Tag Archives: edinburgh

7 Facts About Me (Part 2: Versatile Blogger Awards)

I'm looking at turtles on the ocean floor. My back is roasting to a nice crispy texture.Yesterday, I blogged about how Christina Zarrella awarded me a Versatile Blogger Award. Part one of receiving the award was to nominate 15 bloggers I think you should check out; part two is sharing 7 facts about me. Yesterday’s blog got a bit long, so today here are some more facts (facts, and nothing but the facts). Check out Christina’s blog, Turbulence in the Veins, if you haven’t already.

7 Facts About Me:

1. My first (paid) writing gig was as one of the inaugural writers for NeXt, the teen section of The Buffalo News. I mostly covered science fiction events, including movie reviews and even a Star Trek convention. During my 2-year stint as a correspondent, I got to interview people like George Takei (briefly, at a local Star Trek convention) and Michael DeLuise (who I knew and loved from NBC’s short-lived seaQuest DSV).

2. One of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced was swimming with turtles in St. Maarten last year. Even though I got the worst sunburn of my life, it was totally worth it. While I’d do it again in a heartbeat, I might choose to wear a long-sleeved shirt in the water, next time.

3. As of this year, New York City overtook Edinburgh as the place I’ve lived the longest, other than my childhood hometown.

4. Growing up, I studied ballet lessons, gymnastics, swim team, the French Horn, the flute and the piano. I no longer do any of those things.

5. I have only seen each of the original Star Wars movies once, only seen the first of the prequels, and have no intention of watching any more of them ever again.

butchering a pig

Left: Kevin O’Donnell, chef at The Salty Pig, Boston. Right: Me, tearing fat out of a pig carcass.

6. Two years ago, I won a lesson in how to butcher a pig by claiming “it’s a skill I’ll need in order to survive after the zombie apocalypse.” I’m not sure they realized my main goal would not be to catch wild pigs with my bare hands after zombies took over the planet. (Too subtle? Or too tasteless? Either way, I joke.)

7. Beneath my cynical and direct exterior, I’m actually a total pushover, but I mostly try to keep that a secret. 😉

Thus concludes my acceptance of my Versatile Blogger Award!

 

I’m currently seeking beta readers/advance reviewers for my upcoming collection of sci-fi and speculative fiction stories, SHORT FRICTIONS. If you’re interested, please click here to find out more. 

When Did I Stop Dreaming?

Years ago, I was in a class at Queen Margaret University College (now simply Queen Margaret University, and with a drama department that’s been gutted, compared to the years I spent at the now-closed Gateway Theater campus) called “Experimental Writing.” It was aimed more at those on our course who were focusing on theatrical disciplines that weren’t writing, so those of us who were on the writing track were asked to try and find something new to experiment with.

I chose illustrations. I’m not an artist, but every so often I find myself drawing strange little pen drawings, and in this case I wrote a short piece about dreaming then used Photoshop to put together a set of illustrated pages.

The story is called “When Did I Stop Dreaming,” and the images show off how much I am not an illustrator. But the class was about going out of your creative comfort zone. This was pretty far out of my comfort zone.

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I read enough about science and the brain to know that we dream every night, multiple times a night, and that the question is less whether we’ve stopped dreaming than whether we remember what we’ve dreamt.

When I remember them, my dreams are incredible. They boil down the complications in my life to their most basic questions, then pose those questions in ways that illuminate choices that lead to improved mental health, improved environmental satisfaction, and seeing options I may have been clouding for myself, before. And yet, for at least four or five years, memories of dreams have been few and far between.

What I have far more regularly than dreams is trouble sleeping. Transitioning from the hectic pace of the city to the subdued peace of unconsciousness is difficult, and often takes me hours. It’s also a process that’s easily disrupted – by emotions, by interruptions, by thoughts.

Falling asleep takes discipline.

A couple months ago, a run of insomnia and a fluke neuron firing had me searching YouTube for sleep hypnosis videos.

I stumbled across a channel run by a woman named Jody Whitley, and decided to give one of her videos a shot – I don’t remember which one it was. Sleep hypnosis for pain. Sleep hypnosis for depression. For weight loss. For lucid dreaming. Something.

Lucid dreaming sounded really f*cking cool, and the other topics didn’t sound too bad, either.

Now, I’m not going to get into the efficacy of hypnosis because frankly I don’t know anything at all about it. And I don’t really care, because the videos I’ve listened to from the channel have put me to sleep every time.

More importantly, I’ve started remembering my dreams again.

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Sunday and Monday: Kindle Select Promo Days!

Cover art for PLAYING IT COOL

This Sunday and Monday (September 16th and 17th, 2012) you can download my first Edinburgh Fringe play, Playing it Cool for free on Amazon. (Apologies to those who’ve been patient since Friday night – a glitch in scheduling meant the promo didn’t go live as planned on Saturday).

Playing it Cool (a snappy romantic comedy) was written in 2003, and was my first produced play since 1999’s POST (a surreal tale about gun violence).

If you don’t own a Kindle and want to check out the play,  you can download apps for almost any platform on Amazon’s home page.

And as I said last time:

Playing it Cool is a one-act play about two friends, subtext and communication. It’s a two-hander that takes place in an apartment and a cafe, so might be of interest for those looking for audition scenes to read with a partner.

No big monologues here, I’m afraid, although both my later Fringe plays, Stuck Up A Tree and Mousewings (particularly Mousewings) will deliver on that front.

I’m listing Playing it Cool with Kindle Select for at least 90 days, so if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, make sure to put it on your list for a free read.”

Reviews of Playing It Cool:

Playing it Cool may not be the most ambitious play, addressing only a single issue. However, it contains much humour and is very well written. It will be very interesting to see a longer and more intricate play from the very promising Rachel Lynn Brody, at some time soon.”

– Philip Fisher, The British Theatre Guide, regarding the play’s premiere.

If you want to find out about awesome stuff like this ahead of time, subscribe to my Mailchimp mailing list. I won’t send stuff often, and won’t sell your email info, but I can promise at least a few promos ahead of the curve. And who knows what else.

But first, download Playing It Cool.

De Facto De-Funding at Creative Scotland?

From Joyce McMillan’s blog:

“Creative Scotland have instead decided to withdraw their entire middle range of funding, known as flexible funding, which offered basic income security on a two or three year cycle to small- and medium- scale arts organisations with a strong creative record. The result is to throw some 49 Scottish arts organisations from a condition of modest security, into a condition of complete insecurity, in which they have to bargain from project to project for their continuing right to exist.”

It was when I read the names of some of the 49 companies now in jeopardy that I felt my mental jaw drop: Vanishing Point Theatre Company, Grid-Iron, and the CCA in Glasgow (their equivilent of New York City’s MoMA) were included on the list. For the record, Vanishing Point’s Lost Ones, which I reviewed seven years ago during the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, has stuck with me like few other productions over the years.

Why I’m Opening My Big Mouth

I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, for four years, from 2003-2007. During that time, I attended Queen Margaret University College’s MFA program in Dramatic Writing; at the time, the theater department was run by Maggie Kinloch – who has since moved to RSAMD.

I dove headfirst into the arts scene. Edinburgh was where I started reviewing for The British Theatre Guide. It’s where my plays PLAYING IT COOL, STUCK UP A TREE, and MOUSEWINGS had their world premiers. I made numerous short films there, applied for and received funding for arts projects from my university, organized script development workshops and was an active member in the Traverse Theater’s Young Writer’s Group (I was lucky enough to have two plays workshopped as part of the program), plus traveled to INTERPLAY – EUROPE as one of their delegates. I’ve stayed in touch with many of you since leaving Edinburgh, and this this fall, my one-act play MILLENNIAL EX will be featured in a collection of short plays from around the world on the subject of marriage equality at a festival in Glasgow.

So I have something of an interest in what goes on within the Scottish theater scene, but rarely have the time to indulge that interest, and so was not aware of the current funding debate taking place until this morning. @MarkFisher was kind enough to point me towards information on the current debate, and that’s why I missed this morning’s sunshine and will now be spending the remainder of the afternoon inside as rain thunders down in Manhattan.

Theater Funding in Scotland vs. America – Where the Money Comes From

There are some things about arts funding in the UK, and in Scotland, which may be unfamiliar to some of my American readers. The main one, I think is:

In the UK, public funding bodies exist, geared toward distributing funding for (and thereby encouraging the development of) artistic forms of expression within a specific mission statement. They have the mission and responsibility to enrich citizens’ cultural lives and develop resources that showcase and develop both the country’s heritage and its future.

(My feeling is that in America, there is not a similar or analogous organization that answers to and is responsible for the funding of such a wide range of theaters and types of theatrical projects as is Creative Scotland. But that’s another discussion, and one I’m happy to have in the comments.)

These funding bodies and their missions, and the ways in which these obligations to fund are interpreted and fulfilled, are a point of contention between organization and practitioner. (Pardon the stealth edit as I try to make my point clearer.)

What the What?

Okay. Let’s say you have a theatre company in Scotland and want to apply for funding for this really fantastic idea you have. You go to Creative Scotland and fill out an application form. You pick the kind of funding that fits your project.

In the past, Creative Scotland had a category which funded on a project-only basis. Technically, these were grants that a theater company would receive, once per cycle (clarification stealth edit). They weren’t meant as funding that would keep the company running year round, but practically…

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice & Men…

…that doesn’t seem to be what happened. A number of companies, including, I would assume, those McMillan names in the above excerpt, have received grants from Creative Scotland to a degree where their project-to-project funding is sustaining their organization and where the loss of that funding puts those companies in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, it seems from the reading I’ve done this morning that Creative Scotland’s response is: we’re not defunding you, we’re just cancelling this form of funding. You shouldn’t have been depending on these funds in the first place.

Pardon the analogy, but to me that reads a bit like a drug dealer saying, “Well, it’s not withdrawal, because you weren’t supposed to get addicted to heroin in the first place.”

I’ll be interested to see how this situation develops.

For those who are interested, some additional reading
http://stramasharts.wordpress.com 
http://annebonnar.wordpress.com 
http://joycemcmillan.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/three-deadly-sins-of-creative-scotlands-bad-funding-review-column-25-5-12/