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 Kieślowski,
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:
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
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
Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
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 :)
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:
Boy meets boy.
They say “Hi.”
A new world opens up in front of them.
That’s always your escape hatch, every day.
That’s your base line.
Build on it.
Make an impulsive decision and run with it.
You’ve got the day.
Matthew A. Everett
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)
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
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