BU's 24 Hour Playground Festival

As a way to kickoff the new year, Boston University's School of Theatre came together for their annual 24 Hr. Playground festival. Seven playwrights, seven directors, one board op, two festival producers, and lots and lots of actors came together to bring seven brand new plays to life within 24 Hrs. The playwrights were commissioned to write a ten minute piece with four ingredients: A character named Mr./Mrs. Pottage, An occupation of a lifeguard or waiter, A flyswatter or lobster roll, and the line, "Watch out for the rodents." Below is the zany comedy I wrote, Campe Diem, about summer camp, the occult, bullies, and Sasquatches--Scream Queens meets Bug Juice. Enjoy! 


CAMPE DIEM By: Kira Rockwell

CHARACTERS:

  • Caroline – a camper with a heart of gold; she’s here for the first time on a scholarship.
  • Mrs. Pottage – a Sasquatch. Played by a human, acts like a human, not like a Sasquatch. 
  • Heelys – rolls around in Heelys, thinks she’s the boss chick—well, because she is, kinda.
  • Lifeguard – has a really, really bad sun burn and a secret crush that could get him fired.
  • Aussie – failing miserably at keeping up the ruse that she’s from Australia.

SETTING: Summer of 1979-ish (emphasis on the ish) Somewhere in the mountains of Georgia

We hear the ensemble assemble from all corners of the stage. Each of them carry with them some sort of an instrument such as a toy piano, an ukulele, a kazoo, etc. Eventually they meet in the middle, and sing their song together round a mystical camp fire.  

ENSEMBLE

I know a place

Deep in the woods

Where we can get lost

And play the game of our childhoods!

 

The air is sweeter than Granny’s tea.

The stars are brighter than Pa’s glass eye.

The water’s cooler than any Southern breeze,

And e’ry night they serve the warmest apple pie.

 

This place is our home away from home,

And e’ry summer we will return,

Up to these majestic mountains,

Where our souls can freely roam.

 

We’re livin’ like the Natives,

All summer long,

Our Forefather’s took this land and it made it ours!

Oh, how we love to sing our cherished camp song!

 

Let us join together

Hand in hand!

Terri-Cotton, Terri-Cotton, it’s our mother-land!

Terri-Cotton, Terri-Cotton, it’s our mother-land!

 

TERRI-RI-RI-RI!

TERRI-RI-RI-RI

TERRI-TERRI

TERRI-RI-RI-RI…

The ensemble fades away leaving just Caroline.

CAROLINE Kacaw. Kacawww. KACAWWW!

From a hidden spot…

MRS. POTTAGE Caroline? Is that you?

CAROLINE Yes, it’s me. You’re safe to come out now.  

                                                                                                She does as a gang of camp counselors pass.

CAROLINE Watch out for the rodents.

MRS. POTTAGE They all think I ate your camp director.

CAROLINE You didn’t, did you?

MRS. POTTAGE Of course not, I’m a herbivore.

CAROLINE Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan.

MRS. POTTAGE Which is?

CAROLINE To get you across the lake. We’ll use a canoe.

MRS. POTTAGE Woah, hold up—I’m not leaving.

CAROLINE You have to, Mrs. Pottage. It isn’t safe for you here.

MRS. POTTAGE But this is my home.

CAROLINE I know, but—

MRS. POTTAGE I was here before any of you showed up.

CAROLINE If you stay, you’ll surely die.

MRS. POTTAGE What happens if your plan doesn’t work?

CAROLINE Then we’ll use plan B.

MRS. POTTAGE Which is?

CAROLINE I don’t know yet, plan A hasn’t failed us.

MRS. POTTAGE I didn’t eat the camp director, honest.

CAROLINE I know you didn’t—

MRS. POTTAGE It must have been a grizzly bear.  

CAROLINE I’m sure.

MRS. POTTAGE You don’t believe me, do you?

CAROLINE I am helping you, aren’t I? Here, put this on.

MRS. POTTAGE (Beat.) How is wearing this dress going to help me?

CAROLINE The moon’s too bright, you have to blend in. Just wear it till we get to lakeshore, okay?

MRS. POTTAGE If you say so—thank you for helping me, Caroline.

CAROLINE Everyone’s going to be at Hoedown—we have time, but we’ll need to hurry.

                                                                                    Enter HEELY and her posse on wheels.

HEELY Well, well, well, look what we have here—a pair of freaks washed up from the creek.

AUSSIE Ripper sunnie roo lou—MOZZIE!

She slaps LIFEGUARD with her fly swatter. (Mozzie=Mosquito).

LIFEGUARD OWWW!!! Stop it!

HEELY Hand over Big Foot, Caroline—

MRS. POTTAGE Excuse me, but “Big Foot” was my great, great, great grandfather—

HEELY Did I ask you?

AUSSIE Yeh, nuckie sammie brekkie—MOZZIE!

                                                                                She slaps him again.

LIFEGUARD DON’T YOU SEE I HAVE A SUNBURN?!!!! Quit it.

AUSSIE Aye, fair suck of the bottle.

HEELY Shut up, both of you.

CAROLINE Mrs. Pottage hasn’t done anything wrong.

HEELY Umm, she ate a person for breakfast.

CAROLINE You have no proof.

HEELY That’s what you think! But I’ll have you listen here to a firsthand account of someone who was there and saw it all go down. Literally.

MRS. POTTAGE Nonsense.

HEELY Aussie. Go ahead. Tell them exactly what you told me.

CAROLINE Aussie? Seriously?

HEELY Hush, let her speak. Go ahead, Aussie. Tell them.

AUSSIE Stubbie. Oi for drongos, have a go you mug! Smoko, garbo, bloody oath. Bottlo in the arvo. Rip snorter out of the knob yummy mummy. Yobbo, blimey. Fair crack of the whip, with ya. MOZZIE/ MOZZIE, MOZZIE, MOZZIE!

LIFEGUARD Ow! Stop. Hey, okay, okay, we get it!

HEELY It’s quite tragic isn’t it?

CAROLINE You don’t even know what she said. She wasn’t even speaking English.

HEELY Wow, aren’t you rude. Duh, she wasn’t speaking English, because she’s Australian. Don’t be racist, Caroline.

CAROLINE That’s not—that doesn’t mean, whatever.

HEELY Besides, I don’t have to understand her, to interpret what awful, terrible, murderous, menacing, muttonous things this ballistic beast did to our dear Director Mulkey. You should be ashamed of yourself for protecting this criminal! For being in cahoots with this conundrum.

MRS. POTTAGE Do you even understand the words coming out of your mouth?

HEELY Um, yeh.

CAROLINE She’s just upset she didn’t win the talent show.

HEELY Pssh, ha. Whatever. Like I care about a silly talent show.

LIFEGUARD That’s not what you told me—

HEELY Shut up.

CAROLINE You were so angry when first place went to little Leonard Langston.

HEELY His magic tricks were stupid.

CAROLINE So stupid that you’d kill Director Mulkey over it?

HEELY No, oh my gosh. You’re dumb.

CAROLINE Where were you the morning of Director Mulkey’s death?

HEELY Swimming at the lake.

CAROLINE And do you have anyone that can support this swimming alibi?

HEELY Uh yeh. Right here. (Beat.) Right?!

LIFEGUARD Right.

HEELY See, loser. I didn’t kill Director Mulkey. Beasty here took care of that for me.

CAROLINE Took care of it for you? So what you’re saying is that if Mrs. Pottage hadn’t killed Director Mulkey, which she didn’t, but if she hadn’t that means you would have if you could have first! You would have killed Director Mulkey?!

HEELY No! But I’m about to kill you for being such a freak-a-zoid!

LIFEGUARD I lied!

HEELY What?

LIFEGUARD You weren’t swimming that morning.

HEELY Yes, I was.

LIFEGUARD No, you weren’t. You texted me saying you were going to come swim, and so I waited, but you never came. You were supposed to help me with my sunscreen…

HEELY I didn’t kill, Director Mulkey!

CAROLINE Then who did?

HEELY That thing! Obviously she’s the monster and not me. Stop looking at me! I didn’t do it!

AUSSIE (Softly chanting) Mozzie. Mozzie. / Mozzie. Mozzie.

HEELY The real murderer is standing right here in front of all of us! Ow! Stop!

AUSSIE Mozzie—

ALL Mozzie! Mozzie! MOZZIE! MOZZIE! MOZZIE! MOZZIE!

HEELY AHHHHHH!

As they form a clump around HEELY, AUSSIE roars—revealing her true identity as a Sasquatch. She kills HEELY. Then before he even has time to think, she kills LIFEGUARD. Slow mo?

CAROLINE …

MRS. POTTAGE Caroline, please, stop, let me explain.

CAROLINE You, you, you’re a, you’re a—

AUSSIE Let her go, Shelia.

MRS. POTTAGE Don’t come near her!

AUSSIE Please.

MRS. POTTAGE No!

                                                                                    AUSSIE kills CAROLINE.

MRS. POTTAGE NOOOOOOOOOO!

AUSSIE Shhhhhhhh—

MRS. POTTAGE She was—

AUSSIE She was a liability.

MRS. POTTAGE She was good.

AUSSIE She knew too much.

MRS. POTTAGE I did like her.

AUSSIE I know you did.

MRS. POTTAGE She wasn’t like the rest of them.

AUSSIE Not yet. Not yet, Shelia. But in time, she would have. They all do. We know this.

MRS. POTTAGE steals the fly swatter from AUSSIE, slapping her repeatedly.

MRS. POTTAGE Why. Did. You. Have. To. Go. And. Eat. The. Camp. Director?! You’ve made such a mess! Selfish, selfish, selfish, selfish!

AUSSIE I did it for you!

MRS. POTTAGE What?

AUSSIE I did it for you. (Beat.) She was going around saying all sorts of nasty things about you.

MRS. POTTAGE So, do you go around eating everyone who says a nasty word about me…

AUSSIE Maybe.

MRS. POTTAGE Oh…

AUSSIE She called you a—

Whispers something into her ear.

MRS. POTTAGE Well, we have to eat all the humans here at camp now; you know that right?

AUSSIE Yeh.

MRS. POTTAGE There’s a lot of them.

AUSSIE Yeh.

MRS. POTTAGE Act swiftly.

AUSSIE Like good ol’ times in the Seventeens.

MRS. POTTAGE When we were young, vibrant, and full of vivacity.

AUSSIE We don’t have to eat them.

MRS. POTTAGE No, we can’t be wasteful.

AUSSIE Then, we’ll freeze ‘em. Store up for next winter.

MRS. POTTAGE Eh, that sounds like too much work.

AUSSIE Wanna go to a Hoedown with me?

MRS. POTTAGE Well, I am wearing a new dress…

AUSSIE My you are, aren’t you, Mrs. Pottage?

MRS. POTTAGE I was waiting for you to notice.

AUSSIE Believe me, I noticed.

MRS. POTTAGE Why didn’t you say something sooner?

AUSSIE May I have this dance, Mrs. Pottage?

MRS. POTTAGE I never thought you’d ask, Mrs. Pottage.

They start a simple two step.

BLACKOUT.

End of play.

 

Staged Reading of Nomad Americana


Couldn't be more thankful for the team of artists, pictured below, who brought NOMAD AMERICANA to life at yesterday's reading. Thanks to Fresh Ink Theatre and the Boston Public Library we had an incredible experience. The post-show discussion was extremely helpful. I took so many notes!!! I am so fired up for this opportunity with Fresh Ink Theatre to dig back into this story! Watch out Boston, the Echos are coming to a stage near you this February!

The Writing of "El Barrio"


In October I had the exciting opportunity to join a local non-profit group here in Boston, Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF). The mission of Hyde Square Task Force is to develop the skills of youth and their families so they are empowered to enhance their own lives and build a strong and vibrant urban community. HSTF uses the arts and community development to promote the creativity, leadership, and overall potential of young people.

When I joined the team as Playwright/Theatre Teaching Artist, I quickly learned of their ambitious goal to create a brand new musical that would celebrate the history of the Latin Quarter they call home. Ideally the musical would allow their three youth art programs: Music, Theatre, and Dance to come together and collaborate for the first time. 

I had just been in Boston about a month or so when I had accepted the position. One month in a brand new state. One month in brand a new region! And I was signing on to help write a musical (my first) that would tell a community's history? No pressure right? Luckily I was not undertaking this project alone. The entire HSTF youth and staff teams came together to make this musical happen. Even in the drafting of the script.

EL BARRIO began with the students taking the time to listen to their community share stories. From those stories, and the countless stories of the youth and their own families, we were able to create our own. As the playwright for this project, I liked to think of myself as the "master puzzle putter together," when drafting this musical.     

Below are a few photos that were taken during our immersive and interactive production on May 20th, 2017.  

Through projects like El Barrio, youth develop the skills they need to succeed today and into the future. HSTF youth and staff took an artistic risk by co-writing and co-producing El Barrio: Boston’s Latin Quarter Musical. Grounded in Afro-Latin arts and culture, the interactive show features the stories of countless immigrants, youth, and hardworking families that have contributed to the fabric of the community – the Hyde/Jackson Square area of Jamaica Plain.

An Open Letter to My First Critic


Dear Mr. Critic,

You probably don’t remember me. Or maybe you do? Maybe. But, probably not. I’m writing you because, well, because I want to apologize. I guess I should start by re-introducing myself to you. I’m Kira, Kira Rockwell; I write plays. Does the name ring a bell yet? No? Oh–sure, yeah that’s okay. It’s been three years since the last time we encountered each others work. A lot has happened since then but three years ago you attend the first production of my first full length play. You attended the show and you wrote a review about the show. Your review was my first review. I never told you that. You may not have ever known, but now you do. You were my first critic. I know I wasn’t your first playwright to critique, oh no, I know you’ve critiqued LOTS of playwrights and their plays. Lots. Which is great, good for you, but I digress? You were my first so that makes you kind of special to me…kind of, don’t get too excited.

You began the review by saying, “The play has many telltale signs of a young writer’s first play.” It was the first sentence of my first review and it crushed me. It made me cry.

Granted, I did read your review the day after the production run had just ended. BAD IDEA. I was a bit naïve then. I was in a sensitive place. I was exhausted. I shouldn’t have read it then, but I did. The next line read, “The storyline is dangerously close to cliché…” and I stopped there. Mid sentence, I was done. I didn’t want to hear anything else you had to say. I just lost it. I threw my phone across the bed and buried myself underneath my comforter and just cried. Like a real, snotty, sob. Again, I was a bit naïve then. I was in a sensitive place. I was exhausted. I shouldn’t have read it then, but I did.

Days after reading those few sentences from the review you had written I remember feeling as if I was thrown into an expedited version of the Seven Stages of Grief. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. Did I mention, I write plays? But my mind was in a tumultuous state of being. I was mad at you. I was sad. I was embarrassed. I was hurt. All I had ever wanted from you was affirmation. All I ever wanted from you was validation. I wanted you to make me feel good. I wanted you to tell me I was good. I wanted you to tell me I wasn’t an imposter. I needed you to tell the world I wasn’t an imposter. I needed you to tell me and the world that I was someone.

And this is where I want to say I’m sorry. I see now I wanted far too much from you.  

Mr. Critic,  I was a bit naïve then. I was in a sensitive place. I was exhausted… I was insecure. I am insecure. I am learning how to be more secure. Three years ago you came into my life like a wrecking ball. And three years later, I look back and I realized something. I never finished reading the review. I stopped at line two. And now, three years later, I realize, you actually said some really wonderful things…

 Rockwell is “a dramatist who shows promise. Her dialogue is economical and natural, her characters are well drawn. It’s a sweet, familiar story told in a comfortable, engaging way.”

 Three years ago, I was a bit na… I let me own insecurities get in the way of our relationship. I never valued you or what you had to say to me. I didn’t even give you a chance to speak or to be heard. It’s quite funny now to look back on the short time we had together. I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAS SO DRAMATIC! I’m sorry. Really. Good thing I didn’t have your number. Saved you from all the angry drunk texts at three A.M. you would have gotten. I mean you were still a jerk… com’n, of course it was my first play! I never denied it! But you were also pretty nice too. I guess what I am trying to say, in a weird, dramatic sort of way… did I mention I write plays–is thank you. I’m still writing plays. Better plays. I made it all the way to grad school. I hope you are still critiquing. I’m sure you are. Maybe one day, our work will cross paths again? And if they do, to be honest, I probably won’t read your review until three years after the production run has ended.

Love,

K.R.

The Last Frontier Theatre Conference - Valdez, Alaska


If you are a playwright, APPLY TO THIS CONFERENCE! It is a superb theatre experience in an absolutely breathtaking place. Valdez, Alaska is literally surrounded by mountains. The air is fresh. The water is captivatingly blue, and the sky is full of eagles soaring above you. NO JOKE! It's a place of majestic beauty, oh, and a bountiful population of bunnies bounce around every patch of grass in Valdez. How much more storybook can you get? 

It is a week long conference packed FULL of workshops, new play readings, new play productions, a fringe festival and just pure fun! You get to network over provided meals and meet TONS of new people in the theatre world you may have never encountered before in your lifetime. 

My play, WITH MY EYES SHUT, had the opportunity to be a part of the Play Lab portion of the conference where it received a staged reading performance. It received critical and dramaturgical feedback, which was beyond helpful. I would definitely apply for this conference again, and I highly suggest you do so yourself.

Coincidentally, the dates of the conference fell on Mark and my's three year wedding anniversary! It was such an incredible summer trip away in the mountains.  

The incredible actors for the staged reading of, WITH MY EYES SHUT

The incredible actors for the staged reading of, WITH MY EYES SHUT

Hello, grad school!


I've been accepted into Boston University's graduate program for Playwriting, under the direction of Kate Snodgrass! A fully funded, three year program who accepts four to five students every other year!

(insert happy tear emoji here)
(insert my actual tears here)
(insert my exploding heart here)
*jumps up and down, waves her hands in the air like she just doesn't freaking care*
*smiles big* 

Three weeks ago, my waitlist status at Boston University turned into a "no" status. I had been informed that the class of five had been filled and I just hadn't made the cut. I was bummed. But, I was okay. I was truly okay because I knew that just meant I had to keep going, keep fighting for the next year. AND THEN SUDDENLY I received a call saying, "We have a spot for you." PRAISE THE LORD! I'm still in shock. I said yes. So, hello grad school! See you in September. I hope you're not some internet scam... 

With My Eyes Shut is going to ALASKA!


So very thrilled to announce that my play, "With My Eyes Shut," will be a part of the 2016 Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Alaska this summer. Along with receiving a staged reading, the conference will allow opportunities for various workshops and panel discussions. I am so looking forward for this great experience. The conference also, just so happens to fall on the date of my hubby and my three year anniversary! Hurray for mountains. 

Out of the Loop Fringe Festival


Opening night is a week away!!!!! I have had an incredible time working with Goat Song Theatre Collective. They are a mighty group of tenacious young artists starting their own company in Dallas, Texas. Since day one, I have felt so supported and completely understood by them, which is VITAL for a world premiere. This collective has been such a gift to the development of my play, WITH MY EYES SHUT. I can't wait for it to be received by Dallas audiences. Also, check out that awesome promo design by my hottie of a husband, Mark Rockwell. He's the best.

Purchase tickets with this L I N K   H E R E // http://www.watertowertheatre.org/tickets.aspx