At the beginning of this year, after seven years, I resigned from my role as Executive Producer at Wily West Productions. The announcement was made awhile ago, but I haven’t really talked about it publicly. It was an agonizing decision to make, but ultimately I had to be realistic about the current demands on my life and the commitments I could make with any certainty of being able to follow-through. The year-round demand of producing an annual short play festival, normal season activities, administering our various business applications, and running box office, on top of caring for my mother, working full-time, volunteering for PCSF, freelance consulting, and attempting to maintain family and friend relationships was never doable, but had become increasingly impossible and at times unbearable. So I had to make a choice. I have the bitter sweet pleasure of leaving having finished a season that was as rewarding as it was challenging and ambitious.
The incredible experience of participating in the Collage Cabaret (that became Superheroes), writing nine plays in six weeks and sharing a collaborative process with seven other playwrights that I admire and enjoy was a great way to start the year. Followed closely by seeing Sheherezade reach the level of production I’d set out to achieve when I started producing it in 2009, with critical acclaim, a nomination for Outstanding Anthology at the TBAs and audience members who routinely stopped me in the lobby to gush. Though honestly the best part of the production for me was the amazing group of artists we worked with and I adored them all. I loved the nights I watched from the stairs leading up to the booth and could watch the audience watching the performances. There was a lovely interplay between audience and performers we hadn’t seen since the show had been staged-readings at the old Custom Made space on Mission street. We’d gained a full level of production with a terrific set design, lighting, costumes, scripts, direction, and cast, and had recaptured the intimacy and playfulness that Jody Handley had fostered when she ran it in those early days. Our reparatory shows started shortly afterward with SUPERHEROES (the result of our writing frenzy in January) and EVERYONE HERE SAYS HELLO! by Stuart Bousel. And again were so fortunate in the people working on the shows; every one of them warm, talented, generous, caring, and professional. SUPERHEROES also received a TBA nomination for Outstanding Anthology, and EHSH received the awards for Outstanding New Play (Stuart) and Outstanding Featured Actress (Mikka Bonnel) in our tier level, as well as a nomination for the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle nomination* for Best New Play. In the fall we premiered another two plays with DROWNING KATE by Morgan Ludlow and UNHINGED by Krista Knight, which I personally loved and was inspired by the sets and technical designs, the generosity and commitment of the casts. Adding this to seven seasons of shows that included works I am extremely proud to have been a part of, I will always look at my time with Wily West with pride and love. Especially knowing that the connections I made, the lessons I learned, and the opportunities it opened up will continue to be part of my life.
Now that I’ve had some time to adjust to the change, and have felt the relief of seeing Wily West adjust to the changes and continue forward with renewed enthusiasm, I can look forward to the room that I do have for creativity. Thus begins my year of writing.
I am currently working on the short play I’m contributing to the SF Olympians Festival and enjoying reading and re-reading the Greek myths as I prepare and fine-tune FORTRESS FOUND. When I was twelve or thirteen I remember devouring Homer’s Odyssey and the Iliad, I’m now deeply amused and engaged by Ovid’s Metamorphoses and making my way through the Argonautica. It’s an opportunity to explore adaptation and participate in an exciting festival, again with many many people I admire and respect.
I hope to be able to make an announcement soon [see #ISawIt post] about another playwriting project for the summer, and I’m serious about the revisions to UNDERNEATH THE ABOVE AND BELOW and PITCHFORK AND LIGHT, both of which I want to make into longer works.
I’ve also really enjoyed the Master Classes at PCSF and look forward to the next one on taking a play script and turning it into a screen play.
My first foray into writing was short fiction, something I came to after reading a short story by Ursula K. Leguin when I was nine or ten. The pure magic of creating something so fulfilling and complete in a scant few pages was exciting and opened up a world to me that ultimately provided relief and escape from being bullied and the devastation of HIV in my community. Recently I’ve been looking at some of those works and find the urge to delve back into short fiction rising.
I’d be a fool to say that I’ll never produce again, that I won’t find myself seduced by the irresistible comfort of the rehearsal room, the empty pre-show theatre, the adrenaline of the last minute crisis, the pure joy of watching director and actors creating life from words on the page, or the deep satisfaction of sharing a show with an audience. But right now, I’m loving being at home in the evenings and having quiet time to read and write on the weekends without the hustle and stress of putting a show up. Not having to make the choice between my passion and my loved ones has been freeing, and sometimes I even feel free to chose me without guilt.
You can keep up with my current projects here and look for the announcement about the new project soon.