Author Archive: Greg Hatfield

The Gingerbread Lady

I will be directing the play, Lessons, by Teri Foltz, for The Drama Workshop’s Home Brew Festival, featuring productions of short plays by local authors. The show dates are June 7, 8 and 9 at the Glenmore Playhouse in Cheviot.

My own play, The Ten Minute Play (with a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter), will also be part of the festival.

In the Summer of 1974, I directed my first full-length play, The Gingerbread Lady by Neil Simon. One of Simon’s more dark comedies, TGL is the story of Evy, a singer, whose career and life is destroyed by her drinking.

During the Spring of 1974, I was a student at Northern Kentucky University, as a theater major. I had had a lot of fun directing Edward Albee’s The Sandbox and a few scenes form other plays in classes, including a great version of the closing scene of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Jennifer Burkhart was one of the best actresses at NKU and frustrated because she couldn’t find a part that she wanted to play. She brought me a copy of the play and asked if I would look at it and, if I liked it, we could go to the theater head, Bill Parsons, and see if we could do it as summer show. I did like it and pitched it to Dr. Parsons, who agreed to give us a little money to put it on.

So, I was part of great group of friends with theater sound, lighting, props and production experience, so there was no doubt that they were going work on it. This was going to be the first totally student produced show at in NKU’s history. In Nunn Hall, there was a small theater, holding around 150, so after Spring semester was out, we moved in and began to work on the show.

I don’t even think we had auditions. Jennifer was going to be Evy, after all, it was her idea. I cast friends in the other roles. Greg Carstens as Jimmy, Frankie Banta as Polly, Susan Rogers as Tory, Mike Salzman as Manuel and Jerry Helm as Lou.

Mike, Jerry, Debby Wolff and me practically lived in that theater for the two months leading up to the show. Debby was our props mistress and we had a great looking set, designed by Jerry. We even had running water in the set kitchen.

We had some anxieties throughout the rehearsals. Nerves came out. It was a big show, after all, with nuances that I don’t know if we were successful in presenting, but we had fun, that I do remember.

Auditions for Home Brew’s Festival

For all of my Cincinnati actors.  This is the information about auditioning for The Drama Workshop’s Home Brew Festival.  As you may recall from last time, I have a play, The Ten Minute Play (with a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter) in the festival and I’m directing one of the plays, Lessons by Teri Foltz.

The Drama Workshop Announces Home Brew Theater auditions: Sunday 3/30 and Monday 4/1.

The Drama Workshop will hold open auditions for its production of Home Brew Theater at 6pm on Sunday, March 31 and 7pm on Monday, April 1 at The TDW ANNEX Building, 3619 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, Ohio, 45211. (Location details below.)

Home Brew is TDW’s annual show case of short plays by local authors, accompanied by a reception featuring beer from West Side Brewery. Home Brew will run the weekend of June 7-9, 2019. This year Home Brew Theater is supported by a generous grant from Summer Fair Cincinnati.

There are 7 directors for the 10 plays. Auditions will be in front of the panel of directors.

There are a variety of roles for actors of all genders and ages (except children).

Auditions will consist of cold readings from selected Home Brew short plays. Please also prepare a one-minute monologue. A headshot and resume are appreciated but not required. Auditions will be recorded on video for directors who can’ t be present. Videos will NOT be posted to the public.

Please email questions to the producers at tdw.homebrew@gmail.com

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The TDW Annex is located at 3619 Harrison Ave. between the “Game Time” bar and “American Trading”. The sign on the building still says “Angel’s Touch”.

https://goo.gl/maps/G1EjSdUWPLR2

It’s around the corner and a few doors down from the Glenmore Playhouse. Please note that you may not park in the lot directly behind 3619 Harrison. There should be ample street parking, or you may park in the public lot at the corner of Glenmore Ave and Gamble Ave.

New Production of The Ten Minute Play and Directing a Play in Cincinnati

To all my Cincinnati friends (and those that want to travel).   I’m happy to announce that I will be participating in The Drama Workshop’s annual Home Brew Theater as a playwright and director.

Home Brew Theater is an annual festival featuring productions of short plays by local authors. The show dates are June 7, 8 and 9 at the Glenmore Playhouse in Cheviot. There’s also a reception following the plays with craft beer from West Side Brewery.

My play, The Ten Minute Play (with a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter), will be performed. It will be directed by Julie Jordan. The play is a comedy. Some of you may remember that this play had a reading in Kansas City last October and the audience loved it. You will love this play, too, and this gives all my Cincinnati friends the opportunity to finally see what I’ve been doing with my life.

I’m also directing a play for the festival, Lessons by Teri Foltz. This is a warm, touching play that I found absolutely delightful. I think you’ll like it, too. I’m very excited to work on this play.

I want to mention that the Drama Workshop people have been very nice to me and supportive and the Glenmore Playhouse is a wonderful theater to see a play.

I’ll have more information about the plays as the weeks progress, but I hope you’ll save the date and come and see my plays at the Festival. I’m linking to the Drama Workshop’s Facebook page, where they have information on all the plays and ticket reservations.

I’ll see you there.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheDramaWorkshop/?fref=nf

 

A Recommendation for My New Play

I have a new play.  It’s called Lily Blossoms or Modern Subdivision Zoning for the Present Day.  It’s a one-act comedy.  Recently, a playwright/reader on New Play Exchange, a website where playwrights can upload their plays and theatre managers, artistic directors, etc., can find new plays to produce.

The play is set in 1954, in New York, and features writers Lily Palmer and Theodore Barkley, who work for Manhattan magazine. But, things will change once Barkley gets an offer from a movie studio and has to move to California.

This is the season when theatre companies ask for submissions and I wanted to have a new play ready to submit.  I worked on this play in November and December and finished it early January.  I like it.  It’s funny and the characters are among my favorites.  I even got to name drop a favorite character from one of my other plays.

This recommendation is from Steven G. Martin, a fellow playwright:

 Sophisticated humor — through wit, wordplay, and charm — infuse this light, one-act comedy set in 1950s New York. Hatfield clearly understands and enjoys the high-brow charm of shows of this period, and has created a group of characters — world wearing magazine writers, a misled wife, and a tortured editor — that fits right in. Stylish and enchanting. 

If you see this post and know a theatrical producer, please pass this along.  Hopefully, a company will like the play and decide to produce it.

2018 was a good year for me, professionally.  Two of my plays, The Great Stalinski and The Ten Minute Play (With a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter), received readings. in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, respectively.   Another play, Mundy Tuesday Friday, was a finalist for a theatre company in Virginia.

2019 is off to a good start, too.  I’ll have some news a bit later on about some theatrical work I’m doing in Cincinnati.

Play Reading of The Great Stalinski

My play, The Great Stalinski, will be given a reading by the Pittsburgh New Works Reading Series, on Monday, November 5.

The Reading Series will be be held at Higher Voice Studios, 144 E Main St, Carnegie, PA 15106, at 7:00 p.m.  Their website is https://pittsburghnewworks.org/reading-series/

The Great Stalinski was selected as a finalist for the Pittsburgh New Works Festival in 2018, but just didn’t make the final cut of 18 produced plays.  Out of hundreds of submissions, my play and about 39 others were finalists.  The Reading Series is taking the plays that didn’t make it and giving them a reading over the course of the winter with local actors.

Of course I’m thrilled to be included.

The Great Stalinski is a personal favorite of my plays, as it started what I call “The Cabot Trilogy.”  Let me explain:  The play is about the third generation of Cabot actors who are gathered together for the funeral the “World’s Greatest Shakespearean Actor,” Gregor Stalinski.  Brothers Jack and Monty and sister Veronica Cabot were close to Stalinski (especially Veronica) and they meet up at Jack’s theater to travel together to the funeral.  The Cabots are theater royalty and the play is really a fun piece about theater history and fame.

So after writing it, that got me to thinking about the other generations of Cabots and I wrote a play about Jack, Monty and Veronica’s parents called Three Sisters in Repertory.  I love that play.  The characters are great.  We meet Charles Cabot, their father, and three sisters, Virginia, Eve and Roz Fleming.  I’m guessing that one of them becomes their mother.  Again, theater history is evident as scenes are played from Pygmalion, Hamlet and The Importance of Being Earnest.

So I had to write a play about the First Generation of Cabots and I wrote the first act of what would become The Cabots of Broadway, where we meet Kate and John Cabot, who start the whole family on a theatrical career.

Act Two is Three Sister in Repertory and Act Three is The Great Stalinski.  I’m really proud of this play and have been sending it out religiously.

As always, my plays are on New Play Exchange.  I’m sorry more of you can’t see or read the plays just yet, but I’m working on it.  It’s hard work.

Some Nice Words About My Ten Minute Play.

So, if you’re a fan of my blog (and maybe you should be), I’ve discovered that earlier in the month a couple of playwrights on the New Play Exchange, where I host my plays hoping that someone will read them and want to produce them, have read my play, The Ten Minute Play (with a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter).

I am thrilled to say that both liked the play very much and have written some wonderful comments about that are posted on my New Play Exchange profile.

Here’s what they said:

2 Oct. 2018
 I think every writer, but especially those of ten minute plays, can relate to this ten minute play about ten minute plays and writing in general. From explaining what a ten minute play is, to thinking that what we’ve crafted is the best ten minute play ever. sing a picture of Jimmy Carter seems to be about the most ten minute play thing ever. Did I mention this is a ten minute play about ten minute plays? Because it is and I think it might be slightly brilliant. 

 

2 Oct. 2018
 Irreverently funny, Greg Hatfield strikes the right tone with a two-hander reminiscent of the style of May/Nichols. 
Thank you, Everett and Robert.  I really appreciate it.
Everett is hailed as “one of our best new children’s authors” by Heartland Play Publishers, Everett Robert is an award winning author, playwright, actor, and director with over 20 years of experience.  His website is:  http://www.emergencyroomproductions.com
Robert is a playwright with many productions under his belt.
Both men are members of the New Play Exchange.  I had the opportunity to meet both men at the Midwest Dramatists Conference recently, where our plays were given a reading, and their plays stood out among the group.
Thanks again, guys.

Update: October

My play, The Ten Minute Play (with a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter), had a reading at the Midwest Dramatists Conference, near Kansas City, on Saturday, September 29.  The conference gave me a chance to hob-nob with theater folk and just talk about plays for a few days.  Playwright Sean Grennan and agent Beth Blickers were there all weekend giving feedback to playwrights as the plays were being presented.

It went great.  Lots of laughs (which is good, since it is a comedy) and positive feedback from the judges.  My actors were great.  Brie Henderson as Gwen and Curtis Smith as Peter delivered the lines perfectly.  Thanks to those two for wonderful performances.

I’m glad I went to the conference.  The organizers were very good.  I’ve done a few conferences in my career and I know how hard it could be.  They took very good care of us.  David Hanson, Vicki Vodrey, Lindsay Adams were all really really nice people.  (David Hanson directed my play, too.

I met other playwrights from all over the country who attended and talked to them about their work and how they approached getting their stuff out there.  I was happy to meet Tim Toepel (who had worked with Steve Allen), Morgan Trant Kinnally, Linda Paul, Sharon Goldner, and many others.

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I was impressed with the actors the conference had for the readings.  There was about 15-18 actors doing almost 50 plays and they were very good.  It’s really an actor’s dream to have so many different parts to play.  Shoutouts to Brie and Curtis (in my play, but good in others, too).   Laura Jacobs and Nicole Hall were great, and I mean great, in everything they did over the weekend.  I’ve got parts for both of them in a couple of plays of mine.

So now, we move on to other things.  Thanks for reading.  If you’re a member, all of my plays are on New Play Exchange under my name.

What’s New?

So, writing plays is pretty cool.  My one-act play, The Ten Minute Play (With a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter) has been selected for a reading at the Midwest Dramatist Conference in late September, in Kansas City.  I’ll be attending and participating in panels and see my play being performed.

Another one-act play, Mundy Tuesday Friday, was selected over the summer as a Finalist by the Shakespeare in the Burg theater company in Middleburg, Virginia.  Of course, it would have been nice to have the play actually produced, but the director of the company is very nice.  I’ve received several nice rejections for this play from other companies.   One day, somebody’s going to pick this up and stage it.

The biggest news (and I know I’m burying the lede) is that I just finished a full-length play called The Cabots of Broadway.  It’s a comedy about three generations of actors.  Each act is about one generation and how they became the First Family of the Theater.  I’ve been submitting it to theater festivals around the country in the hopes that someone loves it and wants to do it.   I love it.  It’s my best work so far.

All of my plays ( I have several)  are available on New Play Exchange (https://newplayexchange.org/users/14397/greg-hatfield) under my name.

So there you have it.  Updates.  While you’re here, go ahead and read some of the older posts.  The Crosby post is good, as is the Grace Metalious post.  I’m also fond of the Harpo and Dorothy Parker posts.  And if you want to cry a little, The Day the Sheriff Shot My Dog is up your alley.

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts on Joy Williams’ New Album, Venus

Joy Williams
Venus
Columbia Records

Venus joy-williams-woman-oh-mama-630x420

Like many music fans, I was introduced to Joy Williams when she was in the group, the Civil Wars, with John Paul White, in 2008.  The story goes they met at a songwriting camp, meshed and decided to go from there.  They exemplified the term Americana music, that hybrid of folk and country, with acoustic and sparse arrangements, lyrics that were deep and dark and mournful, with wonderful harmonies.  Their songs reminded me of some of the Band’s work, in that they were dynamically paired, like any combination of Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel, and could complement each other’s songs, wistfully harmonizing around the edges, adding layers and extra texture that captivated the listener.

Their first album, Barton Hollow, was very successful, with multiple award recognitions, including Grammys, and the band seemed on their way.  But, with great success often comes discord.  For whatever reason, the duo began internally fighting.  Much like Cream, which Clapton broke up after three albums, the Civil Wars released their second album, The Civil Wars, in 2013.  The tension within the songs seemed to make the songs stronger, giving them a power that was lacking from the first album.  The harmonies and arrangements were there, but the underlying thought that this was a band in transition was evident.

How similar their situation was to Richard and Linda Thompson.  They met during their time in Fairport Convention.  He was a shy guitarslinger and songwriter.  She had a beautiful voice that expressed deep felt emotion and brought a joy to countermand Richard’s often dark and somber lyrics.  Richard and Linda were together a lot longer than Joy and John Paul, but trouble was just around the corner.  In 1982, Richard and Linda’s Shoot Out the Lights was released, but the couple had separated before that.  Their songs on that album captured the animosity between them, with strong images of loss.  It was powerful and, at the same time, sad, much like The Civil Wars.

When discussing women in popular music today, the conversation inevitably turns to power pop stars, like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, etc., and the resurgence of women in country.  Sometimes, though, it’s nice to hear the singing of a mature woman, in the tradition of Dusty Springfield, Peggy Lee, Aretha Franklin, and Ella Fitzgerald.  Someone with the chops, who lets her experiences break through and can express her life’s choices.  Joy Williams has done that with her album, Venus.

Technically, her sixth solo album, Venus is her first album since the Civil Wars’ breakup and her first on the radar since her massive success with that group.  This is very age appropriate, with Williams connecting to her audience as a strong woman, musically and lyrically.  Even the album title pays tribute to the Roman Goddess of love, sexuality, fertility, desire.

The first thing you notice is that voice.  Powerful and haunting, comparisons to Emmylou Harris are fair, I think, though Emmylou’s approach is more straightforward.  Joy’s voice seems to wrap around the music, punching in the air, darting in and out of the melody, expressive and, at times, explosive.  As a songwriter, Joy Williams isn’t afraid to share her life, making this album very personal.

The best songs, Before I Sleep, One Day I Will, Not Good Enough, The Dying Kind, and Welcome Home embrace Williams’ strengths as that singer who wears her heart on her sleeve and as a listener, you connect to it immediately and are taken deep into the song.

The songs, Woman (Oh Mama) and What a Good Woman Does reflect the maturity Joy has embraced over the years, with Woman (Oh Mama) the obvious hit single, courtesy of a driving drum beat and powerful message.  (Watch Joy perform this song of Seth Meyer’s Late Show. http://www.nbc.com/late-night-with-seth-meyers/video/joy-williams-performance-woman-oh-mama/2865267?onid=146956#vc146956=1)

The production of the album is solid.  The arrangements, though a bit more complex than the Civil Wars’ songs, do not get in the way of Williams’ voice and provide a nice gateway to letting Joy weave in and out of the songs.

If I had one or two minor quibbles over the album, it would be:  One, the album is too short; it clocks in at around 38 minutes, and two, I would have liked to have had a couple of songs that were more raucous and up-tempo.  Joy can really excel on that type of song and by having it on Venus would have really given the album some breathing room in between the mid-tempo/slow songs.

Venus is a terrific album and Joy Williams keeps the momentum going for strong women making music on their terms.  Really, Florence Welch, Brittany Howard, Lady Gaga, Roseann Cash, Shawn Colvin, Diana Krall and, probably, Beyonce are the first women that come to mind when I think in those terms.  I miss the days of Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Mary Travers, Sandy Denny, later career Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton who brought their unique perspective to music.  If we keep getting stellar efforts from Joy and many of her contemporaries, the gender gap will close significantly.

So, What’s Been Going On: An Update

I feel like I’m close to finishing some of the essays I’ve been working on.  Just to give you a preview of what is in store for my readers, I have the following in various stages of completion:

A Short History of the Dublin Gate Theater, featuring the founders, Hilton Edwards and Michael MacLiammoir.  This has been all-consuming lately, with the reasons detailed in my essay.  Founded in 1928, in Dublin, Ireland, the Gate is one of the longest-consecutive running theaters in the world.  It’s difficult writing about productions and actors you’ve never personally seen (except maybe in filmed clips), but I hope to get across the passion and brilliance of both Edwards and MacLiammoir, and all the paths that lead to them.

What Moss Hart Means to Me.  Playwright and director Moss Hart was a very talented man, known for being George S. Kaufman’s most successful collaborator.  He certainly influenced my life and Hart has seen a bit of a renaissance lately with the production of his autobiography, Act One, on Broadway, so I’ll take a look at his career and life.

I’m trying to figure out a couple of stories about, well, me.  I’d like to write about a play I directed in college, Neil Simon’s The Gingerbread Lady, because it was memorable and interesting, I think.  I might also write about my time in comedy, starting with The Act, my duo with Scott Levy.  I may also publish some unpublished work, including parts of my novel The Dick Beaks Show, or sketches that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another.

This is all part of the bigger picture leading to my memoirs called Scrap Heap.

In the meantime, it’s the start of the holiday season, so my timeless Bing Crosby article gets shoved to the front.

See you soon.

G