Posts filed under Performing Arts

Hello, Old Friend

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I haven’t opened this script in almost two years. After my post-production dramaturgical meeting, I decided to let The Four Immigrants rest on my bookshelf until the time for revisiting emerged. Thanks to the upcoming concert presentation at USC this fall, that time is now. And while I have thoughts about what I might want to revise, I find myself a tad overwhelmed. How do you even begin to approach something that has been such a huge part of your career? To focus in on the minutiae of something that consumed a large chunk of your time previously, and yielded such memorable and rewarding results? Where do you even start to deconstruct something that has felt so central to your sense of self?

I could learn a lesson here from Grace Lin’s Minli, who, as she gazes upon the Paper of Happiness reads the word that is meant for her: Thankfulness.

I am so thankful for the relationship I have had to The Four Immigrants, both Henry Kiyama’s original work and my adaptation. All of the people I have crossed paths with as a result. And the ways in which I grew.

And it turns out, with thankfulness acknowledged, the script allows itself to be revisited. And the work is no different than before. Bigger picture, specific moments, character arcs all come back when I put aside the idea of how daunting it all is and replace it with a sense of gratitude for what it has all meant. Time to get to work.

Discussing Brecht's GOOD PERSON

Recently, choreographer Natalie Greene and I discussed how we tackled Brecht in Cal Shakes’ current production of THE GOOD PERSON OF SZECHWAN. Take a listen to the podcast episode below! But SPOILER ALERT: Listening is only recommended once you’ve seen the show!

My First Mario Maker Level

This isn’t readily apparent in this blog, but I am a huge Nintendo fan. For a while, I’ve been considering how I might bring my love of video games into the conversation around writing and dramaturgy. In my mind, there’s a lot of connection between video games and storytelling. How a video game unfolds may require unique parameters, but it’s not so different from how a play or musical unfolds. What the audience experiences in real time is key for both artforms - and yes, I definitely consider video games an artform.

Enter Super Mario Maker 2. With its predecessor on the Wii U, I was fine simply playing the levels that people from around the world have created. But last night, I ventured to create my first level. This brought me back to younger days when I would make mazes for friends to solve. I loved making a puzzle and challenging others. So, naturally, my Mario level is a puzzle, a maze. I’m not sure how many more levels I’ll feel inclined to create, but it was fun considering once again how I would both hinder and help a player as they solve the puzzle I made. Some will find it tricky. Some will find it too easy. But, here’s my first Mario Maker level code, for those Switch owners who might want to try it:

94M-QR7-FDG

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How My Writing Style Has Changed

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A friend of mine shared this graphic on Twitter, created by Cheyanna A Lepka. It’s a matrix that details different writing styles. As a person who loves taking personality quizzes, I just had to figure out where I belonged on this matrix. But I was surprised to learn that if I had taken this quiz years ago, I would have ended up in a completely different square.

Years ago, I was a Lawful Plantser. I often knew the endpoint of my plays before aiming to write. I wrote very detailed profiles for characters, faithfully following Lagos Egri’s guidance in The Art of Dramatic Writing. I felt the responsibility of knowing all the ins and outs of my characters and their journeys.

Nowadays, I’d say I’m a Neutral Plotter. I still outline, but hold it less dearly - beat sheets is probably more like it. And I do indeed feel the guilt of wanting to write detailed character bios, but not finding the time to. I’m not sure if the change means that I’ve become more lazy or more confident in my craft. Probably a little of both. I think I’ve learned enough to know that I’m not going to get everything perfect out the gate, so why put so much effort into an outline that is inevitably going to change? I’ve also learned that once the show is handed to other artists, their experience with the piece will fill in any gaps that may be present. I can build as I go.

It’s kind of freeing, actually, to see this matrix, and to realize that none of these writing styles is better than the other. So I don’t need to feel like I’ve fallen short if I no longer find myself being “Lawful.” But alas… the guilt’s still there sometimes.

Thoughts on Travel

Me at Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland. Not all the travel is for work. ;)

Me at Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland. Not all the travel is for work. ;)

The past couple months have been a whirlwind of travel: a residency in Nebraska, a workshop in South Carolina, vacation in Northern Ireland. Next week I head to Atlanta for the TYA/USA National Festival & Conference, and next month I head to the TCG Conference in Miami. This trend of lots-o-traveling started last year, and I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon. Thankfully, I think I have gotten better at traveling over the past year and a half.

How do I know this? For one, I’m not getting sick (knock on wood) as frequently as I was last year. Last year, it seemed that I either started or ended each trip with some sort of cold or flu. I now believe that some of it was actually allergies. So, what’s changed this year? I started taking immunity-building vitamins. I am committed to using my netipot. I’m careful not to touch my face while in the airplane/airport, and wipe down with face wipes after each flight. I take time to stretch and breathe when I can. I try to check in with myself to know what I need and whether I might be pushing myself too much. I stay hydrated.

I also think last year, I had a very “go-go-go” mentality about it all. And this year, I’m trying to practice steadying my drive. All that needs to be accomplished will be accomplished. I don’t need to be running on all cylinders to get there. So, while the travel itinerary doesn’t seem to be thinning out anytime soon, my approach to it has shifted, helping me feel like I’m in control of my schedule, rather than the other way around.