Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Is being a lifetime emerging writer like a damn chicken still struggling out of it's original eggshell?

Well this time I ain't making no damn excuses. I'll get to a new blog posting with I damn well get to it. :) It's now July 2008 and I'm slowly becoming entrenched in the deep south city of Atlanta. Atlanta! Damn! I'm still hanging in there even though I've been back to NYC twice since I moved here in February

Before I get to my little subject(How long does the title Emerging Playwright last?) I like to do a little summation of my theater activities since my last post in March 2008. Because I am always in a manic mood to get my creative writing produced or brought to life by live actors, I don't often have time to reflect on the accomplishments (small and large) of the journey of getting it there.

I had just returned from a one-performance only New York production of my newest play: "Osage Avenue" (The MOVE inferno) that opened the Downtown Urban Theater Festival at Cherry Lane Theater and I was struggling with the most severe cold in my entire life. (All the signs pointed to Pneumonia) I got a call from a playwright friend I greatly respect (Owa) and he was complimenting me on the number of times my plays had been brought to life. At first I thought he was just talking about my play at Cherry Lane, but he said I'd had some good success for the year with getting my "shit" up and done. I had to take a moment to think about it. I know Art makes its own way at its own speed. I thought he was over exaggerating with his compliment. I hadn't done anything special. I hadn't made any damn money from anything all year. And I was still wondering when my next play would be produced and where I was going to find a "real" job in Atlanta to keep my old ass under a roof. Always thinking ahead and not really looking behind at the "marks" I made on the road that was getting me to my dreams.

I took stock up what 2008 has done for my career so far. In March I had a controversial play "Last Dance of the Panther Women" go up in Stamford, Connecticut and even though two parts were very miscast, I still was proud that the Producer/Director believed in it enough to put it up with Equity actors. In May I had the last staged reading of my play, "King Willie" in Washington, D.C. by the Essential Theater Company. It was the 6th and final reading for the three year development program that I had committed to. And finally in June, my play "Osage Avenue" (The MOVE) Inferno opened the 2008 DUTF in New York. Wow, three plays to life in six months. And of the three, two plays have good promised futures. "King Willie" is going to be scheduled for Regional Theater considerations with the Essential Theater and "Osage Avenue" has drawn interest in New York and there is now an attempt to get it produced here in Atlanta before the year is out. This reflection makes me feel a little better and respectable. Now the hell with the respect, where is the money?! :)

Enough of that ego reflections. Now for top: Being labeled an Emerging Writer.


I have been writing for over three decades and I have been blessed with having many of my works produced and published. I enter many contest and submit to many theaters all over the country every year. Though I'm aware that the term emerging is usually designated on promising "young" writers, I, who stopped being young a long time ago, have been labeled with that title for maybe over twenty times in the last fifteen years. I was selected as an Emerging Playwright for New York's Theater for the New City, NYC New Perspective Theater, Stamford, Ct Prometheus Fire Theater, Cleveland's Karamu Theater Company, NYC New Federal Theater, new play reading series, NYC Downtown Urban Theater Festival, and a few others that I can't remember. I have been emerging for a long, long time. Like a baby sticking his head out the womb, climbing halfway out, and immediately backtracking into the comfort of the warm darkness.

The only comfort I get from this is that just to be have my plays chosen from the many truly young writers, I am still being considered relevant by younger producers and directors. It is also a sign that what I write is still progressive and fresh. But one of these days someone is going to stop labeling me as a damn EMERGING #*!! PLAYWRIGHT. And then instead of tip-toeing or stumbling towards professional status as a writer as an "emerging" writer does, I'll be recognized as a "real" established professional.

And finally I am working on a new play about a famous black model who partied with Andy Warhol and was the toast of Europe who died of a drug overdose in Rome and who lived her wild life denying her heritage with vehemence. How wonderful self-hatred can be so inspiring. :)