Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day (honestly, can’t remember how long ago – maybe a year and a half?) I got invited to an event created and hosted by Rain City Projects called SPEED DATE. The premise was to get directors and playwrights together in a room and, in speed-date format, have them talk to each other. There were 12 or 13 of us. There was a mingle session afterward that I didn’t stay for, unfortunately, but the bus commute to my house is long, I’m introverted, and asking me to stay out late anytime between November and March in Seattle … doesn’t happen that much.
It’s cold and dark, what?
Anyway, so time has passed. Last week, I got an email from one of the organizers inviting those of us who had attended SPEED DATE to a nifty little thing called SECOND DATE.
I was so excited by the email that, I am not ashamed to say, I did this:
The premise of SECOND DATE is that directors and playwrights who liked each other chat for a bit and come up with a proposal for a 10-20 minute show.
I was pretty stoked. While I really appreciated everyone’s point of view when I talked to them, there were totally some playwrights I hit it off with, that I spent the next 18 months or so jonesing to work with in some capacity. Cuz the thing about SPEED DATE was, while it was a great chance to talk to a variety of artists in the industry, I was frustrated by my lack of ability to just produce work with some of the folks I met.
Dammit Jim, I’m a director/dramaturg/writer/critic, not a producer!
I take a solo performance class, I spend the first half of my year tied up in overlapping rehearsals, I do a lot of good, new work (and some mediocre work). I feel much better about myself as an artist. Then my life exploded when my mom got sick, and suddenly I’m pining for the good ol’ days, when I took myself to local plays every weekend and focused so much on theatre I couldn’t see my lovers. I’m not complaining about the people in my life – I have some excellent friends, lovers, and former lovers, and family (as it turns out), and I am damn lucky to have their support – but about as far as I’ve gotten with theatre in Seattle in the past three months was to think “I wonder if I have time to go see a play while I’m home,” and then … no.
Things are evening out, which I know is temporary, but, well, [insert some pithy semi-Buddhist philosophy about change here]. Point being, I’m starting to feel okay about jumping back into theatre. So this email was beautifully timed.
It will also give me a chance to work with one of the playwrights who really, really impressed me. We have only started preliminary talks about what we want to do, but OMG. We’re already inspiring each other. CHECK OUT HIS WEBSITE.
Now. While I was able to focus more on the solo performance I’m writing, I made a point of reading drafts aloud to artists I know and whose opinions I appreciate. One of the frankly weird criticisms I received specifically from the theatre people I read for was, “Why do you want this to be a play? Wouldn’t it be served better as a short story, for example? Why this form?”
Admittedly, I am guilty of levying this criticism of plays. In hindsight, frankly, I am ashamed to have criticized plays for not being “theatrical” enough. It’s like somewhere, out in Plato’s Aether, is a plot that is perfect for the stage, and for no other medium at all, anywhere, ever. If you translated it into a movie or a TV miniseries, it would flop miserably. There’s no way the dialogue and stage directions could transform into a novel.
I say now that this line of thinking is bullshit. I was wrong to ever use this as criticism of other artists, and I will not from now on. Because, well, the reason I want my solo performance to be a play is because I like the idea of seeing these characters onstage, seeing them LIVE, in front of you, and hearing their stories twine together. Yes, you can read that on a page and it’s effective, but arguably it could also be an effective subject for a painting. So why not paint it? Why not treat the idea to every artistic medium possible? I’d actually like that, I think.
So I threw my new-found hatred of this criticism to mah n00 playwright freeeeend, and he agreed! He spun it off, beautifully, into a potential plot. Being a dramaturg, I threw some material at him and also some thoughts on continuing the plot. Then I threw an email together (while in the car between Atlanta and Columbia to see my mom again before I move her to Seattle!) proposing our excited collaboration to the producers.
No word yet on what they think, but frankly, having been given the opportunity to talk to this playwright and learning that we have some great thoughts in common and a great potential together, I would be interested in continuing this whether we get picked up for the RCP Mini-Fest or not.
So! This isn’t my Christmas miracle (my mom is my Christmas miracle this year), but it is a great foundation for what could be a very exciting start to the next year.
MAGIC, I TELL YA.