TO GO TO EDINBURGH IN TWO WEEKS TIME AND SEE LILY’S PLAY ABOUT A BUNCH OF HISTORICAL REENACTORS AT HAMPTON COURT PALACE WHERE WE WENT SOME YEARS AGO AND FROLICKED ABOUT AND ATE CLOTTED CREAM AND SCONES AND JAM AND IT LOOKED LIKE THIS:
Theater folk tend to get complain-y about the post-show Q&A. We get tired of questions about the process and How did you Think of that and How do you do all those Facial Expressions. They in fact give me hives and flashbacks to audience talkback moments in which I’ve been called racist and ignorant and various other colorful things. They can get out of hand, but ultimately, they are SO IMPORTANT. They make an audience feel involved. Heard. I was reminded of this last night after a CTG performance of Buyer and Cellar (which PS, is so gay and so great). I hung around for the talkback because my buddy Joy Meads was moderating (and dang: is she good) and well, I was actually curious about the process of creating the show. The questions were specific, insightful. I was doubly reminded of my trip to Russia, which was something like almost three years ago now? Throughout the week of readings of new plays, the tiny theaters were standing room only packed to the brim with audience members, during AND after the readings. The talkbacks were just as well attended as the readings themselves. A person would stand, introduce themselves, their name and what they do, and then ask their incredibly blunt question (Playwright: does this part of the play embarrass you? Is it about your life?) which ended up getting at some deep truth. I’m reminded: the audience is just as involved in the play while watching it as you are when you’re writing it. Making the play is our part; digesting it and talking about it and questioning it is theirs.
After I finished grad school, after three years of taking out the maximum federal and private loans for tuition and NYC living and the occasional disposable dress at H&M, I finally read the fine print, and realized that I had sort of signed my life away. I was $121K in debt. I had a house that I could not live in. I devised this elaborate plan which I never hatched in which I wrote a long letter to Britney Spears in which I appealed to her to pay them off, and she said yes. I can’t remember Why Britney Spears. The debt is a money prison, but there is SOME sense to it: your federal loans, at least, can be at least partially ’forgiven’ if you work in public service, lose a limb, or you know, Die. As for private loans, well, those stay with you during and also AFTER your death. They are immovable. I am severely lucky that I am now actually making a living and am making a dent in said debt, and it doesn’t make me angry. I received the (moderately over priced) service that I paid for. But then you read about families who are saddled with private student loan debt after their loved one is DEAD. It just makes me want to shake someone. I don’t even know who to shake. Yes, the person received the education, but the person NO LONGER IS. The fact that the family has to grieve and ALSO worry about debt on top of probably their own debt is the most awful. I’m sure the providers don’t want to set a precedent, like, oh, do you not want to pay your loans? All you gotta do is die, son! But can’t there be forgiveness, here? I’m sure what I’m positing is impossible and ridiculous, but I hereby vow, that if I every find myself to be loaded, with $, I’m going to start a charity of sorts to help these families out. It will be called Moneybags and I will literally fill bags with Money and deliver them myself.
Today, on Why the Internet:
1.) My friend Mary had her baby! Here is said baby, Henry:
3. Mary’s friend is using this genius website Take them a Meal which makes it super easy to get folks to sign up the bring the new family food, to you know, eat, while the newborn cutely creates terror and turmoil. It’s so smart, and is a perfect example of the internet making it easier for humans to care for and do nice things for each other, instead of just like, providing horrifying pictures of plane crashes and weird porn and article with links to articles with links to articles about how You’re not Happy and How to be Happy and You should Eat Breakfast and Why you should not Eat Breakfast. This site is great. Internet: WAY TO GO!
The Oregon Trail reading was a low stakes, very high fun time. Informative! Musical! Well attended! Highlights include Prairie Girl time travels and goes to forever 21 and is really confused but then buys a dress ensemble:
Live bluegrass during and after:
Whiskey shots for all:
And a live play-through of the game itself upstage:
I think the play is going to be a (fun?) pain in the ass for whoever is nuts enough to produce it (oxen! rivers! hawks!) but at least whoever sees it and works on it will be FLOODED WITH MIDDLE SCHOOL ANGST AND NOSTALGIA, and for that, I am proud.
Me: I wish I looked like Beyonce.
He: you do.
He: you and Beyonce look basically exactly the same. All you need to be Beyonce is like maybe some bracelets.
I love to put song moments in plays: like moments in which characters sing songs to themselves, because well, I am constantly singing to myself. I like moments in which someone sings and they’re not entirely sure why they are singing at all, not even really aware of it, but it’s happening. Or duets with people they can’t see and have never met. They’re meant to be private moments, not necessary performative. My Oregon Trail play is is certainly no exception, with fireside sing alongs, angsty disc man cry-singing, and time travel Aerosmith duets. This reading, there is a LIVE BLUEGRASS BAND accompanying the play, complete with Banjo, or: instrument I would marry if one could marry instruments (GOVERMENT: COME ON!.) Last night, we invented the sound of a Banjo dying of Dysentery, which the world had no idea that it needed, but guess what world: you DID.
There are few things I know for sure: I am a Writer, There is Gravity, and you should basically always have nuts in your car because you WILL get trapped on some interstate en route to or from a meeting and you WILL BE STARVING and there will be NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT but hey look at you, lil Miss Preparedness, you got carnuts. CARNUTS (™)!
I moved to LA for work, and so, when in LA, I have always been working. Last hiatus, I skipped town for a theater conference, then had to find a new place to live as soon as I got back. But this Summer, I have the pleasure of a few weeks’ staycation. Today, Universal Studios:
To say that I am milking and making the most of every second of my time off would be THE MOST OF ALL OF THE UNDERSTATEMENTS.
I scored that Cat Stevens greatest hits record which is my new hey, let’s listen until it over and over until my neighbor thinks I’ve lost my mind / until it absolutely disintegrates. My sophomore year of college, I discovered Cat Stevens, perhaps a bit late in life, but still. I was particularly fixated on his song Father and Son (see side 2 / song 6 / over and over and over.) My first play freshman year was so disgustingly personal that watching it made me nauseous, and so, I think I decided that my second play should be really not personal at all! But deeply dramatic in ways that mean nothing to me! Like involving a dead mom and a house fire! And so, I wrote Exit Plato, which was a play full of Cat Stevens songs and something about a missing cat and glasses of whole milk chugged between sentences a beautiful swing that hung from the Grid that I still will never forget. I can’t remember what linked it all, but it was something like me trying to turn the way his songs made me feel into scenes. Cleaning out my desk last week, I found a page from it:
Please note that in typical Second Play by 19 year old Fashion, characters names are spelled in strange ways for no reason whatsoever (Graycie?) and that also, characters say the other characters name AT LEAST EVERY OTHER SENTENCE IN CASE YOU KNOW THEY HAD FORGOTTEN WHO THEY WERE TALKING TO.