Don't be fooled by the grim-faced picture. It was the only unblinking one. For me, words are worth a thousand pictures. I'm looking forward to saying hi to all of you.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hunger Games

If only you could have sat next to the fourteen year old girls that I did in Hunger Games, you would have enjoyed The Hunger Games even more, life even more. During the coming attractions, the girls bounced in their seats, elbows bent fists near their chins, saying, “Eeeee” with anticipation.
“I am coming back to see this every week until it’s not in the theaters,” one girl announced, “and when it goes on DVD, I’ll watch it each week.”
Both girls knew the lyrics to the song and so many pieces of dialogue from the book that they recited under their breath while the film was on.
The Hunger Games is thrilling. Instead of large-scale wars, two tributes (kids) are chosen by lottery from each district of this fictional world. The one who kills all the others is the victor. The focus is on love, honor, and heroism, and the murders are done in soft focus so that you don’t see much of the carnage. Don’t be afraid to take your tweens. Don’t hesitate to take yourself.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


There’s so much to say about the amazing song writer and lyricist, Stephen Schwartz, but probably just mentioning that he wrote the lyrics and music for Wicked would be enough. I just got home from an ASCAP Foundation New York Musical Theater Workshop which was directed by Stephen Schwartz with panelists Lynn Arrens and Andrew Lippa.
Here’s what I learned in the discussion that could benefit all writers, regardless of what you’re writing.
1. The order of the scenes if crucial. If the order is wrong, the show will fritz. Sometimes your last scene needs to be your first one, etc.
2. You have to know and show who the lead is from the get-go. The audience has to know who to follow. Who am I supposed to like? If you introduce too many characters in a strong way too early, the audience won’t have an alliance to any of them.
3. Be able to say what your play is about in a couple of lines as if you’re pitching it to a producer.
4. Your story needs to be filled with emotion, passion, and dreams.
5. Set up the protagonists and story clearly.
6. If you have characters who are new immigrants, they wouldn’t use words like “acronym,” for example. Keep your language true to the characters.
7. Your early scene should be a cliff hanger, leaving the audience dying to know what’s going to happen.
8. Know what your central dramatic question is. What is at stake?
9. Do not tell about a character. Reveal the character himself through his actions and dialogue.
10. Simplicity is the hardest, but most effective thing. The writing shouldn’t be about how clever the writer is, but about the characters and how to tell their story in a clear and humble way.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Kid with a Bike (or how to build a modern fictional hero.)

Seeing the French film, The Kid with a Bike, is a lesson in how to create a hero. The boy begins with hardship, a deep need. He can’t accept that he’s been abandoned by his father and won’t let love in the form of a neighborhood hairdresser who, in a random act of kindness, agrees to take him from his institutional home for the weekends. He is thwarted again and again in his attempt to reconnect with his father. Although this is the story of a specific boy, everyone can identify with the theme of abandonment, loss, and grief. Choosing a universal theme is one of the keys to getting the viewer to feel the feelings he sees on the screen or reads on the page. The modern hero, like this boy Cecile, is low-key in his emotions, not easily forthcoming. Watch Cecile after finding out that his father moved from his old apartment and sold his son’s bike. Does he cry about it? No, he shows his hurt by turning on the sink in the hairdresser’s beauty shop after she has warned him not to, silently staring down at the water cascading on his hands. Subtle, indirect way of showing his hurt which is more powerful than anything he could have said.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why am I wearing black in spring while Beyonce is wearing bright yellow?

I have to take a fashion tip from her. But ah, spring in the Northeast. The week, you’ll see the magnolia bloom and the daffodils rising through the sodden ground. You’ll smell the heady scent, the permeating pollens which didn’t bother me one bit after seven years of allergy shots. You’ll see turtles sunning on the rocks in the Japanese Garden, ducks ducking ass-up in the lily pond. And in April, you’ll see the cherry blossoms in bloom. I remember them raining down on my daughter when she was a toddler, how she ran after them, head back, giggling, her chubby hands opening and closing. Ah, spring!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rated P for Parenthood

Rated P for Parenthood
Posted on March 2, 2012 by Rochelle
Book and lyrics by Sandy Rustin
Music and lyrics by Dan Lipton and David Rossmer
Directed by Jeremy Dobrish
Starring Courtney Balan, Chris Hoch, David Josefsberg, and Joanna Young

RATED P FOR PARENTHOOD is a series of musical skits that cover parenthood from birth to the empty nest. It’s always easy to sit back and mutter over what could have been better: maybe if the skits were all about one family, maybe if the songs were sext-y like the texts typed on the background screen, or maybe if standard themes such as a mother’s grief on her child’s first day of kindergarten were omitted, the play might have been a rave. But if you sit back and hear the audience clapping and whooping it up, you know that this is a terrific pick for a night out with Mama-friends, especially since Playtime http://www.playtimenyc.com/ is offering great, affordable babysitting while you’re at the theater. The sitter/artists provide your children (ages 4=12) with cultural experiences while you get your own.
And Mamas, bring the Papas. The two best scenes involve fathers. In Mind Over Playground when two dads who are watching over their kids try to befriend each other, all the while each father worrying about what the other dad might be thinking about him. And the hilarious rap duet and breakout moves in Parent Teacher Conference as two dads anticipate the terrible things that will be told to them about their children.
Visit: http://www.ratedpthemusical.com