A year and a half ago I was sitting on my parents’ couch, awash with grief and abject helplessness as the news showed footage of the BP oil spill ad nauseum, interrupted only by depressing unemployment figures, tragic economic shoulder shrugs, and tales of unrest abroad. I was unemployed, newly returned to my home-town (per a very sympathetic welcome from my parents) with less than $50 in my bank account, and no idea what I was going to do with myself now landed.
I spent a lot of time that summer sobbing at the horror of it all, and stuffing my face with my parents’ hard-earned cupboard snacks.
I felt so adrift in all the news, I couldn’t find anyplace to drop anchor – and I felt powerless to do anything about any of it.
Then a cricket kept me up one night, tossing and turning and seeing red with insomnia, and I got up in the morning, sat down to the keys, and wrote a play about it all – even the cricket.
I felt better. I had found a place where I could be heard – even if the play was still just on the page, it was my words, my world… it was mine and I no longer felt like I was bubbling with inarticulate horror… I was doing something about it.
That play got a reading, was a finalist for the O’Neills and is now in rewrites… whether it will see the stage, I can’t predict, but it makes me feel good to know it’s here – ready to be realized – and no longer eating away at my stomach.
I find myself going through a similar news-induced-panic now.
Every time I turn on the news or visit my home-page, there’s some new development here or there or in my back-yard, that has me nearly paralyzed with unease… Where are we headed? The deep polarity dividing the nation seems to be getting worse day by day, and news of our internal strife is riddled with continually depressing unemployment numbers and even more upset abroad.
Is it time for another play?
I read somewhere that Artistic Directors are lamenting the lack of “current” plays – Well, a lot of the artists most affected by current events are the ones they haven’t met yet. A lot of the artists who are feeling the pinch are trying to decide between peanut butter or jelly because buying both is too expensive. A lot of the creative minds who have been crock-potting the state of things are just now starting to send that work out into the world to be received/or/rejected and it’s going to take a bit of a hunt on those hungry Artistic Director’s fronts to find them amidst the piles.
Because although I love and adore many of our contemporary playwrights, many of those who are currently getting produced are watching the National Implosion from more comfortable seats than those of the not-yet-discovered.
Oh, of course all of us artists are in danger – popular thought on the national relevancy of arts is too hot-button of an issue for any of us to be able to relax – but there’s a big experiential difference between those of us who are able to turn off the television and write about it at our stable desks, and those of us who are cramming our creative moments in front of the computer between job searches and coupon raids.
Which is why I’m looking forward to hearing from some of my fellows writing adrift… I’m looking forward to seeing their work on the national stage.
I’m looking forward to the day when more of us can finally drop anchor.