Catch My Plays in Nigeria!!!

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!!!!!

Play "Appropriate" Picked 4 'We're Not Playing' Festival

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.

For those of you actively looking for something to do on January 20th, here's your chance to join civil rights hero John Lewis and #Boycott the #Inauguration while promoting art.

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.

Read More Here: http://www.littleblackdressink.org/were-not-playing-a-new-play-by-raegan-payne/

 

Volunteer Journal #94 – WriteGirl

WriteGirl There was a time when female writers were discriminated against and forced to change their names to George Eliot.

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  Out-of-date anxiety?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.

More than just a 1960s Secretary

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 Plan Their Villas in Tuscany

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."

 

My Plays in D.C. & LA this Fall - Here is the Schedule

IMG-20111110-00080 Hello Everyone!

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!

You can buy "The Reaper" here and "Things Unsaid" here or...

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!

Volunteer Journal #83 - Helping Community Theatre

Sometimes volunteering means doing hair.  Other peoples’ hair.  I barely do my own. Buddy Sara asked if I’d be interested in putting my “crazy hair modeling” experience into practice helping Santa Monica Rep with their annual fundraiser.  We’d be prepping the actors. Ah shucks… why not… I’m a playwright.  If I’m not going to help a neighborhood theatre company – who is?

As for my "crazy hair modeling" experience I was a hair model (about the same time as the body doubling happened – it’s called being a “Parts Model” and it means you’re short). I worked for brands like Aveda, Paul Mitchell and Sexy Hair in print ads, catalogs, and industry show. It was fun; I made a few bucks, and got my hair “didz”.  I have attached a picture of my hair done ultra-fancy for a wedding catalog.  Check out the cool vintage wedding dress.

The problem was that Santa Monica Rep wanted their actors to have French Restoration hair – think Marie Antoinette.  In reality, in those days, high class women and men would have always worn wigs in public.  What I knew from having this hairstyle done to me for a Sexy Hair show was that to pull this off they needed half a day and a hairdresser on each woman.  They had Sara and I – a few cans of hairspray and one hour for five actors.

I did my best.  I tried to be kinder than hairdressers of old had been to me. I took my aggressions out by teasing the hair (this generally won’t hurt a model).  Helpful hint - the secret to getting out rat’s nest teasing is to lie in a bathtub after conditioning and gentle run your fingers through your hair.

In the end... we did all right as the picture suggests.

The great thing about volunteering is often you are faced with challenges that can’t be completed in the amount of allotted time.  Then you apply Macgyverism (make an explosive out of a toilet paper roll, etc.), and Parkinson’s Law takes over ("work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"), and you get it done.

TheGoodMuse Explains: How 2 Sell a Car on Fire

(And get over Kelley Blue Book) I’m not a big car person. Just don’t care. Wish I didn’t have to drive one. A car is the last thing I ever want to think about.

That being said, I should never be allowed to write anything about a car. However, I did manage to sell one, on fire, for over Kelly Blue Book. So maybe I deserve a page or two?

Regardless of the fire, the fact that I was able to sell this particular P.O.S. for over Blue Book is amazing. I had driven the thing (for to call it a car was laughable) into the ground. Among the most endearing features my 12 year old black Honda CRV were: a broken interior light from a run in with a surfboard, a missing back mud flap that fell off in the Mojave desert, coffee and soda stains that actually gave the seats their color, and a shaking/gasping/coughing transmission.

For those not in the know – in 2000 the Honda engineers, while designing transmissions, wandered into a field of red poppies and fell asleep.

The CRV was in bad shape, but I loved that worry free car. Like a really heinous date no one was ever going to try and steal it. If it wasn’t for fear of damage to my person I would have left the keys on the roof every night so I wouldn’t risk losing them in the apartment.

When the CRV finally reached the point where sale was the only humane option I reluctantly slid behind the wheel to drive the car to Auto Sales R Us*.

I was a mile from the dealer when I noticed smoke during a pause in the song I was singing to. Quickly, pulling over I debated what to do. Mmmmm… Call my brother. He loves cars.

Brother: What did you do?

Me: Hi, to you too.

Brother: What’s wrong?

Me: Why does something have to be wrong?

Brother: It’s the middle of the day and you’re wining.

Me: The cars on fire.

Brother: I knew it. How could it not be.

Me: Come on.

Brother: What color’s the smoke?

Me: White.

Brother: Where’s it coming from?

Me: Probably the engine.

Brother: Pop the damn hood!

Me: I can’t it’s stuck.

Brother: Well, that’s not good. What does the smoke smell like?

Me: CREED Jardin D’Amalfi. What do you think it smells like?

Brother: Fine. Is it a lot?

Me: No.

Brother: How far are you from your location?

Me: Less than a mile. (pause) Downhill.

Brother: I’m willing to risk it. Coast. Use your emergency flashers.

Me: Thanks for your expertise Brain Storm.

Brother: Stop calling me during the day. It’s weird. (Click)

10 minutes later I rolled into Auto Sales R Us’ and parked within view of the sales office. Smoke was now rolling from under the hood. Great. To the sales office…

But now I was loose. I honestly had nothing to lose unless they charged me for parking it on their property. $10 would probably be a fair price.

Receptionist: Can I help you?

Me: I need to sell a car.

Receptionist: Is the car here.

Me: Yes.

Receptionist: Is it in the lot?

Me: Yup.

Reception: Okay which one is it (tries to look around me).

Me: I don’t want to say it’s the one on fire behind me. But it’s the one on fire behind me.

She rolled her eyes and picked up the phone like this happens at least twice a day.

Receptionist: Can I get an appraiser to the front desk?

After evaluating and appraising the car the inspector asked me if he could talk me through some salient point before giving me a price.

Sure.

Inspector: The car has well over 100,000 miles.

Me: Yup.

Inspector: And it’s over ten years old.

Me: Yup.

He pops the hood.

Inspector: If you look through the smoke here, by the way it was on fire, you see a crack in the engine.

Me: Caught that.

Inspector: I mean you’re really not going to get a better price than we’re going to pay you. Anywhere. I mean I would take whatever the salesman offers you.

Cue chipper salesman who slips up behind me - waiting for his moment.

Me: I completely agree. I mean the only other thing I could do was scrap it and of course I know the price for that.

Inspector and salesman look at each other.

Me: Yeah, big money.

They cracked up, then offered me over scrap and over Kelley Blue Book. I think the moral of the story is – always operate like you have nothing to lose and know how much it is to scrap a car.

It’s a shame my little car had to go in such a manner, but she did leave me with a great tale, and that just proves how well she knew me.

*Named changed because blah blah blah

Volunteer Journal #65 – The Trevor Project

“Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds.”

Downer opening but, let's face it, 15-24 is rough. For many of us it's the worse time of our life.  Almost impossible. You get raging hormones, a new body, acne, and hair in random places. You want to experiment with stuff, learn what you are and are not capable of, but you're still under the watchful eye of the ever present parentals. And then there are your classmates. I don’t know many adults who weren’t picked on to some extent.

Personally, I feared walking into the cafeteria so much during high school that I started eating lunch in the library with the librarian. I got a lot of reading done.

But, besides being female, I wasn't in any minority or oppressed group. I can't fathom...

“LGB youth are up to 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.”

Is it any wonder?  We tell them they can die for their country but they can't tell us who they really are.  We tell them they can't legally be with the person that they love, so sorry - no legal protection for you. In many countries lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are even butchered by the law. So, is it any wonder?

That's why I'm so honored I got to work with The Trevor Project on Labor Day weekend.

The Trevor Project’s goal is to stop suicide among young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning youth, but anyone seeking help is welcome to call their 24/7 help line 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) to talk to a counselor.

My friend Sara, who spent time in Africa rehabilitating monkeys (random amazing factoid - see pic), joined me and other volunteers from the group Century of Compassion. We made survival kits!  Filled with information on GLBTQ literature and films and tips on how to deal with and prevent bullying. The kits are sent to kids, parents, schools, anyone who needs help - and they're free, so don't be shy about calling to ask for one.

The Trevor Project needs volunteers to make survival kids, be lifeline counselors (you have to go through training), or answer Trevor Chat.  Trevor Chat is a new instant messaging program for anyone who might be too scared to call.  They've talked to kids as young as 9 who need counseling.

Trevor took 33,000 calls last year, and intervened in a several suicide attempts.  If you have a friend or know someone who needs to talk please encourage them to call.

Life is rough but it would be so much less interesting without you around. Lots of people care and have been through something similar.  Please call 866-4-U-Trevor.

It gets so much better.

 

Greening the Film Industry

Last week an unbelievably complex movie set rose out of what use to be the Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles, CA. The production team of Transformers 3 built one floor of an office building. Utilizing cranes and huge hydraulics they tilted and lifted the floor at odd angles.  As the sun set huge lights illuminated the fake floor replicating daylight and casting eerie shadows on the surrounding hillside.  All in all it was a feat of engineering awesome to behold. Unfortunately, its environmental impact was equal in scale. The entertainment industry sucks up electricity - from building temporary sets, to the water bottles and soda cans at the catering tables it all adds up to a carbon footprint comparable to the textile industry. Realizing that greening up production could save money in a tight economy many... Read Full Article

Volunteer Journal #60 - Writing Coach

I love that number 60 was in my wheelhouse. Teaching a writing workshop. That’s it. Pretty simple. Class – 6 High school kids. Who should be worried about going to college and picking up classmates. Unfortunately these kids, as KIDSAVE ambassadors, had to worry about finding families and convincing others to look beyond blood and do the same. How to convince aka seduce someone with the written word? In two words - “Yes, and…” “Yes, and…” is my writing motto. It keeps a story moving forward, fills it with interesting details, but is also appropriate to use in life. For Example: “Raegan, would you like a cookie?” Yes, and milk. “Do you write plays?” Yes, and screenplays, short stories, a blog, and teleplays. “Would you like to have your own TV show?” Yes, and I’d like to win a Pulitzer, speak at TED, and… can I please have that bag of cookies? Try it everywhere, like in the dark with a significant other. You can thank me later.

Back to the kiddos… I started the class by handing out the guidelines below. If anything these little rules, principles, guidelines help me unstick myself. It’s how I avoid writers block, which I fortunately don’t get (knock on wood). After I explained the rules (yes - juxtaposition is a real word) I had them do some improv writing exercises and then we talked about what they produced. The kids wrote quality 1st draft work about their lives in two hours.

One kid wrote the most beautiful personal statement. It was honest, brutal, and bitter. He captured the emotions of a boy who was forgotten. Passed from shelter, to group home, to the street. A life in limbo. I loved it. I knew the organization would never let him read his story at an event but I told him several times how much I loved his statement. To that kid I want to say – keep that story, give me details, tell me what you learned in all this screwed up madness, and remember what Oscar Wilde would say, "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you."

Raegan’s Writing Guidelines

1) Yes, and… (AKA No Censoring - nothing is stupid till it proves to be so…)

Always advance a story. Saying yes to a suggestion will give you more to work with than no. “Yes, and…” is also an improv game.

For example: An elephant walked into a bar. Yes he did, and he ordered lemonade. Yes and…

2) Juxtaposition – You wouldn’t know it was dark without the light.

This rule keeps things interesting.

A good guy is more interesting if he has to struggle to be good – Dexter. A bad guy is always more interesting if he makes you laugh – The Joker. Know that the darkest moments can be funny and it's okay to laugh at them.

3) Don't ever try to be funny. Real is funny. Forced is not.

For example: An elephant walks into a bar and buys lemonade. Vs. An elephant walks into a bar and buys a purple slurpy glurp (WHAT?!?!?). Forced is children’s lit – i.e. Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are

4) Don’t ever be too proud.

Always be okay with editing. Be ready to cut out an idea completely.

5) Try to take out words you don’t need.

Examples: like, that, I think, is, my, mine. I think you should try to like take out words that you totally don’t need.

6) Truth, beauty, funny = details.

What’s the worst place you’ve ever slept? Why? – The bed smelled like feet, there were bugs on the floor, and the person in the next room recited the star spangled banner in their sleep.

7) Commit to an idea.

Once an elephant walks into a bar he’s there. Tell me the story. What happens?

8.) Writers write.

Don’t tell me what you’re working on – tell me what you’ve written.

Outtakes from the Reader's Digest Photoshoot

I was lucky enough to be paired with a Vanity Fair/Rolling Stones photographer "Robert" for the Reader's Digest shoot. Like me, he was a little skeptical about us pulling off the Reader’s Digest photo – he was best known for crucifying Farrah Fawcett on Hollywood Blvd with Saran Wrap and I, never having worn a scarf or a pearl choker, am more known for knee high black boots, jeans, and snarky attitude. Fast forward to this, somewhat, brilliant idea of doing a boring normal shoot and then a more fun pin up type shoot as a salute to my grandfather who served in WWII (and truth be told loved him a good pinup – though that’s creepy that I was going to duplicate that but…never mind). Robert claimed that we had to push it really far to get Reader’s to accept a somewhat normal pin up shot.  I’ve included the “push it really far” pics which were certainly not going to make the Reader’s publication, but it would have made the magazine a hell of a lot more fun if they had. I've included my internal commentary under each photo because I can't shut up.

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