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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.
July 1: One of the best conversations I’ve ever had on Official Playwrights of Facebook—essentially a title clinic that helped me come up with what I hope will be the title that sticks for my new play: OPEN AND SHUT. (Look for an upcoming blog post on titles that compiles all of their great suggestions!)
July 2: A great conversation with a dramaturg who made excellent points about OPEN AND SHUT and allowed me to come up with a game plan for the next round of revisions. A dramaturg who is on the same page as you and intuitively understands what it is you’re trying to accomplish (and is also a fan of your writing) is a find you don’t take for granted. I’ve worked with some horror shows, and advise without reservation that it’s worth trying a few until you find the one who clicks.
July 3: Stand Up! This is an app that reminds you to get up and move every 45 minutes. The first few days I used it, I was kind of astounded at how quickly that 45 minutes goes by and the harsh reality that there are many days when I sit for a LONG time without realizing it. Since they’re not saying that being sedentary is worse than smoking (and I quit smoking nearly twenty-five years ago), being a writer is not a hazardous occupation! So getting up and moving is good, being reminded is good, and here’s the bonus: every time I got up, I did a little cleaning, vacuumed a room, folded some laundry, cleaned a sink. Made cleaning feel like a welcome break instead of a chore! (But what happens once the house is totally clean?)
July 4: A request for two plays—FLOWERS IN THE DESERT and BRILLIANT WORKS OF ART—from two major theaters. Not going to hold my breath, but is it okay if I cross my fingers?
July 5: This amazing thing. A marquee. So awesome. So psyched.
July 6: Completed of a tough set of revisions on my new LGBT comedy, OPEN AND SHUT. Like swimming through Jell-O, this set, but I’m feeling really good about the results.
July 7: Reading plays on the New Play Exchange. When I returned from Citywrights, I vowed to read a play by each playwright I’d met there, as a way to get to know them better and show appreciation for our meeting. I recommend it to everyone; I’ve been having a blast!
July 8: The small theater world within this great big country. In Florida, I got a message from Laurie Flannigan-Hegge to find and say hello to Vince Gatton. When I met Vince, it turned out he knew Stephen Kaplan. And that’s how it is everywhere I go. Every new friend I make on Facebook has ten to sixty friends in common with me. It’s an incredible sense of community.
July 9: Playwright generosity! This week, I had three playwrights leave beautiful recommendations for my 1955 LGBT period play, ON THE ROOF. I am desperately seeking a home for this large cast play with 2.5 songs (two facts that are not making it easy), so every little bit helps; thank you Nancy Gall-Clayton, Vince Gatton, and Paul Lewis!
July 10: A day off. Seriously. Today was all about baseball, making dinner and dessert with the kids, and vegging out to ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. And you can’t be grateful for a day off from the business if you’re not in it to begin with–and sometimes you just need it.
July 11: SLICE OF LIFE at Springville Center for the Arts. SCA put on a director/actor workshop using a suite of eight of my ten-minute plays that begin with teen characters and move through the decades of life to the final play, which features octogenarians. This is the first time I’ve actually gotten to see this suite performed together, and I’m so grateful to Matt Boyle, Seth Wochensky, and SCA for making it happen!
July 12: The completion of another year of the Dramatists Guild New York State Roving Readings Series selections. It’s a lot of logistics, but so rewarding when we can finally notify the playwrights. Thank you to all WNY/CNY DG members for sending your plays!
July 13: A request from a high school in New South Wales for “Face Time.” Pretty cool!
July 14: More love for BRILLIANT WORKS OF ART, in the form of inclusion in HRC Showcase Theatre’s 15/16 season. If you’re in the Albany area, I’ll be there for my reading October 3.
July 15: I’m on my way to La Jolla for the Dramatists Guild conference! I’ll be live tweeting from @donnahoke and putting some highlights in the July Part 2 installment of #365gratefulplaywright, so stay tuned!
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