August 11th, 2010 → 1 Comment
I’m back in Austin for a week working on my CAT LADY show with my director Shawn Sides! I love this town, mostly because they have figured out how to serve breakfast tacos all day long every 10 feet.
I am on draft NINE of the script but I do feel we’re coming very close to having the actual working script so so very soon. I find leaving town is the only way to get work done. In just two and a half days I’ve made miles of progress.
All sorts of crazy stuff has found its way into the script. Verbally abusive relationships, intimacy issues, fear of friendships, customer service people… it’s like the insides of my brain have stopped editing and are just spewing (fantastically, not violently) all over the place. This is what being a writer should feel like. Like the spill can’t be capped.
Last night I was up late and couldn’t move from the computer I was so possessed by writing. Which is excellent because the last few weeks, I couldn’t stop sleeping away my anxiety about finishing this play. I was literally in bed most of Saturday hiding from my computer. I’d fall asleep and wake up scared that I had to face my unfinished draft which only made me more anxious and doubtful if I was really an artist.
Of course, Murphy’s Law kicked in the first day I was in Austin as I found out I was missing a callback in LA for a national commercial. Why do they always actually want me when I leave town? These LA problems, I tell you.
Last week, I created a new show for the FORD Amphitheater. I had known about the show for months and months and was in denial that they didn’t have a projector or screen for me (my sthtick of choice). So with five days and only an impending nervous breakdown to go, I did something I rarely do, which is to create an ensemble show from scratch. The show was a fundraiser for Tia Chucha, an AMAZING community arts center in Sylmar that serves a largely Latino base.
The audience was going to be predominantly Latino and so I decided, “Why not arrest the whole audience?” It was my response to the BS happening in Arizona. I revived my Officer MacGillawongster character, told a bunch of really awesome off-color jokes (which when told in character make people laugh more than get nervous). My friend Cory (who was my student at CSU Fresno Summer Arts where I taught last month) played a Neo Nazi who serenaded everyone before deportation. Then we had a “dramatic” alien landing on stage where my friend Eddy played an alien who told us how we all have so much in common and that humans shouldn’t be so mean to each other.
It sounds corny, but it really was brilliant, profound and FUN. And the audience went nuts for us. I was pretty proud of myself that I gathered volunteers over Facebook to make this piece with me and that we collaborated in the span of three days. I also felt like everyone shined in their roles. Last minute successes like this can make me get cocky about what I can pull out in the 11th hour.
A look at the “Wong Post-It Method” for creating shows on the fly!
It’s been the busiest summer in all of history. A couple months ago I was having the whole, “Maybe I should go build wells in Africa, it’s so slow here…” thought and then BAM! I’m slammed again. I’m finding myself slaying a pile of projects that include two world premieres of two DIFFERENT shows in the next six months (this means, I have to write, rehearse, memorize, market and get two DIFFERENT shows performance ready). I have to read 113 grant applications (with work samples I need to view) for a grant panel I’m sitting on. Then I shoot this web series the week I come back. Then I have to get the word about Cuckoo’s Nest, the film. Then I have to…. Then I have to… sleep at some point?
This has all been a complicated a bit by the not owning a car thing. But, now that I live in Koreatown, the carless thing has been a lot more manageable. I love that I have so many friends who live only a few blocks away and are happy to scoop me up and carpool with me. And the LA subway, when it works, is amazing.
I was a little nervous about living in “dangerous Koreatown” and not having a big metal car to protect me, but every time someone tells me about taking their car to the mechanic, I just start shaking, flashback to my pink biodiesel car on fire on the 405, and am happy to be a ride moocher.
I’m totally feeling blessed, all this work, while I’m drowning in it is great. I feel like I’m coming back to a place of overworkaholic peace and quiet… I just wish this freelance project stuff would pace itself out better. I swear I look at my dry erase board with this giant “to-do” list and I want to faint just looking at what I lined up for myself.
Bird by bird, I tell myself.
I did have a brief moment whilst drowning in my work that I thought, “Maybe I should try cocaine, I hear that helps keep people awake.”
Good thing I’m too much of a cheapass to ever pick up a drug habit huh Mom?
By the way, me and the playwright Alice Tuan were on an obscure internet talk show about artists in LA. The whole thing looks like a no budget public access porn show, it took two tries to get the show actually rolling along (and they didn’t bother editing out those mistakes) but if you have an hour to kill, you can watch it archived here.