Proudly continuing my recent streak of writing the dumbest plays of my career, I wrote an adaptation of the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty.” I decided to share it here, where readers can engage with it and my other pandemic-era short plays at their own risk.
Observations from the Fall
The prompt that inspired this was “Adapted Nursery Rhymes.”
At the beginning of February, I wrote the dumbest play I ever attempted, and I’ve written some stupid plays.
Evidence: the first professionally produced short play of mine was a Zoo Story rip-off about bacterium during the Cambrian Explosion of Life. In the past 11 years, this play has been produced several times since, published, and even produced a few times without my permission — it might actually be my biggest contribution to the culture so far…
But we’ll see. Last fall I was accepted into the initial writing pool of the New York PlayGround writing pool. PlayGround, which originated in the Bay Area, produces a monthly night of short plays that were written within a few days of receiving a topic prompt. The pool is full of talented writers and I’m honored to be among them.
The prompt for February 2022 was “What the World Needs Now,” based on the Burt Bacharach song. My submission, “Inflections in Greatness,” didn’t make it.
However, since I thought I reached a new height in stupidity, I knew I needed to unleash it on the public.
I also thought I would post “Dispatches from the Vaccine Wars,” which is also pretty stupid. It was my submission for October 2021 and was likewise rejected.
Why publish these online? Both of these short plays are oddly dated (like literally set in 2023 and 2024), so they have a short shelf life. They both directly reference the pandemic, and they might be my only work that will reflect on the pandemic.
Either way, enjoy – and if reading these negatively impacts your IQ, I am not liable.
Dear Target, Walmart, Westfield Shopping Centre, Best Buy, Macy’s, et al.,
Americans are hurting. This year has been rough for so many of us. We’ve faced trials and tribulations. Lockdowns and second lockdowns. Pandemics and potdemics. President-elects and president suspects. And there is one simple way you can make 2020 a little brighter for everyone: give us a coupon.
What do we want? We want 15% off the latest electronics. We want $20 off outerwear for the whole family. We want $0.98 off brand-name sports drinks when you buy two.
Yes, you could say things went a little “askew” in 2020, but you have the power to make our lives better. Maybe we could even have 0% APR on a new Hyundai Elantra until 2022!
We don’t ask for much. We don’t really ask for anything. In fact, we’re very good at internalizing and adapting to our world getting worse each day without too much complaint. So, what do you say, stores? Let’s make a deal.
The U.S., which also spells “us” (makes you think😊)
There was a presidential election last week, and, honey, we’re FEELING GOOD!!
Now it is time to come together and heal the soul of a divided nation…hold on, what’s that??? More VIBES!
Whew, wait, we really need to talk about unity and the bright future of the world’s sexiest democracy….calm down, we can cool it down.
Yup, the mood is pure 2013 party – we just got out of a terrible relationship and we. are. ready. to. VIBE! Pound a Four Loco, inhale that tasty menthol flavor of a Camel Crush. Drop a dime in the jukebox and play me that sweet, sweet Of Monsters and Men.
But these vibes…there is a sourness to them. Some great tasting headlines, but I’m picking up notes of losing, and a heady bouquet of handwringing in the nose.
Because let’s get real: the 2020 election was a disaster for the Democratic Party down-ballot.
No mandate in the Senate. A very slim majority in the House. Catastrophes in state houses around the country. Yes, we should all care about the two run-off Senate races in Georgia, but even if both are wins, that still means the entire legislative agenda for the next few years will be based around what red state Dem senators like Joe Manchin will sign off on.
So post your cringe and post your cope, but you can’t scold me (or the Democratic Party electorate, for that matter) into believing that I shouldn’t feel at least partly desolate about the political possibilities in the near term (ok so this is my own form of cope).
Already much cringe and cope has been posted, and much of it has tried to shore up the narrative that Democrats need to run toward the magical, sensible, boring realm of “moderation.”
Don’t fall for this!!
Elections are fascinating, the saying goes, because ideology collides with reality in real time. What is the overarching narrative of 2016 to 2018 to 2020?
It is definitely not the “demographics are destiny” and “increase voter turnout” slogans so many of us have been told – turnout was huge this year (cool!), but there was no tsunami Blue Wave beyond the White House, and Trump’s increases with Black and Hispanic voters should be raising alarm bells with DNC leadership that they can’t assume whole demographics will vote Blue, as if that ever was the case.
The latest cope to be shoved down our throats is that voters were scared off by worries about police departments defunded, high taxes, atheist college professors dating our daughters and other signs of encroaching socialism.
In a nutshell, the argument is that Democrats lost because the electorate wants moderation….
Now, a thought experiment (this blog posts counts as immersive theater).
Think about any arena of political policy. Healthcare. Racial justice. Climate change. Guns. Truly anything. Now articulate a policy goal that you think should happen regarding that issue (whisper it to a houseplant).
How did you come to this conclusion? Did you think about the two most extreme positions out there and then calculate what you believe is the best median position between the two poles? No? Why do we assume other people think like that?
When people call for moderation, it is based off a faulty understanding of how everyone actually formulates their own viewpoint (assuming these calls are made on good faith — I’m not getting into the fact that there are plenty of people making this suggestion who make a whole lot of money off it).
Most likely, I’m guessing that policies you believe in are based off of lived experience and some personal value system (if your value system is finding the political center of every issue, then you have overdosed on West Wing and there is no saving you).
To me, there is no overarching electoral narrative defining the past five years (besides: “yikes.”)
When you pop the hood on the 2020 election, you find lots of contradictions. Floridians rejected Biden, but voted for a $15 minimum wage. Montana voted for legalized weed. On the darker side, California went to Biden but approved Prop 22, a major win by Uber and Lyft in their efforts to make us a nation of beautiful, benefit-less independent contractors (time to hustle BABY).
Very interestingly, polls continue to show huge support for government-run healthcare plans.
How do we solve these contradictions so we can create a more equitable and just society?
Hey, I don’t know, I’m just another sensitive artist. I think there are many talented thinkerswho agreewith me and I’m hopeful a strategy for a reinvigorated Left will begin to cohere in the coming months.
My wider point here is that you shouldn’t believe it when pollsters, the media and political leaders rebuke you into believing that American voters are “moderate” in the sense of “not extreme.”
I think it is closer to the truth that the vast majority of Americans (especially the ones who don’t obsess over politics online) hold a bunch of loosely connected, and often contradictory, political beliefs that are often vastly more extreme (right or left) than what Joe Manchin or Susan Collins believes.
Maybe with targeted outreach and the right kind of messaging, something resembling a quality future can be achieved through the ballot box (ok so this is more cringe with a dash of cope).
Oh yeah, so in the 2.5 years since I’ve updated this blog, I’ve moved to NYC, attended NYU Tisch for a MFA in Dramatic Writing, received my MFA in Dramatic Writing (my Thesis in Screenplay, thank you very much), and I’m frothing up in Final Draft most days. Also, there was a global coronavirus pandemic and Clare and I were supposed to get married this past weekend (11/7/20, i.e. Bidenday AKA “Bruncher’s Revenge”), and we had to move our wedding until next November….but we’re still feeling these vibes!!!
Longish-form blogging on current events? I’m sort of feeling it. Are you? If so, let me know. If not, cry more lol
So my new play, CHAMPAGNE, is opening in two weeks in San Francisco.
The play is an epic journey through one party at a Pacific Heights mansion for a new, buzzy social media startup Chatwick. Amid plenty of Steve Jobs quotes, there is murder, there is ballet and, of course, a bubble machine is involved.
The play, 5 years in the making, was inspired by my work as a tech journalist and is being produced by playwright collective 6NewPlays, where I’m a founding member.
My impersonation of everyone’s New Years Eve Facebook posts for the past half-decade:
2012: “Ok, it was a rocky year, but I’m feeling pretty positive about 2013.”
2013: “2013 was rough, I’m not going to deny it, but I’m looking forward to things turning around next year.”
2014: “There were a lot of ups and downs in 2014, mostly downs, but here’s to a happy 2015!”
2015: “I can’t say it was a great year, but I’m trying to face the next year with a good attitude.”
2016: “It was a truly, terrible, awful year for me personally and the world.”
2017: “This year was really bad. I can’t even.”
Besides the gears of history moving however they may, 2017 was a good year for me, if a bit low wattage.
The #1 highlight: I had a staged reading of a piece I’m extremely passionate about, Ishtar in Syria. It’s a hulking piece that combines ancient Mesopotamian myths with the Syrian conflict, written in verse. It was a beast to research and put together, but I think it’s an artistic high point for me so far. I am hoping there is some interest moving forward — if you, reader, are interested, drop me a line and we’ll talk.
Another huge accomplishment was the production of THE COOL at the underground space at Amado’s (formerly Viracoche) in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. The play revolved around the music of iconic jazz trumpeter Chet Baker as well as the world of 1954. Pumped full of jazz, it was musical, immersive and lots of fun. I even got to go on KQED and talk about it!
A couple other cool things that happened: I had three 1-minute plays in Playwrights Foundation’s annual Flash Plays festival, I had a short play in Arabian Shakespeare Company’s new works festival and I wrote a short opera, which was a trip. In terms of new full-lengths, I also wrote a holiday play — THE MONROE COUNTY SNOW CORPS INTRODUCTORY TRAINING MODULE.
I traveled to Iceland, Cabo, the Grand Canyon, Pike’s Peak in Colorado, Vancouver and all over California. Personally, 2017 turned out to be pretty fantastic (I didn’t even have to put a self-lacerating Facebook post up)!
2018 is poised to be a pretty huge year of awesome transition … I won’t jinx it by talking about it too much in a blog post. I’m in a waiting period right now, I’ll have a much better idea about how the next five to 10 years of my life (!) will go in about four months — it’s a weird feeling.
In terms of productions, CHAMPAGNE is going up in June here in San Francisco. I’m producing it along with 6NewPlays, this playwright group I helped found 6 (!) years ago. There will be a lot more news about that in the next few months, too, so stay tuned to this space!
It’s pretty funny — I write tens of thousands of words every week working as a freelance writer, but I have never been a successful blogger. Every January since Barryeitel.com went live in 2012, I’ve tried to update the site monthly, but then drop off somewhere between April and June. I’m thinking about putting up some more exciting and fresh content here. We’ll see! No pressure! I don’t owe you anything!
Just kidding. I love you. Please make Barryeitel.com your homepage. Until next time.
Hello all–it’s been a spookily fun October so far. On Friday, October 13 (yikes), there was a staged reading of my play ISHTAR IN SYRIA as part of the 2017 SF Olympian Festival, which features a bunch of neat writers taking on ancient myths.
Last October, I proposed a play based off the myth of Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar that would also be a Brechtian-style examination of the Syrian Civil War and the follies of Western interventionism. Writing the piece, which is written in verse, was an immensely challenging experience and it was so gratifying to see it come to life. Directed by Sara Razavi, the reading had a brilliant cast and I’m very excited to see where it goes next.
Where’s next? Well, I’m prepping a production of my play CHAMPAGNE with 6NewPlays and getting ready, already, for the 2018 Olympian Festival — but its tarantula mating season right now in the Bay Area, so there is a lot going on.
At 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 29 I began the libretto for “The Craigslist Oracle,” a 12-minute opera that will receive its world premier in about five hours. With Kyle Hovatter as the composer, I am extremely excited to see it come to life as part of Opera Theater Unlimited’s 48-Hour Opera Festival.
This very well might be the first festival in history featuring operettas written over one weekend and writing my first libretto has already been eye-opening. Hearing my words sung by the phenomenal performers in rehearsal is not an experience I will ever forget.
What a crazy weekend. See you next month, and I’ll have pictures!
What a busy two months — THE COOL sold out before it even opened on 2/10 and then ran for three weekends. It’s been a terrific/challenging experience blending live jazz with dialogue, not to mention there was a cast of 14. I got to be on the radio — twice — and tried to be charming.
For a Presidents Day protest of the current protest on 2/20, I was charged with writing a song that would be in the parody musical “A Little Night Tweeting.” I came up with “We Elected A Clown,” a little humorous riff on “Send in the Clowns” that was quite droll. It was part of a #NameAPenceMusical (a sentient hashtag, essentially) at PianoFight here in San Francisco.
Tonight, I’m seeing THAT IT ALL MAKES PERFECT by Erin Bregman and directed by Susannah Martin. It is the third production by 6NewPlays — I’m #5, so expect to see a lot more about my piece within the next year.
At the TBA Conference at Berkeley Rep, the great Noelle Gibbs directed a selection from my play WEEK during a panel. It was crazy trying to sound smart aboard the Roda Stage, i.e. the big boy stage at Berkeley Rep. The snippet went really well, and I’m hoping soon the piece will finally get a full production somewhere.
Today, it is the 2 year anniversary since 6NewPlays held its Rough Draft Festival, our inaugural public event. So there’s a lot to celebrate.
Next up? Oh yea, I’m writing an opera.
I’m part of the 48 Hour Opera Festival by local opera company Opera Theater Unlimited. That’s coming up on April 30. If it wasn’t clear, essentially a team works together to come up with a 10-minute opera in two days.
Between then and now, I’m spending some R&R time in Iceland. I’ll see some Northern Lights, step on some glaciers, eat a few puffins (just kidding). I’ll report back!
Also, two weeks ago me and my girlfriend headed to Southern California to check out the “Superbloom” at Anza-Borrega State Park in the Mojave Desert as well as Joshua Tree. Yes, it was transformative. Also, warm.