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Larry Pontius
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So, what you're saying is: one page equals one ice cream cone. I wrote 6 pages the other day... I am short 6 ice cream cones. Diabetes here I come!
Toggle Commented Dec 15, 2011 on I am SOOO mean to myself at EXTRA CRITICUM
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Randy, I think craft is a good word. And if I were to retitle the piece, I think I would have said does craft matter. I was purposefully vague, as I didn't want to crap on someone's success, whether I thought they deserved it or not. In terms of craft, I thought the first play suffered from a very inconsistent main character--deeply religious at first, suddenly ok with breaking a taboo the next. Structurally, at the beginning of the play, it feels like a play about a mother and a daughter, but, then, it shifts gears and becomes about the mother and her relationship with a much younger man (a HUGE taboo in the society they live in), and suffers from a whiplash end--second to last scene, her family (finally discovers the relationship, tell her to end it or she'll never see them again. She agrees. The NEXT scene, the daughter--who previously was walking out on her mother says, go for it. To which she agrees. There's a good play in the there, but, craft of playwriting wise, I don't think it's there yet. The second, well, I don't know how to be more specific, because it suffers from a lack of imagination. It's bland. It's vanilla. And easily forgotten. Ultimately, what I think I'm saying, we as playwrights might be so focusing on crafting a perfect play, we might miss the forest for the trees. The audience. Perhaps leaving the audience behind IS a failure of craft. But is an "un-well made play" that connects, well crafted? Maybe.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2011 on Does A Good Play Matter? at EXTRA CRITICUM
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How's been working so far, most of the work has been in my journal, and then I've been posting that. I think it's because where I am, at the very early stages. I'm sorta resisting the urge to just plow into a script... Just posted my third entry into the experiment: http://lpontius.com/experiment-issue-number-3/ Basically, so far, it's sorta gathering... ideas... lines of dialogue...
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Well. I gone and done it. The first entry is up: http://lpontius.com/public-experiment-in-playwriting/ My goal is to update at least once a week. PLEASE come and check it out... offer advice... or cheers. Or jeers. I don't know. I don't know where this will lead. Let's hope a great conversation and a good (great?) play.
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I need to check out this blog. I think it's a very good point. The difference between a good producer (and a good theater artist) and a not so good theater artist (or producer), is the engagement with the audience. I've said it before, it's not just about engagement WITHIN the theater. It starts 100 feet (or 95 days) before the audience gets to their seats.
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I also posted this idea on Facebook, and there were many similar reactions--of concern, of curiosity, etc. And it seems most feel it's a bad idea--or one that should be proceeded with caution. So, I'm gonna do it. Not sure what it will look like, etc, but there you go. From start to finish I'm going to put together a play publicly. Now, the question is: tumblr or blogspot? ;)
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It's funny, I WAS recently out of LA. I proudly didn't take my computer with me, only wrote in my journal. Thought I was energized, etc.... A part of me... if I were to use a marathon metaphor... feels like I've hit the wall that runners talk about, that I need to push through. I say that because I don't feel like I'm lacking in ideas--even bad ones ;), just when I sit down to write... I feel like, though, I want to push through this wall. What if I'm in a situation with a deadline from the outside (either a theater company or a TV producer)? I can't just say, hey, I need to recharge, I'll get back to you when I can. Right now, I can say that, I'm only beholden to myself. So, it's easy to take that break. I worry though, when I'm in a different situation and it's NOT so easy to take a break. I thinking of it like working out. Maybe I can just get through this ucky period and start to like it... (though, I have never liked working out.)
Toggle Commented Jul 13, 2011 on Burn. Out. at EXTRA CRITICUM
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It is a curious thing... the right way/expectations and generally those who transform those expectations into something new seem to be the more successful writers. I remember helping two kids develop a play, and they were around 12 or 13... and the play was off the hook insane... something about an alien invasion involving squirrels or something. It was for an audience of their peers, and their peers ATE IT UP. They loved it. If anything I'm going to walk away from, was the idea of just beginning... just start a few words at a time and trust that I know the answer of what happens next...
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Maria Bello has been cast in Prime Suspect. She's a few years over 40...
Toggle Commented Apr 28, 2011 on The Killing on AMC... at EXTRA CRITICUM
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Twin Peaks was about something else, and I wonder if that's why I'm not connecting as much to The Killing as I had hoped, because it feels more about the murder than anything else, rather than the murder being the instigating incident to a larger story.
Toggle Commented Apr 27, 2011 on The Killing on AMC... at EXTRA CRITICUM
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I'm thinking about Twin Peaks... which totally went off the rails... it was about one murder, but it kept filling the world with characters and ideas as the investigation went on. Now, The Killing and Twin Peaks aren't ideal comparisons, but... I feel like with The Killing we're stretching an investigation rather than filling in rich details. I'm looking forward to the US Prime Suspect, I'm curious how it'll go.
Toggle Commented Apr 26, 2011 on The Killing on AMC... at EXTRA CRITICUM
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And don't forget http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKcPIq_n2Tg
Toggle Commented Apr 12, 2011 on Let the haters hate.... at EXTRA CRITICUM
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I think it's useful to copy. I've heard of novelists retyping novels they loved, to really get inside the work. Really feel the words the author wrote. Makes sense, when we read we're engaging a different part of our brain than when we write. And I'm ALL for copying styles when you're learning. Trying writing like Churchill or Mamet or Stoppard--how many of us when we were in our early twenties, after discovering Beckett, wrote our OWN Waiting for Godot?. Sooner or later you'll find your own voice, an amalgam of authors your love and your own unique self.
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2011 on The Value of Copying as Pedagogy at EXTRA CRITICUM
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It's an interesting model. I wonder how much outreach they are doing... are they reaching out to theaters? How are they connecting with people who are seeking plays?
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@John: I'm not sure. Maybe. I hope so. I guess it's just odd to me that one of my first responses or questions: will this be a good story? And I wonder if I'm trying to distract myself from being emotionally involved. @Kathleen: Yep. It was Dr. Amy Bishop. It's a fascinating story. And it's not just her. Other people who came into contact with her, if they had responded differently, like the Police at the shooting of her brother, perhaps if they had investigated more thoroughly...
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Agreed. Soap operas are like blogs. Beginnings without ever an end in sight... so there can never be a climax, a direction. Peh. Give me a daytime game show over a daytime soap. Drew Carey, I love you! Ok. Back to rewrites.
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I loathe when I hear the oncoming sounds of exposition. I loathe it. And I always really wonder, did I NEED to know what the characters are telling me? "Remember when" "You know, that time..." I hear those words and I want to scream, because most of the time they are just detail. Detail that ACTUALLY isn't important. Detail that isn't important to what is happening NOW. I saw a French movie once, and of course, the name escapes me, about a man put into prison during the German occupation. The filmmaker wisely didn't put much exposition. We didn't learn the characters name or why he was there for a long time. We knew he wanted to get out, because that's what we saw. It was so refreshing and compelling. And, as a final note: I'll take a little umbrage about new writers being raised on TV. 1. You went home to watch Friends. And 2. In TV, there is very little time for exposition, 42 minutes for an hour long drama now... and I can't recall the last time I saw a show and someone said, "Remember when...." unless it's Act 4 of a murder mystery and we're to recall some detail back in the teaser... TV is pretty economical. Something I wish playwrights would be....
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Kara, I agree with you, playwrights aren't the ultimate villains. Now, perhaps, it's my admittedly hyperbolic title, but, I don't think there really are any villains in this story. Everyone is trying to make due with the situation that exists. Everyone is doing their best to stay a float. From the Artistic Directors, to the Literary Managers, to Actors, we are having to make due with a dwindling audience (one of the problems in American theater) But, I disagree with you regarding playwrights being critics…I think we should be. I think writers are the most qualified TO talk about writing. We should be supportive, we should welcome innovation, but we should also be able to discuss things critically… It’s how we grow as artists and as an art form. And also, I think, playwrights and plays are apart of the discussion of the dwindling audience. We can’t exclude ourselves from the problems of the American Theater. If it’s a collaborative art, that means we are a part of the problem as well as the solution.
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2010 on Playwrights, stop hurting theater at EXTRA CRITICUM
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Hm. Perhaps. Now if I could MIX the two...though I don't think Pakistan is as interested in Sci-Fi as I would like.
Toggle Commented May 19, 2009 on So, my other job... at EXTRA CRITICUM
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You know one of the reasons I would rather go to the movies sometimes than the theatre? Cost. Tickets for an Off Off Broadway show are 18 bucks. And it might be crap. And worse, it might be some non-linear, word soup, image driven nightmare that is nothing but a jumble that stuck. All this is to say: I think we have a bunch of writers out there who don't know how to write. In some ways, the theater has also left the popular imagination behind. Sure, we don't want artists chasing a crowd, that's not good art. But at a certain point, one shouldn't be surprised you don't have a crowds attention. But, that shouldn't be a discouragement, that's a reality, if you are going to do something that's challenging, there's a consequence. Just because you build it, people don't have to come. And if you've built something that is particularly dense and difficult, you really shouldn't expect people to understand it. So, in a way, theater no longer, for the most part, excites the popular, mass imagination like it once did. (I say for the most part, because, damn, Wicked still sells really, really well.) This may or may not be a bad thing. But then we shouldn't be surprised that people don't come to the theater. So, there's the cost and then there's the work that maybe a turn off. But should we save it? I don't know. I guess, really the question is save what? Save how it currently works? Change the system entirely? I do think there is always a lot more theater going on than we acknowledge...small little theaters here and there, mostly run by kids just out of college, etc. These are invisible little theaters who don't make any money, who don't get any grant money, so are never reported by the NEA. And at this point in my comments, I'm not sure what I'm trying to say...other than, there's more going on than gets acknowledged, because theater happens every where...in the nooks and crannies and in the big tour houses. So, is it dying? Sure, an aspect...big bloated aspects...I'm look at you Giganto Regional Theatres with budgets over 10 Million dollars... Also: to the point less productions, more people writing plays...is that true? Do we TRULY have more people writing plays, or does it just feel that way, with less places accepting scripts without agents... Just imagine if you worked at a studio that was accepting screenplays...
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It's a constant struggle to type with small hands...I just go slowly. Thank you so much for coming, and I'm glad you had a good time. ...you might find out what happens next...but then, I really want to write Dar and Matey's Christmas SpectacuARGH... We'll see which happens first.
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I saw the original run on Broadway...I think it was still in previews...David Shiner was great...but...
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