Category Archives: playwriting

Later…

I am at a loss.  Still.  I want to write and I do.  I write something everyday.  Now I just need to pull it together for a cohesive piece, but then I find another reference, or another article that I add fuel to my writing and I can’t put it out there.  

I am searching for the secret, so if you know, please share it will me?  How do you give zero f*cks? I can say all day long that I don’t care what people think and that I am writing my truth, but something  hides in the shadows just waiting for me I know.  Someone there to have the conversations I am dying to have but…procrastination.  My house is so clean because of this.  If only I could channel it.

“You know you are getting old when it takes too much effort to procrastinate.” — Source unknown

I have started once again doing writing prompts.  Which at the time when I choose the prompt I don’t think it will be helpful but as soon as I start the timer my mind is drawn into my play and I am filled with some sense of accomplishment.

Taking a 5-10 minutes clearing my head is hard.  Sitting still.  Needing to do something, anything else than sit here.  What’s better for me, to get my writing done is to lead the meditation.  That way I’m always thinking of what I’m going to say next, which I know is not what I supposed to do, but I’m trying.  The random prompt then leads to dialogue.  The time limit making me choose my words quickly and not overthinking it.  Just write.  Get something on the page. Don’t go back and edit.  Just write the next sentence.   What makes it worst, I have a book with 400 writing prompts, yet I insist on searching online everytime I need to find a prompt.

What else is productive for me is to take a class.  During this time there have been so many opportunities to take classes from all around the country.  I’ve written 2 short plays already.  Way more than I think I’ve done before. EVER.  I mean in a week’s time.  But now I am procrasting on deadlines to submit a full length play and I’ve turned to reading a book about playwrighting.  You know, just so I can get it right.  I think I’m getting good at this procrastination.

I hope you are writing.  I’m trying.  Keep at it.

Jennifer

The Sound of Music

by Diane Grant

The director of Theatre Palisades Youth, Lara Ganz, is over the moon. The troupe has acquired the rights to produce The Sound Of Music for its summer show. It was very difficult to do. Lara asked. They refused. She asked again. They refused. She cried, and they gave in.

The Sound of Music by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, is based on the true story of the Trapp Family Singers in Austria at the time of the rise of Nazism.

Since 1965, it has continued to be one of the most popular movie musicals and plays ever.

Maria, one of the Trapp Singers, was a young nun in an Austrian convent who regularly missed her morning prayers because she went into the hills to sing. Deciding that Maria needs to learn something about the real world before she can take her vows, the Mother Superior sends her off to be governess for the seven children of the widowed Captain Von Trapp.

The movie, which starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, is full of glorious music. I can do without Do-Re-Mi, but I love Sixteen Going On Seventeen, My Favorite Things, Edelweiss and Climb Ev′ry Mountain. And more.

My husband made the making of The Sound of Music for the CBC and 20th Century Fox. When they were filming in Salzburg, Plummer would sit outside, hungover on a bench in full lederhosen, and was overheard calling the movie The Sound of Mucous. He is terrific in it.

And can Julie Andrews sing or what?

When I lived in Toronto, I took my aunt, Edna, who was blind, and her friend, Clara, who was hard of hearing, to see it in the movies on a Saturday afternoon. We sat way down front on the aisle, with me between the two.

Aunty Edna would lean into me and whisper,

EDNA
Where is she now?

and I would whisper back,

DIANE
She’s climbing up a hill and I think she is going to sing.

Throughout, Clara would ask quite loudly,

CLARA
What did he (or she) say?

And I would say, also quite loudly,

DIANE
He said…..

Nobody threw us out and we had a wonderful time.

It’s perfect for the kids and I’m really looking forward to the Theatre Palisades production. I won’t sing along, but I could!



SPARK: Writing Exercises for your Fuzzy Brain

by Zury Margarita Ruiz

Spark!

Earlier in the week, I worked on a rewrite of a 5-minute play (my contribution for the upcoming Los Angeles Short Play Festival, What’s Going On?, produced by Company of Angels. For more info on this festival, please visit: https://www.companyofangels.org/whatsgoingon) that shouldn’t have taken too long to work on but, in fact, took me almost the whole day. It’s not like re-writes come easy to me (an overthinker) but more so than that, my brain has been a little fuzzy as of late. It’s not hard to believe that with all that’s going on, and is continuing to develop, we (because I’ve heard this from other folks too) might not be as focused on the writing/work before us.

Fortunately, I am working with a really wonderful director, Sylvia Cervantes Blush, who quickly picked up what I was going through and gave me a writing exercise that really helped SPARK (hey, hey, there goes the title of this post!) something for me. This all started making me think of some of my favorite writing exercises that have, in this instance, helped me with the development of a current project, or some of which have just been super memorable because they allowed me to reflect and/or think outside the box. I’d like to share some of those here in hopes that it might help clear your fuzzy brain.

SYLVIA’S EXERCISE

To help me clarify what the message of my play was (because trust me, I lost it for a bit), Sylvia offered an exercise to me that consists of three parts. Part 1 asks you to take 20 minutes to go through your play from beginning to end, including stage directions and highlight the words/phrases that HAVE TO BE IN THE PLAY.

It should be noted that 20 minutes was more than appropriate to actually go through an entire 5-minute play. If you’re working on a full-length, well, than of course, give yourself an appropriate amount of time to go through the play but not so much that you have the time to dwell over every word/phrase you possibly can (assuming you’re an overthinker like me).

Once that time is up, comes Part 2! Here, you will take half the time you took in the first step—so for me that was ten minutes—and re-write the play with just those words. Don’t fret, Dear Reader, you’re not starting from scratch! Essentially, you’re blocking out everything you DID NOT highlight and then observing the play in its new little Frankenstein form.

I have to say, this was personally my favorite part. Reading the words/phrases I highlighted from my 5-minute play, blocked off from all the other clutter, sort of felt like diving into some poetry. 

Now, Part 3 made me a bit anxious. Part 3 asks that without looking at your original and Frankenstein drafts, you re-write the entire play! My hands just got sweaty typing that…

I did this third part in 30 minutes. Again, for folks writing full-length plays, you’re going to want to adjust that time appropriately.

The draft that was developed during this phase was most definitely not the final draft of my play BUT it was super helpful in going back to work on it, as influenced by these new interpretations of it.

LOVELL’S EXERCISE  

While part of the Son of Semele writers group, fellow member, Lovell Holder, gave us an exercise that made me start writing a play I often think about. For this exercise, we were asked to write a two-person narrative (play, prose, or poem—whatever you choose). Through out our writing, the proctor (in this case, Lovell) called out random words that we were to use in our piece. Of course, if you were already on some train of thought with your writing, then the random words were bound to  throw you off, but on the other hand, it could also drive your story somewhere pleasantly surprising, which was the case for me. Definitely a good lesson in rolling with the punches.

LTA/LA WRITERS CIRCLE EXERCISE

As a former member of the Latino Theatre Alliance/LA’s writers group, we would have notable LA playwrights visit our sessions and give us master class/workshop of their choice. This next exercise is from that time BUT, I honestly CANNOT remember WHO gave us this exercise. K sad (“How sad” for all my non-Spanglish readers).

This two-part exercise required that we draw ourselves in a place of emotional significance, but additionally, we are to include someone in that image who may or may not necessarily belong to that space. The second part of the exercise then asks that we then write dialogue between both people in that image, taking the space into consideration. To start you off, the first line of dialogue should be, “Do you really think you know everything there is to know”. Going back to space very quickly– I hate to admit this but I’m not always so good at following directions during exercises like these, either because I didn’t fully grasp what was asked of us or because… I just didn’t want to. I say this because NONE of my dialogue had nothing to do with the location of my play. I can’t say I was a rebel for going against the rules of this exercise, in this instance, I more so just didn’t listen because I got distracted. In any case, this was a super memorable exercise for me because I got to draw myself (in my preferred pants-free state) in my assigned dorm room at the University of Sussex when I was studying abroad. Not to brag, but mine was the BIGGEST dorm room on the floor, so yeah, I was having solo dance parties in there FOR SURE. But back to the exercise… Included in my drawing was my sister’s dog, Lita, who has long been over my shit, so the dialogue portion of the exercise was fun and biting.

This assignment, overall, just did the job of taking me out of my fuzzy brain and putting me in a good mood, so at the very least, I would recommend it for that.

Me and Lita <3

Anyway, if you are experiencing fuzzy brain, I hope that you feel inclined to try one of these exercises. If you do, I hope you’ll let me know how it went.

Happy 4th of July, 2020

by Analyn Revilla

In Hyde Park, the people are standing outside on the streets, sitting on the porch, parked in chairs on the sidewalks and are looking up at the skies… The skies are bejeweled with color and dazzling sparks. The sound is intensely booming the celebration of freedom.

For one evening during this period of uncertainty, we are united by awe and wonder. Couldn’t we remember to regard each person with awe, respect and wonder more often?

Emotions Run High

by Analyn Revilla

These days, the news reports that drivers are more aggressive on the roads and that there are higher accidents and fatalities on the road.  Some people are channeling their unbridled emotions with pressure on the gas pedal or taking unnecessary risks.  Today, while driving along Western south of Jefferson Boulevard, someone passed to my left, crossing onto the lane of the opposite traffic and swerved to make a right turn, crossing three lanes.  Bold and stupid to say the least.

During my drive, prior to being a witness to that, I was musing about the gamut of human emotions.  I thought, as an experiment, that I would start to take notes on the range of emotions I experience in a twenty-four hour period, and correlate those emotions with the thoughts that motivated the emotions.  Then, as an objective scientist, I would create a bar graph of the categories of thoughts-emotions, to visualize which bars tend to be higher than others.  This bar graph would be an indicator of my tendencies, and perhaps help me to manage my emotions better.

My emotions have been running high.  I shared with someone that, lately, I’ve been yelling a lot at the dogs.  My temperature gauge is running hot and I don’t like this trend.  Upon recognizing my rising emotional temperature, I reasoned that the dogs prefer to be near me, especially with the illegal fireworks exploding during the evenings and sometimes well into the late night.  Or they are looking for attention when they destroy the hose or bend the metal bars of the screen door.  Big sigh.

It’s interesting to me that what inspired the idea of taking an inventory of my thoughts and feelings by logging them was leafing through a book called “Classics of the Foreign Film”, by Parker Tyler, and published in 1962. Open a page and there, bared to the eyes of the soul are images of the human condition.  Every page is breaming with these images.  I think this compilation is better than National Geographic.  It is art made by artists about You and Me, Us and Them, Me and We, He and She.  It is the relationships put into cinematographic art form by  years, starting with 1919 thru 1961 from different countries (Germany, France, Italy, Poland, India, USSR, Japan and more).

I don’t quite understand how my mind made the connection of what I’ve been experiencing with my emotions to the catalogue of dramatic scenes in those pages.  Like a light switch, the light turned on and I recognized that I needed to step back in my own life and see it as a movie.  In doing that, I don’t identify so much as the doer but more of an experiencer of what’s happening at the moment. i.e. not to take it all so personally (in pill form).  Watch the images projected on the blank screen as passing moments.  The only thing permanent is the screen, me; while the experiences are ephemeral.  

This, all this, that’s been making our emotions run high and low, shall pass. 

The Future of Theatre in a Post-Covid World

by Kitty Felde

One of the last things I did before the world shut down was make a trip to NYC to see theatre. Three shows in five days! Now I wonder now whether I’ll ever step into a black box space again.

So what does that mean to us as playwrights?

In the immediate sense, productions, workshops, readings have all been postponed to 2021 or relegated to Zoom calls with imperfect internet connections and crappy audio.

But what about the long term?

Budgets have been slashed at institutional theatres as they try to survive. Grant money is disappearing or being refocused on organizations that feed and clothe and medically care for people. According to the Los Angeles Times, only a third of season ticket holders were willing to donate the cost of this season’s Center Theatre Group season tickets to help keep the Music Center alive. Just 15% of single ticket buyers willing to donate their ticket money.

When theatres open again, will audiences be willing to sit inside an enclosed space, shoulder to shoulder with strangers, likely wearing a mask for several hours? Will they even have the money to spend on it?

I think it’s time for us as theatre artists to quite literally think outside the box.

photo by Laura WInter

One of my favorite theatre experiences was a live reading of my play “Queen of the Water Lilies” in a Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, the actors and audience under the trees on the very site where the play takes place. It’s perhaps the least-known National Park, the site of a water lily farm and home to a woman who fought the Army Corps of Engineers to preserve what has become the last remaining tidal wetlands in Washington, D.C. Before the show, the audience could stroll around the water lily ponds, see the turtles sunning themselves and hear the frogs calling to each other. In the middle of the show, a snowy white egret flew overhead – perfect for the play where one character rages at an egret from an earlier generation. It was true theatre. With a healthy dose of sunscreen.

Our last minute cast member for “Queen of the Water Lilies” – photo by Laura Winter

It was immersive theatre in the best sense of the word. We could do it again today, just spacing the audience and actors six feet apart.

We can also create an intensely intimate kind of theatre, the kind that can play out inside your head.

Audio is incredibly powerful. As someone who spent way too many decades in public radio, our bread and butter was creating audio stories that would create “driveway moments” where our audience would sit in their cars until the story was over. We can do this with fiction as well, creating stories that don’t need that black box, just a good pair of headphones.

It was an exciting challenge last summer, creating THE FINA MENDOZA MYSTERIES, an audio drama that takes the audience into the bowels of the U.S. Capitol where dead Founding Fathers come to life, out to a Long Beach cemetery for a Dia de los Muertos picnic, and even to the National Zoo to see the baby tigers. In truth, we barely left my front yard.

Trailer for The Fina Mendoza Mysteries

We even found a way to tape a new episode in the middle of coronavirus with actors recording themselves on smartphones and emailing me the voice memos.

You can hear more about the project in this video we taped for the Bay Area Book Festival.

I’m not the only one thinking outside the box.

Playwright Ellen Struve has turned her front window into a stage for an extravagant shadow puppet play. She wrote the script, created the characters out of bits of paper and old Fresnel gels, and enlisted her children and husband as musicians and puppet wranglers. Lucky audiences in Omaha can stop by her front yard for a free performance.

A few years ago, Moving Arts created a series of short play performed inside cars. In a post-coronavirus era, it’s more likely that we’d drive our own cars to an outdoor space where theatre would be performed. Perhaps we would download a particular app to listen to the dialogue.

We are creative people. Perhaps this new normal will force us to truly think outside the box.

What will you create?

We Are Here

by Constance Strickland

I will not lie. As a Black Woman and Black Theatre Artist, I’ve born witness to institutional theatre hindering Black storytelling in Los Angeles for years. I find access to new spaces limited or financially unavailable for Black Theatre Artists to develop new work. I’ve come to discover I’m often in the crossfire of hidden prejudices. As Black Theatre Artists we’ve experienced words thrust upon us such as angry, aggressive, and loud to silence our voices. Due to this, over the past few weeks, my feelings have gone from disconcerting too perturbed. I’ve had PTSD symptoms surface I didn’t know I carried within my body. 

I will not lie. I see White Theatre Artists advocate for Black Lives while never once advocating for Black Theatre Artists. I see posts linked to where and how you can support Black Lives while not advocating for Black People you actually see. I am constantly flooded with content from peers simultaneously discovering and posting quotes from Black Intellectuals and Leaders while ignoring conversations Black friends have with them weekly if not daily. I receive forwarding articles on how to support Black Theatre Artists while being a Black Theatre Artist. I see feeds filled with stands of solidarity when I have personally experienced these same figures and organizations dishonor Black agency. 

We’re existing in times where it’s a detriment to the Theatre to have colleagues, who are unaware of how they’ve become co-conspirators in age-old racism. Is the sudden influx of support for Black Theatre Artists a trend that will simply fade away and be unable to sustain itself, or are White led theatre organizations actually seeking ways to finally hear the eclectic voices of Black Theatre Artists that are developing work in the midst of our theatre community and offer real support? It causes you to wonder if they actually care to support the multitude of Black Theatre Artists right in the community.  

This call to action is necessary. It is an overdue embarrassment. This moment in time reveals how disconnected our theatre community is from Black Theatre Artists. We exist within the Los Angeles Theatre Community. For a long time, we’ve been here. Reaching out. Doing the work by any means necessary without real support. 

I will not lie. We’ve given power to these theatre “guardians”. We’ve allowed this white patriarchal system to seep into the roots of our ancient form of storytelling and taint its sanctity. We’ve given these “guardians” the key to control who goes through the doors. They decide who receives particular resources and opportunities. Now the roots are rotten and the branches are no longer able to hold themselves up. There is no doubt that the work we are seeing is not the full-scale gage of the voices nor talent residing within our Los Angeles Theatre Community, a vibrant theatre hub where stories are being created in tiny nooks throughout the city. A city where artists do the work every day, each year without fail, and without support.

We need you to Support Black Theatre Artists right here in Los Angeles. We are out here developing new theatre. We are trying to fund new plays. We are local Theatre Artists who need support. We are independent Theatre Artists residing here in Los Angeles. We are not supported by an academic or arts institution, we are not under fiscal sponsorship, and we are not funded via a non-profit umbrella. WE self–produce new works on a high level. UPLIFT US. 

I will not lie. As a Black Theatre Artist, I have reached out to White and Black academic and art institutions alike. I believed I would receive equal opportunities to present my work. To build a community in my field and grow as an artist in safe spaces. 

Over the years I have reached out and applied for my work to be shown at numerous theatres, galleries, museums, and other artistic institutions in Los Angeles. In response, I was once told that space was only reserved for artists who were alumni of Cal-Arts. Another space responded by quoting me a price that was simply too high for an independent artist to afford. At other times, my applications are simply ignored, and my emails left unanswered. What I find even more concerning is that when my work is presented or shown at these institutions it’s through the association of white artists where my black body and talent were presented and credited under their name. Yet, when I apply I am not given the same opportunities. 

I will not lie. Black Theatre Artists are not given the opportunity to be varied. Black Theatre Artists must be allowed, encouraged, and supported in making every type of work. Not only work that assists a “guardians” concept of what a Black Theatre Artist is and can be. For there is no limit to what one can manifest when they are not shackled and being marginalized. Black Theatre Artists are not widely included in our theatre community. We often are left with no choice but to fight from not getting stuck under the gaze of these white “guardians” who block the entryway to a wider audience. If you Support local Black and Brown Theatre Artists it raises the bar for our city. It raises the bar of the Theatre. 

We need affordable, safe spaces to develop new work. Spaces that are not just catered to academic alumni or well-supported artists –  Where can we go? What will we do? How will theatre as an art form progress in Los Angeles? 

White people, it would behoove you to ask yourself, how many times have you reached out to a Black Theatre Artist to say, “Hey there’s an opportunity I know about, here’s a contact, here’s some help?!”

I will not lie. It is not only white men, there too sit white women in positions of power. They sit quietly. They take no action to lean in and they rarely push open the door for a Black Women in Theatre. There are White women producing theatre, running theatre spaces, while also playing into the tokenism card, in which repeated Black Theatre Artists have access to varied spaces and funding without giving opportunities to new Black Theatre Artists. If we continue to allow these “guardians” to hold the key to theatrical spaces then we are not allowing our art to move forward. This stalls the new American Theatre from truly emerging itself. 

The Black Theatre Artist is Experimental. 

The Black Theatre Artist is Avant-Garde.

The Black Theatre Artist is Tradtional Theatre.

The Black Theatre Artist has a New Voice. 

The Black Theatre Artist has Many Faces.

The Black Theatre Artist is an Academic Artist.

The Black Theatre Artist is the Institutional Artist.

The Black Theatre Artist is not a Supported Artist. 

Historic Artist Opportunities - Massachusetts Cultural Council

“Born of a race whose inheritance has been outrage and wrong, most of my life

has been spent battling these wrongs. But I did not feel as keenly as others

that I had these rights in common with other women, which are now demanded.”

~Frances Ellen Watkins Harper | 1866

*A Note to BIPOC Artists: We need to build together. We need to merge our skills together. We need to not be the only person in the room if we don’t have to be. We need to answer emails from one another. We need to continue to reach out to one another. If we don’t look out for each other then who will? 

Writer Responsibility 101

by Chelsea Sutton

Back in the olden days, when people gathered together in musty lecture halls to discuss the “literary” canon, I was a TA for a large literature class whose professor loved to include novels involving navel-gazing male protagonists. I was in charge of roughly a quarter of the 130 eager undergraduates, many of whom were aspiring writers themselves.

In my sections, I made it very clear that these students were under no obligation to LIKE any of these 10 books we were reading and that, in fact, I HATED some of them as well. Just because a professor is telling you it’s good does NOT mean you have to agree, I said. But agree or not, you better be able to tell me why you feel that way.

See, it’s my philosophy that you can learn just as much about writing from reading a book you hate as you can from reading one you love. Maybe even more so.

I had to teach Greg Jackson’s book of short stories Prodigals both times I covered this literature class. To spare you the details, most of the stories in the book are about terrible privileged people doing terrible privileged things. But of course, one could argue that most stories are about terrible people. In my house, we don’t say: hey, do you want to watch Avenue 5 tonight? We say: hey, do you want to watch Shitty People in Space tonight?

I do not enjoy Prodigals. Though there are a few sentences I wish I had written.

So Fall 2018 rolls around and we get to Prodigals week. One of my students does not like the book. Why, I asked. He doesn’t agree with the morality of the book – how the characters behaved and treated each other. Doesn’t writing about that behavior condone it? he asked. Wasn’t it the responsibility of the author to expose bad behavior or offer positive role models and morality?

I mean, what a fucking good question.

Let’s get real: no one really likes Aesop’s fables. Not all the time. We don’t want Breaking Bad to wrap up its series finale with: the moral of the story, kids, is don’t become a meth dealer in New Mexico!

But I’d argue that an author has an obligation to read the damn room, to have a larger understanding of the context in which the writing is presented and read, to understand that nothing exists in a vacuum, and to do their due diligence.

Don’t ask me how we got there, but we compared two television shows to explore this line of thinking: Man in the High Castle (based on the novel by Phillip K. Dick) and one that was in development at the time – Confederate, supposedly going to be penned by the Game of Thrones guys, who, you know, never caused an issue (eye roll).

Man in the High Castle is an alternate history in which the Allies lose WWII and Germany and Japan occupy the United States. Confederate is an alternate history in early development at HBO in which the South won the Civil War – so slavery was still a thing in its universe (this was going to be helmed by WHITE MEN, as a reminder.)

At first, the students didn’t see the difference. Two wars, two alternate histories, so what? I am not a history expert nor well-versed in either of these shows, I said. BUT…

Let’s look at the context and the general narratives surrounding both wars, I said. In this country we have oversimplified the WWII narrative to be about good vs. evil. Sure, you could quibble about this or that, but The Good Guys won. So we take that context with us when watching the show. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think that the correct people won that war, except maybe Neo-Nazis and aluminum foil-wearing conspiracy theorists, but do you really want them on your side?

No thanks, they said.

Now the Civil War. That’s another thing. We seem to have an ongoing debate in this country surrounding what that war was about (slavery). Many people argue that it was about state’s rights (it was slavery). Many states in the South still have statues of Confederate war heroes (slave owners) and fly the Confederate flag (you know, about slavery).* There are still people in this country who are not convinced that slavery is a bad idea. WE DO NOT HAVE AN AGREED UPON NARRATIVE SURROUNDING RACISM IN THIS COUNTRY. And that carries with us as we watch the show. Would you agree?

Oh shit, yeah, they said.

So back to morality and responsibility. You’re writing a show like Confederate. If you’re going to write a good story, then you’re going to have fleshed out characters, right? That means the slaves and the slave owners will have nuances and good qualities and tragic flaws and we will FEEL for them. And they will exist in a complicated world. And maybe there will be an Emmy-contending monologue in act 4 of the pilot that offers a damn good argument for slavery.

Sounding worrisome? Or at the very least…delicate? In need of a deft hand?

What is the danger of offering up an empathetic slave owner in a society in which we still have not achieved true equity, have not done the work required to actually deal with these sins in a way that uplifts, creates anti-racist policies, and gathers the country into a narrative we agree on?

Especially if that story is offered to us by people who cannot and DO NOT CARE TO understand racism in the way that the Black actors, Black crew members, and Black viewers would understand it. We’ve all seen Game of Thrones. What do YOU think would happen?

Light bulbs flipped on all over the room. These kids had so much to say.

I might be wrong and obtuse about all of this, I said. And please, question me. Question me, question your own thoughts and biases too. Maybe Confederate could be done really well. But look at who is telling the story and why. Who is invited into the room and who is not.

You cannot control how everyone is going to read your writing. It’s simply not possible. But I believe that our responsibility as writers is to first ask ourselves the hard questions about our characters, our narratives, and the larger world in which they will be interacting.

It’s our job to ask the hard questions even when we don’t know the answers. ESPECIALLY when we don’t know the answers. And to confront our own biases and blindness. To show shitty people doing terrible things and sometimes even BE shitty people doing terrible things, but to learn from those stories, to let the stories maybe, somehow, help us build a world that is better than this one.

But that still doesn’t make Prodigals any good.

P.S. Here are my favorite books from that class (both written by Black authors.) Read them. I’m available for discussion at my office hours posted in the syllabus.

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Also, Lindsey Ellis’ video essay about Mel Brooks and the Ethics of Satire is required watching.

*Fucking hooray to all the statues and confederate flags being burned and removed.

Complicity or Co-Conspirator

by: Constance Strickland

Here we are. Existing in a new time. Living in a world that is no longer able to sustain itself on old pains.

I know I’ve been asking myself how am I making way for BIPOC Artists? What am I doing to be sure that I’m including, reaching out and making way so that a variety of stories for the American Theatre exist? I ask white artists to take time to see if you are truly hearing and how are you leaning in, pushing open doors, and connecting + including BIPOC into safe theatre spaces where they can develop and flourish.


I also challenge BIPOC to ask themselves, what am I doing to not be the only one in the room. Am I helping + contributing to new BIPOC voices being included in the American theatre canon? How are we preventing tokenism in the theatre?


I’m excited! We are in a new awakening. How will we all move into the future to build our Los Angeles theatre community into an interconnected haven?


Restore your energy & Self-Care for the future of American Theatre will need us all.

An elephant’s ass….

by Robin Byrd

the elephant – and his fat ass – is sitting on my arm, squashing my chest

his feet protruding through the walls

destructive

and he smells

like centuries of hippopotamus-shit caked in his skin

imagine elephant ass/hippopotamus shit

from where I’m lying, I can only see thick gray folds of wrinkly, wrinkly skin with gobs of hippo-shit smeared across the folds

crumbling off that ass onto me

damn elephant

get off me!

NOW!

he slowly raises that ass up off me

the pressure lingering

the tightness

got me searching for aspirin, tylenol, something

found two pills in what looked like a 2006 package

gonna have to take a chance

if I can just burp

the bubble is lodged dead center of my clavicle

feels like that ass never left my chest

In the morning I burped

It came rolling out like a

Sheila E riff

pure glory!