Summer 2 Begins

July 1st, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

I have been the world’s worst blogger lately. The summer schedule is just so busy and I haven’t had time to think. So, Summer 1 ended last week… yay! Not that I didn’t like reading all the Pulitzer Prize plays and enjoy everyone in my class, but it’s nice to be that much closer to finishing my MFA. We had the second paper due last Wednesday, which was also the last day of class. I can’t believe I used to churn out ten-page papers on a much more regular basis. As much as dealing with the writer’s block and endless frustration was killing me during my playwriting workshops, I would much rather write a play than an academic paper. Which I guess makes sense, since I went the creative writing MFA rather than the English PhD route. Anyway, we spent the last class discussing Sam Shepherd’s Buried Child, which I’d read at Holy Cross for a Steve Vineberg class (it must’ve been American Drama) years ago. I’d forgotten how crazy that play is and how much I love it for that.

Last weekend, following the end of Summer 1, which was also the final class of the degree for a few of my lucky classmates, my classmate Deirdre invited all of us up to her summer house on a lake in New Hampshire. My classmate Terry couldn’t make it because she was making preparations to fly to Rome for her Global Fellowship (sooo awesome!), and my classmates Emily and John were busy, but Anna, Walt, Genevieve, and I headed up to the lake along with Anna and Walt’s significant others and Anna’s adorable little dog Bandit. Add us to Deirdre, her husband, their two daughters, and a big bunny, and it was a decent crowd. It was such a fun weekend, especially after the difficult week I’d just had. We swam in the lake, jumped off their rope swing, hung out in their outdoor jacuzzi, and canoed and kayaked all around the lake. Saturday night was great: we ate lobster, had chocolate cake and wine at sunset on their boat, and roasted marshmallows (and had some more wine) around a fire after that. Throw in some board games and some jumping on the trampoline with the kids, and it all adds up to one of the best weekends ever. I’ll have to upload a couple pictures once I get them off my camera.

And now I’m back in the real world, and Summer 2 has started up. There’s no little break in between summer sessions. My class this session is A Linguistic Approach to Literature, and I was honestly a little scared about what to expect. I didn’t know if on day 1 the professor would be like, “OK, here’s the phonetic alphabet, memorize it for tomorrow.” But so far, after three days, it’s been fun and I’m actually really interested in the material. Instead of phonetics (which I think is really interesting and something I’d love to learn about, just not crammed into a six-week summer course), it’s more about analyzing the grammar and word choice of different pieces of literature to see how it helps the author achieve his/her goal in the piece. Because I’m a copyeditor (and former HC Writer’s Workshop tutor of three years), I’m a total grammar nerd, so going in and obsessively analyzing word choice is second nature to me. Plus, even though it’s my first class not to directly involve theater in some way, I think it’s actually going to be applicable to my writing. On the first day, we analyzed an actual transcribed recorded conversation, and in our second class, we reviewed a brief excerpt from Harold Pinter’s play The Caretaker. Pinter’s style is very particular and would probably look really odd to someone who’s never read/seen his plays before. He’s famous for brief, clipped dialogue that’s full of theatrical pauses and silences. We talked about how dialogue for the theater, even though it’s meant to emulate real conversation, is instead a representation of real conversation. Someone like Pinter has dialogue that is a lot more stylized than a purely naturalistic writer, but everyone’s dialogue is a stylization of real speech to some degree. It’s so interesting to me to see what theatrical dialogue has in common with real-life speech and how it differs, and how different playwrights can craft their dialogue to get their themes across and tell the story they’re seeking to tell. Today or tomorrow we’ll be looking at a passage from Samuel Beckett’s play Endgame, which I was first introduced to in Ed Isser’s Modern Drama class at Holy Cross and is one of my favorite plays ever, so I’m looking forward to discussing it. As I said, I’m a total grammar nerd.

Monday at the Desk with Colleen

June 7th, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

Why can’t I ever manage to start a paper ahead of time? My first paper (of two) for my Pulitzer Prize Plays class is due Wednesday, and here I am, Monday night at almost 11:00, sitting here at my desk updating my blog instead of getting the paper done.

I’ve been so busy this past week. Memorial Day weekend was great—I got to visit my HC roommate again and ate way too much cookout food. Good times were had by all. Days off are a good thing. But then I had to head back to Somerville and read two August Wilson plays (Fences and The Piano Lesson) for Wednesday’s class. And then our make-up class for Monday’s holiday was on Friday, so I had to read Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles for that class. I think that play has overall been the class’s least favorite out of what we’ve read so far (in addition to the ones I just mentioned and the ones I talked about in my previous entry, we’ve also read Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers).

I have a ton of work this week, so Friday night I made myself get work done and read Driving Miss Daisy (which I had no idea started off as a play). Then on Saturday I went to my aunt’s house because we were having a birthday party for my grandmother, who is 76. I brought my copy of Sunday in the Park with George, one of the few musicals to win the Pulitzer, with me and managed to read half of it despite all the younger cousins running around. I thought I’d have all day Sunday to work, but I ended up going to my cousin Will’s high school graduation that afternoon. It was very weird to think that it was ten whole years ago that I was the one who was graduating high school.

I got the rest of Sunday in the Park read last night. Did I mention how odd and difficult it is to read just the text of a musical, especially a Stephen Sondheim musical? Luckily, I had seen the taped performance of this show in a Dramatic Lit class in high school, and I had a general memory of the show and some of the songs, so it was much easier for me to read the play than it was for some of the other students in class who’d had no previous exposure to it. It’s a really cool play about the pointillist painter Georges Seurat and his work A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Sondheim tried to reflect pointillism in the music too, so that, for example, the melody line is composed of different notes from different instruments rather than one continuous instrument, and the set and characters literally come together to form the painting by the end of Act 1.

Anyway. That was quite enough nerd-moment for one entry I think. And now I’m here, on Monday night, putting off writing my paper. We have to write about a play not on our syllabus by an author who is on the syllabus, so I’m doing Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love, which we read in class last semester but didn’t talk in depth about at all. We’ll be reading Shepard’s Buried Child for the last class of the semester. I’m going to be writing nonstop after work on Tuesday to get it done. I’ll miss the season finale of Glee and a Celtics game, but that is what DVR is for.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

May 24th, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

Wow, I’ve neglected my blog lately. I’m sorry. I left off during the week of my classmates’ staged readings. Classes ended the following week. I handed in the rest of my Scenes from an Office evening of theater project during my final Tuesday class. Getting that project put together was rough between working and running to the theater to see staged readings every night. Somehow it all managed to get done though. And in our final Thursday class, our professor invited playwright Lydia Diamond to visit our class and talk to us. Her latest project, Stick Fly, was at the Huntington this year, and I had really wanted to see it, but all of the performances sold out, which is uncommon and speaks volumes about how good the play must be. We talked about “the business” and where to go from here now that we’re done with the workshop portion of our degrees. It was really great to meet her. After our discussion, we all went out for lunch, and then I was officially done with my playwriting workshops and on “summer vacation.”

Summer vacation was about a week and a half long. I did exciting things like getting caught up on vacuuming and laundry that I’d neglected during the final push toward the end of the semester. And I had a dentist appointment. Fun stuff. I also got to work normal-person 9–5 hours that week instead of the crazy schedule I had been working. The highlight of my all-too-brief vacation was getting to see some friends who moved across the country after college. I only get to see them a couple times a year. Luckily it worked out perfectly that their visit here coincided with my little break from school.

And now I’m back in school again. I have three electives left to finish my degree. The one I’m in now, which I’ve mentioned before, is Pulitzer Prize-Winning Plays 1979–1993. We’re working in reverse chronological order, so for our first class we had to read Millennium Approaches, part one of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, which won in 1993. We aren’t reading part two (Perestroika) in class, but after reading part one I really want to try to find time to read part two on my own. Both parts are long full-length plays in and of themselves, and a performance of both pieces would probably run over six hours. Our reading for Monday is similarly long—the 1992 winner The Kentucky Cycle by Robert Schenkkan. It’s a series of nine one-act plays that chronicle the lives of three interrelated eastern Kentucky families over 200 years of American history. The good thing is that these are two of the longest readings we’ll have and we’re getting them done first.

We’ve only met once so far, but I think it’s going to be a good class. Five out of my seven playwriting classmates are in it (one person is already done with the entire degree and another just got married and is on her honeymoon), and almost everyone else in the class is in the MFA fiction class. There are one or two upperclassman undergrads since it’s a 500-level class, and one girl from the MFA stage management program. I’ve only read/seen a couple plays on our reading list, so I’m looking forward to finally reading the rest of them. Reading more modern plays like this will help me with my own writing. So it’s a good way to get myself back into academic classes after a year of workshop classes.

Staged Readings Week

April 30th, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

It’s been a crazy week. Not only were the readings of my classmates running every night, but classes are also winding down, which as every college student knows means that there are final projects all over the place. I know I’m only in two classes, but when you add a full-time job on top of that, craziness abounds.

My reading last week went really well. My director was wonderful and enthusiastic about the play, and the cast was absolutely spot-on; to the point where if it were ever produced I’d love to see those exact actors in the roles. The audience was full of familiar faces—my classmates and family, some coworkers and friends, and my friend and fellow HC alum Christine Radice ’95, whom I met one summer in college when I worked at her company and discovered that she was an HC grad. But there were also people I didn’t know there, which was really cool because it was the first time ever that total strangers heard my work. I got some helpful feedback from the talkback session, as well as a lot of positive comments. I was so nervous, but it was a really good night. I’ve gotten so much more comfortable with hearing my work read out loud over the years. When my undergrad thesis had a staged reading at Holy Cross, I was shaking the entire time and had to keep fighting the urge to block my ears because hearing my words out loud was so scary and painful. But last week, I was actually able to settle in and enjoy the actors’ performances instead of obsessing over every word. It’s still not easy to hear my work performed, but I’ve at least become a lot more used to it.

The article based on the interview I mentioned previously also came out in the Somerville News this past week. It took me a good two or three days after receiving the link to feel brave enough to click on it and read it. It was such a nice article though. I’m going to have to pick up the print issue and save it. It’s the first time I made one of the local papers for something other than the Somerville Recreation activities I used to take part in as a kid or making the honor roll in high school.

I’ve been going to my classmates’ readings every night this week. The final one is tonight. I’ve really been impressed by every one of them, even though it’s all been work I’ve seen in progress throughout the year. The plays have all really come together in these latest revisions. I’ve just been a little worn out from going into the theater every night (even though it’s definitely worth it). Tuesday was a particularly long day. Class met for an extra-long time (12–6) and then my classmate Genevieve’s reading was at 7:00. Our class was so long because we started performing the one-acts from everyone’s “evening of theater” final project. The one-acts range from about a half-hour to an hour, so performing and then discussing all of them will take awhile. My evening of theater revolves around the “scenes from an office” theme I mentioned in an earlier entry. I decided to use my ten-minute play about the disgruntled Disney employee, and so far I’ve also written a short one-act (currently 25 minutes, but once I revise it will be more like 30–40) that’s also a crazy comedy about the minutia of office life. I have three more ten-minute plays to write by Monday, so I’ll be busy this weekend. Tuesday we ended up getting through two one-hour plays and then my office play. We’re meeting next Monday instead of Tuesday from 12–6 to go through the remaining final projects, and then I’m going to the reading that night too because the play is written by someone from last year’s playwriting class. So I’ll have a lot of writing to do this weekend followed by another marathon day at the theater on Monday. But the semester is almost over, and then I’ll have a couple weeks of a much more normal schedule before summer classes start. Right now, I’m just looking forward to the fact that tomorrow is Saturday and I don’t have to wake up and start work at 8 in the morning.

Reading Day

April 23rd, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

My reading is tonight! I gave myself a headache from worrying so much about it. But I tried to relax as much as possible yesterday. Thursday’s class was cancelled because BU was running on a Monday schedule—they get Patriots’ Day off because they’re right in Red Sox/marathon territory, and since there’s so many Monday holidays, they rotate which day of the week gets a Monday schedule to make up for it. So I worked a half day yesterday and then ended up going out for a late lunch at Friendly’s with my mother, who’s a teacher and home this week on April vacation. But the headache still kicked in last night and hasn’t faded yet.

I met with my director after class on Tuesday. We talked for over an hour, and he had a lot of great ideas and seemed really excited about working on the play. Then my final “reading draft” of the play was due on Wednesday so that copies could be printed and given to the actors, so I did some last-minute revisions on Tuesday night. In just a few hours, I’ll be heading into my theater for some all-day fun with my play. From 1:30–3:00, it’s just me and my director having one more meeting to go over everything and get ourselves on the same page before the actors come in. Then the actors will arrive at 3:00, and we have a three-hour rehearsal before the reading. The director wants to have them read through the script once and read through at least some of it with some basic movement and blocking. Then the reading itself begins at 7:00, and I have a talkback with the audience afterwards. They’ll get to share their opinions on the show with me, and I’ll get to ask them questions about how they felt about certain parts too. The reading should help me figure out how to revise for the next draft.

Yes, that means this is (hopefully!) not the end of the line for this play. It is my MFA thesis, but the first reading is really just another step in the revision process. Thinking of it that way, knowing it doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect tonight, helps me not to be as stressed. I have to think of tonight as a revision and learning opportunity rather than as the night that my play has to be perfect because people will see it. My director thinks it is in great shape for a first reading, so I am excited amid all the nerves.

playwrights_theatreI took a picture of the front of the theater advertising our Ground Floor Reading Series. My play is kicking off the series, and the first week is the readings of the thesis plays of all my classmates. The second week is staged readings by local playwrights, including an alum of the program from last year. So I’ll be spending a lot of time at the theater in the coming days. But I’ll make sure to write again after my reading and tell all of you how it went. For now, it’s time to shut down my computer and try to get my headache to subside before I leave for the theater.

A Director and an Interview

April 16th, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

My staged reading is now seven days away. It all came up on me so fast. I have to send in a final “reading draft” to the theater by Wednesday, and then next Friday night I’ll be sitting in the back of the audience trying not to have a meltdown as my play is read aloud in front of people other than my classmates for the very first time.

I got my director a few days ago! I’m paired up with Ben Evett, who is the founding artistic director of the Actors’ Shakespeare Project in Boston. I’m really excited to work with him. And my reading is on Shakespeare’s birthday too, so it’s fitting in that sense (yes, I’m a nerd who knows when Shakespeare’s birthday is). I sent the director my script last night, but I still need to make revisions. Yesterday was my final workshop of the piece, and I brought in the ending and an earlier scene that I had reworked to remove a blackout between it and the previous scene. The workshop was so helpful. My professor let the actors improvise in one of the new parts I’d added, asking them to make it sound more like sibling teasing rather than a regular conversation, and it was great. I hadn’t wanted the scene to sound too sentimental, and they gave me some great ideas for tweaking it. I also feel like I know now what needs to happen to the ending. I had been so lost, and I finally was able to see all the signs in the rest of the script pointing me to one place where the main character needs to go. Now I just need to write that part. Easier said than done, yes, but at least I feel like I have a roadmap of sorts now.

I also got a really exciting email earlier this week. The arts director for the Somerville News (one of our local papers) wants to interview me about my play and my reading because of the connections it has to the city (it takes place in Somerville, it’s about a Somerville family, and Somerville is also where I grew up). I’m going to meet with him on Saturday morning. I’m nervous. But it would be awesome if the interview brings in a few more people to my reading.

All of this news doesn’t even begin to illustrate how busy this week was. Last weekend was spent putting together my presentation about Samuel Beckett for Tuesday’s class and working on revisions to my play alongside it. I couldn’t sleep well Monday night, and I feel like I froze up at the start of my presentation on Tuesday and had a few moments of panic before I settled into it. The presentation led to a good class discussion though. One thing about Beckett is that he was highly protective of his work, so his estate won’t allow his plays to be produced if they deviate too much from the stage directions as they are written (if a director wants to modernize the setting, for example). This led to a spirited discussion about the collaborative nature of theater and whether it is right or wrong to exert so much control over the script.

I was also beyond busy at work this week. Our upcoming issue of the journal I work on was due at the printer on Thursday (which was also the day of my workshop, so my revisions had to be done by then too). Somehow I managed to copyedit like crazy during the day and still have the energy to work on my play at night after work. I have another rough week ahead of me leading up to Friday’s reading, and then the entire week following Friday will be busy because I’ll be going to the theater every night to cheer on my classmates as their readings go up. I’ll try to blog again before my reading if I can manage coherent thoughts amid the flurry of nerves.

A Brief Taste of Summer (and My Summer Schedule)

April 9th, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

I have Full House on the background while I’m writing this. If you read my earlier entry where I also mentioned the Tanner clan, you’d know that this means I am once again completely stressed out and am avoiding thinking about my play. My staged reading is two weeks from today. Yeah. I typed that sentence and then just stared at it for a few seconds and let it sink in.

Class was cancelled on Thursday, which was supposed to be the day of my final workshop for my full-length. On Thursday and Friday, our theater was hosting the Young Playwrights Festival, which is a really fun program they do for high school students. The theater sends local playwrights to hold writing workshops at various high schools in Greater Boston, and then this week the students got to come to our theater and see their works performed by local actors. My cousin had a play in the festival on Thursday. Our class was cancelled because all of our usual actors who come in and read for us were working at the festival. So my final workshop is going to be next Thursday. The good part of getting my workshop pushed back a week is that it gave me the opportunity to get dinner with one of my friends on Wednesday night. It had hit 90 degrees in Boston that day and I really wanted to be able to get outside and take advantage of summer-in-April. We went to Redbones, a barbecue restaurant in Davis Square, Somerville, a short walk from where I grew up. I know I probably should have stayed home and done some writing, but I knew the warm weather wasn’t going to last, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to experience it.

And I also this week realized once and for all that it is not humanly possible for me to graduate in September. I think I mentioned before that I’d have to take three classes this summer in order to do that, and I had been holding out on finalizing my schedule until I heard whether one of the theater professors was going to be offering a class. She ended up not offering it, so that left three potential classes to take during the first summer session. Two of them have overlapping times. So basically if I wanted to take two courses that session, I’d have to be in class from 2:00–5:30 Monday through Thursday, plus I’d have an hour-long commute each way. This would involve working until about 9:30 at night after class and then beginning my homework after that. I don’t think I can handle that. So I’ll just be taking one class in the first summer session. And there’s only one English class available in the second summer session. That one meets every day from 12:30–2:00, meaning that I’d have to start work at 7:30 a.m. before class every day and then work again from 3:00–6:00 after class each day, but I’m going to have to deal with that. At least it’s only for about six weeks. I’ll have to take my third and final elective in the fall. My top three choices are American Drama, Beckett and Irish Modernism, and then a Dramaturgy class over at the College of Fine Arts. Right now I’m leaning toward Beckett, but I’m not 100% sure yet.

Oh! Have I mentioned the postcard I got from the Holy Cross Theatre Department? The spring show Phoolan Devi: The Bandit Queen, composed by music professor Shirish Korde and directed by theatre professor Lynn Kremer, is coming to the Tsai Performance Center at BU after the Holy Cross performances. Unfortunately, it will be at BU April 23, which is the night of my reading, and April 24, which is the night of my classmate Anna’s reading. So I won’t be able to take advantage of the “Holy Cross comes to BU” experience.

I think I’m going to try to see my professor’s new play From Orchids to Octopi this weekend. It’s at the same theater where I recently saw the show written by a BU grad from last year. It only runs through May 2, so there’s never really going to be an ideal work-free time to see the show, and I figure I might as well go sooner rather than later. This weekend will be a rough one though. My presentation on Beckett is due this Tuesday, and I of course have my final workshop this Thursday. Fun times ahead.

A Workshop Visitor

April 2nd, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

Last week when I was writing my blog it was snowing. This week, it’s sunny and warm and going to get into the 60s (and possibly going to reach 80 this weekend). And in between that we had another round of flood-level rains. This is why I hate March and April. And also because it’s a really busy time of year. My next (and last!) workshop day for my full-length is next week. We don’t have enough class periods left before our readings to go through another rotation of workshops, so this is my last chance to hear anything out loud before the reading. I can still email things to my professor and get feedback that way, but I want to take advantage of this last workshop to hear some troublesome spots out loud.

At work, I had one more 2009 “carryover” vacation day that had to be used by the end of March, so on Wednesday (the 31st), I decided to use it and take the day off as a “writing day.” It was nice to spend some normally unavailable time with my script. Unfortunately, most of that time was spent reading over what I already have and then wracking my brain over how to fix the ending. I need to figure out what changes in each of the characters in the scene before the ending and what they’ve learned. It’s been so frustrating. There were times Wednesday when I just wanted to take what I’d written, write in “and then their house burns down. Blackout. End of play” and have that be the end of it. Obviously, that’s not going to work. And I’d never actually do that. I just have to keep pushing through it until I get somewhere. Seeing my classmates go through their last workshop sessions has been encouraging because I can see how far they’ve been able to come since their previous workshop and know that I can get to that level with mine.

My Thursday class this week had a special guest—my brother Connor! He’s a sophomore at Stonehill, and he’s the only one out of my three brothers who shares my interest in writing. He came home on Wednesday for Easter break, so I asked my professor and the two classmates whose plays were being workshopped if would be OK if he sat in on class. He seemed to really enjoy it. It was a good class for him to visit because he got to see a workshop of a nearly finished piece and then a workshop of a brand-new piece. One classmate brought in three different scenes from her full-length that she’s been working on all year, so at this point she’s focusing on fine-tuning the details and getting really in-depth with the relationship between the two characters these scenes focus on. I didn’t have a chance to tell Connor in advance that those scenes had already been through several rounds of revision, so at first he was a little intimidated thinking that we came in on day 1 with work that was that polished and then got really intense levels of feedback. My other classmate brought in the second act of a new play that was being read aloud for the first time, so then Connor got to experience what a workshop on brand-new material is like and how the feedback differs when something is just starting to be developed. With new work, there’s a lot more general comments about things like “did you buy this concept?” or “was this character working for you?” Once something is at the stage (ha) where it’s been revised and revised again, the feedback is more about dissecting the individual beats of a scene and tightening everything up.

So, I have a busy week ahead of me in preparation for my workshop next Thursday. I have to get the ending revised. Rest assured that there will be no burning down of the characters’ house. I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful Easter weekend. And if any new prospective students happen to see this, congrats on your acceptance! And good luck as you reach your final decisions. It seriously feels like I just went through that process myself—it’s hard to believe it was ten years ago. Wow, that makes me feel old.

Scenes from an Office

March 26th, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

I was so sick earlier this week. My brother’s cookout on Saturday was fun, but by late-night Sunday I was really sick with some sort of stomach virus. I ended up having to take both Monday and Tuesday off from work. You know it’s bad when you work from home and still feel the need to call in sick because merely turning on the laptop and working from bed is too difficult. I only work a half day on Tuesday though, so it wasn’t as bad as missing two full days. And I did manage to drag myself into class on Tuesday. I felt much better by Wednesday, but my schedule was all thrown off by getting sick and I’m still trying to recover. I didn’t get my writing assignment for Tuesday’s class done, because I had been planning to do it Sunday night and after work Monday, which of course never happened. So now I have to get that plus the new writing assignment done for next week. And I need to keep revising my full-length play.

And now we’re here, a Friday morning in late March, and it’s snowing as I write this (actually, the snow appears to be winding down). I know that snow in late March is hardly uncommon around here—I remember in 1997 when I was a freshman in high school we had a blizzard on April 1 and school was cancelled—but it’s always so disappointing to think that a week ago you were wearing short-sleeves and flip-flops to a cookout and then today it’s back to the winter hat and mittens. On a normal Friday, I’d just be curled up in my room working from 8–6, but today I’m only working from 8–2. I’m taking a half day because we have another “skills lab” at school, which is when we get to meet with the MFA directors and BFA (that would be “bachelor of fine arts”) actors at BU’s College of Fine Arts (CFA). I think I talked about this in an earlier blog when we did our last one.

I always love meeting with the CFA actors and directors. I think this afternoon, if I manage to get a revision done after work but before I have to leave the house, I want to bring in that crazy short play I wrote earlier in the semester that involved a boss and his employee at Disney—it was written for my “overheard conversation” exercise. I think I want it to be part of my “evening of theater” final project for my Tuesday class that I mentioned last week, so I want to fix the ending a little. I think for that project, I’m going to try to do a one-act and a few ten-minute plays that all take place in an office. Some will be comedy, some might not be comedy, and they will each examine different types of office experiences.

…And now it’s a few hours later, and I’m back from the skills lab. It was a lot of fun. I did bring in that Disney play with a revised ending, and the actors went all-out and had fun with the craziness of it. We all couldn’t stop laughing the entire time, which is an encouraging sign for the play. I wanted to take a video clip of the performance to post here, but we only ended up reading through the piece once, so my plan of waiting till our second read-through to record it didn’t work out so well. But I learned that the revised ending is a lot stronger and funnier. And that the section leading up to the ending of the piece is sort of circling back in on itself instead of “raising the stakes,” so I still have revisions to make. As always.

Countdown to April 23

March 19th, 2010 by Colleen Hughes '04

Some updates: One of my classmates got a ten-minute play and a one-act into the finals of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in DC. A student in last year’s class also got one of her ten-minute plays in, and another student in last year’s class won an award for his full-length play. It’s a big competition, so it’s really great that they were all recognized. And another classmate of mine got a ten-minute play into the DC Source Festival, which is also awesome. In less-than-awesome news, however, I found out that I didn’t get that global fellowship I applied for back in January. There were only two allocated to the playwriting genre, but they went to two very great people in my class, who will be headed to India and Italy. They each have a play already in the works set in their respective countries, so it’s especially good for them to get some hands-on experience there. I’m really excited for them. And don’t worry about me—I’m already plotting how I’m going to get myself to Ireland sometime soon.

I also just yesterday found out that the staged reading of my full-length play will be on April 23rd. That means that I am going first out of my class, kicking off eight days of staged readings of the work we’ve been putting together all year. The plays we present will serve as our MFA thesis projects—depending on when each of us is scheduled to graduate (once we complete the four electives), we’ll have to hand in a printed copy and have two of the faculty members sign it. What’s good is that the final copy of the thesis isn’t due until closer to the graduation deadline (I’ll hopefully finish in September), so we can use the feedback from the reading to do another round of revisions. I’m nervous about my play going first in the reading series. I won’t know what to expect because I won’t be able to see anyone else’s before mine. But in a sense, going first is nice because I can then spend the rest of my week just watching everyone else’s readings and not having the stress of my own still hanging over me. Having the date set for my reading made it all a bit more real for me. April 23rd is just over a month away. Thirty-six days actually. I need to revise like crazy to get it to where I want it to be.

You’d think that the rush of nerves I experienced last night would have led to my spending hours on revisions, but no. Instead I decided to watch the episode of Full House where DJ has a nightmare about failing her SATs and Vanna White shows up and tells her she’s going to Clown University. But I think sometimes I need a good mindless dose of Kimmy Gibbler in order to de-stress just a little. I’ll need to get some revisions done this weekend. On Saturday my brother is having a late St. Patrick’s Day celebration that will hopefully involve a cookout because it’s supposed to be sunny and warm, so I want to be able to enjoy some of that as well. He’s taking the GMAT Saturday morning, so he’s been busy studying for awhile now and missed the real St. Patrick’s Day on Wednesday. It should hopefully be fun. April’s going to be really tough (I have my reading, plus my presentation on Beckett and a book review due for my other class, and as my final for that class I need to put together an entire “evening of theater”—meaning 60+ minutes of performance, made up of one-acts or ten-minutes or any combination of the two). All of that still needs to get done somehow. And then there’s, you know, my whole “job” thing that I do 40 hours per week. But Saturday can be a fun day in advance of all of this work, or at least a part fun/part work day. And I have Seasons 1 and 3 of Full House on dvd (why am I missing Season 2? I have no idea), so when I get really stressed out over the course of this next month I’ll have to pull those out.