Anthony J. Piccione
Barebones Theatre at Windham Theatre Guild Fall 2015
Earlier this year, I had previously participated in a total of four 24 hour theatre events as a playwright, in which I was given from 9pm to 7am to write a new one-act play for a small group of three or four actors and a director – all of whom I had never met before – to be rehearsed from 8am to 8pm, after which it would be produced for the first time. As I’ve said before in previous volumes of Tales of an Almost Professional, Twenty-Something Year Old Playwright, they are some of the most fun and rewarding theatre events that I’ve ever participated in, and these experiences have helped me as I prepare to further advance my career as a playwright once I graduate from college in May 2016.
However, one of these 24 hour events that I had not previously discussed in a column at On Stage – because it was before I started writing for this blog – was the Barebones Theatre Workshop at the Windham Theatre Guild in March 2015, when I wrote a one-act spoof of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings that was entitled The One Plate To Fool Them All that I am still very proud of today. Thanks to popular demand, Barebones had returned to the Windham Theatre guild for October 2015. Naturally, given both my love for playwriting and its proximity to Eastern Connecticut State University, I was quick to sign-up as soon as I heard that it was happening again.
The schedule of Friday night was about the same as it typically was in past 24 hour events that I had done. The playwrights were given a specific theme, prop and line of dialogue to incorporate into their play. We were all split into six groups, with each group containing one playwright, one director and three or four actors. We all had the chance to introduce ourselves, and I had a chance to share my ideas – many of which, I will admit, were already in my head weeks before the show – while also asking about the individual talents that the actors in my play had, so I could determine how to best utilize them as I was writing the play.
Actors, directors and playwrights in the Fall 2015 Barebones Theatre Workshop at Windham Theatre Guild – October 2015
In the past, my one-act plays that were produced at these events largely consisted of either spoofs or dark comedies. However, this time – while I still considered comedy to be a natural fit for events such as these – I wanted to try and do something that was very different from anything else I had written that had been produced before, and even different from what all the other playwrights typically involved in these events would tend to write. I wanted to write something that was unconventional and broke the rules of theatre, while still making the audience laugh hysterically and have a good time.
The result was a play called Just Another Really Bad Show, which is about a cheesy dramatic play that goes horribly wrong after a heckler disrupts the performance, prompting one of the narcissistic lead actors to break character and admit that she herself HATES the very play that she is acting in. She then goes on to interact with the Windham Theatre Guild audience, asking them what kinds of plays they would rather see – as opposed to the lack of great new theatre that is around today, such as that horrible dramatic play – before eventually getting a giant bucket of candy from backstage, and celebrating an early Halloween in the finale of what I now consider to be one of my favorite plays that I’ve written to date.
I managed to finish writing this play within approximately 3 hours, meaning that I was actually able to get a bit of sleep that night after I had emailed it to the actors, director and producers. I returned at 8am in the morning for a quick read-through of the play, and after briefly discussing it with the director and actors, I was able to go home and relax until 8pm, when I returned to the Windham Theatre Guild to watch my play come to life.
Program for the Barebones Theatre Workshop at Windham Theatre Guild - October 2015
While I wondered initially how the audience would react to this play – which was fairly experimental, compared to some of the other comedies typically produced at these events – it seemed that the audience reacted extremely positively, especially near the end when candy started to get thrown out into the audience for those who wanted it. Admittedly, much of the positive reactions to the humor I injected into the play wasthanks to the highly talented team of three actors and one director that I had the privilege of working with this weekend, and I am very grateful that, thanks to them, my initial vision for this play was fully realized on Saturday night.
One more thing that stuck with me after last night was an announcement from the producers of the event that they hope to do Barebones again at Windham Theatre Guild in the Spring of 2016. This already has me excited, as I would love nothing more – as long as my schedule allows it – than to do Barebones one more time before I move to NYC after graduation in the hopes of finding more success as a playwright. But for now, I’ll just say this: Participating in events such as these has been among the biggest highlights of my many years in theatre. It is a big part of why I love doing what I do, and these memories that I’ve made from this event and other past events are ones that I will continue to cherish even as I move forward as both a playwright and as an individual, and I’m already looking forward to making more of these memories in the near future…
This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Student, playwright, actor, poet and blogger currently based in Connecticut. To learn more about Anthony and his work, please visit his personal blog at www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to like him on Facebook(www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage), follow him on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione) and view his work on the New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org/users/903/anthony-j-piccione).