Catching Up on a Bunch of Days

(Why am I naming days?)

4/15/14, Day 13,860: The Sound for all this Between

This day is so named for a line near the end of Jane the Plain, which we worked Tuesday night. I wish I had time to write all the ways in which I’m loving this process…but what I can say is that for the first time in a long time, I think I’m going to really enjoy watching a production of a play of mine, without any of the melancholy drama in which I seem compelled to traditionally wallow. So far, all joy.

That feeling may be what inspired me to write this on Facebook, which seemed to connect with folks, and which I copy here so it doesn’t get lost among the flotsam:

I do believe in a kind of immortality through art, but not the way it’s so often described; as a piece of my consciousness living on in my words. When GL or Jabber gets a laugh after I’m gone, I won’t be any kind of here to hear it.

I think it works the other way. When Peter sees Mrs. Dalloway and says, “For there she was,” I’m there, too, both seeing her and seen; and I am also with Virginia, as she puts down her pen, shaken from her sacred shocks. When I hear the Nurse tell Juliet that she and Susan (God rest her soul) were of an age, I am somehow not only looking up, wondering at the older woman’s face, and looking down, at the pretty wretch before me; but I am even with Susan, at her death-bed (she was too good for me). Shakespeare and Woolf gave that to me, to us. They gave us more life, more lives.

Others have given us new worlds, impossible ones, more real for being imagined. I was an elf once, and I may be so again. There was another time I led a band of fellow rabbits through the end of everything to a new home. And I have loved Charles Wallace enough to save the world.

And it is not just the dead who have given me a little immortality. Did you know I have watched my beloved turn into ballerinas dancing? And lost another love on the cold hill side? Why just this week, in one room alone, I found myself surviving the Civil War and dancing at the fall of the Berlin Wall.

We only get one life? I don’t believe it. Really, we only get one death. But before then, we have as many lives as we can bear. And if we’re artists, and we work at it, and keep working at it, we may even leave behind some immortality for others to find.

Wouldn’t that be something? To give life back for all this living we’ve been given. I’ll keep at it, for as long as I can.”

4/16/14, Day 13,861: And the Days of Long Begin…

This day is so named because I worked from 9am to 1am on TCG stuff without much of a break and still didn’t come close to feeling caught up. This usually happens around this time, as we approach the National Conference, and things get crazy; though I learned a lot from last year and feel like I’m way ahead of where I was then…so wish me luck, and be patient with me if I’m late in replying to your email.

4/17/14, Day 13, 862: Towel. Towel.

This day is so named for an absurd line I added for Leeson in Jane the Plain. It really just helps a small moment of transition, yet I think–thanks in part to Chester’s awesome performance–it will be a favorite moment every time. I’ve taken to working remotely at TCG while at Jane the Plain rehearsal, which is actually a lot more fun than it sounds.

This is also the day I decided to make a significant change to the structure of Word(s). I’d been avoiding direct address, but the final scene is just not working, and so I think giving one of the characters ownership of driving the narrative forward might make the difference. Between Jane the Plain and TCG, I’m having a hard time keeping mental space open for finishing Word(s), but this public accountability helps…

4/18/14, Day 13, 863: REPRESENT Preparation

This day is so named because I woke quite early to finish the first stages of preparation for presenting REPRESENT, TCG’s demographic survey platform, to our Diversity & Inclusion Institute theatres on Monday. It has been a difficult, rewarding and ultimately thrilling process in working with the D&I team on putting this together, and I’ve learned so much in the process. I still have quite a bit of work yet to do, though a very long week was happily capped off with a Jane the Plain rehearsal where I turned off my computer.

4/19/14, Day 13, 864: Friends for Brunch and Conference Crunch

This day is so named because in between 8 hours of TCG work, mostly on the Conference, Heather and I had a great brunch with our dear FoHi friends Jason and Cotton (yeah, FoHi, it’s what the cool kids call Forest Hills. Or, I just made it up).

4/20/14, Day, 13,865: Obstetrical Athlete, or, The Difference Between Pain and Effort

This day is so named because we had a double session of our childbirth class. One of the things I appreciate about the class is how the instructor talks honestly about pain and its role in natural childbirth. She talks about how labor is painful, yes, but it is natural pain, it is effort with a purpose, and it should not be treated as something to be avoided. She calls mothers giving birth “obstetrical athletes,” and says we must train for the event as we would for any other major athletic event. The birthing method we’re studying is called “husband-coached,” and I’m grateful to feel so connected to this process.

We also had another great rehearsal for Jane the Plain, and I made some progress on a bunch of Flux-related projects.

4/21/14, Day 13, 686:  REPRESENT and the First Read-through of Faust

On this day I rose earlier than usual to finish work on the REPRESENT presentation, which we were sharing with our TCG Diversity & Inclusion Institute theatres. It went well–maybe it even went very well–but it also became clear that it is more than just a survey–or rather, that it must be more than a survey in order to measure the things we need to know in the right way. Exciting, daunting and onward we go.

This day was also the first read-though of my now complete draft of Faust.  This likewise went very well–it was a joy to see the actors discover all the work we’ve done in the past months threaded into a mostly cohesive narrative, and the parts sounded beautiful in their mouths. There is one scene that goes on too long, but otherwise, the play is in excellent shape for the first draft of such an unusual process, and we’re looking at the end of of August for the production to go up.

4/22/14, Day 13, 687: First Stumble-Through of Jane the Plain

This day is so named for our first stumble through of Jane the Plain.  It was indeed stumbly, as it must be for a play of such varied physical demands, but given where we are in the process, I’m still feeling quite good about our chances for a great production.

4/23/14, Day, 13, 688: Jaguarmobile and Jumbotron

This day is so named for the climactic scenes we worked from Jane the Plain. I am particularly pleased with the simplicity Chinaza is using in Scotty’s monologue about following the Mirror Man, and some of the choices we find for staging the epic battle between the MM and Glowing Girl. In many ways, the intense staging demands require a devised process to solve, and with each rehearsal, it feels like we’re coming closer to hitting our collaborative stride.

This was also the day I shared this on Facebook:

Some good news today, though we have a long way to go. It’s hard to read sentences like “have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment” and “have served at least 10 years of their sentence” and not be angry. 10+ years for non-violent crime? How is the possession of drugs a worse crime than imprisoning someone for 10 or more years? And then you think about how people of color are targeted disproportionately (despite the fact white people engage in drug offenses at roughly the same rate), and that awful statistic that 1 in 3 black men will be incarcerated at some point in their life and, well, this is a good step, but we have a lot more walking to do.

I’ve been coming to a slow biol in realizing that in many ways, the progress of equality in this country has stalled, and in some ways, taken significant steps backwards.

4/24/14, Day, 13, 689: Jane Walks

We turn again to working the end of the play in our most collaborative ensemble work yet. Great ideas are popping from everyone as we attempt to crack open this most simple, delicate, yet complex bit of staging. Isaiah brings back an idea from The Lesser Seductions of History that gives us a foothold on the mountain, and we begin scaling and falling back, then climbing again. We land on something that feels quite fruitful, if perhaps not the our final destination…I then make some tweaks to the text in the opening that clarify the beginning of some character arcs.

We’ve reached the richest vein of rehearsal, when we’re choosing from a series of right choices to find the best one, and we’re beginning to feel the whole of the play in each instant.

I also participated in an ART/NY Panel for artistic leaders at theatres under $100,000. It felt like we spent most of the time figuring out how to talk to each other, but did start to reach some valuable conversation about halfway through.

4/25/14, Day, 13, 690: The Self-Producing Panel and Friday Night Lights

This day is so named for a two-hour panel on self-production I participated in for some student playwrights alongside some noble folks that included Chris Harcum.  It was great to listen to the thoughts of my fellow panelists, and to attempt to articulate a series of personal epiphanies in a way that might be useful to others. I hope the students found value in it all…

Then we worked the football game for Jane the Plain. In many ways, the play is a musical, with a physical language that needs to be drilled with the precision of any musical number, and that means we always need more time for each scene than we think. However, the work never feels slow (at least not to me), because each detail we uncover and sequence we polish gets us closer to that unbroken golden thread of story. Also, there’s not a single rehearsal we get through without having to stop for laughter at least twice.

I didn’t intend to go this long without posting here, but I have been overwhelmed with TCG and Flux. I must rally, because I can feel my discipline eroding in the sheer amount of work, and all the progress I’ve made slipping…

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 99 out of 116 days (Word(s), Jane the Plain)
Spanish: 90 out of 116 days
Music: 8 out of 21 days

What small things did I do these past days to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

Published by CorinnaSchulenburg

Artist and Activist

One thought on “Catching Up on a Bunch of Days

  1. I like FoHi–good word creation! And thanks for sharing so much of the playwriting, play making, play tweaking process with all of us, the non-playwrights/directors.

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