Tag Archives: BPT

Remembering what’s important

I was searching through HowlRound’s archives trying to find a particular article I liked (about writing characters of a different race than your own) and in the process came across this piece by Polly Carl that really resonated with me. I haven’t posted very frequently lately–I’ve been struggling with a lot of different things–and sometimes it’s really refreshing to read something that makes you want to get back on your blog and share it everyone:

If we let it, life will drown us in transactions. The life of transactions is not a satisfying way to live. I prefer transcendence over transaction. Which is why I have chosen to work in the theater—for those moments in the rehearsal room that lead to something revelatory, something glorious or more than anything I could accomplish on my own. No money is exchanged, and in the very best moments transcendence feels within reach.

One major struggle I’ve been dealing with, though certainly not the only one, is finances. I feel like I don’t make enough to live. I mean, I do, but then there’s rent, student loans that are almost as high as my rent, utilities and other bills, food, and random crap that comes out of nowhere right when you least expect it. Like my kitty Oskar needing to go to the emergency room on Saturday. I have pet insurance, but it’s the type where you pay it all upfront and then submit a claim. I was worried about having enough funds between what’s left on my credit card and what’s left in my bank account to cover it. Luckily, that all worked out, and he come home earlier (and more affordably) then originally expected.

I would put off things that might help some of my other problems and stress, like seeing a therapist, because I was afraid of the copay being too high. It’s often been a game of “can my bank account hold out until the next paycheck comes through?” “Will I have enough to cover the next bill that comes in?” It’s so stressful and so frustrating. I start feeling guilty and beating myself up if I do something “fun” like buying something I don’t need (like the patio chairs and tiny little grill I bought a few weeks ago) or ordering food on days I’m exhausted. Ordering food is extra guilt-inducing because I feel financially irresponsible AND fat at the same time. Between working in publishing and writing plays, I feel like I have one job that pays poorly and another that doesn’t pay at all.

So it’s really refreshing to see this essay talk about the idea of transcendence over transaction. The times careerwise that I’ve felt most confident and happy were when I had moments like this. One I love looking back on is my first Boston Playwrights’ Theatre holiday party. Jake was making a speech about how wonderful the local theatre community is and how great it is to belong to it. I had this moment of “wow, this is really what I want to be doing with my life” where it all sort of made sense. I also felt a lot of this clarity when I got to go on the Freedom Art Retreat last year. It was a whole week of collaborating, of feeling like I could actually contribute to a group of artists and have something important to offer, and of knowing that the things we created together were better than what would have resulted if I’d attempted it myself.

It’s little moments like this that I have to think back to when things get particularly stressful. It’s good that I was reminded of it at a time when I’m trying to get everything in my life back on track. Knowing that eventually things at work will get better, that that will help the finances fall into place, and that my whole life shouldn’t be spent letting this anxiety get to me because I risk missing out on the moments that make all of this worth it.

AND I just realized we have chicken nuggets in the freezer, so I don’t have to grill the chicken that I’m not entirely convinced is still fresh! Lazy dinner that does not involve spending money on ordering food. yay!

*EDIT: I just want to add that the rest of the article goes on to say pretty much exactly how I feel about the state of theatre in this country and it’s a great read. I was just jumping off one little quote that felt really personally relevant right now.

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Plugs for my friends!

I’ve been so busy lately. It’s like August decided to blow up and go crazy. Last week I saw the opening night of John Shea’s Junkie at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. It was really good–you should all go check it out while it’s still up. It’s a one-man show about a heroin addict’s stay in a 30-day rehab facility. The actor is amazing, and the script is both funny and heartbreaking. Go see it.

I also grabbed a subscription to the Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s upcoming season through an awesome deal on LivingSocial. One of my goals this year is to see more theatre. And to do so I need to take advantage of discounts and special events whenever they pop up so that I can afford to see shows more often. One thing I missed that I was supposed to see on Monday was a reading of my friend Emily Kaye Lazzaro’s play Grief and Surfing at Oberon. I saw a reading of an earlier draft last year when we had our MFA thesis readings, and I was looking forward to seeing it again and seeing how it had developed. I sadly had one of the worst migraines I’d had in awhile and just could not drag myself out of the house.

Other work my friends have coming up soon: those in the San Francisco Bay area should check out Genevieve Jessee’s one-woman show Girl in, but Not of, the ‘Hood at the SF Fringe Festival the week of Septmeber 10. She wrote and stars in it, and I wish I could be there. Walt McGough’s spy play The Farm will be up at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre beginning September 29. It’s another play I first saw in development and then presented at our MFA thesis readings, and it’s equally as awesome as Grief and Surfing but in a totally different way. (That’s why I loved my class so much, by the way… we all had such a wide array of styles, and I feel like I got to learn something new from everyone.) The BPT’s second show, beginning October 27, is The River Was Whiskey by Will Fancher. I also saw this as a reading last year, and I can highly recommend it. It’s full of Southern Gothic awesomeness, and I can’t wait to see how it’s developed since the reading. And finally, starting November 10, Deirdre Girard’s play The Christina Experiment will be up at the Firehouse Center for the Performing Arts in Newburyport. They were the company that produced my ten-minute play for the Boston Theatre Marathon, yay! Christina is another play I saw through its development stages and in a reading during our MFA thesis week. Very much looking forward to its premiere.

My friends are up to lots of awesomeness lately. Where, you may ask, is my awesomeness? yeah. I need to do a LOT of submitting of current work and a lot more generating of new work. I’m aiming to try to do two writing groups this fall, which should help with the “generating new work” part. This time last year was more focused on finishing school, and I did more with ten-minute plays. I need to get out there and just send Prayer Bargain out to anyone who will look at a copy. 😛 And I have a few ideas for new full-lengths, ranging from a crazy comics play to a serious play about an excommunicated nun. And maybe another family play. Oh yes.

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My first production!

This past Sunday was my very first production of a script I wrote! I’ve had staged readings before, but this was the first time the actors were off-book and there were costumes and lights and a set. My ten-minute play “The Mouse” was part of the thirteenth annual Boston Theatre Marathon. It was produced by the Firehouse Center for the Performing Arts in Newburyport, MA. At the helm of this crazy little play was the wonderful director Tim Diering, and the hilarious James Manclark and Tracy Bickel played Jim and Caroline.

My play was in the first hour (of ten), third out of the entire Marathon of fifty. I was trying not to be nervous–I’d seen a rehearsal the week before, and I knew the play was in good shape and that it had gotten laughs at previous readings–but I was still a complete wreck. It helped to have my mother, my boyfriend Allan, and a few friends and classmates scattered around the audience. And the people laughed! That felt so good. The last thing you want to hear at a comedy is total dead silence. And then it was over, and soon after that the whole first hour was over and the first intermission arrived, so I went out to the lobby to congratulate my awesome cast and director. When I got back, my boyfriend was telling me that he heard random audience members talking about my play during the break… how funny it was, and how they should bring a Donald Duck plushie to their office (that makes sense if you’ve seen the play). That was just incredibly awesome… people talking positively about something you created when you’re not in earshot. And if there were people elsewhere in the audience talking about how much they hated it, at least word of that never got back to me. 😉

All in all, it was a great day, and such a wonderful experience for my first-ever production. Hopefully there will be more to follow!

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My Playwrights’ Theatre guest blog

I wrote a guest entry for the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre blog today, in response to a recent article Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser wrote for the Huffington Post.

http://playwrightsperspective.blogspot.com/2011/04/guest-blog-colleen-hughes.html

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