Thursday, October 31, 2013

27 Days is getting it's world premiere! #27daysplay

So 27 Days is getting it's world premier in Roanoke tomorrow. I never thought that within six months of writing it that it would be getting on a stage this soon. It started out as an idea in my head that this was a cause that needed a voice. That this was a hidden population that needed to be brought to light. And I set out with an idea that I could right a play in 27 hours for this cause. It was a super crazy idea that drained a lot of out of me but at the end of the day something odd and magical happened to me.

And then that raw material of the rough draft was fired in the most intense development fires I can ever know at the Playwright's Lab at Hollins University. I met just the right group of ladies to get a great reading and got some of the most supportive and intense feed back by my Hollins family.

A publicity image from the World Premiere. Borrowed from Troupe 30 C and Brandon DuMonde
And now it's getting out there on it's own. It's in the most capable hands of a dear colleague and I know it's going to be great. My only wish is that I could be there.

But is this where the story ends? Not in the least. Now it's your turn. In the year 2014 I'll be launching 27 Days' World Premiere Year! I'll be pushing to raise as much awareness as I can for human trafficking and striving to get 27 Days 20 productions by December of next year. And you can help me by getting the word out as much as I can. You can read the script on my "Plays for a Difference Page" and then you can pass it on to someone else. And if you believe that you want to take a step further and be one of the twenty people that produce the play then email me and let me know.

Me in the feedback session for 27days first public reading. 
I want this to start from the bottom up and connect with as many people I can to help launch the movement. It's not about getting a lot of productions to help my career it's about getting the play out where it can help end Human Trafficking in our lifetime. So will you join me in this? Will you join the conversation and help shine a light on slavery?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

If I only had a Heart #writerwednesday

My gf would tell me that I am a Tin Man who just learned how to be a Scarecrow. I have a very active brain that can make a lot of connections and be very witty when it wants to which helps a bit with blog posts and term papers. But recently I found that in my writing my head wasn't my friend and my gf, as the writing coach that I could never afford, challenged me to put some heart into my writing. Especially my plays. So I should trade in my axe for some straw and get some heart.

And I myself noticed that my brain wasn't my friend when it came to writing. I have the problem sometimes where I think of all of the plays that I should be writing and what formats my stories should following that I'll often give myself writer's block. Sometimes it can be like giving myself so many logs to float down the river into the play that they get all jammed up.  It also be because I'm trying to stick so much to a certain format or genre to make my play more "marketable" that I fabricate the story into the corner.

Case in point. I have a poster board in the corner of my office right now that has a bunch of post-it notes on it. Each post-it has a title of a play that I think I "should write". Have I written any of them? Nope. I have the ideas but I never get them out because yeah the ideas are funny but I found out that good ideas are never what brought me to the keyboard with a play that I just had to write. What does get me writing is causes, injustices in this world, or that nagging tug in my heart that says "you HAVE to say something about this." I wrote the entirety of 27 Days with my heart tugging me along for the ride, spurring me on to write just one more scene each time.

I found that the greatest plays you write will be the ones that, while they feel like a prizefight to get them out of your heart, are the easiest plays for you to get on paper. I found that there are some plays that are just super easy for me to write, as in the don't require me to think and I can just stick to my heart and let it decide. My best plays have come about when I leave my brain out of the equation until the revisions come around.

My gf, in all her wisdom, summed it up earlier this year. She keeps saying that "Causes are your Muse". I have to have a protest song to sing an oppressed face to give a voice too. Or sometimes I have to have an overlooked character whose soul is screaming out to me "I need to be put onstage, please let me out!" It's my heart that makes such a great writing companion in the first stages. My brain gets to play later when the revisions start.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Living with OCD #tourettestuesday

So one of the biggest problems with Tourettes is the piggybacking disorders. You have to contend with  all of the problems with the tics and everything and then you have to battle with two other disorders. I have ADHD and OCD and I can tell you that when I'm having a bad day with my TS I feel my OCD and ADHD so much more.

I know from experience how bad OCD can be. When my sister died my world was torn apart. And it seemed like it took forever for my life to come back to me. My OCD wasn't in hand washing and stuff it came from watching television. I started by watching all of the shows that my sister and I would watch together and then it was about watching all of my favorite shows and having everything put right. The volume had to be put in exactly the right place, it had be on exactly the same channel each time, and if it ever changed my world started spinning and the anxiety started to kill me. Sometimes I couldn't breathe.

And when I hit it hard I hit hard. At one point for a school assignment I had to log how many hours or television I was watching for a week. I came back and found out that I was watching about forty hours a week.  In other words I was still going to college for eight hours a day but still logging in as many hours of TV as if it was my full time job. It was then that I had one of those moments of clarity where I realized that my routine that got me through 4 years of highschool was killing me through college and I just couldn't do it anymore.

They way I explain OCD is maintaining a ritual that keeps the "gremlins" at bay.  You know that technically that can't happen but the anxiety gets so real that you feel that if you're suffering so hard there has to be a real reason. You have to keep to a routine and keep something exactly the same way or then that anxiety hits you and you start to panic and the world won't be right until you get back on the routine again. It took me years to help cope with some of my OCD and I still struggle with it now. But it's loving the life outside of your routine that helps you let go.

Monday, October 28, 2013

About Jamming

Here's another one of my video jam sessions. I believe jamming is the key part to learning an instrument or learning anything. It's that tinkering and fiddling around that gets your brain flowing, making connections and taking the fundamentals to the next level. I found out that I learned most of my chops through jamming along.

 Sure the fundamentals and research helped answer some questions but jamming helped me know which questions to ask. It's the tinkering that makes you go, "how does that happen?" Or "how do I make this sound smoother?" And that gets you digging around and talking to some of your buddies next time you get to playing together and then you find a question and go. "Oh, let me try that next time."

It's also about daring to fail and getting out there without the fear of sounding bad. Fundamentals are about learning how to fly, improvisation is about jumping off the cliff. You don't get into the air until you do. So keep trying and dare to fail! And keep jamming!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What makes me different...

I've been having an internal struggle for several years, actually ever since I've been trying to write plays. And every time I've tried to voice it I've come across as crass and critical of other playwrights.  It wasn't until just recently that my wonderful and brilliant girlfriend finally pointed it out to me. For years I've been trying to say things like "winning awards and submitting to open submissions don't help me" and that's come across to my some of my most respected friends and colleagues as saying that I think that their awards and productions don't mean anything. Of course your awards mean something and I will happily be the first person to cheer them on when they get them. I love being able to say that I know multiple friends who have won Kennedy Center honors and great regional awards and gotten published. But what I guess I've been trying to say for forever and failing is that while those things are great for them they don't motivate me at all.

The first production of one of my first plays. The Director thought a female would be better as the lead than the male I intended.  When you listen to your directors and trust them they can help you see things you never saw.
What motivates me is seeing my work produced. I don't care where it is or what the name on the marquee is I love getting a group of people together who unite to create a work of art. I love having complete strangers read and be critical of my work because then I know that they're engaged. I like it when people get excited about putting my work onstage and hearing them talk about their struggles and joy getting it there. What I guess I don't like is middlemen, and I feel that a lot of the tried and true methods of getting your play out there are riddled with them. I like to put my plays online because then I know it's getting into the hands of a director actively looking for their next play or an actor desperately looking for another character to inhabit.

Some people will say that means I set myself up for copyright infringement or someone "messing with my text". Well for me I don't mind giving some of the control over. I could be sitting on a script and waiting for the right director to come along or I could be getting more productions out there and more chances to see my work. And when presented with those options I pick the latter all the time.  And as far as getting an agent, publisher, or producer is concerned I feel that until someone comes along to take that job I'm the acting producer/publisher/and producer of my work. And I think that more playwrights should do the same. If at the end of the day what you want is someone to produce your work there are a lot of ways that the internet can help you get your work out there easier than the old ways of doing it. I still use some of the old ways myself but their end products aren't my motivation to keep writing. I keep writing because I know there's someone who's as hungry to produce the kind of plays I write as I am to get them onto the stage. Stick with what motivates you and I'll still be there to cheer you on.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Charles Mee is my Spirit Animal

So pretty soon you will be able to see all of my finished plays on line. Why? Because I want to get produced. I'm following in the footsteps of Jonathan Rand and Charles Mee who first amazed me when I heard their philosophies of why they put their plays online. Let's face it, the idea of writing plays is getting them a production and the first step of getting them a production is putting them into the hands of theatre people and theatre companies that want to produce them. Also of importance is getting them read by an audience that wants to read, see, and produce that work and since most of the world is online I need my plays to be there too!

I think that this is where the new generation of playwrights need to be. I'm not saying that the regional theaters and play competitions and such like aren't valuable but when you're just starting up a lot of people don't want to talk to you. The bigger companies don't want to talk to you unless you have an agent and the new works festivals are interested in producing your world premiere or giving you a reading...but after that you're not new anymore no one wants to pick it up.

All the existing methods of getting your play to production are valid. But the internet and social media is quickly moving toward making those methods obsolete. You don't necessarily need to get your play published to be put in the hands of others. You don't necessarily need to keep mailing your scripts off to festivals and readers to get it in front of people that want  to produce it. So while we keep to the tried and true methods of distributing our new play we need to take a page from the pioneers that have shown us the new ways to make the internet work for us.

So I'm going to ask you, how can the free social media affect how you distribute your plays and get work done? How can you use technology to help you be a better playwright and start making money at it? That's what I'm trying to figure out. I'll let you know what I learn. Be sure to let me know what you learn.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tourettes Jam Session 2 #TourettesTuesday

So people never believe me when I tell them that I never learned how to beatbox. I'm not a huge lover of rap or hip hop but I am a great devotee of Delta and African Fusion which means I'm also a lover of Rhythm. But when I first started beatboxing I never knew that I was doing it. I just called it Tourettes.

I don't remember when I first learned that something my Tourettes was making me do was also a musical skill that people practiced hard to learn. I just remember that when I discovered it I then found that I had a way to hide my Tourettes in plain sight. I don't ever condone hiding Tourettes but at a difficult time in my life it was cool to have a creative outlet to pour it into that also helped me fit in more  when I was around the theatre crowd.

I'm not saying that all my friends with TS should learn to beatbox. This is just an example of how channeling your extra energy into something else can help you keep your sanity. And who knows it may even show you a new passion in your life. But most importantly keep being you! Peace out guys!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Tourettes Jam Session 1 #musicmonday

So here's a video that's been a long time coming. For many years as I've learned to play music people always ask me how I learned. And the thing that I say that perplexes them always goes along the lines of, "Tourettes was my teacher". Yeah sure I learned a lot of fundamentals by watching Youtube videos and I did read a book or two but the greatest motivator and tutor that I had was the deep need to relieve this extra energy that Tourettes gives me.

I just focused as much of my energy as I could into the instrument and playing the music and I found that without thinking about it things just started flowing out of me. I found that more of the scales and the tempos and the melodies were just ways to channel that energy into making better music. So I just started playing music and learned the fundamentals later.

And then I found through my studying that when I learned fundamentals and tricks it really just helped me find my style. I found that the simplicity of the open tunings and pentatonic scales kept my Tourettes from having to think. The less strings that I used the simpler it was. I figured that if music was  my therapy then I should make sure there were as few things between my Tourettes and making the music as possible.

So that would be my advice to you. When the music everyone else is playing is getting hard for you  focus more on playing the music that's easy for you. Take one string and just see how you naturally play music. When you find your natural style you can then begin to study to find the fundamentals and the style that's right for you. Just keep playing.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Best Production Advice #theatrethursday

This is one of the best pieces of advice that I would give anyone trying to branch out and produce shows. It's advice that I had to learn the hard way that I wish someone had told me. You want to get out  there and do shows. Maybe you'll make money at it but really what you're trying to do is fulfill that deep longing inside your heart that is yearning to get out there and do a show again. You have plenty of ideas and lots of talent and you just want your work out there in front of an audience and a resume that will get you noticed by a theatre company so you can start making the big bucks. But you won't have much of an audience and you certainly won't make any money unless you heed this next sentence...

Eventually you're going to have to stand up in front of an audience and defend it. You might as well like it.
Don't do any show you're ashamed of. 

That's it. If you follow that one piece of advice then half of the battle is done for you. What does that mean? I'll give you an example from my own life. I feel that every time I do a show if I can't call everyone I know and tell them to come out, or ask all of my friends to be in it, and if I can't come home and tell my girlfriend and my grandmother all about it then I shouldn't be doing it. 

I know this because when I first started a theatre company there were a couple of shows that had problems with content and nudity. I didn't want to tell the members of my church or my boss about it. I didn't want to stick my neck and ask my friends to be in it. I and several of my of my actors weren't going to be telling our parents to come. What was the problem? I was so busy not wanting to be associated with that kind of show that I wasn't promoting it the way I should. I was so hoping that I wouldn't have backlash from my day life that I wasn't trying to make it the show that it needed to be. I was just trying to survive it and because of that the shows became a wreck. 

This isn't a no nudity or content thing it's a passion thing. If you're not passionate enough about the show that you're not willing to put everything you have in it and put your reputation and your name behind it then you shouldn't be doing it. 27 Days, a play I've talked about numerous times before on this blog talks about loads of sexual and criminal things that people might get their dander up about but I would go to the mat for the play in a heartbeat because I'm dedicated to the mission and the cause of the play. I'll invite everyone in the world to come see it and I'd put my reputation as a theatre person on the line because of it. 

That's the difference. That driving passion. If when you get up in the morning you're only trying to get this show "over with" instead of "in front of people" call everyone up and cancel it now because it won't be any good. And you're saving yourself a lot of heartache and pain. Because theatre takes more than just a "want to". It takes a "must do". Without're just spitting into the wind.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The One Man Show Writing Prompt #writerwednesday

So this is the last in my succession of writing prompts. And this one seems a like it should be the easiest but it'll probably be the hardest you'll ever have to do. (In fact I think I'll probably find myself pulling my hair out over this one). Your task in this writing prompt is to write a one man/woman show. Seems easy right? It would be easy if you didn't have the following ten tasks that you must complete while writing it.
Pics from my first ever one woman show.

The One Man Prompt

In your one man show you will....

  1. Have the character use one prop that can be itself and the whole world at the same time.
  2. Tell the story of a family of no less than ten.
  3. Have a dialogue between two characters.
  4. Tell the story of a box that's a box and so much more at the same time.
  5. Our hero reminds us of a famous fairy tale character.
  6. The story spans 20 years.
  7. Someone's experiment goes awry.
  8. The Play is only 50 minutes long. 
  9. Someone performs the most death defying trick.
  10. The play begins and resolves over a cup of tea. 
Another pic from my first one woman show.
Remember that one and a half pages of text read a loud is about five minutes. Have fun with it. And also remember that a writing prompt is also about the dramatic sudoku that makes you expand your craft and brain beyond what you think you can do. You'll be doing a rewrite to make it a great play later. I can't wait to see what you do with it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Me that I Really Am #TourettesTuesday

So when I first started doing Tourettes Tuesdays I knew that there was one post that I should be doing. But I've been fighting it because I was afraid. Sometimes we people with TS are afraid to show people our real face or let them stare at our tics for too long because we're afraid of what they're going to say. We don't like being stared at or made fun of and it becomes a real fear in our lives.

So we do one of two things. We try to clench it in and pretend that everything is "normal" or we just stay inside on bad days. I have been guilty of doing both. I either clamp down and try to suppress my tics in pubic just hoping that I won't explode too much when I get home. Or on super bad days I stay home and don't let anyone see me.

Well I've learned now that this not only hurts my cause but it makes me a hypocrite trying to tell you about my struggles and hoping that you overcome your fear when I'm still a little afraid myself. You never do lose that nagging fear that the bullying might start again or that people will snicker when they see my tics. But it doesn't mean that we should be letting that fear run our lives.

So I did something that I knew I needed to do all this time when I started but I was all to afraid to you. I wanted to show you my real face with TS. And I think this video does all the explaining for me.  I hope this inspires you to get out there and not care what anyone else thinks. Don't make TS put you in a shell that you hide in. Get out there and live life!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fronkensteen's One Year Bloggerversary!

  So exactly one year ago I posted my first post on this blog. I had no idea what I was doing and was just trying to have fun. I said I would have been surprised if just one hundred page views a month. I just knew that I wanted to talk about theater and do some cool things.

Now it's been a year and I've gotten to talk to a lot of cool things and connect with some wonderful new people. I've had the perfect blogging mentor and girlfriend in Dragynally that's given me the best guidance and advice you could ever have. Here we are a year later and I've gotten about ten thousand pageviews a month and am still growing.

Watch me move on to bigger and better things. 
So what's for the future? Well I hope this month to start an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to help my blog go pro. This blog had become an intense passion for me. I'm hoping that by the end of the year I can turn it into a career that helps to support me.

I never thought that I could have merged all my passions into one path but my blog has helped me bring them all into one focus. I've been able to shout out good artists and causes, and still pursue my craft as a playwright and producer. It's been my hope that I'll be able to expand my blog to better distribute my work and get my craft out there. And then there's the fact that I've been able to connect with so many other artists in the meantime.  And it's that collection of passions that keep me going. Thanks to all my readers for helping me grow this year and here are to many more years to come.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Two Sides Prompt #writerwednesday

So here's yet another writing prompt in my five part series. This one focuses on perspectives of two characters. And all you need is a personal story from your life.

There are two sides to everything. Except in most cases my girlfriend's perspective is always right.
Take a very dramatic moment you've seen from your life. Now try to write it from your perspective. Tell the whole story as if your were narrating the events as they happened live onstage. Then pick out a character from your story that you don't connect to and tell the story from their point of view. Make sure that this is the character that you don't agree with and would probably cut if you had to. Then after you've told the story from those two sides combine them together into a full play.

The key to this prompt is empathy. Sometimes we point fingers at people in our plays and forget that there are different viewpoints to them. So by putting a story through the perspective of another person you start to get some real depth.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Going out and about! #Tourettestuesday

So there's always the problem with Tourettes that you'll eventually have to face reality and go outside. And outside there will always be people. And sometimes those people may be off put by your tics and find them annoying. Sometimes it's hard to find the balance between "I have the right to go everywhere other people do" and "this irritates people".

I went through several bouts of this growing up. I've caused weird looks at church and in the movie theater. I've been kicked out of restaurants and had people kindly walk up to me to ask me to shut up. It's kinda hard to be nice to people and inform them about how much of a jerk they're being. Here are a few of my tips and phrases for dealing with these pesky realities.

My pink crocs bring more looks than my TS these days.
  • "I'm sorry, is it your company's policy to discriminate against people with disabilities"
  • If someone is making a scene about your tics be sure to ask for the manager to complain first. That way your complaint is on record.
  • Be patient with people and educate them whenever possible. 
  • Most managers don't want the bad press: If you're willing to write a letter to the editor of your newspaper or tweet out what's happening online you'll find they're willing to let things go.
  • Be extra polite and civil: Usually if someone is getting irate about your tics and you're very civil and courteous it throws them off guard.
  • Remember that you have a right to be there: With the Americans with Disabilities Act you have all the rights to go where everyone else does. No one can legally refuse service to you or kick you out just because you have a disability.  And you don't need a special ID or bracelet either. 
Don't get put into a shell because of your disability. Get out there and live life and don't let the negative people phase you. It's them that are at fault and not you! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Introducing the Diddley Bow #musicmonday

So have you ever wanted to get started playing a stringed instrument but the guitar or the cello is just too intimidating. Have you ever wanted to learn to play an instrument but don't have the bucks? Well have you thought about trying an instrument that you can make yourself for little money, is super easy to play, and takes you back in time? Then come with me and hear about the magic of the diddley bow.

I know I sound like one of those scammers on infomercials talking about a miracle product. I assure you that the diddley bow is everything that it sounds like. It's a traditional folk string instrument that is a descendant of the African Barimbau. It started to gain prominence in the Great Depression when young children wanted to learn to play the guitar but their parents didn't have enough money to buy them a new guitar.  So they would give Junior an old cigar box and a broomstick and he would make a one string instrument that they could learn the scales on. Once the kid got good enough his parents might move him up to a three stringed cigar box guitar and then they would have saved up enough put a Sears and Roebuck guitar under the Christmas Tree that winter.

With the advent of the internet the diddley bow and the cigar box guitar have gained prominence from websites dedicated to giving free instructions to make them and Youtube channels and Pinterest boards totally dedicated to people that love and make them.

The great thing that I love about the Diddley Bow is that you have to earn the musical knowledge. It's super easy to learn how to play but since there aren't a million tutorials or tabs about it online you have to think and experiment to find your own style. You have to earn the knowledge. You'll find that you'll be creating more original songs than trying to cover the Top 40! You'll actually be original.

Wanna learn more? All you have to do is type in "diddleybow" or "cigar box guitar" in Pinterest or Youtube. In fact you can look at my Pinterest board here for a lot of stuff I've pinned on the topic and more (shameless plug I know). Have fun exploring and get to making music!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lessons I learned from Producing

So after working the Redeye 10s Play Festival I learned so many things. It was my first real producing job. So I wanted to share some of my biggest lessons with you.
Borrowed from Wendi Spanogians

  1. Hit the phones: 80-90% of your contacts are going to be from personal contact with your friends and loved ones. Shout in every avenue that you have but make sure that you keep your lead list happening.
  2. Keep it simple: Know what you can and can't do. In fact look over your original plan and scale it back by a third or even a half. Then you probably have a plan based in reality.
  3. Invest in Help and know when to delegate: A good rule of thumb is that for every 100 seats you need one person working full time (40 hours a week). Pick the job that you want to do and find two people that you trust to coproduce working at least 10 hours a week. 
  4. Don't be a hero: Don't think that working long nights or driving yourself to death is going to accomplish anything. Especially if you ask those working with you to do the same. Work your time each day and then just let it go. If you have to work all-nighters to get the job done then you probably have an unreasonable work load.
  5. Firm it up or move on: When trying to get a commitment from people the minute you hear "let me get back to you" kindly hang up with them and then cross their name off the list. Unless you get a firm "I will be there" and then have them follow through then you can count them in.
  6. Be flexible: When the show starts to hit bumps and it starts to look grim don't count yourself out. Stick to what you know and follow your instincts. Usually when you fall back on your training your first instinct will be the right answer. So don't doubt yourself.
And the biggest lesson of all is to surround yourself with friends that are going to have fun with you. I make a point of surrounding myself with people who don't have as high a view of me as I do and can keep my ego in check. It does wonders for me. I'm thankful for all of those people  that keep me sane in the arts!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Introducing the Star Catcher Initiative

Today for Theatre Thursday we're gonna talk about a brand new Theatre Group in the Clarksville Area.  It was started by a colleague of mine, W. Riley Braem. This past week I got to see him and his group read "And then Came Tango" for banned books week at the APSU library. I was so intrigued by what they were doing I had to get more information about them. So now introducing the Starcatcher Initiative. 

Starcatcher Initiative is a non profit arts organization which operates as an artist collective. They have different Initiatives such as community outreach initiative that helps focus the work of the organization. Currently there two active initiatives: the banned play reading program and starcatcher productions which allows them to produce events. 
Borrowed from W. Riley Braem

They operate on a project-based model which means if a member of the collective (Staff, Resident Artists, or Associate Artists) has a project that they would like to do and everyone else is in favor then they produce it either as a workshop or as a full production. In return, if a contract is awarded to the artist, Starcatcher Initiative asks that the artist give 10-15% of the contract's revenue to help fund future projects of the organization. 

Does that sound good to you? Well if you are interested in being a Resident Artist with the organization just let W. Riley Braem know. All you would need is a bio and recent headshot/candid photo.

And I can already tell you that their banned play reading series is a must see. Last week's was capped by a lively discussion that really perked my brain right up. 

Wanna know more? Then why don't you go to their website here and find out more. To me it's great that Clarksville is growing more and more in the arts everyday. Hopefully in the next few years there will be much more.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Three Junkers Prompt. #WriterWednesday

Here's a quick and easy tip for those of you, like me, who happen to have several abandoned drafts filling up your harddrive. If they're unfinished they're not helping you at all. So don't you wish there was a way to take some drafts and combine them to make a complete play.

Well now there is...

Take three random unfinished drafts from your harddrive and try to put them together. Blend characters where you have to and stretch your mind to make the plots twine together. What you'll find is that themes and images will start to merge and that stories you thought were once separate belong in the same universe together.

Now try to add the following scenes where the different characters from your plays interact.
Sometimes you don't know who you might run into at the store.

  • Two characters meet in line at the grocery store.
  • Four characters talk about Peru over a poker game.
  • Something is stolen from a very sacred place.
  • A fight over food takes place.
  • Everyone wonders what Santa will get them for Christmas.
By the end of it you'll find that three useless drafts have become a whole rough draft. For your revisions  try focusing on what the cohesive universe for this play is. You might also find that some scenes don't belong anymore and that some characters just need to die. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tourettes Tuesday: To Medicate or Not!

So two of the first questions I get from parents of kids with Tourettes is what kind of therapy have I tried and what kind of medications have I taken. A few of them are surprised when I tell them that I don't take any medications at all anymore. In fact I haven't since college. Especially with parents dealing with a child that has just gotten diagnosed I think what they're really focused on is how to get it treated and "fix it" than to prepare for the long haul of a life with Tourettes.

Sometimes you want your volume taken all the way to 11!
At one point during High School I was on Topomax, Geodon, Zoloft, and Abilify, respectively. I also saw a regular therapist and neurologist. And the main reason why I was on these medications wasn't initially because of my Tourettes. I was first referred to them because I was succumbing to depression and rage and eventually I was taking it out on my own body by cutting myself. I was brought to therapy not because of my TS directly but because of the toll that a lot of the piggyback disorders were taking on me. It just so happened that by also treating the TS along with the accompanying OCD, depression, and anger problems my quality of life improved somewhat.

You'll notice that I said somewhat. The biggest problem was that as much as my life was improved by the meds I found that the side effects negatively affected it too. I was very drowzy and often had to work through a "fog" in my brain. I had grown used to living with TS and being completely uninhibited. The meds tended to dial my volume down and a lot of the things that came to me naturally became very hard work.

In the end I ended dumping all of the meds into my dorm room toilet one night. After three years with living on the meds I found it was too much. And I also found that the therapy and the anger management gave me the skills to deal with the symptoms that put me on a level that I didn't need the meds anymore. I eventually made the decision that the meds were holding me down.

So if you're trying the medication route with your kids also consider taking them to a therapist that will help them recognize their behavioral and body cues and give them tactics to fight back. And talk with your kids to make sure that the side effects aren't negatively affecting them. Tourettes becomes a lifestyle, like the operating system on a computer. Make sure that changing or upgrading anything won't negatively affect their day to day life.