Thursday, April 21, 2016

Inge Fest 2016 Pt. 1:


Out of Los Angeles in the morning, everything completely uneventful, except for my brain whirling wondering if I'd brought enough underwear, did Lionel's homework get put where it needed to be, where was I changing planes? DFW?

I arrived in Tulsa, and was spotted (probably because I stood out like a sore thumb in my bright pink Converse and backpack. I like to keep track of myself) by a very nice gentleman by the name of Norman. It was a small enough airport that he found most of us right away. Turns out I had been on the same plane as Lee Blessing and Caridad Svich and we were being ferried to the festival together. THAT put me in paroxysms of shyness, especially since I had been reading her "GUAPA" on the plane, and because I had played Kimberly in his "Patient A." I'd long admired them both. Of course they were warm and funny and we all had a nice chat about what was wrong in the American theatre while driving the 75 miles from Tulsa to Independence. We also picked up a fellow Angeleno named Karen JP Howes, a projection designer, Matthew and a frazzled gentleman whose name was mumbled to me as McMurtry, so I assume he is some sort of a cowboy.

Arriving in town, the bigwigs went to their hotel, and church mouse me ended up in the dorms with a GREAT roommate, L.C.. Of course I was starving, and nothing was open so so I whined in my best Angeleno and got ferried into town for a meal at Jack's where I met a couple of other playwrights, and a very dry Martini.
Day one proper of the festival, I awoke (Awoke being a relative term since I hadn't slept in my overexcited exhaustion.) Went to the school cafeteria, chattered excitedly with other sleep deprived playwrights, and entered the Inge theatre for our orientation.

This is the 35th Inge festival, but the very FIRST Playlab. Karen Carpenter the AD and captain of the ship, explained that it had long been her goal to bring working playwrights to the festival, and here we were!

Felling honored, but queasy (My play "Picture Me Rollin" was first in the line up along with James Trivers, "Drinks With Mother Teresa.") I trotted off to a master class taught by Lee Blessing.  I use his material, (Two Rooms, Walk in the Woods, Eleemosynary) in my acting classes.  A brilliant, literary giant, he is also warm, engaging and nurturing of other playwrights.

After lunch the PlayLab started. I hadn't met the actors or the director until I walked into the green room to say hello. My piece is VERY new. It is a baby first draft, and I don't know what-the-hell impulse made me send it in. Except, I'm nothing if not impulsive.  Lee is my respondent as is Beaufield Berry and Catherine Trieschmann, which didn't make nervous at all.

I was delighted and astounded at the amount of work and care that the actors took with my piece. These were a group from Kansas City, The Living Room Theatre. All of the playwrights have been commenting what a delight it is to have our work read by such a high caliber of performer. 

To be honest, I barely remember what anyone said, except that they related to the subject, liked it, and thought I should expand it. I don't think there is anything worse than being brought onstage and asked to talk about your work. Or anything better. But I should have written everything down. My new playwright friends are all more or less in the same pickle. Mostly I wanted to leave and do rewrites, I was so jazzed by the work I saw. You'll have to ask someone else, but I think it was pretty good.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Reposted from

Diana Burbano

Name:  Diana BurbanoHeadshots Diana Burbano
Hometown: Neiva, Colombia
Current Town: Long Beach, CA
Affiliations: South Coast Repertory, Teaching Artist
Q: How do you self-identify? 
A: Latina, Nerd. I was raised on Star Trek and David Bowie.
Q: Tell me about Fabulous Monsters.
A: I wrote Fabulous Monsters because I had just recently seen Joan Jett in concert  and I heard an NPR interview with Linda Ronstadt about her Parkinsons diagnosis and Melissa Etheridge, who had breast cancer, said in an interview that women guitar players seemed to get a lot of cancer. It sparked an idea about writing a play about rock and roll survivors from the female perspective.
The play takes place in the 70’s and the present, it’s not what I would call a musical but there is a lot of music in it.  I got to work with Moises Vasquez, who wrote me some pretty awesome punk songs. I’d like to add more!  It’s like working at a smelly punk club, which was my happy place as a teen.
Q: What else are you working on now?
A: I’ve been working on a play about a young cousin who was recently killed by a drunk driver. It’s named after a Tupac song: “Picture Me Rollin.” It’s a very simple piece and I’ve gotten very good response for it. It’s going to be featured at the 35th annual William Inge Festival in Independence, Kansas.
Q: What have been the defining moments of your journey as a playwright?
A: I have been a mildly successful actress all of my life, nothing too flashy, but I always worked. Then the time came where there were no roles for me! None. I’m not THIS enough, I’m too much THIS, I’m too old, I’m too young.  My face is so, so… LATINA. Meh.
I decided to write for myself. I wrote the play SILUETA (With Chris and Tom Shelton) as a two hander that I could do with my partner, we could take our young child on the road, I could work as an ACTOR, you know? (Don’t get me started on childcare in the theatre!) It’s about the life and death of Cuban artist Ana Mendieta and her husband Carl Andre who was accused and acquitted of her death. On a whim I submitted it to The Great Plains Theatre Conference and we were accepted. That started me on the road to thinking I could pursue writing, as I found I loved it, and I had so much more power in the room than a mere actor.
My mandate is to write great roles for women.
Q: Who have been your playwriting mentors and heroes?
A: Playwrights I love: Caryl Churchill. Tom Stoppard. Sarah Ruhl, Octavio Solis, Jose Cruz Gonzalez, Stephen Adly Gurgis, Luis Alfaro, Mickey Kessler, Joslyn Housley McLaughlin, Jonathan Payne, Tanya Saracho!
Also I have to praise the actors who have played roles I’ve written and made them better in the process: Mercy Vasquez, Jennifer Parsons,  and Julianna Stephanie Ojeda. Having a great actor tackling your work will only make the work better.
The Latino Theatre Alliance of Los Angeles for believing in me and giving me space to write.
William Mittler, Eric Eberwein and Karen Carpenter for giving me a chance to be heard by a wider audience.
Q: What advice do you have for Latin@ playwrights at the beginning of their career?
A: Write what you want. Write what excites you. Pass the Bechdel test. Meet other playwrights and listen to their work with an open heart. Breathe when you write. Questions are the weakest form of dialog. Don’t give up! Don’t be shy. Submit, submit, submit your work! Be your own best advocate. Join the New Play Exchange. Write great parts for women. If a good actor has a hard time memorizing something you’ve written or if they bump up against something. reexamine it. Maybe by changing it, you can make it work. Listen to them when they say, “But would she do that?” They are deep in the character’s skin. Take an acting class.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: That you can ask me anything and I will try to answer to the best of my ability. I love mentoring. I am a passionate teacher. I’m insatiable. I’m shy. I’m very self critical, but I’m pushy. Yoga helps.
***For more on Diana Burbano, see: