I received this in my email last week:
At long last, selections for the upcoming ScriptWorks 10-minute play showcase have been made!
SOFTLY AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE – Bob Barr
UNFAIR PRACTICES AT THE DPS – Elizabeth Cobbe
THE MANY SUICIDES OF MOLLY McVEIGH – Trey Deason
OCEAN SONG FROM A DESERT PLACE – Amparo Garcia-Crow
MS. EDWINA BACKLE’S APPOINTMENT – Aimée Gonzalez
SLEPT THE WHOLE WAY – Marshall Ryan Maresca
THE NORTH STAR TRANSGALACTIC – Anne Maria Newsome
THE GREEKS – Colin Denby Swanson
The plays will run April 19-21 and 26-28 at the Blue Theatre.
Excellent news! I always enjoy being part of this yearly production. This year was the 11th time I’ve participated, and the 7th time my play has been chosen. It’s a fun experience, and a fun process.
I’ve often heard the term “process play” used for this kind of production. A “process play” doesn’t have a specific definition, but in my mind its a play that invites the audience to look under the hood to get a better appreciation of what’s going on in the production. At its best a process play is something where an additional level of understanding enhances the enjoyment of something that’s already enjoyable.
In the case of Out of Ink, I think it works well because the process is front-loaded in the writing phase. We write the plays in a specific time frame, within a specific set of rules, and then eight are chosen. Do you need to know that, in order to enjoy the show? No. But in knowing it, your experience changes. Case in point, in my piece from last year, there’s a laugh line when one of the characters mentions Finnegan’s Wake. This isn’t because Finnegan’s Wake is inherently funny, but because the audience knew that including Finnegan’s Wake was one of our rules. But the play stands on its own without knowing that. The scripts are developed via the process, but the production of the show itself is straightforward.
“Process play”, though, can be used as a pejorative. At its worst, a process play becomes a masturbatory exercise where more emphasis is put on how the performance got put together over the performance itself. I’ve known a few actor friends who have used the phrase as a backhanded knock on shows they were in. “How are rehearsals going?” “Well, it’s a process play.” Code for, “The director doesn’t have a plan and we’re meandering and wasting time.” I’ve been involved in shows like that. It’s no fun.
But with Out of Ink? I’ve always had fun. I’ve always found it a fun show to watch. If you’re in Austin the last two weekends in April, come check it out.