Aug 30, 2016

Kathy George Indie Artist Residency

An ambience conducive to creativity

A few weeks back (August 12-19), I served as the first theatre-artist-in-residence at the Kathy George Indie Artist Residency in Ashford, Washington. Sponsored by Seattle's Minion Productions, this week-long retreat offered me a chance to get away from my regular routine and concentrate on my writing in the isolated and idyllic setting of Ashford, Washington, right next to Mount Rainier National Park.

Grant Knutson of Minion Productions offered me a great cabin. Tucked a bit off an access road in dense woods, it was a perfect place to focus. Just me, alone, with the work that needed to be done. I went up specifically to finish a full-length play. The play in question is a reboot of the first play I ever wrote, Arsenic & Roses.

I wrote the one-act Arsenic & Roses in 1996 while I was in college studying acting. It had its first production at the College of Santa Fe in the tiny Weckesser Studio black box. I directed it myself. Over the years the play has been presented a number of times. With every production I tweaked it and tried to make it better.

As the 20 year mark approached (geez, I've been writing plays now for 20 years!), I wanted to stop fiddling with Arsenic and Roses. But I was not happy with it. Like most early works, it falls so far short of the current work I do. So, I figured I'd just rewrite the thing. From scratch.

Sitting down in the tiny A-frame cabin the first full day I was there was so difficult. After staring at the void for nearly forty minutes, I gradually began to put words to page, then to keyboard and screen. I wrote the first few pages and then let the piece take me forward. Everyday, I would tally the page count. Some days I only created 7 pages. On one particulalrly prolific day during the week, I completed 15 pages.

I would alternate two roughly two or three hour work sessions each day with walks outdoors, or the occassional cigar on the deck out front. It was really kinda nice once I settled into a routine.

Afternoon walk

The goal wasn't perfection, only completion. And it worked. After a full week, I had a 62 page, full-length reboot. I might rename it Que Sera, Giant Monster. I will, of course, keep working on it.

This was the first arts residency/retreat I have been a part of. It was hugely beneficial. Much gratitude to Grant at Minion. I will be taking a second pass at the first draft I completed at the cabin later in the month and then begin the arduous task of play development readings and workshops, submissions and then eventual productions. I will rename this new version of the play (I just don't know what yet).

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