October 12, 2010

An Appropriately Theatrical Ending

Last Sunday was the 20th anniversary awards gala for the Pittsburgh New Works Festival. It was the closing event for this year's festival, where awards would be doled out, casts would be reunited, and gowns would be donned. Well, I didn't don a gown. I had a suit on—a fine, tailored suit from Macy's, in case you missed the E! pre-gala coverage. Yes, it was the evening that would cap my first experience as a produced playwright, and my first encounter with the New Works Fest.

So what better way to close out months of work, anticipation, and success than with unexpected blood loss?

I began to suspect that I wasn't going to be terribly lucky that evening about five minutes after I arrived at the gala. I made my way over to the bar to get a beer. The bartender pried off the cap and handed me the bottle. I put it up to my mouth, but felt something strange on the lip of the bottle. Thinking it was just some rust from the bottle cap, I ran my thumb along the rim. The crisp, sharp, freshly broken rim. The lip of the bottle had cracked when the cap was taken off and I didn't notice. Now, I had an inch-long slice across my left thumb. I alerted the bartender that I'd be needing a new beer, and a Band-Aid.

Before she could get back to me with a bandage, my hearing and vision began to fade. According to my dad, the color was draining from my face. This whole "blood pumping out of my thumb" issue was starting to be a real problem. Thankfully, a handful of bow-tied servers ushered me out of the ballroom so I didn't embarrass myself. Eventually the bleeding stopped and the staff stopped short of amputating my thumb. I'd like to think that after this incident, and my paper cutter incident in 2004, that my left thumb will return stronger, and more mangled, than ever. It's starting to look like the Danny Trejo of phalanges.

So after that appropriately dramatic opening, I'd like to say that the rest of the gala went off without any more dangerous theatrics. I was happy to be conscious and reunited with much of my cast, director, producer and other participants in the festival. Then, after dinner, disaster almost struck again. The person sitting next to me at the table accidentally knocked over her tea cup, sending scalding water straight for my lap. Thankfully, my "always frightened" reflexes kicked into gear and I was able to stop the water at the edge of the table with my napkin. I was moments away from adding lap burns to my list of injuries for the evening.

I can report that I wasn't stabbed, maced, or stung with a rubber band at the gala.

After dinner, they began announcing the nominations and winners of the Donna Awards. There were three nominations for each category, and from there the winner was announced. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I wasn't getting my hopes up. Honestly, the pleasure of seeing my play produced, and hearing everyone's reaction to it each night, was reward enough—but trophies would have been nice too. I can tell you now that we didn't win any awards this year. We were, however, nominated for four of the seven categories: outstanding performance by a lead male, outstanding director, outstanding playwright, and outstanding overall production. "Drop It" had more nominations than any other comedy in the festival. It was also the only comedy nominated for best production, playwright, and director. These things, while obviously not as awesome as winning, were not lost on us. It truly was an honor just to be nominated.

And so with the end of the gala comes the end of my first Pittsburgh New Works experience. I don't think it's possible to have had a better one: a perfect cast, a great director, an amazing reception, and a handful of nominations. This has been one of the best creative experiences I've had. I hope to get "Drop It" published and also produced again in the future, but in the meantime, I'll just keep writing in coffee shops.

Here are all of the blogs I've written chronicling the production of "Drop It:"

Posted by MikeRubino at October 12, 2010 2:20 PM


"The Danny Trejo of Phalanges" is the name of my new acousti-punk solo band. Or the ironic title of your autobiography.

Posted by: Anthony at October 14, 2010 10:05 AM
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