So, what’s up since graduation? I’ve written, traveled, and networked a LOT. By March, I’d written three full-length plays, and then I wrote seven ten-minutes—for a total of ten new plays, and it’s only July. As far as traveling, I’ve had performances in New York City, Boston, Dallas, and Colorado. (Arizona and Cincinnati are on the calendar for this summer.) I had a play internationally published, Early Liberty (www.offthewallplays.com), a monologue published in an important anthology, several poems and some miscellaneous publications in four journals, and I’ve won three awards. –Now, I’m working to nail down a date for a Paris producer who wants to do a full-length play of mine next summer, and a professional colleague wants to take my one-woman play, Crying Room, to the Edinburgh Festival.
Those numbers are great for an “emerging playwright,” impressive. But how am I doing, amidst all this? Hhmmm. (Beat.) So far, my most positive take-away from this post-graduate Welcome to Hell is the new friends I’ve made. I feel centered and grateful to have found theatre advocates I trust, respect, and plan to work with again soon. We help each other make great art and—as far as give and take—the benefits are mutual. This grad-school run was challenging to the point of exhaustion, and I desperately needed to meet some likeminded visionaries. These newborn connections with passionate artists brought me back from the dead and refueled me.
But this can only mean I’ve encountered the opposite, the bloodsucking people and experiences. Already in my new playwriting life, I’ve survived leagues of them, but when you’re slicing a way through the jungle, solo, working to learn anything difficult at the speed of light—it will happen. A LOT. They appear like buzzards on the top of a live wire. The Takers. The Marauders. Opportunists Who Warm Their Feet at Your Fire but Can’t Be Bothered To Bring Any Wood. Those who wouldn’t spit on you before if you were aflame will now cozy up like you’re the best of friends. Who doesn’t know the type? But, in short, to caution those who are behind me on the path, it’s the Little Red Hen all over again. Your story becomes that of a workhorse who couldn’t get a soul to help her plant the seeds, harvest the crops, mill the flour, or bake the bread, but everyone will show up hungry to your dinner table. A table you hand-carved, nailed together, and set with dishes and cutlery. Be wary of those who horde their resources and connections, but who will invite themselves to a share in yours--without bringing anything to the table.
Theatre is about collaboration, but collaboration requires commitment—which means a reciprocal give and take. “What’s after grad school?” and “How does a person build a life beyond the university?” without theatre connections or an inroad into what my husband and I call the “independently-wealthy fund”? I don’t know, honestly. I’m not there yet. But, so far, it feels like a whole lot of starting-from-scratch, pissing-up-a-rope, and (fill-in-the-blank).