"Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better." - Adam Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Last week, I was in Chicago for ConFest 2018 - the bi-annual gathering hosted by the Consortium of Asian American Theatres and Artists (CAATA). Upon returning, I set out to write a blog post outlining my experience at ConFest, but found that words fell short. Randy Reyes of Theater Mu recently wrote an article for American Theatre magazine, and it seems he faced the same issue. He writes:
How would I be able to summarize the experiences of attendees who used adjectives like “inspiring,” “incredible,” “exhausted,” “life-affirming,” “breathtaking,” “amazing” and “life changing”?
So similarly, I'll just post his article here in lieu of a blog post. And if you're really curious why ConFest was so "inspiring," "incredible," etc., you can ask me in person next time you see me! ;)
After two days of recording in January, followed by six months of squeezing in studio time, the original cast album for THE FOUR IMMIGRANTS: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL MANGA is finally here! On Monday, we celebrated with a release party at the Opal Nightclub in downtown Mountain View, hosted by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Of course, I have had access to the album's files for a few weeks now, as we were waiting for the CDs to be published. But the excitement from folks at the party was so invigorating and uplifting, I was filled with gratitude. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the journey of THE FOUR IMMIGRANTS so far. Now, with this album, more people will be able to experience the music of the show. And hopefully, it will help us get to a second production soon enough!
Last night, at the Potrero Stage, we presented our first ever public reading of KINDA HOME... kinda. We only presented Act I, because there is no music written yet for Act II. Brad and I learned so much through the process and working with director Leslie Martinson. And Playwrights Foundation graciously let us crash their Festival venue since it wasn't being used this particular evening. As always, having actors embody the characters brought so much clarity to their relationships, as well as honed our understanding of the pacing and flow of the piece. We had a great turnout last night as well (thanks to all who attended!), with many remarking they couldn't wait to find out how Act II plays out. Neither can we!
For the last two weeks of June, I got to participate in Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Ground Floor Summer Lab. What's great about Ground Floor is that they offer playwrights freedom to work on and explore their plays as needed; they do not require any kind of presentation. Some writers end up sitting in a room and typing away. Others hold public readings of their work, like I did for my play Calafia: A Reimagining. I haven't been able to finish a first full draft of the play yet, but I learned so much from discussions with my director, dramaturg, and actors -- as well as from audience feedback after our reading. I'm excited to see what directions Calafia will take as a result of the exploring, churning, and learning that happened during Ground Floor!