Thursday, November 2, 2017

Get What You Want: November 2017

FELLOWSHIPS AND RESIDENCIES

1.
Sundance Theatre
Deadline: November 15th
Website: Sundance 

The Sundance Institute Theatre Program provides a unique catalytic process of artistic engagement for independent theatre-makers in the U.S. and globally through a range of artist-driven developmental opportunities that connect, support and sustain artists across their careers.

Led by Artistic Director Philip Himberg and Producing Director Christopher Hibma, the Sundance Institute Theatre Program emphasizes intensive and limited-time interactions with high-level artistic mentors within the context of retreat settings removed from commercial pressures and other demands of contemporary life. The result is Lab experiences that are transformative on both personal-artistic and project-specific levels.

It is the same basic classic Sundance Lab you all know and love - just set in the splendor of the Moroccan desert - 50% of the work is by U.S. artists and 50% we cull from the best artists working in the region in Arabic (or French).  The fruits of our last labors at this lab included Max Posner's THE TREASURER (now extended at Playwrights Horizons), Hansol Jung's WILD GOOSE DREAMS (which premiered at La Jolla and has more productions ahead), and Paola Lazaro's TELL HECTOR I MISS HIM (Atlantic 2), among others.

The experience of having support (with our trademark day on/day off rehearsal rhythm) plus the best dramaturgs and advisors, continues in this setting.  And the opportunity to meet other world class theater makers is not to be missed. We've extended the deadline to November 15, 2017.

At Sundance, dramaturgy is the how and the why of new play development, a process of inquiry and exploration into dramatic works practiced not only by Sundance dramaturgs, but by all of the artists in the room. Sundance dramaturgs, who have wide experience in the support of new work, provide engaged, considered, and empowering guidance to each project’s artists, and offer fresh perspectives on the work. They recognize that each individual artist/project brings a unique set of intentions, aesthetics, content, language and process. Once a project is accepted to a Lab, there is opportunity to discuss the kind of dramaturgical support that best suits it. For the Middle East and North Africa Initiative, where work is often in Arabic, dramaturgs from both the US and MENA region work collaboratively.

Labs prioritize, whenever possible, a day-on/day-off rehearsal rhythm. Rehearsals with collaborating artists one day alternate with days for reflection and writing/re-writing. This offers artists refreshing opportunities for experimentation and discovery.

Sundance founder Robert Redford’s early awareness that beautiful natural surroundings enhance creativity means that Lab artists are housed in a calm bucolic setting, sharing meals and artistic journeys, thereby building community amongst the participants. Final showings of the works in progress are open rehearsals solely for the Lab community. Chosen experts in the field are brought to the Lab as Creative Advisors to attend final showings and offer fresh eyes. By respecting the intimacy and trust established through the Lab process, generative artists leave Sundance Labs with a collection of sculpted feedback and new possibilities. Potential commercial producers, the external public, and paid audiences are purposefully not part of the final readings.


2.
InspiraTO Playwriting Contest
Deadline: November 20th
Website: http://www.theatreinspirato.ca/submit-a-play

The play must be a ten-minute play. The theme "all about her" must be an integral part of the play. The story can be a comedy, a drama, a parody, absurd or anything in between (in English only). We also accept musicals. The contest is open to anyone, in any part of the world, without geographic or age restrictions. Scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your play.

Please note: Just because one of the characters or all the characters are female does not necessarily make the theme “all about her”. Ensure that the play highlights a distinct female/feminine voice about the way she engages with the world or how she views the world.

The cover page should have the title of the play, the playwright's name and the list of characters. The pages should be numbered. The format should be easy to read. We accept previously produced plays (but not plays that have produced at InspiraTO before). The playwright must own the rights to the play up to June 17, 2018 (i.e. the script cannot be owned by a publisher).

We are particularly interested in scripts that aren't afraid to make bold choices: quality writing backed by imaginative staging.

What will happen

The plays will be selected by a committee from the Toronto theatre community. If selected, your play will be performed in Toronto, Canada from June 1 - June 16, 2018. Between eighteen to twenty four, ten-minute plays will be selected and performed. 1st Prize: $500 CDN. Should your play be selected for inclusion in the festival, you are giving the non-exclusive right to Theatre InspiraTO to produce and perform the play in the 13th Annual InspiraTO Festival in Toronto (Canada's largest ten-minute play festival), in June 2018. The InspiraTO Festival will find the cast, crew and market your play. Authors retain copyright and full ownership of their plays.

Only those playwrights whose plays have been selected will be notified by January 1, 2018 (more likely by mid-December).

What does a good ten-minute play need?

A ten-minute play is distinct from a sketch, or a skit; it is a compact play, with a beginning, middle and an end. You need a character facing obstacles in pursuit of some specific goal. You need rising action, conflict, and a climactic moment and your play must tell a complete story.

Generally speaking, scripts (including the stage directions, character names and dialogue) that are over 1,900 words are more than ten minutes long on stage. This does not mean that all plays under 1,900 words are under ten minutes, so be wise: use Word Count and read the play out loud while timing the length (including all pauses). You don't want your hard work rejected because it was too long.


3.
Tofte Lake Residency
Deadline: Nov. 30th
Website: http://www.toftelake.com/residency-programs-0

Tofte Lake Center winds down its last month here in the Northwoods of MN, we’re gearing up for next year - our 10th Anniversary Season! Here’s how YOU could be part of our 10th Anniversary Season:

Our application window for all residences is September 1- November 30, 2017.
Applicants will be notified by February 1, 2018.
To apply is easy! These are your options for available weeks:

The Emerging Artists Program
June 25 - July 1, 2018
August 27 - Sept 2, 2018
September 10 - 16, 2018

The Gaia Fenna Memorial Fellowship
Sept 17 - 23, 2018

The Individual and Group/Organizational Residencies
June 11 - 17, 2018
Sept 24 - 30, 2018

You can find links to all the residency information and applications here: http://www.toftelake.com/residency-programs-0

Apply now - we hope to see you at the lake to celebrate our 10th anniversary!


4.
Moss Hart and Kitty Carlisle New Play Initiative
deadline: Jan 19th
website: http://www.hartnpi.org/hartnpi-submissions/


The Moss Hart & Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative builds upon the success of the Grove Theater Center New Play Initiative. And with productions in both Los Angeles and New York City, the Hart Initiative has a national impact.

What distinguishes the Hart Initiative is that we have a permanent home theater on the West Coast at GTC Burbank and, thanks to the Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation, a permanent home theater in New York City at 59E59 Theaters.

This dynamic partnership between the theaters and the Hart Initiative ensures that the playwrights gain the opportunity to have their work produced on both coasts helping position the plays for future success.


Submitted scripts must be in pdf format and include a character list (with potential doubling if necessary), a short synopsis, and a title page which includes the following information:

Name, Address, Primary Phone Number
Title of Play
Previous Productions (if any). Please include theater, location and dates of run.
Please also include a short resume or bio as a separate pdf file.
You may also include other supporting materials if you desire (reviews, etc).

————————————-

All playwrights are eligible to submit one script each year.

Scripts must meet the following criteria:

The play may not have had more than two productions.
The play must be unpublished.
The play cannot have had more than 10 performances in New York City.
The play must be able to be performed with 8 performers or less.
We’re sorry, but no musicals can be accepted at this time (this may change in later years).
The play must have no artistic encumbrances (so no individuals contractually attached to the piece).
Please email scripts to Kevin Cochran at kevin@gtc.org.
If you don’t receive a confirmation email within a few days, please follow up to make sure your submission was received.

We will be accepting scripts through January 19, 2018.


5.
Clubbed Thumb
deadline: Nov 11th
website: http://www.clubbedthumb.org

The Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission invites playwrights to propose plays inspired by a particular prompt. (see details below in submission guidelines) For this round, please consider the oeuvre of Caryl Churchill. We paid particular attention to Top Girls, Fen and Far Away, but by all means read and consider any and all of her plays. Plays must be unproduced in New York City and have no intermission with a running time of 90 minutes or less.

Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission

Your play should feature:

three sections, the second of which is set in a workplace;
a cast of mostly (perhaps all) women—-of differing ages, cultures, and especially, classes/means/education levels;
a formal event (a pageant, a parade, a number, a dinner party) involving many people;
an ersatz mother/daughter relationship.
Embrace economy of language, and specificity and fidelity of language to character. Consider if and when those rules explode.

The $15,000 commission - which might be split between writers if the panel so elects - will be paid out in three installments every six months, with
the first installment following the signing of a contract.


6.
Orchard Project
deadline: Dec. 1st
website: http://orchardproject.com/content/orchard-project

The Orchard Project is one of the preeminent theatre laboratories in the United States, designed to fuel innovation in performance and support bold voices and big new ideas. Founded by Artistic Director Ari Edelson in 2008, the Orchard Project supports professional artists and helps them to develop their bold ideas. It has birthed shows that have been performed for more than 1,000,000 people in New York, London, and as far afield as Tokyo and Stockholm.

Run by working artists for other working artists, The Orchard Project supports people over projects, and uniquely puts its faith in its artists to create new works while at the retreat. It is this faith that attracts leaders in the industry interested in developing their latest work — whether it is brand new or in later stage.

Companies join the Orchard Project for overlapping residencies, during which they are provided with free rehearsal space, room and board, and support from fellow artists. Throughout the residencies, open rehearsals invite industry members from around the country to play an active role in the development of new works.

Applications for the 2018 Professional Residencies are now available, and are due on December 1, 2017.

Unlike other programs, we judge people, not projects. What that means is that the Orchard Project team and other artists who we have supported in past years assess whether the applicants are likely to create amazing work, and whether we think they will benefit from our program.

Applications to participate in the Core Company are due by March 1, 2018.


7.
JUILLARD’S LILA ACHESON WALLACE AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHTS PROGRAM
Deadline: November 15th
Website: https://www.juilliard.edu/arm/drama/college/playwriting/artist-diploma


The Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program encourages and aids the development of new and diverse voices in the American theater. Under the direction of Marsha Norman and David Lindsay-Abaire, the Playwrights Program offers one-year, tuition-free, graduate level fellowships to four or five writers. Selected playwrights may be invited to continue their studies through a second academic year, thereby completing a total of 52 credits for the two-year fellowship period and earning an Artist Diploma in Playwriting. Juilliard's Playwrights Program is purposely small and allows the artists to focus on the practical aspects of dramatic writing while at the same time they are encouraged to take advantage of the wealth of resources within Juilliard's walls, and those afforded via the School's prime location on Broadway — the greater New York City theater scene. Students may take any class in the Drama Division and are encouraged to see productions around the city by receiving free or discounted tickets to many events on- and off-Broadway. The essence of the Playwrights Program lies in the weekly master class with the playwright heads focusing on dramatic structure and the cultivation of each writer's individual voice. Twice monthly lab readings of the students' work allow the writers, with the help of Juilliard acting students and alumni, to tackle the practical aspects of creating a new play. In addition, seminars centering on other aspects of the theatrical profession are planned on a quarterly basis. The year's end culminates when students in the playwrights residency present their work to professionals from New York and around the country in a showcase evening. The intention is that these events will create a bridge for these artists between Juilliard and the larger community.

APPLICATION:
Online online application.
$60 application fee. Payment may be made by credit card, checking account, or PayPal account.

One full-length play, or a long one-act play (an hour or more). A full-length play is strongly preferred over long one-act plays. We do not accept musicals, screenplays, or television scripts. All applicants should submit the best available representation of their work, and should not submit a play that is in the early stages of development. Updates, edits, or re-writes will not be accepted once a play is submitted with the application, unless an applicant reaches the final round of consideration.

For guidance regarding formatting, we recommend these guidelines from the Dramatists Guild of America. Please note, this a formatting recommendation only (not a requirement).
You must upload a copy of your play as part of your online application. This copy of your play should be "blind" - the cover page should contain ONLY the title of your play. Your play will be sent to our first-round readers, who read applicants' plays without knowledge of the playwright's identity. Please ensure that no identifying information (your name, your agent's name, etc.) appears on your submission.

A one-page statement describing your artistic vision and personal background. Please upload your statement to your online application.
A professional resume, uploaded to your online application.
Two letters of recommendation.


8.
DRAMA LEAGUE: FIRST STAGE AND NEXT STAGE RESIDENCIES.
Deadline November 17
Website: https://dramaleague.submittable.com/submit/94326/2018-first-stage-residency


First Stage Residency is designed for artists at the very beginning of a new project and is meant to begin an initial exploration or investigation of an idea, concept, or early pages for a new play, musical, devised work, or other creative process that will eventually lead to a new theatrical work.


Next Stage Residency is designed for directors who are shepherding a project through the middle or late stages of its development and is meant to bridge the gap in support so that the piece is ready for pre-production. The residency is meant to be a serious interrogation of the piece, discovering both questions and answers in a supportive environment.


9.
Urban Stages: Emerging Playwright Award 
Deadline Rolling
Website: http://urbanstages.org/submissions/ 

Award: $500 and press coverage. Fee: N/A Restrictions: No email submissions; special attention will be given to playwrights who live in or near New York

Urban Stages' Emerging Playwright Award is presented to innovative playwrights whose works speak to the whole of society. Special attention is given to plays that touch on social issues. Submissions are accepted throughout the year (there is not a deadline) from around the United States and internationally. However, special attention is given to those who live in or near New York. 


10.
Bellagio Arts & Literary Arts Residency
Deadline: December 1st
Website: https://bellagiocenter.fluidreview.com/

The Bellagio Arts & Literary Arts residency is for composers, fiction and non-fiction writers, playwrights, poets, video/filmmakers, dancers, musicians, and visual artists who share in the Foundation’s mission of promoting the well-being of humankind and whose work is inspired by or relates to global or social issues. The residency is for artists seeking time for disciplined work, reflection, and collegial engagement with a diverse community of academics, practitioners, and artists.

The Center has a strong interest in proposals that align with The Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to promote the well-being of humanity, particularly through issues that have a direct impact on the lives of poor and vulnerable populations around the world. These issues include but are not limited to health, economic opportunity, urban resilience, as well as food and agriculture.

To most effectively integrate the important voice of the arts throughout residency cohorts at the Bellagio Center, we are now holding one annual open call for residencies. The program will continue to welcome the same volume of high caliber artists to Bellagio, reinforcing the Foundation’s commitment to the arts and demonstrating its perspective that the arts are integral to the discourse around complex global challenges and critical to the well-being of humanity.

To further strengthen the reach of the program and ensure high geographic and disciplinary diversity among residents, we are also working with a range of new arts organizations to surface promising candidates. We have established outreach collaborations with four organizations: Khoj International Artists’ Association in Delhi, Fundacion Jumex in Mexico City, Africa Centre in Cape Town, and United States Artists in Chicago. These collaborations will extend our networks to attract a greater number of geographically diverse, highly distinguished artists working in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the United States.

The call for applications to the Arts & Literary Arts residency program is now open. The application period begins October 1, 2017 with the deadline of December 1, 2017 for residencies in 2019. Applications are available on our online application portal along with detailed instructions and further information on applying to the Bellagio Residency Program. We strongly recommend that applicants carefully review this information prior to beginning an application.


11.
Beyond the Pure Fellowship
Deadline: December 1st
Website: http://www.intermediaarts.org/beyond-the-pure-fellowships

Intermedia Arts’ Beyond the Pure Fellowships for Writers awards grants of up to $5,000 to four to six emerging Minnesota writers. This program defines an emerging writer as a writer whose work demonstrates a sustained level of accomplishment and commitment, but who has not yet received widespread recognition from peers and/or industry as an established professional writer.

In addition to their grant award, recipients also participate in a nine-month fellowship program that provides peer support, guidance, community, and resources throughout the program year.

Intermedia Arts’ Beyond the Pure Fellowships for Writers places a particular emphasis on increasing the visibility of and providing a platform for emerging writers whose voices have historically been underrepresented in the literary arts, including (but not limited to): writers of color, LGBTQIA+ writers, women, new and recent immigrant communities, Native and Indigenous writers, low-income writers, and writers exploring non-traditional pathways to success. By providing financial assistance, professional development, and recognition to a culturally, ethnically, socially and socio-economically diverse group of writers, this program strengthens and supports Minnesota's literary community and provides a platform for many new voices to be heard as they achieve their next level of artistic success.

Past fellows have used this opportunity to:
·       Take classes
·       Attend a writer's conference
·       Travel and/or do research
·       Work with a mentor
·       Have their manuscript read by an established writer
·       Pay for childcare while they wrote
·       Promote a newly published book


12.
Mcknight National Residency Commission
Deadline: December 7th
Website: https://pwcenter.org/programs/mcknight-national-residency-and-commission

Playwright must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Applicant must be a nationally recognized playwright who has had at least two different plays fully produced by a professional theater. Minnesota based playwrights are not eligible for this award. Recipients of 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 McKnight Artist Fellowships in any discipline are not eligible. Playwrights' Center staff for McKnight Artist Fellowships and their immediate families are not eligible.

Supported by a grant from the McKnight Foundation, this program aids in the commissioning and development of new works from nationally recognized playwrights. Benefits include:

A $14,000 commission
At least two U.S. round-trip airline tickets
Housing during the residency period
Up to $5,750 in workshop funds to support the development of the play
A public reading of the commissioned play

Past recipients include: Kia Corthron, Erik Ehn, Kate Fodor, Karen Hartman, Daniel Alexander Jones, Sibyl Kempson, Craig Lucas, Taylor Mac, Ruth Margraff, Dan O’Brien, Betty Shamieh, and Mac Wellman.

Questions may be addressed to Artistic Programs Administrator Julia Brown at juliab@pwcenter.org.

Recipients may not receive any other Playwrights' Center fellowships, grants, or Core Writer benefits during the grant year. If a recipient is a Core Writer, their Core term will be extended by one year.

Applicants may only apply for one McKnight Foundation-sponsored fellowship each year in all disciplines.

Recipients commit to spending up to four weeks in residency in the Twin Cities (not necessarily consecutively).


JOB

1. 
Writer in Residence (Vanderbilt University)
Deadline: December 1st
website : https://chroniclevitae.com/jobs/0000388873-01

Vanderbilt University seeks applications for a Writer-in-Residence specializing in screenwriting and playwriting for a joint appointment in Cinema and Media Arts (CMA) and Theatre. Undergraduate teaching load will be two courses each semester and will include an introductory course, “Writing for the Stage and Screen,” upper level courses in screenwriting and playwriting, and working with students on independent and co-curricular projects. The successful candidate will have an MFA or Ph.D. in hand by August 1, 2018, professional experience writing in both modes, and evidence of teaching effectiveness.  This is a non-tenure-track, non-renewable appointment for up to a three-year term.

To apply, please submit a letter highlighting qualifications for the position, curriculum vitae, 3 letters of reference, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and one 15-20-page writing sample from a stage or screenplay with synopsis of the project. Please apply through Interfolio https://apply.interfolio.com/45058


2. 
Scholars-in-Residence Program for the 2018-2019 
(The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York)
deadline : December 1st
Website: schomburgcenter.org/scholarsinresidence

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a unit of The New York Public Library, invites applications for its Scholars-in-Residence Program for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The program offers long-term and short-term research fellowships to scholars and writers pursuing projects in African diasporic studies in fields including history, politics, literature, and culture.

Long-term fellowships provide a $35,000 stipend to support academics and independent scholars who work in residence at the Center for a continuous period of six to nine months. Fellows are provided with individual office space, research assistance, and access to the unparalleled resources of the Schomburg Center. In addition to pursuing their own research projects, fellows also engage in an ongoing interdisciplinary exchange of ideas, sharing their research with one another in a weekly work-in-progress seminar. While in residence, they are also exposed to the vibrant intellectual life of the Schomburg through its public exhibitions, panels, screenings, and events.

Short-term fellowships are open to postdoctoral scholars, independent researchers, and creative writers (novelists, playwrights, poets) who work in residence at the Center for a continuous period of one to three months. Short-term fellows receive a stipend of $2500 per month.

Requirements: The program is intended for scholars requiring extensive, on-site research with collections at the Schomburg, the pre-eminent repository for documentation on the history and cultures of peoples of African descent around the globe. Fellows are expected to be in full-time residence at the Center during the award period and to participate in scheduled seminars and colloquia. Persons seeking support for research leading to degrees are not eligible under this program. Current candidates for advanced degrees must be scheduled to complete and receive their degree before the start date of the fellowship.

This program is made possible in part through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Samnuel I. Newhouse Foundation.

3.
Writer in Residence (George Bennett Fellowship)
Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire
Deadline: November 30th
Website: https://www.exeter.edu/about-us/career-opportunities/fellowships/writer-residence-george-bennett-fellowship

The purpose of the George Bennett Fellowship is to provide time and freedom from material considerations to a person seriously contemplating or pursuing a career as a writer. It provides for one academic year a stipend (at present $15,260.00), as well as housing and meals for this person and family, at Academy expense. As Writer-in-Residence the person shall live in Exeter and, in return for stipend and housing, shall (besides carrying out his or her own literary projects) make his or her self and talents available in an informal and unofficial way to students interested in writing and, more specifically, to students in English classes and to members of student literary organizations.

The fellow is not considered a member of the faculty. The Academy house provided will not contain students. The nature and extent of the writer's involvement with Academy purposes and with Academy students are to be determined more by the writer's own interest and good will than by Academy demand.

During the tenure of the Fellowship the writer shall not have any other full- or part-time job, and cannot be actively enrolled in a degree program in any college or graduate school.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How to Survive Exile

His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked Jewish rabbis
how their ppl survived in exile?
The wise heads pontificated
over mahogany tables on nature,
God, and the spirit of man.
No definitive answer was reached
from the committee, while I heard an answer
on a NYC-FLT flight from LGA:

U look lovely. U interested in meeting a nice young man?

Well...

It's my son. How old are you, dear?

...23

He's 24. Do you want to exchange...

I...I'm seeing someone.

Okay. I'd make a great mother-in-law. 


Tibetans take note.



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Perot Predecessors and Successors

In my day, the lying, racist, xenophobic, white billionaire 'for the common man" was H. Ross Perot.  He had charts which meant he was truthy. He hated the elites and had phrases like 'not too smart' and 'giant sucking sound' of jobs leaving the country which were easy enough for a squirrel to remember. He leveled with the people, and by people I mean poor whites who loved him b/c he had a Texas accent, which meant he was salt of the earth, aka racist, Evangelical, homophobic, and not about that feminist shit of women getting healthcare. Therefore he was an honest man who surely knew about the American economy, even though he actually told stories about fighting Latin drug cartels, North Vietnamese, and the Black Panthers who were trying to stop his daughter's wedding. His rich white man paranoia fetishized any minority group into these ninjas who were out to get 'good ol' Perot.' He would tell stories about dangerous, wild bands of darkies trying to kill him.  Seriously. And this guy was LOVED...b/c he had his bullshit pie charts, accent, overt racist, notorious liar. And he was on his way to winning the presidency...in 1992. Perot's achilles heel was his own paranoia (he dropped out in the middle of his campaign b/c he thought the GOP and drug cartels were out to get him), his lack of party infrastructure by running as an independent, and not having social media to send his zombie-conservative msg out directly to his ppl in bite-sized doses of crazy.

In my dad's day this crazy ass white rich guy con man was John Birch. And there's a long live of rich white con men that go all the way back to the signing of the Constitution, and then further back to serial liars and genocidal murderers like Christopher Columbus. Trump's unhinged paranoia and lying is baked into the system. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Supporting the Troops vs. #supportingthetroops

ME: We have this blind and unquestioned admiration of the military, and in history that's usually a warning sign of a republic coming to an end.

WRITER #1: It's a internal rot to think that soldiers and generals are perfect. And the only people who believe that they shouldn't be question are people who didn't serve. People who serve know how much the military is mundane, filled with bureaucracy, and makes mistakes all the time. 

ME: It's easier to put all responsibility on the military than to make an informed decision or rely on the people. It's easier to just surrender all responsibility to figures of power.

WRITER #1: it's looking for daddy. 

WRITER #2: We just need someone like Obama.

WRITER #1: No, because that's just a nice daddy. But you're still serving someone else and giving up power.

I support our troops...by wanting them to come home, opposing wars conjured from lies to support corporate interests and oil looting, through using my first amendment right to speak out for our protected freedom if I choose to kneel/stand/raise a fist/pop a squat while someone sings our pro-slavery national anthem, by protecting gay officers and women serving from being harassed and killed, and wanting all of them to get a decent wage and proper health care. I support our troops in holding the bad officers accountable so their actions don't taint the vast majority of good people, by wanting troops used rarely and only as a last resort after all peaceful means have been exhausted. I support our troops by not using them as a political shields, cheap hashtag heroes, and one-dimensional GI Joe props.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Subway Harassment: A Triptych

A few yrs ago on a BK-bound subway, an older black woman offered me the seat next to her. I declined, she strongly insisted, so I sat down. She said was riding this train a few years ago and she didn't offer a seat to a man...so he slashed her face. She showed me the thin razor mark across her chin. By sitting down I was assuaging her fear but also serving as a shield from someone else who might be more threatening. I felt sick.

A few months later a deranged man was on the subway car yelling in people's faces. He started picking on a black woman who was just trying to read her book. I stood up and began walking across the car. I waited for other people to join in or voice disapproval at the harassment. No one said a word, so I continued walking. I was angry that everyone was silent, angry at all the people pretending to check their phones, angry at the last few months of creeps and old black women with slashed faces. I started to feel like I might literally kill this guy. I have only felt this a few times in my life. The last time I had this strange rage was in college. I broke a guy's leg...who also happened to be harassing women (it was during a snow football game). I saw this guy on the subway car and I could see myself punching through his heart, snapping his spine, wrapping his body around a pole. I caught myself. I just grabbed the guy from behind, threw him to the ground, and put my foot on top of him. He yelped that he was just playing. I waited until the next stop when the woman ran off the cart. I left afterward and realized I couldn't entertain my rage-filled fantasies any more. It was too toxic and dangerous. I meditated.

A few months later on a frigid blizzard night, I was heading back from rehearsal. An old guy entered into the subway car and started to leer and make sexual noises at a woman. She was dressed in sweat pants, rubber boots, hoodie...so clearly she was asking for it. He moved closer and closer to her. I didn't want to have to toss an old dude...so I started laughing. At him. Then she started laughing at him. He froze. A man and a woman teaming up to laugh at his leering was...emasculating. Our laughter said 'yes, yes. We are cutting your dick off with our giggles, snickering, and pointing.' I took out my phone and started snapping pictures of him. 'We are laughing as we cut your dick off and I am recording it.' He shriveled, edged away, and ran out of the subway car. We both stopped laughing and went back to our corners. I felt tired. I kept the picture to remember that maybe there are other ways.

Monday, October 16, 2017

I Believe You

I was naive.

A few years ago I wrote an essay about sexual harassment in the arts, using personal examples and stories from friends. I didn't use real names, only aliases. I didn't have any identifying info about the theatre companies, but the stories still had teeth to them b/c they were raw and from the front lines. I took the story around to a few publications. I still have the rejection emails giving me all the reasons why they were scared of lawsuits. But I was assured that if I wanted to write about race-based issues again, the editors would be more than willing to listen. Around that time I was invited to New World Trade Center for a big meeting: The New Yorker. They wanted me to pitch stories, and I guess they thought I would bring them some raw #blacklivesmatter stuff or personal black trauma. If I cared for my career I would have fed them the 'race stuff' and -just to be clear- the 'race stuff' is still important to me. But I was still thinking about misogyny and sexual harassment, so I pitched them a story about rape and systemic sexual harassment within AA meetings. The editor was nervous but agreed to give it a go. I interviewed women who were raped and harassed, spoke with professors and psychologists, brought up specific cases where women -at the most vulnerable in seeking recovery- were stalked by predators, raped, and murdered while in the throes of their addiction. I even had a dramatic twist at the end of the story. I emailed it into the New Yorker and...radio silence. After a month, the editor said she couldn't print it. Legal stuff, needs more research, good luck in life, etc. I thought I failed. Surely if I did more research, focused, got more interviews then this story would get out there.

I interviewed more women, cited examples from documentaries, connected with more therapists, kept a bibliography of the real names and contact info for the fact checkers, wrote out timelines of abuse from various women testifying so that the stories didn't have any holes in them. One publication said this story could be an investigative piece. I got complete strangers to trust me with their story, to open themselves up. I assured them that there voices would be heard, that this might help change things. After months of editing and fact checking, the first publication backed away: legal issues, no way to verify, etc. I was paid a 'kill fee' to spike the article. I went to other publications. I have the initial emails of interests, concern for getting the story out, and then...silence. I was in a panic. I made a promise to so many women. I was letting them down. My literary skills, my research, my passion, my objective reports, interviews with psychologists, none of it was not enough. My experience with the 'wall of silence' happened during my last semester at Juilliard, so it was about 5 months. Some women experience this wall of silence their entire life and it is personal. I sat with that, meditated, and my righteous anger subsided.

Some people wonder why women don't speak out?

I believe:

-Anita Hill
-Lara Logan
-Amanda White
- and you
-83 female officers and 7 male officers raped and assaulted in the Navy Tailhook Scandal
- Fox News accusers
- Bill Cosby's accusers
- Donald Trump's accusers
- Bill Clinton's accusers (some, all, most, a few?)
- Harvey Weinstein's accusers
- Marilyn Monroe
-Roseanne Barr
- and you
- Oprah Winfrey
- Hillary Clinton
- Queen Latifah
- Gabrielle Union
- Fiona Apple
- and you
- Maya Angelou
- Vanessa Williams
- Teri Hatcher
- Missy Elliot
- Rosie Perez
- Billie Holliday
- Mary J. Blige
- Eve Ensler
- and you.

I hear you and I see you. I will do better.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

National Coming Out Day (Oct 11th)

I came out when I was 18. I told my parents and two sort-of close friends. At the time I was a freshman in college. In high school I was captain of the football, wrestling, and debate team. I was an honors student, all-state wrestler and football player, tournament-winning tennis player, NFL citizen's scholar, freelance writer for three local South Florida newspapers, reporter for two online blogs, and the MVP athlete of the year for my school. I was also miserable. I had very simple goals: avoid close friends, keep my head down, power through life, and stay away from any conversation about love or sex. I thought I could do it.

I went away to college and the first person I met asked me 'so...are you going to have sex?' I felt myself turning bright red. 'No, I'm here to study.' When I got to my dorm I threw my bags down and ran up and down the hall with another freshman. Then we went downstairs to check out the lounge. When I turned on the dorm computer, the first image on the screen was of a naked porn actress lathered up in grease. I turned off the monitor, stood up, and continued walking around. When I introduced myself to students, the conversation would quickly turn to how much sex we were going to have. The first suite mate I met was a devout Republican who kept inviting me into his room to talk about his girlfriend in Canada (seriously, no joke), offer me drinks, and ask me about my future sex life (yes he was a closet case). I dodged the issue with jokes, asking about his fictional girlfriend, and talking about how excited I was to study-study-study. After about two days of this non-stop sex talk, I went to a campus LGBT meeting, came out, showed up, and the red boiling tension in my chest subsided. I didn't have the stereotypical gay affectations so some times I felt like every year, month, week in college was a Coming Out Groundhog's Day. But I was grateful for the growth, friendship, and love. I guess that was one of the biggest parts of my college experience: learning to be honest. I am still learning.

I am uncomfortable with talking about my private life in any explicit way. It's a defense mechanism. It protects me from the shame of other people....or so I thought. What my silence really does is re-enforce my own internalized homophobia. I can convince myself that I have come out again and again and again, so I deserve a break. I can rest of my past laurels.

I wrote "The Gospel According to F#ggots" as a way of getting out of my comfort zone. I made the lead character in "Obama-ology" a gay Black man. When I was challenged on the necessity of him being both black and gay, I knew the subtext of the inquiry: I was cutting into the commercial viability of the work that a lot of people really liked. Would I be willing to make this one change for the sake of people's comfort? My answer was 'no.'  I agreed to be the director of new play development for a LGBT theatre company as way to help other LGBT writers develop their voice.

I am still learning and still coming out. Thank you for your patience.