The Kilroys went on a retreat this weekend to a giant golf resort / conference center in the City of Industry, which is an actual name of a place about 20 miles outside of LA. We picked it at random, but little did we know that it was the perfect place for gathering and scheming up plans for the coming years (hot tub / chocolate fountain / two weddings / one child’s math competition). What do thirteen lady theater nerds need nightly? A safe place to sing, by which I mean, a DEEPLY SERIOUS KARAOKE NIGHT HELD IN A CONFERENCE ROOM FEATURING PEOPLE IN THEIR 60S WITH STUNNING VOICES THAT CLEARLY COME TO THIS CONFERENCE ROOM EVERY WEEKEND TO BELT OUT UNCHAINED MELODY AND ALSO THE THEME TO LOVE BOAT. We sang not one, not two, but approximately thirty songs, a decent split between musical theater, Alanis, and completely unrecognizable but very personal numbers. We were at first met with trepidation, but eventually welcomed into the fold of regulars, until that time Sheila accidentally scratched one of them with her shoe while line dancing, at which point we could have been kicked out, but then someone revealed we were TV writers, and suddenly, we were heroes, not activists, per se, just girls who used to sing in closets, and then cars, and now, in conference rooms. Also we made plans for the future. That, too. We need movements for gender parity now more than ever. STAY TUNED…..
There’s a thing going around instagram, Best 9, in which people post a grid of their best nine pictures from 2016, summing up a year in their lives. Whenever everyone is doing something it kind of makes me not want to do it, as I am no sheep, by which I mean BAAAAAAAA I’LL JUST DO IT HERE INSTEAD but with 24 pictures because I LIVE MY OWN LIFE (IN GRIDS.) And so with no further ado, it has been a magnificent year! I:
Ate that chicken pot pie in a blizzard, wrote for American Gods, had a beautiful production of my Heaven play at South Coast Rep, found the perfect overalls and wore them approximately 170 times, washed them about 3 times, took a surfing lesson with Elizabeth, had a Dewey’s pink lemonade cake to call my own at my Easter pot luck thanks to my Mom, ran a 5K with a little girl Monet who ate gummy savers the whole way thanks to Blaine, celebrated 2 years with Mo at Red Lobster, patroned Ru Paul’s drag con, got after that no speaking above a whisper resort life in Joshua Tree, spent some time writing at Space on Ryder farm in upstate New York, went to Carrie’s Beyonce themed beybe shower (then later welcomed and met her dear little Sebastian who I am now calling Bash / 2017 let’s see if we can get that going), and then also:
Had the most perfect of bridal showers complete with hats and tiny sandwiches, spun for 3 hours in YAS-a-thon for cancer research, made Ina Garten’s flag cake, welcomed little nephew Mojo, worked on The Cake at the Alliance, Echo and Ojai, did Vegas so hard bachelorette style, tried on a bunch of white dresses / picked one had a bunch dress fittings / obsessed over its details and its accessories namely did I ever mentioned that Ferris Bueller cropped leather coat? / GOT MARRIED / cast my vote for a woman president for the first time, attended Blaine and Jason’s non baby shower baby shower, read Vivian Howard’s incredible cookbook, and started writing for This is Us. And so, a great many things.
Last week I started to have dreams that I was left out of something creative, being mocked for output or performance. Personal favorite: I dreamt I had to play a drunk dog onstage and the reviews were terrible (this dream brought to you by the first night in Hong Kong, surrounded by every stimulus possible.) I think the dreams stem from a feeling that I haven’t accomplished enough creatively this year, like I haven’t dug enough into my own heart / brain. I’ve been working, yes, but I feel, in general, sort of uninspired, like the questioning part of my brain has been numbed. It’s most likely because the majority of all extra time and emotional brainspace I had went to wedding planning. And so, I will forgive myself, hope that 2017 brings characters / moments / stories / questions, big new ideas, but ALSO, more cakes / adult onesies / trips / love, FOR BALANCE.
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An already irate group of theater people got to get EVEN MORE IRATER Friday night when Pence attended Hamilton. He was briefly booed by the audience, but was then given a kind and gracious message by the cast, asking that he, as VP, serve the country’s people. TRUMP THEN TOOK TO TWITTER SCOLDING THE ACTORS, DECLARING THAT THE THEATER IS A SAFE PLACE AND SHAME ON THEM FOR MAKING IT NOT SO. I would like to issue my two prong response that is now surely being felt in every actor and director and playwright there ever was.
1.) SAFE PLACE? OH, BY WHICH YOU MEAN, UNLIKE AMERICA NOW FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, WHO WILL NOW LIVE IN FEAR, YOU BIG DUMMY? YOU WALKED RIGHT INTO THAT ONE JUST AS YOU DO YOUR HAIR EVERY MORNING AS YOU PEEL YOURSELF FROM THE ABSURDIST COLORING BOOK AND STEP INTO YOUR HAIR
2.) I keep mulling over this idea that the theater is a ‘safe place.’ I mean, is it? I mean, sure. Yes. It’s a place where people are meant to come together and hear stories. But also, it’s a place bravery and exploration of difficult ideas. That’s what it should be, especially now. I say we strive to make the theater less safe. Less and less and less until he finds himself in a Box seat and cannot look away. He is forced to see.
GLORY! My heaven play is now published and licensed by Sam French! Available in human size, and also for mouse theater companies:
Can’t wait to see where this play goes. Buy it HERE!
Growing increasingly excited to head up to Portland this weekend for what appears to be a BIG AND BEAUTIFUL PRODUCTION of my play, the Oregon Trail, at Portland Center Stage.
Excited for actors and moments and rose garden and brunch but mostly just for the wagon. LOOK HOW REAL THE WAGON IS.
One of the nice things about marrying a fellow theater person: it is just another day of the show, in a series of other days of the show’s. There will be more shows. Some smaller, some larger, but none as personal, vital or sweet. OFF TO PRACTICE MY LINEEEESSSSSS!
Edward Albee died yesterday, and of course though it is he who died, I am a playwright, and so it is a profound event that occurred mostly to me. But seriously though: like a lot of theater people, he is one of the very reasons I started writing plays. I discovered his plays in college, and they were messy and brave and passionate and weird, and they gave me permission to attempt to write the same. Below is my fb post documenting my one real life interaction with him. When someone dies and everyone posts about them, do the posts gain mass and form and create some sort of cloud you can see but can’t touch, and does the person then live on that cloud for eternity? If so, Albee’s is a MASSIVE MANSION CLOUD.
I would post my signed Edward Albee thing, but it went something like this: I was 20 I think, coming out of the Elephant Man, and saw him coming out of the Goat, Or Who is Sylvia, next door. I recognized him immediately, floated towards him, with my Elephant Man playbill in hand, and said, ‘You are my favorite playwright.’ He said thank you, thank you, started to take my playbill to sign — then saw what it was. ‘I didn’t write that. I’m not that playwright. You have no idea who I am.’ And he got into his car, off to the Tonys. I decided in that moment that playwrights are oftentimes invisible people sliding out the backstage door who deserve to be seen and known. RIP, brilliant man. May you be known and known and known.
One of my favorite things about being the protagonist of my own life is how my music library is still peppered with random sound effects from plays I helped make twelve years ago. Airport ambient sounds and distant explosions and old phones ringing. So when I’m driving around and the three only Pandora stations I listen to (Paul Simon / Beyonce / Heart) have worn out their welcome, and I decide to shuffle through my itunes, every few hours or so my car will be filled with the sounds of a large toilet flushing for 27 seconds. And I never skip it. I just never, never do.
The Ojai Playwrights Conference, or WINE for short, kicked off its week of readings with a cabaret called ACROSS THE DIVIDE, in which the writers performed excerpts from their work that specifically addressed, well, a divide being reached across. Let me just revisit part of that sentence, writers performed excerpts from their work, which is an ACTUAL RECURRING NIGHTMARE OF MINE: that I get to the theater to watch a run of my play but then turns out, all of the actors in the world have disappeared, and so it’s ALL ON ME. They graciously let me go first, and while I was shaking internally and externally, and while my voice felt like a stepped on squeak toy, one that has been forgotten for years under the deck, I DID IT, with cool hand gestures and everything.
PERFORMANCE OF OWN WORK ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED / Snaps snaps poetry snaps
Today, on Louis C.K. for president — I’m listening to his latest interview on the Marc Maron podcast, and he reminded me that these masks that adorn the walls of high school auditoriums and the shelves of Times Square gift shops and the biceps and lower backs of theater nerds are actually comedy and tragedy, not comedy and drama. Like every other person who writes somewhere between those two spaces, I get annoyed at that constant question: do you write comedy or drama? Is it a comedy or a drama? Buried in that question is our desire to be clearly told how to feel by the art we are consuming, which I find limiting. Can’t you feel all of the things at once? He goes onto say that tragedy does not necessarily mean depressing — because there is no tragedy without hope. Isn’t that wonderful? Okay yes, in a tragedy, the hope is oftentimes eradicated. But at least it was there in the first place. At least it was allowed to be.