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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.
March 1: Patrick Gabridge, who founded the Playwright Binge, a support and networking group for playwrights who are trying to get their work out into the universe. Twice a year—in March (starting today) and September—the goal is to get out one submission per day for the month. Some people clump, shooting for a goal of 30 by month’s end; others are just happy to get anything out and have company doing it. Daily reports keep everyone motivated and on track, and also generously provide opps for sending to. This is the group that put me on the road to learning how to submit; thank you, Patrick!
March 2: Plays like Ayad Akhtar’s DISGRACED, which I caught in New York last week. It might seem late to be acknowledging this, but, the fact is, I’m still thinking about this play. As a theater writer and playwright, I see so many shows, but it’s rare that one generates this kind of excitement for me, firing as it does on all cylinders, including, to me, the most important—fine, fine writing. I can’t say I feel this way about every Pulitzer winner I’ve seen—and now I’ll shut up.
March 3: Discovering a new theater space in my home town. You’d think at this point, I would have been in every theater space in the city, but when Ujima was forced to relocate its production of TOP DOG/UNDERDOG because of a leaking roof, I was introduced to an absolutely awesome space at Hallwalls that I never even knew was there! Being surprised like that makes me feel like I’m on vacation.
March 4: Laura Henderson, who emailed me last night to ask permission to add one word to a script she’s working on at Fancy Pants Theater’s Ladyfest. The word makes total sense, will make the opening better, I won’t make it to the production and never would have known, and she still emailed. Because that’s the way it’s done. Thank you.
March 5: Road Less Traveled Productions, where I am an ensemble playwright, has found a temporary home. When the Market Arcade Film and Arts Centre, where RLTP was located for nearly a decade, was sold last year, RLTP was forced to seek out a new space. While in transition, the Forbes Theatre, located at 500 Pearl Street (still in the theater district!), will host the theater’s 15/16 season as the theater continues to seek a permanent home. Thank you Ellicott Development and Forbes!
March 6: Shea’s, and, perhaps more importantly, Tony Conte, who brought this valuable architectural and theatrical gem back to life. Tonight, I enjoyed a wonderful time with my non-theater son at The Illusionists, and was so grateful we could share something in a theater together, even if it wasn’t a play ;).
March 7: Playwright mobs. I started these as part of my service as Western New York regional rep of the Dramatists Guild not just to take advantage of the generous discounts Buffalo theaters offer DG members, but also to create community among playwrights. Some playwrights don’t always have someone to attend theater with, and it’s so much fun to go with people who love it as much as you do, and are happy to sit down with drinks or coffee afterward and discuss…and discuss. Tonight it was Patrick Marber’s AFTER MISS JULIE at Irish Classical Theatre Company. Thanks mob!
March 8: Alex Livingston and Jessica Gadra, two great friends (as well as reliable dining companions!) whom I never would have met had Alex and I not been playwrights together in my first Emanuel Fried New Play Workshop in 2008. I knew Alex first and met Jessica when he suggested she illustrate my children’s book. Alex has also become a fan of my weekly puzzle in The Public, so I’m grateful for that too! It’s like the triple crown of gratitude! Click on their names and check out their stuff–they’re as talented as they are awesome to hang out with!
March 9: All the incredible birthday wishes I received today. And if you think that has nothing to do with being a playwright, consider that the majority of them came from theater people both near and far. So happy I know all of them, and everybody who took the time to wish me well today. (I also had a wonderful night out with my awesome family, and I’m grateful for that no matter what!)
March 10: LinkedIn. Everybody gets LinkedIn invites, makes LinkedIn connections, and all the while wonders if there’s really any point. There is.
March 11: Trust. Today, I was going to share a rehearsal photo from BUA Takes 10: GLBT Short Stories, but the director is sick so rehearsal is canceled. She also won’t be able to make it on Saturday, the last rehearsal I can attend before the opening. (I can’t even attend via Skype or Face Time because of conflicts). While I’m disappointed that I can’t get a sneak peak at my play before opening night, I’m not worried. And I realize that I’m not worried because I trust my phenomenal cast and director, and more, that so much of what we do to create theater requires this kind of trust. I’m fortunate when a play is being done locally, but, most of the time, I’m sending my plays out into the world to be interpreted, acted, designed, and directed by complete strangers. Without trust, we would never open ourselves up to creativity and collaboration. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? (Feel better, Victoria! xoxoxo)
March 12: This. “Dr. Anthony Chase as Lady Bracknell.” Simply priceless.
March 13: Jon Elston, a most amazing playwright, friend, advocate, mentor, person. I can’t imagine how my playwright path would have gone without his guidance, knowledge, support, and friendship. Or how Buffalo theater may have suffered. Or how many fewer times I might have laughed. Or been encouraged. Or tried harder. He’s got an opening tonight for AFTER AMERICA: WASTELAND 2015, so there’s no better time to express my both my gratitude for him and wishes for a blockbuster show!
March 14: Tom Eubanks and Elite Theatre of Oxnard, CA, where FLOWERS IN THE DESERT opens tonight. I can’t be there, but I wish the cast—Brian Harris and Mattie Werber, and director Helene Cohen—the best for a successful opening; break legs (and send me pictures)!
To read more entries in this series, click here or #365GratefulPlaywright in the category listing at upper right.