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.
September 16: Meeting your characters on page one of a new play. There’s an excitement that they’ve come to life, and anticipation because you know that even though you know them, you don’t know them nearly as well as you’re going to over the next few months—or years. Welcome Richard, Peter, and Vanessa!
September 17: Publication in the City Theatre The Anthology 2015. This is the first time City Theatre has done anything like this and I’m honored to be sharing some incredible company! Thank you Susi Westfall and City Theatre!
September 18: CURTAIN UP! We’re so fortunate in Buffalo to this unique celebration—now in its 34th year—to kick off our theater season! It started with a star dedication (see below) at the Plaza of the Stars (which includes luminaries like Christine Baranski and Katharine Cornell), continues with dinner on the Shea’s stage, a show at a theater of choice, and a carnival street party that lasts into the wee hours (at least for the diehard members of the Buffalo theater community). No other city has anything like it—but every single one should!
September 19: Javier Bustillos, producer/director and Founder of Buffalo United Artists, which for 25 years has brought LGBTQ stories to the Western New York community. Last night, Javier was honored with a brand new star in the Main Street Plaza of stars and there nobody more deserving—or more humble. He gave no acceptance speech at the dedication and, later, when presented with the proclamation of Javier Bustillos Day in Buffalo, he received a standing ovation and finally spoke: “Go to theater. Go to shows. Theater is fun. Thank you.”
September 20: Paulette Harris, Artistic Director of Paul Robeson Theatre in Buffalo, New York, who has picked up her second 50/50 Applause Awards from the International Center for Women Playwrights for her continuous efforts in scheduling a season of diverse playwrights. Watch Paulette at about 5:55 here.
September 21: The surprising news that Old Library Theatre, which earlier this year presented “You Haven’t Changed A Bit” as part of an evening of short works, won the New Jersey Perry Award for Outstanding Production of an Original Play—and I get my own!
September 22: First draft freedom and exhilaration. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to know where you’re going, and if you knock over garbage cans or end up in a few ditches along the way, it’s okay. You still know where you’re going and you know you’ll get there.
September 23: Having so much talent in Buffalo that you can see a show with a cast of fifteen and KNOW that every single member of the ensemble as just as talented as the leads.
September 24: The way that play problems solve themselves when you least expect it, today during a workout. Then the problem was keeping the solution in my head until the workout was finished! So often, I think we just have to keep writing and trust that the solution will present itself when the time is right. A simple idea, once you begin writing, continues to get more and more complex with each “solution.” This is the joy part.
September 25: Skype for phone. No more dragging out the old laptop whenever I need to see rehearsal.
September 26: The fact that tonight, one daughter was at a wonderful production of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, the other was at a fabulous production of BUYER AND CELLAR, and I was at a sublime production of DOUBT—because we’re that kind of family and Buffalo has that kind of talent!
September 27: These words from next-up #PLONY Michael McKeever: “The world is filled with unfinished plays. The hardest thing to do is finish; it’s allowed to suck. The first draft has to be allowed to be awful.” Well-timed, much needed, thank you.
September 28: The completion of a gross and ugly first draft of my twelfth full-length play, ELEVATOR GIRL. If I have ever mentioned you in this blog, you might be asked to read it…
September 29: A Newsies date with my son. On these evenings, we allow ourselves chocolate-covered popcorn for dinner. I’m both a good mom and bad mom all at once!
September 30: The completion of Playwright Binge #47 (not #47 for me, but 47 total). I managed to get out 78 submissions, which, if you’re trying to keep up, puts me at 444 for the year (though I beat last September by 15, I’m still down 12 total from last year). And so ends another month of #365gratefulplaywright. I can’t believe there’s only three to go.
To read more entries in this series, click here or #365GratefulPlaywright in the category listing at upper right.