Season Preview: Bloomington Playwrights Project 2009-2010

Bloomington Playwrights Project

Yay! Today Gabe Gloden, Managing Director for  The Bloomington Playwrights Project, emailed me (amarylliswriter at gmail dot com) a press release with info about their upcoming season.  I love it when theatres do this!  So far, BPP is the only theatre in Indiana to do so this year.  Thanks very much, Gabe and BPP!  You can be sure I will be road-tripping south for as many of your shows as I can from now on.

Even if I weren’t trying to reward behavior that makes me feel taken seriously as a theatre reviews blogger, I would be planning trips to Bloomington based on the shows themselves.  Doesn’t this line-up look interesting:

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Playwright News: James Still – Medallion Recipient

Playwright James Still

If you have been reading my blog from the beginning you know that I love to interview theatre artists when I can.  I am especially interested in playwrights because a) I think of myself as a writer, too, and excellence in other writers of all kinds inspires me, and b) the unique, multi-faceted magic of most theatre art begins with the playwrights.

Conducting and writing up interviews is very time-consuming, especially on top of reviewing, so I don’t get to do it as often as I would like.  I feel privileged to have had detailed, one-on-one conversations with playwrights Jacob Appel, T. J. Dawe, Scott Haan, Emily Schwartz, James Still, and Steven Yockey.  I also feel privileged to have had the opportunity to chat very informally with Deborah Zoe Laufer after seeing multiple world premiere performances of “End Days,” and to sit in on part of Lou Harry’s development process for “Midwestern Hemisphere.”  

Whenever I hear of further success for any of “my” playwrights, I want to congratulate them publicly.  I mean, why have a blog if you can’t use it to say, “Hurray!” and “Yay, you!” and “Oh, that is so great!”?

I actually have three bits of joyful playwright news but two are unconfirmed gossip at this stage, so I’ll have to get back to you on those.  However, one is in the form of an official press release.  As you know, I love reading press releases “straight up” so I share them with you that way, too.  I was delighted to read this one about the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s playwright-in-residence, James Still:

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Mailbox and More: Festive Possibilities for the Weekend Ahead!

Last year's Brew-Ha-Ha? Photo provided by the Phoenix Theatre

My goodness, there is a lot going on this next weekend!  “Annie” is still running at Beef and Boards, for example, and “Octopus” continues at the Phoenix…but before I tell you about the new stuff that caught my eye in my email box this week, let me invite you to take a virtual tour of my friends’ beautiful house.  Here is the link:

 What does this have to do with live theatre in the Indianapolis area, you ask?

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Theatre Review: “FaceTweet Finale” by 3$B


Three Dollar Bill Comedy Company - composite by Will Pfaffenberger

Last Friday night I went to ComedySportz in downtown Indianapolis to see the “FaceTweet Finale” show by Three Dollar Bill Comedy Company.  This was a “best of” show.  3$B has been performing their original sketch comedy pieces based on current events during the late night slot at ComedySportz every Friday for six months now.

I have been several times.  3$B’s odd, often dark and wacky sense of humor appeals to me, even when it makes me groan instead of laugh. I also admire the company’s commitment to developing at least one new story per week.

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Another Take on “Octopus”

Jason Gloye and Scot Greenwell in Octopus - photo by

So this morning I ran into my friend and theatre buddy, David.  I said, “I’m going to see ‘Octopus’ at the Phoenix Theatre tonight.  I won’t have media passes because I already saw it once, but would you like to go Dutch with me?  Tickets on Thursday nights are $15.”

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Theatre Review: “Octopus” at the Phoenix

Ricardo Melendez in Octopus - photo by

Last Thursday night I met my friend, Chris, and his partner, Doug (who is also becoming my friend, I hope!) at the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see the opening night performance of the Midwest premiere of “Octopus,” by Steven Yockey.  Bryan Fonseca directed it, assisted by Brandon Gelvin.

It is an intense show, full of satisfying surprises both in terms of the story and the staging of it.  After a lot of post-show discussion, Doug pronounced it “poignant.”  Chris pronounced it “genius.”  I loved it, too, but for maybe different reasons than they did. 

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A Conversation with Steven Yockey

Playwright Steven Yockey

I heard that playwright Steven Yockey ( was in Indianapolis for the opening of his new play, “Octopus,” at the Phoenix Theatre.  On a whim, I asked if I could interview him on the day before the show opened.  He said yes!

So then I scrambled to read more about his work and to prepare questions beyond “Where do you get your ideas?”  It was interesting to read about his career on the Internet, so when we met at Henry’s on East coffee shop Wednesday afternoon, I had several questions.

He graciously answered all of them, even the ones that were really just for me rather than for my blog readers.  Steve listens like a playwright, or at least the way I imagine all good playwrights listen:  intently, compassionately, and with no nonsense but a lot of humor.

Our conversation was a great blessing to me.

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Mailbox: Too Many Choices! (a good problem to have)

LtR - Ricardo Melendez, Nate Walden, Jason Gloye, Ben Snyder in Octopus - photo by

Guess what?  I heard today from a little bird who heard from a little bird who heard from a little bird who is related to a certain young actor that he has been cast to play the “givee” in the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of “The Giver” next season. 

I don’t think I have seen this actor in a show before, and I am not sure, exactly, how to spell his name (does “Garrett” have two “t”s, for example? and does “McKenna” have two “n”‘s?), so I am not going to baldly name names here.  However, my source says that this young actor is very dedicated and his talent very promising, so I am even more excited, now, about seeing Lois Lowry’s thought-provoking novel for young people brought to life on the stage.

Speaking of young people’s novels, I would like one of those necklaces that Hermione had in the 5th (or was it 6th?) Harry Potter book.  If I could be multiple places at once this coming weekend, I would, in addition to taking care of a lot of personal stuff and seeing the Encore shows that I need to see, attend the following:

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Two Birthdays and THANK YOU!

"Purple Forest Flower" - photo by Robert Hale

Guess what?  As of last Friday, I have been writing about theatre for two years.

Yup, I posted my first thoughts about the Phoenix Theatre’s production of Neil LaBute’s “Fat Pig” on on June 5, 2007 under the pseudonym Amaryllis Jones.  It felt good, so I kept on doing it.

And now, two years later, I write as myself and I have my own theatre reviews blog with over 5000 unique visitors per month and over 125,000 hits per month.

Thank you for reading!

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“Wicked” Was Wonderful

Wicked poster

Well, I now have my first Broadway tour Playbill (the usher told me to call it that instead of a “program”) and I now understand all the fuss about “Wicked.”  A friend took me to see it for the first time tonight and “I have been changed for good.”

What a wonderful, wonderful experience.

I am not going to write a review of this show, but I will tell you that it continues at the Murat Theatre in downtown Indianapolis through Sunday, June 21, 2009 as part of the Broadway Across America – Indianapolis season.  I hope that you get a chance to see it, too.

Hope Baugh –