Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Resolutions For the Playwright

Dear Myself,

Yeah, yeah, I know. Resolutions are for chumps. But let me tell you something: so too is going into a new year completely unprepared. Especially this one. "2011." See, I got a look at the guy, in a Preview Issue? And I'll tell you what, 2011 may look to you currently like a wide-eyed babe in a cunning party hat, but oh no. He's got plans, plans you're not gonna see comin'. Fortunately for you, me, us, whatever: I learned a few things here in 2010, and with these things thus learned, we're gonna make a few resolutions. Now sit still, it'll be all right. I'm a professional resolver.

1. Be not bitter. Look, it's hard. Theater has currently a narrow-feeling playing field with a very few resources, and so, the successes of our peers can feel like judgments against us. SHE got this thing why did SHE get that thing certainly I could have got that THING but maybe I didn't know the right PEOPLE or go to the right SCHOOL or go to SCHOOL AT ALL plus HAVE YOU NOT NOTICED I HAVE BETTER HAIR etc etc. But I'll tell you, nothing is uglier than a chorus of brilliant people wallowing in mean-spirited, cold-hearted disengagement. Blowing off steam is one thing, but the tone I've heard you take -- ! So fight the fights, certainly, drum up the awarenesses. But fight the battles of class with class, learn how not to self-defeat in your defeat, and for heaven's sake, do not delight in the failure of others. Find something to love instead.

2. Find something to love. Oh, hello! I didn't see you there. I know you love plenty already, but really. Really, this year, chase down an obsession (or two). Fill up books and pages with it. Research it, talk about it, learn about it, live it. Maybe it's a band, a genre, a language, a plant, a person, a philosophy. Watch what it wakes in you. Then write that down. 'Cause not to sound like a damn hippie, but that's kind of the point, you dunce.

(Sing this to yourself if it helps. Someday you're gonna be free, Lord.)

3. Write. Don't give me that face. Write. Under any and all circumstances. However you need to, with and without restriction. Start things. Finish things. Feel the fear and then jam a fist in its face. SOON THE FEAR WILL FEAR YOU.

Also keep giving yourself these pep talks, they are hilarious. Jam a fist, that's a good one, is that some fancy new slang?

4. Be there. It means something to people when you support them. Go see their shows, readings, puppet shows, pantomimes. Dance, after; drink, after. Feedback, sure, if they want it, but being present! Rising the tide that floats all our ships. Don't think you can't go because you never know what to say after. Being there is part of the faith we all share that what we're doing is a thing worth doing, and, look. Faith is a hell of a thing to have when trying to act on all of these other high-minded resolutions.

5. Speaking of ships: acquire, by any means necessary, a Youngblood Ship. For real this time. Something along the lines of a beautifully restored 1920s steam ship with jet skis and a grand piano and a lavishly-appointed dining room. Then commence sailing around the world, bringing theater and cocktails to all. Ahoy!


joshcon80 said...

You know what's funny? I knew that you wrote this before I'd even read the first sentence. That's what it means to be in a community of writers: knowing their work.

Anyway, thank you for this. I really, really struggle with #1. I'm, like, the worst at it. I'm trying- god knows I am- but mostly I want to scream, "Get the F out of my spot, you!"

Meghan Drrns said...

#1 is really hard! It's even hard just to be mindful of it. And I can't deny that I sometimes get a little wind in my sails out of the need to compete. But once the neg starts outweighing the other stuff, like the work, or the enjoyment, or the want to support/be a part of the community: then why'm I even here? If I want to be miserable there are plenty of easier ways to go about it. So we'll keep trying, yeah?

joshcon80 said...

Yep. We'll keep trying.

Also, "But fight the battles of class with class..." Yay! Somebody acknowledges there's a class problem in the theater. Huzzah!

Anna said...

Every one of these is spot on. Especially number 5. Looking forward to making some scrimshaw with you on the high seas, Deans.

plink said...

Rock. On. Deans.

Mack said...


Erica Saleh said...

This post made me jam a fist in the air.