Monday, June 24th Join us for Our 5th Annual Staged Reading
Jacqueline Bircher's The Rule of Thirds . 6:30 pm, The Tank
Until then, enjoy our new Prou/Del (A mixture of our Bechdel Questions and the Proust Questionnaire) from our spotlight playwright Jacqueline Bircher!
1) What comes easily and what challenges do you face in the writing process?
I have always had an ear for dialogue, so the rhythm of language and conversion has always come fairly easily to me. The blank page, however, is always a challenge. I get such page fright, and going from nothing to something can seem like such an insurmountable task, every single time.
2) What are your two most favorite writing tools?
The first is probably post-its. When I outline, I always use different colored post-its to create a story map. It helps me to visualize the arc of the plot, and identify how characters might interact and grow over time. My other favorite writing tool is probably my writers group. We are a small but mighty crew that has been meeting regularly for over 3 years. Their kindness, intelligence, honesty, and generosity has made my writing one thousand times better.
3) As a writer, what is your process? (Are you more of a worker bee or do you feel the muse? Do you usually outline or free flow?)
I usually sit on ideas for plays for a long time before I begin to write them. Once I decide which one I'm about to tackle, I generally already have a strong idea of what I want the story to be about. So, I'll outline first, then use that outline as a road map for a first draft. After I have a first draft, that's when the real fun begins. I love to rewrite, and I can pull scenes apart and put them back together all day long.
4) What is your motto or main goal as a writer/artist?
Create work that has a brain, a heart, and courage.
5) What talent or super power would you most like to have?
6) Favorite words of advice or quote you drift back to?
The first draft will always be bad. Sometimes the second and third drafts will be bad, too! Bad is just part of the process.
7)Feminist writing--what do you look or aim for in this genre?
Complex, layered female characters who are messy, flawed, and fiercely individual.
8) What would your mother tell her friends about your writing career?
Anything and everything. My mom is my #1 hype woman.
9) What can we look forward to hearing next from/about you?
In August, I have a short play called Webster's Bitch in the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, and in September I'll be developing my full-length play The Once and Future Casey Colman with Campfire Theatre Festival in Boise, Idaho.
Get your tickets here
By M.J. Moneymaker Bechdel Board Member
The Bechdel Group is one of my volunteer positions in addition to the work I do as the digital communications manager for an LGBTIQ human rights organization called OutRight Action International. I find time to create in between these two things while participating in a weekly writer's group. I write a lot on NYC buses and trains.
Lately, I've been musing a lot about my writing and who, realistically, will read it and see it.
From Downtown Community TV to public access stations to nonprofits, I've been creating community media for over 10 years. Somewhere between producing stories about activists around the world fighting for their human rights, and writing screenplays for my MFA, I realized I wanted to tell stories that reflected me and the community I understand and know.
I tested writing these stories a few times during my MFA at Lesley University. I know I’m 'other'. I've checked that box since my abuela asked my mom who's the China man, my dad, that's been coming around to see her.
But being, other, wasn't more apparent to me than when my writing got workshopped.
A memorable moment for me at Lesley University was my first short play that centered around a transgender nurse who had to face the moral dilemma of saving the bigot who has a heart attack while cursing her out for being trans. Yes, I set it up to be a piece that triggers discussion, but what I didn't anticipate was how people didn't believe that a trans person could be a nurse. It threw me so far sideways that I snapped, rudely, at the ivy league white man sitting across from me. It made no sense to me, isn't the promise of America opportunity? After that, I stuck to love stories... everyone seemed to be okay with those and there was a lot less strange comments about people's abilities to work and live their lives.
This leads me back to who is reading, performing and listening to my writing. My stories are different, but only because they come from my lens of seeing the world. And it doesn't make the stories 'experimental' or 'Avant Garde' or 'tragic'. I'm not trying to be different, I just am.
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked if I'm going to add subtitles or I don't believe that's possible. And my favorite that comes inevitably from a white man in the group, "If I don't understand it, then how can you expect an audience to understand it?" Or others hone in on what isn’t conventional as a flaw in the storytelling or structure for a three act play because they can't find anything to contribute.
I’ve heard these comments so many times that I've thought it's my problem. Maybe I'm not a good writer. Maybe I shouldn't be trying to be a script writer. Maybe my stories aren’t worthy.
Then events like The Bechdel Group's 24 Hour Writers Challenge for writers of color writing for women of color happens. And I'm reminded how it feels to work with actors who understand the language I written and don't have to be explained the culture of the characters I created. And I'm reminded that there are audiences that can appreciate a play, not feel 'left out,' and even find the humor and joy in the work. Cause honestly, it’s probably how they had to learn to watch media in the first place.
There's an ease to experiences like this that I didn't get on a regular basis through school and don't get in writer's group. Maybe it's an inherent trust between the writers, actors, and audiences that I'm sensing. A freedom to fully play? Whatever it is, that unknown thing, it's like a breathe of fresh air.
There is a "Heights" reunion video of Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast I found online recently. I think it may explain what I'm trying write here in a more clear and succinct manner. I'd recommend checking it out.
P.P.S. Tune in next week from excerpts from the script!
On Monday, June 3rd, from 6-9pm we will be presenting our 8th bi-annual 24 Hour Writing Challenge - a reading of 10 10-minute plays written in a mere 24 hours! And this summer, we are thrilled to be featuring writers of color writing for women of color.
We have slots available for both writers and actors.
Here's what will happen:
Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in playing!
* Indicate if you're interested in writing or acting.
* Actors, please include a current headshot.
by Clare Solly, Apprentice Director
There are many, many reasons to workshop a play. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already a part of our community and attend our Monday workshops. (Stay tuned for our Fall 2019 schedule!)
One of the main reasons I love attending play workshops is the connection to the theater community. It’s one thing to have friends and family sit around and read or listen to your script. It’s another to have a group of strangers who know nothing about you show up to hear new and original works and give you their unbiased opinions. Terrifying and thrilling at the same time, to hear your work read aloud is an amazing experience.
Another exciting outcome, besides hearing your words out loud is the feedback is when there is a connection to the work from an attendee. Although it seems to happen often, I’m always amazed when there is someone in the audience who has a very specific connection to the work presented that evening. When someone has an insight to a character or their background it is a fabulous connection. Isn’t that the reason we like the theater? Connection to each other in some strange miraculous way--the fact that someone else offers perspective that is insightful and touches us. Someone else who has the ability to say or portray what we feel and made some sense of it. Or at least made it a conversation piece.
In the last two workshops this spring, that I’ve had the pleasure of leading, I was incredibly delighted at the collaborations that started. In our April 1st reading when we discussed Ellery by Jennifer O'Grady one of the audience members related so much to the script and actually warned the playwright about diving into writing about the afterlife as she had friends and had heard other stories where the writer was then after plagued or worse.
Then last week when we discussed Dykes on Wheels by Raechel Segal, it came up that an audience member actually attended the workshop because of the plot of the script. Our audience member was a roller derby gal and had interesting insight on being inside the ring, and also shared resources with our playwright.
As an artist it is my goal to reach out and show someone something or assist them to feel something. This kind of connection, collaboration, and a giving back to the writer is the reason I keep coming back to Bechdel, and I hope you do, too.
New Board Member Clare Solly has adapted some of our prior questions for our writers with some of the Proust questions for you to get to know our playwrights better! This week's spotlight is on Raechel Segal who's play Dykes on Wheels will be part of our final Spring 2019 workshop at The Tank May 6th.
BechOust/ ProuDel Questions:
What comes easily and what challenges do you face in the writing process?
Authenticity, characterization, and dialogue all come easily. I just spit it out!
More challenging is maintaining the truth when editing dialogue so characters are communicating their wants instead of just talking. I also find plot challenging since I am mostly a character and dialogue writer.
What are your two most favorite writing tools?
Background music, laptop, cappuccino
As a writer, what is your process? (Are you more of a worker bee or do you feel the muse? Do you usually outline or free flow?)
What is your motto or main goal as a writer/artist?
Unleash the beast!
What talent or super power would you most like to have?
Small motor skills
Favorite words of advice or quote you drift back to?
You do you, and the rest will follow.
Feminist writing--what do you look or aim for in this genre?
Get the cis white men off the stage! (Just kidding!)
What would your mother tell her friends about your writing career?
Mom: It all started in third grade when Raechel won the Reading Rainbow Contest.
Raechel: And that explains it all!
What can we look forward to hearing next from/about you?
I’m drafting a play about liberal elitism.
Come meet Raechel and see her work Monday May 6th at 6pm at The Tank. Click here for more info and your free ticket!
What do we want? We want non-binary, non-heteronormative actors, writers, and storylines. We want the landscape that is New York theatre to reflect the experiences of the wealth of voices that exist in this city and in this country. We want playwrights and actors who identify as non-binary, on the queer/LGBTQ+ spectrum, and/or as a marginalized sex or gender identity/expression. Is this you? Want to play? Read on!
On Monday, July 2 from 6-9pm we will present up to 10 short plays written in a mere 24 hours!
We will be taking:
We're pretty excited about our Spring Lineup - and we're hoping you can join us for our first reading on Monday, March 5th from 6-9pm!
This month we're looking forward to diving into questions about what it mean to 'pass' the Bechdel Test and how writers create space for complex female characters. We also take a journey into political aftermaths - both in the immediate and in the future.
We're thrilled to introduce you to two fabulous playwrights:
In Mathilde Dratwa's Milk and Gall, Vera gives birth to a shape-shifting baby on election night, and attempts to navigate the chaos of that first year as a new mom amid political turmoil.
In Susan Hansell's An Ocean of Bees, four characters represent the human species in a post-apocalyptic future. How will they find their humanity?
We'll be at The Tank in midtown Manhattan (312 West 36th Street at 8th Avenue). We're tickled to death to be working with this fantastic space.
Hope to see you there!
by Gina L. Grandi, Director
We are all kinds of excited for our November 27th Reading! This month we examine the way time and place shapes who we are and who we become.
Journey with us to London with Lynsey Murdoch's The Roar, a tense noir TV drama that explores the themes of gender equality, class and acceptance through the lives of two undercover police women in 1920s London.
And then come on back to New York with Juliany Taveras' Desarollo, where, as kids growing up, Nelly, Alaida, and Sol spent hot summer days daring, dancing, and documenting their way across boroughs, rivers, and storefronts. Ten years later, time has seemed to warp everything, from their once-indestructible friendship to the landscape of the streets they used to call home.
Please join us on Monday, November 27th from 6-9 pm. We are thrilled to be back in the basement room of Mr. Dennehy's Irish Pub, at 63 Carmine Street in the West Village. Have a drink, have a meal, and have a festive chat about our two fantastic scripts.
by M.J. Moneymaker, board member of The Bechdel Group
Thanks to your fabulous support we are able to continue our new works readings that pass the Bechdel test. Join us in one week for our next reading on Monday, October 30th. Let us know that you are attending via our Facebook page.
Siblings, politics, grief, physics, and fraud all come together for a fabulous night of new work. We are hugely excited to be featuring selections from two amazing playwrights, with two very different takes on family bonds.
In Claudia Haas' Making Some Noise, three sisters gather for the anniversary of their mother’s death on 9/11. Having sat shiva every year since 2001, they ask themselves: what is the make-up of a life? And what happens when one no longer wishes to continue the tradition of grieving?
And in Lolly Ward's Theory of Nothing, once upon a space-time continuum, a scientist married a sculptor and had two kids who lied. In one wild night of discovery, secrets unravel to reveal lost ambitions, lost loves, and lost minds.
Please join us on Monday, October 30th from 6-9 pm. We are thrilled to be holding this month's reading in the basement room of Mr. Dennehy's Irish Pub, at 63 Carmine Street in the West Village. Have a drink, have a meal, and have a festive chat about our two fantastic scripts.
In the meantime, you can listen to one of our 10 minute play podcasts. This play was part of our 24hr Writers' Challenge this year. The prompt for writers - write about love, but not romantic love. The challenge culminates into an evening of 10 minute play readings. In addition to the readings, we have been working on turning them into podcasts. We are also working to develop book anthologies of these plays.
So, let's review The Bechdel Group criteria before you listen to this play:
We present: "For Mr. Cuddles" by Erin Moughon
The Torn Letter by Martijn de Boer (NiGiD) (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. dig.ccmixter.org/files/NiGiD/51329 Ft: Doxent Zsigmond
The Crime by reiswerk (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. dig.ccmixter.org/files/Reiswerk/55464 Ft: Anchor
Sounding mixing and editing (improving with each podcast)
by M.J. Moneymaker, board member of The Bechdel Group
Our next new works reading is October 30th at Mr. Dennehy's Irish Pub & Restaurant. Please join us, details are available on our Facebook page. In the meantime, you can listen to one of our 10 minute play podcasts.
This is another 10 minute play that was part of our 24hr Writers' Challenge this year. The prompt for writers - write about love, but not romantic love. The challenge culminates into an evening of 10 minute play readings. In addition to the readings, we have been working on turning them into podcasts. We are also working to develop book anthologies of these plays.
So, let's review The Bechdel Group criteria before you listen to this play:
We present: "Vanessa" by Hope Johnson
Special thanks to our writers and actors contributing their talent for the readings. Credits:
Writer: Hope Johnson
Reflections in Bossa by Martijn de Boer (NiGiD) (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. dig.ccmixter.org/files/NiGiD/49652 Ft: YusefFarah
The Bechdel Group
Working to challenge the portrayal of women in film and on stage.