To my readers who have asked how the Femfest “Bake-Off” playwriting competition went, thank you for your interest and thank God for second chances!
|Me and the other four playwrights. This is supposed to be our panic look. At this point, I'm hoping height is worth points.|
As promised, they gave the five of us the “recipe” (no more than five characters, no longer than ten minutes) and the three “ingredients” we must incorporate into our scripts. Having participated in this kind of contest before, I expected three random items like zombies, zambonis, and zebras or something equally unrelated. But we lucked out. Because this year’s Bake-Off is in honour of Janet Taylor who served on Sarasvàti’s Board of Directors until her passing earlier this year, they chose three items relevant to Janet’s life. The triplet they arrived at seemed a little too easy: dressing up, ballroom dancing, and teaching someone something.
Following the meeting, hubby chauffeured me back to Portage so I could get started on my laptop in the car. I hammered out a couple of pages of monologue, then quickly scrapped it all when I arrived home and buckled down for real. The organizers encouraged us to send in progress reports and photos throughout the day. You can find those posted on their blog, here.
The account of Frances’ journey (the girl in the hat) sure made me laugh, especially the description of her imaginary boyfriend, Albert, a lawyer and football enthusiast who doesn’t mind watching romantic comedies on Netflix on Friday nights.
My own log went something like this:
10:57 a.m. Trying to write on the way out of the city in the rain.
12:10 p.m. At home at my desk. Now to really get to work.
2:07 p.m. Paused for a bowl of beet borscht, hummus on rice crackers, a pear, and tea with honey. Now back to it. Thinking of hanging a sign on my door: “Playwright at Work. Anyone who interrupts will be subjected to a grisly and unnatural stage death and then reincarnated as a stage manager.”
5:00 p.m. I have a script. I don’t much like it. I’m going for a nap. Hopefully I’ll dream something splendid with which to fix it.
6:06 p.m. I’m up. I didn’t dream up any brilliant solutions for the script, but I did finally recall the last name of the young lady I saw on my way out of the theatre this morning who went to high school with my son.
6:45 p.m. Hit “send.” Not thrilled with it.
The beauty of this competition was the second-chance feature. After receiving all five scripts by the 7:00 p.m. Friday deadline, the dramaturge, Cairn, read them over and provided feedback on Saturday evening. The final version was then due by 8:00 p.m. Sunday.
In my case, Cairn challenged me to raise the stakes with questions so basic I felt like an idiot. Every writer should know their characters must want something—what did mine want? What obstacles stand in the way? I hated to admit even to myself that I didn’t know. Duh. But I slept on it, and by morning the answers began seeping through my thick skull. I improved my little story and, if not exactly enamoured with it, I at least feel better about its potential.
Now five actors are rehearsing all five plays under Cairn’s direction. At 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 15 at Winnipeg’s Asper Centre for Theatre and Film, actors will present the mini plays before a live audience who will vote for the script they most want to see developed into a one-act play. The winning writer will then have a few months to turn her piece into a full-length script to be presented at FemFest 2015.
If you’d love to see what all five of us came up with, consider this your invitation. Tickets sell for an unbeatable “name your price” deal, but must be purchased in advance, online, and they apparently sell out fast. Go here to buy yours.