(Click here to read other posts in this series)
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 16: Five alarm clocks. On time and smooth flights to La Jolla. La Jolla!! The view from my room. Finally meeting Michael McKeever. Listening to the brilliant John Logan (RED) speak. Hanging out with some of the best people EVER. Irish coffee. And this awesome T-shirt courtesy of the Dramatists Guild Fund.
July 17: The Count, an ambitious, exhaustive, and incredible study to determine who has been produced in the United States in the past three years at theaters doing at least three shows of 21 performances per year. While the study–commissioned by the Dramatists Guild and spearheaded by Rebecca Stump, Julia Jordan, Marsha Norman, and Lisa Kron–addresses ethnicity and nationality as well as gender, the graphs below illustrate the lack of parity. You’re going to be seeing a lot about The Count and its numbers are going to be both a wake up call and call to action. (Also grateful that Lisa Lampanelli decided to try out her new one-woman show on us; the woman is HILARIOUS.)
July 18: Hearing Stephen Schwartz sing “The Hardest Part of Love” from CHILDREN OF EDEN during a two-hour tribute. Gratitude doesn’t even begin to touch the emotion of that moment for me. Apparently too moved to even consider getting video, it’s an ephemeral once-in-a-lifetime experience and memory I hope I can always summon. (P.S. The title is the literal line he is singing in the pic below; the other is his tribute team and friends: Michael Kerker, Winnie Holzman, Lisa Kron, Stephen Schwartz, Alan Zachary, and Michael Weiner; missing are Broadway singers Brent Barrett and Susan Egan.)
July 19: Incoming Dramatists Guild president Doug Wright, and outgoing president Stephen Schwartz, both stellar and generous men and artists. Stephen has done so much for the Guild, and Doug’s inspiring closing remarks this morning leave no doubt that he will continue and expand that work.
July 20: The man who vacuums the O’Hare Airport, who graciously and generously went and found me a very nice blanket (I suspect from a member lounge) when I was shivering in an empty airport at 3 a.m. That blanket allowed me to get what precious little sleep I got; thank you. And, of course, I am grateful to be home.
July 21: All the late nights at the bar with these people.
July 22: Stephen Schwartz, again, for giving me this parenting win. So generous.
July 23: The kindest words from my friend and fellow Dramatists Guild regional rep (Houston) William Duell. You made my day. XO (I tried to find a pic, but did you know when you search William Duell images, you get everybody from Jack Nicholson to Owen Wilson? So it’s the guy to my left, two entries above.)
July 24: Anticipation! Four shows at the Shaw Festival in 48 hours!
July 25: The Shaw Festival gardeners. Queen Street is a feast for the eyes, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it is today.
July 26: An encouraging email to end my weekend: “I read your play…and I love your writing…”
July 27: The Buffalo Infringement Festival. The beautiful thing about this festival is that nobody gets turned away (do you hear that, playwrights! Come to Buffalo!); all who apply are given a venue and promotion. That’s also what gives the festival it’s hit-or-miss charm. Though I haven’t participated in a few years, I browsed the schedule today and I’m excited to do some infringing this weekend. (Photo: Car Plays 2013–a unique, sold-out Infringement event)
July 28: Possibilities. The irons in the fires. The plays on short lists. The “let’s talk” conversations. They’re the heart of what we do, and really just underscore my usual mantra: Keep submitting. Don’t give up. Hope, and believe.
July 29: My son not only wanting to go to Shakespeare in Delaware Park (btw… did you know that SDP is the second largest free outdoor Shakespeare festival in the country?), but also saying repeatedly how much he loved it.
July 30: Bitter Gertrude. Impact Artistic Director Melissa Hillman reminds us with every post that in theater, we are surrounded by some really smart, funny, opinionated people. I never miss one.
July 31: Inspiration! I just had the most kickass idea for a new blog series. I hate to be vague and cryptic, but I really think you’re going to love this one. I’ll be launching it in the next month. (And if you’re keeping up with me on submissions, I’m at 321.) This has been some month; I can’t believe it’s already August.
To read more entries in this series, click here or #365GratefulPlaywright in the category listing at upper right.