Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a joiner. I was that kid in college who walked around freshman orientation and signed up for every activity that seemed intriguing. It may have been overzealousness that led me to participate in both the recorder ensemble and the student newspaper, but my hunger to join clubs was not about intellectual curiosity or professional ambition. I was looking for my people.
When I was in the fifth grade, my family moved to a small town in West Tennessee, and until we moved away fifteen years later, we were new. Here, every adult I met was someone’s cousin or uncle or MeeMaw. My church choir director was my best friend’s dad. Directions to my house included the phrase, “go up to Miss Betty’s and turn right.” In high school, the cop who pulled me over for speeding was the father of the snottiest girl in my grade—and yes, he knew exactly who I was as he wrote me a ticket.
Untethered to any of the locals, I was forever the new girl who, rather than playing kickball or riding bikes, came home after school and practiced the piano. I was aware of the isolation I built around myself, but I liked the alone time and I loved the music. If I was going to be different, let me be really different.
In my twenties, I moved to NYC for the Graduate Musical Theater Writing program at NYU, hoping that at the end of the program I would have found my way around both the city and the industry. It was during those years that someone suggested I join the Dramatists Guild. I wish I could remember a specific conversation I had, or a pivotal moment, or the day I sent in my application. I don’t. What I do remember is that I looked at the names of the writers who were in positions of leadership and I thought: there they are. Everyone I’ve ever looked up to, respected, or wanted to be is right there in one place. SIGN ME UP.
This idea of community is at the center of everything that matters to me. The theater cannot function if we’re all in isolation, feeling distanced and alone, fighting these David vs. Goliath battles. Community motivates my efforts with copyright advocacy and with Maestra, and it shows up over and over again in my own writing. Here at the DG I have found a group of artists who believe that creating scripts, scores, songs, and characters is noble work, worthy of protection and celebration. These are my people.