There are times in your life where you just want to pinch yourself because everything around you is so unbelievably amazing. I just experienced that with the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival in Washington D.C. where my play Battle Cry received two amazing awards. But, awards aside, I spent five days with some of the most brilliant young career artist exploring different aspects of theater. We had intimate conversations with world renown artists like Kirsten Greenidge and the ever amazing Moises Kaufman. We spoke with Artistic Directors, Literary Mangers, and Agents about how they view the current world of theater and paving our own ways into it. Several amazing actors from D.C. read an excerpt from Battle Cry for my fellow artists and professionals around the country. I spent several hours working with Jocelyn Clarke, who is probably one of the coolest and smartest people I have ever met. The fact that he’s irish just sweetened the pot. I don’t know when I will come down from this high but, I will be getting an awesome fellowship this summer as well. There will be more information to come on that one. Next up: Seabury Quinn Jr. Playwrights Festival on Friday!!!
April has barely started and it’s already turning out to be an AMAZING month! Besides celebrating another year with the love of my life...yay! I am also celebrating receiving a SEA grant which will allow me to conduct research for my thesis project on Military Sexual Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have been working with the amazing Dr. Umana all year, and I will be expanding my research to also visit facilities that specialize in PTSD and MST treatment. This is all quite exciting! Secondly, in two weeks I will be traveling to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. to participate in the KCACTF conference as Battle Cry has won TWO second place prizes at this annual competition. I will be accepting for both the Lorraine Hansberry Award and Rosa Parks Award. I am beyond excited to meet so many amazing artists over the five day conference. And if that was enough excitement for me, Battle Cry will also be taking part in the Seabury Quinn Jr. Festival of New Plays on Friday April 16th at 2 PM in Kantner Hall. My cup runneth over.
I am very honored to have been selected from a university wide pool of scholars for the coveted Graduate Research Series. On Tuesday, March 26th at 2pm I will be sharing my journey to creating my latest play Battle Cry. During the hour long presentation I will discuss my research based creative writing style as well as pivotal moments in my process of discovering and writing this amazing woman’s story. Claudette Colvin is an amazing woman, and I am so happy to share what I have learned about her with others in my community. If you are available to join us please come to room 319 in Alden.
Yesterday was obscenely fun! We played with color, style, and bare skin! The shoot went from natural all the way to a style which was a mix of Geisha and LesNubians. I have added a few of the raw proofs from the shoot. These puppies aren’t even edited. I took pictures of the images on a computer screen and yet they still look fabulous. I will add the finished products after she’s had a chance to edit. All in all this was amazing!! So glad to work with this budding super star.
I love love photo shoots. They are always so much fun. I am at home prepping my skin for a photo shoot with the ever amazing Linsi McCall. This up and coming photography super star is not only talented but, the best to be around. Today is going to be so much fun. I was so excited I decided to take this little photo of myself with my iphone and share a preview! I can’t wait to play!
I am very excited to announce that BATTLE CRY has received two second place honors at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC’s annual College Theater Festival. Battle Cry took 2nd place for both the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award for plays on the theme of Civil Rights and Social Justice and Lorraine Hansberry Award for exceptional plays about the African American Experience. These awards are part of the Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards Program, a series of awards presented annually by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
I will receive a $1,000 cash award, an expense-paid invitation to attend the National Festival in D.C. April 16-20, membership in the Dramatists Guild and with the Playwrights' Center of Minneapolis, and a professional development residency – typically two weeks in duration – with an organization/entity to be determined.
There will be two more Battle Cry events happening in the next week or so. First will be here in Athens at Kantner at 5PM on Feb. 6th. The second will be a reading in Marietta Ohio for their Black History Month. Very exciting. I am also working on going back to Montgomery for the celebration/events marking the sacrifices made on Bloody Sunday in Selma.
So yesterday we did our version of a one minute play festival here at OU. The goal was 30 short plays in 60 minutes or less. We came in a whopping 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Which was unexpected and unbelievably fun! The audience was in control of the order of the plays. They were shouting, jumping up and down. The plays were done in a completely random order. There were face slaps, under dressing, awkward silences. It was a madness to remember for sure!
For me this was also a beautiful challenge as a writer. First, I had to figure out if I could even construct a play that was so short without writing a sketch? Secondly, could I keep my artistic voice and gravitas at that length? And lastly, could I do this well....three times in one night? I was pleasantly surprised by my results. I have included them below so you can judge for yourselves. Hope you enjoy them. (sorry that i couldn’t seem to format them into proper play format on this blog.)
TINY BUNDLE OF TWIGS by Bianca Sams
Nelson 4 years old, lies on the floor playing with his toys when his mother Linda walks in.
LINDA: Come on Nelson. If you finish those sprouts we can go to Daniel’s birthday party.
NELSON: I hate fucking sprouts.
LINDA: Nelson Winston Hastings! I will wash out your mouth with soap little boy!
NELSON: Sorry mama, but I don’t like brussel sprouts.
LINDA: That very well maybe but we do NOT use that kinda language in this house.
NELSON: Daddy does.
LINDA: I said this house. My house. My rules. Mama’s gonna have to have a talk with daddy about using the word F.U.C.K in front of a four year old. Lord knows what other kinda bad words he uses.
NELSON: He uses lots of them.
LINDA: I’m sure he does.
NELSON: Is that why you won’t let daddy come back home? He says all those bad words?
LINDA: No sugar that’s not how it works. Although I can’t believe he says them to you.
NELSON: Not to me silly goose. He says them birdy. He calls him an F word too.
LINDA: Your parrot?
NELSON: No, uncle birdy.
LINDA: You don’t have an uncle sweetie.
NELSON: Ugh huh!
LINDA: Finish your sprouts so we can go.
NELSON: I do too have an uncle. He lives with daddy.
LINDA: You mean Barry baby. And Barry is not your uncle. He’s daddy’s upstairs neighbor. He’s married to Ms. Eloise remember?
NELSON: Then why does he kiss him then?
LINDA: Kiss him?
NELSON: Yeah. Like you kiss grammy. Or I Kiss you. Quick on the lips. Except when they think I’m not looking. Then daddy kisses uncle Barry like he use to kiss you mommy. Uncle Barry sometimes gets mad cause he don’t want Ms. Eloise to know and yells at daddy. Then Daddy call him a closeted faggot. What’s a faggot mommy?
LINDA: Well, um. It’s a um. It means a tiny bundle of twigs baby.
NELSON: What’s a twig?
LINDA: A branch. It’s a branch like on a tree except small.
NELSON: Uncle Barry’s a branch?
NELSON: Just finish your sprouts baby. Mommy’s gonna go call daddy.
End of Play
END FLIGHT by Bianca Sams
Clara and Ken stand and aisle width apart and talk to the audience.
CLARA: There was just this one moment.
KEN: One single moment. The clearest second of my life.
CLARA: One minute we were soaring carefree
KEN: Oblivious through the clouds. Two total strangers sitting side by side,
CLARA: Without a care in the world. And in a blink of an eye it all changed. I felt it
KEN: I heard it. Like the earth cracked in half. My first impulse was to maybe scream out. But, I looked into her eyes and we both just,
KEN AND CLARA: Knew. That it would be better to just be there, in the moment, together.
CLARA: In that second as time stopped as our stomachs dropped. As we dropped.
KEN: And dropped
CLARA: And Dropped. The feeling is a sick and twisted thrill. Like a roller coaster except we knew we weren’t on any tracks. Not up here. There wasn’t any net to catch us up here.
KEN: And yet that human touch, just skin on skin, her touch on mine, in that moment as we were falling
CLARA: Falling out of the sky. Faster and faster. One touch, one real human touch, takes all the fear away...
KEN: I could hear it.
CLARA: I could feel it.
KEN: And then impact. As the crunching, twisting, metal bird collided with the ground. I knew in that moment.
CLARA: In that one moment.
KEN AND CLARA: The clearest second of my life...that for once I wasn’t alone.
DON’T WORRY YOUR PRETTY HEAD BY BIANCA SAMS
Jim is getting dressed for work when his wife Denise enters.
JIM: Hey babe. You’re up early -
DENISE: I made your favorite, eggs Benedict-
JIM: Baby you shouldn’t have. I’m running-
DENISE: To work. I know. I just thought we could just eat and chat --
JIM: I have a meeting --
DENISE: Just SIT! Let’s eat. Let’s talk.
JIM: I wish I could but, Janice is waiting for me, this deal is so close so very close. We’ve been working all day and night for weeks on it --
DENISE: I bet..
JIM: Don’t. I’m sorry. Don’t pout. I promise I promise I will make it up to you. I’ll buy you that Cuisinart
DENISE: I don’t care about the Cuisinart--
JIM: Well then just buy whatever you want then. Okay? Anything at all. Here’s the card. It’s just that Janice is waiting--
DENISE: Then let Janice wait!
JIM: Do you like this house?
JIM: Do you like having clothes, and being able to stay home to write, sew, or whatever the hell it is you do all day while I’m working?
DENISE: I wasn’t saying that--
JIM: Cause I’d love to sit here and twiddle my thumbs eating eggs Benedict, chatting or whatever but, my boss is waiting. So whatever it is, we can just talk about it when I get home. Ok.
He turns to leave before she can answer. When he is nearly out the door.
JIM: What the fuck is it Denise?!! I gotta go to work.
DENISE: I just thought you should know that Janice gave us AIDS.
The past week’s short play festival will be particularly interesting. I am working on a brand new challenge... One minute plays. As part of our ongoing workshop of projects that push as as writers, we have decided to try to write and produce a Blitzkrieg Midnight Festival this week. The challenge is to do 30 plays in 60 minutes. Normally we do 11 five minute pieces. So that mean 30 one minute to one and a half minute pieces. They will be timed and done in a completely randomized order. There will also be a stop watch so the audience can see the time counting down. IF we make it through all 30 there will be pizza for all. If not...well not sure what will happen. The light will go out during the middle of the show maybe? But, the core of the idea is can we write well crafted actual PLAYS that are only one minute long? Can we move, disturb, corrupt, entice or show a particularly dynamic part of human existence in just one minute? So far I’ve written two. I will keep you posted. And next week they will be here on the blog!
ABOUT MY WORK: I create lyrical investigations of found stories that force audiences to face their own love affair with misery.