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Fear of Regression

I’ve always grown angry when tell me how much they rewrote the other night, or how many characters they cut out of their script after their last reading. I would always think, “Just because something is drastically different, doesn’t make it better.”

And I still think that statement holds true. However, I’m realizing how I’ve let that statement hold me back from taking a plunge into a down and dirty rewriting session. I’m so afraid that I’ll rewrite 80-pages of my play in a weekend, and then hear it aloud only to realize the play got worse, not better. I’m so afraid of failing bigger that I’m not really letting myself gain anything, either. I’m a top-notch coaster.

And I think that’s pretty common with early-career playwrights. I haven’t really figured out my voice or my audience yet, and I’m afraid that bad rewrites of an otherwise decent script will be the death to a career barely begun.

I’ve been thinking about what to do about this. I this newly discovered fear is indicative that I would greatly benefit from more experience workshopping my work as the playwright, rather than the dramaturg. It’s a level of vulnerability I’m not particularly seasoned in, as of yet.

I’ll keep sending my work out to any and every reading opportunity I find posted on the Playwrights’ Realm, but I think what this also indicates is that I need to host intimate reading series of my own. I think brunch readings in my future apartment once a month, with invited loved ones and prosecco will facilitate an environment where I can make big, scary choices and know I am surrounded by loved ones who are two glasses of prosecco in, allowing them to be equal parts honest and loving. I think if I can experience that feeling from the comfort of my living room first, in true postgrad style, then I can begin to edge myself towards that trust and comfort in professional reading situations.

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Fulfilling Day Jobs For Playwrights?

It’s no secret that playwriting in the American theatre doesn’t pay the bills. I’ve made peace with that fact, and in fact find that a really compelling challenge in not taking advantage of my creative free time.

Here’s a question though, you great, wide, interwebbed world: what’s a decent first-job for a playwright?

I’ve heard of some playwrights working as receptions. Some pick up temp jobs. Annie Baker was a fact-checker on  Who Wants to be a Millionaire?  That would explain why her plays are so meticulously detailed.

I don’t know if there is an ideal day-job, there are certain some less than productive. However, beyond writing for television, what are some potential jobs that a playwright/dramaturg would excel in beyond our field? What sort of day job opportunities would give us the biggest bang for our BFA bucks?

 

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Redefining, or Reclaiming, Family Lives in Theatre

I’m 21 years-old, an only child, and a single woman. I am the first woman in my family not to become a schoolteacher, not that I think there is anything wrong with teaching K-12, I just know I would be doing myself and my would-be students a disservice by teaching. I am the first member of my family to not be in a significant relationship by my age that eventually leads to marriage. I am the only, only-child in my family. I’m the outlier in my family, in every sense of the word. And I’ve never felt anything but gratitude for the support given in an otherwise unknown lifestyle.

As we edge closer and closer to graduation, I start to fantasize about where my life might be in one year, five years, ten years…

And something that never seems clear, or at times even possible, is the possibility of having a family. Which is not an element of my outlier-dom that my family is anticipating.

I’ve been acting professionally since I was thirteen, and I would often see my castmates more than I would see my own family. Throughout college we’re told that the only thing you cannot reverse in life is children. We’re also told that, especially as writers, our “salaries” for lack of a better term are going to yo-yo from year to year.

I have absolutely no idea if I would ever want a family in my life, that being some combination of a long-term partner and/or children, At this moment in my life I have no emotional holds dictating my personal decisions in life. My parents are thankfully in good health, I am not committed romantically, and I have don’t have any sentimental feelings towards any one place or position. I can literally pack my bags and take off at a moment’s notice with little else to worry about. But sometimes I wonder that if all I’m living for is my work five, ten years down the road, then am I really living a nourishing lifestyle?

I’m 21 years-old. I enjoy my life decisions to the fullest at the moment, and believe I am exactly where I want to be. But I think if theatre artists are going to tell the next generation of young adults that children are irreversible, I think we need to have some honest conversations, then, about what it really means to raise a family while balancing a theatre artist’s lifestyle.

What does a day in the life look like as a parent and theatre maker? How does this differ from your life before children? What were your expectations/concerns when planning to have children? Were these confirmed/denied once you had them? What advice do you wish you knew before making this decision?

Ultimately, my decision to ever have a family is mine and mine alone. If I’ve made it this far being an outlier in my family, I can comfortably continue to do so. But I think we are doing us all a disservice if we aren’t completely transparent about what it means to plan for a family when working in the arts.

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magic

 

i am sitting on a stack of platforms in room 109 watching my peers play an ever-growing game with an inflatable beach ball. they are trying to keep it in the air as long as possible. they have all turned into kids again, eyes going wide as the ball descends over their heads, their hands go up, tips of their fingers filling with energy as they hit it toward someone else. more people wanter into the circle, joining the game and picking up on the rules: don’t touch it twice in a row, don’t hit downward, wait for the ball to come to you. it’s so wonderful to witness. i’m sitting here, minding my own business, but suddenly i’m watching these people come alive and be here and in it and forgive me if this feels like a stretch but i’m watching something like theatre. isn’t it strange that we work so hard to capture what comes so naturally? i blink and there’s a simple, magic moment happening. and maybe i’m being preemptively nostalgic about all of this ending soon, and maybe it’s silly to think about it this way but it’s reminding me of how much i love this group of people. i think i’m collecting memories at this point, but i also think we’re all about to go out into the world and make some incredible art. and that magic i saw just now, i can’t wait to see it again and again and again and again and again.

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The Freedom of Instability

I have been thinking a lot about the instability of a “typical” actor’s career. The “typical” actor in a major market may or may not have representation; they freelance from project to project. An actor that craves stability may be a part of a company or troupe or perhaps they create their own content. I see myself being the former mentioned actor. I want to move from project to project creating an expansive network of connections and while also giving myself the ability to reassess my goals and progress between each bout of work.

As collaborative theatre artists, we gather our individual set of skills and talents around a single project. From the first draft of a project, it takes on a collaborative life that requires the time and effort of artists day after day. We have the privilege of diving deep into a story and in doing so we build and strengthen connections that inevitably seep from our professional endeavors into our personal lives. Then after then immense time and effort we spend with these people, we “close” or “wrap” and say goodbye. Simple as that. The project is over and our reason for consistently being in contact with one another is gone. However, we also have to opportunity to keep those connections alive. We can nourish the friendships we have made and in the strengthening of them we find opportunities to start new projects and let our collaborative art take shape again.

We also have the luxury of what I call the “artist vacation.” I think of this as the time in between projects in which an actor can reevaluate their goals and process. We have to opportunity to sit and reflect ever few months about what kind of art we want to make. We can be analytical and reflective about our career and then make conscious decisions about what to take on next. I do not know of many of professions with that freedom of trajectory. I find the instability of an actor’s career, absolutely freeing.

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Ambition vs. Skill

This weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to attend Jiehae Park’s master class with Company One at the Boston Public Library. The class was an hour and fifteen minutes of unending wisdom, but one piece of advice in particular stood out to me.

Park, whose play Peerless is currently running with Company One, spoke about a time in her life when she tabled a play because her skill did not match the ambition of the play.

This really struck me. As a playwright, I have a bad habit of abandoning my plays midway. I never mean to stop writing, I just put it aside indefinitely. While I think most of the time it’s because I need to get past a wall of some sort, but I think a few times it’s also been this matter of ambition.

I just wrote a play for my thesis. It was lovely, and the development of that story was immensely helpful for it’s future drafts. However, I think I’m going to table it for a while. This was not something I was happy to think about. But I feel like I need to work on my craft before I tackle this very ambitious play again. I think what I want it to be is going to be very hard for me to write at this skill level. And instead of writing kind of what I want this play to be, why don’t I get better at writing plays, and then write the play as it needs to be.

It was not a thought I had put words to before, and for that alone Jiehae’s master class was invaluable to me.

So, instead of diving into draft two, I’m off to start my next project. Happily so, because I have a lot of ideas, and soon I’ll have buckets of time to write them.

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Community

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned this semester year and throughout my BU experience is about community. So much of my young life has been discovering who I am operating independently but ultimately at the end of the day its the people I love and care about that make me want to get up again tomorrow and do it all again. I have felt so challenged the last few years trying to discover how and where I fit in in this larger artistic community and only to discover that the answer for me was an obvious one all along. I do what I do because I love it and I love being around people who inspire me in all my beliefs. I am still so young and in many area so ignorant but, I honestly cannot wait to see what I am going to learn from them tomorrow. An artist cannot be an artist in isolation in order to create art you must be loved and love and experience the world with others. As I enter the wider art community I am so nervous and excited and I know that I will always have my BU people as my rock.

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