Category Archives: Writing

What’s Going On?

Hi everyone.  We had a great summer.  My play, The Ten Minute Play (with a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter), played to great response at the Drama Workshop in Cheviot, Ohio (my hometown, or close to it in Cincinnati) in June.  I also directed a play, Lessons by Teri Foltz, that was well-received.  I wrote at length about these two plays in an earlier blog post.

Since then, I’ve been busy.  I’ve written another play, The Sequel to Citizen Kane.  The play is about an agent and a director who think they have the sequel rights to the greatest film ever made.  It’s a comedy one-act.

I should have some news soon about a production of another play of mine coming up in November.  I can’t reveal anything yet, but, New York State, lookout.

I can say that my play, Lily Blossoms, or Modern Subdivision Zoning in the Present Day, will have a staged reading on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at the  Aronoff Center’s Fifth Third Theater, in Downtown Cincinnati.  Also on the bill is The Ghost Girl by Ariel Rodgers.  I’ll have more info on this as we get closer to show date.

Early fall is the time when playwrights submit to every playwriting festival, calls for submissions and any opportunity to get the work out there.  That in and of itself is a full-time job, especially for playwrights that don’t have an agent (most of us, I think).  But, it’s a necessity, so you do it.  Thankfully, we do support each other with our writing communities on social media, so that helps.

If you’re a new visitor to my page, thank you for checking it out.  Let me know if you need anything.  Sign up for alerts.  I think it’s going to be a busy season.

Greg

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Tickets Now On Sale!

Tickets are now on sale for The Drama Workshop’s Home Brew Theater show June 7, 8 and 9, at TDW in Cheviot. This show consists of ten 10 minute plays. I have a play I wrote in it called The Ten Minute Play (with a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter) and I’m directing The Lesson by Teri Foltz. This is going to be a fun evening, so I hope to see many of you there.

 

Home Brew

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

***
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.

A Short Essay on Grace Metalious: Beyond Peyton Place

Some years ago, I was asked to put together a book proposal on the deaths of famous writers.  While the book didn’t go through, I was happy with some of the essays I wrote for it.  My essay on Dorothy Parker, for example, found here, is one of those.

In addition to Hemingway, Poe and Fitzgerald, and many others, I also included Grace Metalious in the table of contents.  I have always been fascinated by her, her upbringing, her life in New England, her sudden burst of stardom and, just as suddenly, her decline and death.

Grace's most famous photo.

Grace’s most famous photo.

Grace Metalious made her mark on American culture.  With the publication of her book, Peyton Place, in 1956, she took her place with some of the countries best-selling writers, who were thriving in the post Korean War Eisenhower era.  Writers like Mickey Spillane, whose I, The Jury, was just as salacious as Peyton Place, tempered his sex scenes with a healthy dose of violence, and Nabakov’s Lolita, with its underlying irony and comedy, made the erotic passages art.

It's Hammer time.

It’s Hammer time.

 

1959 Paperback Cover

1959 Paperback Cover

With my purchase today of Grace Metalious’ novel, No Adam in Eden, I am now the proud owner of all four of her published novels.  She isn’t a big name anymore, mostly forgotten except when brought up on the occasional moment.  Sandra Bullock was developing a film biography, but that seems to have stalled, as so many film projects do.

Grace Metalious always knew she would become a writer.  Her husband, a teacher, supported her and she basically gave up doing anything else and spent all her time writing.  She had loved everything about the writing life, read other writers, and aspired to be with them.  With the help of her best friend, Grace finished her first novel and sent it off to publishers in New York.

She heard nothing.

As luck would have it, she was introduced to an agent who supposedly represented Somerset Maugham (although Maugham had fired him for stealing royalties).  He was instrumental in getting the book to Leona Nevler, an editor at Fawcett, who knew they wouldn’t publish it, but thought it had potential.  She passed it on to the publisher at Julian Messner,a small New York house, who accepted it.

The book was Peyton Place.  Published in 1956, it was, for a very long time, one of the biggest best-sellers of all-time.  It stayed on the New York Times‘ Bestseller List for over a year and has sold over 40 million copies.

One of the biggest best-selling books of all-time.

One of the biggest best-selling books of all-time.

To say it took the country by storm would be an understatement.  With its setting in a small, quaint New England town (an amalgamation of the towns surrounding where Grace lived); its characters devious, backstabbing and sexual;  hidden secrets at every twist and turn, including rape, incest, murder and betrayal;  Peyton Place was the book everyone pretended not to be reading.  Adults hid it from each other and kids hid it from their parents.  I know, I was one of those kids who read it late at night (probably in 1964 when it was reissued for the TV series debut), under the covers, with a flashlight.

The book was turned into a hit movie and a sequel was planned, Return to Peyton Place, published in 1959.  By that time, Grace had become an alcoholic with the money coming in steadily.  Her writing suffered and Return to Peyton Place, rushed to cash in on Peyton Place‘s popularity, was rewritten and polished by a ghost writer hired by the publisher.  Grace wasn’t happy about this, but had little recourse.  She had lost her enthusiasm over Peyton Place, since that was the only thing anyone ever wanted to talk to her about.  She felt she wasn’t taken seriously as a writer, and she was right.

Poster for the hit movie.

Poster for the hit movie.

Paperback cover.

Paperback cover.

She got back to work and released her third novel, The Tight White Collar, in 1961.  Another New England setting and more hidden secrets by its citizens made this one sell initially, but it quickly fell off the charts and sent Grace into another spiral.  This was Grace’s favorite novel, but, along with Return to Peyton Place, the reviews weren’t good.

Paperback cover

Paperback cover.

Grace’s desire to be considered a real writer continued as she worked on her fourth, and last, novel, No Adam in Eden.  Published in the fall of 1963, the book is a look at three generations of sexually liberated women, who do anything to get what they want.  It was written more intensely than any of her other books.  With the freedom of being so explicit, the characters seem more fully realized.

Paperback cover.

Paperback cover.

Grace had turned out a very good book, but the reviews were disastrous (one reviewer said, “It purports to be a study of evil but is no more than degenerate filth.”) and this time she didn’t recover.

Grace died in February 1964, at age 36, from cirrhosis of the liver.  Her estate was initially left to her lover of three months, but he decided to not fight a lawsuit brought by Grace’s children contesting the will.  It didn’t matter much.  Grace owed more than she had, including $40,000 to the IRS.  (Later, the IRS sold all of Grace’s possessions, including the original manuscripts for Peyton Place and The Tight White Collar, for just over $5000.)

Grace's Headstone in Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

Grace’s Headstone in Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

Peyton Place became a television series that fall of 1964, running for five years.  Neither Grace nor her estate ever saw any money from it.  The series introduced Ryan O’Neal, Mia Farrow and Barbara Parkins and starred Dorothy Malone.

Title card for the TV series.

Title card for the TV series.

Today, Grace Metalious’ work is studied in universities and she is heralded as a pioneering woman novelist of the 20th Century, paving the way (for better or for worse) Jacqueline Susann and Jackie Collins, and influencing many other writers.  Some believe that Grace planted the seed of feminism into the minds of girls who were teenagers when Peyton Place was published.

I recommend the book, Inside Peyton Place by Emily Toth.

Inside PP

Available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Peyton-Place-Metalious-Banner/dp/1578062683/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380476744&sr=8-1&keywords=inside+peyton+place

There is also a Facebook page devoted to Grace:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Metalious-PEYTON-PLACE/59394335817

And here was a surprise:  A Grace Metalious bobblehead, sold by the New Hampshire Historical Society.

The Grace Metalious Bobblehead.

The Grace Metalious Bobblehead.

Available here:  http://www.nhhistory.org/store/det.aspx?UPC=16515.

Grace signing books.

Grace signing books.

A Small Appreciation of D.W. Griffith

Over the years, I’ve become a fan of the work of D.W. Griffith, one of the pioneers of early film making.  Griffith worked with Thomas Edison as an actor and writer, before moving to the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, or just Biograph, as an actor.  He complained so much about the directing, that they gave him a chance.  This was in 1908. Griffith would go on to make thousands of one-reelers (about 10-12 minutes long) until 1913 when he quit Biograph because he wanted to make longer films.

Image

Griffith’s use of cross-cutting, close-ups, flashbacks and editing allowed him to rise to the top of the directors working in silent film.  He had a remarkable cast, too, that began to receive recognition for their work in the films.  Such actors as Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Mabel Normand, Mack Sennett, Wallace Reid, and many others began, or worked with Griffith at Biograph.  Pickford was so popular, she became known as “The Biograph Girl” and parlayed that exposure into a huge movie contract.

Image

Mary Pickford

Griffith would go on to make many of the cinema’s greatest films:  Way Down East, Intolerance, Orphans of the Storm, Broken Blossoms, and others.  The Birth of a Nation became the most successful film in its day, launching the careers of dozens of men who would later become studio moguls, producers and theater owners.  (Today, The Birth of a Nation is a pariah in the Griffith canon due to its overt tones of racism.)

Image

ImageImage

Lillian Gish starred in many Griffith films, including the last three above.

Lillian Gish starred in many Griffith films, including the last three above.

ImageImage

(The image on the right is the big centerpiece of Intolerance, with its cast of thousands and huge scenery pieces.)

In 1919, Griffith, Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin founded United Artists, an independent film studio where the producers made the decisions, not the studio heads.

From L to R, Fairbanks, Pickford, Griffith, and Chaplin. At the time, all but Griffith were the biggest stars in the world. Griffith would be the first to sell his interests. Chaplin and Pickford held onto to their ownership of the company until the 1950’s.

(There are two terrific books on the history of United Artists by Tino Balio:

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http://www.amazon.com/United-Artists-Volume-1919-1950-Company/dp/029923004X/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

and

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http://www.amazon.com/United-Artists-Volume-1951-1978-Industry/dp/0299230147/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

You would think that after making all of these important films, D.W. Griffith would be recognized in Hollywood for the genius he was and he would have lived out his life with the love and admiration of all his peers.

Not so fast.  He lived his final years alone, not able to get work, alcoholic, and broke.  His films had made millions for others, but he was unable to keep his money.  He had often put his own money into his work and lost it when the films didn’t make it back quickly enough.

In 1940, Iris Barry, the first curator of The Museum of Modern Art Film Library, put together a large exhibition on Griffith, with the purpose of restoring the fame and reputation of the director.  Griffith was still alive then, and cooperated with Barry on a monograph, short essays, that accompanied the exhibition.  It was the first retrospective of Griffith’s career, and one that made the argument that Griffith was not just a pioneer of cinema, but a ground-breaking director, whose films incorporated practically every technique still used today.

I found the second edition of this book yesterday at a used book shop.

http://www.amazon.com/D-W-Griffith-American-Master/dp/1422351289/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1373820375&sr=8-3&keywords=iris+barry

The second edition has been expanded because in 1965, the Museum ran another Griffith exhibition and reprinted the original manuscript by Barry and expanded it with a long addendum by the director of the Griffith exhibition, Eileen Bowser.  It also has an interview with Billy Bitzer, Griffith’s longtime cameraman.

Griffith died in 1948, alone, penniless.  He is buried outside of Louisville at the  at Mount Tabor Methodist Church Graveyard in Centerfield, Kentucky.  His grave was unmarked for a couple of years, until the Director’s Guild provided a marker.  A re-dedication of his grave was attended by Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford and Richard Barthlemess, all who had appeared in Griffith films.

Gish also wrote a book about Griffith, now out of print, but available used.

http://www.amazon.com/Lillian-Gish-The-Movies-Griffith/dp/B000OFFK8S/ref=sr_1_21?ie=UTF8&qid=1373821838&sr=8-21&keywords=lillian+gish

One last thing, when I was a student at Northern Kentucky University, in 1979, there was a dedication on campus that unveiled a new statue by celebrated artist, Red Grooms.  It depicted Griffith directing a scene from Way Down East, with Lillian Gish on the ice floe, and cameraman Billy Bitzer cranking away.

Red Grooms at the dedication in 1979.

Red Grooms at the dedication in 1979.

The statue received prominent placement on campus, between the Fine Arts building and the new Student Activities building.  I must have passed it a million times, going from one place to the next.  I knew who Griffith was, of course, and knew that he had been born in Kentucky, but really didn’t give it much thought.

The dedication seems to be going nicely.

The dedication seems to be going nicely.

The artwork was loaned out frequently and when it was returned, it was relocated to another part of campus: the banks of Lake Inferior, behind the Fine Arts building,

The sculpture in its new location.

The sculpture in its new location.

As the Grooms artwork remained on campus, there grew an uneasiness about Griffith’s past history with race relations.  In 2004, the sculpture was dismantled, where it remains in storage to this day.

Being from the South, Griffith always believed that he impartially showed what happened after the Civil War in The Birth of a Nation.  What he didn’t realize was there was a new attitude in the United States toward race.  For many people, gone was the hatred, replaced by acceptance.  Griffith’s display of race relations in The Birth of a Nation, even though it represented events happening 50 years ago, was not keeping with the mood of the country in present day 1915.

His next film, Intolerance, in 1916, was an answer to those critics, who believed he was intolerant of race.  This is Griffith’s finest film, cross cut throughout  with four different stories, showing mans intolerance to others always led to ruin.  Running over three hours, it was the most expensive film of that time.

Lillian Gish called him “the father of film” and Charles Chaplin called him “the teacher of us all”.  Griffith still remains a vital part of cinema history and there will always be film critics and historians trying to determine just how important.

Hollywood loves a story where someone at the height of their career takes a fall.  Takes a huge, long, career-busting fall.  Maybe that’s why I admire D.W. Griffith.  Maybe that’s why I admire Orson Welles.   Orson used to say, “Oh, how they’ll miss me when I’ m gone.”  And that’s certainly the case.  Welles also said, in spite of his own treatment by the Hollywood establishment,  “I have never really hated Hollywood except for its treatment of D. W. Griffith. No town, no industry, no profession, no art form owes so much to a single man.”