One of the coolest things about being a playwright is learning your work resonated with people you've never met in a place you've never been. It speaks to our shared humanity. So if you happen to be in Lagos, Nigeria this December you can see my plays at the wonderful Theatre Republic, which is a frequent haunt of Nobel Prize Winner Wole Soyinka. My plays, Things Unsaid and In a Hole, will be directed by founder Wole Oguntokun. If you go to the plays please reach out to me on social media and share pictures!!!!!
It’s an article about my play “Timeless” and meeeeeeeeee!
Timeless is playing at the Farish Theatre in Downtown Lexington November 2nd-4th. Click here for ticket information.
Though, to be fair, I don’t think I used the word “amongst” during the interview, but hell it makes me sound smart.
There is a great group of people in Lexington who are big time advocates for new plays and I send them many thanks!
And here is a quick blurb about the play from LEXARTS Newsletter:
TIMELESS: A SCIENTIFIC COMEDY
Kentucky Women Writers Conference
Fans of comedy, science, and theater: join the Kentucky Women Writers Conference for the world premiere of "Timeless," a dark sci-fi comedy in which four scientists have discovered the fountain of youth in a new stem cell procedure. Little do they know that the oldest member of the team is trying to destroy their project. In one night they question history, women's place in science, and the value of time as they wrestle with the fate of an overcrowded earth.
Thursday, November 2, Friday, November 3 & Saturday, November 4 | 7:30PM
Saturday, November 4 | 2:00 PM
Farish Theatre | 140 E Main St
$15 | $10 for students
In 1925, a 28 year old named Madge Oberholtzer started dating a charming and successful man, named D.C., who had his eye on becoming President. He seemed to match her independent spirit and hunger for an interesting life.
Madge was well educated, witty, and daring. Only two years earlier she had driven all the way to California with her best friend when there were virtually no paved roads or service stations.
On March 15th, 1925 D.C. called to ask if she could come see him urgently about her job. They had broken up shortly before, but her job was important so she went.
What happened next changed the history of the US, but until now Madge is rarely discussed. As part of the 2017 The Scripps Ranch Theatre New Works Studio in San Diego, CA I did my best to tell Madge's story and how she helped crush the largest and deadliest terrorist organization that has ever existed in the United States.
Last night SRT hosted a wonderful staged reading of my new play, "The Dying Declaration of Madge Oberholtzer." We had fun, hopefully honored this brave woman, and afterwards I answered some questions. More to come with this play...
Y'all, I am very excited to announce that I have won the 2017 Prize for Women Playwrights. I copied the announcement below and added some hand notes, but the original announcement is here.
The panel picked Timeless from over 350 international submissions so I am super stoked they picked mine. They didn't realize I was from KY till we talked after the announcement and they were super thrilled as I'm the first winner from the state.
Original PR release:
As of July 25, 2017, we are so pleased to announce that the 2017 winner of the Prize for Women Playwrights is:
Timeless: A Scientific Comedy, by Raegan Payne
Raegan currently resides in Corona del Mar, CA, but is a native of Louisville, KY, [Note: I was actually born in Murray, KY but spent a portion of my childhood in Louisville where my mom would take me to free or discounted shows at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, which probably helped inspired this playwright thing] and she is thrilled to have her play premiering in her home state [Truth]. Timeless will have its world premiere in 4 performances on November 2-4, 2017, directed by Eric Seale at the Farish Theatre in Lexington, KY, and the playwright will be available for a conversation with the audience after one of these performances [Probably at the Saturday matinee]. Stay tuned for more details about casting and the production!
As of June 6, 2017, we're thrilled to congratulate these 5 finalists:
Sin Cycle, by May Donnet-Johnson, of Nashville
Ghost Walks into a Bar, by Mora V. Harris, of Pittsburgh
Beautiful Savage, by Kathleen McDonnell, of Toronto
Timeless, by Raegan Payne, of Corona del Mar, CA
The Impracticality of Modern-Day Mastodons, by Rachel Teagle, of Saint Paul, MN
And here is a picture of some of the lovely people who evaluated the plays:
The incomparable LA legend that is the Ammunition Theatre Company has decided to perform my most popular play "Sweet Nothing" and I am beyond thrilled. Also, we sold out!
Sweet Nothings Synopsis:
Mary has made the most important discovery of her life. Now no one will leave her alone to enjoy it.
Besides writing postcards and making phone calls to my representatives regularly, and of course going to all the protests my introverted self can stand this reading list is my ongoing project to better our political future.
Far too little attention is paid to women, refugee, POC, and LBGTQIA writers. So for the next year (all of 2017) I am concentrating on just reading them. Here is what I've read since my last #Resistance list:
Bad Feminist: Essays - Roxane Gay
Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo
Men Explain Things to Me - Rebecca Solnit
Furious Happy - Jenny Lawson (Hilarious and better than the 1st book 'Let's Pretend...' though that was funny too)
Let's Pretend This Never Happened - Jenny Lawson
Mastermind: How to think like Sherlock Holmes - Maria Konnikova (another Sherlock Holmes themed book as I always must have one but save your money - meditate and focus on the details - there you go that's the idea)
The Art of Peace - Morihei Ueshiba (Lovely quotes and philosophy)
Aikido and the Harmony of Nature - Mitsugi Saotome (heavy read)
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief - Wendelin Van Draanen
From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg
Honorable mentions! Favorite books I read last year that all happen to be women:
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance - Angela Duckworth
Echo - Pam Munoz Ryan
All the Single Ladies - Rebecca Traister
#Resistance reading list! My ongoing pursuit to read more work by women, POC, immigrants, refugees, and LGBTQIA:
"Bird by bird" - Anne Lamott (funny how to on writing)
"Crumbs from the Table of Joy" - Lynn Nottage "poof!" -Lynn Nottage "Por'knockers" - Lynn Nottage "Mud, river, stone" - Lynn Nottage "Las Meninas" - Lynn Nottage (Amazing Must Read Play)
"God's Ear" - Jenny Schwartz (few things as cool as opening a play and seeing your friend thanked in the forward - looking at you Raymond McAnally)
"Born a Crime" - Trevor Noah (if you are interested in learning more about apartheid this is a good source)
"My Own Words" - Ruth Bader Ginsburg (heavy read but the RBG is blow your mind impressive)
And because I'm a dorky Sherlockian:
"Mycroft Holmes" - Kareem Abdul Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse (sigh. I had a few issues with this -the Holmes boys do not fall in love! But all in all it works. Yes, like the basketball player. He's clearly a dork as well.)
For those that gave me suggestions last time I will be reading those next! I already had these stacked beside my bed.
My reading list since the election:
Ta-Nehisi Coates - Between The World and Me (MacArthur Genius Grant Winner) Lauren Gunderson - Silent Sky (play, made me cry) Lauren Gunderson - Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight (genius, play) Jessica Dickey - The Amish Project (play, made me cry) Jessica Dickey - Charles Ives Take Me Home (play) Lynn Nottage - Ruined (play, wow) Maria Semple - Today Will Be Different (funny) Suzan-Lori Parks - Topdog/Underdog (KY-woman, play) Joan Didion - The Year of Magical Thinking (play) Jen Kirkman - I Can Barely Take Care of Myself (funny)
This is why:
2016 has been an overachiever of a sh*%^& year (there aren't enough 4 letter words). Repeatedly, whether talking about personal stuff or politics I said it couldn't get worse, and then 2016 would go above and beyond and find new/creative/unpredictable ways to be an absolute cluster.
That being said... I am not letting this happen again in 2017. And I'm going to work hard to make sure next year is a better year for other people as well.
I'm paying more attention to the voices of women, minorities, LGBTQ, refugees, etc. With that in mind for the last month and a half of this bullsh*& I've been reading like my life depended on it. Maybe it does.
I would recommend any of the works above.
Please suggest more books.
This is probably my favorite photograph of all time. It's definitely my favorite photograph of London. I keep it on my desk and carry it around with me in a book when I travel.
But why? Why are you all dark and goth with a picture of destruction? Not so. That is not what this picture is...
This picture was taken on the night of December 29th, 1940 during one of the worse nights of the Blitz on London. Thirty minutes into the German attack 54 fires were burning. 120 tonnes of explosives and 22,000 incendiary devices had been dropped on the financial center of the city. 160 people lost their lives that night including 16 firemen. 500 people were injured.
So where is the joy in that? Stay with me. That night, as on every night of the Blitz, a group of volunteers were running along the roof of St. Paul's - putting out fires as they started. They risked their lives as bombs fell towards the church - the largest target in central London. They couldn't stop the destruction of the city, but "God Damn It!" they were not going to let the fascist take out the heart of London.
The night of the 29th, and morning of 30th of December this small group of volunteers saved St. Paul. The rest of the neighborhood was flattened and burned to a crisp.
St. Paul's stood. The Allies declared victory in WW II. Today St. Paul's sits in the middle of one of the largest and most powerful financial centers in the world, in one of the biggest and most prosperous cities on Earth.
And yes like the US, they've had a horrible 2016. The destructive Brexit vote tanked their currency overnight and led to an outbreak in hate crime. But this is what we should remember in 2017:
There will be dark days ahead. Fascists and authoritarians are rising back to power, in part because we didn't learn our history well enough. But to this day St. Paul's is still there. And all it took to save it, and inspire the world was a handful of volunteers that said, "Not on my watch."
Here's to the new battle, in the new year, against an old enemy. I'm ready. Who's with me?
My newest short play "Appropriate" being done as part of the #WereNotPlaying Initiative by Little Black Dress INK!
I couldn't be more proud than to be included in the event.
My play "Appropriate" will be performed in Galesburg, IL (friends in Chicago you have alternative programing if you want it).
Plays will be read free of charge. Donations will go to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the NRDC to promote their vital work as they protect our rights. I told you they would defund Planned Parenthood over my dead body and this is part of the plan.
Los Angeles, CA: https://www.facebook.com/events/896844497118081/ Galesburg, IL: https://www.facebook.com/events/1173589386091488/ Prescott, AZ: http://mickishelton.com/…/…/01/were-not-playing-brochure.pdf Sedona, AZ: https://www.facebook.com/events/144417726057578/
They are adding venues daily so I will update as I get information.
RRH set up a girl's primary through high school in rural Afghanistan and now a college, which trains midwives. This is incredibly important since there were virtually no health professionals in the area before the school opened.
This week I got a little hand written note from the girl I'm sponsoring. Notice the penmanship and excellent drawings!
To sponsor a girl just go here:
It will possibly be the most fun you will have this year. #educategirls #spreadtheword
Tomorrow BMW is going to unleash a Superbowl commercial to familiarize the world with its all electric car, the BMW i3. This uber expensive commercial might just be the Hail Mary that BMW needs to fix the i3's biggest problem. Oh yes it has one. Read on.
I had the privledge of taking one of the first BMW i3 in the US on a 1000+ mile across California in the fall. The trip had multiple purposes, one of which was to stop some naysayers. The ones opposed to anything new and fun who say things like, “That car looks great for commuting, but it’s not practical for long distance.” Or “Well it’s all fun until you end up stranded in the desert.”
I had to prove them wrong. For the environments sake.
The journey took me from Los Angeles, CA along the Pacific Coast Highway with a slight detour inland to Santa Rosa, CA with Napa being a major stop since I had never been.
The car pretty much drove like a dream. I learned how to Hyper-mile and got 91 miles on one charge coming out of Big Sur. At the time of the trip, in the early fall of 2014, there were not many superchargers compatible with the BMW in California (TESLA & LEAF had the market cornered, however in a few short months that has changed). This meant that if I needed to charge I had to make sure to allow for a couple of hours of down time versus 30 minutes (i.e. eating & sight seeing).
This leisurely road trip was like the classic Route 66 journey's of yesteryear. I saw redwood trees in Big Sur, a pod of whales in Santa Cruz, my nieces (who can be wildlife like), and lots and lots of grapevines. In total I took a week, traveling 1,234 miles. Fuel cost was $60.04 for both electric charges and gas refills for a grand total of about .05 cents a mile!
So what's the problem? It's as big as the redwood trees, here ya go...
This car as well as all electric cars need a massive public education campaign. The lack of knowledge about the car is staggering and causes huge problems. One basic complaint - people don't realize that if they park their non-electric car in a charging spot they could be preventing someone from getting home. One prestigious hotel, which might or might not be called the Carneros Inn in Napa, had combustion vehicles parked in their charging spot almost 24/7 - both employee and guest vehicles. When informed that this was stranding guests they seemed less than concerned.
What also became evident is that the brand name Tesla has become the Kleenex of electric cars. I would call a hotel or restaurant and ask if they had a charger. "Yes we have a Tesla charger," they would say. FYI The Tesla charger only works on the Tesla. Thanks Elon. Way to be a team player. A few times I went to check out these Tesla claims only to find out these establishments actually had a standard charger, which could work on the BMW. The receptionist had used Tesla as a generic term.
At another point, slightly frustrated and ready for a scientific experiment, I called different BMW dealerships in California looking to plug in and was asked every time some variation of: "Is that a vehicle we carry?" or "You want to charge what?"
The good news is the public is Beatles-fan-like enthusiastic about this car. I can't tell you the amount of people that pulled up next to me to inquire what the car was or how many people would honk and wave and give a thumbs up. At one charging stop a white Ferrari convertible pulled into a parking spot across from the car. A beautiful tall red headed woman popped out of the passenger's seat and raced over for all the stats about the BMW i3 and to look inside. Her companion, the male driver of the Ferrari, seemed none to pleased that his orders of magnitude more expensive toy was being ignored in favor of a little coupe.
Electric cars are good for all of us. For example, they help us avoid supporting petrodictatorships. I hope companies are willing to put the money into education and a thorough charging network that they put into R & D.
Hopefully, the new Superbowl ad is just the beginning of a real education campaign. I loved the car and the experience of driving it. I’m interested in taking it to the east coast and seeing how it does on fuel.
Hello good people of Gotham! I did an interview with "Today's Leading Women" Podcast. Host Marie Grace Berg was very thorough. We talked about everything from my favorite business books, to cartoon heroes - Carmen Sandiego et al.
If you're interested in becoming a writer or wondering what it's like here's a little peek behind the curtain:
I am participating in the coolest event and I want all of you to join me because you could possibly win gift certificates to Timberland!
We’re going to turn $10 into $1,000. This is how:
Timberland, them that make da fab boots, has launched this campaign called The Servapalooza Challenge in partnership with Crowdrise - Click here to see my page.
I’m raising money for NKLA & Best Friends Animal Society. In one year this unique shelter coalition has cut the euthanasia rate in LA by 50% and I want to help them get to zero. They also shelter, provide medical care, and rehabilitation for thousands of animals across the US.
This is where you come in!
If you could please help me raise money to save more animals I would really appreciate it, and will send you a personalized thank you video I made. Warning - I am no Steven Spielberg, but the video is funny.
Tell your friends and share this please!
Hello Lovely Muses,
How have you been? I've been excellent! I went to Peru, but more on that later.
This has been an amazing year so far. You could even call it a banner year in which I am resetting priorities and generally reorganizing life.
My major project was to give away 1/3 of my physical belongings this year, and I have almost reached that goal. It seemed overwhelming at first, but by going through my apartment section by section and asking questions like, “If I saw this in a store now would I buy it?” I’ve slowly cleared house, taking a box to Goodwill every other week.
If you’re thinking about doing a similar project, don’t get overwhelmed. I recommend small boxes and bi-weekly trips. I can tell you that now I can find things quickly in my closet, and no monsters can hide under my bed undetected.
I will say that this cleansing of items has been transformative. It’s insane how much we hold ourselves back, trapping ourselves with possessions we feel we must care for or maintain. Every time I take another box to Goodwill I felt lighter, less stressed, and free.
Also, I read a wonderful book, which helped me on the journey to live life with less, but more fully. “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown is closer to a philosophy book than business or self help. It argues successfully that you will have a happier and more fulfilling life if you scale down to the essentials not just physical items, but also hobbies, goals, and obligations.
As many of you may have noticed I have also limited my GoodMuse activities this year in order to focus on only a handful of groups, namely NKLA, LA Green Grounds, KIVA, NOH8, and visiting the elderly.
I added three KIVA loans so far this year, because I've decided to start a new tradition where I make a loan to any country I visit as a thank you. It also encourages you to travel more. P.S. Peru is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Picture on front page is from Machu Picchu - it is THAT stunning.
The pictures attached to this blog are from NKLA, which announced that they had helped cut the LA euthanasia rate by 50% this year! Hurray! The other pictures are from LA Green Grounds, which continues to inspire me by fighting poverty with gardening.
And today I am taking a bag of books (the thing I have found the hardest to give away) to the nursing home so that the residents have some new more entertaining reads.
Another reason I’m not running around to 50 different charities this year is I am rewriting by children's novel (20 pages to go), and working on new plays. I’ve finished a full length called "Timeless," and will be working on a piece about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Also, I am working on my keynote speech for Maryland Non-Profits Conference on November 5th, and I hope to see some of you at the event.
It's been busy! I wish you all the happiness that I’m experiencing this year, and the freedom and determination to chase your dreams while making the world a better place.
Great news! I will be the Keynote Speaker at Maryland NonProfits Annual Conference in Baltimore, MD on November 5th.
Because I love comics we're taking a look at superheroes, real and imaginary:
"I’m an award-winning playwright. A blogger. I'm supposed to be a master of wordplay. Well, lets pretend shall we. Lets pretend I'm a wordsmith. What does that mean? Technically nothing. Because words are empty, they are never enough. Words are simply muses. They whisper ideas. Just ghosts meant to inspire action, but not be an action in and of themselves. In today’s digital world perhaps we misjudge the power of words. As Shonda Rhimes recently said during her Dartmouth commencement address, 'A hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King.'"
"So what does make you Dr. King? How can you inspire thousands and create a movement for good? How in fact do you become a superhero when words are not enough?"
We’re going to have a great time figuring it out! Hope to see you there.
Simply, by the end of this year I want, at least, 1/3 fewer physical possessions than I have right now.
I want more freedom and mobility. I want to be able to pick up and move at a moments notice. I want to focus more on accomplishments and less on possessions.
Sometimes, (particularly if I’m looking through tabloids in the grocery checkout line) I think I may be one of the only people in the world who thinks walk-in closets, McMansions, and multi-car garages are grossly excessive. Bigger does not mean better.
In the name of environmental activism and rational thought, I have declared a war on stuff. I am kicking materialism squarely in the nutz. I would rather be out in the world, experiencing it than trying to own it.
To meet my stripped down life goal I am giving away, or recycling one box of former belongings every week. So far I’ve given away an estimated ¼ of my possessions - well ahead of target! Goodwill has received most of the items because they also recycle textiles if they can't use them.
And here’s the really cool side effect– it feels great!
The more I’ve given away. The better I’ve felt. More liberated. It’s become almost addictive. My tiny apartment looks better too.
I’m also consuming less because a) I loath shopping b) I’m thinking about every single item I bring into my apartment. I only buy what I absolutely need and concentrate on quality. If it won’t last forever, then I don’t want it.
If you’d like to try the same experience I recommend starting with formal attire. Purge your life of formality. All of mine is gone! I don’t care how sentimental it seemed – I have pictures.
I found a group called Working Wardrobes, which provides clothing for people seeking jobs, but also helps girls in need find dresses for formal occasions like prom and homecoming. Working Wardrobes got all my dresses. Including the one and only pageant dress I ever owned. Some of the dresses were great, some I would rather forget (pageant dress), but now all will find new homes.
What have I done with my extra freedom?
I have some incredible plans before the end of the year, but for right now I’ve: written a full length play, gone to museums to see the Endeavor Spacecraft and an exhibit of original photography from Queen Victoria’s reign, found Monarch butterflies and snakes in my neighborhood, seen the desert bloom after the rain, played with new baby niece while teaching other niece archery, etc.. All fun.
Next Live More Own Less Project:
I have to find a new home for my old mountain bike, perhaps with a kids non-profit, but it needs to be refurbished.
by Pamme Boutselis
An award-winning, published playwright, Raegan Payne’s work is regularly in production. She is also an actress and strident volunteer. Her efforts in volunteerism are chronicled in her nationally recognized blog, The Good Muse.
Have you always written? There’s a picture of me trying to type when I was one. I always kept a journal. When I was in elementary school I would write plays for my brothers and cousins to perform, but I was a horrible producer so the productions weren’t very good.
What’s your process in developing your storyline and characters? I believe a well-rounded character is the cornerstone to good writing. You can watch a wonderful character do any boring activity for hours and it’s fascinating. I do detailed character sketches and try to get to know each character inside and out before I get started. I definitely stress more about a character having an arc than fitting them awkwardly into a certain act structure.
What challenges do you face in your writing, and how do you overcome them? I can’t spell, so thank god for spellcheck.
I’m also a slow typist.
I get self-conscious like anyone. I force myself to write a page a day. I also always work on several projects at once, so I don’t get locked with one and stop altogether.
What has the road to publication been like for you? I had one of those Hollywood stories, literally. I couldn’t afford to produce a full production of my plays so I started entering them in contests. I started “winning” to quote Charlie Sheen.
The Hollywood Fringe festival was approaching, and some people knew I was winning awards, so we all scraped a few hundred dollars together to put the plays up. The plays attracted some big actors, and they sold out.
One night after the show someone walked up to me and asked, “Are these published?” I said, “No not yet.” And they responded, “I think my publisher would be interested.”
Cliché ending—And the rest is history.
How do you market your work? My blog, The Good Muse, has helped a lot even though it is a work unto itself and not related to the plays. I think TGM was important because it’s an open portfolio of work.
As far as plays—I enter playwriting contests. And I win some. That helps.
I also have tons of people read my work to give me notes—this not only makes the work better, but it spreads the word about my new projects.
What do you know now that you wish you knew back then? You’ll never, ever, ever be perfect. Don’t even try. Just put stuff into the world and see if it flops. You’ll learn more from mistakes than successes.
Who are the writers that have inspired you most, and how have they inspired you? I love Christopher Moore’s funny sci-fi-ish novels and Chris Durang’s plays because of their madcap and yet real characters. Tina Fey for being a groundbreaking female comedian who proves that women are funny. Jane Austen for her wit and candid observation. Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde for setting the bar so high.
If you keep just three books in your library, which would you choose and why? This is the hardest question. Right this minute I’d say:
- “Pride and Prejudice” because I would need a good love story and it’s funny.
- The complete works of Shakespeare because I could spend the rest of the days studying his sonnets and plays and learn something new everyday.
- “Sacre Bleu” by Christopher Moore, because it’s ridiculous, hilarious and everyone needs a good muse or a book about a muse.
- See more at: http://penmenreview.com/spotlight/the-penmen-profile-snhu-chats-with-award-winning-playwright-raegan-payne/#sthash.ymAH2jSq.dpuf