Gratitude journals and their more public cousins—gratitude Facebook posts—have become mindful ways to connect with what is good in our lives. I’ve never done one, but it occurred to me a while back that doing a 365 Grateful for playwriting might illuminate a year’s worth of reasons why we’re so loyal to this sometimes discouraging pursuit. In 2014, there were many times I became aware of people, situations, events that only touched me because I wrote that first play and kept on writing–a phone call from a producer who wanted to share the tearful reactions my play evoked that evening, being part of the Buffalo theater community, meeting some super cool people during a production in a small town in the Catskills, the Dramatists Guild regional reps meeting, having actors in Ghana speak my words– as well as all the people, places, and things that just make it easier to keep on. . Productions are wonderful, but being a playwright has generated so many rewards beyond just those, so, this year, now that Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project is finished, recording them all is my project for 2015. I’ll tweet once each day under #365gratefulplaywright (follow me @donnahoke) and also post to my Donna Hoke, Playwright page on Facebook, then post the updated blog every two weeks so that nobody is overwhelmed. (I’ll also start a new blog post every two weeks, so that this file doesn’t become impossible!) If you’re a playwright, think about what might go on your own list; it’s humbling to see how lucky we really are.
January 1: The multitude of submission opps that opened today! It felt so good to clean out my drafts folder with all the subs that had been waiting to go—like a fresh start to a new year.
January 2: Road Less Traveled Productions, without which I wouldn’t even be a playwright. They accepted my first play, COCKEYED TODAY, into the Emanuel Fried New Play Workshop, produced my third play, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, two years later, and gave me an artistic home by making me an ensemble member two years after that. Had I not moved to Buffalo and encountered this theater with a mission to premiere plays by Western New York playwrights… I just don’t know. I’d be scrapbooking I guess.
January 3: Dusty Wilson and the group he founded, the Official Playwrights of Facebook. With nearly 8,000 members, this group is my online home, and a whole week of things to be grateful for: familiar names, sometimes faces, useful information, monthly opps list compiled by the amazing and tireless Dusty, healthy (usually) debates, lively conversation, encouragement, and people I know I will love when I finally get to meet them in person. I realize I would feel unmoored without it.
January 4: Opportunities like the new Route 66 New Play Workshop. While I can’t apply because my very similar Phoenix Theatre workshop will overlap with the required Route 66 dates, it thrills me that more theaters are offering this kind of in-depth, paid, development experience. Bravo Route 66 and good luck playwrights!
January 5: Playwright Kathleen Betsko Yale, author of Johnny Bull and founder of the International Centre for Women Playwrights, who is not just a friend, mentor, talent, laugh riot, and tireless advocate for women playwrights, but an all-around wonderful person. Buffalo and I are lucky to have her, and I never would have met her if I were not a playwright
January 6: Early morning writing time. I’m not a morning person, but since I started getting up to write (or do other playwriting activities, like this!) between 6-8 (7-9 weekends) I’ve come to love the routine, the increased productivity, and the quiet solitude of the hours before my house comes alive and the day takes over.
January 7: Warmth. Being a writer means never braving a dark morning of freezing temperatures, but rather enjoying the pretty snow from the vantage point of your cozy office.
January 8: This email: Dear Donna: This is to inform you that, unfortunately, your script, Brilliant Works of Art, has placed fifth, out of over 300 entries. However, if one of the top four is found to be ineligible due to a previous production commitment, your script will be the next selected.
Yes, I know, technically, it’s a “rejection,” but Brilliant Works of Art is a brand new play, and to know that it made it this far means that it worked for this group of readers, which is information I’m super grateful to have and gives me hope for its future. A search for “BWOA” in my submission records shows that it’s been submitted a total of 78 times to date. Maybe you’ll be reading about this play in another entry later this year…
January 9: Having three plays that moved on to Theatre Black Dog’s Best of Fest taking place today and tomorrow in Snoqualmie, WA. I wonder if the weather there is better there than it is here…
January 10: The Fourth Wall Review, a brand new online magazine to showcase, new art, films—and PLAYS! FTR has a play-of-the month feature, and a cash-prize contest upcoming. I’m honored to be a featured interview in the inaugural issue: click here to check it out.
January 11: The laughs we get when my kids take something to school on mom’s recycled plays and their friends get an eyeful of my work…
January 12: The exponential love of theater that writing plays has created. I am lost during the off-season with nothing to see, love the season announcements at the start of each year, and live for those weekends of three show openings.
January 13: The one-year anniversary of Trade A Play Tuesday! I started this on a whim a year ago to help playwrights get feedback on (primarily) ten-minute plays, and somehow, it’s managed to stick around. To date, nearly a thousand plays have been swapped, I’ve met a ton of playwrights, and TAPT has helped more than few plays—including several of my own—improve enough to get productions. Please read today’s blog post about the anniversary, and what you can do to help keep TAPT going.
January 14: This name card, which was on my desk when I arrived at Parents’ Night at my son’s school several years ago. Kids are the best, most unconditional supporters. I love how he spelled “playwrite” instinctively, yet somehow knew it didn’t look right.
To read more entries in this series, click here or the #365GratefulPlaywright category to the upper right.