Dan Duling

Art Carnies Update

In fall of 2011, during my third residency at the Whiteley Center on San Juan Island north of Seattle, I was finally able to tackle the collection of material, scenes, characters and ideas that have been accumulating over years intended for a project that would somehow reflect my years of “research” in the club/music/performance art/spoken word/film/art scenes constantly percolating around L.A.’s Silverlake/Echo Park/downtown locales. This sprawling conception, working title “Art Carnies,” has been hounding me since before 9/11, which, at the time, sidetracked the whole project as a non-starter in the face of more compelling global events. Now, at last, it feels like enough time has passed to go back into the fray and explore the vagaries of lives lived on the fringes of assorted arts endeavors here on the eastside.

Upon arriving at the Whiteley last October, however, I quickly realized that the most pressing issue that had to be resolved right away was the form this enterprise should take. I’d always visualized it as a screenplay, allowing for plenty of specificity about local detail and color. But, in the intervening years, the constrictions of the form and the business of screenwriting have lost some of their luster, shall we say. But, I was equally adamant that this material would be severely diminished by attempting to impose the artifice and compression of playwriting on it.

The breakthrough – which was actually more like a concession born of resignation – was that the best way to wrangle with this material, at least initially, was in the form of a novel. And, surprisingly, it was that leap of faith that finally allowed the scenes and characters to begin their first tentative steps.

Meantime, the search for a home for “Monstrosity” continues in earnest as I maintain my efforts to encourage readings in New York and Chicago while wrestling with notions about how to proceed here in Los Angeles after readings in 2011 at the Skylight and Odyssey theaters. The prospect of further development at Brad Hills’ Innovation Theatre Works in Bend, Oregon, is also intriguing.

But, in the meantime, I’m more aware than ever that self-marketing is a major and unavoidable part of the playwriting experience.

So, here’s to the ongoing fight for time, focus and energy in 2012 for “Monstrosity” and now “Art Carnies.”

Looking ahead in 2012.

All screenplays are registered with the WGA–West and are fully protected property of the author.

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A little extra...

Duling’s plays have been produced throughout the United States. Most recently, “Monstrosity” received staged readings at the Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles as part of the Inkubator reading series by the Katselas Theatre Company. Before that, “Monstrosity” also received a staged reading at Innovation Theatre Works in Bend, Oregon. The search for theatres interested in producing “Monstrosity” continues in earnest in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.