San Diego Playwrights

Getting San Diego Playwrights Produced on San Diego Stages

SEPTEMBER AND HER SISTERS–An Interview with Out on a Limb Playwright Jenny Lane

Jenny Lane

Jenny Lane

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up just outside of Detroit, thinking I wanted to be a performer. That lasted until I got to college where I split my time fairly evenly between theatre studies and creative writing, and it was in my senior year of college that I wrote my first play. It was a total mess, and after working in theatre administration for a couple of years, I decided to go back to school to formally train in dramatic writing. So, I went to Columbia (a program headed at the time by Chuck Mee, where I got to work with such writers as Sheila Callaghan, Lucy Thurber, and Sarah Ruhl) and graduated in 2011. Then, I worked as the administrative director for the League of Professional Theatre Women for several years before making the cross-country move from New York to San Diego. Now, I teach (playwriting, fiction, and creative non-fiction), and split my time fairly evenly between playwriting and fiction writing.

So that’s been my career trajectory. Outside of all that, I am obsessed with travel, I can’t read enough books, I love all things water-related (swimming, kayaking, boating, whale watching), I play in a pool league (though not very well) and am a growing photography enthusiast (I got a Nikon D3200 last Christmas). My boyfriend and I live with our Crested Gecko, Juno, in University Heights.

For more information about me, check out my website at jennifer-lane.net.

Tell us about your play.

So, about a year ago, I caught an open mic night at Queen Bee’s in North Park. I was so inspired by the raw talent of the spoken word performers that I wrote my very first spoken word poem — the poem that is the opening of “September and Her Sisters.” The play really formed around that poem, and became an exploration of all different types of love.

What are your challenges? What are your successes?

Oh, man… Well, my biggest challenge right now is trying to balance writing for money and working on my passion projects. The majority of my income right now is from freelance and ghost writing, some of which is creative. So while it’s a fun gig, it’s difficult to strike a balance between getting that work done, and getting my own work done.

My successes… I think, really, getting to be a part of Scripps Ranch Theatre’s Out On A Limb (OoaL) festival is my biggest success in the last few months. I left a huge network in New York, where I was a part of writing groups, and having readings or workshops or productions all the time. Over the last two years, I’ve had to build my network again from scratch, and I’m just so thrilled to finally have a play going up in the city where I live. I’ve missed it a lot over the last 2 years, and I can’t wait to further build my community.* I have really loved working with everyone involved in OoaL, and hope I have the chance to work with them all again.

*To that end, if you’re a SoCal Theatre Artist and you’d like to connect, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter, or you can e-mail me at Jenny@jennifer-lane.net. I definitely want to hear from you!

What is your next step?

I’ve actually already started expanding “September and Her Sisters” from a 30-page One-Act into a full-length. So my next step is to finish that, and then beg my amazing cast to do a reading of it with me!

Outside of “September,” I have a few other upcoming projects: I’m headed to Vermont in July to work on a generative theatre piece at Bennington, I have a workshop of a new play called The Burning Brand in the fall, and I have a production of a new play called Agents of Azeroth going up in DC in the winter.

Thanks for talking with us, Jenny! Good luck with “September and Her Sisters” and Out on a Limb!

Scripps Ranch Theatre’s Out on a Limb runs July 10-12 and July 17-19. For more information and tickets visit http://www.scrippsranchtheatre.org/out-on-a-limb/.

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DRAMATISTS GUILD NATIONAL CONFERENCE COMES TO LA JOLLA THIS SUMMER

DGPostcardFront

“Writing the Changing World,” the third national conference of the Dramatists Guild, is being held in La Jolla July 16-19, 2015, at the Hilton Torrey Pines. The Dramatist Guild promises that the conference will be “a happening unlike any other.” The Guild states, “Bringing together more artists from film, television, and social platforms, we’re offering panels and workshops on storytelling for the future. Attendees will be exploring creative outlets in an ever-growing theatre community, have access to entrepreneurial marketing strategies for all creatives, and continue to map out challenging artistic paths.”

The conference will include many San Diego playwrights, some of who will lead panel discussions and present readings of their plays to attendees. The public is welcome to attend but a discount is offered to Dramatists Guild members. Admission to the conference ranges from $395 to $535 depending on when you sign up. There is a discount for students with valid I.D. Discounts for volunteers are also available through Tari Stratton, tstratton@dramatistsguild.com.

For a full schedule of each day’s events and activities, click on the link:

http://www.dramatistsguild.com/media/PDFs/ConferenceProgramming.pdf

Gary Garrison

Gary Garrison, Dramatist Guild Executive Director of Creative Affairs

We put the following questions to Gary Garrison, Executive Director of Creative Affairs at the Guild, as a way to glean some insights into the upcoming conference and how it might benefit local playwrights.

1) How does the conference title, “Writing the Changing World,” reflect the current state of affairs for playwrights, and what programs in the conference directly address this theme?

I think it’s important to recognize that no dramatist has a straight trajectory while building and shaping a career. There are often long periods of writing, with sometimes even longer periods of rejection, frustration and exasperation with little to no attention from the theatre community. What, then, can dramatists do to survive their careers? What can any of us do to keep ourselves above the poverty level, using whatever skills we have as dramatists or theatre people? One answer has become increasingly clear over the last five to ten years: we see more and more dramatists embracing film and television as a way of staying financially solvent. We also see, most often in television, network shows being helmed by playwrights.  Since a good number of our members are on the west coast, and film and television is such a prevalent industry there, why shouldn’t we make an effort to explore that industry as a source of work and commerce for playwrights, as well as understand the commonalities of craft and career? That’s why we chose the west coast as the site of our conference this year.

In terms of the conference title or theme, “Writing the Changing World,” the world is changing culturally and politically at break-neck speed — gay marriage, for example, has changed the cultural landscape of so many states in our country (California alone has been a fascinating study in the psychology of change). The legalization of pot has had a profound impact on the here and now. Banks all over the world are being indicted for bad business practices; weather is literally changing the face of our globe. As dramatists, what responsibility do we have in mirroring our current society and addressing our future? Hopefully the 2015 DG conference will answer some of those questions.

2) What special (out of the ordinary) kinds of programming are in the works for the conference?

Our conference is constructed primarily around panels, workshops and seminars. These are a few of the over 100+ events that will happen across our time there:

Audio/Radio Writing

The Playwright-Performer

The Making of Jukebox Musicals

One-on-One with Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez

Blogging as Political Activism for Theatre

Comedy Across Mediums

The Cultural Fingerprint in Writing for Television

Women Writing Women

Lisa Kron

Lisa Kron

What makes what we do particularly unique is that we have access to a number of reputable writers that sit on our Council of the Dramatists Guild, or work in collaboration with our Council members. So, for example, in the Comedy Across Mediums panel, we have Lisa Kron (Tony award winner for Fun Home this year), Dan Castellaneta and Deb Lacusta (The Simpsons), Mark Krause (cartoonist), Lisa Lampanelli (comedian), David Rambo (playwright and television writer, The Lady With All the Answers) and Michael McKeever (playwright).

3) Why San Diego (La Jolla)?

It was on the west coast, it was cheaper than any major city on the west coast — which directly translates to our members, it has a thriving theatre community, and quite frankly, where can you find a more beautiful setting?

4) Who are the keynote speakers?

John Logan (Red, I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers)

Marsha Norman (The Secret Garden, ‘night Mother, The Color Purple, Getting Out)

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (Designing Women)

Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked, Pippin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Conference attendees include members of the San Diego Playwrights network who will lead panel discussions and present readings of their plays. On Thursday, July 16 at 3:00 p.m., Patrice Cassedy will lead a panel on Writing From History: Finding Your Niche (and Passion), featuring Aleta Barthell, Thelma Virata de Castro and Anita Simons. At 4:00 p.m., de Castro will speak about Building Community: How to Get Produced in Your Own City. Cassedy, Simons and Steven Oberman will complete the panel.

On Thursday, July 16 at 8:00 p.m., in the “After Hours” portion of the conference, Cassedy will present White Playwright/Black Story, which will include a reading by San Diego actors Monique Gaffney and Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson of a scene from her off off-Broadway play Detroit Blues, followed by a discussion that explores the question: Can we tell each other’s stories? On Friday, July 17 at 9:00 p.m., Oberman will present Vanished: Taking it to the Fringe, which will include a reading from his interactive show “Vanished,” and a discussion of the process of producing it for the upcoming San Diego International Fringe Festival.  

Hope to see a bunch of you at the conference. Let’s welcome our fellow playwrights with open arms!

For more information about the Dramatist Guild and National Conference, visit http://www.dramatistsguild.com.

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