As I write this, I'm nearly a week out from one of the most extraordinary creative experiences of my life.
On Friday, Aug. 11, after watching a talent/improv show and getting writing prompts from that, I and five other writers hunkered down at NOVA Center for the Performing Arts in Billings, Montana, and wrote six original one-act plays. We had less than 12 hours to finish our work.
After that, six directors and cast members handled rehearsals, costuming, and the construction of sets. On the second night of the Wet Ink Festival 2023, those six one-act plays were presented.
It was pure exhilaration, from start to finish. I marveled at the talent all around me—the writers, the directors, the performers, the indefatigable nature of our organizer, Gustavo Bellotta. The audience that showed up to celebrate with us. I entered the weekend having serious doubts as to whether I had the stamina for such an endeavor. I left wanting to do it again. And again.
Some time back, I added a Plays section to this website. I'm hesitant to claim the mantle of playwright, but I'm also determined. Two of my one-acts have now been staged. I expect news soon about bigger things. Mostly, I'm just so thrilled to learn more about how to do this and give my storytelling another outlet, one that's very much complementary to the solitary nature of writing novels.
As I wrote on Facebook, part of the joy—and the melancholy—of Wet Ink is that creation bloomed in one evening, was presented in another, then was gone with the wind. These plays will probably never be presented again, at least not in the form they took last weekend. Maybe someone has a bigger idea that will grow out of that one act. I think my play, titled Your Mouth Is Moving a Lot, is probably one-and-done.
But the shows must go on. Our host for the weekend, NOVA, has a long-term mission of bringing high-quality performances to Billings. To help with that in a modest way, I'm selling digital copies of my script for $3. All net proceeds get turned over to NOVA. If you're inclined to help, you have my gratitude.
*—from the song of the same name by the Pernice Brothers.
Craig Lancaster is an author, an editor, a publication designer, a layabout, a largely frustrated Dallas Mavericks fan, an eater of breakfast, a dreamer of dreams, a husband, a brother, a son, an uncle. And most of all, a man who values a T-shirt.
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