Seattle Rep is starting a playwriting fellowship:
I tell you, writing my artist’s statement was like taking out my appendix with a cafe latte and a flea comb. My friend and colleague Mari Geasair helped aka bullied me through the process. BTW, if you run a theater or other arts organization, go to her Web site, Arts Marketing Results. She helps theaters and other arts organizations to get more audiences and active community involvement.
Here’s my essay. What do you think?
Theater can help us be better, happier people by telling stories of culture and cultural adaptation beyond white American stories and ethnic cultural stories. As important as these are, we also need stories that bridge these two perspectives, and bring diverse audiences to the theater. Seattle Rep’s commitment to playwrights and to fostering new plays is essential. With it, individuals and communities will hear the stories they need to hear to enrich and inspire themselves with genuine understanding and empathy for people of all cultures.
I believe that, with the right challenge and support, I can more powerfully combine my unique life experiences and my disciplined passion for play writing. I will be able to write plays that audiences will enjoy and that will awaken in them a new depth of insight about themselves, and the people around them, that they would not otherwise discover.
As a white woman married to an African-American man, I have had real life, cross-cultural experiences that few white people have. For example, I was the only white guest at my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary celebration. I was dressed wrong, I was unprepared for the formality of the occasion, I was acutely uncomfortable around older African-Americans who would remember the Jim Crow era. I finally discovered other white people, and was profoundly grateful – but stopped cold when I realized they weren’t guests, but servers!
Not everyone can have such eye-opening cross-cultural experiences. Theater is the only place where anyone can experience the visceral, gut level wrenching of being a minority with divided loyalties, whether as a racial minority or a cultural outsider. It is the only place where we can learn to be more generous and more tolerant, and happier and enriched – not by observing other cultures, but by experiencing ourselves in those cultures.
In the past year and a half, I have been working systematically to develop myself as a playwright. I interviewed artistic directors and literary managers around the country, learning what inspires them about new plays. Podcasts of these interviews are part of my Playwright’s Muse project, a Web site to help playwrights get produced, get published, and let our brilliance shine (www.playwrightsmuse.com). Learning from these interviews, I am submitting my plays to theaters who will love them, and not annoying them with inappropriate or just plain bad plays. I’m chronicling my process in my blog, for any playwright to see and use. When I couldn’t find a playwrights group that challenged me sufficiently, I created one myself. I regularly have actors over to read and discuss drafts of my plays. I’m always making connections in the theater world, to expose myself to new and inspiring influences.
Now, I need a program to give me the people, information, and experience that will allow me – even make me – write plays that will meet Seattle Rep’s drive to bring diverse, enriching, and challenging experiences to audiences of all cultures.