Saturday, June 11, 2016

It's finally done! And now, revision . . .

This has been an action-packed spring for me as a playwright. In addition to participating in several events related to writing and LDS Church history, I finally finished the first presentable draft of my play on 19th century Mormon plural wives.

Without connections, a playwright's work is just a pile of recycling. That's why the events and groups I had the pleasure of attending these past few months have been invaluable. Now that I've befriended and briefly discussed my project with a few history, theater, and writing professionals, I am ready to plunge into the next big step: (yikes!) asking people to read my work, and offer feedback. (Dear Reader, if you'd like to be involved in this process, by all means, let me know.)

Playwright's Log

March 3, 2016. I enjoyed the LDS Church History Symposium, "Beyond Biography: Sources in Context for Mormon Women's History," hosted by BYU and the Church History Library and Museum. At this conference, I not only heard some inspiring historical lectures and papers, but had the exciting opportunity to network with some fantastic historians, such as the Church History Library's Director, Keith A. Erekson, as well as the author of my favorite polygamy history book (More Wives Than One), Kathryn M. Daynes.

March 12, 2016. I attended my first Writers' Edge meeting. Writers' Edge is an inclusive writers' collective that meets every 2nd Saturday of the month at the Millcreek Library to discuss writing technique, and to offer its attendees the chance to share some of their work, and get feedback. I've attended this group a handful of times this spring, and have been particularly excited to get feedback from the group's moderator, Greg Near, an experienced playwright who's had plays produced by local professional theater companies, such as Plan B Theater.

April 4, 2016. I saw Jacqueline Eaton's ethnodrama (verbatim theater) piece, "Portrait of a Caregiver" as part of a collaborative arts event, An Evening of Aging and the Arts, organized by the University of Utah's Nursing Department. As you may have guessed, verbatim theater is a rare form, and although I've spent some time on Youtube acquainting myself with other works in the genre, Eaton's production was the first live verbatim drama I'd seen. I had a great conversation with Eaton afterward, and she has generously offered to give me some much-needed mentorship.

April 9, 2016. The League of Utah Writers put together a day packed with poignant and practical writers' workshops at the Taylorsville campus of Salt Lake Community College. There I took copious notes on networking, branding, pitch-writing, and story pacing.

April 23, 2016. With the help of the Salt Lake Public Library Glendale Branch, I hosted an Artist, Interrupted event, "Stay Connected: A Networking Miniconference." Artist, Interrupted is an organization for those in the arts (like me!) who find themselves putting off artistic career goals in order to fulfill family needs or other obligations. I addition to making some great connections there, I also presented a cold reading of a scene from my play, and was encouraged by very positive feedback from the other attendees. One gave a helpful suggestion--that I present my play as part of a collaborative arts event featuring perhaps polygamy-themed artwork, and historically-appropriate music.

April 24-May 24, 2016. Knowing that I only had a few weeks before the end of my daughter's pre-K program, I took advantage of those last few home-by-myself moments to shift into full brain-squeezing mode. After 4 years of research and dialogue arrangement, I was surprised to find that creating stage directions would be the greatest challenge. I think the struggle may have been that it was a matter of taking my wild brainstorm of possible staging ideas and taming and distilling them into clear, specific instructions. As the countdown to the end of the pre-K school year fast approached, I compromised my "stay-at-home-mom" status by buying a Jump Around Utah pass, and taking my daughter there twice a week, to babysit herself among the bouncy houses, while I worked on the play from a nearby table.

June 10, 2016. I attended the Mormon History Association Conference at Cliff Lodge in Snowbird, Utah, where I enjoyed not only excellent presentations, but great conversation and made some new friendships and connections with Church history enthusiasts and historians, such as Lawrence "Larry" Foster, and Richard Bennett.

Moving one's work to the phase of publication or production is a slow and tortuous process. In my case, it's been accompanied by stages of fear and self-doubt. I'm so grateful for these events, and the people I've met this spring and summer, because of the motivation, and positive support they've rendered. This amazing project is about sharing the candid voices of historic women of faith--and I feel, now, an improved confidence to make these voices heard.

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