Interests:Poetry, theatre, film, yoga Expertise: Playwriting American Triage : Play commissioned by Marin Theatre Company 2006; 2007 MTC Nu Werkz series; 2008 MTC workshop production; 2011 East L.A. Rep staged reading.
Braided Sorrow : 2005 Bay Area Playwrights Festival; 2006 Ford Amphitheatre Latina/o Summer Play Reading Series; 2006 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in Drama; September 2008, world premiere, El Centro Su Teatro, Denver, CO; 2009 Pen Center USA Literary Award for Drama.
Woman on Fire 2006 Primer Pasos; 2007 full-length commission by the Latino Playwrights Initiative; 2007 Bay Area Playwrights Festival BASH; 2008 Playwrights Foundation’s Rough reading series; 2012 Teatro Luna’s Lunadas reading series. Occupation:Playwright, Poet
It's been super sunny and warm here in the Bay Area. I spent all last weekend running around and loving the weather.
Friday my good friend Angel came into town. She and I both arrived in the Bay Area at the same time, both moving from Texas to come out for grad school. We both only knew one other person--Dean. And Dean had a life of his own so he introduced us to one another.
Angel and I spent our grad school years running around SF trying to see and do whatever we could on our limited budgets. We once volunteered at a crab festival (which was hectic and poorly organized) so that we could get in free. We once found $20 on the ground near a bus stop and promptly took ourselves to dinner. We once couldn't escape Halloween in the Castro and I fell down when I tripped because earthquakes can lead to broken up sidewalks. Angel looked down at me and asked in a lackluster tone that cracked us both up, "Are you alright?" We once got a sugar high at Happy Donuts and cracked up at the drawing of a pot leaf accompanied by "I love pot" that someone wrote on the wall there. We immediately crank called Dean. We spent many a Thursday night dancing to 80s music at the Cat Club. It was a fun and pretty carefree time for both of us, before graduation and the return to the 9 to 5 grind.
Some guy drew this picture of us and then sold it to us. I framed it.
Angel now lives in Florida, but that didn't stop her from flying out to celebrate her birthday. So on Friday I took a half day off from work and we had lunch followed by tea above Yerba Buena. It was great. A little one-on-one time before her Saturday birthday party.
I went grocery shopping first thing in the morning because I wanted to catch an early afternoon CalTrain to Redwood City for Angel's party. I found what I thought was a small watermelon (turns out it yielded quite a bit) to make tequila-soaked watermelon slices.
It was sunny and warm on the peninsula. Me and my watermelon arrived around 3pm and I didn't catch a train back until 9:41pm (CalTrain is not only precise but on time--nice!).
The party was at the home of Angel's brother who moved out to the Bay Area right after Angel and I graduated. There was food, drink, watermelon and lots of sunshine.
It was a good day. I got home close to 11pm or so. So it was a long day.
Sunday I got up early to take a phone call. I sit on my alma mater's Alumni Council and was chatting with another alum because I unfortunately was going to miss the afternoon call the council had scheduled.
After my chat I started getting ready because I had a ticket to see the final performance of The Dead Girl by Ann Brebner. Both Ann and I were in AlterLab last year together when she wrote The Dead Girl. I had meant to go up sooner but I had been sick during the first two weeks of the run. So there I was headed to the North Bay worried that somehow the Bay to Breakers run was going wreak havoc on my ability to take public transit.
But first I headed to the book store. You see, for Angel's birthday I had bought her Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. And after watching this YouTube clip I decided I wanted my own copy.
I laughed so hard!
So my plan was to swing by Green Apple Books on my way to the bus stop to buy the book only on my way to Green Apple I realized the shirt I was wearing was too heavy. I was hot. It was hot out. I was sweating. And my flipflops were kinda not good for all the walking I needed to do today. Plus I could so see myself getting sunburn on my feet and that happened once when I was in high school and isn't terribly fun.
Change of plans. I bought the book and immediately returned home to change my shirt and shoes and then hoofed it to the bus stop.
Now, usually I'm terrible at timing this trip. I realize that I won't make it to the Golden Gate Bride in time to catch the bus to San Rafael and in a panic call a cab. Well, Sunday I was on top of it. I early. If I was lucky I might catch the 1:19pm bus and get to San Rafael a full hour before I needed to be there. Then I'd be able to read the book I had just bought. And being at the bus stop a good hour before I normally would be there was my way of compensating for the Bay to Breakers Run which I figured might affect how the buses were running.
So there I am waiting for the 28 (the bus that takes me to the Golden Gate Bridge where I catch the Golden Gate Transit bus to San Rafael) at 1pm with the 28 about 17 minutes away. So, I figured I wouldn't make that 1:19 bus. Oh well, I'll take the 2:19 and still arrive in time for the show.
The 28 arrived in 17 minutes and promptly took us to the bridge. I think the bus arrived early because we arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge and it was close to 1:20 and I thought well, sometimes the buses are a few minutes late I might get lucky and catch that 1:19pm bus after all. When we got the bridge I ran to my second bus stop and picked up a pamphlet for the bus schedules. Interestingly enough the pamphlet said my bus would arrive at 1:26pm! So much for the internet.
I even had time to snap a quick picture. Gorgeous! I love this city.
Lo and behold an express did arrive close to 1:30 and I hopped right on it.
I got to San Rafael a good hour before the show so I headed to Starbucks to read my book, but while I was there I ran into Richard. Richard is AlterTheater's Literary Manager. I hadn't seen him for a while so over iced coffees we caught up and talked about theatre.
Before we knew it, it was almost 3pm so we headed over to see Ann's play. It was great to see Ann's work realized, especially since I've heard early drafts of it and even once gave her a writing exercise for a monologue that ended up in the play. I'm not a reviewer, but you can read what this one said about the play (spoiler alert: he liked it).
After the show Richard and I were invited to have dinner with the cast so we went for drinks why the set was struck. Richard introduced me to the Midori Sour and we continued our conversation about all things theatre.
Neither of us could stay long after dinner as we both had respective buses to catch. We talked about plays we'd send to one another and parted ways at the transit center.
I jumped on a bus that took me through Sausalito before heading over the bridge. Let me just say, there's a reason why people pay top dollar to live there. The water was lovely in the rays of the setting sun. With the fog beginning to make its way in I preferred the ocean side to the view of the city.
I transferred to the 28 and got home just at the sun was dipping below the horizon. A long, lovely day.
Once again inspiration struck while I was doing my hair. You may laugh, but I find it's during those daily routines that we do...well...daily, that our minds have the opportunity to wander. My thoughts tend to wander like that when I'm washing dishes, washing my hair or blowing drying my hair. All three take up time and all three don't require a lot of brain power to accomplish the task at hand.
Lately though, my thoughts haven't wandered to writing. I've been preoccupied thinking about my day job. But this morning, I found myself thinking about Wolf at the Door. I was thinking about its theatricality and found myself thinking about sound.
My first play, Braided Sorrow, had a sound motif that ran through the entire play. Water. Water dripping, coursing, surging, crashing. The sound was connected to the character La Llorona--the mother from Latino mythology who drowned her children. And while I really liked using sound to shape moments in the narrative, I haven't really used it in the same way since Braided Sorrow.
Now Wolf at the Door has some sound already in the script, but it's not used in the same way. So I began thinking of trying to use the wolf howls in a more theatrical way and figured out a possible new opening to the play. This new opening potentially solves one of the issues that arose during the last read through, that is, it was unclear how Septimo had hurt Isadora and how her injury caused her to go into labor.
So here's what I'm thinking for the opening scene:
In the dark the sound of a lone wolf howl. Other wolf howls join in building into a cacophony of sound. The howling dissolves into the sound of a single wolf growling and snapping. The sound lowers as a spotlight comes up on ISADORA. Very pregnant, she wears a nightgown and has a faded black eye. She holds up her hands as if to calm an unseen person.
ISADORA: (desperate) Wait.
The disembodied voice of SEPTIMO shouts "Move!" ISADORA is hurled, belly first, into the wall. Lights up as she sinks to the floor clutching her belly. She inhales sharply, obviously in serious pain.
I can't wait to get back into my rewrites. Draft 2 here I come!
You know me, I love riffing off that Coleridge line. This week is my week of meeting with, talking to and hanging out with directors--I love it! Especially when talking results in mini creative breakthroughs.
Earlier this week I met director Susannah Martin for tea at Samovar. And what a lovely evening it was for it. The weather was warm, but not too warm. The sun didn't set until like 8pm so we had lots of light when we left and walked through a bit of Yerba Buena. Anyhoo, talking to her got my creative wheels a'turning and I had a mini breakthrough. I say "mini" because it was the completion of a thought. A thought I had been trying to figure out for some time and had hoped my upcoming developmental production of Heart Shaped Nebula would help me solve.
Oh yeah, did I mention I have a developmental production of Nebula? More details on that soon.
But back to the mini breakthrough. I've been trying to complete a thought or idea or tie up a narrative thread when it comes to the character of Amara. And I think I may have it. It's a small detail. But something that I'll need to weave into the play and I hope it works the way I think it will. We'll see I guess.
Anyway, Susannah and I had a great conversation. I can't wait to do that again with her.
As for the other directors, I have a phone call on Saturday slated with a director and we'll be talking about that aforementioned developmental production. We were supposed to talk like two weeks ago but my sore throat made it impossible lest I go into a coughing fit or completely lose it during the call.
And rounding out my week of directors is Paul Cello. We're having brunch this Sunday. Whoo! I love brunch. Don't know why I don't do it more often.
So now that I'm all better I'm busy busy busy running around. Which reminds me, I have like three plays I need to see in the next month. Busy busy busy, indeed.
Well, that was a very unpleasant two weeks. Usually when I lapse in my blogging like that it's due to travel. No such luck. I was in fact sick. A nasty cold similar to the one that kept me homebound at the beginning of this year. Only this cold brought a friend along, a friend called intense back pain.
I've had back issues since high school. And after college when I threw my back out for the first time, my back became very sensitive and prone to injury. It goes without saying that I'm über careful about carrying or lifting heavy objects. Careful about my posture. Careful about how hard I push myself in workouts. So I was quite surprised when two weeks ago I began to feel pain. Not just muscle pain, but nerve pain. I was surprised because I knew that I hadn't done anything to injury myself. Long story short my back made sitting very challenging the past week and a half. And thus I was lying down whenever possible.
This resulted in me doing the only thing I could do when confined to lying down on my futon to rest my back: watch movies.
I love watching movies, but usually to relax or recharge my creative batteries. But this time I kept wishing I could sit up and type. Rewrites they were a'calling, but believe me when I say it: sitting was painful.
So it was me, my heating pad and several, several movies via Netflix, On Demand and my personal collection. Highlights include Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral, The Pact, The Giant Mechancial Man, the latest season of The IT Crowd (that episode of Bad Boys cracks me up!), The Hedgehog and John Dies At The End (which was amazing, especially the flying moustache--that made me sit right up).
I can't help myself. This show makes me laugh.
So that was my past two weeks. Thankfully the back is much improved. I hope to dive (gently) into rewrites this weekend.
My days kind of blur together. It's the frantic pace at my day job. I really should start keeping a diary again in order to keep track of the days. Meaning, keep track of all the small moments and events that add up to a life.
Perhaps I can do a bit of that here with a recap of all that's transpired.
Here's what happened:
I wrote my final blog post for TheatreFace where I've been a featured blogger for a year an a half. I had to part ways because I began to notice that I was spending too much time and energy composing those bi-monthly blog posts. That is, too much time and energy in comparison to working on my plays. I have limited free time and wanted to prioritize my playwriting.
After work I wandered around downtown to do a bit of shopping and eventually found my way to Haight street because I wanted to go to Amoeba. Aside from a huge selection of music, they have a good amount of movies and I was going specifically to pick up Ginger Snaps. Last time I was at Amoeba they had it. "Had it" past tense because it is no longer there.
The Fitgerald sisters look equally disappointed that I was unable to find/buy their movie.
Disappointed I picked my way through several movie genres before leaving with Amelie (I have the VHS and was glad to upgrade it), Fright Night (the 80s version of course) and An American Werewolf in London (which included a second DVD complete with a featurette about the movie). Joy was mine as all three were $5 or less. Whoo!
I discovered that my refrigerator is indeed on its last leg the proof of which was in the milk (not pudding) that came plopping out of its container. This of course made me weary to trust most of the food in the fridge. Thankfully a torta shop opened up two blocks away and I was super happy with my torta de milanesa with a good side of nostalgia.
I spent the morning working on a 10 page excerpt for a submission. And while I got everything I wanted to fit into 10 pages, I now wonder if they are the right 10 pages.
After lunch I headed to the Mission to meet Heather, a director based in the South Bay who happened to be in SF for the day. I walked up and down Valencia street dismayed at the gentrification. I know it's good for the businesses who were there before the transition, but man alive it was kinda sad to see the street scrubbed of any personality and individuality. Times they are a'changing. Heather and I talked theatre over coffee and dinner (at least the pupuseria I like is still there).
I got up early to do laundry because Sunday afternoon was going to be all about Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen. Aside from laundry I spent the morning continuing my work on the submission I'm working on. And I have to say, I've developed a true gift--if I do say so myself--for trimming down summaries/synopses/artistic statements to meet word count guidelines. I trimmed a 168 word summary to 150 without really losing much. Which means I probably had a few unnecessary words/phrases to begin with. Either way I'm close to finishing the submission. I just need to work on the cover letter and finalize that 10 page excerpt.
But back to Lawrence of Arabia. I met my best friend at the Castro Theatre were we spent 4 glorious hours watching one of the greatest movies of all time. It was amazing. I had purposely not watched it (I own it) for a while because I wanted to truly enjoy this experience. What a visually stunning movie.
See that speck in the distance? That's Omar Sharif making his entrance (you may need to click on the image to see him). This scene makes you marvel at the scale of the desert.
The movie started at 2pm and we got out at 6pm. So there was little energy for house cleaning when I got home.
So that was my weekend. So much was done, so much still to do.