Introduction to the Blogs
From January of 2015 to December of 2017, I was the luckiest artist in America. I don’t think that’s hyperbole. Sure, for some people they’d expect an artist feeling that lucky is getting rich and famous and winning awards. And that was definitely not me. But I got to make my art, hone my process, work with amazingly talented collaborators and friends, and do what I love for a living. My concerns for the past three years weren’t about money. They were whether the scene I’d written was going to work, or the choice I was making onstage would reflect the authenticity of the story.
Now I feel like my fortune has jumped a level! The 14th Street Y, with the support of the Covenant Foundation, is mounting a month-long festival around the country of the five plays I made between 2015 and 2017. These plays were all inspired by stories from the Book of Genesis and devised with communities around the country, placing their lived experiences in conversation with the sacred texts to create new stories that we turned into theater. In each community — Minneapolis, Charleston, Austin, Seattle, Kansas City — we shared all box office receipts with local artists and arts organizations. And for this festival in May of 2018, box office proceeds are going to a new grant program for LABA artists past and present to make art in collaboration with artists of different races and/or religions.
For my year in residence at the 14th Street Y, I’m keeping a journal. And I’ve typed up some of those entries for you to read. Hopefully they’ll provide a little window into my artistic process (and my neurotic musings) as we bring these plays all together for the first time.
I’ve never kept a diary or a journal. I don’t have the self-discipline. It also doesn’t help that I haven’t had a routine in fifteen years. Being on the road 200 nights a year, not having a nine-to-five job ever once in my life, I find routine is challenging at best. January of 2018 was the first time I’d purchased a monthly unlimited metrocard since some time in early 2015.
But I’ve found it fascinating to document my process as we finished the play in Kansas City and began to adapt and prepare all five plays for production at the 14th Street Y in May. It’s instructive to go back and see what I was thinking a week ago, a month, more. And journaling has allowed me to feel two important things: (1) I feel accomplished first thing in the morning by finishing my journal, as if I’m already on my way to a productive day; and (2) prepared and thought-out in having a work plan for the day/week by utilizing the journal for sketching out my ideas and tasks.