• Found Excerpt

    I found this excerpt cut out from what I presume is a New Yorker magazine article (from looking at what was on the back of the text). I found it in my old supervisor’s office. She left our organization last October and I was in her office taking a private call when I glanced over at the clippings left on her wall. Most were related to our work, but then there was this long rectangular clipping taped at eye level.

    I gently pulled it from the wall and read it.

    Gauguin went on to Tahiti, to become–through his effect on Picasso and also on the entire Malraux-Hemingway generation–a central type of the modern artist. There is another kind of moral luck, though, appealed to by van Gogh in his late pictures and letters, different from the flamboyant self-creation of the more familiar Gauguin-Picasso sort. It is the moral luck of making something that no one wants in the belief that someone someday will. The letters of van Gogh’s last year mark his acceptance of his isolation, coupled with the belief that the isolation, coupled with the belief that the isolation need not be absolute–that, one day, there will be a community of readers and viewers who will understand him, and that his mistake had been to try and materialize that community in the moment instead of accepting it as the possible gift of another world and time. “One must seize the reality of one’s fate and that’s that.” The real community is not that of charmed artists living like monks but the distant dependencies of isolated artists and equally isolated viewers, who together make the one kind of community that modernity allows.

    The turn toward moral luck puts modern art, however popular, at permanent odds with the society that delights in it. Whether it its benign, wishful form, or in its belligerent “Watch me!” aspect, the pursuit of moral luck remains alien to a liberal civilization that always, and usually intelligently, prefers compromise to courage, and morning meetings to evening dares. Even the shoppers and speculators who wager on the future value of a work of art are engaged at best in a kind of mimicry of the original risk. A society of sure things needs a mythology of long shots. To trust in luck is to be courageous, and courage, the one essential virtue, on which all others depend, is also the one ambiguous virtue, since it is morally neutral: jerks have it as often as gentlemen.

    Here’s to being courageous.

  • Andromeda and Perseus

    I’m an imagist. I draw a lot of inspiration from images and like to incorporate images into my work. When I begin writing a play I tend to go through a period of image gathering. For Heart Shaped Nebula I found quite a few images of Andromeda and Perseus. I had hoped to find images that matched the visual I in my head.

    You see those stars there. That’s Perseus. The meteor shower is called the Perseid meteor shower because it looks like the meteors are coming from that constellation.

    The stars that make up the constellation of Perseusappear in the sky.

    And there’s Andromeda, Perseus’ beloved.

    The stars that make up the constellation of Andromeda appear in the sky. As DALILA tells the story, artistic representations of Andromeda in chains and Perseus with his sword raised in battle, carrying the head of Medusa appear over the stars, but do not block out their light.

    That’s from my play. That’s the image I had in my head. And currently designers are working to figure out just how they’ll represent that on stage.

    As for me, I managed to find it. The image I had in my head turns up exists online (thank you, Internet). And I sent it along to help inspire the designers.

    And now, I’ll share them with you.

    First, Andromeda. Credit: NASA, ESA, and STScI

    And Perseus. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STScI) and A. Fujii (for STScI)


  • Chicago Friends and Friends With Chicago Connections

    And by “connections” I mean theatre connections and/or friends who like theatre.

    Here it is, my big push to invite people to the developmental production of Heart Shaped Nebula. My play goes up in Chicago this September at Halcyon Theatre at part of their 2013 Alcyone Festival.

    Heart Nebula, yes there actually is one.

    What’s the play about?

    Glad you asked. Here’s the synopsis:

    Set on the anniversary of a tragic accident, a motel room outside Las Vegas becomes the nexus of memory, reincarnation, love, and the nature of the universe. And for 34-year old Miqueo and 13-year old Amara, nothing is quite what it seems.

    That’s the official synopsis. Unofficially I’ll say Heart Shaped Nebula is a love story on many levels. Not just a love story between two characters, but my own. So many things I love are in this play: Astronomy, Greek myths, science, an obscure reference to NikolaTesla, an obscure reference to an 80s Sizzlean commercial, nostalgia for my home state of Texas and a love poem.

    When is it?

    The festival schedule is up and Heart Shaped Nebula performances are:

    Friday, September 6 at 8pm.
    Sunday, September 8 at 6 p.m.
    Friday, September 13 at 8 p.m.
    Saturday, September 21 at 8 p.m.

    How can you attend?

    Tickets can be purchased online.

    Hope you can make it!

  • Wolf At The Door Rewrites Are Underway

    I spent almost the entire weekend working on rewrites and draft number three of Wolf at the Door is coming along nicely.

    Aside from delving deeper into Septimo’s dark psyche and personal background, I had a kind of wonderful realization about the use of silence. There are two moments when, in the dark, someone encounters another person who is hiding. It suddenly made more sense that those moments would begin with a big of hesitancy that would turn into curiosity. I was reminded not to rush through those moments. And now those moments have a more measured pace to them which I quite like.

    I’m curious to uncover if there are more moments where silence/discover or silence/hesitation can be used in the script. We’ll see.

    More soon,

  • Heart Shaped Nebula in Chicago: One Month Away!

    That’s right, in little less than a month the Alcyone Festival at Halcyon Theatre kicks off featuring Heart Shaped Nebula and several other awesome playwrights, all of which happen to be women.

    In related news (as in related to Heart Shaped Nebula‘s plot), the Perseid meteor shower ramps up this weekend. I wish I could get some place far away from the light pollution and fog (I usually love you, but not during August).

    So if you happen to be somewhere where there isn’t a blanket of fog covering your night sky, I recommend heading out away from the lights of cities and towns to stargaze and catch the 2013 Perseid meteor shower.

    And if you’re in Chicago, or will be during the month of September, I recommend going to check out the Alcyone Festival plays.

    See you in a month, Chicago!

  • Playwright Happy Hour, Dinner and a Swimming Pig

    Yesterday I remembered that playwright Christine Evans was in town. I quickly sent her a message to find out if we could meet up. She was in San Francisco for a few days breaking up the extra long trip from Australia (where she’s from) to Washington D.C. where she lives and works.

    Turns out I caught her on her final day here in SF and she offered to meet me for Happy Hour in the Richmond District which just happens to be my neighborhood. So we met at The Bitter End, an Irish pub just two blocks from my place.

    How do I know Christine?

    Christine was an early mentor of mine. She came to USF to teach a semester of playwriting during my second year of grad school. Not that my graduate program included playwriting, it doesn’t. Christine was coming to teach an undergraduate course and I–after collaborating with El Teatro Jornalero! for a little over a year–was beginning to wonder just how to go about writing a play.

    So I audited Christine’s course and and set out to write my first play by the end of the semester. It was Christine who recommended I submit my play Braided Sorrow to the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. And it was that festival that put me on course to switch genres.

    Well, it’s been a good while since I’ve seen Christine. So we caught up over a pint.

    And then the person she was planning to have dinner with arrived. Lo and behold it was Ginny Reed. Ginny is a director I know through my dramaturg Nakissa. Ginny and I have been to many dinner parties and gatherings hosted by our friend Nakissa. And since Nakissa has been out of town a lot this year, I haven’t seen much of Ginny for some.

    So drinks turned into a dinner invite and we headed to a Thai restaurant nearby to catch up some more.

    And when Ginny and Christine were talking about the rising sea levels and a potential play that might come out of that topic another related topic arose–mermaids. Or rather, performers pretending to be mermaids. Christine mentioned the ones in Florida and that’s when I brought up Ralph the Swimming Pig.

    Just 30 minutes from my hometown in Texas is another town called San Marcos which is home to Aquarena Springs. It was a sort of water resort park all centered around a fresh water spring. I remember going there as a kid to ride in the glass bottom boats, I remember the spherical sky ride that took people over the park and of course I remember the mermaid/submarine theatre and its star Ralph the Swimming Pig.

    Check out this article in Popular Mechanics about the Mermaid Theater.

    Turns out Aquarena Springs’ heyday was right around the time I went as a kid. A few years back the resort was closed and all the development has been or is in the process of being removed in order to return the fresh water springs to its natural state.

    I know that’s the right thing to do, to preserve this environmental wonder. But I can’t help but look back fondly on my memories of mermaids and a swimming pig called Ralph.

  • To Do List

    • Finish rewrites on that grant application. Finish all the materials I’m responsible for.
    • Work on and complete my New Dramatist application.
    • Rewrites.
    • Work out.
    • Clean house.
    • Buy a plane ticket for October.
    • Pay bills.
    • Finally figure out if I indeed have to take the GRE.
    • Start studying for the GRE.
    • Start shopping for Christmas. Yes, I start way early. It helps prevent me from spending a lot of money in December.
    • Overhaul my garden.
    • Donate to Goodwill.
  • “This Play Was Written For YOU!”

    That’s what friend and fellow playwright Prince Gomolvilas said to me when we spotted one another across the aisle yesterday at the final reading of his new play The Brothers Paranormal at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival.

    After the show he reiterated that statement, adding, “You love scary movies, you love to cry. You’re the perfect audience for this play.”

    And he’s right. I love scary movies (you should see my Netflix queue) and I love theatre that reaches into my chest, grabs hold of my heart and squeezes.

    Prince knows this about me because we’ve been friends since 2005 when we both were in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (that was his second appearance at BAPF and my first). Since then, even though he’s based in Los Angeles, we keep up with each other’s work–I attend Jukebox Stories every time it comes to the Bay Area and he’s kept up with my work, even teaching one of my plays.

    Prince (left) and musician Brandon Patton (right) performing Jukebox Stories.

    So I was more than happy to trek from my foggy neighborhood in the Inner Richmond to sunny Potrero Hill where Thick House is located (the theatre space that BAPF uses for its festival). I left my little home around 2:30 pm and got home around 10pm. Yes, almost 8 hours later–I love when theatre turns into a party.

    The Brother Paranormal is full of humor, scares and emotional explorations of both death and the psychological toll of leaving a life behind when immigrating to a new country. It was funny, scary, poignant, riffed on the horror genre in expected (and fun) ways, but still managed to surprise and delight with the unexpected turns the narrative took.

    After the reading I headed over to a dinner party held in Prince’s honor at a near by sushi restaurant where I caught up a bit with another theatre friend, met some fans of Prince’s work who attend all of his Bay Area shows, met an actor from the reading whom I hadn’t met before and of course chatted with Prince a bit as he floated from table to table.

    It was the perfect way to end the night and I hopped on the 22 bus to begin my trek back to my place very happy. Very happy, indeed.


  • An End To Radio Silence

    Wow. The last time I blogged was at the beginning of this month. I think that’s the longest quiet spell I’ve had on this blog since I started it in 2005.

    So I’m back.

    Where was I?

    In Texas. 

    For 10 great days I was visiting my family, getting rained on, baking, lounging around, playing with my sobrinos and just relaxing.

    It was awesome.

    But that was just ten days. What else have I been up to this month?

    Well, at the beginning of the month I spend 4th of July in Dolores Park. I was there almost all day in order to get a good seat to watch the San Francisco Mime Troupe‘s first performance of their new play. This is a July 4th tradition for the Mime Troupe, you see. And a tradition for many, many San Franciscans.

    We ate, we drank lots of fluids, we got a little tan. Don’t laugh when I say it was hot. It was. This Tejana has been living in mostly fog for 11 years now and she’s acclimated to the temperature range (50 to maybe 70s) so anything hotter than normal is kind of a shock to her system. And by hers I mean mine.


    SF Mime Troupe offers free performances in parks. Go check them out!

    Top: Velina Brown, Lisa Hori-Gracia, Bottom: Hugo Carbajal, Rotimi Agbabiaka

    The second weekend of the month I attended a retreat for AlterTheater. I brought in a second draft of Wolf at the Door and got lots of good feedback and ideas to propel me into rewrites. Which I need to start doing soon.

    The rest of the retreat was awesome as it gave me a chance to hear what my fellow AlterLab playwrights (Larissa, Denmo and Ann) are working on, plus connect with Jeanette at AlterTheater. And, of course I love heading over to Ann’s house. One of these days I will snap a picture of it and post it here on the blog.

    Then I went on vacation. Which was great. I needed it. Seriously. And aside from family time, getting rained on and seeing animatronic dinosaurs at the Witte Museum, I got the chance to see Travis Bedard who is neither animatronic nor a dinosaur.

    Travis is a theatre friend who I met online (he commented on a blog post, I think). While I wasn’t able to see him perform in a current production of The Pillowman, I did get to have dinner with him to talk theatre and catch up. Which we did.

    I flew back on a Sunday morning and spent the rest of the day recovering from having to get up so early.

    And this past Monday rehearsals started up in Chicago for my developmental production of Heart Shaped Nebula, which meant that I also had a nice long chat with my director to go over the script. I’m super excited about the production and cannot wait to head up to Chicago for it.

    Lastly, I went to a potluck dinner with a few Latino theatre artists to have a conversation about what they want and need. We had a great time and a few really cool ideas came out of that evening. The first is that we want to connect more with other Latino theatre artists–know who’s here, what they’re doing. So we started a Facebook group for Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists. So, if you’re reading this and you’re here in the Bay Area and a Latino theatre artist, we invite you to join.

    That’s pretty much a recap of my July. A theatre retreat, a vacation, a potluck, a phone call, rewrites…oh and I played Scrabble (almost broke 300) and finally got to see my dramaturg after many, many months.

    And this weekend I’m going to see a reading of a new play by a friend. More on that tomorrow.


  • Heart Shaped Nebula News: Chicago Bound!

    I have great news. Heart Shaped Nebula is going to be part of Halcyon Theatre’s 2013 Alcyone Festival.

    I am super excited to return to Chicago this fall to see Nebula up on its feet. A big thank you to Tony and Jenn Adams for making Nebula one of the plays in the festival this year.

    And in preparation for the festival I squeezed in an edit/minor rewrite. A page really. A page of new dialogue that hopefully ties up one lingering loose end that I’ve been wanting to tie up for a while now.

    Juan Castañeda, my director, is almost done with casting. So knock on wood everyone. Rehearsals start later this month and I’ll be when the festival opens in early September. So if you’re in the Windy City, put the Alcyone Festival on your calendar, it’s September 6-28th.