Tonight at 8pm at @theblanktheatre a staged reading of my new play QUEEN. Smart scientists try to save the bees without destroying their ethics or their friendship. I’m not great at summaries. But I’m excited to see the play up on its feet. 🐝🐝🐝🐝
[begin gchat conversation with my brilliant playwright friend Stephanie Swirsky]
Stephanie: hey congrats on being a finalist for playpenn!
Me: WAIT WHAT
Me: OHHHhahahadudefor a second i thought you were april fooling me
Stephanie: ??did they not email you…?
Me: oh but this great 🙂
Me: thanks for letting me know 🙂 🙂
And what an amazing group of writers to be featured with. Happy!
As the year-end recaps start filling up the internets, I feel the need to put out mine as well. More for me than for anyone else. And I do think it’s a little weird to only talk about the good parts of life in these retrospectives. It feels quite obnoxious, in fact. But the times during the year when I was feeling particularly sad or anxious… well, writing about it was the last thing I wanted to do. Why write when there are ALWAYS going to be episodes of 30 Rock to rewatch for the seventh time on Netflix while eating chocolate?
Basically, overall, my year was wonderful. And because of the amount of stuff that happened, and because of my innate laziness, I’ll be using bullet points.
- I flew from Chennai to Atlanta. We started rehearsals for both In Love and Warcraft in Atlanta and A Nice Indian Boy in LA almost simultaneously.
- I meet with Chris Moses and Sarah Wallis from the Alliance Theatre’s Education department. They are giving me my first commission – to write a one-act play to be performed by members of the Alliance’s Teen Ensemble. I pitch them a story that happened to me IRL. They love it. We’re all super excited. The production will happen April 2015.
- While in Atlanta, I am interviewed for a teaching/playwriting fellowship at Emory (that I eventually don’t get) but it’s a wonderful three days of meeting the theatre department and getting to have a public reading of bits of my different plays.
Also, my first snow! In Atlanta of all places.
- I foolishly make a resolution to blog every week. But guess what! That’s my same resolution for next year!
- In Love and Warcraft opens on Feb 5, followed by a wonderful weekend of the 10 year anniversary celebrations of the Kendeda Playwriting contest, where I got to meet playwrights from all over the country, who’d all been winners or finalists of the Kendeda contest.
- Read my mother’s review of the play, and my parents’ experience of opening night, here on her blog.
My friends flew to Atlanta to see the show. Best sleepover ever.
- Read my mother’s review of the play, and my parents’ experience of opening night, here on her blog.
- I bid a sad goodbye to Laura Kepley and the wonderful cast & crew, and return to LA for the last week of rehearsals of A Nice Indian Boy, and the opening on Feb 26.
- I rejoin the CTG Writer’s Workshop for our monthly meetings, and continue struggling with my new play about women in science.
- I’m back to working at USC as an Assistant Instructor.
- I meet director and advocate Leslie Ishii, who will give me an incredible opportunity at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in a few months.
- With A Nice Indian Boy in full swing and In Love and Warcraft closed in Atlanta, I deal with post-play depression by diving headlong into the intense madness that is the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, for which I am the marketing coordinator.
- I continue walking over to the theatre almost every night to meet friends who’ve come to see the show. It’s a truly wonderful experience to reconnect and hang out with people in this context. A Nice Indian Boy has a great closing performance on March 23.
Cast + Snehal Desai (our director) and me
- IFFLA happens, and it goes well, thank god! It was a wonderful experience in the end.
- I meet with Peter Kuo, who proposes that he direct a workshop production of my TYA play ’The Frog Girlfriend.’ in June. I think it’s an awesome idea, of course.
- Work begins in earnest for Much Ado about Something, the inaugural production of the Better Than Shakespeare theatre company, written, directed, and co-produced by the brilliant Megan Kelly, comprising of a team of mostly USC MFA actors & writers. I get cast in a tiny part where I get to fight aliens with cheese graters on my hands.
- I realize my play for the CTG Writer’s Workshop has unravelled, completely, and I can’t continue. The whole premise is flawed. I experience deep panic and fear, then brainstorm with my friend Manisha in Berkeley (an actual Woman in Science), and she helps me come up with a completely new premise and set of characters. So now I have four weeks to write a new play from scratch. I freak out but have no choice but to do it. (Oh and this scenario will happen again before the year is over.)
- I scramble to write the brand new play – now titled Queen – and it slowly, slowly starts coming together, with a lot of help from Megan Kelly and Rachel Skytt. (Once again, this will repeat for the year is over.)
- I go to New York for a week of Kendeda workshops/readings at Playwrights Horizons. I get to work with the lovely Lucie Tiberghien and hang out with Celise Kalke again. I meet Madhur Jaffrey! I have a truly awesome time in the Nice Weather time of year.
- Much Ado rehearsals continue apace, and it’s coming together really well, which I get to say easily because I wasn’t really in the horribly stressful trenches of writing/directing/producing this Hollywood Fringe Play, I was just talent (and marketing.)
- I finish a skeleton draft of Queen JUST in time.
- The CTG Writer’s Workshop 2013-14 culminates in a weekend of readings of the seven new plays from the group. It’s special, inspiring, so much fun, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. The reading of Queen goes over well – really well! – and I can’t believe it. This is the first thing I’ve written since I graduated, and it gives me hope that ILAW and ANIB weren’t just flukes, that I haven’t exhausted my story well, that I’m still capable of doing this.
- Much Ado About Something has an EXCELLENT run at the Hollywood Fringe, and charges me up. I want to create more things with my friends.
- The Kilroys party happens, and it’s hella fun, and I feel like a Playwright in Los Angeles.
- The Frog Girlfriend has its workshop show at Fullerton College, and it’s SO great. Peter Kuo, my director, had to step in at the last moment for our lead actor who suddenly became unavailable, and he was awesome. It was such a fun evening.
With the cast + Peter after the show
- Megan Kelly and I come up with our next ambitious project for Better Than Shakespeare – a web series. We recruit our friend Seamus Sullivan to be the third part of the writer’s room. From the month of August, we meet religiously once a week to write the web series.
- I get to go to San Diego Comic Con as a member of the Harry Potter fandom panel! Weirder things have NOT happened.
In my Daily Prophet dress generously gifted to me by Heidi Tandy
- While in San Diego, I meet up with James Vasquez, who directed a reading of A Nice Indian Boy at the Old Globe theatre last December. We make plans to work on a film adaptation of the play with his production company.
- I start rewriting Queen in preparation for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Black Swan Lab, which I get to be a part of thanks to Leslie Ishii’s API 2×2 Playwrights initiative at OSF.
- I go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the first time, and it’s a magical few days of watching plays, meeting fascinating people, and having the new draft of Queen read and discussed. Turns out the new draft is much weaker than the first draft. So back to the drawing board it is. But I also get to hear a reading of the wonderful Takarazuka!! by Susan Stanton, which will be having its production in November at East West Players.
The API 2×2 lab at OSF
- The Fall semester at USC starts up, and I’m so relieved to go back to having structure in my life.
- I realize I have to start writing my Alliance Teen Ensemble commission, as the first draft is due on Dec 1st. I have my first phone call with my director, Laura Hackman, and she’s awesome, and I really haveto get started. The play is titled Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine’s.
- I get invited to be a part of Chalk Rep’s upcoming Flash Festival! I write a ten-minute play for the first time in years.
- I struggle with Antigone.
- I join the Playwrights Union.
- The Chalk Rep festival happens and I get to work with the lovely Jennifer Chang as my director, and I really hope I get to do so again in the future. My play Daisy Den Happy Valley Yum Yum has at least half-a-dozen euphemisms for a certain part of the female anatomy.
A scene from the Chalk Rep play
- Better Than Shakespeare produces Better Than Halloween, a night of readings of brand new ten-minute plays inspired by ghosts and witches in Shakespeare, which we commissioned our playwright friends to write. It’s a great and exhausting event that we pull off with a lot of help from Rachel Skytt and Zury Ruiz, as we’re in the middle of our web-series writing/pre-production.
The Better Than Halloween party
- I struggle a LOT with Antigone, and am starting to get super anxious about letting down the Alliance and visualizing the project spiral into disaster. Near the end of the month, I realize that the premise is all wrong, the characters are all wrong, and now I have four weeks to rewrite the play from scratch (sound familiar?).
- Two productions get officially confirmed/announced! In Love and Warcraft by No Rules theatre company in D.C., and A Nice Indian Boy by Rasaka Theatre in Chicago.
- I edit the Samuel French proofs for In Love and Warcraft, and it looks so gorgeous.
- But mostly – Antigone, Antigone, Antigone. It kinda sorta starts coming together in the second half of the month. I go on an AirBnB writing retreat a few days before the deadline and it actually helps, and I write 80% of the script in three days. The day before the deadline, I still don’t know how the play ends. I’ve written everything but the ending. Megan Kelly helps me break through. I write the ending at 3 in the morning fueled by sugar chips and send it in.
- The day after I send in my draft to the Alliance, my theatre fairy godmother Celise Kalke emails back with the subject “OMG! Your play is so good!” and I almost start to cry, I can’t believe it. Then I get to go the Playwrights Union/Kilroys holiday party and it’s super fun.
- I fly to Atlanta for the first workshop of the Antigone play. I meet Laura Hackman, my director, and the members of the teen ensemble in person for the first time. I have the best freaking time, and it so SO wonderful to be back at the Alliance again! In the same year! The play is actually almost complete. It doesn’t require any major rewrites. Holy shit. I’ve finished my first complete, good draft after my MFA.
Members of the Alliance Theatre’s Teen Ensemble
- We confirm our director for our Better Than Shakespeare web series, Liz Rizzo, and our lead actors!
- I wrap up my final semester teaching at USC. Since I won’t be coming back in the Spring semester, this may be my actual final semester, and luckily, the students I got this time around were exceptional.
- I am commissioned by Playwrights Arena in Los Angeles to write a play for Golden Tongues, their annual celebration of Spanish Golden Age plays.
With other playwrights commissioned for the Golden Tongues series
- Chris Moses from the Alliance gives me another commission – to write a play for their Theatre for Very Young Audiences program in 2016 – that is – to write a play for BABIES. When I go to the Alliance in April to see Antigone, I’ll also get to do a WORKSHOP WITH BABIES. What is my life.
And I haven’t mentioned all the stuff I applied to this year, because of course the rule of applying/submitting to anything is to forget about it immediately afterwards.
I have so much stuff lined up for the top of 2015 already:
I’m currently working on the screenplay adaptation of A Nice Indian Boy, hoping to get that done really soon.From January 3-9, I’ll be in Chicago for the first week of rehearsals of A Nice Indian Boy by Rasaka Theatre.January 10-11, I’ll be in D.C. for the opening weekend of In Love and Warcraft by No Rules.January 17, in L.A., Megan will be directing a reading of Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherines.January 24-25, we start production on our Better Than Shakespeare web series.January 26, I fly to Chennai! I’ll be home for three months, till April 25.The Golden Tongues draft will be due at the end of February.I’ll be writing a new play that I’m very excited about while I’m in Chennai.At the end of April, I’ll be back in the U.S., and will be at the opening weekend of Antigone in Atlanta, and also playing with some BABIES.May – June will be full of intense production and post-production work for our web series.And there are another two productions lined up for 2015 that haven’t been officially announced yet.
The year hasn’t really flown by. It’s felt like a year. The best part of it has been connecting with so many impressive and truly special people month after month. But with every opportunity comes an increase in anxiety, and fear of failure on a bigger level, fear of screwing up. The beginning of every project is mentally taxing – I feel mental and emotional pain whenever I sit down to write (whenever I think about writing), but that’s part of the process, and of course I’m lucky, and I don’t want to complain. How could I? My life is what I want it to be – not only do I know what gives me purpose and satisfaction in life, I get to do it. And I get to make people laugh and let them immerse themselves in something they enjoy for a couple of hours, and how awesome is that? It’s all I ever wanted.
June 5 – June 21: Los Angeles
Join me and my friends at the Hollywood Fringe Festival for Much Ado About Something, the directorial debut of my brilliant soultwin Megan Kelly (USC MFA ‘13, yo.) It’s going to be so silly. So much fun.
RSVP on Facebook now to get reminders and such!
June 6-8: Los Angeles
My current work-in-progress – ‘Queen’, a full-length play about graduate science research and honeybees- will have a reading as part of the Center Theatre Group Writers Workshop’s end-of-year retreat. The reading is invite-only.
June 25: Fullerton, CA
My children’s play in rhyming verse – ‘The Frog Girlfriend’ will have a workshop production at Fullerton College’s Directors Fest, directed by the wonderful Peter Kuo. More info TBA.