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Synop for O'Neill  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Mon Sep 24th, 2007 11:36 am
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Proboscisbunny
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Mana: 
Obviously none of you have read my play...but let me know what you think. Does this turn you on? I'm also including the "statement of objectives."

Thank you!

Vanessa



Vermipostal - Synopsis

 

 

 

An Eco-Dramedy about composting, food allergies and the family postman.

 

 

A single trip to the Super Vegas Buffet has left a man dead, made his pregnant wife a widow and caused his best friend to marry a diner waitress. Ed, with his new wife Betty, help Ruth create a safe-haven for her unborn child. Years later, their self-sustaining lifestyles have raised Frangelica, a beautiful and precocious 16 year-old - along with countless chickens. The allergies that killed her father have controlled her life. Raised in seclusion Frangelica has never met a man before Kelvin, the new postman, arrives…or has she? Ed’s attention is intoxicating to her. As Ruth and Betty strive to make the farm more profitable Frangelica dares to dream of a future in the real world, Betty dares to make her own decisions and Ruth dares the chickens to piss her off again.  


 


Statement of objectives

 

I am lucky to have had a number of readings of Vermipostal, each at a different location and with a slightly different cast. I received feedback at every one, tried to sort the good from the totally off-base and applied what I thought best when rewriting.  The last feedback session went so far astray one gentleman suggested “good writing would help” and another woman hijacked the session to discuss her pedophile step-father, keeping me well into the evening to provide more details. The rewrite that session created was an entirely new play almost, and it was instantly rebuked by my husband, who directed and stepped in for Kelvin twice. He, of course, was right and it went back to the play that it was, with some minor changes not involving pedophilia or “good writing.” Clearly I need help from an experienced Dramaturg. I am essentially untrained as a Dramatist, operating mainly on instinct and my experience as an actor. What I feel the play needs most is clarification of Kelvin’s character, his intentions and his reasons for taking an interest in Betty and the others. I also want to help clarify the farm as another character for the audience - who is largely unconnected to the earth as a food source. Ultimately, I believe the play is all about composting, finding the right mix in order to grow. It is a metaphor. I need to find a way to make the audience understand that, in order for those trees to grow, “the event” must happen the way it does…that’s the way composting, and life itself, works. If I am given the opportunity to work on this at The O’Neill Center I know the play would benefit from the experience. I would also grow as a playwright, without the aide of compost. My husband thanks you.


 

 

 


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 Posted: Mon Sep 24th, 2007 01:57 pm
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Edd
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Mana: 

Vanessa,

I don't believe that I know enough to give you any helpful feedback on any kind of academic level.  In fact, I probably shouldn't be posting this at all.  The reason I am is because a few of your words jumped out at me and struck me as not in your best interest.    They are:  "It is a metaphor. I need to find a way to make the audience understand . . ."

For this writer, all is metaphor and "making an audience understand" seems a bit beyond our capacity as human writers.

For what it is worth,
Edd

P.S. Great luck with this.  Your play does sound very interesting.

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 Posted: Mon Sep 24th, 2007 03:03 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
probiscusbunny,

(When I CAPITALIZE, it is not internet "yelling." It seems italics does not work on my "reply screen," so please understand it is only for the reply to STAND OUT - not a chasitsement. I apologize in advance.)

I love the “log line.” I have no idea what the title means, which is okay, and it sounds unique. I think the first line of the actual synopsis is also terrific - just terrific opener. We get a tone of what the play’s style will be like through the log-line immediately followed by the first line of the synopsis, which is excellent. Has me intrigued from the outset. And giggling. I'd want to read it on the first line alone!

After that first line, however, I get confused on a first read - WHICH MAY BE THE ONLY ONE YOU GET - by the relationships you try to establish.

I also love the last phrase: “and Ruth dares the chickens to piss her off again.” Great “grabber opener.” Great closer. But I got lost in the short middle and I might not want to, nor more importantly, would I have the time to figure it out considering the volume of plays submitted to the O’Neill. NEVER MAKE THE READER HAVE TO DO ANY “CONNECT THE DOTS” OR MATHEMATICS ON A SYNOPSIS.

I want to be intrigued on every line as I was on the brilliant first and last lines. This can take as much exhauting work as the play!


Objectives:

THIS IS JUST PLAIN TOO MUCH!

I am lucky (CUT "LUCKY" - YOU ARE NEVER "LUCKY". IT SELLS YOU WORK SHORT. JUST SAY "I HAVE HAD." DID YOU EVER HEAR A DOCTOR SAY "I WAS LUCKY TO HAVE BEEN CHOSEN FOR AN INTERNSHIP AT SLOAN-KETTERING HOSPITAL? NO YOU EARNED IT.) to have had a number of readings of Vermipostal, each at a different location and with a slightly different cast. I received feedback at every one. STOP HERE WITH A PERIOD. - NOW I RECOMMEND CUTTING EVERYTHING THAT IS IN PARENTHESES (tried to sort the good from the totally off-base and applied what I thought best when rewriting. The last feedback session went so far astray one gentleman suggested “good writing would help” and another woman hijacked the session to discuss her pedophile step-father, keeping me well into the evening to provide more details. The rewrite that session created was an entirely new play almost, and it was instantly rebuked by my husband, who directed and stepped in for Kelvin twice. He, of course, was right and it went back to the play that it was, with some minor changes not involving pedophilia or “good writing.” Clearly I need help from an experienced Dramaturg. I am essentially untrained as a Dramatist, operating mainly on instinct and my experience as an actor.) FIRST: GET THE HUSBAND/WIFE/MOTHER/RELATIVES OUT OF IT - NO ONE CARES. WHAT DOES THAT ADD TO THE STORY? Second, your tale of readings is unique to you, but is not unique to anyone in the theatre. It happens everyday. It is an unneccessary diversion and it shows you were willing to be swayed by feedback from a looney, and also willing to be held hostage by one!

And never undersell the value acting brings to writing. I have seen far more good actors clean up bad writing than writers clean up bad acting!

THE FOLLOWING IS CLEAR AND GOOD: What I feel the play needs most is clarification of Kelvin’s character, his intentions and his reasons for taking an interest in Betty and the others. I also want to help clarify the farm as another character for the audience - who is MOST LIKELY largely unconnected to the earth as a food source. Ultimately, I believe the play is all about composting, finding the right mix in order to grow. (WE KNOW IT IS A METAPHOR) It is a metaphor. I need to find a way to make the audience understand that, in order for those trees (THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU MENTION TREES AND THEY HAVE NO SIGNIFICANCE IN YOUR SYNOPSIS. IS IT A PLAY ABOUT PEOPLE OR A PLAY ABOUT TREES? ) to grow, “the event” must happen the way it does…that’s the way composting, and life itself, works. (WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL EVENT?) If I am given the opportunity to work on this at The O’Neill Center I know the play would benefit from the experience. I would also grow as a playwright, without the aide of compost. My husband thanks you. (SEE PREVIOUS COMMENT about relatives)

I also love the line "without the aid of compost." Get me back to the tone of the original line of the log-line and synopsis.

Pet peeve time: I do not like the phrase "O'Neill Experience." "Experience' is much overused. I would mention something like "the professional, focused work my play would receive at the O"Neill" or something like that.

I think your story is far better and more intriguing than your objectives statement. Make them tie in more securely with each other.

Once I took the time to try to figure out the synopsis, I liked the possibility of the story. However, you may not have someone read it who is willing to take...or have that time.

Again, I apologize for the capitals.

And I have enjoyed my "internet experience" with you.

best,

in media res

Last edited on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 03:07 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Mon Sep 24th, 2007 10:07 pm
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Proboscisbunny
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Mana: 
Thank you both! Excellent suggestions...

The play was a semi-finalist for Seven Devils last year. Hopefully, with this help from you, it'll make it to the big time ;)

Vanessa

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 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 05:48 pm
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Proboscisbunny
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Mana: 
Ah, well...I just returned from the mailbox with my rejection letter...wah...

I sure wish someone took the time to scribble some suggestions on it, or something...I did pay 35 bucks.

What is one to do? I'm chasing the high of success...and my seasonal depression is kicking in...

I need sun and chocolate.

Vanessa

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 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 06:17 pm
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in media res
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Proboscisbunny,

Don't feel bad. Well, I mean, yes, feel bad. And feel bad about the 35 bucks for nada!

As wonderful as the actual creative process is at the O'Neill if you are selected, I have personally known of only one playwright who ever got his/work selected there. So, the odds are very slim. The selection process sucks no matter where you go.

We all feel your pain!

I am currently a reader for a very nice competition. I mostly read overwritten stuff no one would want to touch. But some stuff is good. One or two have been very good. Last year, one of the two plays I recommended was the one chosen. Maybe that is why they asked me back again. But the other one I recommended was not chosen, and I think it was a finished, solid, stirring grab you from the beginning and not let go play. I was physically worn out after reading it. Controversial topic however. (Look at your topic!) Theaters, as I said before, are looking for piecess to develop, not plays to produce. If it is a finished play...forget it. Theatres are not keen on that stuff. Unless it is an "approved" topic. So, many minds go into it, I understand it. But we all hate it. They probably hate it, too.

I always wonder where the play readers come from at The O'Neill. Anyone know? The one I am involved with are all working professionals. But the volume is not as huge as at the O'Neill.

Anyway, on to the next one! Keep it going.

best,

in media res

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 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 06:30 pm
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Proboscisbunny
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Mana: 
Thank you, IMR, for your kind words... Onto the next one indeed. I have a reading of my latest at the end of the month.

I wonder what the chances of any "unknown" playwright are for development at The O'Neill.

I was recently rejected (with the same play) by The Public Theatre's Emerging Writers Group. When I found the list of writers who had made the cut they seemed to be a group of accomplished (and already emerged) playwrights already associated with professional theatres. With many professional productions to their credit. They don't need help from The Public...at least not a bad as I do ;)

Let's face it...I'm not getting any younger.

Maybe I should start my own "peri-menopausal" writers group...he he he

Vanessa

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 Posted: Wed Feb 6th, 2008 04:13 am
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katoagogo
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IMR:

The O'Neill uses professional readers (who are really volunteers who receive a very small stipend -- with some acting out of the kindness of their hearts and their devotion to the NPC)) spread all over the country who read the submissions for the first round of selections. Each play goes to two different readers in this initial process. Readers get between 5 and 20 scripts depending on their time available.

About 750 plays were received this year. 140 plays were selected for the semi-final round. Finalists will be notified by mid-April.

I have also heard that the Wendy Wasserstein Fund is receiving donations, and will be put toward reducing the fee that playwrights pay. O'Neill Director Preston Whiteway is committed to reducing that burden on the playwright. I've spoken with him a few times and he is very sincere in this effort. Also, all of the folks I have met from the literary department are really great people and knowledgeable about theater.

For the past six months the O'Neill has also been hosting local bands and poets to use the barn on Monday nights as events open to the public. It's a way of getting more of the local community involved with the O'Neill.

I really love the place.

--Kato

Last edited on Wed Feb 6th, 2008 04:41 am by katoagogo

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 Posted: Wed Feb 6th, 2008 04:15 am
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katoagogo
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PB:

So what are you writing this year to submit in fall?

That's the best way to get your foot in the door. Keep writing plays and keep submitting them.

Good luck!

--Kato

PS -- This summer why don't you come see some of the shows at the ONeill. You're in Connecticut, after all. Let me know when and maybe we could get a beer after at Blue Gene's or something.

Last edited on Wed Feb 6th, 2008 04:15 am by katoagogo

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