Everything Is Already Something Week 12: How The Grinch Stole Beermas

Someone let Allison Page out of her cage again.

Clearly, you have seen “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” right? I mean, you are a person, aren’t you? Whether it’s the cartoon version or the Jim Carrey version, or a version you’ve dreamed up with Tom Hardy as a super hot muscular Grinch who just needs me to ease his woes – whatever – you know the story. The Grinch is a grumpy green guy who lives on top of a mountain away from society and is generally kind of a miserable bastard. By the end, a little girl comes along and the Grinch’s previously tiny black heart grows three sizes and he acquires a love of Christmas and the Whoville community. And they all lived happily ever after or something.

Maybe I don’t live on the top of Mt. Crumpit, but I do live on the 11th floor of an apartment building in the tenderloin. I’ve always been a strange combination of “exuberant people person” and “absolute loner grump”, even as a child. I hate communities. Ugh. I don’t even like the word. In high school, my mother gave me a letterman’s jacket, and I refused to wear it for fear it would put forth the notion that I had team spirit lurking inside me somewhere, which I did not. She still wears it. It says “Allison” on it. Her name is Sherry. All through my teens I spent my time either at rehearsal – obsessing over my part – or at home watching movies older than my grandparents or writing what I thought was the next piece of great American drama. My mother actually used to call me Daria, because she saw the show and it reminded her of my general demeanor. I feel like I was probably a contender for “Child Who Displayed Sarcasm at the Earliest Age”. I guess what I’m trying to say is – a lot of the time I was a miserable bastard and I just really wanted those damn kids to get off my lawn.

Allison's Yearbook Photo

Allison’s Yearbook Photo

My demeanor changed after moving to the Bay Area, because through comedy I was able to, ya know, become a person. But that didn’t make me more group oriented. Back when I did a lot of improv a few years ago, it made me achingly aware of how much I just can’t do the community thing. I didn’t want to go hang out with a bunch of zany whackos until 2am, just…bonding. I hate bonding. GET OFF MY LAWN, ZANY WHACKOS. I liked the art of improvising, and it’s made me a better performer. I think every actor should take a stellar improv class. I even taught it for a while. But there’s this group mentality that has to exist for a team to be able to really perform successfully together over time, and I just couldn’t commit to that. And stand up is a very solo act, obviously, but there’s a community there, too – which is  hard for some people in that it’s very intimidating because you’re dealing with some rapid-fire human minds – but that didn’t bother me because I love competition. I just didn’t have the desire to be around for it.

Last night, I threw on my “I’M WITH BEAR” t-shirt and headed out to Theater Pub’s very last Pint Sized Plays festival at the Café Royale. The Royale has been the home of Theater Pub since it began, and we won’t be there anymore after…wait a minute…hold on…did I just say “we”?

Theater Pub doesn’t really have company members that I’m aware of. There are the founders of the Pub, and then there are all the actors, directors, artists, producers etc. that have worked with them in the last few years. Which by Stuart’s count last night was 307 people…which is pretty fucking astounding. I know that most of us (oh lord, now I said “us”) feel some proud ownership over the things that have been created there. Though I just participated for the first time a year ago, I feel like the Pub understands me. Café Royale is sort of dark and moody, which always makes me feel more comfortable, and the “anything can happen” vibe pleases my inner angsty rebel. I feel like the Beer Bear of last year’s Pint Sized has been mentioned a million times already, but I can’t stress enough the impact that performance has had. It really was the beginning of my re-entry into the theater…community (EWWW!), it’s been the string that has connected me to so many opportunities, and so many people who are important to my career, and…to…my…life (EWWW!). Not to mention the fact that it created the fantastic/tragic ongoing inter-species love story for the ages between a Llama and a Bear (that I in no way think is over).

The Llama/Bear future offspring, almost certainly equipped with a hereditary drinking problem.

The Llama/Bear future offspring, almost certainly equipped with a hereditary drinking problem.

Theater Pub is sort of like the Island of Misfit Toys – yes, that’s another Christmas reference. We’re all so different, new people are added all the time and we don’t all even know each other, but we have this common throw-caution-to-the-wind-let’s-do-something-ambitious-and-awesome-let’s-be-inventive-fuck-the-maintsream thing goin’ on. Who knows what will happen next. We (there’s that word again) could end up anywhere. Pub on the moon? I’m all for it. Someone start that fucking Kickstarter. I look really good in a space suit. Whatever happens with the Pub, I will probably be following very close behind. Maybe in the cast, maybe as a writer, maybe just in the audience – wearing the Bear shirt, of course – cheering until I lose my voice. And I’m fine with losing my voice for that reason, especially being that San Francisco Theater Pub helped me find that voice in the first place. Hell, I wouldn’t have written any of these blogs without it. This blog wouldn’t even exist.

Whatever the reason, I found my tiny black Grinch heart growing three sizes last night as I drank my beer and watched Rob Ready deliver Stuart Bousel’s Llamalogue with all of the required intensity and feeling in the world, and saunter off into the silent night. Because, it seems, here is my community. Here are my people. Hear us RRROOOOAAAARRRRR…into our beers.

Hey, nothing creates a community like booze, right?

But seriously, if those kids don’t get off my lawn, I am just going to lose it.

See Allison get chatty and brassy in The Age of Beauty at The Exit Studio opening tomorrow! Find out more at http://www.theexit.org/age/. 

An Ode For The End Of An Era


If you haven’t been to Pint-Sized and are intending to go tonight, you shouldn’t read any further. You should also get there super early because we are going to be packed. If you’re not going to Pint Sized or have already been, then go right ahead. There won’t be anything too surprising.

Well, we’ve reached our final performance at the Cafe Royale at last. I was going to do a big sum up of the last three and a half years, but honestly, we already have a website that does an amazing job of that, and will continue to do so. Browse our Past Projects page. It’s an impressive list, as is the one of our many collaborators who have joined us over the years. As for this current blog entry, I’ve decided to published the Llamalogue that ends this year’s festival, since I think it pretty much says everything that has to be said. I hope you enjoy it, and thank you, as always, to Elana McKelahan, who created the Llama character, and Rob Ready, who has defined it since the beginning, deeper and deeper every year.

Speaking of thanks… Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this first era of Theater Pub. Audience and artist alike, we could not have done it without you, and we’re so grateful we did, and had you be a part of it.

See you soon.


by Stuart Bousel

The Llama enters.

Bet you thought that bear was coming back this year, huh?

Fuck that bear. There is no bear. There is only Llama.

He walks over to the Bar, calling to the Bartender:

Beer me.

He gets a beer from the Bartender after some improved banter, then goes back to talking to the audience.

Funny story about that Bear. Right after we started hanging out, you know, like right after I saved that Bear’s life, everything was pretty chill, for a while. Everything was pretty awesome, actually. And then along comes this baron whose name is like Sir Owns-A-Start-Up-He-Runs-Out-Of-His-Castle-He-Bought-With-All-The-Money-He-Made-At-Facebook-The Third and guess what? Within a week we’re having the old, “It’s not you, it’s me,” conversation and yes, in fact, it was all about that Bear because that Bear sucks.


But I’m sure it was kind of about me too.

A moment. He drinks.

Christopher Durang once wrote- What? Don’t look at me like that, I go to the Theater, okay? I know it might be hard to accept, but I’m just your typical, every-day, hyper-articulate, overly-intoxicated, theater-admiring llama, okay? God…

He spits.

Anyway, Christopher Durang once wrote, “Don’t depend on people!” He has a character say this to another character, right before she strangles her. Actually, t’s a pretty amazing moment, because the Now-Dead-Girl was looking for someone to solve her problems and the Kills-Her-Woman basically does that for her, but, likw… forever, you know? Which was probably not the solution the Dead Girl was looking for… but you can’t say it didn’t work.

Every time I think about that Bear, I think about that play.

And how I probably should have strangled that Bear.

But I guess I’m glad I didn’t.

Beat. To an audience member, confidentially:

Don’t depend on dancing bears. They are not reliable.

He drinks. He once again address the whole audience.

There’s another side to it all, of course. And maybe I’m making it more than it is. I mean, the sun always rises again, blah blah blah. Like, if that Bear can find another Baron, something that was, statistically speaking, pretty fucking unlikely, then I can probably find another Bear. If I want to.

I’m just not sure that I want to.

You see, I never really wanted a Bear, until I had one, and then I didn’t have one. So sometimes I think I want to get the Bear back… but sometimes I think I just want to get back to what I was before I ever knew there was a Bear to have in the first place.


Because I am a Llama.

And frankly, that’s already too much jelly for anybody to handle.

He drinks.

I don’t know. Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck and some nights I call it a draw, you know? Like… some nights I wish that my lips could build a castle… but then, like… that Bear would probably want to move in. And fuck that.

He goes back to drinking. A moment, and then he sings softly:

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh, Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
Whoa oh oh (What do I stand for?)
Whoa oh oh (What do I stand for?)
Most nights I don’t know anymore…

And suddenly the CHORUS enter, joining in as needed.

Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh,
Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh

This is it, boys, this is war – what are we waiting for?
Why don’t we break the rules already?
I was never one to believe the hype
Save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I’m half as liked,
But here they come again to jack my style

That’s alright
I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am
Oh, who am I? Mmm… Mmm…

Well, some nights I wish that this all would end
‘Cause I could use some friends for a change.
And some nights I’m scared you’ll forget me again
Some nights I always win, I always win…

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh, Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for, oh
What do I stand for?
What do I stand for?
Most nights I don’t know, anymore!

Well, that is it guys, that is all – five minutes in and I’m bored again
Ten years of this, I’m not sure if anybody understands
This one is not for the folks at home;
Sorry to leave, mom, I had to go
Who the fuck wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun?

My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she call “love”
When I look into my nephew’s eyes…
Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from…
Some terrible nights…

Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh,
Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh

The other night you wouldn’t believe the dream I just had about you and me
I called you up but we’d both agree

It’s for the best you didn’t listen
It’s for the best we get our distance…
It’s for the best you didn’t listen
It’s for the best we get our distance…

Silence. The CHORUS slinks off. The LLAMA finishes his beer.

He straightens his back.

He leaves.

An empty place, for a moment, and then the lights go out.

The Next Generation Emerges: An Interview With Eli Diamond

There’s a certain tragic poetry to Eli Diamond, the youngest person to ever be involved with Theater Pub, making his onstage Pub debut with Pint Sized IV, our last production at the Cafe Royale. Giving the uniqueness of him amongst the more seasoned cast, we thought we’d take a moment to find out what it’s like to be the guy who shows up just in time for the end of an era.

Who are you, in a hundred words or less?

I am Elijah Diamond, a 19 year old actor who used to write “Theater Conservatory Confidential” for this site but is currently in his first SF Theater Pub. I am a born and raised local who recently spent a year at NYU majoring in Acting at the Atlantic Acting School.

Eli Diamond: Shimmering With Youth

Eli Diamond: Shimmering With Youth

And this is your first time being in a Theater Pub show. How did you get cast?

I had been asked before to do a Theater Pub show, and had been incredibly interested, but, the timing hadn’t worked. Funny enough, the current offer came as a complete shock to me. I was just on the computer minding my own business, when suddenly WHAM! Charles Lewis III sends me a message saying basically “Wanna be in my show for Theater Pub?” And I couldn’t type yes fast enough.

So, you are the youngest person to ever be in a show at Theater Pub, let alone be in Pint-Sized. How is that? Does anyone treat you like a kid?

As “the youngest person to ever be in a Theater Pub”, I was kinda worried that it would be like that, with everyone treating me just as a kid, but I quickly found out that wasn’t the case. I chill with people backstage and around the bar, though of course I don’t and can’t order anything, and I’ve found everyone to be incredibly accepting and loving. It’s interesting, as this is actually the first theater production I’ve been in where I don’t feel like everyone’s treating me like a kid. It’s an amazingly refreshing experience.

Has anyone recognized you as a former columnist for the website?

Sadly no, but I’m partially glad. I feel like if someone did, their first reaction would be “Why aren’t you in an institution right now?

Your column ended with you dropping out of Theater School and moving back to the Bay to pursue other avenues. What have you been up to all summer, and what does the future hold for you?

Recently I’ve been just doing my own thing. I got an internship doing lighting design for concerts, and I’ve been finding myself acting a lot more than I first expected. It’s been nice to reconnect with old friends as well. My future right now is incredibly up in the air, I’m going to see if I can transfer this upcoming year from CCSF, finish my GEs, and just figure out exactly what it is I want to do.

Any dream roles you’re hoping to play? People you are just dying to work with now that you’re back on the West Coast?

There are tons of people who I’m dying to work with. Basically everyone from Pint-sized this year who I wasn’t in a show with. I’d love to work with Paul Rodrigues, Andrew Chung, Annika Bergman, and pretty much everyone. In terms of directors, I’m dying to work with Claire Rice and Meg O’Connor. But I’m pretty open. In terms of dream roles, I used to be really crazy about those, but more recently, I’ve found myself incredibly open in what I get cast as. I find that keeps me from feeling like I’m type casting myself.

On some level, it probably feels like you just got here, and it’s all changing. Any thoughts on that?

That’s exactly how I’m feeling. I’m just like “Awesome, whens the next Theater Pub?” And everyone just throws their hands in the air like “No idea.” It’s a bit disheartening, but I’m definitely going to participate whenever I can.

You’re a young person, and if you didn’t know, the whole theater world right now is dying to get more young people to come to the theater. As a young person who makes theater, and goes to theater, what are your thoughts on how to reach younger audiences?

Honestly, just make it more known that you need and want young people. I just one day went “I’m going to try auditioning for something”, and surprise! Here I am. Young people just think that this is too far of a step away from them, when in reality all they have to do is raise their hands and get involved. Young people making theater tends to make for younger audiences too. We travel in packs.

Any shows you’re looking forward to seeing in the next six months?

I’m incredibly interested in Custom Made’s whole line up this year, most notably The Crucible. I managed to get some tickets to The Book of Mormon, and I’m hoping that doesn’t disappoint. Most of all, I’m just on the lookout for something new to take me by surprise. I like surprises.

You can see Eli and the rest of the Pint Sized cast two more times: tonight, at 8 PM, and tomorrow, July 30th, at 8 PM, only at the Cafe Royale! The event is free, but get there early as we expect to be packed!

Higher Education: Summer Break

Barbara Jwanouskos lives it up while she can.

This summer is an anomaly that will probably never happen again. What I mean by that, is that for the first time in, what, 15 or 16 years? I don’t have a job-y job and my main duty is to write. It’s so strange! Some days I don’t know what to do with all this summer break freedom because it can be really tempting to not do anything at all. And boy does doing nothing take up a lot of time. I mean my schedule could be packed with it.

People ask me what I’ve been up to this summer and in my mind I kind of struggle and go, “????” When I really think about it, I’m amazed that I’ve even attempted to get anything done. To be honest, I spent a good month trying to wrap my brain around the whirlwind schedule of school last year. I feel like I woke up after a really bad accident where I blacked out, and I looked around, grabbed the nearest person, and said, “what just happened?! Where am I? What year is it?!!!”

After I’d gotten over the initial shock – that I had indeed finished a year of grad school – I looked around the broken down, wasteland of summer, and realized my fight was not over. Ohhhh, no… You see, I lost a lot of parts of myself last year that I really wanted to get back. I had all these good habits when I set foot on Pennsylvanian soil with my hands on my hips and an I-can-do-anything attitude. I woke up every morning with enough time to stretch, eat, and do meditation writing. I minimized my caffeine, sugar, and cheese intake. In a given week, I worked-out hard for seven hours on top of about six hours of walking around town. I used to make myself meals and save my money. I used to write on the train. Man, Year-Ago Barbara was a well-oiled machine.

And then, the school year happened. I pretty much did the opposite of all the above, except that writing and reading replaced everything that wasn’t class time. Sometimes, I slept. And I sure did eat a lot of chocolate croissants and coffee! Woo! (#noregrets) In short, I lost a lot of the habits that made me feel like a sane, whole person and replaced them with putting-out-fires habits. Survival mode.

In June, I started to remember my past life. “Wait, I’ve been here before… is this Theater Pub?” I started engaging in conversations with others again (albeit awkwardly). “Do you want to hang out or something, I don’t know, never mind, you’re probably busy, I feel so stupid, why am I still talking? Call me!” And I got some of my habits back, like writing in the morning, working out, eating/drinking things that don’t make my body turn against me.

I’d forgotten that I could write. In remembering my past, I remembered some of the creative injuries of the past year and I started to get scared that maybe I wasn’t actually evolving, but devolving. When you come out of a really difficult period and you’re standing on a plateau looking at the sheer cliff you’ll have to scale next, it can maybe be a little daunting. During this time, every word I’ve committed to writing down has become extremely expensive because sometimes I only have a few that I can afford to part with in a day. Words used to come more easily. I’d have millions of them in my arsenal to meet the demand. The summer varietal words, however, are extremely hard to come by, they are such a rare breed in this garden. I have to nurture whatever decides to grow for me.

In July, I started creative physical therapy. I’ve started to try more and push just a little harder. Go a little further. I started taking a lot of the pre-writing work I did in May and June for my thesis play, and developing it further, into a little play embryo. It’s coming along. When I used to think about it, I’d get really overwhelmed because a draft of it needs to be completed by the end of summer. It’s not that I have writer’s block all the time. I think it’s just that the writing comes in these really vivid flashes, which translate only into a couple minutes on the stage. I look at the page count on my screen, hoping to see a number more like 45, when it’s really more like 15. Ha, the reality is that even a page or two sometimes takes a couple hours. I look at the clock and my page count and I’m like, “man! What am I doing wrong??”

I feel like it’s okay that my writing pace has slowed down a bit for now. I have confidence that it will pick up the more that I record these little snippets of play. I see a reaction here, a look on someone’s face there, an argument here, a confession there, but it is not in order at all. It’s not linear. Often times, I don’t know what comes before or after these flashes that I write.

It’s an interesting thing, writing at this pace. Mostly, because it feels manageable and unintimidating. I sometimes read writer blogs or talk to people for inspiration, and I get frustrated because everyone says, “just write.” Yes, I agree with you, but how do I get over this fear that it has to be really good? Or that I at least have to write a lot? Well, “just writing” doesn’t work for me.

What works for me is writing small, possibly shitty snippets that I know are true to the story – at least for now. I often times reach a stopping point sooner than I’d like, but the good thing is that I am entirely exhilarated while I’m writing it. The best part is that I feel that while I’m writing whatever flash popped into my brain upon the page, I’m getting closer to the seeing the big picture. And that is a very satisfying feeling.

So, we’ll see what August brings. I’m actually really optimistic. I’m out of the creative wheelchair and am starting to use the creative cane to walk. I’m mending fast and hopefully, I’m creating even stronger habits for the future.

Cowan Palace: Rob Ready, The Man Behind the Llama

Ashley Cowan talks with a Llama.

This week I had the wonderful opportunity to connect with a fictional fiancé from four years ago; a Pint Sized regular, the infamous Rob Ready.

He’s certainly a leader among the San Francisco theater community and he’s become a bit of a local legend. As a llama. Oh, and other things, sure. But today we’re here to talk about all things llama! Rob has taken on what has become a mascot for Theater Pub and as the past four years have changed us all, the Llama has gone through his own transformations as well.

Rob Ready, Putting The Charm Back Into Charming

Rob Ready, Putting The Charm Back Into Charming

What has been your favorite Llama development as he’s grown throughout the years?

When Stuart (Bousel) started writing the Llama pieces he made the character this sad, drunk, funny, bumbling, lovable ass and he just nailed it. Also, having the Llama on the Theater Pub t-shirt is pretty cool. And the fact that we’re actually doing a blog post with questions and answers about a sad drunk Llama. All of those things are awesome.

Yes, Rob. I am totally awesome. Thank you for that. These past few years have been busy for you outside your Llama persona; if you could tell the Rob of four years ago one piece of advice, what would it be?

Go grocery shopping you fat drunken idiot.

Sure. Food is important. So what has been your process taking on this role? And has it changed from year to year?

Yes. These past two years I’ve actually had to prep and memorize and rehearse a little. The first two years the Llama just walked on like an ass hole and pounded a beer while shouting something about pigs and left. Given my personal experience behaving in a similar way, those first two years were pretty simple.

What’s the most challenging part of being a Llama?

I really want to spit a lot more than I do, but I’m afraid it’ll land on people’s shoes.

Where do you find the best inspiration?


Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Drink a beer. Run through the lines. Talk to whoever is bartending and let them know I’ll be screaming at them for booze later on.

What’s your favorite memory from working on this festival since it began? Is it pretending to be engaged to me in Queen Mab in Drag? Is it?!

Queen Mab was awesome, though despite appearances, I’m still a little uneasy wearing a dress.

Rob Ready (with Ashley Cowan) in Queen Mab In Drag, proving that a true man knows how to wear a dress.

Rob Ready (with Ashley Cowan) in Queen Mab In Drag, proving that a true man knows how to wear a dress.

Playing the Llama opposite Alison Page as the Bear last year was a blast. She was lights out hilarious. Like, she had the audience giggle farting in joy. So every night I just went out and tried to be as funny as she was and also make her laugh.

The script called for the Llama to resuscitate the lifeless Bear and it was so fun. Alison’s trying to stay dead while I’m working overtime to get her to break. One night, the CPR bit turned into me just blowing spittle on her face. She lost it, I lost it and then the audience really lost it.

Having her be so good really motivated me and that bit of competitiveness ended up pushing the whole piece a lot further. (Megan) Cohen and Stuart had written these amazing characters and then Alison and I got just go be goofballs together and by the fifth show we’d added in all manner of physical bits, audience interaction and some new text and were just having way too much fun on stage.

Rob and Allison Page, making history together.

Rob and Allison Page, making history together.

Where do you hope the Llama goes next?

Broadway, baby.

If the Llama could share a pint with one person, who would it be?

Probably himself. He’s a loner. Or a random stranger. Or that fucking Bear.

What’s next for you? What fun project is on the horizon?

GET RIGHT ALL NIGHT is PianoFight’s first ever hybrid music music – comedy – dance party featuring live surf and soul music from the PianoFight Music Department and the show features ForePlays, Imaginary Radio, Anna & The Annadroids, The Lazy Susans, DJ Short Shorts and a big sweaty dance party. It’s this Saturday, July 27 at 8pm at Inner Mission and it’s gonna be awesome.

Then BOA is coming up in September which is always rad.

And PianoFight has been building a space for a thousand years but it’s actually going to open this year. So that’s exciting.

It is exciting. I think your fans will be happy to keep the party going. So, in five words, how would you capture this year’s Pint Sized Festival?

Bittersweet end of an era.

Ah, poetic. Okay, on a different note, if you could set up characters from the last four Pint Sized productions on a date, which two folks would you put together?

Deb O Rah the dildo saleswoman (from Tom Bruett’s play) and a character Sunil Patel played a couple years ago in Nancy Cooper Frank’s play. That would be hilarious.

And just for the record, people can find out about PianoFight at http://www.PianoFight.com or follow us on Twitter @pianofight or on Facebook.

Thank you to Rob Ready for not only being an incredible Llama Hero but for taking the time to talk about Theater Pub. Cheers to you! You can buy Rob a beer next Monday and Tuesday at Cafe Royale as Pint Sized takes over for two more evenings. Get those Llama snuggles while you can!

You can catch Ashley on Twitter @ashcows posting a lot of pictures of her dog or on stage with Custom Made Theatre’s production of Book of Liz playing every weekend until August 18.

Introducing The Directors Of Pint Sized IV! (Part Two)

Pint Sized Plays IV is more than halfway through it’s run! This year our excellent line up of writers is supported by an equitably awesome line up of directors, so we thought we’d take a moment to introduce some of them and find out more about who they are, what they’re looking forward to, and how they brought so much magic to this year’s festival.

Tell the world who you are in 100 words or less.

Tracy Held Potter: I’m a writer/director/producer who recently discovered that I have to create inspirational mantras that are the exact opposite of the inspirational mantras that I used in high school. I run All Terrain Theater (www.allterraintheater.org) and Play Cafe (www.playcafe.org) and I’m a co-founder of the 31 Plays in 31 Days Project with Rachel Bublitz (http://31plays31days.com). My biggest projects right now are directing The Fantasy Club by Rachel Bublitz and getting ready to move to the East Coast for a fancy-pants MFA Dramatic Writing program at Carnegie Mellon University.

Jonathan Carpenter: Formerly a biologist and Bostonian, I’m now a San Francisco-based theater director. I love bold, new plays that sometimes have music and sometimes don’t happen in traditional theater spaces at all.

Colin Johnson: I am Colin and I like telling stories and stuff.

Colin Johnson: What A Rebel

Colin Johnson: What A Rebel

How did you get involved with Theater Pub, or if you’re a returning director, why did you come back?

Tracy Held Potter: I saw several Theater Pub shows in the past year and loved them, especially Pint-Sized Plays, and also got to run sound for Pub from Another World, which was extremely fun. “Audrey Scare People Play?” Whaaaaaat!

Jonathan Carpenter: This is my first time directing for Theater Pub! I met Meg O’Connor at an event for the SF Olympians Festival. She mentioned that her friend Neil (Higgins) was looking for directors for the Pint Sized Festival. A few days later, Neil and I were emailing each other about the line-up for this year’s festival, and not too long after I was on board to be part of the Pint Sized directing team. I had always been really interested in Theater Pub, and so when the opportunity arose to get involved, I jumped on it.

Colin Johnson: I got involved through the fearless producer called Neil, whom I’ve worked with during the last two years on the SF Olympians Festival.

What’s been the most exciting part of this process?

Jonathan Carpenter: There’s nothing better than being in the rehearsal room and digging into a script with actors, so I would say that my rehearsal time with Jessica (Chisum), Lara (Gold), and Andrew (Chung) was the most exciting part of the process for me. Multitasking (by Christian Simonsen) is a deceptively tricky play. You have to keep asking yourself, “Wait, what the hell is going on here?!” All three actors were really smart about figuring out what makes these characters tick. I had a blast bringing the play to life with them.

Colin Johnson: Analyzing and then over-directing the crap out of a one page script. Sometimes the greatest challenges come in the smallest packages. Oh, and also practicing a musical number with a drunk llama.

Tracy Held Potter: Getting invited to direct for Pint-Sized plays and then finding out that I was going to direct a piece by Megan Cohen were freaking awesome. I still relive moments from watching Megan’s piece from last year, so this really has been a thrill for me. I also loved rehearsing with Charles Lewis III, Caitlin Evenson, and Jessica Rudholm … and I won’t lie that sewing the knight props and costumes in the middle of the night was pretty special as well.

What’s been the most troublesome?

Tracy Held Potter: Keeping things simple with this brief yet epic play. I tend to work on projects with a minimal amount of props and set design, but there’s a part of me that wants to go all out with this one: more rehearsals in the space and more elaborate costuming. I got to work with a great cast and I we pulled out a lot of interesting material from the script in a very short period, so I can’t really complain, though.

Colin Johnson: Troublesome? I don’t know the meaning of the word, I say! But I suppose rehearsing with a drunk llama can have its setbacks.

Jonathan Carpenter: Casting was probably the trickiest piece of the puzzle for me. There are, of course, so many wonderful actors in the Bay Area; the only problem is that they’re so wonderful that they’re always cast in multiple projects! The Theater Pub performance schedule is great because Monday is usually a day off for actors, so it’s possible to do Theater Pub along with other shows. But it doesn’t always work out. I lost a terrific actor that I was really excited to work with because it turned out that she was needed for rehearsals for another project during the final week of Pint Sized performances. And then when I had to find another actress for that role, there were several other wonderful folks that I couldn’t use because we couldn’t find common free times to rehearse! It all worked out beautifully in the end – thanks to Neil’s guidance, persistence, and huge network of actor friends – but there were some moments where I was really banging my head against the wall.

Jonathan Carpenter: Casting Clusterf**k Survivor

Jonathan Carpenter: Casting Clusterf**k Survivor

Would you say putting together a show for Pint Sized is more skin of your teeth or seat of your pants and why?

Tracy Held Potter: I would say “seat of your pants” because I have sensitive teeth and the other metaphor makes them hurt.

Jonathan Carpenter: Pint Sized is definitely a seat of your pants kind of endeavor. You’re making theater that’s going to happen in a bar where anything can happen. Someone could walk through your scene to go to the bathroom. A noisy garbage truck could whiz past Cafe Royale. Who knows, an especially drunk audience member might even try to get in on the action. So, you have to stay adaptable and be ready to fly by the seat of your pants. But that’s also what’s so exciting, right? Live theater!

Colin Johnson: I’d say seat of the pants is a better term. When you perform in public, especially a bar, you must be prepared to adapt and circumvent logistical problems at a moment’s notice. Skin of the teeth makes it seem like we’re barely hanging in there, which is untrue. This production has actually been one of the most tightly coordinated and relaxed projects in a while for me.

What’s next for you?

Colin Johnson: Next, I’m writing a full-length adaptation of Aeneas’s tale for SF Olympians: Trojan Requiem (titled Burden of the Witless) in November. I also have a recently-completed independent short film that will hopefully be making festival rounds this year. And most likely directing a Woody Allen One-Act early next year in Berkeley

Tracy Held Potter: I’m directing and producing a HILARIOUS sex comedy by Rachel Bublitz called The Fantasy Club that we’re premiering at The Alcove Theater near Union Square from Aug 2 – Aug 11 (http://fantasyclub.brownpapertickets.com). It’s about a stay-at-home-mom who faces the man she’s been fantasizing about since high school and has to decide between her marriage and making her fantasies come true. I’ve spent a lot more time on Google researching underwear and logo contraceptives for this show than I have for anything else. In August, we’re also relaunching the 31 Plays in 31 Days Challenge and rehearsing for Babies, the Ultimate Birth Control: Terrifyingly Hilarious Plays about Parenting for SF Fringe (http://www.sffringe.org), which both Rachel and I wrote pieces for. In the midst of all this, I’m going to finish packing up my family to move to Pennsylvania. You know, taking it easy.

Tracy Held Potter: Taking It Easy

Tracy Held Potter: Taking It Easy

Jonathan Carpenter: I’m about to begin rehearsals for the west coast premiere of Roland Schimmelpfennig’s The Golden Dragon, which Do It Live! Productions will be producing in A.C.T.’s Costume Shop theater in September. And after The Golden Dragon, I’ll be directing readings of Jeremy Cole’s On The Plains of Troy and Madeline Puccioni’s The Walls of Troy for the SF Olympians Festival.

What are you looking forward to in the larger Bay Area theater scene?

Tracy Held Potter: I’m looking forward to “A Maze” by Rob Handel and produced by Just Theater at Live Oak Theatre, which just opened. Rob is the theater teacher for my new grad program and I’ve heard great things from people who’ve already seen it (phew!). There are a lot of shows that I’m really sad to be missing because I’ll be out of the state, but I’ll be catching all of Bay One-Acts and at least a couple of SF Olympians shows towards the end of the festival.

Colin Johnson: BOA is always an amazing fun time! As is the Olympians! They’re both a great conglomeration of all the best the Bay indie theatre scene has to offer! And great folks!

Jonathan Carpenter: Oh my gosh. I’m a huge nerd, and I just can’t wait to see Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart in No Man’s Land at Berkeley Rep. I mean, it’s Gandalf! And Professor X! AND they’re doing No Man’s Land! I have loved Pinter ever since I first dove into his plays a few years ago while working on a production of The Homecoming. They’re so juicy. So I’m really looking forward to that production. I’m also really excited to check out Rob Handel’s A Maze at Just Theater this summer. I read a draft of the play about three years ago, and I was completely enthralled. It read like a comic book, and I was totally fascinated to imagine how you might stage such an intricate play. I’ve heard great things about the production, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Who in the Bay Area theater scene would you just love a chance to work with next?

Jonathan Carpenter: Woah! It’s way too hard to pick just one artist! Can I say “all of them”?!? Well…actor Reggie White is probably at the top of my list. He’s been a friend of mine for a couple of years now, and it seems criminal that we haven’t done a show together yet.

Tracy Held Potter: I can’t count how many actors, directors, stage managers, writers, and other theater people that I got to work with this year who I really admired. I have so many theater crushes here that it’s crazy. With that said, I would fall out of my chair if I got to work with Desdemona Chiang on one of my plays.

Colin Johnson: I would love to have a rematch of my 2012 Olympians knock-out, drag down fight with Jeremy Cole. But most of my Bay Area dream collaborations have been fulfilled, with hopefully more on the horizon.

What’s your favorite thing to order at the Cafe Royale?

Jonathan Carpenter: Whatever stout they have on tap.

Colin Johnson: I’m a fan of the Marin Brewing Company IPA. But if I’m expected to be productive, a Cider or a Pilsner.

Tracy Held Potter: I don’t really drink that much so I like to order soda or tea, but last time the bartender made me a limeade which was pretty good. There are photos of me on the Theater Pub Facebook page drinking that, if anyone’s interested.

Don’t miss the last two performances of Pint Sized Plays IV: July 29 and 30, at 8 PM, only at the Cafe Royale! The show is free and no reservations are necessary, but we encourage you to get there early because we will be full!

Introducing The Directors Of Pint Sized IV! (Part One)

Pint Sized Plays IV is back tonight for it’s third performance! This year our excellent line up of writers is supported by an equitably awesome line up of directors, so we thought we’d take a moment to introduce some of them and find out more about who they are, what they’re looking forward to, and how they brought so much magic to this year’s festival.

Tell the world who you are in 100 words or less.

Charles Lewis III: I’m one of those rare “San Francisco natives” you’ve heard about in folk tales. The combustible combination of Melvin van Peebles, Cyclops from X-Men, and a touch of Isadora Duncan for good measure. I love the machine gun-like clatter of my typewriter. I don’t drink coffee, so I’m considered weird… in San Francisco. I still buy all of my albums on CD. Bit of a tech geek. I love celluloid. Shakespeare made me want to act, direct, write, and bequeath “my second-best bed” to an ex after I die.

Meg O’Connor: By night, I am a playwright and improviser who occasionally directs and acts. By day, I am marketing and client-relations extraordinaire for an immigration law firm.

Adam Sussman: East Coast refugee from Boston enjoying the long-haired devil-may-care atmosphere of the Bay. I’m a director, writer, dramaturge and occasional performer who recently left a decade long career in community health/harm reduction to focus on theater. I work with Ragged Wing Ensemble in Oakland and produce work through my company “Parker Street Odditorium.” Like us on the Facebook!

Adam Sussman: Devil May Care

Adam Sussman: Devil May Care

How did you get involved with Theater Pub, or if you’re a returning director, why did you come back?

Charles Lewis III: Way back in January 2010 I was in a production of William Inge’s Bus Stop at the Altarena Playhouse. My co-star lovely and talented actress named Xanadu Bruggers. When the production ended she asked all of us in the cast to come see her in an “anti-Valentine’s Day show” taking place at a café in The City. I was hesitant as I had some bad memories of performances in bars and cafés, but I still went to see SF TheaterPub’s second-ever show: A Valentine’s Day Post-Mortem. I went back the next month and that summer I was in their multi-part Sophocles adaptation The Theban Chronicles. That Autumn I was in their Oscar Wilde and HP Lovecraft show and in December I both performed in and co-wrote their first Christmas show. And I’ve been a regular attendee ever since.

Adam Sussman: Stuart (Bousel) asked me, and after reading through the great scripts and being sweet-talked by the puckish Neil Higgins, how could I say no?

Meg O’Connor: I have known the artistic directors since they were dreaming Theater Pub up, and first directed with them for The Theban Chronicles. I have directed in every Pint Sized (and produced the very first). I guess you could say I’m addicted (but I can quit whenever I want).

Meg O'Connor Can't Quit You... Or Can She?

Meg O’Connor Can’t Quit You… Or Can She?

What’s been the most exciting part of this process?

Meg O’Connor: Reading the scripts for the first time, and getting a sense of the vibe of this year’s festival is my favorite part. And getting to see each script realized is really rewarding.

Adam Sussman: Being able to see the piece come to life form page to stage. Typically this is a cop-out answer, but “Mark +/-” is so complicated that the script is literally in spreadsheet form since there’s so much overlapping dialogue and precision timing. So the metamorphosis from text to performance in this case had an extra element of difficulty and therefore excitement.

Charles Lewis III: No matter how sure you are about a production during rehearsal, there is always a way to be blind-sided by the audience. Being a director for one script (Sang Kim’s The Apotheosis of Grandma Shimkin) and actor in another (Megan Cohen’s The Last Beer in the World), it’s been trippy to hear the audience give a slight chuckle to one thing, but erupt with laughter at another.

What’s been the most troublesome?

Adam Sussman: I wanted a very specific set of gestures that all three Marks shared, but these gestures are only interesting if they are nearly identical rather than merely similar. So there was one rehearsal where I had to play “gesture cop,” calling out even small discrepancies from the agreed upon gestural choreography.

Charles Lewis III: I’ll just say that the recent BART strike made for a… unique experience in travelling to and from rehearsals.

Meg O’Connor: Rob Ready. What a diva.

Would you say putting together a show for Pint Sized is more skin of your teeth or seat of your pants and why?

Charles Lewis III: Apotheosis was definitely the latter. We had a very short turnaround from my coming on as director to the first performance. We only locked down the cast about a week before opening. Given the logistics and technical aspects of the piece – two actors who are seated through most of it, no major lighting cues – you might think it wouldn’t be all that much trouble. But when your first question to a potential actor is “Can you learn eleven pages in a week?” and you have only two rehearsals to get the verbal rhythm down, pick costumes, and more, then you realise it’s crunch time.
I just told myself that we were working with the same timetable as the average SNL episode, except our best writers aren’t talked about in past tense. I’m both pleasantly amazed by what everyone put together in such a short amount of time.

Adam Sussman: Seat of pants. Little time and no resources is always an exciting place to start with a theater piece. Skin of your teeth implies a close call, a bad mindset to begin a process with.

Meg O’Connor: Seat of your pants. Lots of last minute changes, lots of rolling with the punches. I’m lucky my cast were such bad-ass pros.

What’s next for you?

Adam Sussman: I’m directing (and appearing in) a beautiful piece for Fool’s Fury Factory Parts Festival written by Addie Ulrey. In the fall I’ll be directing a site specific ensemble piece written by Anthony Clarvoe for Ragged Wing Ensemble.

Meg O’Connor: I, intentionally, have very little going on until November – which is awesome. Two of my short plays (The Helmet and The Shield) will be featured in the Olympians Festival (http://www.sfolympians.com/) and I’m also getting hitched this November – eek! Also, my improv team, Chinese Ballroom, is included in the SF Improv Fest this year, the evening of Sept. 18th.

Charles Lewis III: Acting-wise, I’m pondering a couple offers and just accepted my first role for 2014. Writing-wise, my own blog (TheThinkingMansIdiot.wordpress.com) is up and running again. I’m also putting together some long-in-development scripts. And I plan on taking part in the 31 Plays in 31 Project this August. Directing-wise, I’ll once again be a writer and director for The SF Olympians Festival. Good stuff comin’ up.

What are you looking forward to in the larger Bay Area theater scene?

Charles Lewis III: “Transition” seems to be the word du jour and I can see why – it seems that everyone is making changes (hopefully for the best). I’m about to make one that’s been coming for some time. I think it’ll be beneficial to my theatre work in the long run and I’m looking towards the future with cautious optimism.

Charles Lewis III: Epitome of Optimistic

Charles Lewis III: Epitome of Optimistic

Meg O’Connor: No Man’s Land at Berkley Rep…mainly because I have a lady-boner for Ian McKellen AND Patrick Stewart.

Adam Sussman: So many things. I’m looking forward to seeing the other work at the Factory Parts festival including new pieces by Fool’s Fury, Joan Howard, Rapid Descent and Elizabeth Spreen. My good friend Nathaniel Justiniano is throwing an amazing benefit called “Cure Canada” for his fantastic group, Naked Empire Bouffon Company with a helluva line-up of performers, I’m also hoping he’ll do a homecoming production of his ingenious piece You Killed Hamlet or Guilty Creatures Sitting at a Play which has been touring Canada this summer. I’m excited to see Rebecca Longworth’s O Best Beloved at the Fringe this year, Bonnie and Clyde at Shotgun and Performing the Diaspora at Counterpulse.

Who in the Bay Area theater scene would you just love a chance to work with next?

Adam Sussman: Shotgun Theater, I’ve been lucky enough to have Artistic Director Patrick Dooley as a mentor through the TBA Atlas Program. I really love the work Shotgun does and how smart they are about building audiences while taking big artistic risks.

Meg O’Connor: I’m pretty excited about PianoFight’s new space and I get the sense that is going to be a fun group and space to work with.

Charles Lewis III: Too many to name. I wouldn’t mind if they answered with my name to the same question (hint, hint). TheaterPub has been a wonderful networking tool for all who attend; point in fact, it’s a contributing factor to my aforementioned transition. No matter what incarnation TheaterPub takes after this, I value the relationships I’ve made here and look forward to continuing them for some time to come.

What’s your favorite thing to order at the Cafe Royale?

Meg O’Connor: You’ll typically find me with a Boont Amber Ale in my hand, but I’ve been having a fling on the side with Hitachino Nest White Ale.

Adam Sussman: Duvel.

Charles Lewis III: Red Stripe. Crispin. Pilsner. Stella, back in the early days. Whatever glass of wine I’ve bought for Cody (Rishell) in the past. In fact, whatever drinks I’ve bought for folks at the Royale. ‘Cause in the end, the drink isn’t nearly as important as raising your glass in a toast with great people.

Don’t miss Pint Sized Plays IV, playing tonight and two more times this month: July 29 and 30, always at 8 PM, only at the Cafe Royale! The show is free and no reservations are necessary, but we encourage you to get there early because we will be full!

It’s A Suggestion, Not A Review: It IS Only an Opinion

Dave Sikula finds his voice.

I was about 600 words into this week’s post when I realized that, not only was I writing myself into a hole, I was also full of hot air. (NOW he notices?) So I’m chucking the whole thing and starting over.

I wanted to discuss reviews, reviewers, and self-perceptions of work done, but I was getting bogged down trying to make the specific too general and just making the whole damn thing muddy, so I’m going to start from scratch.

Here’s the thing: as much as we all strive to do good work, sometimes we fail. When that happens, who do we trust to tell us the truth? Do we rely on friends? Partners? The people who are also in the production? Reviewers? Our selves? Who should have the last word? For that matter, is there even a last word to be had?

As I mentioned in my initial post, I’ve been in the theatre a long time – longer than most of you have been alive, no doubt. (Yes, I’m old. “Old as mummy dust,” as my wife would put it …) I’m not going to say that everything I’ve been involved with in those decades has been brilliant. I’m not going to say that everything was even good. In my mind, the good work has far outweighed the bad, but I remember things like a production of “Gaslight” I was in sometime in the 80s. I was asked to take over a part on ten days’ notice. It was only after I took the part that I realized that, once the guy came in, he didn’t shut up for 50 pages. I took it as a challenge and was able to actually memorize the damn thing. (Nowadays, such a Herculean labor would be next to impossible for me. Memorizing lines, once child’s play, is now a slow torture.) Anyway, the production was horrendous, hampered by a set that was on the verge of falling over, costumes that didn’t fit, a director who was in over his head, actors who were no better than I, an overhanging sense of doom, and my performing with the worst Irish accent in the history of English-speaking theatre. Fortunately, our last week of performances was cancelled when the grade school auditorium we were working in was rented out for a Thanksgiving party.

Shows like that are obviously bad. We didn’t need crap reviews or boos to know it was awful. But even under those circumstances, the audiences of friends, families, and perfect strangers who came to see the show were supportive if not overly enthusiastic. Should we have trusted them? Agreed with them? Were they actually right and the show wasn’t as bad as the cast knew it to be? Who gets the last word?

The reason this comes up for me right now is because of the show I’m currently in. For most of our limited rehearsal period, I haven’t felt confident about the work I’ve been doing. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but among our little ensemble, I’ve felt like the anchor who’s weighing things down by being generally unfunny. (I don’t offer this as a prompt for compliments, by the way; I’m ruminatin’ here.) Granted, most of what I do in the show is to set up the other actors and play straight for them, so I’m not really expecting belly laughs or trying to be funny, but I like to feel that, with this much experience under my belt, I’d know whether the work I was doing is good or not. But this one has been hard to judge. My wife, who is the only critic I truly trust, has told me it’s good, so that’s validation enough. Now that we’re open, things seem to be going better, but there’s a battle being waged in my head between my own perceptions, my wife’s validations, and the reactions of the audiences. Where does the “truth” lie in that situation?

I’d like to think I’m at a point where I’m review-proof. I don’t mean that the reviews I get are glowing; I mean that I just don’t care about them. Don’t get me wrong; I read them, but I don’t let the bad ones bring me down or the good ones go to my head. I know plenty of actors who run the extremes of not reading them or taking them too much to heart, but I can’t (or don’t want to) give someone else that much power. (Not that it matters with this show; I don’t think we’re going to get a great many reviews from the media.)

So who to trust? My director was a great help, working with what I gave him as he tried to turn that dross into gold. My fellow actors (all of whom are marvelous and funny – which, of course, is what leads to my temporary inferiority complex) have been more than supportive, as well, as have the people to whom I’ve talked after performances. (I guess the ones who like it stay and the others leave ASAP.) But what does one do in circumstances like that? My own artistic compass is apparently on the fritz.

Ultimately, I suppose it really doesn’t matter. Everyone who walks into a theatre – actors, crew, performers, and staff – will have a different perspective on what happened at that performance. How many times has a line been dropped or a vital bit of business flubbed that completely “ruined” a show, and went unnoticed by the audience? Rough day at work? Someone near and dear to you ill? Bad fish at dinner? That’ll affect even the funniest comedy or most moving tragedy.

I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say here – and have just wasted 900 words trying to get here – is that, despite my firmly stated beliefs and judgments, there are no right opinions in art; no wrong ones, either. I don’t agree with a lot of the artistic judgments my friends and colleagues make (“You hate everything!” I hear them say), but it doesn’t make me right and them wrong (or vice versa). And it’s not mere contrariness. You develop an aesthetic as you grow older, and have to trust your instincts as to its rightness. (And how delightfully frustrating when they’re overturned!) The choices I make as an actor and director are direct results of my aesthetic and, in spite of my current doubts, I have to assume they’re the correct ones for the given circumstances, otherwise I wouldn’t make them.

And because those choices are “correct,” when you come to see a show I’m in, I fully expect you to tell me how wonderful I was after the performance, even as you wonder “Why the hell did he do that?” And you know what? We’ll both be right.

Dave Sikula has been acting and directing in Los Angeles and the Bay Area for more than 30 years. He’s worked with such companies as American Conservatory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, the Grove Shakespeare Festival, Dragon Productions, Palo Alto Players, and 42nd Street Moon. As a writer and dramaturg, he’s translated the plays of Anton Chekhov and had work produced by ANTA West.

Falling With Style: It’s Been a Dry, Dry Summer

This week, Helen shares with us her continued creative nigredo. Y’know, light stuff.

This is my first column in a few weeks, after an unannounced hiatus. I wasn’t anywhere special; I just couldn’t get the words to flow.

It’s been happening for the last few columns. My writing “process,” such as it is, ideally goes something like this:

1. Notice that a deadline is coming up.
2. Think to myself, “what’s important enough to me right now, that I want to
write about it?”
3. Choose 1-3 answers that seem right and set them aside to grow in my subconscious.
4. Return to those answers at some later point in time (a time that is still before the deadline) and see what my subconscious has done with them.
5. Write, edit, publish.

But you know this tune. Those steps don’t always happen, and when they don’t, I still have a column to write. And the feeling of performing (in any sense of the word: acting, writing, presenting) when the mojo isn’t there is excruciating to me.

The show must go on, of course — theatre-types know that better than most. Sometimes I don’t do my best work; sometimes I have to fake it; sometimes my well runs dry and I just have to perform anyway. It’s a bummer, but I skate by and hope that next time it’ll be better.

So here’s the scene as it stands today: my well is heart-wrenchingly empty, and I am deliriously thirsty. I have licked the walls dry. I am sitting at the bottom of the well and I’ve been waving my arms in a half-hearted rain dance attempt for days. I’m afraid to stop moving, because I know my eyes will close — to sleep or to die, I’m not sure. And because I can’t be sure which one it is, I’m torn. At this point, the sleep would be almost as refreshing as the water. But the idea of my creative self dying and leaving me forever is too terrible to face.

So I continue the rain dance.

Helen is a person who sometimes writes, sings, dances, cooks and breathes. She lives on the web at www.helenlaroche.com.

Everything Is Already Something Week 11: The Grass is Always Greener (on Some Other Asshole’s Lawn)

Allison Page: once more into the breach.

I’m sitting at home one night several months ago and I decide that since I’m a lazy bag-o-bones I’m going to watch some Hulu. Oh, looky here, it’s TV’s very own 30 Rock! I enjoy a good dose of it, and then a familiar face pops up. Not because I’ve seen this person on the ‘ol boob tube before – but because I actually know this human. And then, naturally, I begin to feel a lot of feelings. (This has happened with several TV shows, several times. Because I’ve been around quite a lot of people in the last 5 years of living here and it’s inevitable. I’m just choosing 30 Rock as an example.)

I present to you, my 8 phases of professional jealousy:

#1 – Good for you! You’re talented and you deserve this!

#2 – I guess that move to New York City really did the trick, huh?

#3 – I’m still over here, though! In beautiful, historic San Francisco, founded June 29, 1776! In the wonderful state of California!

#4 – Fuckin…fuck.

#5 – But seriously, I know how hard you’ve worked- like, really hard. Constantly climbing up the mountain of achieving your dreams!

#6 – Why aren’t I working harder? What’s wrong with me? WHAT AM I DOING? Should I throw myself off the historic Golden Gate Bridge?!

#7 – Fuck that guy.

#8 – I should move.

Well aren't we a special little snowflake?

Well aren’t we a special little snowflake?

When I tell people than I’m an actor and/or comedian, the response I get a lot of the time is “Oh, well why aren’t you living in New York or Los Angeles?” and though my brain wants me to respond with, “Why don’t you go drink a fresh glass of cyanide?” I usually reply with, “Because San Francisco is a fantastic place to be able to do everything you want without being pigeon-holed. When you’re in LA especially, you need to be able to say exactly what you do really concisely. In a lot of ways, you need to be one thing. If their idea of you is too diverse, they don’t know what to do with you, but in San Francisco I can do everything I want, and it doesn’t take away from anything else.” And that IS really what I think. In some ways, I thought I would nail down what I really want out of my career while I’m here, so that I could choose where to go next, and have a streamlined idea of whatever I want my career path to be. I would probably move to NYC if I wanted to focus on stand up, and probably LA if I wanted to focus on film acting. And possibly Chicago if I decided to go the Second City route.

But it’s been 5 years. And I’m still here. Because I love it here. I don’t really want to leave. I’m happy in San Francisco, and being here has brought so many things out of me that I didn’t even know were there. When I moved here, I was a really serious person. Are you done laughing yet? Great. Well, I was. I had done a fair amount of Shakespeare and that’s what I wanted to keep doing. And then comedy happened, and now I have a completely different life and a completely different outlook on my own personal career. Which I think is GREAT. I’m happier right now than I ever have been in my entire life. I can actually say that. So then why the hell, when I see a girl I used to do stand up with, on Conan, do I feel these awful, sticky pangs in my heart-place?

Because it makes me question my choices, that’s why. If I would have moved when she moved, would I have had those types of opportunities? (NO, BECAUSE WE’RE NOT THE SAME PERSON.) If I had been properly focusing my efforts in one direction would I be more successful? (PROBABLY, BUT THEN I WOULDN’T BE DOING ALL THIS OTHER COOL SHIT EITHER, BRO.) Why am I answering all these questions myself? (BECAUSE I’VE ALWAYS KNOWN THE ANSWERS, I’M NOT AN IDIOT, I’M JUST A HUMAN BEING AND THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER ON SOME OTHER ASSHOLE’S LAWN.)

Yesterday I spent the day acting in a film that comes out next year, which unbeknownst to me, had a bunch of pretty famous people in it. It was really cool, (I had a trailer and everything!) and I got to do some awesome stuff with some awesome people. My scene was just me and this guy that I spent a lot of time loving in the late nineties because he starred in one of my favorite TV shows. It was great. I got to elbow-rub with some people I hadn’t ever thought I’d be hanging out with. And odds are, my grass looked greener to somebody out there in the world. I was the asshole with the green grass! Yay! Had someone said that to me, I would have told them that it’s pointless to think that way, because we all have different paths to what defines success for us, and my life is my life and your life is yours. Take a look at your own damn grass, it’s got things that mine does not and vise versa. Look at those sweet lawn gnomes!

A gnome is jealous of no man.

A gnome is jealous of no man.

I could up and move whenever I want. I don’t have kids, I’m not married (I do have a really cute boyfriend, though) so I could technically leave whenever I feel like it. I just don’t feel like I’m done achieving here. I haven’t yet conquered the things I wish to conquer, and perhaps I never will. And I like that I can participate in so many facets of the arts here. In the last year I’ve really been re-entering the world of straight theater that’s not just sketch comedy or stand up or improv – and I don’t want to give that up. Not that I’d have to in New York. Maybe I wouldn’t, what the hell do I know? But the point is that I just don’t think I’m done here yet. It’s a feeling I have that I just have to go with for now. It’s a strong feeling like that which brought me here in the first place. I had looked around Minnesota and said, “I’m done here. I feel I’ve done everything I can do, and there’s nothing left for me to achieve that will leave me feeling more fulfilled. It’s time to go.” But when I look around here, I don’t think that. Instead, I think “Look at the things that I’ve done, and I’m not even close to finished. San Francisco and I have more to offer each other and I’m still growing here. Ooooo, taco trucks!”

So when someone else gets that part you wanted, or gets married, or has their first baby, or gets a great job, or orders a better lunch than you – just remember that at some point, you’re going to have something they wish they had, too. They’re not gonna win ‘em all. No one can. No one should. It’s okay to admit that you’d like to have had something someone else has, but I think it should come with a side of knowing you’ve got something going, too. And if you don’t, then you better get to work. Oh, look, it just turned from jealousy to inspiration? How convenient.

Most days my grass is pretty green, sometimes I just get distracted looking at the other guy’s lawn, but that doesn’t make my grass any less worthwhile.

Who am I kidding? I don’t have a lawn, this is San Francisco.

You can find Allison “Ya Can’t Win ‘Em All” Page on twitter @allisonlynnpage and performing in The Age of Beauty at the Exit Studio August 1st – 17th.