And so it begins. As the year ends, everyone writes about the year we’ve had, the highs, the lows, the lessons we’ve learned, and all of our hopes for the future. In the past, I’ve done the same. So I’m not judging anyone who is trying to make sense of this nonsense year.
But after the 2020 I’ve had, I’m just not interested in pretending like I needed this sh*t show of a year to grow as an artist. I don’t want to talk about what I hope to carry forward and what I hope theatre learns from this pandemic. Because, frankly, 2020 broke my heart in every possible way. And I’m not ready to add a glossy resolution finish to 2020 right now. My heartbreak will carry over into 2021. Theatre will continue to disappoint me in 2021. My personal life will continue to be a mess in 2021.
So what am I popping bottles at midnight for?
I’ve spent a lot of time the last few days thinking about my career and what I want from life. It feels like everyone I’ve talked to lately has the same story:
I went to [Yale, Brown, Northwestern, NYU] and I just felt like I wasn’t challenged, you know? So then I traveled around, broke, and really rediscovered the kind of stories I wanted to tell. One time I randomly woke up in [Australia, England, Germany] and was like “How did I get here?” But it really shaped my career. So anyway, I moved back stateside and now I’m talking to [major theatre] about producing my show. Oh, and I got on [TV show]. Lol I’m still just figuring it out you know?
Honestly, as much as I want magic powers, I’m really happy they don’t exist because telepathy would end me. I’m very good at keeping my face straight while thinking “please just f*cking murder me.”
Good for them, you know? I’m glad they found themselves.
I’ve been doing theatre and just theatre since I was 20. Should I have gotten a one-way ticket to London? Should I have moved in with my family in Belize to “build character”? Would that make me a more compelling theatre artist? I keep trying to figure out what I’m missing. Am I just too committed? I always thought I came to theatre late but maybe it’s the way I came to it that’s unexciting?
My least favorite thing in the world is when theatre opportunities/interviews say “Tell us about yourself” and it can’t be a bio. Like, can you just read the play please? I have had nothing but theatre jobs since I was TWENTY and, a decade later, I’m not sure what I have to show for it. I don’t have some super interesting story about how I came to be. I just did. I woke up one day and said “yeah I’ll do that” and then I did it.
A couple of years back someone asked me “what made you”and I hated it. Me. I made me. What else is there to say?
I have no idea what I’d do if I didn’t do this. Something with some financial security would be nice.
Also, why do I feel like a failure at 31? Isn’t this usually the time when other people in other careers are just now beginning to rise? I’m someone who has plans for their plans so I keep analyzing my missteps trying to figure out where I went wrong.
Did I stay in Arkansas too long? But I needed that time to figure out who I was and what I wanted.
Should I not have moved to Madison? But there’s no way I would’ve have had the space and support for RLTC and RLTC is my favorite thing about 2020.
Should I have just immediately moved to LA after undergrad and worked from the bottom there? But I needed the space from LA.
Should I have stuck with management and not pursued playwriting? Am I just a better manager than I am a writer?
But I love it. Being a writer feels like a core part of me.
If there’s one takeaway I’ve learned from 2020, it’s “F*ck your plans.” I’m starting to realize that whatever is going to happen is going to happen, whether I like it or not. I’ve been obsessed with success. I’ve been obsessed with when other people would “notice” me and awards and lists. I’ve been dying for someone to go “Rachel is a genius/special/extraordinary.”
But maybe I’m not and maybe that’s okay. I’ve written 39 full-length plays. I wrote 8 full length plays this year. Of those 8 plays, only two were commissioned. Which means I wrote 6 plays because it’s what I absolutely love to do. I couldn’t stop if I tried.
I’m tired of having plans. So, looking ahead to 2021, I have no resolutions, I have no game plan. My only goal is to find happiness and fight like hell for it.
As the prophet says, “You haven’t met the new me yet.”