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Thorns and thistles

A month and a half ago I went to my first New Play Project performance, in the courtyard of the JFSB here on campus. It was fairly low-key, with just one row of audience members. I wasn’t expecting much. But I was surprised. The plays were short — roughly ten minutes each — and yet they still made a difference. The short story of theatre, if you will. After the performance they passed around a clipboard asking for people to write down their email and whether they were interested in volunteering, whether that be with playwriting or directing or acting or what have you. I decided then and there to write a play. And nothing happened. (This is not uncommon in my life.)

A month later, I went to their “Roots” festival, and again I felt compelled to write something and submit it. That was a Friday, and the deadline for the Religious Plays submissions was the following Tuesday. Saturday morning, an idea popped into my head, and right away I sat down and wrote out a six-page draft.

After getting feedback from friends and revising it pretty much every day over that weekend, I sent in my latest draft and crossed my fingers. Now, since this was my first play, I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, I was kind of hoping they’d reject it, because I didn’t really know what to do if they did accept it.

Shortly after that the script selection committee met and decided to provisionally accept it, which meant they’d give me two weeks to revise it; if it was good enough at the end of those two weeks, they’d produce it. So I took their feedback and started rewriting.

At the end of the first week, I went to their workshop (they hold one every Wednesday night) with my newest draft and prepared to be flayed alive. I didn’t really know anything about playwriting, after all — I’ve watched scores of plays, but that doesn’t make one a playwright. But I was pleasantly surprised. We read the play aloud (they had me cast my actor-readers) and then spent an hour discussing it. Even though my play needed lots of work, getting the critiques wasn’t really painful at all, and I came out energized and excited for those revisions.

After that, I had till last night to make my revisions so that the script selection committee could make their final decision. Up until the second-to-last draft, I wasn’t sure I was even in the ballpark — it felt like every change I made was making the play worse. After all, eight drafts had burrowed me so far into the play that I felt I couldn’t really get out and see it objectively.

But I’m pleased to announce that an hour ago I got an e-mail saying I made the cut. The play will be performed October 11, 12, and 13 at 7 p.m. each night in the Bullock Room at the Provo City Library. (It’s part of a set entitled Thorns & Thistles, and the other plays are really good, too.)

As it happens, auditions for all four plays are tonight and tomorrow night from 7 to 9 p.m., so if you’re interested, please audition! (And if you know anyone who might be interested, pass the info on.) Tonight’s auditions will be somewhere on campus — once they get a room, they’ll post it on the board outside the Nelke Theater in the HFAC. Tomorrow’s auditions will be in the Bullock Room on the third floor of the Provo Library.

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