It was 4 years ago that I saw my first full Roulette at MadLab. There was something about Roulette 2012 that stuck with me. Peach with Chris Lane and David Thonnings, blew me away so I came back again for another night, and was transfixed by Slipping into Anarchy with Jim Azelvandre and Jennifer Feather Youngblood, so I came back for the final night and fell in love with MadLab due to But, Was it an Approved Death? With Vicki Andronis, and Jim Azelvandre again.
In all fairness, I had been turning into a bit of a Lab-Rat already, having started hanging around several months prior and getting involved, but coming to Roulette inspired me to write my own short play. I mentioned my idea at the after Roulette cookout to a few people and got the standard. “Hey, sure. Let me know, I’ll look it over.” (I’ve since learned that a lot of people SAY they’re going to write a play, but never actually write one.) But, I did. And it was… Well, it was finished. I sent it off to a few people, got some notes, and some confusion, and set it aside.
In 2013, I acted in Roulette, which was a thrill. I was excited to be part of Roulette, but I still had the desire to write for the show. I’d gotten a play selected for 3 in 30 and felt like I was getting better as a writer, so I went back to my first idea and re-wrote it 3 more times. The idea was great, the title was dynamite and at this point I’d seen enough great short plays to fix what didn’t work, and I took a writing class. I crossed my fingers, and submitted the play.
Now, the trick was to do it again. I’d been writing a lot of sketch comedy and was studying at Second City Chicago. I started looking through all my pieces and had a crazy idea: I’d submit a whole collection for the Playwright Spotlight Night! Ambitious? Yes. But, why wouldn’t I reach for the stars? What’s the worst that can happen, that I don’t get it?
Well, I didn’t. And, since I put all my eggs in one basket, I was locked out of Roulette. I was going to be out of town, so I didn’t get to act in this one, either. This gave me the opportunity to enjoy watching and enjoying Roulette 2015, and it was great. But, still, that thing was licking at my brain saying “Write for next year.” But, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say.
I went back to Second City and studied Show Structure for creating a revue and talked to a couple friends that direct shows at Second City after watching their shows. I asked questions: “Why did you do this here?” and “Why did you put that in this slot.”. I went back to my collection, spent a couple weeks doing full re-writes and re-submitted it. It was leaner, more focused and I found a way to get my voice consistent and uniquely me over 60+ pages.
images from ".., but it's not about that" by Erik Sternberger
And It was selected! I jumped in the air. A lot. This time, I came to watch Stephen Woosley direct the amazing cast every night, and I loved it every time. Okay, I’ll be honest, the first time I was nervous for the first two of the six plays. Not because I didn’t trust MadLab, but because every person in the packed house was there because of “me”. I had visions of them thinking me too weird and waiting outside the door to hound me as I ran to my Ford Escape.
But, by the third play I was able to relax. The plays were landing how I hoped. Everyone was laughing and I felt like my kids were flying high and free and I didn’t need to hold the string anymore.
You have until the October 1st deadline to submit and start (or continue) your own Roulette story. Check out the Theatre Roulette page under the Theatre tab for more information and submission guidelines.