We’re all dealing with a new normal. Life as it was has changed in both the theatre and the streets of your city. Will the closeness we once felt still be there? Have we forged new friendships with neighbors we only waved to before?
In this strange time another interrogation was going on inside me… is this the time to leave my role as Regional Representative in the Dramatists Guild? On the one hand, how can I? On the other, the brave new world is re-inventing itself, so shouldn’t I?
It was a hot day in Seattle when Gary Garrison asked me to think about being a Regional Representative. I had gone to hear Steven Dietz talk about writing his play, Lonely Planet. It was a mesmerizing event that seems so many lifetimes ago.
Since then, we’ve had Lynn Nottage, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Lisa Kron, Dael Orlandersmith and many others offer Oregon dramatists life-changing writing tips. We had Lue Douthit talk about “Writing and Authenticity: who gets to write characters who are different from ourselves?” I worked with the Dramatists Guild Traveling Masters Program to bring Philip Kan Gotanda up from San Francisco (in conjunction with Media Rites) to give a writing seminar. We brought the Dramatists Guild Institute to Portland in 2018. Members who attended got advice and writing tips from many experienced writers.
The Guild afforded me the opportunity to interview my idol, George C. Wolfe, at the Dramatists Guild Conference in Chicago. It allowed me to talk about my passion (teaching playwriting in prison) at the Conference in New York. There, I spoke alongside Robert Pollock who was formerly incarcerated and is now PEN America’s Prison Writing Program Manager. The synergy was terrific.
I also got to interview several amazing artistic directors for The Dramatist. And perhaps fondest of all, I got to honor August Wilson by collecting a brick from his childhood home on behalf of playwrights everywhere.
Yes, it’s a strange time to be human as it was for the first men who began to tell stories to the sun and moon. Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye to something that’s had such a significant impact on my life. But anything worth doing should be hard to say goodbye to. So, I have some tears in my eyes as I write this… but there’s a light in them as well. All that’s left is to look up at the sky, like so many before me have done, and delight in the new ways that we’ll all find to tell stories.