Wow, one of my plays won a prize tonight -- the "artistic merit" award! And I was just doing this for fun and as a favor.
What a blast it was. This One-Page Playoff competition was a great idea. Fifteen 1-to-3-page plays, 6 actors, 3 directors. We all see the plays for the first time less than an hour before curtain. It was insane. I was in five plays and barely had a chance to read through them all and only got to run a couple of them. But it turned out great. And the audience really enjoyed it.
Greg, the director, did a great job picking actors for this. Everyone there could do a first read really, really well. Most people would assume that all actors should be capable of picking up a script and "performing" it right away. But some can't. Some very talented actors are just terrible at it -- it's painful to watch. They stumble and skip and put the emphasis on all the wrong words and totally destroy the meaning. I'm very good at working with script in hand. Other things I probably don't do as well -- like making bold, creative choices -- but that I'm good at.
In addition to acting, I submitted two of my own. I just took a couple of the plays I've been working on and went snip-snip and found scenes that could sort of stand on their own. And as it turns out, my scene from Northern Lights, which got a reading in its entirety last fall at Chicago Dramatists, won an award. The audience votes for their top three, but I didn't place there. The Artistic Merit award is judged by the show's producers. So I guess it's a bit like the Irving Thalburg award. Still, mine was probably the most "serious" play there.
The really funny thing was, I got cast in it, so I actually performed in my own play. As the 60-year-old father! Things were so frantic the director didn't even know I had written it at first, and was wondering how I knew the pronunciation of all these Latin names for the constellations. And the audience didn't know I wrote it, since it's a blind process, until I jumped up and accepted my award.
So the whole thing was very trippy. A second scene I submitted was read in a sort of "grab-bag" competition, where they pulled it out of a folder randomly and performed it while the judges were tallying their scores for the main competition. This was from a play that I'd been struggling with, but I got really great feedback on it, which made me happy.
The whole night makes we want to go back and work on these plays some more, which I'd become a bit disenchanted with when the director I wanted couldn't do them. But there is definitely something there. Something solid to build on. So we'll incorporate that into the Summer of Rob. No pressure, just for the pleasure of perfecting them. For now.
But for tonight I will rest on my laurels. And my gift box from a place called Kiehl's, which I never heard of, but apparently is some kind of luxury maker of lotions and things. This was a Women's Theatre Alliance event, after all. So some lucky lady may get my Mango Liquid Body Cleanser and Ultra Facial Moisturizer and other stuff. Maybe from ebay.