Thank You So Much
On History's Place in Pop Culture
[A bitter, satirical piece not-so-loosely based on a real rejection email I received after a job interview.]
You did such a great job tonight. We know that group interviews can be a little intimidating, especially when we essentially required you to out-interesting everyone in the room, bare a small portion of your soul, and handwrite a 5 sentence introduction script for a stranger on a single notecard in under 60 seconds. Obviously, we did that because we’re a start-up focused on pulling great candid moments out of stuffy business people, and the easiest way for us to find a solid future employee in a crowd is to encourage you all to claw each other’s eyes out to be the quirkiest and most energetic…
Let's Say: A Place
[This is an old opinion piece from 2014.]
Let’s talk about that argument of historical accuracy for a moment. History's cool, I think it’s valuable to study and understand where we came from, and one of the few ways we can truly move forward. But I am not interested in recreating history, especially as an artist. Why? Because things were fucked up “back then,” which is why they are outdated modes of existence, and why we study them: to learn from our mistakes, to analyze the ways in which we so horribly fucked up, and to attempt, insomuch as we can, not to make the same mistakes again…
[This is a short piece I wrote after the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon.]
Let’s say there’s a place I’ve lived. Let’s say I lived there in my formative years. Let’s say I spent two years on two blocks on this place–this city–and two years walking its every cranny after that. Let’s say it’s a good city, a sweet city. Let’s say I didn’t appreciate it when I lived there, or did sometimes, but not enough, or did as much as I could, but not as much as I wish I had. Let’s say I live somewhere else now…
On Terror and Privilege
For the past two summers, I've been fortunate to write pieces for Lynchburg, VA's Old City Cemetery Tour. The way it works, in brief: the team at OCC picks a short list of names of real people buried in the cemetery; then they pass that list on to a handful of writers, who select the names that interest them; the writers receive what little (or lot!) of research the cemetery has on the person, and write either 5-6 minute monologues or scenes; the monologues and scenes are performed in October on the grounds of the cemetery in the annual OCC tours.
Last year, I wrote a piece for Luther Brice, a young Black man who was killed in a boiler explosion while serving a 60-day sentence at the City Farm, which was essentially a prison labor farm. He'd been arrested on a "charge of disorder," his mother had potentially been a laundress, and that was about all that was known about him…
On Talkbacks, pt. 1
Minnesota Public Radio posted the dash cam footage from Philando Castile's murder by Office Jeronimo Yanez. I don't know why, but I decided to watch it--perhaps because the verdict was fresh in my mind, another police officer proved innocent of crimes we can see him commit, perhaps because I felt like I owed it in some small part to the memory of Philando Castile. I stay away from graphic footage of attacks like those because they are a heavy burden to bear, but I am allowed to stay away because I'm white, and because I'm white I spend my life staying away from attacks like those, and because I'm white I spend my life free from the true terror that Black Americans feel every day…
On Teaching and Generosity
I'm a dramaturg, which means I've led my fair share of talkbacks. I'm also a theatre-goer, which means I've sat through more TOTALLY HORRIBLE ONES. You can feel a palpable stomach-lurch in the crowd when the play ends and a talkback is announced. If you're lucky, the organizer gives everyone a moment or two after curtain to choose to leave or stay; if you're unlucky, they catch the audience before anyone can get up and start the talkback immediately, making it awkward for you to sneak out should you so desire. Then, usually someone--the playwright, the director, the actors--joins the organizer on stage. If you're lucky, there's a specific topic at hand to be discussed; if you're unlucky, whoever's up there rambles on about something that may or may not (usually not) be interesting, and then it turns into an incredibly awkward and horribly prompted, "What did you all think?" Then, if you're lucky, a few observant, articulate people make a comment or ask a question or two; if you're unlucky, that one person goes on a 15-minute diatribe that seems to ultimately be about something wholly unrelated to the play…
I taught my first solo class this quarter at UCR-- Introduction to Playwriting and Screenwriting. Though there were some minor guidelines, I got to build the class essentially from the ground up, picking reading materials, mapping out the schedule, amending the required writing assignments to my liking. I was thrilled to get to do this. I don't know when it struck me that I wanted to teach, but over the course of the last two years of my MFA, it's become painfully apparent that the classroom (undergrad level or higher, I ain't tryna fuck with <18) is where I want to be, and also where I thrive. Relatedly, I spent a good handful of my MFA workshops quietly co-teaching classes, sometimes with the appreciative recognition of the leading professor, under the nose of others…
It's important to observe and analyze power structures, especially in your own field, in the hopes of one day dismantling or overturning them. As a woman, I am painfully aware of the gender hierarchy in the theatre; as a straight white woman, I'm only intellectually aware of the numerous other hierarchies, race and sexuality and disability and on and on.
I try to stay away from the news these days. True, it makes me feel like an uninformed citizen 99% of the time, which makes me feel guilty, but also I find when I stay away from the news, I am generally happier, less anxious, less hopeless. But of course I still check facebook, and twitter, and of course I still see headlines, and of course in the era of Wokeness, no field is safe from the long-needed call-outs.
Edward Albee has a reputation, and it's one I've always had a problem with…