Aaaaaand we're OFF!
Opened my umpteenth show last night, Dante Green's An Incomplete List of All The Things I'm Going To Miss When The World Is No Longer produced by Dacha Theatre at Theatre Off Jackson in Seattle's International District. And - I have a few things to say.
I'm getting old. I've worked on many shows since my first outing, playing Mother Rabbit in a little play whose name I don't remember at YWCA kindergarten in Singapore.
While every piece has something memorable about it (I mean: some plays/experiences are just memorably bad, and some on an EPIC scale!), there are those handful of shows you work on as an artist that tick off a whole lot of the boxes you want to tick...
Some of the ones that stand out to me over the past 25 or so years:
The Maids, performed at the Freehold Studio Series in 2001. Freshly off my year-long Meisner training, which felt very thorough, my scene partner, Alyssa Tomoff and I had done a scene from Genet's play for our end-of-year showcase, and decided we wanted to produce and perform in the whole thing, since we already had done all the work for the scene. It was my first experience producing. More importantly, it was the first time performing a full production after a hiatus of over 6 years. We only had 4 performances - to me, it felt like a blueprint for how I should work going forward. Also, playing the character of Solange ended up turning me into a playwright a few years later, when I wrote my first play, which was a sequel.
So, fast-forward to 2004, when a company I was friendly with (Theatre Unlocked) got really excited about my idea to produce Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream on the Fremont Troll! It wasn't necessarily the production I had envisioned (my version would've been at night with lighting and we produced only matinees on a very shoestring budget), but I remember being so joy-filled at getting to play Helena and really digging the ensemble I got to play with. It was also a good reminder I didn't have to wait for someone to do a thing I loved and just hope I got cast (never mind got to play the part I wanted), I could set things in motion MYSELF.
A whole lot more years and productions later, Stings Like Acid came into being with New Amerikan Theatre. I had done an abhorrent production of The Scottish play (see above: memorable experiences that were REALLY BAD), but wound up with some great friends and collaborators, because doing awful work sometimes bonds a cast as well, and that included my friend Kirsten McCory, who had just recently launched NAkT. She and I, as well as her collaborator, Telisa Steen embarked on a year-long writing/devising adventure, which included two excerpted performances at both the Freehold Studio Series and the First Fifteen Series (at 18th & Union), before culminating in a full production that included Butoh movement and mask work. And did I mention we WROTE the thing as well, a wonderful blend of contemporary stories and mythology I'm still really proud of.
There are other honorable mentions between then and now, including a 2016 bilingual version of Lorca's Blood Wedding in Seattle parks, the ensemble-devised feed/back with MAP Theatre at 12th Ave Arts in 2017 and of course A Series of Small Cataclysms, co-written and produced with Jen Smith Anderson (under the Mythodicals Ensemble umbrella), which turned out to be as cursed and fraught as that Scottish Play, and got cancelled by COVID-19 a week into its run (though we did get an extra performance on Zoom later that year, courtesy Rebecca O'Neil of The Shattered Glass Project).
Which brings us to the tippety-top of 2023, with An Incomplete List... and I see I'm not going to get any less long-winded, but it's MY damn blog, no one's likely to ever even READ it, so I can be as fucking long-winded as I like! HAHAHAH. I likely wouldn't have auditioned for this piece at all. The Artistic Director (Mike Lion) of Dacha saw me during the run of In The Time of The Butterflies (Caridad Svich after Julia Alvarez) at Book-It Rep and invited me to the callbacks.
Of course, I was flattered - I'm very EASILY flattered (mea culpa?) after a lifetime of being bullied, underestimated and disregarded. All you have to do is tell me I'm talented or pretty and I'm basically your friend for life. But UGH, a MUSICAL. I don't really do musicals. I don't really LIKE musicals. The last time I did a musical was in 2003, and before that 1992. So, strike one. But, okay, the premise (the last party on the last day of the world) sounded kinda up my alley. Whatever. I'll do it, I was invited, it felt rude not to. But I'd pretty much made up my mind I wouldn't accept any offers. I was tired after Butterflies, and wanted to really celebrate the Christmas season.
Callbacks were just before Thanksgiving, at Theatre Puget Sound in the Seattle Center. And basically: there's nowhere to park for free there, unless you go waaaay up on Queen Anne Hill (which I did that night, sue me, I'm CHEAP). I sang the song "Enough" from In the Heights, and flubbed up the lines closer to the end. Whoops! Not looking good. Then I read a bunch of sides which were kind of intriguing, and left thinking well, if I were offered the part, I might have a little more trouble saying no, but I'm still going to say no, especially after walking all the way back up the hill to my car, pant pant pant, and anyway, I screwed up my song, the only way they'd cast me is if they were more interested in the acting part of the auditions, where I was strong because I've been doing this forever and I'm usually pretty solid when I resonate with the material.
I got the offer the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and was given 24 hours to decide, and did I have any questions? Yes. I do have questions. Questions about where we're going to rehearse. It's harder for me to get to the center of Seattle now that I live in the Rainier Valley, and without the cushy subsidized parking Book-It provided, Seattle Center is a challenge to get to/park at and I didn't feel like I wanted to either climb up Queen Anne Hill most nights, or walk through creepy Belltown to get to the bus stop after dark. But no: most rehearsals were going to be divided amongst several venues throughout Seattle with easier parking. I grudgingly accepted, still not having read the full script.
I remember walking into the door that first night of rehearsal and seeing a bunch of kids in their 20's and thinking OH NO, what am I getting myself into? But immediately, I started talking to them and realized these kids were going to be different from what I'd experienced in the past. The director, Nansi Dwendi arrived and had us circle up, to introduce ourselves, our pronouns, the role we were playing and our daily "rose and thorn" (something good that happened today as well as something not great) AND THEN WE READ THROUGH THE SCRIPT AND LISTENED TO THE MUSIC. Judging by the energy in the room after that, I could tell even then: this was going to be something special. We closed with another circle, where we were asked to give someone else in the room a compliment until everyone had received one.
I kinda rolled my eyes inside. Oh great, I thought, another touchy-feely thing, I'm already shitty at giving compliments unless I REALLY feel them, so now I'm going to have to really think about it every rehearsal. UGH.
But you know what? I began to see what a brilliant thing this actually was. Because you spend the whole rehearsal looking for THE GOOD in others, that's what you're focusing on all rehearsal. It's very sneaky in bringing in positivity. It creeps up on you. Because also, you hear compliments from others and if you've been disregarded your whole career, it just really makes you feel seen, appreciated and respected. Like, I'm not sure I've ever felt this RESPECTED by an ensemble before, and really, it's all I've ever wanted.
We opened last night. I ended up inadvertently chatting up several of my cast's mothers during our interactive pre-show last night (all of whom are closer to my age than most of the cast themselves), and Dacha threw us an ice cream & champagne party onstage afterwards to celebrate. We have 11 more shows. I am exhausted. I injured my achilles tendon during a dance rehearsal a couple weeks ago, and it still hurts and I'm wearing a brace. But it's also exhilarating to finally show our baby off to audiences, and I hope they'll get as much out of it as we have, because we definitely have.
by Carolynne Wilcox
I’ve always been a cynic – from the time I figured out Santa didn’t actually exist (I figured it out shortly after my 8th Christmas, because Santa had stopped both at Grandma’s house AND our apartment that year, which didn’t seem logical – plus he seemed to have several different types of handwriting, which seemed fishy to me). Which was why I never bothered even entering the “meet Santa” lottery that year. My friend Megan entered my name, and wouldn’t you know it, I WON. I rolled my eyes in disdain. Oh goody, I thought, I get to go have my photo taken with some mall santa and get a candy cane and maybe an autograph. Yipeee.
WELL. The next day, the doorbell rang, and I found a big red box stood on my doorstep, complete with a glittery green bow. I thought I heard a high-pitched giggle, but I didn’t see anyone. When I opened the box, a huge burst of glitter hit me in the face – which normally would’ve made me sneeze, but it seemed to hit my cheek with a tingle and then burst out of existence – that was odd, but I dismissed it, finding an envelope inside, resting on something red and furry, which turned out to be a heavy, warm snowsuit! Inside the envelope was a ticket to Finland, with instructions I was to be picked up at the Helsinki airport and transported to my destination. I was to leave the following week.
I’d seen the Gordon Ramsay buddy program where he teamed up with two other Europpean dudes in the culinary industry and gone to “the north pole” in Finland, so I assumed this must be where I was going – definitely cooler than a mall santa, for sure! But nothing could’ve prepared my cold, cynical heart for what was to come next.
A small man with pointy ears greeted me at the airport, said his name was Sven, and seemed to know exactly who I was, and shuttled me “this way” with his adorable what I assumed was Finnish accent. I was groggy and jetlagged, so I let him escort me to his car, which was just an ordinary SUV, a red Nissan Pathfinder, I think, but as I said, I was exhausted, and promptly fell asleep in the backseat.
I woke up what must’ve been hours later. It was dark and the SUV had stopped. Sven was nowhere to be found, but there was a knock at the backseat door, which then opened and a smaller man with pointier ears, who proclaimed himself as Gunter escorted me through the snowy woods...which would’ve been pitch black, but for the brilliant northern lights dancing above our heads. We came to a small clearing with a tiny log cabin. We set my things down in the cabin and I didn’t really have a good look around, because he took me outside again and showed me a little sauna outhouse as well as a small hole dug into a frozen lake with a ladder. He instructed me to remove my clothes, get into the sauna for 15 min, quickly jump into the freezing hole, and then go back into the cabin and bathe.
Dumbfounded, but always hungry for a new adventure, I did as I was told – sweated profusely in the sauna where a tiny woman with pointy ears (Lilja) helped me keep track of the time in the sauna. It felt exhilarating to leave the boiling sauna and go out into what must’ve been significantly below-zero air, and I jumped eagerly into the hole, but climbed up the ladder twice as fast, where Lilja handed me a robe and escorted me back to the cabin, where she put me in a tub of water that was the perfect temperature between warm and scalding, and proceeded to scrub me nearly raw with a salt-scrub and hard-bristled brush! Afterwards, she brought me the softest red, woolen pajamas and put me at a table laden with figs, berries, rye bread, butter, cheese and smoked, salted fish. There was also a creamy salmon soup. While I devoured EVERYTHING, because I didn’t realize how hungry I was, and it was all delicious, Lilja built a roaring fire in the fireplace. The she left, but not without instructing me to sleep well – “you’ll need it!”, and to be ready in the red snowsuit at dawn.
Being a habitual insomniac and sleeping for so many hours on the way from the airport, not to mention being intrigued about what was to come, I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep at all, but like with everything else, I’d underestimated the experience. I hopped into the little twin bed, which was like lying on a firm, pillowy cloud, the most comfortable mattress I’d ever been lucky enough to rest my body on, and hopped on my phone to try and get a message to Megan, but barely registered I had no reception before I fell soundly asleep, waking up who knows how many hours later in exactly the same position, with the phone lying on my chest, feeling completely refreshed and tingly.
It was still dark outside, but according to my phone (which was fully charged, despite the fact I fell asleep before I could charge it!), it was dawn...not much light that far north in December, I surmised.
There was new, clean and steaming bathwater for me again, and, as if on cue, a knock at the door, wherein Lilja took me out to repeat the sauna/cold plunge/bath-and-salt-scrub experience again. Lilja told me to be ready in an hour.
The fire was still roaring in the fireplace, and there was food on the table – similar to the night before, rye bread, cheese, butter, salted fish, plus little pies and pastries, berries, and some hot, stiff coffee. Once again, I discovered a roaring appetite within, and devoured EVERYTHING. I looked outside again, to see things had lightened up to a dim twilight, and guessed it must be a typical December morning around these parts.
I put on my red snowsuit, and thank goodness there was no mirror so I couldn’t see how ridiculous I must’ve looked! I grabbed my phone again to see I had about 10 minutes left, just enough to trot a quick message off to Megan! But of course, I still had no bars, so I just sat for awhile, allowing my thoughts to catch up to me, and wondering about the experience that was to come.
At this point, I wouldn’t exactly have called myself a True Believer, but a spark of belief was beginning to take root inside me, once I tallied up all the slightly magical things that had already taken place seemingly before my eyes, starting with the disappearing glitter bomb from the initial package. A knock at the door bounced me out of my reverie – it was Gunter, again, waiting to escort me to The Man Himself – St Nicholas, Papa Noel, Father Christmas, I was ready to meet Santa Claus!
TO BE CONTINUED
At first, we didn’t even know they were there. Little things started happening in our idyllic, semi-rural community of farmettes. First it was Old Lady Capshaw down the lane – accusing the kids of stealing her apple pies or reading glasses off her front porch. We didn’t pay it much mind then – she’s 92 and her memory isn’t what it used to be. Chalked it up to her misplacing the glasses or not actually baking the pie. After it kept happening over months, we questioned all the kids – ranging in age from 5-17, across all 7 farmettes – and they all denied stealing anything. Had no reason to doubt them, they loved their old granny Capshaw, wouldn’t’ve done anything to cause her distress on purpose.
Other things started to go missing, and not just off front porches. Hens didn’t seem to be laying as many eggs over the summer, and small items missing from the clothesline. A hammer taken out of Horace Johnson’s tool shed and little Charley Harris’s jr Big Wheel. We were all trying desperately to be neighborly and not blame one another, but it was obvious a thief was in our midst. We’d smile at our neighbors on the street but cast an eye of suspicion after they passed.
They got bolder in the fall – parts being taken out of tractors, locks broken, bags of grain missing from silos, an entire hog taken right out of her pen on the Henderson farmette! And on around Halloween, Charley’s big brother Jimmy was out in the pumpkin patch to collect future jack-o-lanterns one evening and heard a rustling in the corn nearby, then claimed to have seen a shadowy figure running away with a sackful of corn. He used it to scare the little ones, so we only half believed them, until other strange things started happening.
First Jenny Larson, who was 12 years old and never told a lie in her life, said she saw three dark figures near the Johnson barn when she was walking home from the Sadie Hawkins dance at the Junior High, which lent credence to Jimmy’s story. She turned away to ask if her friend Hannah had seem them and then they were gone, but she swears she saw ‘em. Old Man Jones was fishing out by the Snyder Pond - which is way out on the periphery of the community – and says he found a small lean-to under a big boulder with four little bedrolls and a bunch of other stuff, but when he brought some of the other men to scout it out, it was gone. And strangest of all were the...mobiles? talismans?...that started showing up all over the place, in trees, under porches, inside milkboxes and barns – small, crudely-fashioned figures of animals and people whittled from wood or woven from reeds and cornhusks.
That Thanksgiving was tense as we all gathered in our houses, gathered for meetings, took turns walking the parameter keeping watch for any weird activity – and weird activity we did see, but always at dusk, always on the periphery, always out of the corner of our eyes. We tried to keep a watchful eye, but eggs, hens and livestock were still disappearing out from under us, and several folks heard giggles even as they heard quick footsteps taking flight.
As the first snows started to fly, the odd footsteps that led to nowhere started appearing. And early on Christmas morning, young Harvey Weaver and his new wife had gotten up with the chickens to milk the cows and as they headed back to the farmhouse, saw four dark figures leaning up against the fence on the Larson’s north field, watching them. Standing and sitting, lined up against the fence, watching, unmoving, unafraid.
That’s when the kids started disappearing, one by one.
Which American do I pick? The Mormon or the Texan? I probably shouldn’t be so confused – after all, I already have plans to marry the Texan and go to Texas with him. But...
I’ve been dating the Texan for two years. He’s funny – he makes me laugh, and I can completely be myself around him. He’s cute, too – in a nerdy way. I’m just not sure I ever pictured marrying someone like him – it’s not as romantic as I expected it to be with your beloved.
The Mormon is here on his mission, we’re not actually dating, but...I allowed him to “convert” me. Ha ha – not really – I’m Jewish, after all, and that’s how I’ll stay, but he’s cuuute and so very earnest, and we can’t date because of his mission, so yeah, I allowed myself to listen to his teachings.
My parents would be scandalized if they knew this – they like the Texan – he comes from a good family, though he’s not jewish, either.
But the other day, something happened. Me and the Mormon were talking through a chain link fence. He told me his mission was almost over, that he was leaving. My hand was on the fencepost and...he covered my hand with his...which is a HUUUGE no-no, because he’s on his mission! So I knew I wasn’t imagining it, that there was something between us! My heart nearly exploded, it was sooo romantic.
I went home and cried.
I went out with the Texan. He could see how miserable I was, and figured out why. Well. Do you know what he said?
“I hate to see you so sad. I know why you’re sad. I have money saved for us to travel back to Texas, but you can have it. You can have it, and you can follow him. I just want you to be happy.”
Now how’s a girl supposed to respond to that???
I married the Texan, after all. We married here, in Montevideo with our families there to witness. I moved to Texas with him, but we didn't stay long - moved to California to teach at Peace Corps camp, where we had our oldest daughter - then moved onto Vermont. I took a trip back home when the baby was about 7 months old, so she could meet her Abuelos, and do you know what my mother told me?
The Mormon came back.
Yes - around the time the baby was born, the Mormon knocked on her door. He was done with his mission, and had come back for me. HE CAME BACK FOR ME! Now that's something out of a romance novel if ever there was. IN the novel or the film, of course, the heroine would drop everything to be with her ONE TRUE LOVE - but of course, real life is stranger and more mundane by turns. I loved The Texan too, and now we had a baby to think of. And I was happy in my new life.
The Mormon married someone else and had three kids. The Texan and I saw the whole world more than twice over! And also had three kids. The Mormon and I exchange holiday cards every year. Everything worked out the way it was supposed to, but I'm a storyteller, and sometimes I wonder what might've happened if...
MEETING AT THE RAINBOW BRIDGE
By Carolynne Wilcox
Woman walking through unformed haze of underworld,
searching for something.
Hello...? Is anyone here?
Sound FX: purring
Sound FX purring & kitty trills
Vixen? Vix? Is that you? Here, kitty!
Vixen enters, woman dressed in vague suggestion of a
beautiful, dainty, but feisty calico cat.
Oh, my sweet baby!
The two reunite, joyously.
Oh, sweet baby, I missed you SO much!!!
Missed you, Mama.
You can TALK!
All speak language heart. Meow.
I can’t believe it. I never thought I’d see you again.
Vixen headbutts and nuzzles woman vigorously.
Woman scratches Vixen’s head..
I’m so sorry.
What sorry for?
Wish we’d taken you to the vet sooner. Wish vets would check more deeply
at the first sign of something wrong. Wish those cretins making medicine for
cats would make the pills smaller.
You always wanted me to watch you & pet your butt while you ate.
I’m sorry I didn’t do it often or for very long. If I could go back...
Okay! Mama. Love.
Awww, sweet pea, I love you, too. You can’t imagine how much.
Losing you was one of the worst things to ever happen to me.
Know, Mama. Stayed around – watched. Talked you. Talked Echo.
Silly black cat.
Echo took care of me...after. In her janky way.
Silly black cat. Brat.
She missed you, too. You were her whole world!
She stepped up! I hope I didn’t...make you...stay around.
Wanted to. Missed you. Love. Love.
Vixen rubs all the way around woman’s legs. FX: purring sounds.
Awww, Vix. I’m so happy to see you.
She walks towards the exit.
Smiling through tears
Yes. Go together.
Woman follows Vixen out.
Our love affair began on May 20, 1992 as I sped north from Portland. I had dreamed of you for nearly a year before, set a path in motion that I wouldn’t deviate from. The long drive up from San Diego with $75 in my pocket for gas and about $200 to my name in the bank and a whole lot of homemade food for the journey. Exhilarated and terrified, spent a week in San Francisco with Jonathan, both of us broke, broke, broke, then moved on to Portland for 3 days, where they confiscated my credit card at the hotel and I had to pay by check – spent half of that $200 on 2 nights in a hotel until I finally got hold of Matt (no cell phones in those days) and spent the final night at his place before heading north as the sun set, north to YOU.
I remember the miles between us falling away in my rear-view mirror and the sun-kissed rain forest on both sides of I-5. My mind was going in anxious circles – would you welcome me? Would I be okay? I was moving towards you pretty much sight unseen: would we be compatible?
Sometime after Tacoma, I passed that bend in the road, a bend I know well now, after decades. I saw you, for the first time, awaiting my arrival. I saw you, and a calm came over me. The anxiety and fear gone, and only the one feeling remained: I was home. I had finally reached you, my beautiful, mythical Emerald City, and you embraced me at once with open arms and took me in.
We separated once, a long, drawn-out separation. I didn’t want to leave you, but my heart’s desire lay elsewhere. It tore my heart in two as I sped away on I-90, not knowing where the future would take me, but once again, speeding along an interstate, exhilarated and terrified. I didn’t know if I’d find my way back to you again.
But somehow, 3 years later, I did, this time at 30,000 feet – I had to resist kissing the ground, and opened my mouth to taste your air, so very different, so very life-giving compared to that of Baltimore. The grounding factors of mountain, sea and fire in your topography have always put my soul aright.
We were together again, and, though we’ve had our issues, you’ve been the one constant in my life. I grew up here with you. I’ve become here I am, my footprints all over every inch of you, your streets, your hills, your shores. You are a part of me, my rainy beautiful one, and our love is pure.
You had the weirdest food anxiety: always leaving two bits of kibble “for later”, always wanting me to watch you, even rub your butt while you ate. I laughed, and indulged you, sometimes. Now that you’re gone, I wish I’d indulged you more. I wish I’d watched you eat for a minute longer, wish I’d rubbed your furry little arse through all of your meals. 10 years of cuddles, of purrs, of not getting up because you were sleeping on me, of watching you ricochet sideways off the couch, of your sweet, expressive meows. Time. Always fleeting, always too short.
Exhaustion. That’s what I felt as I spend home after 5 straight days of tech. Total and utter exhaustion. “TECH”, for the uninitiated, is that period immediately leading up to opening night of a play or musical, where all the elements of the production come together. You bring in the lights, the sound, special effects if you have them (a projectionist in this case!), the final props, the final touches on the set, the costumes, the hair and makeup – everything comes together and we spend HOURS figuring out how to merge it so it’s seamless when we finally get an audience.
Though I’ve been a theatre artist for decades, I’m quite new to the world of professional theatre. Prior to this year, I was used to working a full day and THEN going to rehearsal in the evenings and on weekends, 2 hours here, 4 hours there. Usually, we’d have a week, often the call time was something like “7pm until we’re finished”, which often is close to midnight.
This time, it’s been two weeks of tech, 8 hours per day, with a 2-hour meal break in the middle, and it’s a great deal of slog where the actors are concerned, the equivalent of multiple takes, I imagine, for a film actor. It’s where we go over a particular tiny bit of the script over and over again to make sure the lighting, sound, FX, blocking, lines and everything else are as we want them to be. It’s a slog. A necessary one, but a slog.
A magical thing had also happened earlier on that Sunday of tech slog: The West Seattle Bridge had opened, after a couple years of south-end traffic gridlock, and I didn’t merely drive home, I hurtled along at what felt like light-speed comparatively, meaning I was actually able to go the speed limit instead of deal with an hour of bumper-to-bumper. I made it from the Seattle Center to my house, on the 6700 block of Rainier, in 12 minutes flat.
And as my car sped south, my exhaustion turned into exhilaration. This “slog” I’d just gone through? It was because we’re telling an amazing and important story. Everyone in the room wanted to make sure it was JUST RIGHT. It’s a story about real people who lived, and who did difficult things so others would benefit, and everyone on the creative team wants to make sure we honor those people and give their story justice. All our hard work, learning lines, putting in pin-curls to wear uncomfortable wigs, inching line by line through text so the lighting and sound are in synch...we’re doing it for them. And for US. They wanted a better world. WE want a better world. People like to talk about the arts as frivolous and unnecessary, “it’s not WORK, you’re just having fun.” There’s a truth to that. But telling stories like this also feels important.
And as the exhaustion started to turn into sparkly exhilaration, I also remembered yeah, I “get” to do this. I “get” to tell this story. I “get” to be an actor. I have fought for decades to be exactly where I am right now. This enviable position of being invited to audition in the professional arena and then getting to do the work itself. So, through the slog of tech, through the driving back and forth on a traffic-clogged I-5 to rehearsals, all of it exhausting, all of it exhilarating and it all comes down to this, in our silly world of toxic capitalism: I actually get to put “actor” under “occupation” when I fill out my taxes next year, and after such a long road, that feels extremely fucking satisfying.
1.) The Clean Houseby Sarah Ruhl
A romantic comedy about loss, love, change and redemp-tion, The Clean House is both whimsical and touching. A serious career-oriented doctor, Lane, has hired a quirky Brazilian maid. The only problem is that the maid, Matilde, hates to clean. Instead, she longs to be a comedienne. Lane is deserted by her husband, Charles, who leaves her for his mistress, Ana, a passionate, older Argentinian woman upon whom he recently performed a mastectomy. Sarah Ruhl's enchanting play reminds us that there is humor and beauty to be find in life's most unlikely messes.
2.) The Maidsby Jean Genet
Solange and Claire are two housemaids who construct elaborate sadomasochistic rituals when their mistress (Madame) is away. The focus of their role-playing is the murder of Madame and they take turns portraying both sides of the power divide. Their deliberate pace and devotion to detail guarantees that they always fail to actualize their fantasies by ceremoniously "killing" Madame at the ritual's dénoue-ment.
3.) Eclipsedby Danai Gurira
Amid the chaos of the Liberian Civil War, the captive wives of a rebel officer band together to form a fragile community—until the balance of their lives is upset by the arrival of a new girl. Drawing on reserves of wit and compassion, Eclipsed reveals distinct women who must discover their own means of survival in this chilling and humanizing story of transformation and renewal in a hostile world of horrors not of their own making.
4.) BFEby Julia Cho
Cute blondes are disappearing from her strip mall-covered suburban town, but fourteen-year-old Panny is more concerned with surviving adolescence. Raised by an unbalanced mother who thinks the perfect birthday gift is plastic surgery and a shy uncle who spends most of his time painting miniatures, Panny is afraid she’s hopelessly different. Thanks to a fortuitous misdial, she strikes up a phone friendship that seems to be the connection she’s been longing for.
5.)Circle Mirror Transformationby Annie Baker
Five lost people come together at a community center class to try and find some meaning in their lives. Counting to ten can be harder than you think. Over six tangled weeks, their lives become knotted together in this tender and funny play.
6.) God of Carnageby Yasmina Reza
What happens when two sets of parents meet up to deal with the unruly behavior of their children? A calm and rational debate between grownups about the need to teach kids how to behave properly? Or a hysterical night of name-calling, tantrums, and tears before bedtime? A bitingly funny and whip smart examination of the things we don’t think we teach or children.
7.) 4000 Milesby Amy Herzog
After suffering a major loss while he was on a cross-country bike trip, 21 year-old Leo seeks solace from his feisty 91-year-old grandmother Vera in her West Village apartment. Over the course of a single month, these unlikely roommates infuriate, bewilder, and ultimately reach each other. 4000 Miles looks at how two outsiders find their way in today’s world.
8.) Blastedby Sarah Kane
Blasted opened in 1995, making front-page headlines and outraging some critics who thought her premise that there was a connection between a rape in a Leeds hotel room and the hellish devastation of civil war was simply an attempt to shock audiences. Brutal and graphic, “Blasted” is important but not for the faint of heart.
9.) Ohio State Murdersby Adrienne Kennedy
When Suzanne, an African American writer, enters Ohio State University in 1949, little does she know what the supposed safe haven of academia holds in store. Years later, Suzanne is invited to return to the University to talk about the violence in her writing. A dark mystery unravels. The play is an intriguing, unusual and chilling look at the destructiveness of racism in the U.S.
10.) Stop Kissby Diana Sun
The story is deceptively simple: two young women in New York meet, talk about their boyfriends, feel a growing, unspoken attraction for each other, and finally kiss. And that one innocent kiss sets off a savage gay-bashing. Callie is holding down a job as a radio traffic reporter when she meets Sara, a Midwesterner who, against her parents’ wishes, has moved to the city to teach third-grade students in the Bronx. Both have boyfriends, but as they get to know each other, their shared experiences and sense of humor create a strong bond. The tragic consequences of their kiss—the center of this powerful drama—serve as both an indictment of hatred and a moving study of the perils inherent in living life fully.
1.) Participate in a Play Reading, Online.
If you don't know anyone hosting one, pick a play you've always wanted to read and host it yourself through one of the many conferencing apps that abound. Not only do you get to flex your acting/reading chops, but you get to do it amongst friends!
You can be as fancy with your camera equipment as you want to be, or not. Use your phone! Or even, your actual, analog camera. Take one photo for each day of your isolation. Give yourself a theme, if you want - that seems to help with focus. You can journal around each photo, or get really ambitious and create a poem for each image! Pets can make WONDERFUL subjects...or, find a famous painting, stage it in your home and recreate it via photography.
3.) Work on Your Audition Pieces.
Use your free time to find and memorize new audition pieces. Challenge yourself to find one for every possibility: Classical, Dramatic, Contemporary, Comedic, Shakespearean, 10 bars of two contrasting songs (if you're into musical theatre), Do them in your living room. Do them often. Take a break from sitting at a screen and do your monologue. Take it one further and host a group of your favorite peers to work your pieces in front of each other online! You can focus on a different type (Shakespeare, Contemporary, etc) each virtual meeting, When productions start and auditions come back up again, you'll be able to hit the ground running!
4.) Create an Image Board.
Either break out the magazines and craft supplies and create a physical image board, or go over to Pinterest, create an account, and do it virtually! If you have a show coming up (at SOME point in the future), start working on an image board for it to use going forward when rehearsals begin: if you're an actor, find images pertaining to your character; if a playwright/director/designer/dramaturg, all the things about the whole show! If you're writing a novel, find images pertaining to different aspects of your book. You can also simply create a vision board, and find images pertaining to things you'd like to manifest in the coming days/months/years. Create your dream garden or your dream house through images.
5.) Do Some Planting!
It's spring: perfect time to begin clearing and planting! Plot out spaces in your yard for flowers and vegetables...or start a small herb garden in a window box in your kitchen window, or maybe some strawberries in a planter on your balcony! Plant simply for the pleasure of getting the earth on your hands, or take it a step further and plant intentions with each seed and/or clipping.
6.) In the Kitchen
Cooking and baking are another way to stay inspired, stay connected to your creativity and of course, have some great things to eat! If you're a bit phobic about either cooking or baking, get courageous and follow a couple recipes to the letter - journal about your results, if so motivated! Or, if you're a more experienced chef, try something complicated you've always felt daunted by: sourdough bread? Beef Wellington? Macarons? And of course, take photos and post to social media so everyone can see...
7.) Make Music
Been awhile since you've picked up that guitar? Have a haunting melody disturbing your brain? Maybe it's time to make some music! Open up Garage Band, or any other music creation app, and create a soundscape for your show, workout, or anything you like. Form a virtual band and have a jam session with your favorite creatives using homemade instruments: a jar of beans becomes quick percussion, a hollow box with rubber bands around it becomes a string instrument, a wine bottle becomes a wind instrument - let your imagination run wild! Don't forget the singing and beat-boxing.
8.) Makes Something Visual
People like to say they "can't paint" or "can't draw", but those are only two disciplines under the vast umbrella of visual arts & crafts. Use rubber stamps, or found images. Try doing a paint pour. Or, gather all your hard, flat pieces of junk mail and use them as canvasses for multi-media art-work - using glue, paint, found images, glitter, crayons, whatever you have on hand! Or get an app or coloring book and do some coloring - you'd be surprised how meditative and calming it is! Or paint an accent wall in your house. Prime and paint your car a funky color...paint a wizard on the side of your van! Sky's the limit - You don't have to be super skilled to create something beautiful you can hang on the wall (or post on Instagram)!
9.) Write, Write, WRITE!
What a perfect opportunity to hone your writing chops. Start a journal or a blog - you can either make it general, or focused: I know someone working on a grief journal, someone else working on a poetry journal. A post-apocalyptic blog would be perfect right now, and there's so much inspiration between pop-culture and real life...if journaling isn't your thing, try a form or genre you've never tried before: start a play...make it social, get some friends, each of you write a 10-minute play on a theme, then hold a virtual reading of all of them. Gather writing prompts off the internet, from magazines, from books. Write them all down, fold each prompt down, put in a jar, then select one prompt a day and write. Or, go to one of the myriad virtual museums online, select a work of art and write a story, play or poem about it...or an essay. Or a critique, if you are more logically-minded. Revise it. Submit it somewhere.
10.) Take a Class
So many virtual class offerings going on right now, you can pretty much pick your poison! Freehold Theatre is offering some great online classes this spring; many colleges around the country have been and continue to offer some great courses in just about any subject you can think of - Coursera is a great place to start for things unrelated to acting. Learn a language; take a cooking seminar. There are so many possibilities out there to make quarantine easier.
11.) Costume Party
Play dress up: dress to the nines and host a virtual happy hour for friends. Or, pick a theme: costume yourself in your best post apocalyptic outfit, funky 60's garb, goth it up - you do you! Or, do outrageous animal makeup. Create a social media group and share your photos.
Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.