When 2015 began I was so exhausted from a grueling and challenging 2014, all I really wanted to do was crawl into a cave and hibernate like a bear. I thought I’d be facing a year of respite and recovery. What I got instead was one of recovery and rejuvenation, but not from rest; much to my surprise (and my family’s alarm), it was busier than most years. But also more creatively satisfying than I’d have expected. The thing about having been so focused on producing for almost a decade is that creativity tends to be limited to problem solving as opposed to art. Without the producing I had more room to do other things. Highlights include:
- Book Race 2015: wherein a group of us have been logging word count of the books we’ve read all year. I’m happy to say that after years of barely reading two or three books, I read 3.16 million words or about 30 books. A far cry from what I used to go through in the same time frame, but it’s a start. It’s helped to ground me and reconnected me to a part of myself that is integral and necessary.
- I Saw It and Zero Hour: spent several weeks writing as many monologues as I could as one of the eight playwrights contributing to these projects. All told I wrote 12 monologues and had the satisfaction of seeing the results performed for four weeks in July and August by very talented actors, and directed by one of the directors I admire most, Ariel Craft, because she’s brilliant. Watching Samantha Behr and Colleen Egan in particular perform monologues I’d written out of intense personal experience was a joy. https://laylahmuran.co/plays/i-saw-it/
- SF Olympians Festival: more important for me than having a play – that if I’m being honest was mediocre – included in the festival, was that I jumped in and did something that scared me a little. Going into it I was incredibly intimidated by the company I found myself in and had to stretch my comfort zone in a number of ways. The end result was building new relationships with a bunch of amazing people, seeing my work performed by great actors who provided me with exactly what I needed to see in order to make the mediocre script something better.
- Submitted two short stories: and got them rejected… but hey the first two stories I’d written in years and the first I’ve submitted in even longer.
- Submitted three plays: and got them rejected, but two were shortlisted.
- Repro Rights: found myself directing four of the eight plays for this very important reading series, produced as part of 3 Girls Theatre’s new works showcase. I am proud of the work I did with this and the terrific performances the cast did.
- Ex Nihilo launch: I directed the staged reading of excerpts of plays of the three founders of this new and exciting theatre company. The venue was terrific, the vision Jennifer Lynne Roberts, Bridgette Dutta Portman, and Elizabeth Flanagan have for Ex Nihilo is interesting and so fun. I was happy to be part of their unveiling.
- PCSF’s 24-Hour Fest: Participated for the third time as a playwright in the fest. I liked my little three-hander and loved what my cast and director did with it.
- Sheherezade’s Last Tales: I had the pleasure of directing four of the eight plays for the last Sheherezade. It was a fabulous experience and artistically satisfying on so many levels. I’m very proud of my legacy here and can’t wait to see what PCSF does with the new concept for their short play festival.
I think the thing I take away from 2015 more than anything is the collaboration and affirmation I experienced again and again. When I stepped down from producing, I had worried that my relevance in the community would fade and that there wouldn’t be any place for me anymore. Instead, more so than at any other time of my life I encountered encouragement, recognition, compliments, expressions of admiration (that I returned ten fold), and that kind of reflection we as artists so often need. I found places for me I’d not have thought to seek out and a community that continued to embrace me.
As we begin 2016 there are already a number of projects on the horizon. I feel more centered and focused going into this year. I feel energized and excited to see what happens. I look forward to sharing it and continuing to grow.