I am certain that by December 20th, I am going to be DEEP in my feelings about moving (again) and starting over (again) so I know my end of the year post will be full of angst.
So I kinda wanted to use this post to take a moment to catch my breath. 2020 is not the year any of us expected. I lost so, so much. We’ve all lost so much.
And I’m not interested in the toxic positivity of pretending like we all aren’t collectively experiencing a great trauma. We definitely, definitely are. But I know I have a tendency to lean towards tragedy instead of joy and I’m trying really, really hard to find joy these days.
Honestly, it feels like so many of us are already “on to the next.” We’re not even done with 2020 and my 2021 is PACKED. I have a show every week until March 31, 2021 and that doesn’t even include the things that I can’t talk about yet and aren’t yet scheduled. It used to really rub me the wrong way when I was currently at one opportunity and someone asks “So what’s next?” Like, can I please enjoy this for now? I usually answer “I don’t know” even if I do because we’re so focused on what’s next that we’ve forgotten to enjoy what’s happening, right now in this moment.
So looking back at 2020, yes I lost five productions but two of them were on the Kilroys and I got FOUR new commissions this year. I started a theatre company and it’s brought me so much joy. I’ve met so many great theatre artists and I hope we can keep it going for a while. And yes, I left my job but I have a really great job lined up (even if I am still a bit apprehensive about the location, the job itself is amazing). Both my undergrad and grad school universities featured my work this year (a dream of mine!) and I got to have a very grown-up conversation with a professor who I really needed to check-in with.
Being home alone has been trash. Quarantine has been trash. I learned I was an extrovert as soon as I realized that being alone all the time was KILLING me. I found myself really resentful of my friends in partnerships and when they would talk about the loneliness* they still felt while partnered, I wanted to punch them in the face. I’ve thought about suicide more this year than I ever have…
And yet my career feels like it still launched the way I hoped it would in 2020. Am I famous? No. Do more people know who I am? YES. And that’s incredible.
When we went dark in 2020, I remember feeling this great sense of hopelessness. Like this meant my playwriting career was DOA. I already felt so behind everyone else. Other playwrights my age feel so much further than I am and I felt cursed to be forever emerging.
But with the commissions, with all the readings both produced by me and the many others that weren’t, this was the first time I realized my playwriting career was in my hands. It didn’t feel like a question of “if” I’d ever be an established playwright but rather do I even want to be.
The lessons I’ve learned in my isolation feel like blessings (my mom will be happy I used that word). I’ve learned so much about what kind of writer I am, what kind of stories I want to write, and how much power I have and continue to step into. I’ve learned the power of saying no and putting my foot down about it. For the first time in a while, heading into 2021, it feels like my career is up to me. There’s no “have to” anymore for me. If I don’t want to work with a theatre company, I won’t. No matter who they are.
One of my biggest realizations this year was if you take away the physical space, what else can PWI theatre houses offer? Emotional abuse? Neglect? If we’re all virtual and we’re all figuring it out at the same time, doesn’t that level the playing field?
Am I saying RLTC was able to do the same kind of shows that the New York Times recently praised? No, but that was kind of the point. We were doing something else, on purpose. And it worked for us.
That’s the biggest lesson I’m walking away with: Find what works for you. One of the things I learned in 2020 is that for way too long theatre operated in a cookie cutter. Everyone was trying to produce the same kind of show, trying to win the same awards, trying to please the same people
What if we all just said no?
I know 2020 has been a shit show but I hope that as we all begin to look back, we also think about the things that have brought us joy. The people we were able to step into as we were all forged by fire.
Bravery is something that’s really important to me. I want you to know that if you’re still here, if you’ve made it, no matter what condition you’re in, no matter what 2020 has taken from you, we were all really f*cking brave.
*Trust me, as someone who had (has?) a tricky relationship/marriage, I am fully aware how you can still be lonely while you’re partnered. I know that loneliness really well. I am not trying to be dismissive of that. I am saying that honestly in those moments when I had seen NO ONE for DAYS and then my friends would talk about their loneliness (which again, is valid), I wanted to murder them. Just being honest about my feelings, even if they aren’t fair.