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Why I won’t try to describe the oddly pleasant sensation of this waxy paper wristband.

July 7, 2010

There’s a lot of silence on this blog, and I feel bad about that because I keep tossing this URL out like it’s my business card, but for the same reason, I can’t just treat this like any other blog, because I like the notion that it’s something with a relatively crisp purpose.

This is my theatre blog.

I know most (if not all) of the people who actually check up on this thing are my friends who are used to my rambling internet ways and aren’t even necessarily in this for theatrical reasons and don’t mind so much if I get off topic.  I know it’s mainly for me I try to keep this relatively tidy.

But I think it’s of value to have something neat, and I’m sad that I haven’t been more regular about it lately, but if I start making posts apologising for the lack of regularity they just turn into plain old rambling, and then I’ve got more stuff to feel gross about.

So.  Suffice it to say I have been unwell and it has interfered with my productivity.

I’m working on it.

If you want now you can read some things I found in one of my old public secret journals that are about theatre even though it was officially just rambles at that time.

(P.S. I am interested in the things you/we/people have put on the internet that were kind of secrets, especially when you/we/they were quite young.  It’s kind of a novel I’m working on, although I can’t write for shit right now.)

that’s what’s so pathetic about theatre scholarship. making a point.

what i love in theatre is suspension. different people tugging the ropes in different directions, the impossibility of ever truly disentangling them, the way most everybody loses control of what their tug does…sometimes, the way somebody for some reason still seems to be on top of things. girl scout training, probably. who knows? somebody knows, sometimes. and sometimes they’re just faking it. and that’s good too.

i had eight, nine people tugging and struggling last time, and now they come in two by two. they still think their messes are the worst, but i’m having trouble sympathising like i should.

but it’s all ones and twos and threes, really. more will come.

i’ve used the word “triptych” in more than one conversation lately, trying to say what i think i’m up to. probably a lie. probably two by two, at the most. that’s not so bad, if i can manage that.

switch person in the middle of trying to say something. usually to myself. reverse-holden-caulfield-style. if i’m a you i can look me in the eye when i say that, i can make sure.


most writing about theatre makes me want to throw things. but i like alan sinfield so far. but i’m not like him. so i really have no business writing this shit.


another accident: i love shakespeare’s sonnets. i want to see them. i might become one of those people. who has theories about them. or i might just steal other people’s. and roll around in them. like grass or blankets and being six years old.


[hm] doesn’t want to kiss me, but likes my stage directions. [hm] did not connect these statements [hm]self, but probably would have if [hm]’d known how well they balance each other out. it’s okay. [hm] will learn. we’re going to be good friends. we plan on this.

occurring to me recently that i guess it’s been about ten years since i set my heart on this. i’ve been writing plays long enough that the ones i write now are too dirty to show the me who first set out on the path that’s led me to them. (maybe. not really. sometimes. which path counts? i was seven with the first one. but the second one is what i’m saying. that little fork which was really a bigger fork than i realised at the time.)

asked to talk to a writer’s craft class at the school i graduated from about playwriting and whatnot. feel like a fraud, but also like that’s a conversation i totally can’t wait to have.

i’ll scoop out your brain a little if you talk about entropy, or anything broken. in a loving way. it’s [hm]’s fault, ’cause [hm] asked about the inside of the place i don’t live in any more, and the other place [hm]’s never inspected.

listening for stutters, too. a new level of sound to play with, a new kind of pause. calls for new arrangements of punctuation, capitalisation. maybe. i like them.

something’s starting. i think it’s better than the others, but i don’t know what it is. the beginning of things which comes at the end of things which reassures and exhausts you.

i haven’t mentioned tony kushner in this post even once, but i should have for the following reasons:
lasagna, reverse transcription, “you have a good head,” guys we need to talk about utopia.


my next trick is about how nice it is sometimes to pretend that it’s all about to be over. i don’t know what i’m getting at, aside from the parts i do know, which aren’t very polite to talk about. also, it’s about much ado about nothing, and it’s not the thing i thought i was going to write when i wrote a little note about how peculiar it must be if your wife dies once before you marry her, but i have faith, right?

also, i’d like to talk more about stories please. i think there is talk about stories missing. because i like the little true ones, but i also like the crazy ones with magic fish and stuff.

every story is a little bit true to somebody. usually me, except when it’s everybody else and i don’t get it.

i could tell some pretty good lies if i didn’t think you might know me later. i tell okay lies on paper, but i have to say it’s truer than it is. and of course it’s never true once somebody says it out loud.

but i keep tapping it with my spoon. dent it so it makes the sound i heard before i woke up. something like that sound. the bootleg version of what i believe transpired. maybe it’s closer to your lagoon than it is to mine. maybe that is how i get you to love me.

i’m always wishing for something better than words. something you can eat or eat out of or wear or live in or at least sing. there are a lot of things that words can do, but they can’t make me necessary right now.


on a scale of inopportune tummyrumblings to career-crushingly awful statements being inadvertently broadcast into homes across the nation, how embarassing is it that i don’t already have “samuel french style sheet” format down pat?


i still don’t think i express my love for angels in america often, deeply, or clearly enough. i know you’re all sick of hearing about it, but goddamn. the fucking punctuation in these plays still breaks my heart every time i read them, let alone the content.

do all artists want to just watch this badly?
sometimes i get the feeling that’s what makes us happen.


i used to think that the grown-ups i knew who talked about how they “used to want to be a [insert artistic career path here]” were sad people,
who should have or still should do something differently.

i’m old enough now to disagree.
because very little of me actually gives a damn if i ever see my own work on the stage again,
or printed and bound.
that’s not to say that i wouldn’t be ecstatic,
or that i won’t keep making my little mediocre stabs in that direction with all my heart,

if it doesn’t happen?

not the worst thing.


a tangent in my research brought me to this.

i happen to (a) like godspell as a piece of theatre (and was privileged to see a rather good little production of it recently) and (b) think it’s a pretty good representation of some of the more valuable aspects of christianity.

so i kind of thought this was…um…kind of hilarious a bit?

the highlight is definitely the large red letters about the middle inquiring as to the location of the blood.
’cause you know, tying jesus to a fence just isn’t the same.
you gotta puncture the bastard,
or it’s not gospel.

overall, i think it was just weird to read such an outraged reaction to a piece of theatre from an obvious non-theatre person. i mean, i hate to sound like an elitist bitch, but i would be extreeemely surprised if this person turned out to have any kind of theatre background. like one consisting of having seen more than one kind of play, ever. or i doubt they would equate clowning with spiritual sickness. although i’d love to hear the explanation if there was one…

yes, theatre is for everybody to enjoy, but i always figured that geting all riled up about it (at least to this extent) was reserved for people who were stupid enough to get themselves intimately involved in its creation on some level.


oh, sigh.


today i saw a discarded pigeon wing lying in one of the school flower beds. i think if i were designing costumes for angels in america, i’d want the angel to look a little like a pigeon.


noticed at open studio that a lot of people were writing about high school
and that surprised me, somehow.

i felt weird writing about high school when i was in high school
and i feel even weirder reading over those writings now–
even the ones that aren’t about school in any direct way are clearly tinted by it.
there’s a high school mentality that shows through
a high school version of human nature
that i don’t necessarily get any more.

but then, it’s not like i’m not writing about high school now.
it just comes as a surprise to me that my characters are high school students,
i’m surprised when they point out to me that they have to go do some high school things now
like they’re part alien.


other embarrassing things:
-i don’t understand biomechanics at all


i want a four-cornered world with a unilinear plot,
but that’s pretty stupid.
things are pretty simple where i live, really
and i don’t know what i’m complaining about.

yeah maybe
this is just post-show character withdrawl.
who is this person
and why doesn’t she change?


in case anybody’s not sick of hearing about it yet,
there is a play.
an old story.
a forest.
and a goddess.
can you see it?

one thing you might not know about this play yet is that the floor is GORGEOUS.
it just keeps getting prettier.
sometimes i pee my pants a little in my mind when i come into rehearsal and find that it has undergone yet another transformation. decima is awesome that way.
[also, she’s decima the designer, so bonus points for that.]


sometimes i read a review of something i didn’t even see/hear/read/know about,
and it scares me right down to my marrow,
because there’s so little tenderness in criticism.
and how do you talk about art without any tenderness at all?
i believe in harshness too,
but art is by people and for people and usually about them,
and that’s kind of special right there.

i’m sure i do this sometimes.
i’m sure i scare people.
i know i’m mean, and i don’t bother promising to stop.
(which doesn’t mean i’m not sorry.)

i already posted this quote ages ago, when it originally made itself known to me,
but i’m posting it again now because i think i recently started understanding it more:
“as playwrights we are compassionate,
that is our nature.
and overly sensitive as well,
but probably first and foremost compassionate….
we want transformation for the audience because we understand how desperately the audience wants it for themselves.
we understand this because we are compassionate.
and with that compassion comes responsibility.”

-daniel macivor

i think a lot of times when i leave the theatre unsatisfied
it’s because of an uncompassionate playwright.
i think a lot of times when a not-so-great play still makes me feel alright about things
it’s because compassion was there at least,
and it’s not everything,
but it will do in an emergency situation.


-hair! last night was loads of fun. as was the collective creation “ignorance on parade” that i went to see last week. i don’t think i mentioned that, but it really was special. bonus points because i realised yesterday that the girl who sang the song of the emperor’s schlong is one of the teaching assistants for my anthro course. (umm. that last sentence might not make any sense to anybody who didn’t see the show. but it’s awesome, i promise.)


i may have almost cried at this today.
the hobo’s lullabye part.
maybe it just does that to me.
(it did in ten lost years too.)
but also.
look at that.
look at how what she did became what they did and look
look at the fact that it was done
i don’t know.

i hope i’m making a decent contribution to animalvegetablemineral,
because it’s feeding me.

i hope i’m not done doing things that people have feelings about.
i’m always hoping that.


stagenerdery strikes again

i am getting a little weary of talking about “how we make ancient texts relevant to our time”.
why does everything have to be about us?

that’s not to say i’m against modern-dress or anachronistically-set productions.
i kind of love them pretty often.
but i’m tired of relevance-to-our-time questions always being the first thing to come up in drama class every day.
and also being, like, the only thing we ever seem to talk about.

plays are relevant to us because they were originated by human beings dealing with feelings and religion and politics and stuff, and ALL OF THOSE THINGS STILL DESCRIBE US.

it’s not that fucking complicated.
can we please move on to things that are?


-evening of monologues is tonight. you should come, especially if you like masturbation and would be interested in hearing monologues about it. or other things. like booze!


i’ve been thinking a lot off-and-on the past two years about how one of the meanest things you can say about a story-based work of art today is that it’s “predictable”, and how weird that is if you look at the history of story-telling and theatre-making, and see that most of the time the idea was to tell a story that the audience was already familiar with.
this came up in drama class today, although the so-called discussion around it wasn’t very satisfying. [insert rant about prof here.] nah, she’s okay. intro drama’s just an incredibly awkward class, because of the huge range of experience and lack therof among the students…that seems to be less of an issue in practical drama class, because there are people with plenty of innate ability and no experience, and then there are dramanerds like me whose natural talent level is approximately zero. it balances out. in a class that’s all just talking, those two groups seem to blend less, and mostly just piss each other off in a polite way where the prof basically just spends a lot of time exasperated with both of us.

we’re reading oedipus rex right now.
i saw it when i was nine and i thought it was cool when he stabbed his eyes out.
i read it three years ago and i thought it was, um, pretty, i guess?
i just re-read it and i feel weird that i never saw it as religious propaganda before…
but at the same time, i’m more fascinated by a few small things in it.
his attempted escape as a teenager.
how he addresses his people.
strange things.


i’m writing a paper on harlem duet, by djanet sears.

this has nothing to do with the thesis of the paper i’m writing, but i found it fascinating nonetheless*:

“…since the dramatic structure of harlem duet requires each spectator to construct his or her own provisional and subjectively-determined networks of potential links between interconnected but non-identical parts, the precise outcome of this collision of texts is beyond sears’ control.” (m.j. kidnie, there’s magic in the web of it:seeing beyond tragedy in harlem duet)

i think this has a lot to do with what i’ve found so compelling about this play, but also what i’ve found makes it so difficult for me to write about. there’s a lot of questionable space. which is so damned honest and sensible. i admire people who leave that space there. i think i’m always meddling with it a little too much.

[i may also be referring to non-stage existence. but i don’t have to be if you think that’s gross.]

*actually, possibly somethemore, since, you know, i haven’t been thinking about it for the past couple million years


[in angels in america, when louis asks, “want some company?”, kushner prefaces the line with the stage direction “not a come-on, necessarily“. which leaves open the possibility that it could be, but implies that maybe louis isn’t sure if it is or not either. i mention this because a)it is always good to mention aia, and b)i think this sort of thing happens to me a lot lately.]

i’m writing a play in which one of the two characters is a devastated english teacher,
and this is an exercise in self-loathing,
not because she’s me
(because she ain’t)
but because we are all a particular type of liar in my field,
and it’s easy to see how somebody could despise that,
and i’m not entirely sure that i don’t too.

i worry that in a perfect world we wouldn’t need theatre,
and i worry that in a perfect world we would still need theatre,
but that i wouldn’t know what to write about then,
and that would feel so alone.


so, let tonight be known as the night of the most awkward post-theatrical encounter ever.
i’m so bad at dealing with those.

i think it’s important for theatre people to be honest with each other.
i think that’s kind of how theatre has to work.
in theory, that’s what i think.
when i go to shows that i have at least moderately positive feelings for, that’s what i think.

the thing is, i don’t even mind seeing bad shows that much. i accept it as an inevitable thing that’s going to happen to me as part of my mission to absorb as much theatre as humanly possible, especially given that most of the theatre i choose/am given the opportunity to absorb is amateur level stuff. that’s fine. i am down with sitting through a not-so-good play every once in a while. obviously i prefer it when i can just swoon directly into the story, but i also realise it’s probably some kind of good-for-me to go to shows where that’s just not going to happen. i think i’ve learned a lot about what not to do (and what not to forget to do) as a writer and an actor from sitting through plays i did not enjoy but did not allow myself to disengage from entirely. in a sense, i’m grateful for those experiences, although i certainly don’t ever go into a theatre hoping it’s going to be one of those inadvertently educational plays. i just don’t mind too much when that’s what they turn out to be.

until afterwards.

this is why i miss sears festival. yes, you see some pretty darn terrible shows, but you rarely know the people in them, and even if you do, you know a lot of other unrelated people who you can be having involved, unrelated conversations with in order to not have to say too much about the play at hand, or at the very least there are a lot of strangers in the lobby for you to put between yourself and the people whose bad show you are avoiding talking about.

ugh. did i seriously just write that? what a bitch.

we all do those things, though, right? i’m not alone in that?

point is. a show doesn’t even have to be bad to be super-awkward. for the record, tonight’s wasn’t, especially. i just wasn’t prepared to apply the adjective “good” to it, either. and what do you say when you can’t say “it was good”?

that’s pretty stupid. i like to think theatre is a lot more complex than that. pretty much everything i try to do is based on the theory that theatre is a complex thing, and therefore worth caring about. [which is pretty lame of me, but that’s a whole other subject, one i’ve already written about so much that i’m sure it makes you sick. which is not to say i won’t pull it out again, because that’s what i do with the things that make you sick, but now is not the time.]

i know people who will just say whatever they’re thinking directly to the person to whom it is the most relevant after a show. i admire that. those are the people i trust most. those are the people i hope to find in the lobby after one of my own shows.
but i’m not one of those people.
and i don’t see myself having the capacity to be, either.
and maybe that’s sad.

at the same time, i’m not comfortable with lying in that context. which is not to say i haven’t done it, or that i won’t in the future. just that it makes me feel like shit.

maybe i just need to get more comfortable with my own hypocrisy.
or maybe that’s a terrible idea.



i feel infatuated/frustrated with english. i’m clearly in love with it, but the same part of me that loves it can’t believe i care about something so ridiculous. only ridiculous people care about such things.

i’m pretty ridiculous. sometimes i’m even okay with that as a career choice. sometimes i worry that i haven’t actually chosen anything. i’ve just failed at things systematically until i was left with an obvious conclusion. most of the time i’m more okay with that than the idea of choice, actually.

i’ve met more than one person lately who is majoring in science because, quote, it is hard, unquote.
i’m not [probably] majoring in english because it’s hard, but i’m not doing it because it’s easy, either.

during the intermission of “the glace bay miner’s museum”, i talk about how intimidating the acting talent is around here.
matt asks me if i’m intimidated by all the good writers here too.
i tell him i’m not, which kind of surprises me, but isn’t a lie.
there’s no point being intimidated about something that nobody can stop you from doing.
writing’s the thing i never stop doing, no matter how bad i am at it.
it’s probably not a good thing.
but whatever. it’s a thing i know i’ll be stubbornly hanging onto for the rest of my life.
i feel a similar pull and determination about acting, but it’s not up to me, right?
maybe that, at least, is a good thing.
i love the stage, but i certainly can’t say it keeps me sane.

i get introduced to people and later i find out they’re writers/actors, and i’m shocked, because i think i should be able to identify such a thing sooner. i expect it to be visible because of the way i think of us as breakable, because breaking is part of our job. i make myself believe that we go around breaking all the time for practice. we aren’t really like that. i’m not even like that. not very much.


marion-bridge-related thoughts. (no spoilers, just thoughts is all.)

a) you know what one of my favourite things about going to see a play is? before you go, you take a shower and you pick out your pretty clothes, the ones you expect people to like you a little more in, and you put on those clothes and you comb your hair and obsess over the details of your appearance until you are moderately-to-completely satisfied that you look mighty fine, and then you go and you sit in a dark room and you do not think about what you’re wearing for even one second more until it’s hours later and you’re halfway home and you sort of wish you’d worn more of a sweater, because it’s chilly out. i love that so much. getting dressed up to leave my body.

b) my mother would love this play.

c) the programme tells me daniel macivor said the following:
“as playwrights we are compassionate, that is our nature. selfish, obsessive, stubborn, and overly sensitive as well, but probably first and foremost compassionate….we want transformation for the audience because we understand how desperately the audience wants it for themselves. we understand this because we are compassionate. and with that compassion comes responsibility.”
i like that. i hope it’s true.


sears festival is super-soon….i’m really, really excited/nervous about all this, especially the ajudication on the 23rd. our ajudicator is john lazarus (playwright/professor at queens) again, which i feel very lucky about because i was very jealous of the student writers who had the oppourtunity to have their work ajudicated by him last year. the closest i’ve ever come to this kind of honour as a scribbler was when i gave audrey a copy of the script i was working on and her dad (who writes exciting children’s musicals where everyone’s a robot, or some kids put a stop to the contamination of the river) happened to stumble across it and came p to me in the hall at school the next day and said he thought it was pretty good. and that was nifty and all, but i don’t think anybody understands how ecstatic i’m already getting over the notion that this guy who does pretty much exactly what i want to do with my life is going to sit down in a room with us and give us feedback on the show that happened out of a bunch of words i wrote. i hope he likes it, but i also hope he tears it to pieces.

a play of mine that’s been in the composting stage for a while now is finally starting to act like a real script. it’s exciting, because i was worried it might not. but i think it will. also, it will fully embrace the versatility of astroturf and standard-issue school furniture. oh baby.



One Comment leave one →
  1. Kali permalink
    October 23, 2010 4:12 pm

    if any of what you brought out of yourself onto the page is still swirling in your mind anytime, here’s an open invitation to let them spiral around with similar issues i come back to on a regular basis and see what comes of this intellectual play.

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