• Friday, December 9, 2016
  • What Can Theatre Do? A Post-Election Colloquy

    I was very happy to contribute to Part 2 of American Theatre Magazine’s round-up. It forced be to reckon with my feelings and organize my thoughts – i.e., yay writing.

    My as-of-now fiance (eee!) Seamus Sullivan helped a lot with writing this piece.


    I worry that we can continue to do what we do, we can continue to create and produce the best art we can, but without a fundamental shift in the economic accessibility and social inclusivity of theatre, we’ll continue just talking to ourselves.

    The forces that shaped the election are systemic and deeply complex, and the problems that assail theatre are similar in nature. Theatre in the U.S. is fundamentally elitist because the only people who can access it—both as audiences and artists—require time, capital (financial and social), and education to feel like they belong. That has to change. A lot of smart people have been trying to change this for a long time, and now it’s more vital than ever to listen, learn, and push forward.

    After the election, I wondered if one possible short-term solution was for a billionaire to fund community theatres across the country with enough money and resources to produce free theatre for the next five years. I floated this idea to Chicago playwright Dawn Renee Jones, and her response was that it would be better to use that money to train and hire arts educators instead, in communities that are underserved for arts education. Empower as many people as possible to be artists, then support local theatres in producing local art. I love that idea, so if anyone reading this has a billionaire friend, let’s talk.

    But on an individual level, we do have to continue doing what we do. The morning after the election, I thought my writing career was over, because it just seemed too painful to continue engaging with the world. Luckily, that feeling passed. As scared and worried as I may be, I am excited for the art that we are going to create. Let’s continue. Let’s challenge ourselves to expand our understanding of the world, illuminate its complexity, and open our hearts to different lives and experiences. Let’s try and make each other laugh.

    While a benevolent billionaire might be nice, there are still things we can do, like going to bat for artists without MFAs or college degrees, vouching for future artistic leaders from underrepresented backgrounds, and volunteering our time, if possible, as teaching artists in our local communities (organizations like Young Storytellers in L.A. are a great place to start).

    And finally, theatre alone is not going to save our country or the fate of our planet. But it can better prepare us to be responsible citizens. We’re all doing this for a reason: because making and consuming theatre brings us joy and meaning. So let’s use theatre to help us survive the next few years, but also channel that energy and force of community to protest and fight. Staying engaged with our world is hard and painful, but as theatremakers, that’s part of the job description already. We just have to take it to the next level—and be there for each other as we do.

  • Saturday, December 3, 2016
  • Revenge


    Since you mention it, I think I will start that race war.

    I could’ve swung either way? But now I’m definitely spending
    the next 4 years converting your daughters to lesbianism;
    I’m gonna eat all your guns. Swallow them lock stock and barrel
    and spit bullet casings onto the dinner table;

    I’ll give birth to an army of mixed-race babies.
    With fathers from every continent and genders to outnumber the stars,
    my legion of multiracial babies will be intersectional as fuck
    and your swastikas will not be enough to save you,

    because real talk, you didn’t stop the future from coming.
    You just delayed our coronation.
    We have the same deviant haircuts we had yesterday;
    we are still getting gay-married like nobody’s business
    because it’s still nobody’s business;
    there’s a Muslim kid in Kansas who has already written the schematic
    for the robot that will steal your job in manufacturing,
    and that robot? Will also be gay, so get used to it:

    we didn’t manifest the mountain by speaking its name,
    the buildings here are not on your side just because
    you make them spray-painted accomplices.
    These walls do not have genders and they all think you suck.
    Even the earth found common ground with us in the way
    you bootstrap across us both,

    oh yeah: there will be signs, and rainbow-colored drum circles,
    and folks arguing ideology until even I want to punch them
    but I won’t, because they’re my family,
    in that blood-of-the-covenant sense.
    If you’ve never loved someone like that
    you cannot outwaltz us, we have all the good dancers anyway.

    I’ll confess I don’t know if I’m alive right now;
    I haven’t heard my heart beat in days,
    I keep holding my breath for the moment the plane goes down
    and I have to save enough oxygen to get my friends through.
    But I finally found the argument against suicide and it’s us.
    We’re the effigies that haunt America’s nights harder
    the longer they spend burning us,
    we are scaring the shit out of people by spreading,
    by refusing to die: what are we but a fire?
    We know everything we do is so the kids after us
    will be able to follow something towards safety;
    what can I call us but lighthouse,

    of course I’m terrified. Of course I’m a shroud.
    And of course it’s not fair but rest assured,
    anxious America, you brought your fists to a glitter fight.
    This is a taco truck rally and all you have is cole slaw.
    You cannot deport our minds; we won’t
    hold funerals for our potential. We have always been
    what makes America great.