Alright darlin’s, I haven’t updated in a while, so here goes…
I frequently criticize Sacramento theatre for its lack of creative or original programming. Every company seems to produce a play another company produced a year, a month, a week before, creating a daisy chain of safe bets, canonized white people, and other forms blandness as a theatrical landscape.
That said, what Sacramento has that places like New York lacks is time. There is no dearth of talent, either, and these are the ingredients you need to make great theatre. Money helps, of course, but if you don’t have the money to fly in professional actors and designers and so on and so on, then you should at least have the time and dedication to. do. it. right.
The artists at Big Idea put the time and energy into the production. For a fraction of a fraction of a big budget play, on the fumes of fundraising, the scrapings above their rent, they built a phenomenal production.
I ended the semester with a production of a play that I wrote with and for the students, a fun piece titled Nameless in the Desert. Skybridge is a strange school, and an aspect of it’s strangeness is that it sits next to this:
A warehouse…. Then you walk in, and…
It’s a beautiful hundred seat theatre, owned by a lovely magician and his family, who produce weekly magic shows. John, the magician, built the theatre himself. And so it was with great graciousness and generosity that he let us — a group of rambunctious high school and junior high students — to rent the space.
I’m proud of this play. It’s one of my favorites. Nameless wakes up in the desert, not knowing who he is or how he got there — all he knows is that he has a mission to be great… And he gallivants.
More info on this later – except to say this: Dear high school theatre departments, Please hire playwrights to write plays with and for your students. You’ll get something that no one has ever seen before. You’ll get something for every student – to break them, to build them, to reinvent them, to use them, to bring them into the community.
At the end of last semester, one of the other teachers left. Three days before school begins, I inherited his classes. So… this semester I teach the following: Radio Theatre (two sections); Myths and Monsters (Greek mythology); Shakespeare; Composition; Creating Theatre (two sections); Exploring Acting; Theatre Design and Technology — and LGBT Stories. Along with Farming (two sections); Genetics; and ‘The Maker Class’ (in addition to taking on some admin duties) Am I qualified to teach these? Time will tell. I did theatre in a barn, so that checks farming?
I’m slowly finding ways of carving off more and more writing time, but this has been the struggle (and now I sit here at Quacks updating my website? Hypocrite, Briandaniel, hypocrite).
One of my former students once told me how she’d learned that the way to navigate having multiple identities, living multiple lives, is to let them take turns. Sometimes, you’re more of a parent than a career person, that sort of thing. Last semester, my writer identity took over. This semester, for this first month, I’m more of a teacher. But that is okay.
Few writers make a living at just writing. Usually, we put together strange and complex lives, and so here I am, assembling myself from bits and pieces.
I recognize that it is now in vogue to criticize artists who “romanticize busy,” but we should recognize that there’s great privilege to being able to criticize those who are busy. Some folks are busy by necessity. Some folks are busy because they have an expansive vision for themselves, for doing something in that small amount of time we get to be on earth. I don’t know where I live, except to say that if I cut the next person who puts up a think-piece on busyness.
Trainwhistles will appear at the Buffalo United Artist’s ten-minute LGBT play festival.
The Disappearing Rose Trick will take part in Out of Ink in Austin. Between Brother and Sister is part of FronteraFest’s Best of Fest in Austin.
My short story It’s 1943 and Hold the Rocks in Your Mouth won the Sacramento Valley Writing Contest, administered via Heyday Press. 1943 is an experimental short story, and Heyday tends towards more conventional fare, so this is a lovely surprise.