Sunday, March 26, 2006

Trying to find the contented place

Well, kids, it's been quite a couple of weeks for me. First, I'm on new medication, and I think it's going to do me a lot of good, but it will take a while to kick in, and in the meantime, I've been very, very depressed at times (if you count sobbing on the subway, aka "T," as depressed). I've also been having very vibrant and often violent dreams, which leave me fatigued and anxious. I think this has to do with a lot of things: rejection by Dragonfly (who never even let me know I wasn't cast in anything!) and the Boston Theatre Marathon (although I appreciated Kate's handwritten rejection), along with a plethora (alright, several) other theatres/festivals; my attempt to not spend money (more on that in a moment); the Advising Office at my college moving up two floors, leaving me and the Registrar's Office alone (well, mostly alone) to tend to student needs on the first floor, the first point of entry (and the loss of collegial support and friendship); and the crappy cold weather in New England that won't go away. The last is the least, believe me. The others are far more notable.

How have I dealt with these issues? Well, I'm working very hard at not spending money, and have now gone more than three weeks without Venti Black Iced Teas from Starbucks (limiting my caffeine intake and saving a considerable amount of money per week/month), and this has been no easy task for me. This weekend, my friend C. from Buffalo came to visit, and I did spend money. Aside from eating out a few times (which is to be expected), I bought red earrings ($14), a messenger bag ($15, Gap) for work, and a Zen Micro portable charger/player ($50, and now I can actually listen to music in my car! Amazing!!!). It actually felt freeing to finally spend money again on things I really wanted (need? maybe not), though it was certainly tinged with a great deal of guilt. I'm back to frugality for a while, though I will be spending money on my dad's 70th and sister's 40th birthdays, respectively. (Mine's in April, too, so maybe I'll get a bit back, or maybe I will finally get the oversized chair and ottoman I've dreamed of for many years. Ah. Comfy chair.) It was really hard at work last week, but I'm keeping in touch with S., my close advising friend, and I'll just have to accept the new arrangement, b/c I don't have a choice. I keep working out, harder and harder within reason (I'm now burning about 640 calories on the elliptical in a 45-minute workout), and I'm not eating well enough, but I do plan to see a nutritionist soon.

As for rejection? Well, that isn't going so well. I tried not to do the playwrighting binge, but I couldn't keep myself away. Writing and submitting is just too important to me, and you can't win (or even stay in the game) if you don't play. I'm restricting my submissions primarily to my two strongest pieces (or so I believe), with two others going out when applicable. Two others need work--I accept this--and I will get back to them when I have some free time in a couple of weeks. I continue to usher for plays, get free tickets for plays, see plays and network at plays, and this is just so important for me, b/c I feel better when I'm in a creative environment. I can't live without creativity, and so I won't. And next weekend I get to see all of my nieces, my nephew, and my sisters, along with my parents and brothers-in-law, and I can't wait. I always feel so much better when I'm with the girls and Matt (except when I'm sick, e.g., the last two times I saw them), and I am hopeful that next week will not be an exception. This weekend was really fun, and it was b/c I got to relax, enjoy time with a good friend, and not think about all of the stressors in my life. There was no competition, no disappointment, just fun, and dammit, I need more of that. I have to have it if I want to stay well. The goal is to find the contented place and to stay there. I'm going to try, and that's all I can do.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

No news is bad news...

And I don't really feel like writing about how both the Dragonfly (definitively) and The Boston Theatre Marathon (99 percent certain) turned down my plays. The latter was absolutely expected; the former cuts like a bloody knife. I really thought ONE of my plays would resonate with them; I thought wrong. Many friends, including D., didn't get in, either, but...but...dammit all to hell. I cannot get a play to be accepted. Do I have to pay people? It's beginning to feel that way. I also auditioned for Dragonfly, which I knew was a long shot, and since I have heard nothing, I assume it's a no shot. Sigh. So instead of moaning about how NO ONE wants to take my stuff (which certainly seems to be the case), I will fill out this short survey instead, and then watch American Idol. Yes, I watch it. I love Taylor, the gray-haired guy. He's 29 and he's fearless. I also love Chris, the rocker who did a great, Chili Pepper's rendition of "Higher Ground." These are MY idols. :) Screw pop songs, I like rock and blues, and that's what you get with these two. I'm not sure either will win, but I love 'em. Oh, and yoga. I did it tonight, a rare Wednesday evening off, and it helped me forget, if for an hour, what a loser I am in the eyes of all of the festivals (FOR NOW--maybe not for LATER). Addendum: Both made it to the next week. Whew! :)

Anyway, herewith the survey. And then onto guilty pleasures (I think Kevin may get the boot; he is not very strong, IMHO). Thanks to fellow blogger Diane for the idea (it's up on her "sparktacular" site, which I have a link to, you may have noticed).

Survey o Stuff

Four jobs I’ve had
Developmental Editor for college textbooks
Professional Disc Jockey/News Anchor and Writer
Director of Student Services (am currently)
Lackey at Cumberland Farms (worst.job.ever)

Four movies I can watch over and over
Coffee & Cigarettes
The Office
South Park: The Movie

Four TV shows I love to watch
The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart/The Colbert Report
Grey's Anatomy
Golf (seriously), the Red Sox, the Patriots, and the final four in basketball
Curb Your Enthusiasm

Four places I’ve been on vacation
Historic Williamsburg Virginia

Four favorite dishes
Meat lasagna (or any pasta dish)
Taco salad
Pad Thai with chicken

Four websites I visit daily
En Avant (playwrighting)
The Playwrights Noticeboard

Four places I’d rather be
In my bed, reading a book or magazine and sipping Diet Coke (decaf only!)
On a warm beach
Visiting my niece and nephew in Florida
Visiting my nieces in Western Mass

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The calm before the storm? Or just the calm...

Well, it's been a far less eventful week than last week was, which could only be a good thing. :) First, Rich and I found a director for my one-act play in June (see for more info), or I did, and he agreed w/ the choice, which was a big relief. I think David, who has a lot of experience and liked my play (booyah), will do interesting things with the script(as he briefly mentioned to me in an email and a phone call); I will say no more at this time. :) So we have three directors lined up and two other potential ones, and that is awesome, PLUS a set designer. Rich is still seeking a stage manager and then we need to hold auditions, but I'm not as worried about the latter. I think there are lots of aspiring actors, including me, out there. ;-) Not surprisingly, 11:11 never got back to me about the audition, and that only bothers me b/c it's rather rude, but I knew the role was not at all right for me.(I cannot play a 50 year-old mother w/ a 19 year old, nor would I really want to, when her daughter and friends have far more interesting roles).

I'm not certain if this is wise or not, but I am still trying out for the Dragonfly Festival on Monday night. Why might it not be wise? Let me count the ways: 1) There are a lot of people auditioning, and so my chances are probably only so-so; 2) If I don't get into the Dragonfly, I will be very bummed, and if I don't get cast, it will only be exacerbated; 3) I have had NO luck auditioning for over a year, as I've detailed here; and 4) I am missing my Write-On meeting to audition. OTOH, there are 21 plays that need to be cast, so there's BOUND to be a play for me, if I have a decent audition, and I did nail my boyfriend monologue for 11:11 (though not the reading of the side), so if I can do it again--when I do it :-)--then maybe I can get cast, if I read from sides (which sides? who knows? I don't know if any plays have even been chosen yet, and David is also directing one of the Dragonfly plays, and he has yet to choose one, out of another 30 he and others are considering). They got 224 bloody plays (sighs and more sighs), so even with 5 plays submitted (and Lisa from Shadow Boxing thinks that was three too many, though we'll see), and I've revised two of them since the time they were submitted (substantially in the case of "Not A Competition," which is my favorite play at the moment), so I'm not sure they are even seeing my work at my best. This is always the case when you are in the revision stage (which, for most playwrights, is most of the time), but it's hard to know when a play is ready to send out and when not.

I now know that neither NAC nor "Accept This!" were ready for the Boston Playwrights Marathon--"Peanut Butter Sandwiches" WAS, but I didn't feel good about it at that point, alas--but the deadline was November 15, and so that's what I sent. Live and learn, I guess. The good news is that I think three of my plays, NAC, "Accept This!", and "Out for the Holidays" (the Santa play) are done, along with "Peanut Butter Sandwiches" (I believe), and I'm doing more revisions on "The Satchel" after Wednesday night's Shadow Boxing meeting (I got good responses, which was heartening), so maybe soon I'll have five in pretty good shape. I guess. I mean, really, who knows? Sometimes I feel like the biggest fraud in the world, like I have no right to claim I'm a playwright, that I suck hard. Other times, I feel great about my work, or good, anyway, and last night was one of those time. I worked really hard on NAC over the past two days, with help from playwright binge listserv friends (I love you guys!), and now it feels ready to submit (not that I haven't submitted it before, but I like it much better now, and others agree that my changes were strong ones). I got to resubmit it to Herring Run in Middleboro, MA and to Brown Couch in Chicago, and I also sent it to Theatre@First in Somerville, who rejected both my play (PB Sandwiches, the only one completed at that time--wow, I've written a lot this past year!) and my acting (sob), but might say yes this year (fingers crossed--I could see them doing NAC, but who the hell knows?!). It was actually fun to do the revisions, possibly b/c I did it collaboratively with others, and that's not the way it usually works (except for a bit of feedback from D. and A.). In any case, I'm happy with it, and now we'll see if anyone else is interested.

I realize that if nobody says yes, that doesn't mean it sucks or that others won't be interested in the future, but it's hard, after so many rejections in the past four months, to feel good. Nonetheless, I have to keep trying, and I realize this. I know for most people, it takes a long time to get known in the field, so I will keep networking and writing and revising and going to plays, where I learn a lot. I saw a play with A. on Thursday night at the Boston Center for the Arts, and all I can say is it's a damned good thing I did have to pay for it, b/c I would have demanded my money back (I kid you not--it was THAT bad). It was right up there for me with "The Play About the Baby," a simply awful production of Albee's very absurdist play (which is saying something, and I loved "The Goat," so I'm not anti-Albee, I'm anti-crap), though A. wasn't as hard on it as I was. UGH. Decebt acting but awful, mixed up dialogue, a mix of contemporary and early 20th century (and very stylized movement), waaaay too much music to SIGNAL changes, stupid use of props, and the list goes on. Shudder. Compare that with the Vokes Players' production of Amadeus today, which I liked quite a bit. Rich was in it, so I went to see it (I'm nice that way :-)), and I ushered, so it was free. I'm glad I did go. The acting of Salieri was superb, as good as anything I've seen in a long time, and the costumes and staging were terrific. It was very solid and interesting to watch, although I'm not a big fan of period pieces. I joked with Rich afterwards that our production "Five" in June will NOT be like that. He agreed. ;-)

I get so jazzed when I talk about acting and writing, and then when I get rejected, it's such a crushing blow. So I desperately (HERE THAT, THEATRES?!) need an acceptance, pronto, to keep my hopes alive and my happiness intact (forget the "it comes from within" b.s., b/c playwrighting is a collaborative effort, and words on a page are static and not much more). Nothing else very big happened this week (and that was okay, believe me), though I do feel calmer (new medication and no caffeine probably helped a lot, though I miss my Starbucks Venti Black Iced Teas, unsweetened, in a huge way). I'm kind of in a holding pattern, fearing the day (in two weeks) that the Advising Office moves upstairs at work, but trying to accept its inevitablity, trying (but failing) not to think about the Dragonfly Festival and other festivals I've submitted to, trying not to overeat (the story of my life), continuing to exercise (though not today, which is okay, b/c I had two hard workouts in a row, and tomorrow is my 90-minute yoga class), and continuing to watch movies (tonight I've got "North Country" and Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride" on tap, and see plays (tomorrow, A. and I are ushering for "Brooklyn Boy" at the BCA, and next week, A., D., and I are all ushering for "The Hopper Collection" at the Huntington Theatre. I desperately hope to have good news to report soon--either way, you'll hear from me within the week, most likely--b/c, well, it's been a lousy winter and it's time for something nice to hhppen to me. :-)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sorry I've been away. Tough times, alas...

I'm sorry I haven't written for a while. February was a really tough time for me, both because of illness (boy, did the flu knock me for a loop, and I'm just now getting back to feeling normal) and play rejections (several), and then March started out like a lion, not a lamb, so that didn't help, either. On the writing front, I have nothing happy to report, unfortunately. I have received several rejections over the past month, and not ONE acceptance. :-( The fact that the blizzard snowed out the last day of Theatre One's Festival sure as hell didn't help. It seemed so bloody unfair at the time--what were the chances?--and it still does. Then I got the reviews from my three-minute play, "My Six-Thirty," and they weren't particularly positive, though I wasn't there to see the staging, so I can't worry too much about them, and it's not a project I intend to spend any more time on (Doug at Poco Locos thinks it would make a better film than play, so he might film it this summer, and that would be amazing). The hardest blow, I think, was yesterday, when Heartland Theatre Company rejected my 20-year play, "Not A Competition," about a high school reunion. I had high hopes for this play, and it's not getting any interest whatsoever. I am bringing it to my playwrighting group this Wednesday, b/c I'm starting to think that it just doesn't work in its present form, and it really needs to get a reading for me to get feedback.

Meanwhile, my friend D. and two playwright binge friends were finalists for Heartland, and that just knocked me out. What it said to me was that people I know, really know, DO get their plays accepted (I was part of D's developmental process for this piece), so I can't keep saying that it's just random and bad luck and the like that causes my plays to keep being rejected. I mean, it is, but it's also that I don't have plays that theatres are interested in! That's just a fact. Besides Theatre One, NO ONE has accepted anything of mine for nearly a year! That's not bad luck, kids, that's bad writing. Or something. So what I'm going to do is start a new play, and really delve into it, see if I can come up with something innovative or fun, or at least different. Meanwhile, I will continue submitting to festivals/theatres that do not require a fee (NO MORE FEES; not worth it), and will intermittenly revise existing work, but will move on and upward. What I fear, really fear, is that friends will get into both the Boston Theatre Marathon (should hear soon) and the Dragonflly Festival (ditto), both local festivals, and I will not. And that will...well, I hate to say crush me, but it will. It really will. I am trying to steer myself for that very real possibility, but how can I, honestly?

Yesterday, after the Heartland rejection, I cried, and then I did a very hard workout at the gym, which helped immensely. (Sleep is also a great friend at these times, and thanks to my new Sealy mattress, I can get some without sinking into the thing!) But I am just so sad about all the rejection, sad and frustrated, and there's not much I can do about it. I can stop writing, which doesn't seem like a good plan, or stop submitting, which means I have NO chance of being accepted anywhere, or I can just carry on and hope that I catch on somewhere. I guess I don't have plays that jump out at people, so they need to find a select audience. Or something. Who knows? It's starting to feel very much as it did in graduate school, when my co-horts had their short stories accepted by magazines and journals and I did not (not even one got taken!). I began to think that I could write reasonably well but didn't have anything to say, or wasn't ready to say anything particularly interesting. I don't exactly feel that's the case anymore, but I do feel as if I'm not getting my messages across well enough. Is it simple tweaking? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Hard to say. D. got a play taken that was so different than her normal work (it's a very strong play, so I'm really happy for her), and I think, well, that certainly didn't hurt her getting in. I don't have any plays that jump out, that scream, Wow, look at me, I'm different and worthy of being produced! I thought maybe that "The Satchel" would be that way, but now I'm not so sure (plus, according to a playwrighting friend, it is still missing that "kick," and I don't know how to find that kick, even after a number of revisions).

I did audition for two plays during the past two weeks. One said no without a call back, which was unfortunate (for me, not them ;-)). I am certain that was in part b/c I had a lousy audition; I tried to do my "Chair" monologue, which I really like, but couldn't get it down. So I went to another audition on Thursday night, and used an older monologue, "The Boyfriend," which went over very well. :-) But then I had a cold read, and that didn't go so well; I could just tell, and it was in part b/c the side I wanted to read from wasn't the one I did read from, and the one I read from was pretty blah for my character. I also was just off, and that happens. In addition, the part calls for a 50-year-old woman (though they were calling for 35-45 year olds; don't ask me why), and I can't play 50. I can play 35-40 but not 50 (nor do I want to!), so that's out. Hesitantly, I also requested a slot for the Dragonfly Festival's auditions yesterday via email. I have not been cast the past two years, but I am going to try Chair (again!), b/c I know it's a piece that can work if I can just remember the lines (Why I can't is beyond me; it's just over a page of writing, and I wrote it, dammit! Why the block?). But I do feel as if it can be a successful piece, so I'd like to try it and see.

Now, if I get rejected by Dragonfly, both for the five pieces I submitted and for the audition, I'll be inconsolable, so I just can't *go* there at the moment. I cannot. I do not expect to get into the Boston Theatre Marathon, especially b/c one of the pieces I submitted has since been revised and the other was just rejected by Heartland (and it was written for that festival), but the Dragonfly; well, that's something entirely different. They, naturally, got 224 (!) submissions, up from 80 last year (yes, I was also rejected last year, with one piece), so the odds are slim, but I know the producer a little bit now, so maybe something I wrote will strike a chord. I don't know anymore. I feel very disheartened, and that's why I need to write a new piece and forget about the old ones, though I'll continue to submit. Also, Braden at AYTB still wants me to write a full-length for him, whicn feels great. I just need to get down to it and have time to focus (I will perhaps take a couple of days off in April to do some writing). Another thing I should mention is that no one has agreed to direct my 25-minute play "Uncharted Territory" for the Arlington Players' "5" Festival in June. I know it's a tough play to do, but can't someone just say yes already? And by someone, I mean someone with some experience, b/c, as I say, it's not an easy piece to direct. D. has two people on board (hers is 10 minutes, which is easier), and every other play has interest, except mine. That's just a fact. Fortunately, Rich, the producer, has agreed to direct it if necessary, but I know he would prefer not to, so I don't want him to do it under duress. But I can't do it (don't have the experience and want someone with objectivity to direct it), so that might be the way we need to go. Otherwise, it's starting to take form, which is exciting, but I need a director, and I won't feel better until we find someone.

I have real moments of joy in theatre, and they are usually followed by setback and depression. For example, I am serving on a student's Thesis panel, and she is working on a performing arts school/community theatre project on a site in Amesbury, MA. I went to my first review (I missed the initial one b/c of the flu) on Wednesday night, and apparently I contributed a great deal, was thanked profusely, and asked if I could make the next one. That made me feel terrific. Then a day and a half later, I get rejected by Heartland. So I can't get a consistent high going, and there are so many failures. It's just so discouraging. I need an acceptance, and I need it really soon, or I might just have to put the projects aside for a while. The problem is that I have NOTHING else to keep me busy or engaged. I am on a tight budget, especially this month, so I can't go out and spend money on movies, clothing, or trips. I saw the new doctor two times this week, and was told that I needed to get off caffeine (I am going to continue drinking my Sobe Power Beverages, b/c life without Sobe is too hard to contemplate), but that means no more Venti black iced teas from Starbucks, and that makes me sad (though I've known for a while that I had to cut that down, due to the cost, as well as the caffeine and general addiction). I am trying to watch my weight (right now, I'm watching it go up!), and that means no bingeing (though I refuse to cut out all snacks now, b/c I am not in a place where I can). I still have no boyfriend prospects, work is busy and rather pressured, and so really, what is there for me right now? Free plays that I can see with A. and D. and others, or ushering, movies that I rent, and my writing, and that is really it. That's all there is. And if I take away theatre, there's pretty much nothing at all, so I can't. But the pain is so great, and sometimes I don't think I'm strong enough to withstand the rejections. I just don't.