The first month of 2017 is down the hatch and already, so much has changed. I'm 24 now, there's a new president in the oval office, and it feels like my world has grown more and more unpredictable everyday. Despite all this, I managed to do a lot and learn a lot in the first month of this year. If anything, it's set a strong precedent that I'll have to work hard to continue for the rest of the year.
The news cycle since January 20th has been relentless, as each day of the Trump administration brings new threats, strong reactions, and terrifying theories. It's very tempting to get caught up in a whirlwind of anxiety and on more than one recent occasion I found myself unable to sleep worrying about the future of my friends and loved ones. Moreover it can be hard to work at any capacity, let alone creatively while this continues to happen.
I am lucky to be surrounded by smart and diligent people in all aspects of my life. It's made friendly discussions occasionally a little more bleak, but also a lot more functional. We fact check each other, spread useful information, and organize for various forms of activism. When there's a bad day for one of us, the rest are there to give a pep talk.
My revised philosophy during the Trump administration is to be vigilant and wary. Vigilant in staying informed through reliable news sources. In being ready to partake in a call to action at any moment. Whether it be a march, contacting representatives, or contributing to a cause in any possible way, I want to partake in peaceful and constructive activism as often as possible. When I say wary, I mean not getting too caught up in speculation or rumors. I mean continuing my life, but taking into account my new passion and knowledge when creating and writing from this point on. I want to be wary to not prioritize my personal comfort as people less fortunate or less privileged than I suffer from new rules and legislation made by the Trump Administration.
I owe a big thanks to my friends and family for being open to talking about such issues, and helping me shape a strong ideology for how to handle larger forces. Regardless, it is part of growing up to acknowledge that the world is bigger than my own personal goals and aspirations. While I think I and many my age were jolted into this, I believe it's ultimately for the better and good things will come of it.
January 2017 was all about putting on plays for me, partially because so much of the latter half of 2016 was all about writing those same plays. Ever since I graduated in 2015, I've gotten "no", "no", "no" for so many things, and then I kept submitting on and on until eventually I started getting "yes." It felt good to have persistence to pay off: after so many different rejections, or just no responses at all, people started seeing something in my work. More importantly for me, all the acceptances came for work I'd written within the past year, which hopefully means I'm maturing and growing as an artist.
Writing the Bench was a blast! I got the idea while visiting my parents in early October. Something about driving a car around again (an activity I seldom do in New York) reminded me of thosedays where I was confined on the route between home and football practice. Even more fun, I think, was to explore how the glorified expectations of being a Football player can falter when we don't live up to society's gold standard of masculinity. It can be funny and agonizing: you spend all this time getting your ass kicked and people still don't view you the way you dreamed.
The best part of the Bench, by far, was reuniting with Carsen. Even though a play with four high school boys may not be her dream project, per say, I admired her ability to recognize the core themes in the play and highlight them in ways I never saw fit. One of my favorite exercises she did was have the boys compete in a game of ping pong and then run their lines as they did it. That sounds so fun! And I am very happy to say she took home the best directing award, something she not only deserved for her work but also her willingness and dedication to put so much time into a short play.
Similarly: the boys of The Bench deserve equal recognition. Jesse, Bucey, Julius, and Maxwell are all great actors and they brought their A game to a project that dragged them to Bushwick and Queens at least ten times total. The play requires high energy from the outset, and these guys never missed a step. They did six shows, were on time to every single one, and killed it so frequently that we ended up with the highest score from our program. That's just the kind of work you can only dream of from your actors.
Other good news: I got my first piece of press from this project! The Queens Courier! It's a short blurb and my name is completely wrong, but that's okay! The reviewer seemed to like it, and that's all that mattered. A few more things like this and I might be able to start a "press" section of my website soon!
I found out about Sanguine Theater Company's Project Playwright last year when I was desperately looking for outlets for my writing. I submitted this year, and was delighted to find out I managed to be a finalist. This was a company dedicated to promoting and featuring work from upcoming artists, and I was really excited to work with them.
The experience was great, if not initially scary. I've worked almost exclusively with friends in the past, or at least people in the Sarah Lawrence Community. So it's equally exciting and nerve-racking to have an entirely new group of people read work I've written. But I could not have asked for a better group. The actors were brilliant, and the director had all these brilliant ideas.
With the combined effort and talents of the cast and director, I got to take home the top prize for Project Playwright. Sanguine will be producing Jessica this August at the IRT theatre. I'm really ecstatic, not only to get to put up the full play, but to be able to continue to work with the amazing people at Sanguine. You can expect several promotions for this in the future, I promise
So now we're in February. My goals for this month are getting some sketches filmed for New Greta, finishing one play, and starting and completing another. It's a tall order, but I want to write like a mad man this year! Thanks for reading if you read this, it means a lot. Mostly just because this is just way to practice for me. Have a good day!