Help! Budding editors to the rescue, please

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    Sep 20, 2012 3:21 AM GMT
    Hi guys! Okay so I have a grant application due soon and I thought I would share the proposal / pitch portion to see if anyone has feedback. If you have any experience in the arts or even if you don't I am interested in finding out if this sound interesting to YOU. And what sort of questions do you have from reading it? What is really unclear? Thanks so much!

    P.S. I coded some text so as to maintain privacy : )

    A Proposal: "Learning How to Make Love with Coffee"

    I would like to seek support for the development of a play text that I have, tentatively, titled Learning How to Make Love with Coffee. The title reflects the struggle faced by the piece’s protagonist when his intense human desires come into conflict with the burdens of his individual cultural experience and a profound awareness of his ancestral past. In this case, the ritualistic enjoyment of drinking espresso is dampened by the discoveries of a young Italian man at odds with a community that not only fails to accept his feelings for members of the same sex, but does not even acknowledge their possibility. This show will feature a series of explicit and provocative monologues dealing with intimate queer relationships. Each monologue focuses on one of many strange encounters between a rookie graduate student and the quirky men he meets in the city he newly calls “home.” In essence, the piece deals with the identity conflict of an individual who struggles to reconcile his conservative Italian roots with the exploration of his sexuality. The story reveals someone who appears to be another regular guy on the outside, but has more than typical thoughts and opinions to share with the world. In other words, he is an anti-hero who must find the courage to talk about his experience, which is more than worthy of being shared amongst his community. But will they listen? In the process of learning how to articulate the equally painful and humorous stories about the men who promised love, but delivered disappointment, the protagonist of this piece discovers how much he still has to learn about himself and others.

    In the spring of 2009 I moved from X to Y, months before beginning an MA in Italian Studies at Z University. Other than working as an intern at a senior’s centre, I had the entire summer ahead of me to meet new people and discover the place I would be calling home. Aside from my academic endeavours, one of the draws of living in a big city, I thought, would be the chance to meet other queer Italian-Canadians.
    I arrived at the Centre communautaire des gais et lesbiennes de Montréal hoping to learn more about the types of groups and activities I could become a part of. It was fitting as an aspiring academic that I stumble upon the Bibliothèque à livres ouverts where I began a conversation with the librarian. Upon hearing why I had moved to Montreal and the nature of my studies, she began to tell me cautiously bout a group of brave Italians affiliated with the centre who had formed an organization in support of gay and lesbians in their community. After building a float for Pride one year, members began receiving death threats. As far as she knows, they fled back to the motherland or to Toronto. A macho-minded community could not bear seeing some of its kind on parade. I was heartbroken to learn this, and it cast an eerie shadow on my entire experience in Montreal. This piece is dedicated to those who had to move away in order to find safety, as a consequence of (simply) standing up for who they are as human begins. Perhaps, after I finish telling my story, I will tell theirs.
    On a positive note, living in Toronto has given me regained confidence in dealing with issues pertaining to cultural identity, via the powerful medium of theatre. This past Fringe season I attended all of the shows with queer content as personal research / preparation for beginning my piece, and I was surprised to discover that almost all were produced by or featured Italian-Canadians, including former [company name] member Rob Salerno in his thrilling play Raw. However, none of these shows dealt entirely with the conflict between cultural identity and sexual orientation, other than Marco Bernardi’s monologue in the three-man show Soulo (Tracey Erin Smith) which tells the poignant story of coming out to his Sicilian mother. I hope that Learning How to Make Love with Coffee will help fill a void which exists in both queer theatre, as well as, literature written by diasporic Italians.

    The research and textual materials I have gathered, thus far, are based on my two and a half year life-changing experience living in Montreal, as a graduate student. During my time there, as new friendships were formed, several seemingly solid ones, to my amazement, disintegrated. Romantic relationships which started off strongly, seemed to follow a similar withering tendency. It was becoming clear to me that people could disappear from your life with no notice, no reason, (questionably) no respect. The emotional distress of these negative scenarios was heightened by interpersonal relationships which revealed themselves to be equally upsetting, such as those with some of my “new” mentors who used extrinsic teaching methods based on fear and punishment. The fact that I was not the only one in my life experiencing these bothering relationship dynamics, allowed me to move forward without believing that I had a major problem. Feeling lonely and isolated I began to make increased use of tools such as online dating and social networking sites. I began to equate negative behaviours with life in the big city. None the less, I wondered if falseness was becoming an epidemic. I plunged myself into an, often, disconcerting, yet mind-opening reflection on the value of interpersonal skills in the midst of these increasingly popular vehicles of communication. This piece is an expression of all those concerns, and an attempt to assemble some of the realizations which were made.

    Form & Style
    I have appointed Tony as the central guiding force narrating each of the monologues. Tony will skillfully enact all of the additional characters made reference to. Sometimes the characterizations are short and snappy; sometimes Tony enters into full-on dialogue with a partner. I will rely on my performer-created theatre training to effectively embody each character physically and vocally, while creating the most effective transitions possible between them, as well as, between segments of the play. The transitions between segments will consist of additional textual materials that compliment the monologues, including short speeches and letters exchanged between a distant aunt and her nephew about homosexuality, presented in a dramatic format, of course. In addition, I would like to experiment with using a greater variety of source material for text, for instance, email chains, online forums, even Facebook posts. They appear to me as underused sources (for my piece in particular) of inspiring text, worthy of being worked from page to stage. The text may contain portions written in the Italian language to be presented bilingually with immediate translation by the actor in an engaging manner. Finally, it is of great interest to me to explore spoken word techniques, as the language of my pieces tends to fluctuate between narrative and poetic and this could lend itself very well to that genre.
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    Sep 20, 2012 3:25 AM GMT
    How do you spell the place where people are buried? It starts ceme____
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    Sep 20, 2012 3:44 AM GMT
    Caslon21000 saidHow do you spell the place where people are buried? It starts ceme____

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    Sep 20, 2012 4:09 AM GMT
    Is it that bad?
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    Sep 20, 2012 5:09 AM GMT
    You cannot really evaluate a grant proposal without first reviewing the request for proposals. No matter what you wish to do, you must be responsive to the RFP. You must bend your objectives to explicitly respond to every point in the RFP. Also be as explicit as you can in justifying the budget.

    But recognize that in some cases it will be a futile exercise, because some RFPs are simply formalities that institutions release before handing over funds to their pre-selected friends. (I have been on many grant review panels, but recently sat in on the most disgusting example of that phenomenon that you could imagine.)

    The key to living on grants is to believe fully and intensely in the project up until the minute that the proposal is posted. (Or emailed, or whatever.) Then forget about it entirely and go on to the next one. If the project is funded, then re-open that former capsule of belief and have fun.
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    Sep 20, 2012 1:39 PM GMT
    This is truly great advice from the expert himself. Thanks for the motivation. Luckily the stakes are not too high, but writing shorter application are harder for me. I used to be great at summarizing a lot of information until I went to university and "learnt" too many things : /