Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Writing Challenge #30 - Storytelling Obsessions



Hi folks,

We have arrived at the final challenge for November 2022.

For those of you who wrote every single day this month, well done!

For those of you who wrote some but maybe not every day, also well done!

You all have more writing in hand than you did at the end of October, and that was the whole point.

Hopefully all of you have at least one or two ideas you want to continue pursuing in the year ahead.

For those of you who were new this year, thanks for finding us.  

For those of you who enjoyed it enough last year to come back and do it again, we were happy to see so many familiar names.  

Thanks to all of you for prioritizing your writing a little bit every day.  

And though It’s dicey making pronouncements about anything a year out, the plan is to definitely do this again next November.  So if you found it useful, mark your calendars. And spread the word to anyone you think might be interested.

Once everyone’s turned in what they’re going to write for this last challenge day, I’ll tally everything up and follow up with an email to everyone who looks like they did all 30 days (or got close on my daily tracking chart), just to confirm with everyone and make sure I didn’t accidentally miss anybody.

Then we’ll confirm your mailing addresses where to send the check (we’re new, so we don’t have a credit card or Venmo/CashApp account or anything like that - so it’s old school handwritten checks).  You can all tell people you were paid by a theater company for your writing and it will be true, you can even show them evidence :)

Thanks again for participating, everybody!

It was a bit of a marathon for me on this end, too, but it was worth it to see you all cranking out those pages of dialogue and sketches of ideas.  Even your little escape hatch plays some days were quite inventive and entertaining.

Again, well done, one and all!

And now, let’s get you that final writing prompt for November 2022…


**************************************


Challenge #30 - Storytelling Obsessions

Due: Thursday, December 1st, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




Joseph Scrimshaw, a writer and comedian who used to be based in the Twin Cities and now lives out west, has a podcast called “Obsessed,” where he talks to people about “their deepest loves and obsessions from cats to Star Wars to knitting to Pro-Wrestling and everything in between.”  He’s been doing it for over 10 years and 390 episodes.  He started with the community of Twin Cities artists back in 2012 and now he’s getting his west coast cohorts to chime in, plus his talented (and equally opinionated and funny) dancer wife Sara often joins him.

As a thought experiment (I’ve never been a guest myself), depending on when he cornered me, the podcast might have found me talking about

the novels of Michael Cunningham (“Flesh and Blood” first hooked me, most folks know “The Hours” because of the movie),

or Mystery Science Theater 3000,

or the plays of Sarah Ruhl and Annie Baker,

or the films of Krzysztof KieĊ›lowski,

the TV show Orphan Black,

or the skier Gus Kenworthy.

This year, currently I’m more than a little obsessed with the work of Alice Oseman. The teaser and then the trailer for the Netflix adaptation of Heartstopper sent me down a rabbit hole of reading all four graphic novels (re-read those several times), then the novellas This Winter, and Nick and Charlie, and the YA novel Solitaire, plus the yearbook and coloring book, and now I’ve also read the novels only very tangentially related novels Radio Silence (which may finally get me hooked on “Welcome To Night Vale”), I Was Born For This, and Loveless (the last of which I just started). And when I can’t think of anything to watch, I just rewatch Heartstopper to take the edge off the day.  (My favorite episode is #5, Friend - it has the best bit from Olivia Coleman, plus the best hug [at 1:15] and the best kiss.) And I’ve downloaded the instrumental soundtrack and all the pop songs featured in season 1. Plus Alice’s story as a writer and illustrator is fascinating. There’s a frightening number of YouTube videos related to ALL of this, and I’ve seen quite a few of them.  So, yeah… a new happy place to get me through a Minnesota winter.

I bring this up because, if you’re going to spend time on a project - and even a short play with rewrites can gobble up a chunk of your life - you should make sure it’s a place you want to live for a while.  Characters and a story you want to revisit over and over.  So it helps to know what you like - and to break it down and figure out why.  Not because you want to copy it.  But maybe you want to see more of that kind of storytelling in the world.  So you figure out how to put your own spin on it.

For instance, I feel like I’ve been over every single line of “As You Like It” and “Uncle Vanya” and “Angels In America” (both parts, but part 2 is my favorite).  I see productions of them pretty much any time I get a chance.  They’re like old friends.  Or pizza.  Even a bad production (or pizza) is still pizza, or Vanya, or Angels, or the forest of Arden.

We learn from the things we like.  And we can draw inspiration from them, directly or indirectly.

Maybe I just want to create something that can help make an audience feel the same way I do when I enjoy something I really like.

It’s a tall order, of course.

But as Browning wrote,

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

(Forgive the gendered pronouns, all are welcome.)

Take something you like, in art or in life in general.

Try to create something on stage that conjures those feelings, that atmosphere, that absurdity.

Have fun with it.

Take a swing at that for our final outing.

Or, like always, write whatever you want.

Just write.  Something.  For one last day in November (this year).

Again, folks, well done.

Happy writing to you all!



*************************************


If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #30:

Magical Realism

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


**************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”

*************************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #30

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #30
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below



Again, this is: Due: Thursday, December 1st, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)


**************************************


And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon on Thursday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have another 11 months (until the next November writing challenge) to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


**************************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

Boy meets boy.

They say “Hi.”

They smile.

A new world opens up in front of them.

Lights down.

The End





That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
Our video recording of our third live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Sam Walsh's "The Visible," is up on our YouTube channel (available to stream through the end of November)

Coming Soon:
The video recording of our fourth live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Bethany Dickens Assaf’s “Leviathan,” will be swapping places with “The Visible” on our YouTube channel in late November, early December

Coming Up:
Threshold Theater’s New Play Reading Series
A reading of “Zero State” by Allison Moon
Monday, March 13, 2023 - 7pm
The Black Hart of Saint Paul - 1415 University Avenue West in St. Paul


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

Monday, November 28, 2022

Writing Challenge #29 - Messages After You're Gone

Hi folks


28 down, 2 to go!

We’ve nearly reached the end of November, folks.

Hang in there and keep on writing :)

Someone in my writing group (who shall remain nameless) has been… pestering is a negative word so let’s just say enthusiastically and repeatedly suggesting… that “you should let all those writers know about the writing group and see if they might be interested in attending.”

Which isn’t a bad idea.

But I did remind the person that the majority of the writers doing the challenge this year aren’t local, and are situated in states all across the USA, plus one in Canada.  So the time zones don’t always perfectly align.

In our time being fully online last year, we had a number of people in different states sitting in - but sometimes it was challenging because they were either an hour ahead or behind of the Central Time zone meeting hours of 7pm to 9pm.  Still, we did make it work.  Even now, in hybrid mode, with some folks meeting in person, there’s still a number of (even local) people who prefer or need to attend via video conference on the computer.  So we have the capability of including folks wherever there’s internet connectivity.  (Sadly our friend who just started a graduate program in Norway isn’t going to be able to join us - it’s always the middle of the night for her when we meet.  Less extreme time zone differences may be workable.)

Here’s an overview of how the group works (from another blog of mine)

If you think you might be interested, just drop me a note.

Now, let’s get you that writing prompt…


*********************************************


Challenge #29 - Messages After You’re Gone

Due: Wednesday, November 30th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




Back in grad school, in the early 1990s (I’m carbon-dating myself at this point), I was dating a guy named Peter.

Things were going well, and then Peter just disappeared, for a couple of weeks.

And when he returned, he told me he was HIV+.

I got the necessary tests and was in the clear.

But back in the early 1990s, HIV and AIDS were still considered potentially fatal, without a lot of good options for treatment.

So Peter disappeared just to get away from everything and figure out what he was going to do.

Being in a relationship was not one of those things, so we transitioned to being friends.

And Peter outlasted all the most dire outcomes that befell a lot of people in those days.

In fact he lived so long (and still may be for all I know), that we lost touch.

But for the longest time we stayed connected, and part of why was that Peter said he needed to keep track of me for a particular reason.

He said he’d written me a letter that he’d instructed his lawyer to send to me when he died.  (One of the many things he’d done right after finding out he was positive was to get a will drafted up, get his affairs in order, all of which turned out to thankfully be many, many decades premature.)

Peter didn’t tell me why he’d written me a letter.  Or what it was about.  Or why he couldn’t just give it to me now, rather than wait until after he was dead.

(Yes, it’s a bit melodramatic, and an overused trope in storytelling - messages from beyond the grave - but… that’s what happened.)

I was the last person he was involved with before he found out he had HIV.  But I was hardly the only person he was with, before or since.

Hadn’t thought about it in a while, but I’ve always been curious about that letter.

I suppose now, I may never know.

It’s interesting to speculate, though.

If you were arranging to have a message relayed to someone after you died, who would it be and why, and what would it say?

Extrapolate out from that and give this situation, either being on the sending or receiving end of such a message, to a character in a play.

What might grow out of such a premise?  Fool around with that for a bit.  And remember, it needn't be grim, it could just as easily be ridiculous.

Or, as ever, write whatever you like.

Just write.  Something.

Just two days more to the end of our challenge marathon.


************************************


If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #29:

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times, and The Future

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”


************************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #29

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #29
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below




Again, this is: Due: Wednesday, November 30th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



************************************

And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon on Wednesday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have one more day to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


**************************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

A person opens up a message.

It’s from someone they know.

But that person is dead.

Lights down.

The End




That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
Our video recording of our third live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Sam Walsh's "The Visible," is up on our YouTube channel (available to stream through the end of November)

Coming Soon:
The video recording of our fourth live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Bethany Dickens Assaf’s “Leviathan,” will be swapping places with “The Visible” on our YouTube channel in late November, early December

Coming Up:
Threshold Theater’s New Play Reading Series
A reading of “Zero State” by Allison Moon
Monday, March 13, 2023 - 7pm
The Black Hart of Saint Paul - 1415 University Avenue West in St. Paul



"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Writing Challenge #28 - Atmosphere

Hi folks

27 down, 3 to go!

We’ve nearly reached the end of November.  Well done, everybody!

We started with thirty-plus writers regularly turning something in - and over the intervening weeks, we’ve slowly whittled down to a point where we’re in the low twenties, in terms of people turning something in each day.

That said, there have been, at last count, 690 bits of script created, totaling 2,230 pages, or the equivalent of about 18 and a half full length plays.  So, nothing to sneeze at there.  Good job, one and all!

Always remember, if you miss one day, don’t beat yourself up, just write again the next day.



And just to provide a little evidence that I do indeed actually write play scripts and not just a series of writing prompts for other people to write from, I’m including the following pictures of an advance copy I received of an anthology of monologues for transgender and non-binary characters and actors called “We/Us - Monologues for the Gender Minority.” A monologue from my play “But Not For Love” was selected to be in the collection, which is a much-needed bit of encouragement after this pandemic-induced dry spell of non-productions the last couple of years. You’ve all be nice enough to share the good news about your own writing throughout our time together, so I figured I should  do the same.


Coming out of the holiday weekend, here's what you'll be working on Monday, to turn in on Tuesday morning before noon Central Time.

Let’s get you that writing prompt…


***********************************


Challenge #28 - Atmosphere




Due: Tuesday, November 29th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)





Reading other people’s plays is great for seeing mistakes you might overlook your own and then think, “Hmmm, I should be on the lookout so I don’t do that myself.”

For example, I recently read a short play where two queer friends were helping each other get ready for a big Halloween party.

And at the very end, one character quite deliberately mentioned that they were in New York City in the early 1980s.

Sorry, too late.

You can’t retroactively try and supply atmosphere to your play right before it ends.

(Well, I suppose anything’s possible, but it comes off as kind of a cheap trick.  Like the last line being, “Have a good day working at the Pentagon, dear - on this lovely Tuesday, September 11th of 2001!”)

Plus, the author of that Halloween play was under the impression that everyone would know what that time and place meant.

The beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

So these two friends dressing up like zombies or skeletons are heading out to party under a looming cloud of disease and death.  It’s just nobody knows that yet.

(Heck, even that bad 9/11 example of mine also assumes that everyone born after 2001 is going to know the significance of that date.)

Chekhov got the benefit of atmosphere almost without really meaning to.  He was just writing about what life was like at the time, in the late 1800s.  He didn’t know that a decade or so after his death that there’d be a revolution in Russia and the entire way of life his characters had been living under would be swept away.  Now, there was already a sense of decay, which he captured.  And his characters were prone to think about what life would be like in the future, long after they were dead.  One was even obsessed with the destruction of the environment and the change in climate, back in the late 19th century.  And here we are still struggling with it in the 21st century.  Period pieces have the benefit of modern audiences knowing that the way of life being portrayed onstage was in the past, and didn’t last, for whatever reason.  Good plays will often explore that reason and show the seeds of the coming change, for good or ill.

Atmosphere needn’t be gloomy or foreboding either.  It can just as easily be goofy or romantic.  

Atmosphere and genre can have a lot to do with each other - but, for instance, history or science fiction can be very different depending on the angle from which the writer approaches them (upbeat futures vs. post-apocalyptic societies, triumphs of social justice movements vs. The Inquisition or The Crusades).  Even the same set-up or event can be seen from different perspectives.  Writers need to be careful that they’re controlling the narrative and not letting their audience jump to the wrong conclusions, that they’re getting across the messages they mean to convey.

Details help - time, place, season, weather.

Context.

Don’t assume your audience knows everything you know.  Don’t be lazy.  If you’re aiming for a particular target, you can be subtle about it, but make sure your audience has all the clues they need.  They should know the target at which you’re aiming.  Probably sooner rather than later.  You’re not trying to trick the audience or sucker punch them.

But writing rules are made to be broken, as are writing prompts.

If you’re interested, try creating a world with some atmosphere - whatever that means for you.

Or, you know, whatever you like.

Just write.


************************************


If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #28:

Companion Plays

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”

***********************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #28

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #28
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below




Again, this is: Due: Tuesday, November 29th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




**************************************


And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon on Tuesday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 2 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


**************************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

Lightning and thunder.

A large shadowy figure stands in the doorway.

They are blocking the exit of someone who would very much like to leave.

Now what?

Lights down.

The End





That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
Our video recording of our third live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Sam Walsh's "The Visible," is up on our YouTube channel (available to stream through the end of November)

Coming Soon:
The video recording of our fourth live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Bethany Dickens Assaf’s “Leviathan,” will be swapping places with “The Visible” on our YouTube channel in late November, early December

Coming Up:
Threshold Theater’s New Play Reading Series
A reading of “Zero State” by Allison Moon
Monday, March 13, 2023 - 7pm
The Black Hart of Saint Paul - 1415 University Avenue West in St. Paul


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Writing Challenge #27 - Code Words


Hi folks

(2 of 2)

This prompt is the one you would be writing Sunday to be turned in on Monday by noon Central Time, but just label your email for prompt 27 and you can turn it early and I’ll credit it ahead.

And of course, you can always use the mini-play at the bottom of the email and blog post as an escape hatch for the day’s writing.

Remember, if you get lost in this flurry of six prompts crammed into three days, just look at the date on your calendar - that’s the number of the prompt you should be writing that day, and turning in the next day by 12 noon Central Time, or, of course, as early as you want, to clear the decks for the holiday.


Let’s get you that writing prompt…


******************************************


Challenge #27 - Code Words

Due: Monday, November 28th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




Stick with me for just a second - but the source of this writing prompt was a random fact about a recent school shooting (I know, I know, how do you narrow that down? Sigh)

There was an active shooter in an arts school, and apparently their warning to students and faculty over the loudspeakers was the phrase:

“Miles Davis is in the building.”

(Tough hit on poor Miles Davis, but I guess his name is doing a public service in this context.)

This reminded me of another detail about the long term effects of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  After that tragic event, surviving children, if they were experiencing unsettling memories of that day while in school, they’re encouraged to stand up and say,

“Monkey!”

And a counselor would come and sit with the child until they were able to concentrate again and resume their day of trying to learn.

And there were apparently days when there were repeated cries of “Monkey!”, often in a single class period.

(That was almost ten years ago now.  The surviving kids are in their teens.  Their classmates will always be five, six, seven years old.)

This just got me thinking about using code words to indicate other things.

Like the codes they use in hospitals:

    •    CODE RED for fire
    •    CODE BLUE for adult medical emergency
    •    CODE WHITE for pediatric medical emergency
    •    CODE PINK for infant abduction
    •    CODE PURPLE for child abduction
    •    CODE YELLOW for bomb threat
    •    CODE GRAY for a combative person
    •    CODE SILVER for a person with a weapon and/or active shooter and/or hostage situation
    •    CODE ORANGE for a hazardous material spill/release
    •    TRIAGE INTERNAL for internal disaster
    •    TRIAGE EXTERNAL for external disaster


The one and only time in my dating life that someone said we should come up with a safe word, in case things got too intense, I was a little taken aback (because it seemed like a fairly laid back situation - I was figuring your standard No or Stop or Wait a Minute would do the trick).  He admitted he hadn’t been with a guy in a while (he was in an open relationship with a woman at the time) and he was thinking things could potentially get overwhelming for him.  He wasn’t entirely sure how he was going to feel. I admitted my mind was a blank so I suggested they should come up with a safe word.  

Because it’s supposed to be a word that wouldn’t come up normally in an average conversation, so it would draw attention to itself, and get the people involved to stop and think, take a breath, etc.

His suggestion?

“Melancholy”

“Oh my god you have no idea who perfect that word choice just made you right now.”

(And yes, you’re damn right I’ve already used that in a play.)

What phrases could you use out of their natural context, because they’re supposed to be code for something else?

Take that inspiration, whatever it might be, and run with it.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, you can always ignore this prompt and do whatever you want, just like every other day in November.

Just write.  Something.


************************************


If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #27:

She Blinded Me With Science

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About Thanksgiving

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”


***********************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #27

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #27
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below



Again, this is: Due: Monday, November 28th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




*************************************


And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon Central Time on Monday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 3 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


*************************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

A rutabaga runs for its life across the stage.

Lights down.

The End




That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
Our video recording of our third live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Sam Walsh's "The Visible," is up on our YouTube channel (available to stream through the end of November)

Coming Soon:
The video recording of our fourth live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Bethany Dickens Assaf’s “Leviathan,” will be swapping places with “The Visible” on our YouTube channel in late November, early December

Coming Up:
Threshold Theater’s New Play Reading Series
A reading of “Zero State” by Allison Moon
Monday, March 13, 2023 - 7pm
The Black Hart of Saint Paul - 1415 University Avenue West in St. Paul


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

Writing Challenge #26 - Visual Writing Prompt


Hi folks

(1 of 2)

Again, sending you two prompts from the future again today, so you can work ahead for the holiday weekend if you wish.

This prompt is the one you would be writing Saturday to be turned in on Sunday by noon Central Time, but just label your email for prompt 26 and you can turn it early and I’ll credit it ahead.

And of course, you can always use the mini-play at the bottom of the email and blog post as an escape hatch for the day’s writing.


Let’s get you that writing prompt…


*********************************


Challenge #26 - Visual Writing Prompt

Due: Sunday, November 27th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




Today I’m going to get a little help from my friend, actor/musician/artist Will Phelps.

In addition to being an actor I think about and write for, he also creates really fun visual art.  I bought some for my walls, and I put in the winning bid in our recent Threshold Theater fundraiser to nab the brand new art piece he created just for us.  Note to self, I need to get a frame and get that one up on the wall with the rest of them.

I realized this is also kind of a two-fer, because you can either take the visual as your inspiration to write, or you can take the title of the piece and run with that instead, so it’s still also word-based.


(Click on the pictures to make them bigger)

There’s a pink tinted collage work of a man with funny ears playing a saxophone sliding down the stairs riding atop and enormous ice cream sandwich, with road signs nearby declaring:

“Be F**king Silly - At Least Once A Day”

 

 

 

 


There’s a stick figure holding onto a group of balloons carrying them aloft, trailed by the words:

“Good News Is Coming”



 

 

 

 

 


There’s a blue and green mottled field of color with the title:

“in his morning coffee he saw the face of God”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


There’s another stick figure hanging on what seems like a tire swing, with the motto:

“What The F**k Am I Doing?”

 

 

 

 

 

 


And finally there’s the newest piece in the collection, a mottled field of color with tans and reds predominant with the title:

“don’t let the bitter man determine your worth”

Definitely check out Will’s website

There’s a fun new print on his front page right now with the title:

“After 2,730 missions, she decided this was the place.”

And it’s an astronaut just chilling out on top of what appears to be a giant Belgian waffle, complete with fruit topping, floating in the vastness of space.

I like a guy with a sense of whimsy, can you tell?

Check out his portfolio, if you like, for other random inspiration (or just better shots than I take with my camera in variable lighting situations :)

Or, as usual, just write whatever you like and turn it in by the deadline.  Up to you.


***********************************


If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #26:

Random Phrase Generator part 4

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About Thanksgiving

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”


*************************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #26

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #26
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below




Again, this is: Due: Sunday, November 27th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



**********************************


And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon Central Time on Sunday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 4 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


**********************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

A squash runs for its life across the stage.

Lights down.

The End




That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
Our video recording of our third live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Sam Walsh's "The Visible," is up on our YouTube channel (available to stream through the end of November)

Coming Soon:
The video recording of our fourth live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Bethany Dickens Assaf’s “Leviathan,” will be swapping places with “The Visible” on our YouTube channel in late November, early December

Coming Up:
Threshold Theater’s New Play Reading Series
A reading of “Zero State” by Allison Moon
Monday, March 13, 2023 - 7pm
The Black Hart of Saint Paul - 1415 University Avenue West in St. Paul


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Writing Challenge #25 - Fun With Homophones


Hi folks

(2 of 2)

This prompt is the one you would be writing Friday to be turned in on Saturday by noon Central Time, but just label your email for prompt 25 and you can turn it early and I’ll credit it ahead.

And of course, you can always use the mini-play at the bottom of the email and blog post as an escape hatch for the day’s writing.

Let’s get you that writing prompt…


********************************************


Challenge #25 - Fun With Homophones

Due: Saturday, November 26th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




You may have noticed I’m trying to keep a lot of these holiday week ones light and playful, because we’ve all got a lot on our plates (no pun intended).  So I don’t want to add any more drama than you care to add to the proceedings

Go as light or as dark as you want, depending on what’s inspiring you.

Today’s prompt comes from some words and phrases that have gotten stuck in my head because English is a weird language where things that sound the same are spelled differently and have completely different meanings.  So, indulge me in these two bits of silliness and then see what it conjures in your mind for something to play with.  Homophones abound (and yes, I had to look that up - words that sound alike but have different meaning or spelling - and yes, homophone is a fun word to bring up in the context of a queer theater company)

And there’s another one - I see the word homophone and I think “homo phone” - what would a homo phone do, or be good for?

But originally I was ruminating on the word “vigilante” - which was coming up a lot around election time.  And I was splitting it up and thinking “vigil auntie” or a group of “vigil aunties” - a group of older women you do not want to mess with.  Or perhaps, going the other way, they are responsible for vigils - a more contemplative way to go picking that word apart.

It reminded me, by way of example, of a satirical sketch series they did back in grad school called “222 York Street” (and that’s as much name dropping as I’m going to do here). Every week there’d be a riff on a different member of the faculty or staff at the school - all good-natured ribbing in a late night cabaret setting, done with a lot of love. One week they featured an actor playing the school librarian, Pam.  But she was a mercenary for hire who went by the code name “Pambo” (as opposed to Rambo).  She was out to rid the word of people who didn’t properly respect the majesty of the library collection. (Now, sadly, I may have to explain a joke, which tends to kill it.  In the pre- and early internet times - yes, I’m extremely old - people went to libraries a lot more often to do their research and discover new things to read.  And in order to check out materials and take them home with you, you needed a library card.) Pambo’s catch phrase before she got out her (toy) gun and blew people away was “Card Expired!”  It is a testament to the inspired silliness of that premise that I have forgotten a great many things from my time at that school, but I still remember Pambo and “Card Expired!”  Or perhaps my brain is just not very good at prioritizing anymore.

So, “vigil aunties”  - not strictly a homophone, more like cracking a word in half.

This other one is more a homophone - the difference between poll and pole.

Again, around election time, I kept hearing the phrase “working the polls” a lot, and that always reminds me of a Get Out The Vote campaign during the 2020 election where a bunch of strippers put out a video encouraging people to “get their booty to the polls” while they were working a stripper pole.  The women dressed for a more PG-13 kind of audience but they still got their point across.  It was very clever and amusing and certainly a different way of encouraging civic participation.  Desperate times calling for desperate measures and all that.

So, “working the polls” vs. “working the poles” - SO many politicians I do not want to see anywhere near a pole but… it’s a funny thought.

Play with words that sound alike but are very different, however you like.

Or, as always, just ignore me, write whatever you want, and turn it in by the deadline.

*********************************


If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #25:

Unstageable

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


**********************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About Thanksgiving

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”


*********************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #25

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #25
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below





Again, this is: Due: Saturday, November 26th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




************************************

And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon Central Time on Saturday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 5 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.

*****************************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

A cranberry runs for its life across the stage.

Lights down.

The End





That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
Our video recording of our third live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Sam Walsh's "The Visible," is up on our YouTube channel (available to stream through the end of November)

Coming Soon:
The video recording of our fourth live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Bethany Dickens Assaf’s “Leviathan,” will be swapping places with “The Visible” on our YouTube channel in late November, early December

Coming Up:
Threshold Theater’s New Play Reading Series
A reading of “Zero State” by Allison Moon
Monday, March 13, 2023 - 7pm
The Black Hart of Saint Paul - 1415 University Avenue West in St. Paul


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

Writing Challenge #24 - Band Name


Hi folks

(1 of 2)

Again, sending you two prompts from the future again today, so you can work ahead for the holiday weekend if you wish.

This prompt is the one you would be writing Thursday to be turned in on Friday by noon Central Time, but just label your email for prompt 24 and you can turn it early and I’ll credit it ahead.

And of course, you can always use the mini-play at the bottom of the email and blog post as an escape hatch for the day’s writing.

Let’s get you that writing prompt…


**********************************


Challenge #24 - Band Name

Due: Friday, November 25th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)





This is another prompt inspired by challenge playwright from last year.

This writer emailed me the following about their submission for the day:

“Have some more extremely self indulgent inexplicably lesbian Shakespeare sequel!”

To which I responded:

"extremely self indulgent inexplicably lesbian Shakespeare sequel" would be a great band name :)

(Which, of course, it wouldn’t, but it got me thinking…)

What random phrases tickled your brain with the thought they would make either a perfect or at least amusing band name?

Or what band name, or album title, or song title, do you find perplexing or impressive enough that it gets your brain thinking about something you’d like to write?

As a jump start, here’s a couple of links to comedy songwriter Tom McGovern’s running gag of a video post series called “Good Band Name, Bad Band Name” - which is how I learned that apparently the band BTS’s name translates to “Bulletproof Boy Scouts”

Or this guy’s list of what he thinks are the Top 10 worst band names of all time

(You can skip through the video by scrolling along the chapter headings at the bottom, that’s what I did - also there’s a list of honorable mentions in the notes below the video)

Please note - this doesn’t mean what you write needs to be about a band, or even someone who likes the music of that band (real or fictional).  For instance, the band Phish might make you think about writing a play about two people who go fishing, or are in a a fishing competition, or someone who steals someone else’s identity, or is fishing for compliments.  The Beatles might make you think about writing about actual insects, whether it’s more like Kafka’s Metamorphosis, or Joe’s Apartment.  The name of the band is just words to give you a jumping off point for… something.  Be creative with where you go.  Or write about a band, if you want.  That’s creative, too.  But this one isn’t meant to restrict you.  It can go almost anywhere you want to take it.

As always, if this prompt doesn’t do it for you, you can always feel free to just write whatever you want and turn it in by the deadline instead.


**************************************


If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #24:

Alternate Timelines

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


**************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About Thanksgiving

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”


**************************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #24

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #24
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below



Again, this is: Due: Friday, November 25th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



**************************************

And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon Central Time on Friday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 6 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.

************************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

A potato runs for its life across the stage.

Lights down.

The End





That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
Our video recording of our third live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Sam Walsh's "The Visible," is up on our YouTube channel (available to stream through the end of November)

Coming Soon:
The video recording of our fourth live play reading in the New Play Reading series, Bethany Dickens Assaf’s “Leviathan,” will be swapping places with “The Visible” on our YouTube channel in late November, early December

Coming Up:
Threshold Theater’s New Play Reading Series
A reading of “Zero State” by Allison Moon
Monday, March 13, 2023 - 7pm
The Black Hart of Saint Paul - 1415 University Avenue West in St. Paul


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

Writing Challenge #30 - Storytelling Obsessions

Hi folks, We have arrived at the final challenge for November 2022. For those of you who wrote every single day this month, well done! For t...