By Kelly Terpstra, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone can put pen to paper and write.
But can one author a majestic masterpiece that entices and enthralls millions?
That is the question.
James Grob isn’t there yet, but one should never doubt a talented scribe such as he.
Grob, a news reporter at the Charles City Press, has been writing plays for years now when he can find the time.
One such short play by Grob, “Dream a Little Dream,” has reached some lofty heights and achieved substantial recognition since he first wrote the 8–minute play 10 years ago and produced it a year later.
“It’s the little play that could,” said Grob, who has written more than 50 plays.
“Dream a Little Dream” will be appearing at 7:30 tonight (Friday) at the Minnesota Shorts Play Festival in Mankato, about a 2–hour drive north of Charles City.
Grob couldn’t be any happier that the play has been picked up and will appear in the festival’s “Best of the First 9 Years” – essentially a greatest hits collection of short plays no longer than 10 minutes long that have been performed since Minnesota Shorts first opened its doors a decade ago.
In its initial run at Mankato in 2013, Grob’s play took home “Best in Fest.” It was one of eight plays selected out of 400 entrants and was a national winner.
“The reception it’s gotten at different festivals it’s been at and what not, has just been outstanding. It’s been amazing to me,” said Grob.
“Dream a Little Dream” is one of 14 plays to be presented at the two-day festival that started Thursday.
Grob said his play is done in a reader’s theater style, where actors don’t memorize their lines but rely more on vocal expressions rather than visual storytelling. He also said it is like choral reading, or reading aloud in unison.
The short focuses on four women characters who are describing erotic dreams they had. One dreamed about musicians, another about athletes. The third woman fantasized about movie stars, and the last woman had a dream concerning washing clothes.
The time of place for the play is is on the edge of consciousness, when you close your eyes.
How long did it take for Grob to write his most successful play to date?
“I actually wrote it in a very short period of time,” said Grob. “It usually takes hours, days, weeks, to write a play.”
Grob said the Minnesota Shorts Festival has become a pretty prestigious event because entries come nationwide. He said most festivals produce local or statewide plays.
“It has some very, very well–established writers submit plays to it and have their plays show at it,” said Grob. “It’s really kind of remarkable that this little play is going up against people that are very well–known playwrights.”
Grob’s play called “Sleeper Cell” recently received all-state status at the Iowa High School group speech contests.
He has also written two children’s plays — ”Crimes and Rhymes” and “The Goodcheer Home for Broken Hearts.”
“Dream a Little Dream” was first produced in March of 2009 by the Davis County Players as part of Voices Carry, a production of one-act plays by the Davis County Fine Arts Council in Bloomfield, Iowa. Since then it has been shown and produced at Discovery Coast Theatre Group in Agnes Water, Australia. The play has also run in Lodi, Wisconsin, and Ocala, Florida.
Grob’s’ wife, Michelle, teaches the talented and gifted program at Charles City High School. He has two daughters, Megan and Katherine, who both live in Colorado.
Grob grew up in Oelwein and has worked for several newspapers and other media throughout Iowa and Minnesota.
He started writing plays while in college at the University of Iowa, but then stopped for a while after graduation.
“It took like 15 to 20 years for me to get back into doing it again,” said Grob.
Once he started back up it was like riding a bike.
“Once I did, it came natural,” he said.
Not everyone can write plays, but Grob said the skill can be learned.
“It’s a different thing. You kind of have to get in the minds of different characters and stuff like that,” he said.
“Dream a Little Dream” is the only short at Mankato out of the 14 that has maintained the same cast since its previous appearance.
The author of plays, poems, short stories and essays, there’s one thing missing from Grob’s writing accomplishments.
“That’s one thing I’ve never done is write a novel. The thing with that would be I don’t know if I have the attention span to write a whole novel,” said Grob. “But it’s something I would like to do at some point in my life. Hopefully I have a few more years left.”