I'm so excited to announce that FROM THE DEEP has won the Boston University Cultural Endowment grant, and the funds will go to support the production of FTD at Boston Public Works in March 2015 at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Black Box Theatre.
The Boston University Jewish Cultural Endowment supports programs of significance to the Jewish cultural life of the University community. In past years, the JCE has funded scholarly conferences, theater and dance performances, concerts, literary events, curricular enrichment, and the visual arts. Our mission is to foster an appreciation of Jewish culture in all its richness and diversity.
I wanted to also thank our fearless director Lindsay Eagle, for her excellent grant writing skills, and for helping us organize and apply for this wonderful grant. I would also like to thank Sara Bookin-Weiner and Charles Linshaw for their contributions to the proposal and our upcoming outreach and eduction platforms through the play.
FROM THE DEEP is also the 2nd place winner of the Kennedy Center Latinidad Playwriting Award, the winner of the Pestalozzi New Play Prize, and a semi-finalist at nuVoices Festival. Through the Kennedy Center and the merits of the play, I was able to attend The O'Neill as a Playwright Observer and Kennedy Center Fellow at the 50th National Playwrights Conference.
Please take a moment today and sign these two petitions (below) to help free Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali. Take a minute to tweet or post on Facebook using the #bringbackourboys and #eyalgiladnaftali. These are boys, teenagers, they play ping-pong, do charity work, play sports, do homework -- they are kids. They were kidnapped on their way home from school last week and for what? Being Israeli? Being Jewish? We can not stand for it. When I wrote Ilan in FROM THE DEEP I was hoping that there would never be another Ilan in the world, but you can't really ever get that. People will continue to be abducted, kidnapped, and taken around the world -- it's a scary sad true part of this world we live it. But right now, if you're not the praying type, we can petition, we can create buzz on the internet and do whatever we can to bring back these boys. Like I said in my last post, I'm not normally a political person, but these boys have hit me hard after spending so much time writing about my own two kidnapped characters... that might sound trite or silly, but really, I had to try to dig deep and put myself in that situation to be able to write from that perspective. And of course, I have no idea what it's like, thank God, but I still feel for these boys because of the amount of time I spent on the play, and because I'm a person, who can't stand to think 3 boys will not be sitting around the family dinner table tonight. I hope they are unharmed, and I hope they return home safe. They are people. Kids. Someone's kids. Think about it.
Here are the links to the petitions:
Whitehouse - US Government
Learn about Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali above.
I’ve been thinking a lot since last Thursday about writing a blog post about something that is sitting very heavy on my heart and mind, but I haven’t had the guts to write it.
I've been glued to the story of #EyalGiladNaftali, the three Israeli teens (one of which is a US citizen) who were abducted by on Thursday night. This is a problem. Three young men being taken captive for no other reason than they are Jewish and in Israel and a chip to be bargained with. These issues are not too far from home. People being abducted, terrorism, prisoners, that’s all first world problems too, that can happen right down the street in Somerville when we least expect it.
People go missing. Innocent people go missing or get taken every day in this world. So why do these three boys pull at my heartstrings so much? Why am I tagging #bringbackourboys but barely tagged #bringbackourgirls when several hundred schoolgirls were abducted by Nigerian militants?
I don’t have a good answer for that. I don’t. I can’t explain why Israel, a country I have only visited once (for a multitude of reasons, and I’m ashamed of not going more), and three Israeli boys, none of which I know personally, hits me so hard. But it does. I’ve been praying for these three boys, reading, watching, posting, and tagging about them all week, and beg for their safe release. I can’t explain rationally why I cry for their families, and resurrect my prayer book of Tehillim to ask Hashem for their freedom, but I do. This takes me to Ilan and Andrew, the two characters in my play FROM THE DEEP (FTD), which will be premiering in March 2015 through Boston Public Works. I see the faces of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, and I think about Ilan and Andrew. I think about two boys who I have spent the past year and a half writing about, and here are some real, present day faces to the stories I was telling and it makes me sick.
In FTD, the character of Ilan is loosely inspired by Gilad Shalit, an Israeli POW who was held captive from June 25th 2006 to October 18th 2011. I followed his captivity like many people at a mostly Jewish Liberal Arts college, I went to a rally or two, posted on Facebook about it occasionally, and when he was released, I celebrated by myself in my apartment with tears streaming down my face. Like many I was conflicted about the terms of Gilad’s release, but also so happy that another solider was returned alive and not in a body bag. The year Gilad was taken a distant cousin of my father was taken as well, Ehud Goldwasser. He was one of many POW’s who were unable to tell their stories. His condition was kept secret, and he and fellow captive were returned deceased. In that instance this sort of terrorism became not just something I felt for Israel as a Jew who loves Israel, but it felt personal. It became personal. And yet, I can’t say I did much to help Gilad Shalit. I was not the kid who had my Facebook picture one of Gilad’s until his release, I never wore a “Free Gilad” t-shirt, and I never wrote a thing about him other than the occasional wall post.
I was in grad school when Gilad was returned. I was in the middle of working on The Bathroom Play, and I remember noting that I wanted to write something about Gilad, and about POWs but I had no clue what. On the first anniversary of Gilad’s release articles came out where Gilad was asked how he survived the five years, and what did he do with his time? And he answered, I played games. Later he went into more detail about crumpling paper balls and throwing them into a basket, making lists, drawing maps, and creating games as simple as those to keep his mind active. This blew my mind. I was struck by this idea, but still didn’t know how to express how I felt about it. A few weeks after the one year anniversary of Gilad’s release a young man in Boston went missing. I was working at BPT at the time and this college student’s face was posted all over the city. When he was found in the Charles River a few days later, I realized the story I needed to tell, the story of two missing people fighting to survive, the story of hope in the darkest of places, and the story about two kids. Sure, one kid was a solider in a country that is torn by religions, race, war, and boundaries, and the other was a college student, a good kid, well liked, camp counselor, and at the end of the day you Google him and the most recent hit is from 2012, the year he went missing. There are a million differences about those two young men, but the similarity that is most important to me is that they were/are someone’s son who went missing, they were/are part of someone’s family that has to go on the news and make a statement like “Bring back our boys,” or “bring back my son.”
I have been asked a few times now why I wrote FTD, and on different days I give different answers. Today, and probably since I heard the news of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, my answer is this: I wrote FTD because I am terrified of the idea that people can just disappear. We are all capable and susceptible to abduction. Sure, when you live in a country like Israel the treat is higher than let’s say Boston, MA, but still people go missing, people get taken, and we can only hope and pray that they are found safe and unharmed. But in the end of the day it could happen to any of us, it could happen to our children, it could happen to our parents, and that’s terrifying. Andrew and Ilan come from different worlds and yet I put them together in the room of the missing to try to breakdown what it means to be missing and ask what do the missing have to do to survive. And do you need hope to survive? I'd like to believe Gilad had hope, and my character Ilan fights hard to maintain his hope and to encourage Andrew to find hope. And also, I don’t think I have the answers, I really don’t have them, thank God I have not be in the situation ever to really have these answers, but does anyone really have those answers? Not having the answers is why I tried to write about them.
So what does all of this have to do with Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali? Honestly, I’m not really sure. Like I said, I have no answers. But I know that my heart aches for them. I want to raise awareness. I want to do all the things I was too preoccupied with college to do for Gilad Shalit when he was in captivity. I want to be the dumb American wearing a Free #EyalGiladNaftali t-shirt, I want to go to rallies, I want to post on Facebook a billion times asking people to pray, meditate, think good thoughts, whatever, for their safe release. I look at the faces of these three boys and I think of my two fictional boys and all I can ask for is real hope. So, if you read this blog all the way to this point, please share the faces of these three missing boys, they could be your sons, brothers, parents, they could be you. I’m really not a political person, besides for my love for Israel and women’s body rights, and gay rights, I’m not really someone who posts about politics. So please put aside the politics for a moment and think of these three boys as three boys, as someone’s sons. Ask for their safe release.
There is a moment in my play that reminds me a lot of what I was trying to express in the above blog post. I thought I'd share it with you.
Excerpt from FROM THE DEEP p. 80
You thought I had some great big secret? Well guess what, I don’t. Unlike you I’m not a celebrity. I’m just a guy. A nothing person. College students go missing all the time, people staple signs to trees and telephone poles, but then they disappear, fade in rain and wind, new ones go up as soon as the next kid’s missing from his dorm, or preschool, or camp trip. People go missing all the time, and the world quickly forgets them. A solider goes missing, he becomes a political figure.
I’m not a political figure.
You should see the rallies people had for you.
Have for me.
Right. Make for you. I remember hearing about the schools nationwide, tons of Jews have got your back, Zionists and what-not pleading for your release. They’ve got T-shirts. A kid on my campus walks around in a Free Ilan T-shirt all the time.
Yeah. They got websites for you.
And you don’t think they’ve got webpages for you? Your friends? Dean? Kate! You have to tell yourself they are looking for you. In fact, you’re more of a person to them than I am to any random person in the U.S. wearing some dumb T-shirt. They’ll be looking! You just gotta keep... strong.
(I am reposting the blog I wrote for Boston Public Works here. Just for you!)
Cassie M. Seinuk is P2.
So many of you--my friends, colleagues, peers--have been the victim of me sharing the Boston Public Works Indiegogo campaign with you and asking you to show your support and donate. I hate doing it, I really do. We all do. It’s like that time when your great aunt gives you money for Afikoman (see Jewish translation below), and you really want to sneak a peak inside the envelope, but have to wait until later, and you’ve cleaned up from a five-hour Passover seder to finally peek inside that envelope and look for dollar signs. It’s the same thing really, but just like you don’t want to humiliate yourself by greedily ripping open the envelope and slobbering on it like Cookie Monster would a chocolate chip, asking your great aunt Silva (name changed to protect the family) for $25 seems incredibly rude.
Even more so, asking best friend Jennifer (name changed to protect the grad student), is even more awkward and, let’s face it, terrifying, because that means you’re saying , hey, person who would never ever give me money as a gift, can I have money as a gift?
So… you know, it’s not easy. It’s even weirder when you message someone on Facebook, like your flat-mates from 2007 in Scotland (location changed to protect the ultimate playlist makers), asking them to support your dreams… they might even ask, who is this? We don’t like doing it. It’s not fun. It’s squirmy sometimes.
BUT in the past three years since this Indiegogo/Kickstarter/Crowdsourcing phenomenon began, I too have been broke, often unemployed, and constantly weighing theatre tickets over meals, playwriting books over cups of coffee, and of course, donating to your campaigns over a drink with friends. No, this isn’t I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine… but wait, isn’t it? Isn’t that what the whole crowdsourcing phenomenon is about??? That’s what I always thought… Pretty much until now. I always thought if I gave 10 or 15 or even 25 here or there to your I'm-Making-My-First-Record Campaign, or Building-My-Own-Restaurant, or Starring-In-My-Own-Web-Series campaign, that I would one day, when I needed it, get some sort of “pay-it-forward”-cute-Haley Joel Osment-return of the favor. Was I really so wrong to think that? I support you, you support me? Maybe. But that’s besides the point, I support you because, frankly, I believe in you. I do. I really do. I’m still the girl sitting with my face glued to the TV screen watching the VHS tape of Mary Martin in Peter Pan clapping my hands off, screaming, “I believe in fairies!” (Many of you fairies turned out to be some of my best friends…) Look, for those of you to whom this rant applies, I believed in you. I had one less iced latte, whiskey drink, or, dare I say, ice cream (for those of you who really know me you know how serious that is) so that I could support you!
Regardless, it doesn’t mean that if I didn’t donate to your campaign, or if you never had a campaign to begin with, that this whole rant above doesn’t apply to you. It does. It applies because remember that time we went out for dinner and for whatever reason I took the bill? Or that time we went out for coffee and you needed two more bucks and they didn’t take credit cards? Or that time I got you, again dare I say, COMP TICKETS! (Sorry, I was loud just there). Or that time you were in a show and I came, or you needed a friend and some cookies and I was there with a bag of rainbow cookies form that bakery in Spring Hill (location changed to protect my co-kitty-mamas), or that time I met with you for extra time to run lines (you all know who you are)… It’s not because I wanted to be repayed someday, it really isn’t, that’s not the way the world works, clearly, but it’s because I cared about you, and believed in you, and wanted to support you.
Look, this whole blog isn’t about donations over $36, really it isn’t even about donations over $18, and actually it’s really about donations of $9. It’s about 9 bucks a playwright. 9 bucks! 9 smackeroos! That’s all I am asking of you. Because believe me, I do know what it’s like to be waiting for the next pay check, and boy do I really hate asking you guys who are in my shoes, but then I think about myself, and how many times I buy a beer or an iced chai latte, and how I can take that money this month, or week, and put it towards the first season of Boston Public Works, where my dear friend Cassie aka Frass aka Cashew aka Cah aka Cass aka Cassiopeia aka Nuk aka whatever you call me, will have her first EVER full length production (that runs for more than two days as a thesis project – all you Runners out there, no disrespect, H.D.C!) … get to the point Cassie! 9 bucks. Right?
Here are some things you can buy for 9 bucks:
Look how many things cost only 9 bucks! Here are some things we will need to buy for our shows that will cost 9 bucks or less!
If you can spare two Starbucks drinks, or one sushi roll, or make one sandwich at home this week instead of your favorite sandwich shop, the whole Boston Public Works gang will shower you with our undying gratitude. We really will. We are very good at playwriting, but we are also very good at showing our love.
I’m going to get back to stalking you all on Facebook now… Love the very awkward and kooky curly, Cassie aka P2
(PS: Afikoman, meaning "that which comes after" or "dessert” is a half-piece of matzo which is broken in two during the early stages of the Passover Seder and set aside to be eaten as a dessert after the meal.)
Click here to donate 9 bucks!
It's finally LIVE! Help make the first season of Boston Public Works happen, and support us as we take our plays into our own hands!
Just like our friends 13P, The Welders, and the others popping up all over the country, we are putting the power back in the hands of the playwrights, and hoping to change the way art can be made! Not only are we forging a path for ourselves, but we are leaving behind a road map so that you too can do it!
Why support us?
You believe in our work.
You know how hard it is to get that coveted first production.
You love me?
You love plays?
You want to make a direct impact in the next season of theatre in Boston.
You think Jim Dalglish is super handsome?
You have seen a reading or workshop of one of our plays and thought, hey, I really want to see this fully produced!
There are many reasons to click donate, and at the end of the day it's up to you. But I hope we can both continue to support each other on our journeys as artists and friends.
Also, donations are AMAZING! But also share! Share with your dog, your cat, your parents, your neighbors, your book club, that billionaire you know, and pretty much everyone you know!
If I haven't sold you yet, watch the campaign video here, and learn more about what we plan to do in the next three years!
Check out our LIVE campaign here!
I am so excited that FROM THE DEEP will premiere in Boston Public Works' first season. We've built an organization, launched our presence in Boston, announced a season, and secured venues. We've gone as far as we can go without serious financial backing. We can't take Boston Public Works any further without YOUR HELP!
We will be launching our Indiegogo campaign for the first year of Boston Public Works this Thursday, May 15th 2014. I'll post a link on the website and here on the blog as soon as it's live!
I am so excited to get our first year running, and the first ever production of FROM THE DEEP off the page and onto the stage. We will be working with some fantastic artists on this show including: Lindsay Eagle (Director), Erin Baglole (Stage Manager), Charles Linshaw* (Actor "Ilan"), Jeff Marcus (Actor "Andrew), Sara Bookin-Weiner (Dramaturge), and more fantastic designers and collaborators to come!
One of the exciting incentives we are offering is an original piece of artwork by me! So that's pretty exciting too!
THE CAMPAIGN DOESN'T START UNTIL THURSDAY. BUT WE'RE AS EXCITED AS YOU ARE. COME BACK AT 8:00 A.M. (EST) THURSDAY MORNING AND EVERYTHING WILL BE A GOGO. INDIEGOGO, THAT IS.
I just wanted to say thank you to Gregg Henry and all the folks at the Kennedy Center for all the amazing workshops and panels at Nationals, and for the wonderful unforgettable experience. I am so honored to receive this award, and it was very special bringing it back to my family, and knowing that my grandfather is up there smiling. I left feeling a nerdy sense of the American Dream in my hands... if that's a feeling... and inspired to write harder!
I also wanted to thank my mentors at Lesley for all their guidance on FROM THE DEEP, and my writers group Interim Writers Accomplice for all their eyes and ears. I also want to thank the actors and directors who have collaborated on the play with me thus far. And also my husband Mike for spending Passover in DC with me, and supporting me in the audience as I accepted the award (and tried really hard not to fall down the steps or cry). Lastly, My family for their love and encouragement -- it was great to come back to Passover to your support and love... and then play WallyBall like a champ.
I also want to give a shout out to my KCACTF Region 1 Posse. Nick, Abbey, and Steph, you guys are awesome, and I was so glad we all got to go to Nationals together and represent our kickbutt region! Congrats on your awards! And all the other finalists at Nationals, I look forward to staying friends and hearing about all your successes in the future!
OOB Festival: When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
Cassie M. Seinuk (CS): I started writing plays before I ever knew that’s what I was doing. I was that kid who put on shows in her jungle gym with her cousins and made the parents sit around and watch. Between then and actually taking my first course in playwriting in undergrad, I mostly wrote fiction, and dabbled in TV writing. Even though I enjoyed my college playwriting course, it wasn’t until a thesis snafu in the fiction department, and the suggestion from my Stage Management mentor that I sat down to write my first full-length play, RUNNER: The Novel The Play, an adaptation of a novel I was writing. When I saw my characters come to life, I caught the bug and am now playwright through and through.
OOB: Let’s talk about your entry to this year’s Festival. How did you come to write this play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
CS: For the past year and a half I have had the privilege to work with the wonderful people at Nylon Fusion Collective Theatre in NYC, and participate in six of their “This Rounds On Us” (TROU) 10 minute play festivals. Since NFC produces new work I have had the challenge of writing a themed 10 minute play at least six times with them, and OCCUPY HALLMARK was a play I wrote and submitted to their 2013 Valentine’s Day TROU. But the real birthplace of this play came about years ago when a friend and I wanted to write some short scenes with one drunk character and one sober character. I maybe had a page of dialogue from that project that just sat on my computer until this past December when I thought, “Hey, what if this guy is protesting Valentine’s Day,” and so the rewriting began. Since then this play has been performed with NFC and also at the Marblehead Little Theatre’s TNT Festival in MA. It has also been work-shopped with my cohort at Lesley University where I just completed my MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen.
OOB: What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
CS: Two years ago, when my play THE MUSE was in the OOB Final 40, to this same question I answered, “Bold, Meta, Provocative, Unique, and Persistent.” Two years later there are a few words I’d like to switch out. Now I’d say, “Fearless, Provocative, Quirky, Full-of-Heart, and as always Persistent.”
OOB: What/who are some of the major influences on your writing? Do you have any sources of inspiration that might be considered unconventional?
CS: The major influences in my writing are always changing. Of course there are always playwrights that I feel are “speaking my language,” or at least a language I aspire to, like Samuel Beckett, Naomi Iizuka, David Harrower… Right now I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration in the people around me, like my writers group Interim Writers, and my colleagues from my MFA program. Talking with other writers about writing always gets my gears going. Unconventionally, I do love to eavesdrop on strangers’ conversations on buses, trains, and coffee shop.
OOB: What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
CS: I studied Mime in Ireland as part of a study abroad program in college. I have to say my mime skills have faded since, but I still break out in a mime routine every once and a while…
OOB: Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
CS: Well… I just left grad school with some pretty cool plays I am pretty proud of. I’m really excited about play I just wrote called FROM THE DEEP, here’s a little blurb about it: “When Andrew, a missing BU Grad Student, arrives in the surreal room of the missing, Ilan, an Israeli POW of five years, must convince Andrew to play the games, keep his mind active, and face the truth of his captivity before they both go missing forever.” …Any takers? Also, my short play EVEN AS I GO will be adapted into a short film this summer!
It’s been a while. Grad school keeps me crazy busy with writing and recently I joined AEA so I’ve been pretty busy with stage managing too. But enough about me.
I want to talk about a serious issue (part one of a series, let’s say), I want to talk about killing trees and submissions. As a playwright who submits many of my plays (or just the same play to hundreds of companies nationwide), I offend come across submission postings that say “No email,” or “Please send all materials to this address __insert mailing address here___.” And it’s been making me a bit frustrated. First of all, I’m broke, let’s face it, who isn’t, and printing a 120 page script 7 times last month turned out to be $72. That’s crazy, but when you think about it — it’s a lot of paper and ink…. and it shouldn’t cost THAT much, but I get it, copier companies, even the local not corporate ones, need to make money too. That being said, every time I see “All submissions must be sent via mail (sorry, no email),” I see it as a submission fee.
As we all know, there is a boycott on submission fee companies. I can’t say that I am entirely ready to boycott certain festivals I would like to be in because of submission fees, and this is a topic for another post (part 2 perhaps), but when I see a company ask me to send them in paper my full length play, that they “will not return,” I think… sheesh that’s a lot of wasted paper. That’s a lot of trees and ink. Let alone money. It not only costs to print 90-120 pages but it also costs to ship it, and if you want to make sure it gets there you might put a SASE or SASP which costs money, and a maybe even delivery confirmation. $$$$.
My question is, isn’t asking a writer to submit a hard copy (sometimes bound) of your script the same thing as asking for a submission fee? AND some companies/festivals ask for both! Where do we, the poor writers, get money to print and ship? There really aren’t enough fellowships and grants for all of us. (Is there, government?)
My brother pointed out that perhaps snail mail and submission fees are ways to weed out the “crap,” his words, because just like schools that ask for GRE scores (a test that means nothing), it’s a way for a company to receive less submissions. If Joe Playwright doesn’t want to print or pay a fee to submit his play, then that is one less play a festival or company will have to read. It weeds out the people that aren’t committed enough to to print or pay. I told my brother that this is not the case, that if anything we are just as committed, just poor and tired of sneakily standing at the copier at the place we work to put food on the table, pretending to make copies of the weekly report or press release, or menu, and instead printing our scripts.
And what about the environment? What about saving this planet? Aren’t we asked to write plays all the time about current events and social issues… here is one.
So yes, some folks are boycotting submissions that ask for a submission fee, but I wonder why are we not boycotting submissions that require hard copies? Isn’t that a submission fee?
If I update this blog... that's probably a sign that I'm not writing... I should be writing. Right now.