contest.  Now, contests and awards should never be the reason anybody pursues an artistic endeavor, and who can judge between two pieces of art or literature and determine which one is more worthy of accolades?

But ... once in a while it's nice to get recognition.  It's great to submit a script to a theatre company that knows nothing about you, have them read it, and then get the call or email that says that they like your script enough to take it one step further (be it a staged reading, inclusion in a festival, or a full-on production).  I submitted three scripts to the Heermans-McCalmon playwriting contest that year, and I won first and second, meaning "The Murder of Gonzago" received a stage reading directed by Diane Wynter.  It was my first time seeing real, non-college actors perform my plays, and also my first time having someone else direct my work.

Having a playwriting contest right at my school (one with impressive prizes for first and second) and a terrific playwriting track run by Ron Wilson was a real gift for an aspiring playwright.  I had written four one-act plays by the time I submitted to that contest, never thinking anything would come of it.  Winning that year was a real boost for me and helped set me on this writing path.