a few notes about Poochie, my play, that opens Wednesday

Production shot from 'Poochie,' (Bob Paolino and Chris Speer -- from The Salisbury Post)

This new play has been different from any production of any play I’ve ever had.

I’ve had plays in other cities or states where I just showed up and saw the show. And I’ve had some around here where I basically watched the sausage being made.

But I’ve been busy. So I wrote it, gave it to the director, Justin Dionne, and basically left it at that.

I’ve had very little input. Even if I had had time for input, it wouldn’t have been a good idea. The direction and design is way beyond anything I had in mind for the little black box theatre on Lee St.

Because I didn’t really have time to go to rehearsal, I even gave Justin permission to change any lines he thought needed changing. A new play needs a little work, and I trusted him to do that.

It opens this Wednesday.

Saturday night, I went to rehearsal and saw the second act for the first time.  I was moved to tears — and I’m not exactly sure where the emotion came from.

Maybe it came from the profound gratitude I felt for these people applying such talent and hard work to the task of realizing something I wrote. Or maybe it was just the realization that I’m putting this material out there for others to see. Or maybe it was that I wrote about a piece of my life and saw it given back to me.

The play is about caring for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease, and although I intentionally did not make this autobiographical — I have had experience watching the progression of the disease — with my aunt, my grandmother, and now my mother.

What it is, I think, is that my own play brought back memories in the staging that I didn’t experience in the writing — if that makes any sense.

People may think or say I wrote a play about my mother. And there’s some truth to that. But I realize now it’s not about the mother who is now in the final stages of Alzheimer’s.  It’s about the mother who took care of my grandmother when she had Alzheimer’s. And it occurs to me now (and not before now) that the granddaughter is me.

So that’s my note on autobiography. It’s all so personal and subjective. I don’t  know how audiences will react but will find out soon enough. Wednesday night.

Whatever happens, I’m awfully proud — stunned, actually — by what these folks are doing.

Almost Maine, directed by Justin Dionne, gets 9 nominations

I was excited to see that, just this week, Justin Dionne, who will be directing Poochie, my new play, just got nominated for 9 MTA awards for his recent production of Almost Maine with St. Thomas Players.

St. Thomas Players is a small theatre troupe here in Salisbury. The MTA is the Metrolina Theatre Association, and it encompasses theatre from the entire Charlotte area and surrounding counties.

Nine nominations (including best director) is a lot — and quite an honor for Justin. I was excited and privileged for him to take on this project because I knew he had a real future as a director, and apparently that future is now. It’s a new play and a new theatre company. Justin is young, energetic, enthusiastic, and extremely talented. His day job is working as marketing director for Piedmont Players.

My vision was a bare stage with a couple of pieces of furniture. Lights up and lights down. I wasn’t sure if there was any humor in the play or not. Justin has “people” working on set design and lighting, and he does see humor.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of friends and family, the funding for Poochie is almost halfway there, with 11 days to go. Please share the link, if you’re so inclined…

It’s called groupfunding

Forgive me, I have sinned. I give my plays away, free, online.

And it’s always a pleasure when somebody wants to use one of them in small space or classroom.

I get plenty of requests for scripts from overseas, sometimes for film projects.  What happens after they get the script is anybody’s guess.

The pleasure comes from the request itself, and that’s almost always the last I hear of it. Occasionally I get a thank-you email, sometimes with a photo.

But while there’s satisfaction, there’s also a certain emptiness that comes with the online giveaways to faraway places. I’ve had the urge to see my own work done and thereby grow as an artist from the experience. My first two plays, Coffee Therapy, and another that I don’t care to think about, much less name, were produced first as dinner theatre, here in my lifelong hometown of Salisbury, NC.  Both were done in the upstairs of a local restaurant. I’ve had lots of fun seeing my work produced in Charlotte, and even traveled to New York a couple of times.

But I’ve never had a play produced here, in my hometown, in a theatre. And we have a number of theatres spaces and companies here.

So I recently wrote a play, set a date for production, and put down a deposit at our new, cozy little theatre space downtown, a converted warehouse now known as  Looking Glass Artist Collective.

Since declaring this, things have started to happen.

We’ve had a few readings, with great feedback. And I’ve done a good bit of rewriting based on that feedback.

I started a theatre company, Spoken Space Theatre, and I plan to use this entity to give birth to more of my plays in the future.

Justin Dionne, an energetic, talented young director, has generously agreed to take on the project. He gave the script a careful reading, with more feedback, and suggested more rewrites.

Auditions are two weeks away, and I’m working on the script.

So this is exciting.

Producing my own play, here, offers the opportunity for me to see it, and work on it.

This has its disadvantages.  That is, if it sucks, I’ll be there — and that can be difficult.  And, if it’s great, I’ll be there — and that can be difficult.

And I’m responsible for paying for it.

The deposit for the theatre space was a chunk, and about as much as I can handle.  And I’m assuming we will sell tickets that will bring in some funds.

But there’s still a gap.

So I’m looking for a corporate sponsor or two to put in a thousnd dollars.

And I’m asking friends and family to chip in, via Kickstarter.com. It’s called groupfunding. That sounds better than “asking friends and family for money.”


PoochieFund the Project with Kickstarter

There are rewards involved. Anybody who pledges $10 gets a ticket, which is the cost of a ticket. So while it is asking for money, it’s really no different that asking people to buy a ticket in advance.

Kickstarter makes it a game, such that the project gets funded when the goal is met, or not funded at all.

So there’s a bit of drama involved in paying for the drama.

So far, it’s been interesting.  Some of my oldest, dearest friends and family members have chipped in. Many of them live in other states and will not travel to see the show.

And I’m a third of the way there.


The play is called Poochie, and it’s about a family dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease.  People who know me think I’ve written a play about my family and my mother.  I didn’t.  I’ve had some experience with this disease (mother and grandmother), but I want to honor them. So instead of writing about my own family, I made one up. Which is the way it should be.

So that’s that.

Want to be a producer? This is your chance. Go to Kickstarter.com.