Daily Archives: November 20, 2008

Randy-a writer on memory and paying attention


Two Americans Illegally Crossed the Border Yesterday with a Thousand Year Old Buddha

Alor Setar, Malaysia. April 23
Caught with gold Buddha statue, Jeff Barns and Gertrude Barns, American citizens, today face prison sentences for what government officials call a brazen attempt to fence a priceless Hindu artifact.

The couple tried to enter the country without having the required amount of money and had spent three days in no-man’s land before handing an official the stolen likeness of Buddha.

 Barns admitted that he and his wife planned to sell the Buddha on the black market in order to pay for their trip home.   Today the Malaysia government yielded to a request by an official from Thailand and agreed to return the object.

      A front-page story is hard to ignore.   With it, there is documented evidence that the incident occurred.   To rely on memory is more of a gamble.   To rely on some else’s memory is even a bigger one, and, without paying attention, there is no memory at all.

       Writers use their memory, though memory can be faulty.   This I know, and as I age, it becomes more apparent.   Therefore, it’s important to write things down and retain those impressions in a written form.   A word here and there is often all that’s needed.

      Forty years ago, when my wife and I were on Subutu, a British guy was arrested for entering the Philippines illegally.   To me, it was significant that he had walked across Borneo, but many specifics about him are irrecoverable.   I didn’t pay close enough attention and didn’t take notes.   Now my memory is fading.   (Even our letters written to and saved by our families, my wife’s and mine combined, are not detailed enough.)   I wish I had taken better notes.

I’m out of time.  Randy Ford

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The New Play Institute: playwriting workshops/seminars

The New Play Institute
A School for Playwrights
See Playwrights Foundation
131-10 Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Nationally acclaimed playwrights and master artists of the theatre offer their experience in intimate classes and workshops at the New Play Institute.

The New Play Institute is proud to aid students of all levels in rigorously developing their art, to provide a diverse field of teachers and classes, and to provide scholarships to those with low-income. The New Play Institute is a community where both budding and experienced writers can learn from and with each other, laying the foundations for the future of theatre. View past institute classes.

Ken Prestininzi
Creative Sparks Fly: How To Catch Them

This workshop/seminar will explore the territory between the creative process (attention, commitment, imagination and pleasure) and the demands of structure (narrative, imagistic, performative and spatial). It will ask questions so that writers may articulate and aim at their personal and cultural impulses for writing and making meaningful theatre. Through playful, purposeful and rigorous writing prompts and guided discussions, participants will creatively and critically employ character recipes, narrative strategies, organizing principles of form, poetic images, political and aesthetic manifestos, sinewy language, and their own passion for what makes a stage play necessary.

Sunday nights, 6:30 – 9:30 PM
Dec. 7 – 28

To sign up

Ken Prestininzi

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Dominic Orlando
New Play Boot Camp

Award-winning writer Dominic Orlando returns with his New Play Boot Camp, an intensive two-week workshop to sweat your playwriting muscles and flex your imagination. By the end of this six-day workout, you’ll finish a forty-page one-act play or die trying. The focus is on plot and structure, moving the action forward toward resolution. The method is composition, understanding how to shape the rhythms of action and character in the same way composers shape notes and tempos into symphonies. This unique approach and intensive energy will give both new and experienced playwrights a workout they’ll be feeling for years. Writers working to finish an existing script also welcome.

Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 6:30 – 9:30 PM
Feb. 28 – Mar. 12

To sign up

Dominic Orlando

Small Hr

is a former Jerome and McKnight Fellow to The Playwrights Center in Minneapolis where he is currently a Core Writer and Co-Producing Director of The Workhaus Playwrights Collective. His Danny Casolaro Died For You was featured in last year’s Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Other works have been developed and produced at The Guthrie Theater (commission), Crowded Fire Theatre (San Francisco), The Aurora Theater (SF), The Bay Area Playwrights Festival (multi-year), Here Arts Center (NYC), The Samuel Beckett on Theatre Row (off-Broadway), The Lincoln Center/American Living Room (multi-year), Kitchen Dog (Dallas), Stage Left (Chicago), Teatro Del Pueblo (MN, commission, multi-year), The New York International Fringe Festival (multi-year), The Edinburgh Fringe, The Prague International Fringe Festival, The Pasinger/Fabrik in Munich, and The Tokyo International Arts Festival, among others. In NYC his work was supported by The New York State Council on the Arts, the Alliance of Resident Theatres, The NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs and The Puffin Foundation. He has been a writer-in-residence at The MacDowell Colony (multi-year), Yaddo, The William Inge Festival, The Edward Albee Foundation (multi-year), The Djerassi Resident Artists Program, The Ucross Foundation and The Atlantic Center for the Arts (a residency with Paula Vogel). His writing is published by San Francisco Magazine, Playscripts and Dramatics Magazine., fill out the registration form here and then make your payment on our brown paper tickets page. is the new Associate Chair of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama and works closely with Chair Paula Vogel. His play As American As (BAPF ’05) recently premiered in Washington DC at the Journeyman Theatre this October. His plays Amerikafka and Beholder were recently produced at Chicago’s experimental Trapdoor Theatre to critical acclaim. Ken is also a dramaturg and director of new plays and recently directed/dramaturged Boom by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb at the Brown/Trinity Playwrights Repertory where he also served as the associate artistic director. He is currently directing Nachtrieb’s new play Trenchcoat in Common for Encore Theatre this coming January at the Magic Theatre. He has taught playwriting and theatre at ACT, Intersection for the Arts, Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Iowa, as well as in Prague and Mexico. As a teacher and writer, he has studied with Maria Irene Fornes and Paula Vogel. His plays have been produced in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and in England and Scotland. He has received awards from ACTF, the California Arts Council, Djerassi Artist Program, Gerbode Foundation, the Goethe Institute, LEF Foundation, Millay Arts Colony, National Endowment of the Humanities, Rockerfeller Foundation and the San Francisco Cultural Equity Office., fill out the registration form here and then make your payment on our brown paper tickets page.


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