Sunday, August 21, 2011

88 is # 1

It is final.  Under the watchful eye of attentive audience members the last ballots were counted for The T Plays III.  The 88 bus (88 is the 88th Loneliest Number) eked out a victory by 4 votes.  The Mattapan Trolley (Stolen Breath) was second and continuing its rapid ascent The Red Line (Not My Mormons) was third.  Silver, Blue, Green and Orange was the placing for the final four.

Special thanks to all the writers, actors, directors and techies who made this show so much fun.  And special thanks to all who came out to see it.  It would have been lonely performing without you.

Now to figure out The T Plays 4.

Friday, August 19, 2011

One more audience to go

Tonight's sold out crowd have voted.  And the current standings:

The 88 is 5 votes ahead of Mattapan Trolley.  The Red line continues to have strong nights is a few votes back.  The Blue and Silver keep flipping a little ways back and the Green and Orange both had strong showings.  I would not want to be one of those "talking heads" on CNN trying to handicap this election.  (As I am sure there will be tomorrow).  6 seats left for our final performance.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Home Stretch

It is clear that it will come down to each and every last vote.  The top two keep flipping (when not tied) and spots 3-7 all switched tonight.

After 6 shows....the 88 bus has a narrow lead.  The Mattapan Trolley is two votes behind.  The Red Line doubled it's points this evening (was Mitt Romney in the audience?).  The Silver and the Blue have one vote separating them as does the Orange and the Green.

Two more chances to see what all the fuss is about.  And trust me there is a lot of fuss.

How to make a T Play

A behind the scenes video showing the quick process of the T Plays III.  Special thanks to Barlow Adamson for making the video and all the artists of the T Plays for being willing subjects.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Once again....Mr. Rick Park....

So I went to the T Plays last Saturday. And as usual, I was freaking nervous. It is always nerve wracking to see one of your plays for the first time, with an audience. What if they hate it? What if I hate it? As always, I am my own worst critic and hear things that may not be heard by others, things that make me cringe inside. But I didn’t get that feeling this time. My writing made me happy. Not only my writing, but also the wonderful actors who brought my words to life. Sometimes the synergy between word and actor is so in sync, it amazes me. It also amazes me when it seems that the writers have a shared collective consciousness. Of the seven plays, three featured the word “douchebag”. Two involved bodies of water, three mentioned babies. More than one featured people (and some non-humans) trailing or spying on someone.  Also making appearances in more than one play: lesbians,  donuts and candy, and religious prayer and/or personnel.  But what really stood out for me was how lucky all of us writers were to have this group of highly skilled and dedicated actors. In the T Plays, the writers have the pressure for the first 24 hours. After that, everything switches to the shoulders of the director and the actors. The directors have to act as the “glue” between the script and the actors and have to make some very quick and calculated decisions on blocking, lighting, and all that director jazz. But the lynch pin is the actors. The actors have to memorize 10 pages of dialogue in about 2 days. They have four hours of rehearsal on the Sunday before opening and then they go right into tech. Learning lines is on their time, time outside of the theatre. They exist in a pressure cooker where they must absorb words, movement and a relationship with their fellow actor, all in 3 days before they are performing in front of an audience, with maybe 2 run throughs in the space if they are lucky. If a play has some flaws (and I think my fellow writers will agree that all of our plays do, if only in our minds), it is the actors who must navigate around them the best they can, for 9 performances. They are on the front line, every night, a mere few feet from the audience who is voting for their favorite play. In the words of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, they have to “make it work”. And for that, we writers (and audience members) are extremely grateful. So I want to give a public shout out to the 14 amazing actors in this year’s T Plays: Brian Bernhard, Shelley Brown, Matt Chapuran, Lindsay Eagle, Kelley Estes, Derek Fraser, Nate Gundy, Louise Hamill,  Molly Kimmerling, Robyn Linden, Jeff Mahoney, Mal Malme, Kim Myatt, and Greer Rooney. If it weren’t for you all, what we write wouldn’t matter. So thanks. A lot.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Railroad Ties

After one week and five performances the standings are filled with ties.

Mattapan and the 88 lead the pack and are tied.  The Red line made a huge jump forward and almost doubled its total.  Silver and Blue are also tied.  Green and Orange while not tied only have 3 votes separating them.  And one vote for the curtain speech (Thanks, Mom).

A veteran T Play attendee complained that it was too difficult to pick just one.  I think that is good.  We have seven strong plays that all challenge and entertain.  I think how close the standings are show how strong all the pieces are this round.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Updated Standings

Another full house (all right there were two empty seats).  And the votes have been counted.

Mattapan Trolley has pulled ahead of the 88 bus, but there is just a few votes separating them.

The Red Line took a big jump up and the Blue Line follows just a few votes behind.  The Silver, Green and Orange all gained and just seven votes separate them.

We have a 3PM matinee tomorrow.  And as of right now we have about 24 seats available.  It's supposed to be a rainy Sunday and next weekend will be crowded as it is our closing.  Come out and check out the plays.

Friday, August 12, 2011

After Three shows....

...we have a tie....

Between the Mattapan Trolley and 88 bus.  The Silve Line follows.  The Blue and Red Line are both neck and neck a few votes back.  The Green and Orange round out the field and still are within striking distance.  So far this is the closest T Play voting there has been.  What will happen tomorrow?  Come to the show and let your vote be counted.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2 Shows down and new standings.

After our second show the standings have shifted slightly.

The 88 has pulled just ahead of the Mattapan trolley and the Silver Line is just one vote behind that.  The remaining four (Blue, Orange, Green and Red) are tied.

Each line is going to need every vote to be the favorite.  Do your part and come and enjoy T Plays III. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

T Plays III opens to a full house

And a very warm and receptive audience they were.

They voted and the current standings are:

The Mattapan Trolley is in the lead, but with only two votes separating it from the 88 bus which itself is just one vote ahead of The Silver Line.  Blue, Red, Green and Orange are all very tightly packed next with just 5 votes seprating 4th-7th.  And with seven more performances to go - The Golden Dolphin Award for Audience Favorite could end up on any line.

Oh, and did we mention the house was completely sold out?  Make your reservations now.

More behind the scenes

More thoughts from John Greiner-Ferris.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The Boston Metro spoke to Artistic Director John O'Brien and writer Dawn Simmons about The T Plays III.  If I read this in a pre-caffeinated morning rush hour commute I would definitely reserve some tickets.

Friday, August 5, 2011

T Plays III Match ups....

are in!!!!

Red Line
Writer: Richard Snee
Director: Melanie Garber
Actors: Brian Bernhard and Lindsay Eagle

Blue Line
Writer: John J King
Director: Matthew Woods
Actors: Louise Hamill and Molly Kimmerling

Green Line
Writer: John Greiner-Ferris
Director: Meg Taintor
Actors: Matt Chapuran and Derek Fraser

Orange Line
Writer: Jess Martin
Director: Barlow Adamson
Actors: Shelley Brown and Kim Anton Myatt

Silver Line
Writer: Dawn Simmons
Director: Darren Evans
Actors: Jeff Mahoney and Greer Rooney

Mattapan Trolley
Writer: Rick Park
Director: Chris Anton
Actors: Robyn Linden and Mal Malme

"WildCard" - We'll see what they pick
Writer: Dan Milstein & Kristin Baker
Director: Antoine Gagnon
Actors: Kelley Estes and Nate Gundy

All signs point to an awesome set of plays.

More writers heard from

John Greiner-Ferris shares his thoughts about the upcoming T Plays on his blog.  He also wonders about the dressing habbits of his fellow writers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Further Thoughts from Rick

Working as a writer on the T plays is like playing the slots at Foxwoods. Except these slots have actors and directors instead of lemons and cherries. Pull the arm and you suddenly see who and what you have to work with. Completely random. And John O'Brien, the evil genius behind the T Plays, is always mixing it up on us. New actors, new directors, new bus lines are thrown in every year. So which is most important to a writer: the actors? the director? the T line? It is an interesting question.

As a writer, knowing the actors I am writing for is very important. For the past two T Plays, I have not known any of the four actors I have been assigned. Had never seen them onstage. The first year, I didn't even get a chance to meet them until their first rehearsal, by which time it was too late to change anything in the script. But the actors that Mill6 uses, not only for the T Plays but for their other productions, are all talented, confident people. I mean, come on, you don't agree to sign on to a project where you get the play on a Saturday night and you open that play on a Wednesday without a pretty large set of cojones (or the female equivalent, whatever that may be...). These actors have to be able to memorize a 10-minute play in a couple of days and then be able to run with it through a dizzyingly quick rehearsal and tech process. So while I sometimes get nervous wondering if I will be assigned 2 actors or 3 (since plays for two people have a completely different dynamic than those for three), I never really worry about the quality of the actors in the pool. I know John has assembled a terrific group of thespians from which to draw from and it is always fun to meet a new actor and immediately get some kind of vibe from them, some kind of odd inspiration to arm yourself with when you get on the T the day after meeting them. So, getting good, hardworking and talented actors is a given.

The same thing can be said about the directors working on the T Plays. They are all good, solid creative people who have already proven their mettle in the Boston theatre scene. I have been extremely fortunate in the past with having been able to work with two terrific women who immediately understood what I was going for in the plays I have written. Meg Taintor brought to life my two star-crossed gay dolphins and Dawn Simmons nary blinked an eye when I wrote "A mirrored ball drops into the Red Line car as the disco music thumps loudly". Again, it was two completely different working situations with Meg and Dawn. Meg I had never met until the one rehearsal I was able to get to for "Please Report Any Suspicious Activity", whereas I was able to sit with Dawn the Friday night of the pairings, as well as sit with her after the first read thru. Both did incredible jobs, enhancing my play in ways that a playwright can only dream of and I never had any reason not to fully entrust them with my words. So, to paraphrase myself, getting a good director is also a given in the T Plays.

Which brings us to the actual T line that one is assigned. Here, in my opinion, is where things get really interesting. The T lines are, of course, Red, Blue, Green, Orange and Silver. Last year, two bus lines were added in (joining the Silver line). Each of the subway lines holds its own special qualities, some good and some bad. The Blue line seems to have the most wonderfully character-laden stops of any of the lines: Wonderland, Revere, Airport, Aquarium. I also like the Red line because of its diversity of people at its many stops. I mean, the character differences between someone riding to Broadway versus someone riding to Harvard Square versus Charles MGH versus Ashmont: the whole range of the human condition is traversed by the Red Line. The Orange Line is a bit of a mystery--all the different types of folks living from JP to Malden, with some basic cityscapes (Back Bay, State) thrown in for good measure. The Green Line is the line that gives me ADD. Too many arms of the Green Line, too many stops that are too similar. It would seem a cop-out to use something like Copley or Arlington if assigned the Green Line but I can't seem to get a grasp of which line (B, C, D or E) to choose to ride on the Green Line. The Green Line also has a whole lot of stops relatively close together. It lacks the trip out of JFK/Umass on the Red Line that is a full 4 or 5 minutes with no stop, for example. The bus lines bring up a whole different set of problems (for me), the biggest being that on a bus, you are never more than 35 feet from the driver, the same driver who you had to pass in order to get on the bus, the same driver that can see you in his mirror. On the subway, the driver is in his own closed off compartment (unless you are in a car that has no driver). You often don't see the driver when you get on the train. On a bus, there is no doubt that your presence has been noticed and noted. It would be hard to write a play set on a bus, then, where something overtly suspicious is happening, since the driver can SEE you. Busses (which include the Silver Line) seem better for plays about quieter moments, about conversations rather than events. Two gay dolphins having a lover's quarrel would never make it on the #39 bus the way they would on the Blue Line.

So what do I hope for in the next drawing of the T Plays? I try not to think about it too much. I try not to psych myself out about what will happen if I get three actors versus two (and I haven't even touched on gender issues here!) or whether I get the Green Line or a bus. The key to the T Plays is to just go with it, like a runaway train that you know will eventually stop and let you off. You just don't know where you'll end up.