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.
Hurray! I'm on this awesome podcast "The Dots"!
It's a pretty short interview - we talk about writing plays, being a severe introvert, and my newest project on a woman who took down the Ku Klux Klan in 1925.*
Have a listen: Raegan Payne says No!
*Also, yes, I have to work on not saying um, like, or whatnots. But I'd like to point out whatnot is the perfect catch all word.
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:
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.
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
Saturday morning I went to hang at a Cheviot Hills retirement center. I was helping set up various games & activities when in rolled a 93-year-old-ball-of-female-awesomeness the size of a 50 lb. bag of sugar. After she expressed her disdain for BINGO we agreed I would do her nails.
She picked a shell pink polish mentioning that "they" had just recently brought her here without letting her put on makeup or do her hair and nails. I am from the south - taking a woman above the age of 50 from her home without allowing her time to do hair and makeup is egregious. I had to ask questions.
The story that unfolded during Sara's impromptu manicure was extraordinary:
She was born in 1920, and moved to Los Angeles with her parents at the age of 9. They took a train across the country from Washington D.C. and when they arrived in Los Angeles it was so tiny “it was a village” (see photo).
Sara's family lived in the Hollywood area and did their grocery shopping on Hollywood Blvd. They didn’t need a car because they rode the street cars everywhere. I've only heard about these cars or seen ghostly remains. The electric cars ran down the center of massive roads like Venice and Wilshire with passengers disembarking in the middle of the road.
Her family went to Santa Monica Beach on the weekends. She says it was beautiful with no trash mucking up the view.
During World War II she went to work for Lockheed. She was a riveter. Yes, like Rosie. She drove a Cadillac to work every day. Meanwhile, her brother served in Europe, his last stop was Berlin before being shipped safely back home.
She was twice married but her husband had passed. She said that her second husband had been a good man. The first one was not so much. She told me that “All women should be married 2.5 times. The .5 is the most fun! Do you know what I mean?" Yes ma'am.
I finished her nails. She now had long beautiful elegant fingers with shimmery tips.
She asked me what I did. I told her I was a writer and when she asked what I was working on now I told her about my new full length play.
Before I left she leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Her eyes lit up and she said softly, “You must promise me you will keep doing what you are doing. If you do you will be very successful. And you will say, 'See Sara was right.'" Then eyes twinkling she wheeled herself out of the rec room.
She had told me that she was the last of her family, so who brought her to the nursing home without her makeup? The mystery is unsolved. I'm simply going to have to go back.
Unfortunately, that time is now. Women are still the underdog in the writing world. For example, between 2010 and 2012 in Hollywood female writers made up only 9% of the scripts (written on spec) sold.
My parents chose the name Raegan so no one would know if I was a boy or a girl on a job application. Out-of-date anxiety? Nope, that choice has proven monumentally important time and again in my career. My personal experience is backed up by this Princeton study that found that female playwrights are more frequently rejected especially by... wait for it... female artistic directors!
So I’m going to support any group that encourages more young women to write.
That's why I was thrilled to stumble across WriteGirl. WriteGirl empowers young women by matching them with female writers who mentor them in creative writing.
A large cafeteria had been commandeered for the WriteGirl workshop at which I volunteered. Among the areas each girl had to visit was a college counseling section, different brainstorming/writing prompt tables, and the greatest catering table I have ever seen at any volunteering event. I signed in, got a brief tour where I met many of the fellow mentors (all impressive credential female writers) and then was sent to one of the writing prompt tables to help.
At my table the girls, all in high school, were required to look at a map of the world with highlighted pictures and pick a location. Even if they had never visited that country they were then to write everything about that area they could imagine. i.e. What's the temperature? What does it smell like? Who's there? What do you see? What do you hear? How do you feel being there?
The girls worked with very little prompting. When they seemed stuck I just did what my teachers had done for me - I showered them with questions and encouragement reminding them, "There is no right answer. You are the master of this little universe you are creating, so don't be self conscious. Just write something down."
Again. Don't be self conscious. There is no right answer. You are the master of your universe. Just write something down.
100% of WriteGirl graduates go to college, but more than that it's important for girls to have female mentors who have played the game, written the words, and succeeded. WriteGirl infuses young women with confidence and teaches them that their opinion matters. So, for God's sake, Lean In Ladies!
And remember, as the women of WriteGirl say at the end of every meeting:
"Never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen."
Theater, especially black box, is most often an intimate experience, both for the audience and for the actor. Award-winning playwright Raegan Payne talks about her playwriting and what attracts her to this kind of storytelling.
A Poor Man’s Art Form
“I like being forced to tell a story with just dialogue and almost no resources,” says Payne. “It’s a poor man’s art form, anyone can do it, that’s what I love. Inversely, it should also be accessible for the poor to see and often times it isn’t.
“Also, theatre has an immediacy as well as intimacy that can be missing in other art forms. And the audience influences the work – actors hear their response to their performance and that... Read Rest of Interview Here on Bob Gillen's Wonderful Blog "Creating Story"
I am privileged to say that somewhere in the US my plays are up until at least November 12th this fall!
Here are the shows I know about, and links to buy tickets & plays:
In Los Angeles:
September 21st & 22nd, 27th & 28th - Santa Monica Reps' Wave Fest will be featuring "The Reaper" at 7 pm. Click here for tickets!
October 8th - November 12th at 8pm Whitefire Theatre Company will be running "Things Unsaid" and "Sweet Nothings" during a night of One Acts entitled "Fall Shorts." Information Here!
Meanwhile in Washington D.C.:
For one weekend only at the District of Columbia Arts Center Steel Spine Productions will present "Things Usaid" October 4th & 5th at 7:30 pm. Buy tickets here!
If you're in the UK (London) pick up a copy of either at the gorgeous The Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square.
I hope to see you guys at the shows!
If anyone is in the area feel free to drop by! I will give you big hugs.
I just did an interview with Stanley Bronstein from Superchangeyourlife.com . We talked about what gets me up in the morning, my favorite groups I've worked with, what happens when it all goes wrong, what poverty looks like in America, and much much more...
I get asked the above a lot. Often, with a fair amount of cynicism in the tone. Sometimes people ask these questions, and then cross their arms and lean back, like I'm about to try and sell them magic beans. A few times - they've looked at me with pity.
I think it’s interesting that I have to explain this, in this way, but here goes…
I did TheGoodMuse because it’s the right thing to do. I did it because I believe that if you are in a position to do so it is your duty to lend a hand.
I did it because I needed help, so many times, so many many times, and it wasn’t available, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that way ever. (P.S. Big props to those who did step up and helped me over the years).
I did it because I wanted to help and always said I would when I became a big artist, but then realized – woulda, shoulda, coulda – if I wasn’t willing to help now when would I?
I do this because so many people want to help society, but less than 1% can write checks or go buy a table to a fancy fundraising banquet, luncheon, or event. Everyone can give time.
I did not do it because I wanted to write a blog about what a good person I am. Totally debatable.
I did not do it because I naively thought I could solve all the world’s problems.
But I did do it to create a ripple in the pond. And because - “Be the change.” Seriously. Be the freakin change people.
”How am I going to “capitalize” on it?” “How can I afford to do it?” “Do I realize there is not a market for this?”
I get asked a version of these questions several times a week at least.
I’m a southern girl. We don’t talk about money. It’s not polite. But just so I don’t have to be subjected to these again…
I am not a trust fund baby. I am not a kept woman or a lady who lunches. I am a doer.
I don’t make money on this. I work other jobs. This is an artistic pursuit. An act of and study on humanity. A reason to get off the couch. My hobby. My passion. I’m a good writer - this is how I release my artistic expression.
I’ve been smirked at because I haven’t monetized TheGoodMuse. My question to the smirkers is: Why does everything have to be about money? You don’t get paid for breathing and still you do it. Same deal.
“Why don’t you film it?” or “Why don’t you have more pictures?”
I am actually doing the physical volunteer work, many times by myself. I only have two hands. Taking time away to film takes time away from the service project. I try to take some pictures. I hope that’s okay.
“How do you find the time?”
I’ve been denied jobs because of this one. HR finds the blog and then somehow think I can’t manage to have a hobby and work at the same time.
I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or really socialize that much. Think how much time is saved when you never have to recover from a hangover. And then think about what good you could do with that extra time.
I also don’t have kids. I have a cat – Princess. She is very low maintenance.
“Are you sorry for spending time volunteering, and doing this instead of writing another play, TV show pilot etc.?”
I can’t work all the time. Again hobby, free time, release. I would not trade what I have learned doing this blog for a full paid 2 years Masters Degree from Oxford.
As artists, many of us wake up and wonder: “Did my art make an impact?” “Did I change the way people think?” In this project I know I’ve been 100 percent successful because I know I’ve impacted at least one person. I’ve heard from them. I can live the rest of my days happy knowing that.
“Are you naïve?”
Look – It’s the right thing to do.
I believe that the good guy should win. People / Non-Profits / Groups should be recognized for doing good and working hard. Which they do. With very little praise or notice.
I also believe: Fracking destroys drinking water. Fur is evil and the people who wear it should learn to read. Vegetables = yum. Reading is good. Princess is awesome. Comedy cures most ills. The sky is blue and water should be as well.
“What’s next?” And most importantly: “How are you going to finish 100?”
I’m going to finish 100 volunteer projects by the end of the year. I do have my list of charities I would like to work with someday, but I don’t know which exact ones will match my limited resources. I like finding new groups and look forward to the challenge.
There might be very little fan fare or celebration when I get this done. But it will get done. And then I’ll probably keep going, but at a slower pace.
“Would I recommend someone else to try the same thing? “
Absolutely, there is no better way to explore the world than by helping people.
Remember -If you’re not going to do something now. If you’re not willing to do something now. You’re never going to do it.
Have a great day.
Feel free to swing by and say hi! I'd love to meet more of my readers.
Here's the announcement in the Santa Monica Daily Press (at the bottom).
And here's the link to SHINE's Official Website.