Monday, September 9, 2013

Arts and Inspiration: How I Spent the End of My Summer Vacation

Recently I was having a conversation with my good friend Ben, who was worried that he hadn't updated his blog in a few weeks.  He recently moved to Vietnam to teach English, and for about the first month he was putting out several posts a week.  Now that his teaching gig has begun he is more consumed with work, and he worries that by not posting, he is letting his readers down.  I said to him:  "Why do you keep a blog? So you can tell everyone about the awesome stuff you're doing, right?" He agreed.  "Well," I continued, "so if the reason you're not posting is is because you're to busy doing awesome things, then how could people be upset with you?"

So I haven't posted in a while, and it's because I've been doing some awesome stuff. Last weekend my show, Life Play, opened as part of the Act One: One Act Festival at the Secret Theatre.  While I've had several other productions over the last year, this is particularly significant because it's one of the first projects to be performed that I began after finishing grad school.  This shows me, hey, maybe I can totally do this without adult supervision.  I also had two weeks in August where I completed a short play each week--one that ended up being read last Wednesday in La Petite Morgue's Fresh Blood Series and another for submission to KNOW Theatre's Annual Playwrights and Artists Festival.  I'd love to get into the festival again (and maybe actually manage to see my play instead of getting caught in stupid New Jersey traffic), but more than anything it felt awesome to FINISH SOMETHING. There's also another recent bit of awesomeness I'm not sure I'm allowed to divulge right now, but it's safe to say that for the first time since I came to the New York City area two years ago, my theatre career is starting to take some sort of shape.  I'm not sure what shape it is exactly--trapezoid, oval, octagon?--but there is definitely some movement there.

In addition to my own plays, I've also been seeing some fantastic theatre thanks to a combination of well-connected friends, TDF and Dramatists Guild comps.  My brain will soon become monopolized by freshman writing, so I'm trying to fit in as much theatre-going as I can. In addition to Fresh Blood and the One Act Festival at the Secret Theatre, my playgoing last week ranged from Lee Blessing's A User's Guide to Hell, Featuring Bernie Madoff to The New Light Theatre Project's musical adaptation of the Oedipus cycle in Washington Square Park to a one-woman show about Harold Pinter's wife Vivien Merchant.  I've also been fortunate to get to bear witness two of the buzz-iest theatrical events of September, Mike Daisey's All the Faces of the Moon at The Public and Lucy Thurber's The Hill Town Plays, produced by Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre.  I don't mention these last plays to be braggy--it just I miss so much stuff on Broadway and Off-Broadway I sometimes feel like I'm not really taking advantage of all New York has to offer and when I read an article on NPR that discusses shows I've actually seen it feels great to be part of the national conversation again.

And though these shows and experiences have been wonderful, the most inspiring part has been they ways in which I've been able to connect and exchange ideas with other artists. At the Kennedy Center, Amy Attaway of the Actors Theatre of Louisville led a session meant to demystify the paralyzing fear we all have of networking.  "Always go out after the show," Amy advised, "and keep a drink in your hand and the crazy out of your eyes."  Sometimes that has meant Starbucks, sometimes it's  Yuenglings at Kettle of Fish post-show, and sometimes it's a chat before the show on the sidewalk because you have to be up for work stupid early and can't stay out past 10 p.m.  And sometimes it's a late night Facebook chat with kick-ass artist I'm just getting to know better where we bear our souls about our creative insecurities and spur each other on to reach higher and dig deeper.

In July I posted to Facebook a quote from the immortal Harold Clurman on creative frustration: "The theatre cannot solve its problems alone.  Perhaps our complaints are only another manifestation of that impatience which is a symptom of American youthfulness.  We hope to accomplish everything more rapidly than life will permit."

Remain patient.  Have faith.  And for heaven's sake, keep swimming.