Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Top Eleven TV Theme Songs Since 2000

TV theme songs are all the rage right now, as evidenced by the popularity of the Saturday Morning Slow Jams  (my favorite is still "Duck Tales").  A lot of it is nostalgia--kids who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s are now of the age when we're starting to feel like grownups, longing for 2D adventure cartoons based on Disney franchises from the 1940s in the same way our parents longed for vinyl.  As The Atlantic demonstrated last year, thinking the today's kids just don't get it or are missing out is an American tradition.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Playwrights in the (theatrical)House

A few months ago, my writing group, the Mission to (dit)Mars Propulsion Lab, started holding our biweekly meetings at The Secret Theatre.  For the five months before that, we had been meeting to share pages at organizer Don Nguyen's apartment, where we would sit around on couches and chairs drinking wine and munching on Pepperidge farm cookies.  Not only was it a beautiful apartment, but the informality of the setting created a safe space to take chances with our work.

But something shifted when we started meeting at The Secret Theatre.  See as a playwright, I rarely have regularly scheduled opportunities to be in theatre spaces as an artist.  When work on my stuff and send it out it's all done from the privacy of my bedroom (or coffeehouse/library), while directors get the community interaction through the audition process.  Even when my plays are performed,for budgetary reasons most of the initial rehearsals I attend are in peoples' apartments and the only time I usually spend time at the theatre is to attend the performance.  And it's hard not to feel like a bit of a guest at that point rather than a true Theatre Artist.

And though I was never the most confidant performer growing up, I used to relish the feeling of being in the theatre--the smell of sawdust in the shop, looking at production photos from previous shows, sneaking up to the catwalk and seeing old names written on the railings.  Just sitting around before and after rehearsals and experiencing the ebb and flow of the rhythm of the space through various production processes.  Encountering artists working on other shows and picking up not only on juicy gossip but also new opportunities (True story:  one time I overheard someone discussing how an actor dropped out of a production of The Emperor's New Clothes I had auditioned for but didn't make the cut.  I still wanted to be in the show, so when I learned of this new development I went to the auditions for Evita this director was holding and I threw myself at her feet.  She put me in The Emperor's New Clothes).

The Salon reading for my play Sex and Charitable Giving on May 19.    Photo by Don Nguyen
The couple first meetings at The Secret I felt this wonderful sense of calm and reassurance.  I wasn't just a guest or squatter at this theatre space like I somehow feel when bumming free wifi at the New Dramatists library or the Public Theatre lobby.  And unlike situations where I am sharing pages in a classroom, someone's apartment, or across the table at a coffee shop, I feel like these scenes may truly have a life outside of this circle of writers.  Knowing this, I start to take my own work more seriously.  Surrounded by the physical space of curtains, audience bleachers, and lighting elements, it's hard not to start thinking more visually.  To feel the play start to breathe and become a living thing.

On June 30, we'll be having a showcase at The Secret Theatre where we'll show excerpts of the plays we've been working on the past year.  After that, we go on a summer hiatus.  I'm already getting homesick.