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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.
April 2: My ad hoc theater education. I came late to the theater world, have no degree in theater studies, and have learned most of what I know about the theatrical canon from seeing shows—probably 100 or more annually. In the past several years alone, I’ve seen four Tennessee Williams plays, three Arthur Miller, two Alan Ayckborn, three Shaw, nearly 20 Shakesepeare, three Sarah Ruhl, two Lucas Hnath, scores of brand new plays, and hundreds in between. Though I do travel a little for theater each year, Buffalo’s more than 20 theater companies offer a huge range, which means right here, I’m as likely to see a rare production of Lanford Wilson’s 1982 Angels Fall–as I did last night–as I am to catch the latest Tony or Pulitzer winner. I have learned so much and had so much fun doing it—I’m thinking it’s the better way!
April 3: The news that “You Haven’t Changed A Bit” will get its 28th production and second international production across the pond at the Irlam Fringe Festival 2015.
April 4: Moxy. My cat. Who I would not have if I’d never met playwright Alex Livingston in my first workshop. He and wife Jessica, both allergic to cats, had an outdoor cat named Ennui who one day dumped weeks-old kittens on their doorstep and disappeared never to be seen again. As Alex and Jess are were both suffering, they posted pictures of the kittens on Facebook hoping to find homes for them. This little guy became mine, and I just adore him.
April 5: Going to a play with zero expectations and having it be top-notch. This just happened with Tracey Scott Wilson’s Buzzer, which I saw at the Public Theater last night, and it also happened when I saw Buyer and Cellar in previews with some comps several years ago (Free? Sure!). Two awesome theater experiences that I won’t forget any time soon. Love it when that happens.
April 6: Easter in New York City. Spring. Pre-Tony season. Lots of shows. A spectacular tradition. Always a good time.
April 7: Google Alerts. Sometimes you learn the most surprising things about yourself—like where your play is being done.
April 8: Coffee. I’ve been a tea drinker my entire life, but one rainy, cold night at a Road Less Traveled reading, I decided to partake of the free coffee—and I liked it! It’ll never replace tea for me and you’ll never catch me jonesing at a drive-thru, but I like to mix it up now and then, and it’s nice to finally know what all the fuss is about!
April 9: A great comic performance. The comedic actor rarely gets recognized, as dramatic roles generally win all the prizes. But sometimes, s/he is the only reason you’re able to tolerate the two hours you’ve spent in a theater and that deserves special notice. Because when it happens, it’s gold.
April 10: An opportunity to really do my job as Dramatists Guild rep. Today, somebody asked me for advice that truly tapped into my position as rep and liaison, and it was really gratifying to be able to help!
April 11: Denver’s Dangerous Theatre, which opens the third production of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR tonight. Thank you Winnie Wenglewick and Eric Mindykowski and break legs!
April 12: Hosting playwrights. Last night, Aoise Stratford and Greg Charleston (plus husband Rodney) visited to see their short plays in BUA Takes 10: GLBT Short Stories. My co-curator, Matthew Crehan Higgins, and actor/director Kevin Craig had the pleasure of dining with them before the show and they were all wonderful company! I’m so grateful they took the time and expense to come, and that they shared their plays and their time with us. I love meeting new playwrights!
April 13: Treats like Broadway and film actress Roslyn Ruff coming to Buffalo to do a master class at Buffalo State. She followed up with a Q&A, and she could not have been more gracious. The students loved her!
April 14: The Emanuel Fried New Play Workshop, which I have been a part of for six years and which held its first meeting of the 2015 session last night. It’s a diverse group including three playwrights from Canada and the plays all sound fascinating—I love playwrights and new plays!
April 15: These news signs in the Buffalo Theater District. It just keeps getting better and better.
To read more entries in this series, click here or #365GratefulPlaywright in the category listing at upper right.