The Writing Process

Some people get sheepish talking about their writing process.  Particularly if you find yourself working at the last minute.  Or right up to deadline.  Do you make apologies?  Do you just forgo the sleep?  Do you foist it on some kind soul to read it at the 11th hour and make sure you’re not totally crazy and there is a discernible story there?

I am working up until the 11th hour to get this piece done for the reading.  It is massively nervewracking to put it before an audience, but perhaps that’s the only way to know if it works.  If it feels alright in the mouths of these wonderful actors.  If there is that feeling in the air during the reading.  You know the one.  When we’re all present and inside the story and breathing hard because of what just happened/is threatening to happen/can’t happen.

If you can get a moment or two of those, maybe you’ve got something going on.

So, that is what we’re trying for.  If this play would just cooperate.  I keep trying to whip it into shape and it keeps bleeding around the edges.  C’mon, play.  Stop being so messy and chaotic.  Or be more messy and chaotic.

Back in the Saddle and Labfest

First time back in the classroom this week with the K-12 set.  I have been under the weather which makes it harder, but I still managed somehow.

I am reminded of what a hero the classroom teacher is, how they truly set the tone for great learning, safety, humor and creative exploration.

This is also a crazytown theater time.  I just had the good fortune of catching the closings of my friends’ plays–Ooh-rah! by Bekah Brunstetter and Thunder Above, Deeps Below (yes, again) by A. Rey Pamatmat.  It was a good reminder of what I reach for in writing–truthful moments, compelling and charismatic characters, and something about the blow at any moment.  Both, so lovely.

And now, here comes Ma-Yi Theater Company’s Labfest.   As you see, I’m closing this sucker.  So I have a little time to finish this here little play that is, eh, not quite done yet.

Labfest III
First-look readings of brand new full-length plays from
the next generation of Asian American playwrights!

Labfest 3 The Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian American playwrights ever assembled.

This, its third LABFEST, will be the largest collection of brand new full-length plays by Asian American writers ever presented in one stand, anywhere in the universe throughout the history of recorded time.

Labbers have been known to write about things like space aliens, moustaches, salmon canneries, Darfur, calculus, cheesecake, and Scooter Libby – we make no promises about the content of this year’s crop, but we can promise that they will be brand new, first-look readings from the next generation of Asian American playwrights.

The person who attends the most readings wins a cash prize of one hundred million dollars.*

All readings are $5, available at the door.  To make reservations, email Mariah MacCarthy at mariah.maccarthy@ma-yitheatre.org, or call 212-971-4862.  All readings will be at Theater for the New City, at 155 1st Avenue (btwn 9th/10th St).

Monday, October 5 at 7pm
Heartbreak/India
by Kyoung H. Park

Tuesday, October 6 at 8pm
Garba Griha: Womb-House
by Michi Barall

Thursday, October 8 at 7pm
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them

by A. Rey Pamatmat

Friday, October 9 at 7pm
Infinitude
by Sung Rno

Saturday, October 10 at 3pm  
The White Knight

by Mrinalini Kamath

Saturday, October 10 at 7pm  
Growing Up For Dummies

by Nora Chau

Sunday, October 11 at 3pm  
How to Get Rid of the Wife: A Political Romance

by Nandita Shenoy

Sunday, October 11 at 7pm  
Jesus In India

by Lloyd Suh

Monday, October 12 at 7pm  
We in Silence Hear a Whisper

by Jon Kern

Wednesday, October 14 at 6pm  
The Kimono Project

by Patricia Jang

Thursday, October 15 at 6pm  
A Voice in the Wilderness

by Eugene Oh

Thursday, October 15 at 8pm  
Particles of Pakistan

by Rehana Mirza

Saturday, October 17 at 12noon  
Microcrisis

by Michael Lew

Saturday, October 17 at 2:30pm  
Sharksucker

by Dustin Chinn

Sunday, October 18 at 2pm
The Sugar House at the Edge of the Wilderness
by Carla Ching

*payable in installments of $1 every 10,000 years

Thunder Above and the Saloon

You’ve got to see Thunder Above, Deeps Below.  I have said that Rey is the Asian American Tony Kushner of our time.  Go see why.  He’s taken Pericles and dropped it down into Chicago with three homeless kids trying to head west before the winter hits.  It is charming, irreverent, surprising, and best of all, theatrical.

Also witnessed the most packed Saturday Night Saloon ever.  Almost didn’t get in.  Everyone has amped their game up this year.  You have to wait until October for the next installment, but I recommend showing up early for some really good stuff from James Comtois, Mac Rogers, Crystal Skillman, Dustin Chinn, Jeff Lewonczyk and Brent Cox.  I would try to explain, but it’s difficult to encapsulate that which is the Saloon.  Genre-smashing, ingenious, speakeasy theater.  There.

Poetry, Found Text and Birthdays in America

I promised I would try to start getting to things before they close so that I could tell people about them.  I missed it this time, and I’m sad about that, but you can still check out Jenny Holzer’s Protect Protect, if virtually.  She has always wowed me with her truths and aphorisms, but now she is working with found text, heavily redacted, declassified documents she found at the National Security Archive.

I also saw the lovely Pious Poetic Pie from Fluid Motion last week and it was good to see poetry onstage again.  Beautifully directed by Denyse Owens and beautifully rendered  remake of Medea by poet Yubelky Rodriguez.  And, this guy’s post-show performance was also a revelation.  Makes me wanna write in verse again.  His band, the Mighty Third Rail, violinist, bassist and voice, was mighty fine.

And I hear some people are keeping their birthdays quiet.  Happy Birthday, Ed Lin.  Keep taking down the man.

Oh, and speaking of birthdays, you’ve got one more week to see American Hwangap, Lloyd Suh’s newest directed by Trip Cullman at the Wild Project.  A touching, heartbreaking, very funny play about what happens when a Korean American man comes home after deserting his family 15 years before.  And it’s his birthday.  But don’t trust me.  Variety, Theatermania, the NY Times, Time Out, they all friggin’ love it.

Desire Under the Elms and American Hwangap

I was very disappointed to hear that Desire Under the Elms is closing early.  I thought that the first 5 minutes, with two brothers doing hard farm work, hauling stones, gutting a pig, while stones were hung perilously all around them, was one of the more exciting, visceral theatrical experiences I’ve seen in awhile.  I got discount tickets to see it with my sister during previews.  If you can get cheap tickets, I say it’s worth the coin.

But, definitely don’t miss Lloyd Suh’s American Hwangap, at the Wild Project right now.  Like, go right now.

Oh, the holidays…

The Vampire Cowboys are very funny people. This is their Holiday card.

I think in these times, I need to laugh more than anything.  That and brain candy.  I am 199 pages into Chuck Klosterman’s Killing Yourself to Live: A True Story.  He is traveling to the sites of the demise of great (and not so great) rock stars.  I probably shouldn’t find this to be candy, but I do.  I have to buy a new copy because I had to give mine as a stolen gift for the Ma-Yi Writers Lab’s 2008 Yankee trade.  We could only use stolen gifts.  I stole it from my friend Lloyd.  Sorry, Lloyd.

In these times it’s hard to know what to get people for the holidays too.  I was just given a Trader Joe’s gift card, which I think I’m very grateful for.  I know I’ll be eating.  Well.  Thank you, L&M.