How Is This Chorus Going To Work (and other questions)?

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We made it!

Time was spent in Charles de Gaulle Airport ironing out some of the kinks in the play’s dramaturgy. Is it clear who wants what where? How to ensure an effective recognition and reversal without sacrificing graceful subtleties? Ah, playwright problems.

COYOTE COMES/BEAST THING features a chorus, which speaks in fragments, interrupts, sings, chants and beatboxes (some of y’all know how I do). My greatest question surrounding choral work is always, how can I make this dynamic, truly connected to desire and coherent? What’s my version of the “chorus” trope? How will a (mostly) French audience respond? How will the actors respond? Le sigh.

I’ve also been experimenting with how the language performs on the page. I’m hoping the typographical clues will enrich and aid rather than confuse.

Anyway, I’ve been revising the text and coming up with clear articulations for how to accomplish this or that. I’m enthused and optimistic and feeling like Time itself has been hitting me in the face.  O, sleep.

More soon.

Headed to Saint-Etienne, France!

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It is October 3rd, 2014 and I’m trying to find stillness amidst the neon lights and bustling bodies of LAX. Two women nearby speak rapid French and I’m proud to say I understand a phrase or two.  And, dagnabbit, I’d better.

Back in May when I was a (very) fresh CalArts grad, I had the pleasure of traveling to Saint-Etienne, a small city just a three-hour train ride from Paris. I’d been flown out to create an original play for student actors at L’École de la Comèdie de Saint-Etienne, one of France’s National Drama Centers. Both thrilled and intimidated, I picked up as much of the language as I could, filled a notebook with prompts, exercises and ideas and dove headfirst into a collaborative process unlike any I’d faced before.

I met with the students who were kind, curious and talented. My goal was to tease out common interests and strengths, then write something which was true to my voice, exciting for the actors and a worthy challenge to us all. I started out very ambitiously: there would be work in the room during the day, followed by pages of brilliance pouring from me at night. The translator would translate in the following morning just in time for rehearsals that afternoon. Enter my jet-lagged body, who would have none of this. I struggled, grasping and creating texts which weren’t thrilling. At all. And since body knows best, I had to hang it up. Focus shifted towards play. I decided I’d be a mad scientist gathering field notes and impressions. I used those impressions as the seeds for a piece I’ve been working on for the past four months.

What has emerged on the page is COYOTE COMES/BEAST THING, a savage dramedy set in a sleepy yet frighteningly dogmatic little town. Tomorrow we jump through time and arrive in France, with just a couple of days before we join the actors. Until then, I’ll be revising, strategizing and exploring with Rachel Park (director). Or, you know, battling jet lag.

Very pleased to have packed light.

Very pleased to have packed light.

Summer Bows Its Head

Summer is almost over and I am about to enter my third and final year as an MFA student at California Institute of the Arts.  This has been a tremendous summer of personal and creative growth. I did well at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam as an indie poet.  I completed drafts of multiple plays.  I co-taught an amazing group of young people.  I visited friends in Idyllwild and fell in love with the place.  I went to Vasquez Rocks and had a beautiful time.  A film version of my solo play ODDLIE was shot and I’m coming off of a self-imposed 48 hour deadline to write a 20 minute opera.  Life is good.

 

I look forward to challenging myself and my community this semester.  I’m going to France next May to be in residency at La Comedie de Saint Etienne, so I’ve been learning french.  I’m teaching again and there will be a workshop of my thesis play.  Life is good.

 

Why am I such a boring blogger?  Are the personality cops policing this thing or what?  Lord and mercy.  Image

George Zimmerman Gets Off

What an absolute miscarriage of justice.

I am beyond disgusted.  I am not totally surprised but I had hoped.  Had. Hoped.

The system of white supremacy let a child murderer go free.  I feel less safe and more angry.  I am no longer willing to give anyone who is of reasonable age the benefit of the doubt.  If you don’t recognize that white privilege exists, that racism is alive and well, that American culture continues to weave a damaging mythology around the bodies of black people, you are stupid.  Not ignorant, or misguided.  Stupid.  And I don’t need to know you.

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Not Talking About Race

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A link you ought to take a look at

Steve Locke very eloquently expresses why he doesn’t talk about race.  I talk about race a lot.  And think about it even more.  I’ve been thinking I need to go on a “race diet”.  I’m getting increasingly frustrated with explaining certain things to people and want to just breathe and be human.  The part which resonates most with me is, “Black people can’t talk to white people about race anymore. There’s really nothing left to say. There are libraries full of books, interviews, essays, lectures, and symposia. If people want to learn about their own country and its history, it is not incumbent on black people to talk to them about it. It is not our responsibility to educate them about it. Plus whenever white people want to talk about race, they never want to talk about themselves. There needs to be discussion among people who think of themselves as white. They need to unpack that language, that history, that social position and see what it really offers them, and what it takes away from them…”

Thoughts?

New Job

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I begin work teaching spoken word to kids in downtown L.A. tomorrow morning.  I’m always excited and a little scared to mentor folks through art, so that’s the prevailing feeling right this second.  I’m hoping to move toward a broader pedagogical approach to exploring the fine art of spoken word.  I keep asking myself how I can engage students beyond writing prompts.  How can we get the body, audio visual, etc. elements involved?

Also, I’m meeting with a filmmaker to strategize on turning my solo play, Oddlie, into a film.

Je vais bien.

On Acting

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Paula Deen didn’t manage to squeeze a single real tear out, despite desperately scrunching her features into what I lovingly call “cry face”.

Paula…enroll in acting school.  A good acting instructor will inform you that when embodying a pretty emotional role, one must invest in one’s given circumstances wholly.  That is the most one can do.  Invoking “cry face” makes you look like an amateur.  Or phony.  Wait, “phony”?  Yes, phony. Hm.

Writing in One’s Woman Cave

Sassing up the South.

Sassing up the South.

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On Final Stage at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam 2013

I am a terrible blogger.

Here’s what’s up in my world:

My second year at California Institute of the Arts ended.  Time.

I went to Joshua Tree National Park.  So beautiful.

I went to the Southern Fried Poetry Slam and came in second place.  Amazing to see my homies and share new poems.

I hung out with my mom.  She’s incredible.

I ate like a fool in the Dirty Dirty.  Boom.

I’ve been holed up in my Woman Cave writing like a mad woman.  I’ve got a brand new ten minute, a one act, the first few songs of an opera and the beginnings of an adaptation.  Still planning on starting a vengeful take down/playwright-erly response to a Pulitzer Prize Winning play which reinforces white superiority and pisses me the hell off (can you guess which one?) AND the first few episodes of a television show.

I ain’t got time for my own SHEnanigans (yeah, I did that) this summer, Lads and Lasses.  I am unbound and determined to create something extraordinary.

Let’s go!

It’s a new year..

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Rang in the new year warmly with mostly fellow CalArtians.  The robot was done on a rooftop. Delicious food was had. My phone was lost and found. Marvelous stories were shared. Ah, yes.

Reading Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde might make you really wanna go to the Soviet Union.

I’d like very much to go on a tour of the UK this summer but am frightened by the fundraising. Last summer I went to Edinburgh and it was no picnic getting the money.  Tears and everythang.  But when I got there…so worth it.  If you know of anyone who can help-do drop me a line.

I’m writing a new play.  It bites. Hard.

I’m writing new poetry.  It goes hard. Yes.

I’m writing a new song.  It goes soft. Yes.