MinterTom  Apr.14.2012 0 Comments

..time has been hurtling; the school year has been an adventure of journeying with my classes through Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, and it has brought surprising connections. In general, the students (independently, and from different schools) did not agree that the men of the piece should have forced their girlfriends into ‘proving their love and faithfulness’; by and large, students felt that deceit was deceit, and not a good trait of friendship. The operatic scenes they’ve created are based on that view, and reflect a cogent grasp of a moral dilemma; their presentations reflect the choice not to go with the ‘jest’ of Mozart & Da Ponte’s opera, but to empathize with the course of making good choices, when confronted by bad ideas. Very heartening. ..two of my schools have already given their presentations to the rest of their school, and now are ready to bring their work to the larger arena of the Showcase, when all the participating schools in the program come together at the opera studios, at Takoma Park, and strut their stuff for one another. The event is a highlight for all of us who are facilitators for these young, creative minds; the day allows students to mix with other schools, and discover how diverse an answer to one question can be. But that event is in June –and just now, the road widens for me. A good deed came back as another; the play of The King’s Speech opened in London on the 27th March, and the kindness of its author brought me over to witness a performance. there I was suddenly, on a trip to a place I’ve known as home, but have not been to in over 7 years.. London. Much has changed; I have changed. ..but beneath those changes, connection to London remains strong, and nurturing. The energy of the city has always been high, but now it is infused with grand projects, ahead of the spectacle of this year’s Olympics, and the festivities of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Tourists have always been an infestation there, but my feet, of their own accord and memory, took to back streets to circumnavigate the districts; that fact was very reassuring.. I went to my old den in Soho, The Union; an indulgence I very much miss. The club remains a comfortable, eclectic, writer’s haunt to which I had been introduced by a dear friend and playwright, Bonnie Greer (who was honoured with an OBE ). I was an endeavoring playwright when I was first in London in the 90's, and Bonnie, a fellow ex-pat (originally from Pittsburgh), whose tart, wise, and social acumen often girded me against the narrow pens of critics, and my own wilting introspection, taught me how to accept the eccentricities of the personal process of gathering inspiration and channeling it to the page. …truths, knots of dilemma, debriefs, stoggis, nips of grappa, and refortifying gnosh, would all pass through our conversations, while in the safe retreat of The Union.. And I learned to breathe; and learned that process was an essential ingredient to craft. That solid lesson has been the guide through many a muddle of sentence’s and grappling ideas, and always affords me the room to trust that the inspiration, which piqued the ride, will align with focus at the right point in the journey.. David Seidler was able to join me at my haunt; we toasted the play’s opening of the previous night, and got to hear, first hand, just how incredible a night it was. And then –we got to enjoy for ourselves, British talent, on an English stage, infusing characters with vivid life –characters whose words I’d first read on the page, over six years ago.. It was a night of satisfaction; The King’s Speech, as play, in its original incarnation. And being there to see it. At the end of the performance, a packed theatre rose in ovation. After taking London’s West End, the piece is meant for Broadway; keep an eye out! ..of course I could not go to London without making my way to meet Matt Lane, Head of ROH Thurrock, and Thames Gateway. What an amazing day that was. The company’s Production Park is an astonishing facility, not only in its immense and ‘green’ footprint as a ‘workshop’, allowing the Royal Opera House to process and produce its own massive production requirements –specs, sets, carpentry and scenic art- but in the facility’s identity as integrated, engaged partner in the local community and surrounding economic revitalization. The model is a thrilling, unique, and entirely purposeful one; it succeeds in its arts education seat at the community table by promoting an opportunity for arts and competency skills; it is a living, functioning arena for apprenticeship and platform, and has reached deep into its neighboring communities to enlist and engage interest. The site is not only in use as an education resource for the local school district, who bring students in for workshops on the underpinning facets of opera and stage design, but offers itself as a skills center, where local business’ can see, and support, the opportunity of training community youth, as the work processed through the production park coaches requirements of mathematics, engineering, metal work, carpentry, industrial painting, and managerial concepts of resourcing material logistics, and overseeing diverse competencies of acumen in meeting company production. This enveloping 21st century, vital skills opportunity, is the tapestry that the ROH is weaving with its partnership; in making each member of its constituent group an integral component of the commitment’s success, they achieve a sustainable purpose of mutual advantage and benefit, that examples true arts integration in a community’s economic resourcefulness, empowerment and identity. Rest assured, there’s more to speak of in this… But returning to DC, I found my cap, as playwright, being tapped. Through a totally organic process, a play of mine has reached the 3rd round of competition for a full workshop presentation by The Inkwell, here in DC. To celebrate the 12 local (DC) playwrights who have come this far in their process, The Inkwell is doing a kind of "slam riff"; taking scenes from each of the 3rd round contender works, rehearsing them (with their playwrights, a director, dramaturge and actors), and then plat-forming two evenings of "ten minute scenes". This is not only to applaud those of us who have made it so far (after 6 months process, and 2 full rounds of vetting by more than 6 Readers each) but to allow we playwrights the opportunity to feel what it will be like working with this company. My play is called Reconstruction, and a rounded snippet of it is going to be performed at the Woolly Mammoth on Saturday, 28th April at 8PM. for those of you in DC, and available, the evening is open to the public, and you are welcome; there will be 6 short pieces presented, representing six of the 12 playwrights; mine will be one of them. Here's to happenings- in DC and abroad!

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