or Insight for Playwrights Magazine
by Sally Deering. Copyright 2013. Used by permission.
Name: Mark-Eugene Garcia
Place of Residence: New York City
Selected Titles: (Musicals) STANDBY; THE HOLY COWS OF CREDENCE SOUTH DAKOTA; FACING EAST: A NEW MUSICAL; and THE JOURNEY. (Plays) (UN)MISSED CONNECTIONS; INSCRIPTIONS; WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR; and THE KEYS
Mark-Eugene Garcia discovered his passion for writing musicals post high school, after penning several angst-ridden poems about unrequited love. Looking at them one day, once he got over the unrequited love and with a clear head, Garcia found that his poems formed an arc.
“I spent the better part of the next few years writing dialogue and lyrics to connect the pieces,” Garcia says. “I had no guidance and it was very rough. The project wouldn’t (and still won’t) ever see the light of day, but it got me started. When I later discovered the Academy of New Musical Theatre, I sent in some of that work. They must have found potential in the jumble because they brought me on. Suddenly, at 22, I found myself learning how structure, prosody and dialogue worked, while working toward my first production: a mini-musical based on the story of the Prodigal Son.”
Last year, Garcia’s play, (UN)MISSED CONNECTIONS was part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, a community of artists that not only strives to put on shows, but each show must ‘give back’ to the community. When they applied, they were scheduled to do a staged reading. A few weeks later, they got the news they had been bumped up to a full production.
This past year Garcia had two musicals open within a month of each other: THE HOLY COWS OF CREDENCE, SOUTH DAKOTA about a pastor’s wife finding her lost faith after a recent tragedy; and, STANDBY, a rock musical about five strangers waking up in an airport terminal with no recollection of how they got there. A few friends caught both shows and afterwards, one told Garcia she was surprised he was so religious.
“I gave her a confused look and mentioned that I wouldn’t classify myself as ‘so religious’,” Garcia says. “I explained that ultimately my work was about connections. She then pointed out certain things in my work that proved her point, i.e. I tend to write about people seeking redemption, searching for forgiveness, and needing answers to the big questions. I looked at my next show opening in a few weeks in Texas, FACING EAST, which deals with a Mormon Family and their gay son, again dealing with religion. I asked myself, do I have a theme here? Sometimes it takes someone with an objective eye to point it out to you.”
Mark-Eugene Garcia’s five tips to playwrights:
1. Don’t just stare at a screen. Walk round the room. Jump. Dance. Block your scenes. Act your dialogue. Sing your lyrics…even if you look silly. In fact, go ahead and look silly. If you are collaborating with another writer, get silly together. Let go. It helps.
2. Read as much as you can about everything. Make research fun. If you find something that isn’t useful for this project, read it anyway. It may inspire something.
3. Outline like crazy. Make sure the structure is solid. Then, once you’ve done that, don’t’ be afraid to deviate from it and see where your freedom and passion take you.
4. Trust your actors. They know their characters’ through-lines as well as you, maybe more. If they have a question, collaborate and figure out a solution. You never know what they might bring to the table.
5. It is so important to find collaborators and friends that you can trust to support and nurture you along the way. Do the same for them.
Sally Deering is an award-winning playwright/librettist whose work has been produced Off-Broadway and regionally.
Writer/Actor/Storyteller. Theatre Maker. Husband. Bad Hombre. Cat Taunter.