By Tiffany Antone
Whoa, hey, what is even happening right now?
SO MUCH IS HAPPENING.
And it feels like SO MUCH has been happening for SO LONG that I am SHORT-CIRCUITING. I don’t know if I know how to do this anymore. But what has changed? Hasn’t the world always been in peril in some capacity? Or, maybe it’s more accurate to ask “Hasn’t mankind always been in peril in some capacity?” Why does this moment in time feel so hopelessly perilous?
The 2016 election hit me hard, but I rebounded with radical empathy! I was going to create opportunities for connection! I founded Protest Plays Project for playwrights writing for social change. At the same time, I began working with colleges to create opportunities for playwrights to draft plays rooted in their communities – we would then exchange the plays and read them on our myriad campuses. Radical empathy would save us!
It did not save us.
So I wrote an outlandish feminist sci-fi play that made me laugh even while I held my breath about absolutely everything else. We moved. I had a second child. I wrote postcards to voters. I experienced the Iowa caucuses. I held my breath. Maybe, if we could just get that gaudy, greedy, mistake out of the white house… I’d be able to breathe a little easier.
Then the pandemic.
The fucking pandemic.
I wrote more postcards. I started Plaguewrites, collaboratively writing “pandemic-proof” (aka, outdoor and long-distance) plays with other playwrights trying to DO SOMETHING. My instinct to keep fucking going, innovate, pivot! LEAN IN!, was in full force.
But now, everything from that time period is a swirly knotted mess. George Floyd, Jan 6th, Giuliani’s drip-drip-drippy dye job, online teaching, closed day care, zoom zoom zoooooooom and double-washing my tomatoes…
I turned a play into a short film with our students.
I got diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
I got my tits chopped off, did radiation, completely revised my syllabus for online teaching, then hybrid teaching, then once more for back-to-the-DON’T-YOU-DARE-SAY-“NORMAL”-classroom. All of my students fractured, thin…
(Well, thin in spirit at least. In person, I become thick with emotional eating. Sucking what pleasure I can from every goddam donut, brownie, and buttery potato I can find…)
I wrote more postcards to even more voters.
I finished a too-long-in-the-crock-pot play that no one seems to be too excited about.
What year is it? What even is “time” anymore?
And now there’s another fucking election coming down the pike, with the same candidates as last time, and it’s like, do we really have to?
I’ve got a new play finished. I’m sending it out. I really love it. But… like…does it matter?
Does any of this matter?
I don’t rebound so well anymore. I’m tired. I’m so, so, so, so, tired. And I’m just a middle-aged, de-breasted, middle-class, white lady with kids. How the fuck are YOU?
What are you writing about?
Is it helping you breathe?
Maybe that’s why I keep hitting these keys… writing is order. Scenes move forward. Characters in impossible situations make choices, which have consequences, and I can see it all safely.
And from a distance.
I’m working on some new stuff. Maybe it will help me deal with the unbearable weight of this impossible world.
In the meantime…
I’m still holding my breath.