While here in the town o' beans (they love it when you call it that), I have submitted several 10-minute plays to a few festivals coming up in 2012. And I've found myself up until the wee hours talking narrative structure with two talented playwrights who happen to be equally amazing friends. But one of the highlights thus far happened the past two Mondays when I had the pleasure of guest speaking at playwriting classes at Boston University. These students are fortunate to have playwrights like Lydia R. Diamond (who is opening Stick Fly on Broadway right now) and Jaclyn Villano as their teachers, so I wasn't sure what I could offer them going in. On the ladder from novice to successful playwright, I'm only a so many rungs above these students. And then, while there alongside fellow writer Michael Parsons volleying questions about productions, play submissions, and seeing your work read for the first time... I saw it. It was hope. Excitement. Sparks of passion. We discussed the writing process, self-producing, networking, and a myriad of things that I've been working hard at for several years now on my journey and at that moment, I wondered if the guest speakers that have come to my MFA program see that same hunger and thrill in my eyes while they share their own experiences.
So, I'm standing on this ladder. I know I'm not at the bottom, just as I know I'm not at the top. And I'm standing there in the Cort Theater, looking at this beautiful set, on a Broadway stage, people filling the house for tonight's preview, and I wonder to myself "how far up the ladder am I seeing tonight?".
And right then, at that point, I remind myself that it's more important that I know that I'll get there, and not pressure myself with a "when" attached to it. Another thought that raced through my head as the lights came down was "this will be awesome when it's my turn." Smack in the middle of my MFA program, it was a wonderful gift from my friends to get a reminder of why I'm spending so many hours at my laptop destroying my already poor posture.
The whirlwind NYC trip topped off with a morning brunch in Brooklyn (well, actually, later there was pizza at Pelham Pizzeria -- which was amazing, but I digress). And at this brunch were some folks who, in the summer of 2011, had journeyed across the pond to Scotland for a little festival you might have heard of. It was there, in the town of Edinburgh, that they premiered a play called Unanswered, We Ride --- written by my dear friend Jaclyn Villano.
I remember being those students. Just as I long to be Jaclyn taking a show to Edinburgh, and Lydia opening at the Cort with an all-star cast & creative team. So I sit here today, about to hop over to Final Draft and put some more words on digital paper, and I smile because I'm not at the bottom. Sure, I'm not on Broadway (yet) and I know that maybe two people read this blog at this point in time; but I've seen my work in workshop, in small productions, and even on the big screen. And I also know that every playwright starts where I am right now. With an idea. A character. And a blank piece of paper. So I sit down to write, as I've always done, knowing that I'm on the ladder, and it's discussions like the ones I've been having with those around me that give me a better idea of how to climb it.