• 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.

    http://www.americantheatre.org/2016/11/30/what-can-theatre-do-a-post-election-colloquy-part-2/


    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.

  • Wednesday, December 23, 2015
  • Tradition: Same-Sex Marriage and Hinduism – Magazine Web Edition > January/February/March 2016 – Publications – Hinduism Today Magazine

    Tradition: Same-Sex Marriage and Hinduism – Magazine Web Edition > January/February/March 2016 – Publications – Hinduism Today Magazine

  • Wednesday, April 1, 2015
  • How I find out about stuff.

    [begin gchat conversation with my brilliant playwright friend Stephanie Swirsky]

    Stephanie: hey congrats on being a finalist for playpenn!

    Me: WHATwhat????

    Stephanie: ??

    Me: WAIT WHAT

    Stephanie: LOL

    Me: What/?????dude

    Stephanie: http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=85b3520ecea87fd08d2a5c3a2&id=125d911654&e=605ead9648

    Me: OHHHhahahadudefor a second i thought you were april fooling me

    Stephanie: ??did they not email you…?

    Me: NO!hahahahahahhahahahaha

    Stephanie: what!

    Me: oh but this great 🙂

    Stephanie: LOL

    Me: thanks for letting me know 🙂 🙂

    And what an amazing group of writers to be featured with. Happy!

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
  • On Writing and Sadness Bouts

    Last week, I had the opportunity to be a guest-blogger for LAFPI (the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative.) And I wrote about the reason I never got around to doing a February recap post. 🙂 Many thanks to Jennie Webb and the LAFPI for asking me to contribute, and in general for all the great advocacy they’re doing.

    [Cross-posted from the LAFPI]

    On Writing and Sadness Bouts, Part I

    Hello, LAFPI readers! I hope you all had a lovely weekend.
    For my first post this week, I wanted to talk about writers and depression (isn’t that an auspicious beginning.) Mostly because I had read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s amazing op-ed in The Guardian about her journey with depression, and it’s been rattling around in my head for several weeks now.

    So I had no idea about the kerfuffle that ensued after I had read that piece – apparently it was published without Adichie’s permission, which is just awful on so many levels, and was retracted from the website. However, she did then give this wonderful interview to the blog Olisa.tv, about the article and its ramifications, and I would highly recommend reading it.
    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Source: Olisa.tv Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Source: Olisa.tv
    The thing that I’ve been trying to figure out about her article was actually my own reaction to it. It was the question that popped up – why is she depressed? To put it far more crudely – what does she have to be depressed about? Adichie is one of our greatest living writers, beloved around the world, achieving incredible success in a field that’s notoriously hard to break into, especially for women of color.

    I also had a similar reaction when I read this piece in the New Yorker a few years ago – about therapy for working (and often consistently working, i.e. successful) screenwriters. What do they have to complain about?
    It’s a terrible attitude, and one that I turn on myself too. I thankfully do not suffer from clinical depression or similar chronic health conditions, but I do get sad sometimes. When I am sad, I feel absolutely powerless. The same question surfaces – what do you have to complain about? – but even as I intellectually understand what it means, engaging with the question does nothing to affect my mood. If anything, it makes me feel worse. Most of the time these bouts last for a few days at most, and then I’m fine. But last month, my ‘bout’ lasted three weeks, and it was awful. It also came at a time when I was on vacation, in my parents’ home in India, with all my needs taken care of and all my wants attended to by my loving family. The incongruity of my feelings with my actual situation was almost too much to bear.

    I’m back in a good place now, but what those weeks gave me was (hopefully) a permanent shifting of my perspective, a good dose of empathy. Being sad is scary. It’s lonely. Most of the time, it’s beyond our control. The absolute wrong thing to do is to question the validity of someone’s experiences because you think they shouldn’t be feeling a certain way. How ridiculous!
    Upon looking back, I have found that my sadness bouts are usually intimately tied to my writing process, and to the struggles of crafting a career as a playwright. I think a lot of readers of this blog may feel or have felt the same way. For my next post, I’ll be writing more about the unique challenges of controlling our emotions, when paradoxically, our lives as playwrights require us to be open, receptive and porous to the world and everything that it throws at us.

    In the meantime, be sure to read the Adichie interview! She’s amazing. And I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments – it’s a tricky subject and I’m always open to learning more and understanding these issues in a better way.

     


    On Writing and Sadness Bouts, Part II
    There’s a good amount of evidence to suggest that creative people may be predisposed to have depression or depressive tendencies.

    I have a theory about this – I don’t necessarily think we’re all predisposed. But I think the actual, repeated practice of creating and sharing our art can make our emotions go haywire.
    In two ways –
      1. The Process: The same instinct that makes us good writers – the ability to self-edit, to sift, to weed out the bad ideas from the good, in short, to critique – is what can also make writing so painful. Because as we write, our inner editor is chomping on the bit to tell us how this draft is terrible, how this idea is pointless, how no one will ever want to do this, how it’s a waste of our time and (let’s take this to the logical end) how we’re a fraud and will never write anything good ever again. We all hear this nasty voice in our head from time to time – the trick of course, is to rein it in, to allow just the right amount of self-critique into our process, perfectly calibrated to the needs of that particular draft.But wow, that’s a really hard thing to ask of ourselves, isn’t it? And in addition, the madness inside our heads isn’t caused by anything we could call “real”. We’re miserable because we can’t figure out the solutions to problems that we made up for characters and situations that don’t exist. It’s hella weird.

     

    • The Production: So as playwrights, we deeply care about our audiences. We write a play as a gift to be shared – not just with our collaborators, but with living, breathing human beings who gather in a room together, who’ve plonked down money and found babysitters and driven out and given up their evening to spend with our stories. So we really care about them.In speaking just for myself, the audience is always top of my mind, from the first draft through to opening night. Yes, it’s important that I’m happy, that my artistic team is happy, but by god, I really want the audience to be happy. I want them to have such a good time in the theatre. The fact that I care so much is one of my strengths, and it shows in my writing.

      But once the production is up and running, I can’t turn this off. So when the reviews are out, I’m setting myself up to be a complete emotional mess. Sarah Ruhl recently said, so easily, that she doesn’t read anything written about herself. Lauren Gunderson has said she only reads the good reviews. I wish I could pick either lane. But no – I can’t turn off that instinct to care about what people think, even at the stage where I have no power to change anything, even if I wanted to. That’s not healthy.

     

    So basically, my theory is that both the inside of playwriting (the process), and the outside of it (collaboration and reception) are fraught with triggers. And ironically, the further I progress in my career, the more frequently I face these triggers, and with higher stakes each time.
    • The more I learn about playwriting, the more plays I write and see, the harsher my inner-critic gets, because now I know better, and I know what I’m up against.
    • Commissions are the best, but they bring out my inner-critic in full force, because now there’s that additional, awful fear of letting someone down.
    • The more production opportunities I get, the more reviews I’ll get, and the more people will have things to say about my work. Google will be my nemesis forever.
    I know that I should hopefully arrive at a sort of equilibrium at some point. As I mature as a writer, I’ll be able to tamper that inner voice. The more I recognize my process, my patterns, the less I’ll freak out when I think something isn’t going well. And maybe one day I’ll achieve Sarah Ruhl levels of poise where I exist in a transcendent bubble of perfection (I love Sarah Ruhl, this is me being totally straight with you. Also, she’s never gonna read this.)
    But until then, I would love to hear from LAFPI readers on how you manage these issues, and what tricks you have to get around these emotional speed bumps, these exhausting obstacles as we all try to navigate a happy, balanced, and productive life in the theatre.
  • Thursday, February 12, 2015
  • January 2015

    Stuff that’s been happening…

    Jan 3 – 9: I made my first visit to Chicago, my first brush with real winter! Arrived just in time for the scarily named Arctic Blast to blow through the city. But spending a week with Rasaka Theatre in the first week of rehearsals for A Nice Indian Boy warmed me up plenty.

    Rasaka Theatre’s production, opening TONIGHT (Feb 12 (!)) in Chicago, is the play’s second production and mid-west premiere.

    Jan 10-11: From Chicago I land in DC and head straight to the opening night of In Love and Warcraft by No Rules Theatre Company, being staged at Signature Theatre in Arlington. I get to see the magical Anu Yadav kill it as Evie and spend a wonderful weekend enjoying the hospitality of No Rules’ board members in Virginia.

    And we get a nice review in the Washington Post. YAY. PHEW.

    Jan 25: We shoot the Kickstarter promo for the new webseries I’m co-creating with Megan Kelly and Seamus Sullivan – Titus and Dronicus. It is insane, overwhelming, enlightening, holyshitexpensive, and it was only the freaking Kickstarter promo. Filmmaking is hard. But fun. (But hard.)

    Jan 26: I fly to Chennai.

    Now I’m in India through the end of April, where I don’t need to worry about cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, driving, or… having any kind of social life. I get to spend time with my family and not do much else. And with several writing projects to juggle, it’s the perfect arrangement. For now. I try not to worry about what my life will be like beyond the next few months, but of course, trying not to worry about something is about as effective as… as…

    Oh I can’t come up with a metaphor, what am I, a writer or something.

    Current projects:- A screenplay adaptation of A Nice Indian Boy- Finishing up Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine’s to be produced at the Alliance Theatre in April.- A new commissioned play for the Golden Tongues series by Playwrights Arena in Los Angeles.- A longform article for Hinduism Today about the LGBT Hindu community around the world.- Starting research/notes on my Bharatanatyam play, which has been incubating in my head for years now.

    I’ve never really known what to do with this blog. I use Facebook for personal updates and promotions whenever I need it, Twitter for sharing interesting links, Instagram for pictures like these –

    My fashion sense used to be KILLER #tbt #india #chennai #goingout #fancygirl

    A photo posted by @madhuri567 on Feb 11, 2015 at 8:46pm PST

    – And don’t really know what to use this blog for. I should journal my life more, because it’s interesting and I would like to keep track of it somewhere where I’m not flooding people with updates. But then on the other hand, without an audience, I don’t feel the need to write about my life.

    Also, I’m always working on a project, so the thought of blogging when I should be working on my script is just out of the question most of the time.

    Plus WordPress is so cumbersome when it comes to uploading/embedding images.

    So I don’t really know what to do. My Chicago and DC trips were so eventful, but I don’t feel like writing about them now, so they will only exist as the few lines I’ve deigned to give them above.

  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014
  • My year in theatre

    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.

    January

    • 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. 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!

    February

    • 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.
        Over a dozen friends flew to Altanta to see the show. Still can't believe it. My friends flew to Atlanta to see the show. Best sleepover ever.
    • 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.

    March

    • 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 Cast + Snehal Desai (our director) and me

    April

    • 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.cast1 copy
    • 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.)

    May

    • 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.
      Madhur Jaffrey!! Madhur Jaffrey!!
    • 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.

    June

    • 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.
      Peter, the cast, and me With the cast + Peter after the show

    July

    • 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 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.

    August

    • 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 2x2 lab at OSF 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.

    September

    • 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.chalkrep
    • I struggle with Antigone.
    • I join the Playwrights Union.

    October

    • 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 play 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 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?).

    November

    • 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.In Love and Warcraft_COVER
    • 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.

    December

    • 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 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 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.

  • Monday, June 9, 2014
  • A great theatre week

    This was a week where multiple wonderful projects either began, opened, or culminated.

    On Monday, rehearsals began for my play ‘The Frog Girlfriend’ at Fullerton College directed by Peter Kuo. The play will get a workshop production on June 25 as part of their Directors’ Festival, and already within the first week the script has improved considerably.

    Peter directs the cast Peter directs the cast

    I love this silly stupid awesome play and I’m so excited to see this done.

    yeaaah yeaaah

    On Tuesday, we had tech for Much Ado About Something at the Hollywood Fringe, which ended – as all self-respecting self-productions should – with a bunch of us trying to figure out how to clean silly string off the floor at 12.30am.

    spit and socks #theatreproblems

    On Thursday, we had our preview show- our first show with an audience- and ohmygod the play worked so well. It was so much fun being on stage and I am SO proud of my soultwin Megan Kelly who directed and the brilliant Kate Grabau who produced and Beatriced. What an accomplishment.

    MK & KG MK & KG, post-show glow

    Then I had to miss our opening show on Saturday (which luckily went well too) because this weekend was the culmination of the 2013/14 CTG Writer’s Workshop. We started in October, and it’s been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had, and I’ve had so many great experiences over the past year. Once-a-month meetings with 6 amazing playwrights who were full of kindness and generosity, led by the CTG literary team Pier Carlo Talenti and Joy Meads, who set the tone for the whole thing.

    A month ago I realized the play I was working on just wasn’t the right play- I was going down the wrong path and so I had to chuck my draft and start all over again with a new premise and new characters. I managed to get 2/3rds of the play done, and I heard it read on Saturday morning with one of the best cold readings I’ve ever experienced of my work, thanks to the amazing casting of Anjali Bhimani in the lead role, who got my character so thoroughly it was unnerving!

    And the play is working… I felt it in the room and the feedback was so generous. I can’t wait to go forward with this. I’m so happy with where it is and just this reading is going to give me the fuel to finish it.

    It was wonderful hearing the other 6 new plays this weekend, with such a fantastic ensemble cast rotating through the scripts and joining in with the discussions.

    ctggroup kind of a messy picture, for now

    I fucking love theatre so much.

    And today I got an email that may have great news for A Nice Indian Boy. So eff yeah. This week. It was good.

    oh and i got this in my fortune cookie today and it has to be significant right oh and i got this in my fortune cookie today and it has to be significant right
  • Thursday, May 29, 2014
  • I met Madhur Jaffrey, and other things

    I need to figure out a system where I’m updating this blog as and when exciting things are happening. But exciting things do, by their very nature, leave very little time for documenting them.

    I used to be so much cooler on the internet.

    Never mind though. Here are a run down of the super cool awesome things that have happened to me over the past few weeks.

    The week of May 11th, I got to be in New York for the scene presentations of A Nice Indian Boy along with plays by the Kendeda Finalists, all at Playwrights’ Horizons.

    20140529-004700.jpg

    Playwrights Horizons!!

    Even thought In Love and Warcraft was the winning Kendeda play, Celise let me present A Nice Indian Boy instead, which turned out to be just wonderful.

    Directed by Lucie Tiberghien, the cast included Bhavesh Patel, Christopher J. Hanke, Sheetal Sheth, Rajesh Bose, and Madhur Jaffrey.

    20140529-004642.jpg My iPhone autocorrects her name to all caps each time

    MADHUR JAFFREY!

    She’s name-checked IN the play! When I met her, she extended her dainty hand, and I gurgled, “I’m a huge fan,” and she said, oh so elegantly, “Yes, I see I’m in the play.”

    MADHUR JAFFREY!!

    She offered to correct my atrocious Hindi in the play, and I have to get back to her on that.

    We had a table read on Tuesday and the scene presentation on Wednesday and it was so lovely getting to know these actors and Lucie. I’d be so lucky to work with them again.

    The rest of the week involved a lot of angsting about my writing of my CTG play (and some decent writing too, thankfully), but also fun things. Such as checking out the NYU MFA design exhibition with Lucie, reconnecting with Celise one-of-my-favorite-people-in-the-world Kalke, reuniting with Lily Balsen (my perfect Evie in the Alliance Theatre’s In Love and Warcraft), meeting the beautiful Mahira Kakkar, a bike tour of Brooklyn with the lovely Christina Quintana and friends, staying in Queens with grown-up friends with stable loving lives (which seems so foreign to me), and then a weekend in the Upper East Side with fellow awesome USC playwright Stephanie Swirsky, capped by 5 hours of Mysteries at the Flea.

    Honestly taking Stephanie to the Adayar Ananda Bhavan on the UES might have been the real highlight of the trip. Honestly taking Stephanie to the Adayar Ananda Bhavan on the UES might have been the real highlight of the trip.

    Back in LA, it was straight back into working with my soultwin Megan Kelly on her directorial debut, the hilariously wonderful Much Ado About Something, premiering next week at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

    20140529-004740.jpg The Something is Aliens

    And of course, working as best as I can on finishing up a skeleton draft of my new play, which will have a reading at the CTG Writer’s Workshop retreat next weekend. Hopefully a real blog post about that coming soon.

    And now, sleep.

    Or, to quote from Much Ado About Something…

    To Die, to sleep, to sleep, perchance to Dream.To Dream, in dreams what sleep may comeOut, out, brief candle

    It makes sense (i.e. none)  in context. Come see it.

  • Monday, May 5, 2014
  • Only one thing to do.

    Not for the first time, I find myself 80% of the way towards my deadline, with a big chunk of work done, only to find that the very foundation of my project doesn’t work. And I have to start over. From the top. When I thought I was nearing the finish line. When I barely have any time left.

    So what do I have to do?

    20140504-172057.jpg

    When I’m scared, I remind myself that this is the ONE thing I can do well. The one thing I CAN do well. I can be hopeless in almost all other parts of my life (I just had to sell my car and so came face-to-face with the depths of my incompetence several times over the course of a week) but I can do THIS. And I’m going to be fucking brilliant and pull this fucking thing off.