Being honest, I truly hate end of the year posts. Even when it was a good year. I think the biggest part of it is I’m someone who would much rather hear about your plans and what’s coming up than “best moments 20xx.” We already lived through the year. Do we really need to revisit every single moment of it?
Also, not helpful: 2018 SUCKED. Like, yes 2018 for me professionally was pretty great. I made a lot of great connections, my play was produced twice….you know the spiel. Personally though, it was a shit show. I had three different theatre jobs this year and I’m still not 100% happy about where I landed. Oh and my job is getting in the way of my playwriting career so I may have to quit that job (because I’m not quitting playwriting until the field makes me) and who knows what I’ll do next? Also, multiple family members died, other family members almost died in a pretty tragic way, and oh yeah–I almost got divorced in June.
What a crap shoot.
So…for me, I don’t really want to reflect on how great the year has been (although I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to pretend to later that this year was SO GREAT when I go out tonight).
Instead I want to look forward. I know, I know. So far this post has been a bummer. But I promise it’s turning around.
It’s time for another heroes journey y’all. (I’ll be quick)
When I graduated from college (as I think I’ve mentioned), I decided to move to Arkansas for an internship in management and production. The plan was to do really well at the internship so I could justify my not so great GPA. Obviously, that didn’t work out the way I planned. I stayed, met Josh, and went to grad school at U of A.
While at U of A though, I still needed to work. I worked as part of my graduate assistantship but unlike some other grad students, the job the playwrights had was in the box office (which is more management than artistic –> relevant again in a sec). And I got extra money by stage managing other places while getting my MFA. Yes, we did get to teach Intro to Theatre but I had to fight to teach playwriting and the only way I was able to do it was by creating a class with two other departments backing it. (The English department and Latino Studies Department helped me make Latin American Playwrights a reality.)
So anyway, when I graduated, my job options were Adjunct Professor or get a job in management in theatre. OR basically start over with a new degree. Why were those my options? Because playwriting is a niche field that is hard to break into. This is where actors friends and I argue. When you’re an actor, you can jump audition to audition and even though they may not all pay, there’s still an opportunity to flex your acting muscles with other professionals. Playwrights and directors don’t have that. A lot of companies have set directors that they don’t really change OR they go to people who are already hella established. For playwrights…I’ll say this. I had some in the theatre department tell me “Why do we even need new plays? They’re all bad and horrible. The great plays can’t be topped.”
So yeah, that’s how a lot of people think about playwriting (unfortunately).
So I tried teaching. Made no money. Was living below the poverty line and couldn’t make it so I switched to be a box office manager. And then from there production + company manager. And then operations manager. And now I’m basically back to company management with a fancy name.
Funny thing: I don’t like it. I like programming. And I’m meeting all these playwrights and learning all these cool things about theatre can work that being at the bottom on the pile is starting to wear on me.
I do enjoy the paperwork and meeting new people but I don’t like being disregarded or not being able to do my job on the road (although there’s no real reason I can’t).
So get another job right? Well I’m in this fun place where my resume is all management. When I apply for artistic jobs, I get “we’ll let you know when we have a production/management position open.”
Well, friends. It means it’s time to go. I said this earlier this month but I mean it: No later than 2021, excluding an extraordinary opportunity presenting itself, I will be leaving Arkansas.
“But wait Rachel? How will moving help? Your resume is still set with only production/management jobs?”
Actually, no. Here’s another fun story: While on the phone with an artistic director about my play, she asked me (seriously) if I would come work for them in the literary department. This has happened three times now. I said no each time because moving seemed like a much bigger burden that I didn’t want to consider.
Here’s the thing: My resume is filled with management/production jobs, yes, but it’s also got a lot of playwriting experience. Reader experience for festivals. And elsewhere, that’s considered to be a good thing.
The plan is to spend 2019 getting serious about the cities I want to move to or the temporary programs I want to apply to. My cities right now are Denver, Chicago, DC, and Kansas City.
So what would keep me in Arkansas? Easy. I want to be an Assistant Professor or I want to be working for a theatre company that *truly* respects my playwriting career AND gives me the chance to do the work I like to do (which is company management with self-made hours OR contract artistic programming).
Some people say having both isn’t possible. Cool. I don’t need to work for a theatre company in Arkansas. Because I know it’s possible in other cities.
And I say no later than 2021 because what I really mean is I plan to be gone by July 2020 but I understand things happen so I’m giving myself a soft deadline (July 2020) and a hard deadline (January 2021).
So on the last day of the year, before I go out to party, I’m spending my time creating an action plan. I have beef with “resolutions.” (Side note friends: If I tell you my plans, please don’t call them resolutions. It’s the easiest way to annoy me. I create goals weekly, monthly, quarterly so just because it lands on NYE, doesn’t mean it’s a soon to fail resolution.)
My beef with resolutions is that people come up with these loose goals and create no action plan to make them happen. And then when they fail, instead of revisiting where they went wrong and trying again, they drop it. So friends, if you made it this far in this
I believe in you friends. We got this. Make your resolutions goals. And make your goals plans. And then execute a game plan. Happy New Year’s Eve!
Oh. And tick tock Arkansas.