From the Editor of #TheDramatist:
My parents owned and ran a weekly newspaper and, since it was cheaper than getting a babysitter, my sister and I spent a lot of time at the office. In the wee hours every Wednesday morning, my dad would take the paper to print. By that, I mean he would load sheets of aluminum into our station wagon and drive them to the nearest printer. There, the sheets of metal would be put onto the cylinders of the offset printing press, inked, pressed onto the great rolls of newsprint, and then cut and folded…all by a machine nearly the size of a city block and as loud as a small jet. The first few papers off the press were cut and folded blanks, because the ink hadn’t quite circulated through the machine. My father would grab those blanks, throw them into a bag, and bring them back to the office. On Monday and Tuesday nights, he gave my sister and me those newspaper blanks and, with crayons, markers, construction paper, and approved scraps from the photo and clip art morgue, we would create our own newspapers alongside my parents.
The process of printing The Dramatist is different. The printer is in Wisconsin and I upload (sans station wagon) electronic files (not sheets of metal) to their server. The magazine is proofed online and then printed in a “sheet fed” process.
A few weeks ago, as I was in the throes of putting The Printed Word issue of The Dramatist, I found myself regaling my ten-year old niece, Caroline, with this story. She thought having newspaper blanks to play with sounded cool and asked if I would send her magazine blanks. The sheet fed printing process, however, doesn’t deliver magazine blanks the way the offset printer did with newspapers. Not wanting to squelch her enthusiasm, I told her I could email her a blank magazine cover and she could design her own alongside (virtually speaking) with the artist I was working with.
After my meeting with artist/designer Christopher Knowles, I called Caroline and had almost exactly the same meeting with her. Like Christopher, she asked a lot of questions and took notes. She sketched some ideas and, finally, landed on an image she liked.
So, continuing our family tradition in the publications and printing industry, I am presenting Caroline’s first cover. It began with a “blank” PDF containing only our Dramatist flag (that’s the proper term for the printed title and logo at the top of the front page of a newspaper or cover of a magazine) and was then printed and embellished with various pencils. If nothing else, this exercise has given me the opportunity to correct her spelling.
On The Cover of The Dramatist: Ian Sklarsky is a Brooklyn-based artist known for his blind contour drawings. Without looking at the paper and using one, continuous line, Ian creates an abstract version of what he sees. Some of his recent works include a line of shirts commissioned by the Korean clothing company, Tomboy; custom murals for the trendy new NYC restaurant and private supper club, Omar’s; and the 2013 Season In Review issue of #TheDramatist.
For this issue, he suggests the process and development of writing for the theatre to be, quite literally, a game. Education, hard work, experience, contacts, and talent certainly help the player but, like Ian’s method of illustration, much is still left to chance.
The Process & Development Issue is shipping now from Dramatists Guild of America. Can’t wait for your copy to arrive? Members can see it now online here.
Editor’s Notes (from Sept/Oct 2013 Education Issue of #TheDramatist):
I am lucky to have had some great teachers in my life. Carolyn Curry was one. She was a round, pixie-haired woman whose cherubic face and slow Arkansas drawl made her casual profanity seem charming. She drank Diet Coke and chain smoked through every rehearsal. Afterward, she would take the cast to a piano bar for whiskey, gossip and unsolicited professional advice. It was a different time.
As an undergrad at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1985, I was cast in Carolyn’s college production of A Chorus Line. The show was well received and the UALR Alumni Association purchased an entire performance as a fund-raiser. Since their activities usually centered on sports, this event proved successful if only because it offered their supporters something different.
After the show, the Alumni Association congratulated Carolyn on the production adding that in spite of the shocking content and bad language, they planned to repeat the event the following year but would rather she direct Oklahoma instead. Since the purchased performance was guaranteed revenue for the Theatre Department, Carolyn was told by the department head to take the Association’s suggestion. Carolyn’s response (and I’m paraphrasing, but barely): “Fuck ‘em. They can’t tell me what to do.” And announced The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas for the following season.
While spite might have been a factor in her decision-making, Carolyn really loved Whorehouse and really did want to direct it. Again, I was cast. (Boys who could and would dance were a hot commodity in Little Rock in the 1980s, so I was a popular casting choice.) As we went into rehearsals, Carolyn continued to endure daily flack from the department head and the Alumni Association about her selection of material. When a reporter from The Arkansas Democrat inquired about the “adult nature” of the show, she momentarily caved under pressure and said that she was “considering softening the language.” The reporter misquoted her, leaving out the word “considering.”
Only days later, Carolyn received a handwritten letter from Larry L. King (which I saved and share with you here). His friend who sent him the newspaper article followed up with a phone call saying he would be in the audience on opening night. While Carolyn had never actually considered changing a word of the script, she was mortified. To her credit, she saw this as a teaching opportunity. She made copies of the letter, gave them to the entire cast and crew at dress rehearsal that night, and delivered the first speech I ever heard about authorial rights that went something like this: “Y’all wouldn’t change Shakespeare. You don’t change Larry L. King, either. You don’t like what they’re writing, write your own goddamn play.”
May every college and university be blessed with a Carolyn Curry.