Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy


OFEM to be Read at the Los Angeles Theatre Center

I’m very excited to announce that my comedic monologue OFEM will be read at the Los Angeles Theatre Center on May 18th at noon, Pacific Standard Time. Sara Israel will serve as the director for my piece.

The event is the 2014 Female Playwrights Onstage Project –  National Festival of New Work. It will be live streamed by HowlRound. It is open to the public, and those in the Los Angeles area may make reservations through http://www.littleblackdressink.org. The address is 514 South Spring Street, Los Angeles. (213) 489-0994, http://www.latc.org.

Many thanks to Tiffany Antone, who created the event to highlight the work of female playwrights under the aegis Little Black Dress INK.

OFEM was read in a regional event on May 4th in an Ithaca, NY event held at Acting Out, produced by Darcy Rose. Professor Cynthia Henderson of Ithaca College directed my piece.

OFEM was in perfect keeping with this year’s theme – Planting the Seed. My character, Sally Parsons, is a farmer in Bucks County, PA, who is announcing a new initiative to take back the fields and farmer’s markets from what she views as an oppressive patriarchy. She makes a passionate speech to roll out the new food movement she has invented. You’ll have to watch online on May 18th to find out what it is. Suffice it to say that Sally is part Rosie the Riveter, part Emma Goldman, and part Susan B. Anthony. Her speech will leave you cheering and laughing.

Planting the Seed LATC poster_web

 

Little Black Dress INK is an experiment in support, inspired by recent revelations in numbers on the subject of just how few female playwrights actually get produced. Through outreach, education, and producing opportunities, Little Black Dress INK strives to create more production opportunities for female playwrights while also strengthening the female playwright network.

Check out The Blog to read up on the playwrights, directors, and other creative people collaborating on Little Black Dress INK’s Female Playwrights ONSTAGE project and the upcoming Planting the Seed new play festival.

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OFEM by Anne Hamilton to Be Read in Ithaca May 4th

Little Black Dress Ink' new play festival takes place this spring across the country.

I am very pleased that my short play OFEM has been chosen as a semi-finalist for Little Black Dress Ink’s 2014 Female Playwrights Onstage Project. It will be featured in an Ithaca, NY reading on May 4th. If chosen as a finalist, it will have a reading at the Center Theater Group in Los Angeles later this year.

Here is a guest post I wrote for Little Black Dress Ink’s website. It gives a little bit of background on how I was inspired to write OFEM.

OFEM – A Comic Monologue on American Food Attitudes

I have been eating organic food for about fifteen years. I needed to regain some health after the exhaustion I felt after graduating from Columbia University and starting my career as a dramaturg in New York City. I started ordering deliveries from Urban Organics, based in Brooklyn, after a recommendation from Lynn Nottage.

In 2004, I moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a beautiful region filled with farms and natural reserves. I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor of a Community Supported Agriculture project at Blooming Glen Farm. As a CSA member, I often visited the farm to help with chores, like replanting onions, helping to hang garlic in the barn, and at the end of the season, to pull up tomato vines from the fields so the farmers could prepare the soil for the next season’s planting.

While on the farm, and also while hanging out with health-conscious new friends, I noticed that there is a particularly ferocious atmosphere in Bucks County with regards to food. Some are outright food preachers, espousing one type of diet over another, and some are more low-key but equally obvious about showing their attitudes, usually with a gesture of rolling eyes, or a sharp intake of breath when an opinion is mentioned that they don’t agree with. I’ve never been in a place where food attitudes were so important socially.

One day I was considering this fact, and I started thinking about writing a monologue that would push the envelope on dramatizing the food attitudes of urban and rural Americans.

As a serious example of such dramatization, I remembered an excellent monologue named A CHIP ON MY SHOULDER by Carol K. Mack, which appeared in the League of Professional Women’s New Play Festival in 2009 at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City. In it, a woman named Annie, played by Kathryn A. Layng, gives a speech at a podium thanking Monsanto for its strides in food manipulation and production. She refers to an implanted electronic chip which the company has offered, and is now becoming a normal part of American life. It was a truly intelligent and chilling piece.

With admiration for Carol’s satire, I was inspired to move in the other direction, and my mind took a wildly comic turn. What if a group of female farmers, due to their feminist leanings, decided only grow to food that is round, or round-ish? What if they went further and banished phallic-shaped objects from their diets? What would cause them to do such a thing? And what if we visited them on the day that this new food movement was rolled out to the public?

And so, OFEM, or, the Ovo-Farmer’s Emerging Network was conceived.

Its leader, Sally Parsons, is giving a speech to launch the network, and stands at the podium in iconic magnificence, like Rosie the Riveter and Emma Goldman combined. Her speech has the passion of an early 20th—century union organizing appeal. As she rails against the “Farmer Man”, she goes over the top with a litany of vegetables and fruits which will and will not be grown by OFEM. And at the end, like a suffragette leading the charge to new freedoms and rights, she invites her listeners to participate in the movement and usher in a new era for humanity.

Sally is over the top, and obviously, her message is larger than life, but it makes a point about attitudes toward food consumption, both slightly mocking, and also, deeply respectful, because it points to the power – the anarchism, one could say – of influencing society’s attitudes by taking independent control of food production. I love her enthusiasm. Isn’t it anarchic to make a stand against oppressive food attitudes? And also against mainstream food growth systems, whether they’re corporations, or family businesses?

OFEM expresses what I consider a lot of time to be the silliness and offensiveness exhibited by privileged, wealthy foodies. I want to say to them, “Come on, people, it’s food. It’s nutrition. Be thankful for the hard work of the people who labor to bring it to you.”

At the same time, I respect their choices. Food consumption involves personal, ethical, financial and sometimes medical choices that I might not be aware of.  So in the end, who am I to judge?

I hope that everyone will enjoy Sally’s speech. Who knows? Maybe I’ve created a viable movement! Power to the farmer!

 

 

 



MUSE – A New Monologue

On Sunday I was walking on Greene Street in SoHo and I spied some gorgeous paintings in the window of Arcadia Fine Arts. They immediately reminded me of John Singer Sargeant, and I entered the gallery to discover several large, beautiful figurative works by Malcolm T. Liepke, an American painter. I was so enchanted with his work that I called the gallery the next day to learn more about him. Today I was inspired to write this monologue.

MUSE

For Malcolm T. Liepke

By Anne Hamilton

© April 23, 2013

CHARACTER: A PAINTER, in his late fifties.

SETTING: His studio

TIME: Now

A male painter stands center stage at his easel. It is a very large canvas. His model is offstage, or hidden behind a curtain or screen. He is speaking to his model as he paints.

PAINTER

When I was a kid I went to London. My parents took me there on vacation. I saw amazing things. At the National Gallery I saw Turners. Clouds in endless iterations. Grass plains. Sky.

Pre-Raphaelites. Their hair. Blossoming with volume. Copper-rust strands. Silk and lace so real I could feel them against my skin.

And John Singer Sargeant. My first. Carnation Lily Lily Rose.

An explosion of blooms. They grew from the trees, it seemed.  Children holding lamps glowing like fireflies. The flowers, abundant. And hopeful. And lush.

A big canvas. A big, endless world.

A garden of delights.

I stood there staring until my mother threatened to leave me behind.

(To the model) Can you turn your head a little bit to the right? I want to see how the light falls on your cheek.

I saw Madame X in a book. Arresting. That silhouette. The turned head away. Mystery.

I learned from him –- brushstrokes. Composition. Color. Texture. Light falling against bare skin. The paint making something from nothing. A lightweight pile of color meeting a bare white canvas. And magic. Appears. From nowhere. Just desire. The desire makes magic appear. Becomes flesh.

Imagination. Desire. The light of the world. My muse.

(He paints for a while. He stops, stretches. Puts his paint brush down. He walks over to the area where the model is. He pulls back the curtain. There is no model. He goes back to his canvas and looks at it with satisfaction. He picks up a used brush or two and walks off stage.)

THE END



THE FAMILY BUSINESS, A New Monologue
July 8, 2011, 4:15 pm
Filed under: New Work by Anne | Tags: , ,

THE FAMILY BUSINESS

By Anne Hamilton

© July 8, 2011

Character:  CHUCK WOOD

Place:  His Dining Room Table in rural Minnesota.

Time:  The Present.

(Chuck sits at the table with a glass of milk and a piece of pie in front of him.)

I don’t know. When I started, you know…

It just seemed the right thing to do. It’s what we…do in my family.

I didn’t start by… No, no, you don’t do that.

It started with, you know, pebbles, in the woods. We’d go out to my grandfather’s farm and take a ride with him on his tractor. And then my brother and I would stay down in the meadow and cool our feet in the stream. There was a really cold stream, a “crick” we call it, and it felt so good and cold on a hot summer day.

We were there one day by ourselves, granddad had taken the tractor back to the barn, and my brother said to me, “Hey, you want to do it?”

“Do what?” I replied, my legs dangling in the water.

“Do it. You know, what we do.”

Fear began to overtake me. “No,” I replied, “Not…”

“Yeah,” he said with a mischievous grin on his face. I had never seen him look like that before. But that was the day he had decided we would do it. He would teach me…the family business.

“We can’t…” I said.

“Yeah, we can.  And we will,” he replied.

I swallowed hard.

“Right now?”

“Yeah, right now.” He pointed to a small stone. I’ll never forget it, it was gray, with white spots.

“Pick it up.”

“I can’t.”

“Sissy!” he yelled. “If you’re going to be one of us, you have to learn to do it right!”

My short life flashed before my eyes. My mother’s eyes, warm and loving. My father’s smile, his teeth flashing in that wide open grin. My granddad, walking straight despite his years. And my grandma, making a pie, dusting flour from her hands.

Would I, could I, live up to their expectations?

In a flash, I decided to do it.

I nodded, bent down, and picked up the stone.

“Now aim it this way, and try to make it skip a couple of times,” my brother instructed.

It was good, no, it was right, to have him here with me.

I took good aim, drew my arm back, and…oh, it was no use. I couldn’t go through with it. I wasn’t ready to grow up yet, I wanted to be a kid. Forever. Then I didn’t have to learn this nasty family business, to spend my life/

/“Do it!” my brother insisted. “Grow up. Go ahead.”

And seeing that I couldn’t run past him, or get to the other side of the crick, I did it. It happened so fast I almost didn’t know what happened until I heard the plink of the stone in the water.

The smooth surface rippled with a spreading circle. I knew that the stone was gently falling to the bottom where it would rest for a very long time.

Now that it was over, I felt a knot in my stomach that I hadn’t felt before.

I had done it. I had…chucked something.

(He pauses with his head down, considering deeply what to say next.)

From then on, I chucked bigger and bigger things. An apple at the barn. A baseball into the woods. (Quietly) A Frisbee at a passing car.

My parents responded with a mixture of anxiety and pride. I never knew which one I was going to get. “Nice aim,” my mother said.

“You’re going to pay for that window you broke,” growled my father. “A little to the left, son,” he said the next time the horseshoe missed the pole.

I didn’t care. I was learning, I was chucking, and nothing was going to stop me. I took up the discus at school, competed at all the track meets. I threw the javelin and won state records. I lifted weights and worked on my arms. I could bench press most of my weight and then I turned sixteen and my father said to me, “Son, it’s time”.

My brother had a sharp intake of breath.

My mother’s head jerked almost imperceptibly, but I caught it.

I nodded.

He took me out to the fields behind the house, where he led me through the path. We came to a clearing and I saw a fallen tree. Its guts were spilled out, with rotten bark everywhere. There was a branch. Not a very long branch, but a heavy one.

He pointed. “That’s your one, right there”. And then he pointed to a group of tall weeds in the distance. “Put her right there, son, you can do it”.

And I stepped up to that branch and heaved it up. Pulled my strength together. (He laughs nervously) And I did it. I chucked it. I chucked that wood as far as I could.

Like my father before me, and his father before him. I chucked it. I…chucked…wood.

Yeah, and it was great. I felt good.

(Beat)

I’m glad I learned. Didn’t know if I wanted to do it, but yeah, it felt right. Felt good. I’m glad I did it.

Dad smiled that snarly grin and bit me on the arm. I…wasn’t used to such affection. But I guess he just got carried away with himself. With pride. I…made him feel good, I guess, knowing he has someone – two sons, really – to pass things on to.

We walked home. Didn’t say a word. And Mom was waiting with a hot pie. Blackberry. She glanced into my eyes as she put the plate in front of me. “I gave you extra crust. The kind you like, with the fork marks on it”. She straightened up. “Good job, Chuck,” she said. “Looks like we named you correctly”.

And she smiled.

I bit into the berries, sweet juices and all, sure that I had done a good thing that day.

(He smiles. He reaches down and takes a piece of pie onto his fork. He eats it, chewing slowly.)

(Lights down.)

END OF PLAY.



GROUNDING, a new dramatic monologue

I wrote this monologue today and thought I’d share it. I draws on my experience of working at Blooming Glen Farm out here in Bucks County, PA. I belong to a community supported agriculture project (CSA) and I take a little bit of time to work in the fields. Many thanks to my farmer friends for this inspiration.

GROUNDING

By Anne Hamilton

© July 5, 2011

Character: Shelley, 25

Place: The Field.

Time: The Present.

(Shelley is on her knees working in the dirt. She is barefoot. There is a greenhouse behind her with flats of growing seeds. A flat of growing onions, sits to her left.)

I come here. To ground myself.  (laughs at herself) That’s funny. Of course. You work in the ground, you ground yourself.

Of course, we all walk on the ground. But we seldom really touch it. We’re always standing on pavement, blacktop, cement. Stones. We wear shoes. When is the last time you actually touched the earth with your bare feet? Think about it.

I had a dog once. We lived in Queens. There was no grass for miles. Everything was paved over. Her feet never touched the ground in the first five years of her life, except once. We put her in the car and drove her to a park. That’s when she touched grass.

When we moved out here, I bought her a backyard. She didn’t know what universe she was in. There were other animals – she only knew cats, and squirrels, mice, pigeons. And cockroaches, not that we had them in our house.

She was on the deck when we first moved. A rabbit came hopping by. “Oh, wonder! How many goodly creatures there are here!” She nearly went crazy with excitement. What was that? Another little creature! It has a round tail! I want one!

She loved rabbits from then on. Thought they were her own little pets. Started wagging her tail and whining every time one hopped by.

We took care of one that our neighbor neglected. Kept in a cage with no extra shelter inside. Didn’t give it water every day. I would go over there and feed it. Carrots. Cranberries. Little morsels. I took my dog. And she wanted to kiss that rabbit so badly – stuck her head in the cage up to her shoulders and licked its little face. Scared the rabbit half to death until it got used to her. (Beat)  She loved that rabbit.

After we fed it so it got fat, they sold it to a farm. As a stud. Lucky rabbit. All its dreams came true.

(She pauses.)

Sometimes…I have to talk like this. Just keep talking. It passes the time, keeps my mind from thinking.

(She looks down at the earth.)

I come here to dig. To watch something grow. Instead of die. If you plant something you can watch it grow. It’s the only time you see progress. I need progress. Every kid should live near nature. He can see that things grow and things die. That in the winter they look like they’re dead, but then they come to life again in the spring. It’s the only way to understand…how things are.

I lost – my sister. My second sibling to die in 27 months. Most families count the years by births. Our counts it by deaths. A rare genetic disease. Blood condition.  Fifty percent get it, fifty percent don’t. You don’t – we don’t – know who has it until we’re adults.

Sluggishness. Pale skin. Muscle weakness. That’s how it starts.  We’re always checking on each other. “How do you feel?” “Let me look at your face.”

And then – drowsiness, lack of energy. And hospitals. It always ends in hospitals. And hospices. She was twenty-years years old in a hospice. The staff knows us all by name by now.

It happened last Saturday. That last breath. The nurse called. “Your sister has taken her last breath,” she said. Funeral was Wednesday. We had it planned, of course. Dinner together and on to – the rest of our lives.

I come here. To reconnect. Plant. Hope that something grows that something completes its own life cycle, that something LIVES, goddamn it! And I watch for signs of life. And death.

Not by the side of a bed, but out here. In the sun. with my feet in the dirt. Grounded. Grounding. Watching. And waiting. Waiting for my own blood to tell me…what it’s going to do.

(She picks up a spade and digs a little hole. She places an onion sprig into the hole and gently fills in the space around it. She repeats the action, with reverence. She looks up and smiles a brave smile. Lights fade.)

END OF PLAY



OFEM, A NEW COMEDIC MONOLOGUE
July 4, 2011, 12:00 pm
Filed under: New Work by Anne | Tags: , , ,

Bucks County, where I live, is filled with foodies. It’s also filled with food snobs. As I travel around to farms picking up my produce, I’ve met some very peculiar people who are entrenched in their own way of eating through life. In a satirical response, I’ve come up with the concept of Ovo-Farming, and want to share it with you through its intrepid leader’s opening speech. I hope you’ll enjoy my summer skewering of food snobbery everywhere.

OFEM

By Anne Hamilton

© July 4, 2011

Character:  SALLY PARSONS, An organic Ovo-Farmer.

Place: The Heartland.

Time:  The Start of the Growing Season, The Present.

(SALLY stands at a podium. There is ambient noise of many people in the room, shifting in their seats. There is a very excited atmosphere.)

SALLY

First of all, I want to thank you all for coming to the first meeting of the Ovo-Farmers Emerging Network. Today is an auspicious day. We will band together as farmers and distributors to grow and sell only female centric fruits and vegetables. Hence: OFEM – Ovo-farmers, like the egg, but without eggs. We will not grow eggs. We are vegans.

(She stops and smiles. She has gotten ahead of herself.)

Let me back up. My co-founder and partner, Kate Meehan and I, decided to start this organization after looking at our plates one afternoon at lunch. And what did we see? Cucumbers, braised squash. Carrots. (She almost gags.) Italian eggplant. And what did we think? Why are we eating all of this phallo-centric food? Think of it, people, how many times does “The Farmer Man’s” (she indicates the quotes with her hands) penis have to be shoved in our face before we wake up?  The time has come to take back the fields from the male farmer with his string beans and corn stalks and celery.

We started the OFEM movement to provide feminists and feminist sympathizers everywhere with a source of food that they can truly enjoy. That they can consume in small, ladylike bites, without feeling that the male-centric food industry is literally shoving its penis down our throats.

We will grow only – are you ready for this? – round, vaguely egg-shaped produce. Think of it, Sisters –non–GMO, organic, pleasantly plump edibles. Cherries. Potatoes. Pumpkins. Bell peppers. And of course, apples.

Apples will be the symbol of our movement as we take back the garden, take back the farmers markets, and overthrow the tyranny of the roadside fruit stand. We will offer gorgeous, plump tomatoes – heirloom tomatoes. Peaches in season. And garlic with its offending stem cut off, yeah, I’ll enjoy that. (She makes the movement of castrating the garlic.) Roundish, delectable lettuces in all colors and textures, with all their lovely peaks and valleys.

Who knows the benefits of eating an OFEM diet? Maybe researchers in the future will discover a lessening of aggression in males and females investing in this way of life. An increase in empathy. Neighbors will no longer be shouting at neighbors. Road rage will decrease. Speeding – well, that may become a thing of the past.

Ovo-farming, Sisters, mark my words, may become the new way of life for the masses. But it starts here. Take a stand with me. Say no to sugar snap peas. And YES to gourds. No! to corn. And YES! To watermelon. Hell, no! to zucchini and YES! YES! YES!! (She says this with orgasmic glee.) To endamame.

In conclusion, thank you for coming to this historic event. Please leave us your email so we can be in touch, and remember the life-giving quality of female-centric plants. It’s ovum, the egg; OFEM, the new true, right and good food movement; and Oh, Femme! How we need you! Let us all take back our vim and vigor.

Say hello to a new way of life.

Thank you very much!