December 2016 Newsletter

24 Nov 2016 7:22 PM | Mona Curtis (Administrator)

In the holiday shopping season, let's reflect on a simpler lifestyle focusing on what we have and helping those who have less. 

December Spotlight:  Debbie Miller

Debbie Miller is a New York City-based playwright. She maintains a simple  lifestyle in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

This is from her website

I tend to write female characters who are marginal in some way -- a tea leaf reader, a 1950s housewife yearning for freedom, a Bangladeshi immigrant, a young mother from the Ozarks, an Appalachian mountain healer, and a shopping-addicted suburban homemaker. 

Q:  What made you start writing plays? 

A:  I'd gotten involved in community theater and stand-up comedy in the 1980s when I lived in Moorhead, Minnesota. I took my first improvisation and acting classes at the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theater.   

When I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee a few years later, I continued doing stand-up and took improvisation and acting classes there. I founded an improv troupe and performed in a play for the first time, at Theatre Knoxville, a community theater. Playwriting seemed the next logical step because I found creating characters and writing dialogue came easy to me, especially after learning to improvise. I wrote my first play, "Tea Leaves," in a playwriting class in 1996 during a three-month visit to New York City. "Tea Leaves" was a tribute to my mother, who died that year. 

Q:  What makes you continue to write plays?

A:  Playwriting allows me to use my acting, improvisation, and dialogue-writing skills. When I write plays and monologues, I hear the dialogue in my head and imagine the stage and scenes in my mind. I've been an actor as well as a writer (and I've directed a few plays Off-Off-Broadway), so bringing stories to life onstage seems natural to me. I like being on stage and I like creating characters who become three-dimensional when they move from page to stage.  

Q:  Where are you originally from and what makes you continue to live and write in New York City?

A:  I  was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from college in 1973, I got married and moved to Missouri to attend grad school; then, lived in West Virginia, Minnesota, and Tennessee before divorcing and moving to New York in 1997. I've lived in New York (Manhattan first, then Brooklyn where I live now) for 19 years--longer than I've lived anywhere since leaving Ohio.  

Q:  Where have your plays been produced?

A:  My plays and monologues have been produced Off-Off-Broadway and in a few states. I've performed in some of my plays and have performed several of my monologues Off-Off-Broadway, as well as performing two one-person shows Off-Off-Broadway when I was involved in a small theater company. A couple of my plays were in the Samuel French Original Short Play Festival.

 Q:  Do you do other kinds of writing?

A:  I've been a freelance writer on and off since 1990 when I was a fact-checker at a publishing company in Knoxville. I was a stringer for the Knoxville News-Sentinel and I've recently been reviving my freelance writing career now that I'm no longer teaching English. I write memoir, personal essays, features, profiles, short stories, flash fiction, Web content, news articles, and humor pieces. I'm planning to add writing case studies and white papers to my skill set.  I've also written a screenplay and plan to write a novel.                                                                          

 Welcome New Members

Robyn Brooks M.F.A., poet and playwright, earned her M.F.A. in Poetry, from Mills College, and her B.A. in English, from UC Berkeley.  She is an Emily Chamberlain Cook Prize in Poetry recipient, former Student-Teacher-Poet for June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and a VONA/Voices alum.  Her poetry has been published in Berkeley Poetry Review, Penumbra, Milvia Street, The Walrus, The Womanist, What I Want From You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets, Generations Literary Journal, and blues arrival:  stories of the queer black South and migration.  Her chapbook, venus in retrograde, was published by Finishing Line Press.

Brooks studied playwriting with Carol Wolf.  She participated in PlayGround, in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2007-2013. Her plays have been staged at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for Monday Night PlayGround, Tennessee Women’s Theater Project Women’s Work, Theatre of Yugen, S.F., CA, Los Angeles Women’s Theater Project, Theatre Rhinoceros, S.F., CA, LunaSea, S.F., CA, and Mills College, Oakland, CA.

Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for Huffington Post, TEDx and RAINN speaker, award-winning health advocate, actress and playwright,  sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, artwork, performance  and inspirational speaking.  She has headlined international conferences as a keynote speaker, and as author and star of "Gutless & Grateful", her one-woman musical autobiography, since its NYC debut in 2012.  Her writings have appeared in over 70 online and print publications, and her story has appeared on TODAY, Cosmopolitan and CBS.  She's currently touring a mental health advocacy/sexual assault awareness program to colleges nationwide.

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Now Playing & Coming Soon
If you have a play that will be in production anywhere between January 1 – January 31, please email Amy  ( before December 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the January newsletter.  If you have a play that will be produced anytime between February 1 and February 28, it will appear in the COMING SOON column. 

"A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas" by Kris Bauske is having at least three productions this month.  

Theatre Quadra at the Quadra Community Centre 970 West Rd. Quadra Island B.C. Canada will present "A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas" December 16, 17, & 18. To join in the madcap merriment, contact Linda Lolacher at or 250-285-2203. Visit their website for more information.

The Theatre Factory at 235 Cavitte Avenue Tafford, PA 15085 will present "A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas" from December 2-18, 2016.  Call 412-374-9200 for more information, or check their website.

Theatre Atchison at 401 Santa Fe Street in Atchison, KS 66002 will present "A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas" December 2-4 & December 9-11. Call 913-367-SHOW (7469) for more information, or check out their website.

The Fast and Furious One-Minute Playwright Foundation (San Francisco-- @PWfoundation) shorts has six ICWP members out of their 40+ playwrights for their 70 plays. Dec 3rd at 8 PM at the Brava Theatre @Brava Theatre, and Dec 4th at 5PM. Fun is promised for all. Our members include: Roberta D'Alois, Carol Lashoff, Patricia Milton, Pat Morin, Evelyn Jean Pine, and Madeline Puccioni. Tickets on sale--really a great price!

Carolyn Kras's play "THE SUBJECT" is in the Blank Theatre's Living Room Series on Monday, Dec. 5 at 8 PM at The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre at 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038.  It is a female-driven play with seven roles for women, and the story is about a sexual assault cover-up.  The play has had over ten readings through The Subject Project, a theatre movement to raise awareness about sexual assault issues.

"Gutless & Grateful" by Amy Oestreiche, the inspirational one-woman musical, returns to New York, February 5th and 25th.  It will be playing at the Metropolitan Room.

Articles of Interest:  Radical Hospitality and Anti-Consumerism
by Karin Williams

Playwright Anna Deavere Smith gave a lecture on "Radical Hospitality" at Harvard University, exploring the urgent socio-political importance of the concept in today's world.

Hedgebrook, a writer's retreat for women, offers radical hospitality to people who are used to nurturing others.

Those Women in Berkeley pracitce radical hospitality with their pay-what-you-can policy and find feminism in the most unlikely places.

Minneapolis's Mixed Blood Theatre has found a new audience by eliminating cost barriers.  And they kicked off Radical Hospitality with a season of challenging work. 

After the bitterness of the election season, celebrate an anti-consumerist holiday with Reverand Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir at Joe's Pub in New York City.

This Black Friday, celebrate Buy Nothing Day and escape the shopocalypse.

The Buy Nothing Project offers people a way to give and recieve, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies.

Yours for innovative, engaging, and equitable theater,
Mona Curtis

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