i'm a white writer. in new york. original, no? i've been blogging since october 2002. this blog picks up in october 2008, when i moved from DC to NY...(and then I moved to Maine in 2012)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

THURSDAY SLICE: I know why female playwrights aren't being produced.*

It's because we're fucking inarticulate.


So I got shuffled around six different cubes yesterday at work, all of them in what's referred to by everyone as The Pit of Despair, I kid you not. (I rechristened it the Bowels of Entropy, which seemed more lyrical.)

The highlight was being treated to a stellar lunch at Frickin' Olive ("Fig & Olive" but whatev, Trev) by a friend who was in town for an audition and who was quite irritable about it. (Is it so wrong that I love NY when so many of my friends hate it?)


As you know, I've been running all over NY, seeing as many readings and shows as possible, learning which theatres do what plays. I've also been reading a play a day in my new role as Literary Manager, so I've really been in New Play Heaven.

Well, I got all bold and emailed an Artistic Director of one of the theaters I'm particularly taken with, introduced myself, and he emailed back. I ran into him last night and said howdy.


I had no follow-up. I said the most trite shite. I said things like "smorgasboard" and "inspiring" while looking at the floor.

You heard me.

As if the floor could have helped me.

I may as well have said "Schreentklmmmphle," which is Yiddish I made up just now for "Have you seen my yellow helmet I must have misplaced it OH it's over there okay bye now."




I know we all have these moments, and I know that when they happen, they feel ten times worse than they actually are, but holy cow my head voice was screaming, "Evacuate! Evacuate!" while my outside voice kept trying to gain social traction, which of course just made it worse.

Part of the reason I've self-produced is because it's easier for me to produce my own plays than it is for me to ask someone else to do it. Also, I think it's just better if you just go ahead and do your thing, do your work, and if someone's interested, they'll find you, right? Even if it takes 'til you're 50, right?

I know.

I know I know I know.

I said I know!

Which is why I was trying something new, can you just listen for a minute before you start in? I just got a little too far outside of my comfort zone.

Speak on a panel? Sure! Teach a class? No problemo. Navigate a talkback? Easy peasy! Approach a director? I'm sorry, what EXACTLY makes you think anyone is remotely interested in anything you have to say, young lady. Or your little plays.

And so it all slammed back, stuff I didn't think still affected me, stuff I wish I could surgically excise from the deepest part of my wormy gut: being the new kid at 12 different schools and being ignored and ridiculed by my awesome family. Not actually speaking hardly at all. Ever. Until I started writing plays.

Yeah, this whole Late Bloomer Thing is awesome and Yes I'm going to read Malcolm Gladwell's new book so I'll feel all kinds of validated and all, and I know these experiences are my richest blessings as a writer, but they're also my biggest stumbling blocks to "fitting in." Which sometimes is all I want for Pete's sake.

And I realize I'm new here, I'm going to these things alone, and I have NO track record in this town, so I'm cutting myself a break. I just can't see very far down the road right now, and I want to find my way.

I think I'm a little lonely. Fuck if I just didn't type that out loud. But it's all good. I'm here to bring to bear all the beautiful recent changes in my life, to push myself to write better, and to claim a space somewhere.

I've been so high about moving here that I needed this little correction in the market of optimism.

But more to the point of this blog post's title...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, though someone once took me to task for blaming women for the sexism that exists in theatre...we are not socialized to promote ourselves. To make an "ask" is to step miles outside our comfort zone. To approach the demographic group of Men Who Have Power In This Business and to engage them in your work is something most of us are ill-equipped to do. So we are assistant directors, assistant artistic associates, literary managers, and dramaturgs. We help.

We are not in charge, though the argument could be made that we should be.

So it is easier to self-produce, something I am tired of doing. I want to play. I want to be a part of something, not an amateur auteur.

I believe in my work, even if I don't know how the hell to present it. I'm a conflicted mashup of "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity." I think I'm two plays away from hitting my stride.

Luckily, I had a long subway ride home to sulk over all of this. I took the D to 59th, where I had thought I'd caught the A train, when in fact I had simply caught another D train, something I didn't realize until I got to 167th Street in the Bronx and had to turn around.

And, for a moment, for a beautiful, metaphorical, preSocratic moment, I became Zeno's famously immobile arrow.

Eight: a record, though I had hoped for more.

*I'm referencing the current discussion that's been chronicled in the Times about how women playwrights are demanding parity on main stages. (Parity is the wrong argument to make, but my argument is for another blog post.)

1 comment:

Doorstep said...

Your brilliant and amazing. I know that about you.