I have been on something of a theater marathon lately. Six days in a row, I went to readings or shows which included War Horse, Tommy Smith’s Fire Men, Don Nguyen’s Red Flamboyant as part of Ma-Yi’s Labfest and Vampire Cowboys’ The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G. Inspiring. Then, I got in a car with part of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and drove 12 1/2 hours to Louisville to see Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine and A. Rey Pamatmat’s Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them. Maple made me think. Edith made me cry.
The thing about seeing theater this good, a collection of theater this varied, is that it really gets you to thinking about what keeps you in a seat. What moves you. What sticks to you like cobwebs for days after you’ve seen something.
I have been trying not to think about this as I hammer away at the rough hewn Fast Company and try to smooth its edges (or keep it jagged in just the right places) and shine it just enough for our First Light reading next Tuesday. The thing keeps changing on me. And it’s pushing my capacity. I’m having to use everything I think I know, and it still might not be enough. We’ll see. It’s finally gotten fun to be writing it, so that is a good thing. Con men. Magic. Basketball. It’s good to have fun. It’s good to be scared. Right?
Two things happen when family comes to visit.
1. I eat too much.
My sister, Uncle Mike and Auntie Robyn came to visit this week. Cathie likes food, Mike is a chef and Robyn is a nutritionist. Everyone likes food. So that meant stops at Lil’ Frankie’s, Keste, Dirt Candy, Cafe Condessa, Apizz, Ma Peche and Anissa. I have a refrigerator full of fancy leftovers but I think I need to drink nothing but green juice for a week. But eating with them, it’s not just about the food. It’s about the company. The time to catch up and talk after being apart for so long (they all live in Honolulu). A little bit of waxing poetic. When you are a theater artist or generally busy NY’er, it means you are usually eating pizza while you walk or powering down an egg sandwich in 5 minutes on the subway. It’s eating for survival. And there’s no one to talk to while you’re stuffing your face. 3 hour meal? Never.
2. I ask myself why I have planted myself in a city that is 5-10,000 miles away from all my family.
Why? Why can’t I be in LA or Honolulu where the climate is milder, my people are around and life is a little more gentle.
Why am I here? Theater. Did you say Theater? What are you doing? Trying to chase a green unicorn down a rabbit hole? Make Theater? That’s why you’re here?
Well, that’s a lot to walk away from. Easier life, family, temperate weather.
So, as I said my goodbyes to all of them and hopped the subway towards my little apartment, I sat there listening to the hums/screeches/bumps of the train, thinking, “Better make some theater, then. Better make it damned fine.”
Somehow it’s already August 16th. How did that happen?
It has been slow and fast, rolling and still all at the same time. Trying to get things in order before it all gets rugged again.
Playing in Traffic just went down and it was exciting to be a part of madcap theater on the writing end for a week. I’m really psyched about the wonderful volume called Out of Time & Place that Christine Evans and Alexis Clements have edited that includes all 11 of us from the 2008-2010 Women’s Project Playwrights Lab.
It’s Lynn Rosen, Laura Eason, Charity Henson-Ballard, Crystal Skillman and Christine Evans in Vol. 1 and Bekah Brunstetter, Alexis Clements, Nadia Davids, Andrea Thome, Kara Manning and yours truly in Vol. 2. I’m excited because it’s a truly diverse set of dynamic women playwrights but also because in this short two years, I’ve come to love and respect their work. Like a crazy person, I re-wrote TBA, so what lives in that book is different than the version that 2g produced a couple of years ago. Different beginning and end. I think it was the right thing to do. Hope that it was. It was actually a lot of fun to work on the interview that introduces the play with Lloyd Suh and Denyse Owens because the process itself was so fast and furious, we never got a chance to reflect. I think we might have all collapsed afterwards. So, we pulled out old notes, old drafts, and wracked our brains to remember. How did Lloyd get off book in three days to step into the role? How did Denyse transition the cast to a whole new guy? It was good to think through the how, through the process of it all. And all that thinking made me miss Silas quite a lot. You live with a character for a really long time, it’s always sort of sad to see them go away. It’s like they move to a different town. A faraway friend.
The Fringe is fast upon us and I’m excited about a number of things. Lots of friends doing really interesting things out there this year.
And then Andrea is going to Ignition, Victory Garden’s new play festival with her play Undone along with Rey Pamatmat who’s doing the beautiful Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them. If you’re in the windy city, you should go.
And then I know things are smoldering with Mike Lew’s Microcrisis, to be produced by Ma-Yi this fall. Matt Olmos said his new play the death of the slow’dying scuba diver will be going up as part of EST’s Octoberfest. Maureen Sebastian is in the new Circa Now and Then by Carly Mensch at Ars Nova in Sept. And it sounds like The Foundry is on the cusp of something extraordinary.
In times like these, when faith is waning, and it’s either raining or too hot, or people in this city are too angry, I look towards the things to come, to the moments of surprise and wonder, the truths that I will be told in dark rooms on hot nights, in a room full of people, with a lit stage, among the believers. Where in that moment, we imagine the world as something more than what is or some beautiful truth is illuminated that allows us to get up another day, get up and keep pressing on.
If you know of something that will keep my faith restored, post it here. I want to know of exciting things coming. And I need that faith restoration now more than ever.
I’m not really sure. Barrelling through 13 and my Sugar House workshop and holding down all my jobs, I guess.
I blinked and here we are.
June is calling. I taught my last classroom workshop yesterdayat PS3 with Michael Wiggins. About the Butterfly Garden. To kindergarteners and 1st graders. Can’t think of a better way to go out. I hadn’t realized that was the last thing I had booked until I taught it and then was like, “Damn. I guess that’s it.” I’m a little sad. They remind me of what is most beautiful about this theater thing that we do. That it is about play and imagination.
I will have to remember that as I continue to slave over the current play and dream about the new one. I am chomping at the bit to get started on the new thing, but I know that I have to be patient, and I can’t race ahead like I usually do, because that will certainly make a mess. There’s a lot of research to be done first. Patience. Trying to learn patience.
There are 5 readings to plan for 2g and a big rewrite to sink my teeth into and my fellowship at Teacher & Writers to finish out, but first, so I have enough gas to get through this next stretch, I think I have to go off the grid for two days. Like off. No 100 emails, no phone calls, no text messages, just…silence.
I have never done this before, and I am not sure I will be wholly successful, but I have to try. So I can recharge the battery and have enough left. T-minus 4 hours and twenty minutes to “off.” I’m excited.