For some time, I’ve admired the blogs other folks have set forth using this elegant and versatile format, and I thought, what the hell, give it a shot. So even though I’ve had a long-running blog on Livejournal and, for the past year, on MySpace, here we journey out into the great Internet wilderness, to endeavor, as have so many before us, to blather mindlessly on matters of no particular importance.
I’ll try and write. Promise.
First, an introduction. Writing should come fairly easy to me as, indeed, I’m a writer. I’m a recovering journalist, having put time in the automated deadlinemachine, but these days I try to stick to more respectable forms; hence, I’m a playwright. Clearly, I’m not in it for the money.
I kind of fell backwards into theatre, which is good because I probably would have run the other direction if I knew what I was getting into. At the time, I was writing fiction and came up against terrible writers block. So I was thumbing through this marvelous book of photographs by Richard Misrach called “Desert Cantos” and they seemed to suggest stories to me. Rather than write typical fiction, I decided to write first-person sketches, one for each picture. It was a great exercise, and I liked the result but didn’t know what to do with it. My mistake was taking it to a director friend and asking what he thought. “I think we should stage this,” he said.
And we did. In a Portland guerrilla art gallery on the fourth floor of a nearly condemned building, the tech for my first play consisted of two slide projectors and flashlights with colored gels taped to them. A bulb on one of the projectors burned out ten minutes before opening.
Nonetheless, people came, and I got a decent review which compared me to a young Sam Shepard, which still induces swooning. So I thought, what the hell, write something where people talk to each other. So I did, and “Bombardment” was the result. Stark Raving Theatre in Portland premiered it in 1991. We did pretty damn well with the audience, and the critics crucified–CRUCIFIED–us. A year later, “Bombardment” was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, which taught me a great deal about the promise of theatre and the limitations of critics.
Now…what…17 years after the projector bulb burned out, I’ve written something like 30 plays, (if you count all the one-acts), had stuff produced internationally, had some great reviews (and some more not-so-great ones), been a finalist for the Oregon Book Award again, and recently broke the LORT glass ceiling. So maybe I won’t have to go back to journalism.
Still a goddamn newsy, though, so, in addition to theatre and art, I’ll probably blather on about politics and current events, especially as the election nears. For me, election time is like the World Series, Superbowl, and Calavaras Jumping Frog competition all rolled into one.
Welcome to the splattland….
Steve “splatt” Patterson