A Summer Vacation with the Clarks, A Retrospective

Over two years ago, I wrote the stage play, A Summer Vacation with the Clarks. It was the first play I wrote in 2015, and the first play I seriously put a major push behind since my play Caught in a Twisted Web, which I wrote in 2011. It took me a month to write A Summer Vacation, and I wrote a play immediately after that called Mr. Braxton’s House (I will talk more about that play, and my state of mind at the time, at a different time).

I presented the play to Michael Nangle, a theater expert who I met when I first moved to Atlanta in September 2014, and he enjoyed it. He enjoyed it so much that he thought that we should do a run. While the run didn’t happen, I got my experience with staged readings and black box theater. It made me love the concept of black box theater, which I learned about in my theater classes, because I liked the intimacy and the bare-bones set up. The black box theater concept actually influenced my approach for developing this blog, hence the name, Black Box Room.

It was stressful putting this play together, but it was also rewarding. The rewards definitely outweighed the stress. My cast was amazing, and even though the performance was a staged reading with a minimal set, they still took it and ran with it as though they were performing in front of a Broadway audience. Michael was a great help and mentor.

We all have went out separate ways since the production, but I will never forget that day, August 20, 2015.

I’m talking about this now because I keep trying to put in my head that it’s time to write another play. It’s been a while, and it’s something that I truly love doing. I can’t tell you the thrill I had of writing that play, which in the beginning I wrote when I was angry. It just came alive in such a way that I can’t explain, and when my mentor told me we could really do something with this, I knew that I possibly had a hit on my hands, if done right.

I have since submitted it to American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) for their yearly contest, which they turned down. Honestly, it crushed me, and for a second it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.

But I had to remember that just because one person or organization doesn’t pick up your work doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. After all, I went into self-publishing of my books because I felt like I could do it better than the big boys, and they weren’t worthy of my work because I’m unique. My whole writing career I have heard “no”, “not yet”, “maybe with a little more development”, or “it’s not quite the right fit for us,” or something similar. I hate the last two or anything similar to those two, because I feel like instead of just bullshitting me, just tell me the flat-out no. Those words, and to a certain degree “not yet”, makes me feel like you’re dangling a carrot in my face so you can string me along, just so you can tell me, “We told you we didn’t want your crazy/untalented ass, so why are you wasting your time?”

That’s kind of what the AACT did to me. Not trying to talk bad about them or knock them down, because they are a great organization who does a lot of good work for the theater community. But that’s how I felt about the almost automated response for my rejection, which I thought was interesting because it came from the same person who I was emailing personally for weeks because we were having problems with the submission process. Now I could always revise and resubmit, or simply submit new material. But instead of taking it as a major defeat (as I did for about a week), I revised the script slightly, but so I could submit somewhere else, or get a production company to pick it up. Will I enter A Summer Vacation again to the AACT? Highly doubtful. But I will submit it again to another contest or production company. As long as I believe that this is a great piece of art and other people believe so too, I will keep pushing it.

That’s my message to all of you, too, as I look back at the time I put this stage play out. For me, it was a representation of my will and determination; my passion and my ambition. All of this was put and held together by my love and respect for the art. That’s something that no rejection letter or phone call can take away.

The feature photo doesn’t include the entire cast, which was a total of six.

To review a sample of the play, go to the Plays sub-page under the Works page on this site, jbburrage.com, and click where it says “Click Here for Sample”. You can also review my other plays that I have written so far. For business use of my work, follow the instructions on the page/sub-page.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m just a Mississippi boy who wants to write. Don’t have to have the fame or fortune, although the money to live comfortably and buy my Camaro will be nice. I just want to write, especially after a 10-year Army career and being in school since 2012. I’m going to get it done.

I’ll be back shortly.


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