"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage


Monday, November 13, 2017

Truckee Community Theater Performs Ten Minute Plays Written by Local Writers!


Truckee Community Theater performed this past weekend its first of many Ten Minute Play Festivals featuring plays written by local and regional writers. According to the Sierra Sun (photo credits are theirs),

"Courtney Simson, TCT's producer and publicist, welcomed the crowd and explained what each of the plays were expected to accomplish in 10 minutes.


"There is no time for exposition, these plays need to be dramatic, exciting, dialogue-driven. The characters need to grab you immediately. There needs to be conflict, and an urgent conflict, at that; followed by a climax and some kind of surprise or change at the end," Simson said."
You can read the entire article here. Not only do many of us recognize the local authors Mitch Dion, Sarah Poynter, Shannon Spangler, and Chris Widney but the audience shot from Sierra Sun reveals more local writers.  

If you want to learn how to write a ten minute play and use the skills to hone your writing in other genres, Tangled Roots Writing workshops over this winter and next spring will set you up to complete a play by next summer's deadline of July 31st.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Truckee Community Theater Auditions Coming Up 8/22


Tryouts are informal for the first Ten Minute Play Festival featuring plays by regional and local writers.  The tryouts are August 22nd at 6:30 PM at the Community Arts Center auditorium, 10046 Church Street: 

Fall 10 Minute Play Festival:  Seeking adult actors to play exciting roles in our second 10 Minute Play festival. Most parts are leads,  and this time, some of the scripts will be original plays by local writers!  This is a great way for directors and the public to get to know what actors can bring to a part. Different genres from drama to comedy, from classically based to edgy modern.  Simple sets, simple costumes.  Minimal rehearsals, usually an hour a week for five or six weeks, often in the director's home.  Try outs will be on Tuesday, August 22nd at 6:30 PM. Multiple directors.

By the 22nd, Truckee Community Theater should have selected the original plays, and will have a few published ones as backups as needed.  The audition will be to read some different parts from the scripts they have selected.

You might enjoy coming! The exciting opportunity with ten minute plays is that each actor will play a major role on stage.  Rehearsals will occur over September and October, usually in people's living rooms and involving only 2-4 actors and a director.  Set design is minimal with only one or two props.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Truckee Community Theater Call for Submissions! 8/20

Call for submissions from Truckee Community Theater:
August 20th deadline

No more than 10 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman, 2-3 characters max., ten minutes long, minimal set, and creative use of props.

Email Word attachment to: info@truckeecommunitytheater.com 


Write “Play submission/your name” in subject line.


Winners will be selected for production at the Ten Minute Play Festival October 28th. Editing and rehearsals will take place in September and October.

For many samples of plays to read and use as models for your own ideas, peruse Heuer Publishing

10 Minute Playfest Guidelines by Nancy McClernan
  • Does the play pull me in right away? What is the question you want to know the answer to right away?
  • Does the play surprise me? Ie. Pacing, emotional impact, bringing in an unexpected element?
  • Does the play make me laugh or well up or both? The key is strong emotional impact.
  • Does the play have a dramatic struggle? (man against himself, against man, against nature or society)
  • Does the play have vivid characters in compelling situations?
  • Does the play show more than tell?
  • Does the play blow my mind through sheer funky originality?

Other resources:

Almost Watersheds by Micharne Cloughley
Loverboy by Michael Jalbert
Singers by Thom Wiedlich
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
Scene and Structure by
Beginnings, Middles, and Ends by Nancy Kress
Plays in One Act edited by Daniel Halpern

Friday, July 7, 2017

Shake up your summer writing! Summer updates 2017

Hi Writers!

Thank you to everyone who came out in April to Sundance Books to hear me read with Barbara March and Monique Normand.  In June I escaped for the second time to the Surprise Valley Writers Conference hosted by Barbara and Ray March.What a beautiful conference! Talented and kind workshop leaders, high desert horse pastures and snow covered peaks, hot springs and fireside readings.  If you haven't yet experience this conference, apply for next year! 
The call for submissions from Truckee Community Theater for ten minute plays is August 20th. No more than 10 pages, 2-3 characters max. ten minutes long, minimal set and creative use of props. Send an email to: info@truckeecommunitytheater.com. Write “Play submission/your name” in subject line. Winners will be selected for production at the Ten Minute Play Festival October 28th. Editing and rehearsals will take place in September and October.

Since the Write a Ten Minute Play workshop in June was so much fun, I'll be offering it again on August 5th from 9-1 pm.  Make the most of a Saturday morning, learn everything you need to experiment in a new genre, develop craft of scene writing, and still jump in the lake that afternoon! 

Garden parties are for submitting your work. July 9th and August 20th join me in my garden with wine and appetizers, bring your laptop and specific questions, and discover how to submit your work for the best results in getting published.

Please read my blog for more information on the latest workshops with Tangled Roots Writing, or call me at 530-386-3901 to chat about your writing goals.

I'll be out and about this summer coaching students to get ahead for next year's classes and SAT tests, presenting at the Youth Writing Program at UNR, writing press releases that go beyond the usual patter, and working with clients revising novels, essays, and memoirs. In my own writing, I'll try to channel the singing cricket floating downriver on a branch. See you on the water!

Happy writing!
Karen Terrey

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Update: Write a Ten Minute Play Workshop June 17th

This fun workshop is June 17th at a beautiful home in Truckee in coordination with the Truckee Community Theater. They will be producing a ten minute play festival the last weekend in October. The call for submissions for locally written plays has an August 20th deadline. The contest is open to residents of Grass Valley/Nevada City area, Tahoe/Truckee area, and Reno/Carson City area.

The scoop: this workshop includes lunch, beverages, happy hour, social networking, Q&A on producing and directing plays, and everything you need to know about dialogue, conflict, scene, character, and structure to complete the first draft of a ten minute play in one day! (along with plenty of writing time in a beautiful garden). 10 am - 3 pm. $95. Call me about scholarship opportunities. 

We'll end the day with a 3-4 pm happy hour Q & A in the garden with Courtney Simson - learn about production and direction of ten minute plays as well as details on Truckee Community Theater's ten minute play festival in October!

Hone your skills in dialogue, scene, conflict, and character. You might get to see your play produced here in Truckee! The deadline for play submissions to the October Ten Minute Play Festival is August 20th.  A few lucky regional writers will get to see their play produced for the festival.  We have a youth category too for students entering 7th through 12th grades in the fall.

No drama experience necessary. This is a great workshop for developing the crisis scene in your story or novel or memoir even.  Experiment with character, tension, and conflict by changing up your genre. I like to call this cross-training in the writing process.

I recommend reading a few ten minute plays online to get a feel for what is important for a compelling performance.  "Grace" by Celeste Bonfanti was performed here in Truckee in May at the old Rec Center.  You can read the script at the link above - the emotional impact of just two characters sitting on a bench with a quilt and a phone makes my eyes well up every time I read it. A ten minute play generally runs 6-10 pages in length and includes no more than 2-3 characters using a limited set design.  Often one or two props work as objects of significance in the emotional meaning of the play.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Write a Ten Minute Play One Day Workshop June 17th 10 am - 3 pm

·        Learn technique for structure, scene, dialogue, conflict
·        A safe place to be creative on the page
·        Write a complete first draft in one day
·        Coordinated with Truckee Community Theater
·        Develop writing skills to strengthen other genres
·        Tons of fun writing time with guidance
·        Includes lunch, beverages, and social networking
·        Q&A Happy Hour on directing/producing plays 3-4 pm

·        Call for details!




Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tamsen Donner Commits Horrid Acts with Her Husband

Tamsen Donner Commits Horrid Acts with Her Husband 
…the cabins, by order of Major Swords, were fired, and with them everything connected with this horrid and melancholy tragedy were consumed...
– Edwin Bryant, with the Eastward-bound army after conquering California, 1847

The tent, canvas from the wagon,
a pebbly texture sagging
with ice, crackling
in the cold night air.
Wind’s monologue. Dead-cold trees.

From within,
Tamsen and her dying husband
watched the layer of canvas
fearing its failure, the loss
of that distinction between inside and outside.

Storms lasted ten days at a time. 
Starving so,
skeleton shows through.
Now the body is the shape of
what’s inside.

After he died,
she stroked his body, the bones
and the tendons like wrapping twine
around his femur, radius, and ulna.
She dressed him. Then
undressed him, needing
his clothes herself.

He lay naked, under a threadbare quilt
(midwest quilting socials,
bills sewn into the squares).

She removed the blanket
and wrapped herself in it,
gazing and not

gazing.  Was she still
the woman who married him?
Was he, in death,
the man she married?  

Tamsen licked his wrist, remembering.
She used her teeth,
as when he used to bite
little purple marks into her neck.
She nibbled along

the inside of his arm – she felt most familiar
with this part of him, what was visible
as he worked,
what touched her

when he held her face
to kiss her. 
A penknife was all that was needed

to slice out a curve of pink
as if melon from its rind. 
Her tongue

ran across the inside
of the inside of his arm. 
Its damp baby-pink
surprising beneath the brown
paper bag skin

as if here
was the man she married.  Here
was the untouched part. 
She savored the hope of him,
in the hard white desert of winter -

his release from the packaging of his body,
and for her, a surrender
to the inside - the outside layers collapsing
inwards, heavy
tent walls sagging.
Silence pressed

upon her. She chewed slowly
to make him last, her eyes
closed in pleasure.

by Karen Terrey



Published in Sierra Nevada Review