I turned down my dream job.
Or at least what I thought was my dream job. For years, I’ve been saying it would be a dream come true to be the Director of New Work/Literary Manager at a theatre company. I’m constantly reading plays anyway and making lists of my favorite plays. I really wanted to be on the other side of the table and advocate for playwrights. I wanted to work from the inside and change the system.
But as Audre Lorde says “the master’s tools will never destroy the master’s house.”
I’ve seen a lot of friends get into these theatre companies and I see the way these companies run them down to the ground, don’t pay them well, and don’t listen to them either. And I’m so thankful to them for fighting the good fight. But, if you read this blog, you know how drained I’ve been. Even if I thought the master’s tools could dismantle the master’s house, I don’t have the energy right now.
So I turned the job down. Well, actually what happened was I accepted the job but then after panic attacks of looking at how my calendar would go, I told them I wasn’t coming. Not my finest moment. Probably burned some bridges. But I had to pick me.
This is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. When I quit my jobs before, I was still living with Josh and I didn’t have to pay rent. And sure I still had to pay bills but I had a steady security blanket. I don’t have that right now. I have to leave my apartment by August 10.
The question is where to?
I’ve never been as overwhelmed of the size of the United States as I’ve been recently. For a while, the options literally seemed limitless. I had already found an apartment in Orlando. Did I still move there and just not take the job? Did I finally move to Brooklyn and just accept that I’d have to have roommates again? Did I move to Chicago? Buffalo?
I need to move somewhere where I can take some time for myself but also can find work quickly around October but that work also needs to be work I can walk away from if I get staffed on a TV show. That doesn’t leave a lot of options.
If that’s what I want.
Something I really love about the showrunner I’m working with right now is he said he knew he was a showrunner. Even before he ever got into TV. He just knew. I think that’s true for a lot of us. We know what we’re supposed to do, we just don’t know how.
I am not a showrunner. I know that. I cannot put into words how much I’ve loved being the room, learning about TV, and how much I want to keep staffing. But I’m not a showrunner.
I’m a playwright. Discovering plays felt like discovering myself.
Thing is, being a playwright means being a playwright and. I haven’t figured out the “and” yet. I love teaching but I hate academia. And I think regional theatre is broken so I don’t really want to work for a broken system that burns people down to the ground and then trades them out when they’ve got nothing left.
Right now, my dream is to staff on 2-3 different shows (8-10 week rooms) each year and then do playwriting the rest of the year.
I don’t want to head a room nor do I think I’d be good at it. I have some ideas for TV but I’ve been told they’re not good so if I’m just staffing, that works for me. I don’t think I’m great at writing TV but I’m still learning. Writing is really just figuring out the game and I love a challenge. I know I could get to a point where I could become a writer folks really want in the room. Between my ability to research quickly and my varied interests, I think I can add a lot to any room honestly, even if I’m not the most brilliant TV-storytelling writer.
I’ve narrowed it down to LA or Minneapolis. I’m strongly leaning towards Minneapolis. There’s a lot of theatre there. I think I could find work quickly and it’s not super expensive to live there. I could also network fairly well and I have friends there. I also have a really silly, dumb reason for Minneapolis that I won’t share but that’s also adding some weight to my decision.
LA I could live rent free for a bit while I wait to get staffed and the rooms aren’t going to be virtual much longer and if staffing is the end goal then it makes a lot of sense to just move now while I can. The problem is moving back to LA means facing my family and that’s something I’m not sure I’m ready for yet.
Also, to put it as plainly as I can, it feels like LA means choosing TV and Minneapolis means choosing theatre. I know there’s theatre in LA but lolololol okay. I’d have a stronger chance getting a New York premiere and then moving to LA to do theatre and I still haven’t been produced in the city. Even though I was born there, folks would still see my as an outsider and I’m not famous enough to break through.
Maybe it’s not a dramatic as it seems and I want to keep believing that the universe has my back. Sure, I may have burned some bridges and I feel really bad about that. I didn’t expect any of this to play out the way it has.
Today, I got an amazing compliment. Someone whose opinion is really important to me said “You’re hot to the page as a writer. Other people notice that too.” So maybe I made a mistake by turning down the dream job, maybe I’ve pissed off the wrong people
But I’ve (still) got me. And like I said in my last post, I couldn’t stop writing plays if I tried. I know what I want to do. I need to figure out the how.