- See more at: http://www.bloggerhow.com/2012/07/implement-open-graph-in-blogger-blogs.html#sthash.xZkXNjhB.dpuf W. Simmons & Associates: November 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Inaugural Event: WordPlay Tuesdays

Kevin Six gives his thoughts on a valuable new program for San Diego playwrights, actors and theatre lovers.

I was honored to be chosen as one of three playwrights to present work at the first WordPlay Tuesday, a collaboration between Diversionary Theatre and the Playwrights Project. Being chosen makes me feel good. The event, which should grow into something that every San Diegan who loves theatre will attend, is a place for playwrights to present work early on in its development.

So I brought something I'm working on that isn't near finished and got to see what it sounds like with actors and an audience who knew nothing about it. This is a situation as unique as a unicorn because in the world of theatre, the actors are well rehearsed and the audience has a pretty good idea of what to expect due to all the Facebook events, e-mails, preview articles and marketing material. Let's face it,very few people willingly go out to an evening of complete surprises.

The idea behind WordPlay Tuesdays -- at least for me -- is to see just how actor-proof your play is. I cannot tell you how many playwrights blame actors for their plays, that it works when the actors are rehearsed, that blah blah blah. The fact is that if someone can't pick up a script and make sense out of it in a few short minutes it will never get produced.

This is because play readers don't rehearse. The people who read your play are literary assistants, volunteers, writers themselves -- theatre people. And it is they who you have to impress; and you'll note that I didn't mention actors in this bunch.

Actor-proofing is something every good playwright should do because literary people are not good actors. If they were, they would be out acting instead of reading your play. The point being that if it's good, anyone -- regardless of training -- can make sense out of it. So I have a little work to do because some of the readers (playwrights, administrators and trained actors among them) had trouble making sense out of my ten minutes.

I didn't blame them. I also didn't rehearse them; I wanted to see how it read cold. And, thanks to the Playwrights Project and Diversionary Theatre, I got a a pretty good real-life sampling of the kinds of people looking at my play for the first time.

As this program gains in popularity, more professional actors will be enlisted -- either by playwrights who want ringers or because it's just good, free, training for actors. But I was thoroughly satisfied.

Thanks to all who made this happen, especially Cecilia, Derek, Olivia and Heather!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why I like this hat

I like this hat. It looks good one me, it has a cool graphic and nice colors.  I also connects me with 1 billion like-minded people and, while I like to stand out in the crowd, we need to stand together on some things.

Like violence against women.  Do you know anyone who's for that?  What about rape?  Anyone for that?  No?  Then stand with me.

On Feb. 14, 2013 I am joining One Billion Rising -- a global uprising to bring to light something that is not fun to talk about but that every person in the world would say he/she is against.  And you don't even have to get the hat.

If you want more information, visit: 1BillionRisingSD.com or OneBillionRising.org

If you want the hat, visit www.cafepress.com/onebillionrisingsd

Monday, November 5, 2012

Half Baked Theatre

Opinion by Kevin Six

I have been acting since 1977, writing plays since 1990 and directing since 2000, so I like to think I know a few things about how theatre should be produced.  As for new work, I have recently learned that very few people can do it alone. So now I want to talk about what I think is the best way to bring new work to the public.

Theatre, by its very nature, is collaborative so why should the development of the work be otherwise?  Every playwright needs a person he/she can trust to say things no one else can say.  Namely, rewrite this, cut that, don't put this before an audience yet. And the audience should be brought in much earlier -- more on that later.

Playwrights need a trusted adviser because they tend to read more into their writing than anyone else does.  They look at it minutely, get overly attached to things, and sometimes don't  think enough about what other people think.  When other people share what they think, the playwright might think they 're unqualified -- after all, no one but the playwright sweated through the creative process.
What if directors, dramaturgs, actors and even audience members shared some of the load?  The playwright, who understands he/she makes the final decision on what stays in and what is cut, also gets all the credit and a fair share of the money.  The people who take most of the risk -- and reap most of the reward -- the producers -- should help keep the process more collaborative earlier and more often.

And now audiences.  Audiences are specialists in: what they saw, understood (or not) and  how it felt.  This is why they need to be included early and often during the development of new work.  No one is served by a playwright stubbornly holding on to something that doesn't work.  Conversely, playwrights, directors, dramaturgs, actors -- and audiences -- should be given enough time with these things to see if they work.

The early model was easy: get famous, get a commission, put it up and let the audience decide.  Later, producers developed reading committees who funneled worthy plays to artistic leaders.  Later still, there were play development workshops that drew the process out longer. The problem with this process is that it is not as cost effective as producing a flop.  A regional theatre with a healthy subscriber base and a good marketing department can still make pretty good money on a show nobody likes.

We see this all the time in San Diego.

I think that the process should be longer, but not too long, and that producers can and should negotiate watchability into contracts for new work. It makes sense for playwrights and producers to part company -- amicably -- over differences of opinion or if plays don't work.  Producers, who are responsible to audiences, should be able to get out early if early audiences can't make sense of something.  Is there a way to make it pay -- or at least not lose money?

I have always believed that audiences are given either too much or not enough credit but rarely asked what they think.  Audiences should be able to vote with their voices and ticket purchases early and often and the financial risk should start low.  Seeing and speaking at a low-cost staged reading; watching and commenting on a moderately-priced workshop; and, finally, paying full price for a full production.  Or not if a plays don't get there.

In this model, several plays won't get there but the playwrights, producers and audiences actually feel good about the process and want to do it again. If the risks are small and they are rewarded with eventual good work, audiences will take the plunge along with playwrights, actors, producers and dramaturges.  And they can feel, rightly, that they helped to develop new work.

That is why I will produce new theatre like this for as long as I can.