Saturday, August 24, 2013


TITLE: Finish a Play



 PARTICIPANTS: The Play Orphans: Anna, Steven, Marcus

THE REQUIREMENTS: This one is simple. Take a project you started and finish it. All three of us have done this, so this'll be a good motivator. The running-time of the final piece must be over 45 minutes.

PO Steven

"Sunrise" Completed and Updates

Well, summer came and went, and as Marcus and I gear up to resume teaching, I figured it was about time for an update.

The great news is that I finished writing my short play "Sunrise." In fact, I even submitted it to a short play festival. I also submitted "Little Red" to the Wordsmyth Theatre Company for consideration of a staged reading.

That, of course, is the more frustrating bit of news. It's a great feeling to bang out a draft of something, spend a few months revising it in intricate detail, and then finally be able to sit back and say, "Man, I'd pay to see this play." Of course, you can't just sit on the drafts you have. You have to send your baby out into the world, as it were.

I haven't heard back from either theatre, and I probably won't, but it is comforting to think of play submissions as if they were job applications. After all, when you apply for a job, you want to work somewhere that utilizes your abilities. 9 out of 10 times, you won't get your first-pick job, so you have to, to borrow the phrase, "cast your nets and see what rings in."

Anna and I were lucky to get a stage performance a few years ago of her one-woman show "Courage in the Upside-down World" because of our college. The feedback was positive and constructive. While at college, I was fortunate enough to get my short play "You've Been Cast!" selected for performance in the Freshman Showcase (in truth, I don't know how many other short sketches had been submitted, but I was still thankful for the opportunity). My hope is that as we each write our plays, more opportunities become available. In the meantime, we just have to keep submitting until our plays find a home.

Getting off my soapbox, I'll go back to "Sunrise." I was able to finish the play in about two weeks' time, but that doesn't mean it wasn't an uphill battle. It was one of those cases when the story I wanted to tell wasn't the same story the play wanted to tell. I know that sounds like a crazy-man talking, but let me explain.

The story I wanted to tell involved a teenage boy who had been hurt by the girl he loved. She had turned him down gently once before with the infamous, "I'm waiting on God's timing" line, but then went and got a boyfriend whom he deemed to be nothing more than a pampered jock. All this happens before the play starts, though, and he was going to meet a girl named Beth who helped him realize the potential for life he had if only he could just move on.

The problems with the story weren't with Robert. I knew Robert. Heck, I was Robert in high school, as the play's big idea was inspired by a similar incident I went through in my senior year. The problem of the story was Beth. Who was she?

I tried ham-fisting in several different angles with her. Maybe she was the exact opposite of Robert: happy, excited for life, full of love and joy. When that angle led nowhere, I tried a different tactic. Maybe since he was pining for love, she could be running away from it. I tried making Beth run away from an abusive lover.

The angle worked for about two pages before it fell apart. With each sentence, I found myself focusing less on the characters' objectives and more on justifying their scenarios to the audience. Each line of dialogue was plagued with questions like: If these are two teenagers, why is she married? Okay, say they're college students, then. Why is he acting like he's in high school? Will they fall in love? Should they fall in love? Is she ready to love again? Is he?

This is what I mean by it not being the story the play wanted to tell. The questions piled on higher and higher until I finally had to conclude that the angle did not work. Not at all. I finally came to admit that although I knew Robert inside and out, I had no idea who Beth was. It's like when you see a familiar face, a happy go-lucky face that brightens your day, but then you realize you don't even know their name, and since you've been friends for two years, you're too ashamed to ask. I thought I knew her, but she had simply turned into a caricature of some weird idealized person. Plus, the abuse angle has been done a million times before in both Lifetime original movies and every bad play that's ever been written ever. Also, the dark subject matter threatened to send the play back into the dark territory of "Little Red." The original goal for this play had been to write something "lighter" than "Little Red." (After a year of crafting a story around Jack the Ripper research, you'd want something lighter-fare, too!)

I finally hit upon the "Ah-ha!" idea: What if Beth had been the girl who broke Robert's heart? And, what if they both had to ride the bus together?

From that moment, the ideas came bursting like water through a collapsing dam. The play turned into more of a scenario where the guy got to speak his mind to her. As for Beth, it became a fun game of figuring her out. Why had she turned him down that way? Turns out, she wasn't some evil witch who wanted him to suffer, but was actually her way of being nice. In the process, we learn more about Robert as well. Beth had finally become the real character I needed her to be, and she was no longer a punching bag. In short . . .


I'm very happy with the play, and I hope you all get to read it soon. Hopefully, I can get it produced somewhere.

Before I go, I do have some updates on the other Play Orphans who occasionally post here. Marcus has just finished a summer of acting, and most recently finished playing Sweeney Todd. Anna has finished her long-awaited play "Ironclad," and she also submitted it. This past summer, she and I were in Peter Pan in Burnsville, NC. Since this means that we have now all finished the original Grimm Challenge, you can expect to see my second challenge be posted here soon. (I know I posted it once, but it was better to wait for everyone to catch up then skip ahead).

Hopefully, our plays take off. In the mean time, I offer words of encouragement to all playwrights and writers in general who, like us, are trying to get our work out there.

Let's show the world what they're missing!


P.O. Steven

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Sunrise" Update and Summer 2013

Wow! Four months flew by fast.

Now that school is out, work on "Sunrise" will resume. I'm still aiming to give a much lighter (and shorter) play than "Little Red." I will admit, though, that the play encountered some difficulties when I started it back in February.

Namely, I hadn't fully realized who my characters were. I had ideas about Robert and Beth, who they were, and what they were running from, but when I put it all down on paper, they sadly didn't feel like characters to me. They felt like tropes of some childhood fantasy, and ultimately neither character worked for me. It felt like crafting a major project; when you finish it, you realize there's one tiny mistake that mars the whole thing, and the only response you get from your parents or teacher is a mere, "Hmm. That's interesting."

Thankfully, with more free time, I can develop the story more and get this thing done. I've found that if I go in not really knowing exactly what story to tell, but instead let my characters do all the storytelling for me, I get much better results than if I made the characters "do my bidding."

I guess the moral of the story is: respect your characters, or you'll suffer an endless barrage of headaches and writer's block.

Looking to keep you updated soon,

PO Steven

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sunrise - New Play by Steven Bailey

Hello, 2013!

It's been a busy couple of weeks with school starting back, but great things are in store for the Play Orphans. 2012 was a great year to start out with: We've reached over 100 followers on Twitter, Little Red is finished, and new ideas are being developed. Anna and I got married in October. Marcus and I are teaching during the week, and Anna is still fixing "Ironclad" to finish off the Grimm Challenge of last year. 2013 is already shaping up to be an even better year!

Since Marcus announced his new play idea of "The Slave and the Master," I thought I'd talk a little bit about my new play, titled "Sunrise." The piece is going to be much shorter than Little Red. Right now, I'm aiming at a twenty-minute play.

The play is about Robert, a nineteen-year old boy who goes to his thinking spot early in the morning after discovering the girl he liked has been dating someone for a while. Heartbroken and crushed, he goes to rethink things and deal with the pain. There, he meets Beth, who has also come to his thinking spot trying to escape her own troubles.

The play will deal with the theme of holding onto pain. If pain and heartache are so bad, why do we hold on to them so much? Can we really enjoy the happy times in life without a little suffering? Sometimes, it takes a little pushing to realize that life is too short to let heartaches and misery take control of our lives. In the end, it really is better to let the pain go and keep pursuing a better tomorrow. Life is short, but always full of possibilities.

The play is still in the writing process, and does draw on some inspiration from things I've seen and experienced in my own life. I had a thinking spot in the form of the forest that was in my back yard during high school. Plus, the image of a sunrise--which is always a treat to see--bears some metaphors for life. Sometimes my stories begin visually, with an image. This one began with the striking image of a vibrantly red sunrise so early in the morning that everything else was nearly reduced to black silhouettes. Something about the sun rising (or really, the earth tilting so we get more sunlight) and unveiling more colors really speaks to the idea of starting new and living a full life.

I'll keep you updated on when the play will be performance-ready. Thankfully, it won't take nearly as long as Little Red did.

Expect another challenge to pop up soon. It's mine, but we want to wait until everything from the Grimm challenge gets wrapped up.

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements!

PO Steven

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Slave and the Master- New Play by P.O. Marc

Hey there Gang!

It's been quite some time since I've last gotten to speak to you. Hope you're doing well as we Play Orphans have been doing extremely well! 2012 definitely encouraged us to put our best foot forward in the theatre world and 2013 will be no different. As we continue our own separate ventures, never think that we have forgotten you! Since many of our readers are fellow theatre artists, I think you all understand all too well about our busy schedules.

Still, as Steven mentioned, I have had a lot of my time taken up by teaching! As I try and "kill my twenties," I've taken an honest liking to teaching Drama. Working with young artists is a pleasure and they, in turn, are helping me become a better artist by teaching me how to articulate and how to approach a character in several different ways. Needless to say, my actor's notebook is being filled. I've also been inspired to write a brand new play I am calling "The Slave and the Master." It's going to be another full length play about the vast majority of African Americans being their own slave and master. It's sure to be quite thought provoking and hopefully inspire a call to action. It's far beyond being even partially ready because of my schedule, but it's nice to start writing again.

I hope to include more information about my progress as I continue on! The Play Orphanage is still open for business so please be sure to stop by periodically and check to see about new content!

-P.O. Marc Laroy

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Little Red is Completed!

Hey gang!

Just a quick post announcing that after a year of starts and stops, writes and rewrites, and major life-changes, Little Red is finally complete! (There! See? I finished the first challenge after all! Better late than never!)

I have to say, it was a good exercise in researching before writing, but a beast in terms of finding the time to write and revise it. I'm actually glad to be done with it and move onto happier stories.

WARNING: THIS IS A DARK PLAY. It depicts a dark time in the late Victorian slums of England. It's set about a year before the infamous Jack the Ripper slayings on which much of the story drew its designs from. The fairy tale is obviously "Little Red Riding Hood" blended in with Jack the Ripper's London. The Wolf is a serial killer who slays prostitutes in the late Victorian period London.

The original draft done back in February - aside from having a few unfinished scenes - suffered from being exclusively inspired by the Ripper legacy. I went back and researched the fairy tale to try and represent it more faithfully and translate that into the world of the play. Some basic things were there, such as the Wolf being the killer, Little Red earning her name for wearing a red cloak when she hit the streets, and her having to go see Grandmother. However, I hadn't figured out a way to realistically represent the famous "Grandmother! What big eyes you have!" until I realized that the characters needed to write the story, not me. I just needed to type out what I saw them doing.

The end result is bleak, full of language and dialogue not suitable for anyone under thirteen (nay, let's make it sixteen. If PG-16 were a rating, I'd give it that). However, even in the midst of such ugly violence and overbearing hopelessness, there is always a hope, however faint, that things will get better.

Can't wait to share with you all,

P.O. Steven

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An Update in Time for Thanksgiving

Hey gang,

Work has been slow as all of us play orphans have had been busy. I wanted to give a much-needed update on the status of our blog and endeavors. We have not forgotten you!

Marcus has been teaching high school while Anna and I have tied the knot. I've also been teaching in the meantime.

Work on Little Red was intended to be complete by the end of last Summer, but once I got the job, it had to once again be put on hold. Now that the holidays are upon us, I fully expect the script will be ready soon (as in, before the year is out).

I also would like to announce that in keeping with the second challenge, which is to finish a play you've started, I am also writing a play about theatre people. It's a comedy about the actors and crew who forget to enjoy their work and turn the theatre into a hostile battleground of drama, spotlights, and neverending random dance numbers. In short, it will be a stark contrast to the melancholy and dark tone of "Little Red."

That's all for the update now, but just know we have not abandoned you, faithful bloggers! Big things are coming.

- P.O. Steven

PS: There are literally three scenes left in "Little Red" that need revising. I was unable to finish in time last summer, but one thing that I've been preparing for and has helped me thus far with the revision has been to model those scenes in the 2nd act more closely to the original fairy tale. Get ready for one dark read.