Friday, March 29, 2013

Twitter Golden Rule by @DragynAlly

Tweet others how you would want to be tweeted. That's it. That is my only twitter rule and I stand by it. If you hang out on twitter long enough you'll see a ton of tweeple (twitter + people) talking about rules to twitter. Actually they have rules for all social media... I'll get to those in another post. They tell you to interact and not to broadcast. They tell you not to tweet too much. They tell you you're not tweeting enough. But at some point you realize that no two of them can agree on every twitter rule. Mainly because, truth be told, there are no rules. Twitter is the wild wild west and we are all figuring it out one tweet at a time.

That's why every now and then I tweet my golden rule. Tweet others how you want to be tweeted. You want ReTweets? ReTweet someone. You want @ mentions? @ mention someone. You want someone to join your twitter party? Join theirs. You want followers?! FOLLOW!!! Seems simple right? Well that's because it is. It is the easiest thing in the world!

Now I won't guarantee my methods will get you 1000 followers over night. But I do know that I have over 5,000 followers and have been able to maintain them because I remember this rule. At the end of the day behind the avatars and the twitter names are real people who just want kindness and respect. Isn't that what we all want?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

#Enditmovement Update: Polaris' National Trafficking Website

Today for the End it Movement Update I wanted to highlight more about the National Human Trafficking Hotline. It's a national hotline that you can use to report trafficking where ever that you can find it and get all of the resources that you need to spot the signs and take action!

The National Hotline has helped so many people identify slavery in their communities and many victims find help to get out of the Hell that they're living in and get to safety. Put the number in your phone put it up wherever you can find. Let's get these people home.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Writer's Wednesday: The Wisdom of Stephen Adly Guirgis

So last Friday I got to see a talk and writing workshop from Powerhouse Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis.  He came down to do a staged reading of one of his new works and work with the actors in a production of Mother F@*#er in the Hat. As someone who's read just about all of his work when I saw the flyer I just knew that I had to rush over and see him.

And it was just an awesome event! I'm so glad that the Roxy Regional Theatre and that the APSU Department of Theatre and Dance could work together to bring him in. The room was full of theatre students, some professionals, and other interested students that all wanted to know what it was like to be a writer.

Stephen was a kind and generous writer. He made the craft accessible and stated so many of the things that I found so magical and mysterious about writing plays in such a beautiful and simple way. Today I thought I'd share some of those Pearls of Wisdom that I gained with you.

Borrowed from

  • "If you sit down [to write] and stay down something will happen": A lot of times I'm like everybody else and find it hard to get away from the Internet and the TV while I'm writing. Now I'm really striving to get myself to sit down in the quiet and write.
  • Playwrights need to start their plays based on what they need to see onstage: This is one I absolutely love. I started writing scifi and fantasy in my plays because I never found a play in that genre that was actually good. Are we writing plays because there is a lack of what we're doing onstage. 
  • "I tend to write about the stuff that keeps me up at night.": This one was a hard one for me. So often I'm so involved getting a story that "sells" that I forget that the greatest stories come from the things that hurt you deep and scare you to death.
  • "It's so important that we be interested in the world outside ourselves": Unlike actors the World is our canvas, not our bodies. An artists eyes are always on his canvas.
  • "It costing them (the audience) something to watch it. It should cost us something to do it": Are we giving them a play that's worth the almost $50-$100 (that includes going to dinner, babysitter, etc.)  to go and see it?   
  • "That's why we get into the arts, to create families and communities that we choose": I agree entirely! One of the quotes you'll always hear from me is "find your tribe". Get a group of people around you that want to see your art onstage and have art of theirs that you would like to return the favor on. When you find that you find your support.
See more about his visit to Clarksville here. If you want to see more about his work at the Roxy here. And be sure to follow the theatre company he started in NYC on twitter with @LabTheaterNYC Next week I'll highlight the writing exercises we went over at the workshop and maybe post a work of mine inspired by them. Until then!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Artist Profile: Everett Robert @eerobert

1.How did you get into what you do?
I've been active in theater since I was in Eighth Grade, and have been for the past 22 years. But I really got serious about my playwrighting when the youth minister at my church asked me to help her write a play in 2005. I got the chance to write and direct some short street theater pieces for a trip to the Philippines in 2006  and then helped edit a friend's plays. I finally got the chance to write my own in January of 2010 when my friend Bill Goodwin needed a one-act children's play for his Spring DramaFest for Junior High students. I stepped up and wrote ALLIE IN WONDERLAND which was produced that March. By January of 2012 it had been published. I continued to write and hone my craft.

Everett Robert borrowed from @eerobert

2. What education have you received and how has it helped you do what you do?
I hold an associates of arts degree in theater from Colby Community College in Colby, KS. I attended Emporia State University in Emporia, KS studying theater, and am currently a student at Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS studying English Education.

3. What's your biggest achievement?
Great question. Since I believe that the goal of every playwright should be PRODUCTION and not necessarily PUBLICATION, getting to see my plays on the stage has been my biggest achievement.
4. What is your biggest goal?
I would love to have a piece performed in New York, Chicago, or DC. I would love to see one of my plays at the Kennedy Center.
5. If you were a piece of furniture what would you be and why?
A bed, because beds should offer comfort, safety, and relaxation.
6. What are you reading right now?
I'm never reading just one thing. I've got a 3 collections of Neil Simon's plays I'm working on, I'm also reading some Eugene O'Neill. I'm also reading Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool and working through John Scalzi's The Old Man's War books.
7. Who was your biggest mentor?
Richard Groetzinger was my college professor and advisor at Colby Community College. He encouraged me and helped devolp me into the actor I am today.
Borrowed from

8. What's your next big project?
One of my goals this year is to write one 10-Minute play a month based on either an existing piece of fiction or on a true story. At the end of the year, I'd like to collect them into a book called "Based on the...". I'm also working on a new children's full-length titled "The Three Challenges of Puss In Boots"
9. If you could give a tip to anyone in your field what would it be?
Never give up never surrender, hone your craft by reading great plays and playwrights, keep writing, but most importantly get involved in theater somehow. I'm a better playwright because I act, I direct, I do fight choreography, I've done set design and poster design. You learn the "art of the stage" by being on the stage.
10. If I gave you a thousand dollars and told you to do anything today to better your business what would you do and why?
I would use it to start a children's theater program arm of my local community theater. I think the best way to grow better adults is by getting kids interested in the arts at an early age.

You can find out more about Everett at his website here.  If you want to get in touch with him here. And be sure to find Emergency Room Production's Facebook here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dave Thomas on Getting Out of a Slump

While I was in my slump after the dissolution of my non-profit theatre company I was wondering how in the world I was going to revitalize the business get working again. I was in a weird funk for almost a year. I felt like a failure and didn't think I could get up and try to produce shows again. But oddly enough while I was exploring my Alma Mater's Library I found a book that was just amazing! Everyone knows Wendy's as a chain of quick service restaurants. But not many people know that their founder, Dave Thomas, was a veritable goldmine of advice for the entrepreneur. In his book, Dave's Way, he outlines his story about how he started the Wendy's franchise and all of the lessons he learned along the way. What I found is that even though I'm not trying to open a restaurant a lot of his lists contained down-to-earth lists with lot's of great info. So today I'm going to share Dave Thomas's advice on getting yourself/business out of a slump. I hope you can see that it will help your theatre company or personal career too!
The Wendy's Guy gives good advice to a theatre person? Borrowed from

Dave Thomas's Advice for Getting Out of the Slump

  1. Get Rid of the Dead Wood in Management: In my case the dead wood was me. Of course that was because I was working for myself. What you do there is you evaluate your habits and performance and find where you're wasting time and effort on useless pursuits.
  2. Paint the Place/Refresh your Look: If you have a brick and mortar building this could mean that a little renovation is in order. If you're a freelance like me it could mean that your blog, social media, business cards, portfolio, etc. needs an upgrade.
  3. Get on top of the Basic Numbers: How much does your business really cost to operate? How much money are you making versus how much you're spending? How many customers/productions do you need to make ends meet? These and a couple other numbers are questions that you desperately need to be watching to keep your business in order.
  4. Promote: Shout in every avenue that you have. This could mean your site or social media. This could mean going out to more events and handing out the business cards. This could also mean picking up the phone and making a few calls to friends about leads. Get word out about you wherever you can.
  5. Identify yourself that your customers will recognize you: This is where an ego check is in order. If you really want people to come and remember your work in Shakespeare but more people are showing up to your musical comedies you have two options. You either need to promote your Shakespeare better and never do musicals again or resign yourself to the fact that musical comedy is your niche. The audience's patronage and habits will tell you what they want and more importantly what they want from you!
These five principles helped my turn my business around and get out of my slump! It's an ongoing process that can take months until you start getting the business and the money that you're looking for. Starting this process now won't give you immediate results. It sews the seeds of success now that can be harvested later.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fronkensteens #Newplay adventure: #27DaysPlay

So here's an update. Last week I announced that for 27 Days I was going to be researching the plight of human slavery and the work or modern day abolitionists. And at the end of it all I'm going to be spending 27 hours writing a new play. What happens then? After that it gets put online so that anyone who is wanting to raise money for the cause or awareness about human trafficking have a vessel to get the word out.

Who is the play for? Non-profits, churches, theatre companies and artists, student organizations, you name it! If you want to raise awareness about the 27 million people locked in this world of slavery then this play is offered for you as a tool to get the word out!

It's my first week in and already it's been devastating to look at all the pain and suffering that this issue has caused. My notebooks are filled with facts upon facts and my mind is stuck with faces and names of real victims, real traffickers, and real people on the ground trying to end this for good.

It's devastating to read but it's empowering to know that I can give these people a voice. I can give a voice to people that don't have one. I can help expose the faces of those that would like to keep their work hidden in darkness. And then I get to celebrate the works of others, people like you and me who are seeking to rescue these people from their lives of turmoil.

And that's why I'm doing this. If I can help anybody raise awareness, raise funds, or empower anyone else to bring the 27 million slaves back home then it's all worth it. And this journey that I'm on is so cleansing to me personally. Knowing all of the grief out there you look at the whole world differently and with that new worldview I plan to power on.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#WriterWednesday: Playwriting Blueprint "Diet"

So last week I pitched my idea about what a good weekly routine for a "primal" playwright is. Now let's talk about what your diet should consist of. Now I know that you're usual diet when you strike out on a writing binge is carbs and a bottle of your favorite adult beverage and I'm okay with that! No today we're going to talk about your mental and spiritual diet. Don't be frightened I'm not going to go all existential on you I'm just going to outline some of the things you as a writer should be digesting in your life.

The Playwright's Primal Blueprint "Diet"

  • Performances: You should be going to see as many performances as you literally and financially can. Jot down what you liked and what you hated. what ideas are you going to steal and which ideas need to die with a fiery passion?
  • People: You should be people watching everywhere you go. Remember you're trying to "observe the world for meaning". What characters are in front of you? If these people were on a stage what would they say?
  • Places: Are you in a cool place? Do you see something strange or ironic about where you are and  what's happening in this place? A funeral home is interesting. A young couple making out in a funeral home is even more interesting.
  • Perspectives: Is there an adventure you can go on or an experiment that you can do that will give you perspective about the world around you? Is there a story you can read or a story that you can hear that will help you understand how someone else's life could be different from yours?
  • Plays: You should be reading everything that you can get your hands on. Some people try to give you a specific list of plays or books that you should be reading. While I think that can sometimes be a good idea I think it's more important that you find writers and genres that you really like. Find an author that you really like and read EVERYTHING that they've ever written. Find the people that inspired them and read them too. Like Mac Wellman says the genius is the person that reads more.
This isn't a hard and fast list of rules. These are just a few of the staples in your daily diet that I believe can make you a great writer. Have any additions to this list? Be sure to post a comment below!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Foto Friday: I saw the sign!

This post brought to you by all the signs that you find in life...

I love taking shots of billboards, signs, and marquis from all over the places. I kinda have a small collection started. I do this for two reasons: because for one I'm a dedicated Christian and theatre goer and secondly sometimes they actually have the gall to be witty (how dare they!) 

Show marquis are great! They're so bright and colorful! And when you're trying to get a name or event out there they make great cover photos or instagram photos!

I do a bit of painting and I like old historical Americana of all kinds. This is an old sign from my family's home town of Elkton, KY. This way it has sentimental value and it inspires ideas about new sign painting/set design ideas.

What kind of signs do you like? If you want to see other photos and things that I adore check out my Pinterest here!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

27 Days: A #Newplay adventure by R. S. Young!

So if you've been reading the Lounge for a while you should know that Fronkensteen is knee deep in the End It Movement. All this time I've been giving you updates about Abolitionist organizations out there trying to keep up the good fight, and personal reasons why I'm in it to End It.

But I was thinking ever since I came back from the Passion Conference that there was something more that I could do. There are few times when Playwrights and theatre people get to do something so important as to contribute to a worldwide movement like this.

And I was wondering what I was going to do to contribute! And I remember at the talks that they gave and Beth Redman saying that you should ask yourself, "What do I have in my hand that can help stop slavery?" It was then that I knew that I had a blog and that I could use this platform to shout out the End It Movement and the people involved with it.

Then I realized that I'm also a playwright, and a jack of all trades in the theatre. And what I had in my hand was the ability to write a play that could help raise awareness about the plight of human trafficking in the world. It may not be a huge hit or make a million dollars. But it could give abolitionists just like me a tool that they can use to raise awareness, raise money, and make partners in the effort to end slavery in our lifetime.

So for the next twenty-seven days I will be researching human trafficking and gathering stories for a new play called "27 Days". On the 27th day during Shine a Light on slavery Day I'll be spending twenty-seven hours writing this play and chronicling it on my social media. Then it will be posted online for anyone trying to join the cause to use as they wish.

This is my little contribution to the End It Movement. It may not make me famous but it's for a higher purpose than that. If it can just help set at least one slave free... it would be worth more than all the money in the world!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

#WriterWednesday: The Primal Blueprint of Writing

So this week I wanted to share you with a template that I'm adopting for my writing routine. For a long time I've fallen in love with a new kind of exercise/lifestyle plan called the Primal Blueprint. It has done a lot for me in the realm of becoming more fit and healthy. Well I was wondering if there could ever be such a thing as a Primal Blueprint for Playwrights. If we could distill everything about writing into it's basic elements what would it mean to revitalize our craft? And since the Primal Blueprint  deals in a straightforward weekly routine here's my idea of a weekly writing routine.

The Playwright's Primal Blueprint

  • "Scribble" Constantly: Everywhere you go you should have pen and paper to be writing down ideas, favorite overheard lines, characters you meet, or titles. I call this scribbling or jotting. The head of my Grad Department is always saying that a writer observes the world for meaning. This is what jotting is...finding those bits of meaning in a chaotic world.
  • Write Daily: My hero, Neil Simon, kept a strict goal of three pages a day well into his retirement. Other professionals state that writing at least three pages longhand everyday wards off writer's block. So whatever goal you set for yourself (3-5 pages a day) and in whatever form you see it in (longhand or typing) the daily routine is key!
  • Work on Scenes: Two to Three times a week you should be trying to work on a scene or two. Take those scribbles and pages you've been writing everyday and start building them into the basic building blocks of a play (i.e. scenes) 
  •  Recenter/Revise: Once a week you should be revising what you've written and recentering it to work as a whole. This is also a time where you check out other drafts and see what needs to be done to take them to the next level.
  • Sprint: This is something that most playwrights will say is unnecessary but go with me for a second... At least once a week (or periodically) try to write an entire play in one sitting. This could be a simple thing as a ten minute play or a No Shame piece. This could also come in the form of trying to finish a play that's almost done or getting to the act break in one session. You can even make it into an endurance event of trying to write an entire play in twenty-four to seventy-two hours. I believe trying to be fast with your writing and crafting a plot with great characters on the fly shows you how you work and what you NEED to get the juices immediately flowing. 
And that's your weekly look. I'm still trying to figure it out myself so it my change as time goes by. What do you think? Do any other writers out there have schedules like this? Tell me what you think!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Top Ten Rules of Facebook Pages by @DragynAlly

  1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 
  2. Post often. Better to over share than be silent- I post 12 times a day. That's a lot. But people interact with me.
  3. Don't post anything that you may regret- There is nothing on my page I don't want there.
  4. Decide your "share limit" and stick to it- You don't want your family to be on your FB page? Make sure you never share pics of them. Don't want people cursing on your page? Don't curse.
  5. Don't friend fans unless you know them from another aspect of your life
  6. Do not share anything unless you use a share button or have permission or it's yours
  7. Do not use your FB page to run giveaways. It's against terms of service and your page could go bye bye.
  8. When posting as your page remember that you are representing your brand
  9. Don't post the same thing several times in a row. Yes post a lot but diversity is key. Don't post the same pic 10x because you think no one saw it.
  10. Have fun!- It stops being fun reevaluate and make it fun again. If it feels too much like work your fans will tell and they won't engage.
To see more of DragynAlly's work visit her blog here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why I'm with the #EndItMovement

As any boy born and raised in the South we've all heard of the Civil War and the many seminal government and legislative policies that came about because of it. One of those key pieces of policy was the Emancipation Proclamation that declared all of the slaves held in the South were free.

It was a proclamation that affected everyone in the South no matter what side of the issue that they were on. One person that was affected was my great-great-great-great grandfather on my dad's side of the family. (don't quote me on how many greats) He was a black slave that was impressed to serve the Confederate army near Fort Donelson. Eventually he was even let into service as a servant to a highranking officer. His given name was Richard. When the battle of Fort Donelson commenced he used the commotion to escape and rescue some other slaves along the way. He had nothing to his name when he learned that the Proclamation made him and those with him free. He didn't even have a last name. He eventually found employment in the Appalachian mountains with a nice family that actually deigned to teach him to read and write, (something unheard of at the time). He eventually married and took up the family's last name, Jung. In the early 20th century that name was changed to Young.  And eventually my two sides of the family met when my Mom and Dad married and made me.

And then I learned that slavery isn't dead. The same kind of people that kept my ancestor a slave are still around today. The same kind of economic incentives and sense of entitlement still makes some people feel that they can own a human being and exploit his skills for their gain. When I heard this I made the stand with several other people. No slaves are ever going to work for me. To honor my ancestor I'm not going to allow a world where 27 Million slaves exist in this world. Not in my generation and not ever!

So that's why I chose to stand with the End It Movement and shine a light on slavery. Whatever your reason if you choose to stand with us I want to share with you the call to action to get involved and help get the word out there. You might not have such a personal reason as I do but any reason is a great reason to fight! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

WriterWednesday: The D6 Exercise #newplay

So here is another writing prompt for you that I've used to create a good first draft. Like all prompts they're used to make you wrap you brain around the problem and not focus on how you need to create a good story. Revision is where you worry about being a good writer. For now you're just writing a first draft. So get a pen and a stack of paper and get busy!

Break Out the Dice

Now it's time to break out the dice. You can do this exercise that I made up with any six sided die. Roll the die each for each scene that you do. Use list A to tell you how many many pages your scene will have. List B will tell you how many characters you'll use. List C will tell you what the scene will be about. This is a great prompt to get you a one-act play or a short story. I've used it several times in my writing projects.

List A
  1. One Page
  2. Four Pages
  3. Six Pages
  4. Two Pages
  5. Three Pages
  6. Five Pages
List B
  1. Two Characters
  2. Six Characters
  3. Four Characters
  4. One Character
  5. Three Characters
  6. Five Characters
List C
  1. A fight scene
  2. A love scene
  3. An explanation
  4. An interrogation
  5. A misunderstanding
  6. An improbable meeting
If you want to use this exercise to help you get a draft for a full length play all you need to do is multiply the numbers in list A by 2. Look out for some later posts about the revision process. That's where the true craft lies.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The First Time I started a Theatre Company Prt. 2

So last week I started the story about how I first started to create a theatre company. Today I want to finish the story. When we left off our first season had gone to pot with little audience and little money.
Fronkensteen's first Tech Director appyling make-up for a show.

It wasn't just everyone else's fault that the first season sucked.  I had a lot of blame on me. I promised a lot of services that we couldn't provide, I didn't understand capitalization or finance as much as I should have. Because I was using my own money I was afraid of spending the kind of money that we needed and because I didn't know all of the legalities I was afraid of even making money. 

I took a lot of lessons from that first season and made a go at a second. We did open submissions and tried to do a great season. We threw ourselves at the first production of a very good show and we finally had our act together doing it. The actors were great, the directing was great, and the set was actually good. But we had a horrible turnout and even worse finances. A lot of our board members walked out and our venue told us that we were more trouble than we were worth. The annual report for the nonprofit lapsed and before we knew it Fronkensteen Experimental Theatre Group was dissolved.

This is a story not of failure but of lessons learned the hard way.  The problem with enrolling in the school of hard knocks in contrast to a university setting is that the knocks get harder. You still learn through error and failure but it's harder to get up after things like that. The name of the game is "Hard knocks" for a reason.

Rehearsal for a show in my front yard.
Now we're trying again. Fronkensteen Experimental Theatre Group has become Fronkensteen Theatre Productions. We're a for profit and working on a production by production basis. We being me. The biggest lie I always told myself was that it was "we". Now I'm the sole proprietor. Friends and partners will come and go but it's always just me.

In all this I had forgotten that the idea I was starting off of was getting myself work and trying to support myself in the arts. I tried to follow what everyone else was doing and didn't know how much it was going to cost me. I didn't know that I was continuing my education in the theatre world. And the first motto of Hard Knocks 101 is, "To thine own self be true".

Friday, March 1, 2013

What do I need to have a good social media? @DragynAlly

By: @DragynAlly

Simple answer Facebook Fan Page and Twitter minimum. But if you really want to get into it here's a list:
  1. Computer- Call me captain obvious but you need your own computer to keep up with this. A few hours in the local library won't cut it.
  2. Smart phone or tablet- It helps you keep up with this stuff without being chained to a computer.
  3. A blog- A place to share who you are and get people interested in you. And if you can't afford a whole site a blog is the easiest way to showcase who you are and what you do.
  4. Twitter- It is the easiest and quickest way to share info
  5. Facebook fan page- It helps people have all your info (or site info) in one place.
  6. YouTube- People want to see and hear you and see and hear what you do.
  7. Pinterest- People debate this but some of my best site hits come from here.
  8. Instagram- Also debated. But when you Instagram you share pics to other social media.
  9. Google+- Not my fave but better to have it and not need it.
  10. Stumbleupon- It's another way to share your site with others.
  11. Hootsuite or Tweetdeck (or something similar)- These share things to twitter and facebook and can be scheduled so your social media is working while you live your life.
  12. An email address- Yes this is also obvious. But you need it and it needs to be listed on your other social media. People want to talk to you.
  13. A business card!- You need a real life counterpart to your online presence with info on how to get in touch with you.
To see more from DragynAlly see here blog here.