I have had the privilege of working with Winter Miller for the last couple of years on Birmingham Blues. Our work together began through courses at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis and continued after they had ended. Winter, a New York based playwright and teacher, helped me so much in the development of my play and last November arranged a table reading in New York City with some of New York’s finest actors. She has been a wise, smart, generous, kind and funny guide through this process. Winter is an accomplished playwright, having had an amazing staged reading of her most recent play, Spare Rib, a play about abortion, in New York City, which I was fortunate to attend. Her other acclaimed plays include Darfur, which premiered at The Public Theater, and which has had numerous benefit readings throughout the country. Winter also has had numerous plays published and is a founding member of the Obie-award winning 13Playwrights. I have been so lucky to have her mentor me through this work.
My play BIRMINGHAM BLUES, the story of a disgraced doctor’s fall into the shadow world of the homeless has been cast and will have a full production in October at the Wilkerson Theater in Sacramento. It will be directed by Maggie Upton, well known regional director and actress. More will follow, but save the dates: October 13-28, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. A portion of each ticket sold will go to organizations helping the homeless in Sacramento and El Dorado County.
We are so thrilled to announce that ALABAMA BOUND has been chosen to be part of the “Best of FringeNYC 2013” Collection by Indie Theater Now. The Collection will be published this fall and will include “20 of the most interesting and appealing new works from this year’s festival.” That’s us, folks! This non-profit seeks to bring “contemporary American drama to a broad audience via the Internet. Our focus is on work that is fresh, current and representative of the diversity of American culture.” The “Best of the FringeNYC 2013” Collection will be available for schools, universities, actors, directors, and theaters to view, download and produce new contemporary plays from the world of indie theater including ALABAMA BOUND!!!! Oh, my gosh, we are so honored to be chosen as part of this group of 20, selected from the 185 shows that have been presented at the Fringe.
This has been an amazing week of theater. The Fringe is sort of like a Mardi Gras celebration without the floats. Additionally, it has been an amazing week for the women of ALABAMA BOUND, both in terms of the five memorable women featured in the one-woman play, and also all the women who make up the cast and crew. Earline, our fun, generous, patient and totally efficient venue director, has been there at every turn and steered us safely through every difficulty, even as I sometimes paced the floor like an expectant father waiting the delivery of his baby. Our great lighting wizard, Cynthia Staton, is another rock, always prepared and quietly efficient. I have so loved talking with her about her love of theater and her work with her own baby, the New AfriKan Theater group. Then there is the wonderful Silvia, who flew in from Barcelona with her project, Pep Talk, and is our totally capable stage manager. If she has suffered from jet lag, I haven’t seen it. She is a smiling, amazing presence. And of course, we are so grateful for Kalynn Dodge who is our ACR (Authorized Company Representative), who brought us wonderful cupcakes and flowers opening night and who is always there to do her job at the door, checking tickets and working with our box office rep. Then there is Linda Nalbandian. Oh my gosh, what can I say? Her first trip to New York and first time on any New York stage, and she continues to astound me with each performance. And of course, there is always my wonderful spouse Irene, who sits each day before the performance, folding programs, stuffing them with the appropriate material, making sure I have everything I need before I leave, and then sitting next to me in the audience each night. Oh my gosh, what would I ever do without her. So, these are all the women of ALABAMA BOUND who care deeply about this show. A very amazing group, and we are so fortunate to have them. (Pictured from left, Kalynn, Cynthia, Silvia, Charlotte, Linda and Earline)
Oh, my gosh. We got news this afternoon as we were about to do our tech that the opening night, Wed. August 14, has SOLD OUT! All of us were thrilled at the news. It feels like a huge accomplishment since we are a one-woman play from out of town. We have certainly worked as hard as we can not only in marketing/promoting the show — by appearing at every event we can — but by, most importantly, making it the best possible show that we can. Linda Nalbandian, star of the show, did five-minute teasers at the opening night gala party; did a fabulous teaser featuring Dixie, our raucous Bessemer, Alabama police dispatcher (will she or won’t she be able to get out of town on vacation with her worthless boyfriend Rodney) at the Fringe Central teaser Saturday; and will also appear with at least 17 other women’s Fringe shows Tuesday night at the Bluestocking Book Store. I, as the playwright, will also be doing a panel discussion on Thursday night on why we are captivated by subjects as varied as Soweto shanty towns to the dusty back roads of Alabama. But, ultimately, The Play’s The Thing. And both Linda and I are so proud to present this work. We love these women for all their heroic, tragic, funny, desperate and catastrophic ways of dealing with the issues in their lives — health, class, economic and aging. We do this so their stories can be heard. (Pictured above: Linda Nalbandian and I stand before the Fringe Central Sold Out Board.)
Well, arrived in NYC this past Saturday evening. Flying in over Manhattan and seeing all those skyscrapers pointing in the air reminded me somehow of the quills on the back of a porcupine. The evening was balmy; everyone dining at sidewalk cafes or sitting on the steps of Union Square enjoying it. I hurried down to Fringe Central to see our show postcards: all the shows’ cards are lined up in these see-through slots, kind of like newborn babies at a hospital nursery. Went straight up to our beauty and said, “Mama’s here, Sugar!” I have been busy ever since I got here working on getting our crew and props together — had to leave the originals behind in California. Spent several hours at Salvation Army Stores — a mind-boggling array of things to browse through. We are so fortunate to have found some amazing people as part of our crew: Kalynn Dodge, originally from Placerville and now an actress here in New York, is our official company representative in NYC. Kalynn is the daughter of Kathleen Dodge, head of El Dorado’s County’s Film Commission. Show biz obviously runs in the genes. NYC local Cynthia Staton, our lighting czar, recently graduated in theater technology here in New York and works for the Fringe. And our stage manager Silvia Sanfeliu, an accomplished director, adaptor, producer, and translator, is our stage manager. Silvia is here with another Fringe show and lives and works in Barcelona. Pretty impressive, huh? Our star Linda Nalbandian arrives late tonight, and we will have a couple more rehearsals before we open Wednesday, August 14 — a week from today. Stay posted; it’s a whirlwind here.
FRINGE NYC is almost here!! Seems like only yesterday that I was jumping up and down and laughing because I had just gotten the email that ALABAMA BOUND had been selected to be part of The New York International Fringe Festival, aka FringeNYC. And now I leave Saturday morning to fly back to New York to start my Fringe experience. And it is an experience — a kind of creative carnival. I will be traipsing around the city looking for our final props (up to Harlem Goodwill, then to Sylvia’s for a fried chicken lunch); meeting with the other companies that share our venue to prepare it for our shows: hanging out at FringeNYC Central, swapping postcards and busking our shows; our star Linda Nalbandian performing a 5-minute teaser at Fringe Central; me joining with other playwrights on a panel to talk about why we write the sometimes strange things we do; hanging out with old New York buddies; seeing other amazingly creative Fringe shows; maybe sneaking out to see Kinky Boots; eating great New York food; and enjoying the fabulous place that is known as New York with the unforgettable experience known as FringeNYC. Oh yea, and performing ALABAMA BOUND.
Hey, somebody’s got to do it!!!!!