There Will Be Words – Undesirables by Kevin Mullins

Typically for There Will Be Words we open submissions, receive plays for about a month, spend another few weeks reading and discussing options. James and I will read the plays that the rest of the readers enjoy and pick our play. It is a great system because we get a new batch of plays every time, and we love plays! However, there have been a lot of very promising plays that have, for whatever reason, fallen through the cracks. So for this past TWBW, we decided to go back into the archives and pull out one of our favorites that wasn’t chosen.

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For this reading, we chose Undesirables by Kevin Mullins. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale of survival taking place in a remote cabin with drones flying overhead and radioactivity infecting the landscape. We cast five capable actors who not only turned out top-notch performances, but also lended valuable commentary for the play’s development. The best part is that they do all of this in one rehearsal.

The reason we only have one rehearsal is because we like to keep the emphasis on the play and playwright. If we have much more than one rehearsal, the emphasis turns from the script to the direction and the acting. In full production of any play, new or established, this is a major step in a good direction. But TWBW is a workshop meant to help the playwright by with a reading in front of an audience. Once a playwright has a clear enough understanding of what they want from their audience, the fun can start (and if you’re not looking for fun from theatre, why the hell are you doing it in the first place?).

Director James Peter Sotis, actors Devon Scalisi, Kevin Paquette, Todd Sandstrom, Jillian Barry, Cassandra Meyer, playwright Kevin Mullins and I met up to read and discuss the play. Some edits were made, and we were ready to put Undesirables in front of an audience. The result was one of the most humbling experiences VTG has ever had.

Upstairs, at Trident Booksellers & Cafe on Newbury Street, about thirty or so smiling faces appeared with three common goals: to eat, to drink, and to see some new theatre. Many were recognized and respected faces in the Boston theatre community, many were new to us. Regardless, their enthusiasm was almost tangible and that, more than anything, is what we value most in our audiences, especially for TWBW. After all, who wants to hear someone’s opinion who isn’t even enthusiastic about it? Sorry. Not interested.

When it comes to workshopping new plays, it’s always a crapshoot. There’s no way to completely immerse yourself into an audience’s position, nor can you know for sure what they’re going to think. One thing can make perfect sense in your head or make you react a certain way while reading it, but the fact of the matter is that plays were meant to be seen and heard. Not read. Luckily, Kevin Mullins has a clear understanding of this, as was evident from the talkback.

Undesirables takes us on a multi-layered adventure that not only tells a tale of present survival, but also opens many doors to past and future conflict all unraveling in a single room of one abandoned house.

One major discussion point during the talkback was whether or not we wanted to know more about what we can’t see happening and, if so, whether or not it was needed. With your passion and enthusiasm (and a few allusions to Samuel Beckett, for which I’m an absolute sucker), we came to the conclusion that we were okay knowing what we know and there was no need to for any additional information. This was a major question we all wanted to ask, and thank you all for providing any and all commentary to help reach that conclusion.

As I’m sure most of you know, we performed this reading amidst rehearsals for another show which opens shortly at The Factory Theatre. For more information on Supergravity and the Eleventh Dimension. Click here to purchase tickets and click here to contribute to the show!

Thank you all for attending There Will Be Words: Undesirables. We hope to see you again at Supergravity and future TWBWs!

– Zach Winston, Literary Manager

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King Arthur in Contemporary Connecticut

Vagabuddies!

529263_10151577717839400_2123365514_nThings have been getting awfully busy around VTG as we gear up for our big summer production of Supergravity and the Eleventh Dimension.

Thank you to all who joined us at There Will Be Words last month. We depend on your commentary for the development of new plays, and it’s certainly good to know there are such helpful, smart, and enthusiastic contributors in our audience.

Unfortunately, playwright James C. Ferguson couldn’t be in attendance. That being said, what a fantastic talkback we had! Don’t worry, we sent extensive notes of your commentary to the playwright after the event! Thank you to all who contributed, and we hope to hear your responses for future readings at Trident!

More photos of our event in Trident’s brand new upstairs space can be found on our Facebook page!

There Were Words (with a little bit of horror)!

From left to right: Cassandra Meyer, Cara Grace Pacifico, Rachel Katherine Alexander and Travis Stickney.

It was during a staff meeting about a week before Burning up the Dictionary opened that one of our readers brought up The Centipede King by Peter Floyd. The play sounded fascinating and, while everyone else stayed in town to build and paint scenery for Burning up the Dictionary that day, I went home to check it out. At first, the play was a bit challenging. It has a visual and multi-layered style, so simply reading the words to oneself doesn’t do the piece justice. But can anyone say they weren’t challenged by Death of a Salesman or Waiting for Godot while simply reading it? No, because plays are meant to be performed. Not read.

Presenting The Centipede King at TWBW was a unique experience not only for the benefits of both playwright and company, but also for the fact that it was a drastic alternative to anything and everything we had ever done before. It’s a theatrical horror movie! Sure, we could have mounted a reading of The Pillowman, but it’s a much more fulfilling and beneficial experience to workshop a new play with the writer in the room.

It was a pleasure working with Peter Floyd and hearing everyone’s feedback at TWBW (that’s pronounced “tuh-wuh-buh-wuh,” for those who haven’t read my last blog post). We can’t thank you enough for giving Peter a lot of positive and helpful feedback because TWBW’s main purpose is to the benefit the playwright. There’s only so much we can do in rehearsals without an audience, and it’s good to know we have such smart, supportive and helpful people coming to our events.

In other VTG news, we are getting ready to open submissions for TWBW #6 (which will take place March 14 at 7:00 PM) and I’m very much looking forward to reading all of your plays. Also, we’re in the final phases of securing a script for our big July production. Be sure to keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for both of those announcements or you can join our mailing list to have information sent straight to your inbox. Thank you for supporting live theatre, and thank you for joining us at There Will Be Words!

– Zach Winston, Literary Associate

MMORPGee, that was fun.

Hey, everyone. Your friendly neighborhood Artistic Director, here.

It’s been a few days since the closing of our biggest production yet, True Believers. The response to this show has been bigger and brighter than we could have hoped for. In our last week, we sold out our Wednesday show (a Wednesday?! A Wednesday.), our Friday show, and our closing night show on Saturday was standing-room-only. Judging by the reviews, the Facebook and Twitter feedback, and the amount of you that stayed to mingle with us after the show, you really dug our little shindig. So before anything else: Thank you. On behalf of all of us here at VTG, thank you.

I think it’s safe to say that we’re glad you all had fun, because we sure as hell had a blast. When you spend day after day with a spandex superhero, a real-life Slave Leia, and Steampunk Jesus himself, it would be hard not to.

A special shoutout goes forth to the lot of you that followed True Believers all the way from our There Will Be Words reading back in February. I’ve had some wonderful conversations with a bunch of you about the changes, tweaks, and challenges we had to overcome to bring such a unique script to life. It seems like only yesterday that we read the words “MMORPG” and “Cyborg Head of Stan Lee” to the crowds at Trident. When you all asked how that was going to happen, we said we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. As far as I’m concerned, now that it’s over: VTG 1, Bridge 0.

Your support and feedback along this journey has been invaluable.

True Believers Cast and Crew

I count myself lucky to not only have a fantastic audience, but also to work with the best cast and crew a guy could ask for. Almost 50 people worked on True Believers in some fashion over the last five months. From the TWBW Cast to the production crew, these are some of the most talented people I knew. I’m overjoyed to have found them. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Boston theatre scene—pick any name out of our program, and I can near-guarantee you that you will have a fantastic time working with any person therein. You won’t regret it.

(Side note: You know you’ve stumbled upon a singularly amazing collection of humans when you all gather between stifling hot matinees to watch Hook projected over the stage. Shouting “Bangarang Rufio!” at the screen with your cast is a great source of pre-show positive energy.)

A lot of hard work went into this production—by both cast and crew—and I think it shows. One review called True Believers “the best teched show [they’ve] ever seen at The Factory Theater.” That’s a humbling statement, and I can sure name great work done by other artists in the space. However, that bar is now set very high for us, and we’re going to try and clear it every time.

In the end, this entire experienced has just pumped me full of enthusiasm for the next one. Whether it’s a full TWBW to Production cycle, a one off performance, a reading, or another such event, we’re rearing to go. We promise it will be fun. And we hope you’ll join us—once again—for the ride.

Thanks for everything, Boston.

-james.

THERE WERE WORDS: Recap of Meron Langsner’s Burning up the Dictionary

There’s a certain level of entertainment that comes from overhearing a breakup. You’re sitting in a café, and suddenly the tense curtness of a couple on the brink catches your ear. You sip your coffee, pretend to read a book, and hope the drama reaches its climax before the check comes.

Burning Up the Dictionary, a smart new play by local playwright Meron Langsner, ensured that the packed audience at Trident Booksellers & Café did not miss a second of Suzie-Fay (Caitlyn Conley) and George’s (Joseph Edward Metcalfe) painfully realistic end to their relationship. As the third play to be presented in Vagabond Theatre Group’s quarterly series, THERE WILL BE WORDS: A New Play Workshop, Burning Up the Dictionary’s dark humor and unapologetic portrayal of characters spoke to a not-so-nerdy side of VTG and reminded some grimacing audience members of relationships they thought they finally forgot.

The next installment of THERE WILL BE WORDS: A New Play Workshop will be presented on Thursday, September 17, 2012 at Trident Booksellers & Café on Newbury Street. If you wish to have your play considered, keep an eye out on our website in July for our open submissions date!

For more on Meron Langsner, check out his website and blog for a recap on his experience with TWBW.