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August 20, 2012

How much is that playwright in the window?


John Williams' fascinating article in Saturday's New York Times got me all fired up about bookofjoeTV.

One thing I've always wanted to do was rent a space in some storefront on a busy street, put a one-way mirror up so others can see in but I can't see out, and produce bookofjoe right then and there, in real time, with a big screen displaying to viewers what's on my computer screen.

Lo and behold, something akin to this is happening right now on 40th Street in Midtown Manhattan. 

Times story excerpts below.

 In the front window of the Drama Book Shop, on 40th Street in Midtown Manhattan, there is a sign that reads, "Playwright working," with an arrow pointing down to just that. At 3:30 on a recent Friday afternoon, the featured writer was Hilary Bettis [up top in the window], one of 76 participants in Write Out Front, a three-week project continuing through September 1.

In two-hour shifts the writers work on new plays, with a screen shot of their words visible to passers-by. Micheline Auger, who runs the blog Theaterspeak, came up with the idea. The project echoes Suzan-Lori Parks's "Watch Me Work," an event at the 2011 Under the Radar Festival during which Ms. Parks labored on a project in the lobby of the Public Theater .

Ms. Bettis said she was given no guidelines, meaning she could check Facebook if she needed a breather. But though Write Out Front is meant to shed light on a private process, Ms. Bettis said that she often wrote from midnight to 5 a.m., and that certain common activities — like  "pacing around in my underwear" or picking up a violin to play her way through a bit of writer's block — would not be on display.

Ms. Auger said she hoped to expand the project next year, with writers in the window 24 hours a day, and the proceedings streamed online with a "playwright cam."

For now, the audience of pedestrians was enough to give Ms. Bettis pause. "I'm a brutally honest, dark writer," she said, "so there's a little of, 'I don’t know if this is appropriate language for children, but I'm going to type these words anyway.'"   

"Playwright cam" is just another two words for bookofjoeTV, coming this year if I can figure out how to do it.

I'm a brutally honest but rarely dark writer so it should be no problem at all to have my output streamed live to the big screen.

Here's what I'm gonna do now that I'm all inspired by the Gotham experiment: Take my laptop down to Bodo's — the one on Emmet Street — plop myself down in a booth, and create the rest of today's posts. 

If they don't have WiFi or it's too slow, no problema: I'll just activate my Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go flash drive and Bodo's my uncle.

Stop by and say hello if you see me — I'll be the guy whose legs keep moving like he's on a treadmill even as I'm sitting down for a change. 

I wonder how Connie — the owner and my longtime friend — would feel about me setting up treadmill office space in her fine establishment?

Can't hurt to ask, what?

August 20, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Go for it Joe. I wanna see you work.

Posted by: tamra | Aug 21, 2012 2:04:39 AM

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