San Diego Playwrights

Getting San Diego Playwrights Produced on San Diego Stages

Finding Baby a Home–An Interview with Steven Oberman

Playwright Steven Oberman

Playwright Steven Oberman

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Steven Oberman and I am a playwright living in San Marcos. My wife, Maya, and I got married this past May, and combined we have four children. My most recent writing achievement was to have my new one-act, “A Slip From Reality,” included in the 2013 Out on a Limb New Play Program this summer at Scripps Ranch Theatre. My previous playwriting credits include three locally self-produced productions: VANISHED at Swedenborg Hall in 2012; MOZU (book & lyrics) at Diversionary Theatre in 2010; and CLAIRE VOYANT at the Avo Playhouse in 2009. In addition to writing and producing plays, I spend my time investing in stocks, options and real estate. I have a BA in Management Science, and a minor in Theatre, from UCSD.

Jaysen Waller and Shane Allen in "A Slip from Reality" (Photo Credit Darren Scott)

Jaysen Waller and Shane Allen in “A Slip from Reality” (Photo Credit Darren Scott)

Connie Tewilliger and Rebecca Noland in VANISHED

Connie Terwilliger and Rebecca Noland in VANISHED (Photo Credit David Bean)

What is the birth story of your new play?

Giving birth to a play is a good analogy, especially in this case, since it took me about nine months to complete it. The play is titled THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY and it’s an adaptation of G.K. Chesterton‘s novel by the same name that was originally published in 1908. I think I got the book a few years ago at a used book sale, and when I finally got around to reading it, I was immediately impressed with the dialogue throughout, which is very clever and witty. Wanting to try an adaptation for my next playwrighting project, this novel became the perfect vehicle. Though I must admit there were many challenges I had to address, like two major chase scenes and strong religious symbolism toward the end of the book, which seemed out of place, not to mention an unsatisfying ending that leaves readers very confused. Luckily I found an annotated version of the book, complete with a few interviews and articles by Chesterton, which shed a lot of light on the subject and became my key source of research.

What are your hopes and dreams for your baby?

Okay, now the baby analogy is a bit worrisome, since my hope is that this play establishes me as a bona fide playwright in the mindset of the San Diego theatre community. If we continue to apply this analogy, that makes me one of those scary parents who try to live out their lost dreams through their children. Maybe from here on out it’s better to describe my play as a creation, rather than baby. Now, I can see where some might question how I can claim this play to be my creation if it’s an adaptation. My answer is two-fold. First, to change one media to fit another, in this case from book to stage, takes a lot of creativity for obvious reasons, including challenges I noted above, and cramming the source material into a two-hour timeframe. Luckily, there were many instances where I could pull dialogue directly from the book, so that the essence and style of the novel is more easily conveyed intact onto the stage. My other argument would be to use the notable playwright Jeffrey Hatcher as an example. His creative adaptations, like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” helped to establish him as a respected playwright and gain him national recognition.

What are you going to do to find your creation a home?

Well, now the legwork begins. My preference is for a local theatre to read the script, fall in love with it and want to produce it, not unlike every single playwright here in San Diego, I’m sure. So I’ll be submitting it around town. My second choice is for the play to be done out of town, anywhere in the country. But with no personal contacts to draw upon, my script is fated to land in piles, with hundreds of other submitted scripts, in theatres across the nation. So, to help facilitate a local production, I will be looking into the option of doing a co-production of the play with an established theatre company. By the way, my research on local theatres’ submission policies, co-production opportunities, and theatre space rental information will be shared with San Diego Playwrights and available for viewing in the next few months. My third option is to produce the play myself. Of course this is the most expensive option and after doing three self-produced plays I know first-hand that it is anything but a lucrative proposition. However, if I equate the knowledge and experience gained from producing my own play to the benefits of a year in a Theatre Graduate program at a university, the expense then becomes justified. If I go ahead and produce the play myself, my target date for production is Fall, 2014. So be on the lookout for my crowd-funding solicitation. After all, as they say, it takes a village to raise a baby (I’m back to the baby analogy), and I will appreciate all the help I can get.

Thank you Steven Oberman for sharing your story and the information you learn about getting your play produced in San Diego. Best of luck with THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY! Keep us updated!

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Connecting with 31 Plays in 31 Days and DC Playwrights

From the 31 Plays in 31 Days blog, look what DC Playwrights has accomplished in just three years:
Here is the San Diego Playwrights response:

San Diego Playwrights Respond to “DC Playwrights Scene Report and Lessons”

(Posted Aug. 27, 2013)

by Thelma Virata de Castro

Hello DC Playwrights! We hear you loud and clear!

You are the three-year-old. We are three months old. Regardless of age, I feel like we are kin.

Earlier this year I applied for a grant from the San Diego Foundation. An integral part of the application was to engage the community. The underserved, well-deserving group I chose to engage was playwrights! In order to grow, our plays must be produced. I didn’t get the grant, but I chose to go forward with my project anyway.

In June 2013 I founded San Diego Playwrights. Our goal is to get San Diego playwrights produced on local stages. We are an all-volunteer playwrights network working on joint projects. We had 7 playwrights at our first gathering. At the next we had 12. Our e-mail distribution list has now grown to 64 playwrights, plus supporters. Our participants range from community college students to an Associate Artist at The Old Globe.

Our first project was a Needs Assessment and Resources Survey. We’re using the data to prioritize future projects. Upcoming meetings include making a game plan to produce your play, survey results, playwriting exercises and getting to know producers.

We have chosen a Consensus Organizing approach to achieve our goal. Mike Eichler, also a San Diego playwright, wrote the book Consensus Organizing: Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest. Seema Sueko, Executive Artistic Director of Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company (who received a Theatre Communications Group Leadership U[niversity] One-on-One grant and mentorship with Molly Smith of Arena Stage) adapted Consensus Organizing principles for the theatre community. San Diego Playwrights wants to build a community that supports local playwrights by working with producers and audiences to satisfy mutual self-interests. To serve playwrights we plan events to connect, activate and develop. To build relationships with producers and audiences we ask what we can do to serve them.

San Diego Playwrights is exploring many questions. What is the value of producing work by local playwrights? What is the voice of San Diego? How can our local theatres represent the artists who make this city home? Can residencies and development programs for new work be made available to residents? How can public funds be used to support San Diego playwrights? We seek to include the Arts and Culture Commission and our political representatives in this conversation.

The Theatre Communications Group is coming to San Diego for its national conference in June 2014. San Diego Playwrights wants local playwrights to be included as a valuable presence in every region. By the time we turn three we’re hoping to receive great gifts like the ones that DC Playwrights helped materialize.

Thanks for sharing your story DC Playwrights! San Diego Playwrights is blowing out the candles and making many wishes.

Thelma Virata de Castro is the founder of San Diego Playwrights. She was born and raised in San Diego. She is inspired by Laura Shamas and Jennie Webb of the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative (LA FPI), Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers in Washington State and Andy Lowe, Founder and Former Artistic Director of the San Diego Asian American Repertory Theatre and Director/Producer of Chinese Pirate Productions. She drives a minivan.

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