Written by Jennifer Lane
Performed by Avery Pearson
Directed by Calla Videt
Produced by Sightline
Part of the soloNOVA Festival 

These are the rules.

This Saturday will be the first reading of a drastically updated draft of my play, once titled Asylum and now titled The Seer and the Witch. And one of my favorite things to do is to share a long-ago-cut scene from the very first draft of the play, back when it was a total train wreck, unfit for public consumption. The character that used to be called Alice is now called Emily; The character that used to be called Daniel is now called Greer; The character called Elizabeth is now called Eleanor; The madwomen are no more. I’m pretty sure that I had just finished reading the complete works of Sarah Kane when I wrote the first draft of this play…

Scene 6. [dream] Any space, outside the contextual markers of time or place.

ALICE: You came.

DANIEL: I had to.

ALICE: What are the rules here?

DANIEL: No rules.

ALICE: We’ll say we’re in love, then.

DANIEL: We’re in love.

ALICE: And we’ll remove from each other the things we hate most and we will make each other perfect. As a show of solidarity, you can go first.

DANIEL: All right.

He reaches out and, as gently as one can do such things, he rips her eyes from her skull. He puts them in his pocket. She makes no noise. She weeps blood.

ALICE: That was to be expected. But it won’t change what you want changed.

DANIEL: It’s your turn.

ALICE: Before I go, I want you to say that you love me.

DANIEL: I love you.

ALICE: You lie.

DANIEL: Not here.

ALICE: But you do lie.

DANIEL: Everybody lies.

ALICE: I don’t. No point.

DANIEL: Look where telling the truth got you.

ALICE: I should really start taking my sleeping medication again. I’ve been tonguing them and hiding them in my jewelry box. I can tell you these things here.


ALICE: But I should really keep taking them. Not that they do much for me, but I can feel my heavy body, and it ruins the illusion of this other world.

DANIEL: It’s your turn.

ALICE: All right.

She reaches forward and touches his face, patting him gently. She cuts out his tongue, hands it to him. He puts it in his pocket.

ALICE: I hope you didn’t have something left to say.

DANIEL: (shrugs)

ALICE: Is there anything else you want to take away?

DANIEL: (he opens his mouth as though to speak. Blood pours out.)

ALICE: I’m sorry, I should have let you go twice.

DANIEL: (he shakes his head)

ALICE: Are you in pain?

DANIEL: (shakes his head, no)

ALICE: I’m not either

DANIEL: (he reaches forward and tugs at her clothes)

ALICE: Now, yes, now. Now is fine.

She kisses him and pulls back red, their blood mingling. They undress. Naked, Daniel reaches out for Alice’s hand, and places it on his chest.

Elizabeth emerges from the shadows, watching.

(And if that weren’t crazy enough…)

Scene 8. [dream] Alice and the madwomen are playing a round of poker. They are sitting at a table and chairs built for a child. They are all wearing dress-up-like clothes and smoking cigars. There are stuffed animals in the empty chairs — they, too, are smoking cigars. Elizabeth watches.

ALICE: What are the rules?

MADWOMAN 1: Five card draw, deuces wild.

DANIEL: Give me 2 cards.


ALICE: My cards have no faces.


ALICE: All right. (she puts her cards down.)


MADWOMAN 1: (she rips hair off his head and places it on the table) I call.

MADWOMAN 2: (rips out a tooth, tosses it in with the hair) All right. What’ve you got?

ALICE: Someone’s here.

They all look up at Elizabeth.

MADWOMAN 1: If you’re gonna stay, you’ve gotta play.

ALICE: Those are the rules.

MADWOMAN 2: You have to leave if you’re not going to make a bet.

Madwoman 3 is dead upstage.

ELIZABETH: What happened to her?

ALICE: She didn’t want to play.

Saturday, April 14 @2pm
The Seer and the Witch by Jennifer Lane
Directed by Kimberly Faith Hickman
Featuring Megan Channell, Jed Dickson, Sofia Jean Gomez, Maria Maloney, Jens Rasmussen, Carly Robins

The past and present collide in the forms of Eleanor and Emily, two women who haunt the same room at the Elgin Institute of Mental Health. Though they live a century apart, finding each other may be their only hope of a life outside hospital walls.

The New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher Street (btw Greenwich & Washington)
 No Reservations Required - $10 Suggested Donation (cash only)
Sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery and Monsieur Touton Wine 
writerly meme

I was recently interviewed by Adam Szymkowicz, and that was pretty fun.
(Click here to read the interview.)
And the thing I liked best about it was how it got me thinking about what was important to me as a writer, playwright, artist, business person. So I have created a cut-and-paste meme for writers in the hopes that it will help me refocus as I embark on a slew of rewrites and start-from-scratch projects. I’ve compiled a list from several memes for writers and artists, and I have cut some questions and added others. It’s for fun, it’s for work. If you write things down for fun or money, you should answer them, too. I really, really want to read your answers.
(Also that amazing header image is from this article.)

1. What kind of writing do you write?
Plays, primarily. But also fiction and teleplays. I have yet to finish a screenplay, but I fully intend to, some day. 

2. What writing-related sites have you signed up for?
The Playwright’s Center ( is definitely at the top of the list of most-helpful-playwright-sites-ever, but there have been others. The Official Playwrights of Facebook group has also been good. I also like Poets & Writers, the website and the magazine. 

3. Share your oldest piece of dialogue/prose that you can find.
The following is from the very first play I ever wrote, a terrible thing with an excellent title: The Will of Wild Birds. In it, Frankie and Brendan are married, and Frankie has a nosebleed.

FRANKIE: I have a nosebleed.

BRENDAN: You need to quit digging for green gold up there, baby bird.

FRANKIE: It’s just because the air is so dry in here!

BRENDAN: Uh huh.

FRANKIE: I did used to bury it, though.


FRANKIE: When I was a kid, I would pick my nose and bury my boogers in the carpeting.

BRENDAN: Gross. 

FRANKIE: Only when I was mad at my mom, though. What strange things we do as children, to seek our revenge.

4. What defines your style?
A strong, distinctly female perspective and the use of poetic language. I also don’t tend to exist firmly in the realm of total naturalism. 

5. What is your favorite piece that you have created?
Harlowe. It was an intensely personal project in so many ways, but it was also the most artistically fulfilling thing I’ve ever worked on. Some people are strong and some people are not and strong people sometimes don’t seem strong, while weak people sometimes do. I am a weak-seeming person who is secretly strong. He was a strong-seeming person who is secretly weak. I am much more powerful.

6. How do you define your biggest failure?
Every time I don’t apply to something because I figure I just won’t get in, that is a failure. And I do it a lot, and I find any excuse not to apply. I mean, what is that about? Don’t I want to succeed? Obviously, I do. And I make myself apply. I have gotten in to somethings, but most things I have gotten rejected from, and I think it’s just exhausting. It’s a struggle, every time I send something out. But I do it. And I need to do it a lot more, I need to be doing it constantly. So to boil it down, I guess my biggest failure has been my shoddy self-promotion.

7. Are you looking to make a career of writing? Why or why not?
Yes. That is my Ultimate Goal, when people ask me, “What do you do?” I will say (as I do now), “I am a writer.” And when they follow up with, “Yes, but what do you do as a job?” Instead of saying that I work in arts administration, I want to say, “I am a writer.” 

8. How/where do you physically work?
I do the bulk of my work on my bed, laying on my tummy in front of my computer. And it’s like a bad dream, where every few minutes I sit up, type some more, lay back down, type some more — I toss and turn. I do my editing at a desk, preferably with a red pen which I then type back into my document. I cannot write seriously with other people around, or with the television on. I get very snippy and irritable when I am interrupted when I’m on a roll. 

9. About what would you absolutely refuse to write?
I would probably refuse to write propaganda of any kind, but other than that… Oh, Mike has asked me not to write about the Navy, so long as he’s serving in it. But I probably will one day after he’s out. 

10. Are names important to you? Titles?
Names are absolutely vital, they are often a turning point for me in character development. Titles are not as important on an artistic level, but they are on a business level, I think. I saw this amazing play once about this girl whose twin sister dies in an apocalyptic flood and she carries her around and tries to give her a life — it was absolutely incredible. But I can’t remember what it was called, only that the title seemed to have nothing to do with the amazing, bizarre, beautiful, disturbing play that it was supposed to represent. 

11. What is your writing-related goal for this year? For twenty years from now?
My goal for 2012 is to finish the first draft of a novel. My goal for 20 years from now is to have cultivated a successful, consistently rewarding and challenging career as a playwright and novelist. Should I have the good fortune of working in television and film as well, that would also be delightful, but the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that I want to do plays and books first and foremost. 

Now, for fun…
Do you ever write naked?
 Naked? No. But I also rarely write in attire that would be suitable to be seen in by the outside world. Are you jealous of other writers? Yes. Often I am very jealous. Have you ever been in trouble with the police? No. Does your wife love you? I haven’t got a wife. But if I had one, I could foresee no circumstance under which she would not love me. I’m incredibly lovable. If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it? As afraid as I am of it, it would have to involve dipping the body in acid so that it just disintegrated into nothing. Gross. Has the dog ever eaten your manuscript? I haven’t got a dog. But my cats have legit chewed my shit up. What’s the loveliest thing you have ever seen? Probably Notre Dame. Or the astronomical clock in Prague. Why do you never write about sex? I do write about it. A lot. But it often gets edited down considerable. Though not in Harlowe wherein we had the opportunity to coin the phrase: Frosty Blowj. What are books for? Stories and secrets, mostly. Fancy hardcovers make nice decorations. Do you really go around in a corset, high heels and a whip, subjugating men? Not since Sarah Lawrence.