Theater Around The Bay: A Blank Page?

A word of inspiration- and invitation- from one of our founding artistic directors, Stuart Bousel.

Yes, it’s true, for the first time in quite a while, we have nothing to run today.

This is partly my fault. I was supposed to have something written for today, but I’ve been interviewing for jobs, helping a company producing a play I wrote find a replacement director, prepping for the production of The Crucible I will be directing this year, promoting the DIVAfest at the EXIT Theatre, and diving into the pre-production process of RAT GIRL. I really wanted to write something about a recent experience I had at a “young theater professionals” night at a major Bay Area Theatre Company, but I kind of burnt out the subject talking about it on Facebook and amongst my friends and now I don’t care anymore either. Additionally, having done something like fifteen job interviews in the last three weeks, I’m reaching a point where my own voice is somewhat irritating to me. To those who find me an objectionable vocal presence- I am, for this exact moment, not entirely unsympathetic to your perspective.

Between the fatigue that comes from juggling many things and the mid-process place I find myself with most of my projects, I’m just not feeling very inspired to write anything, let alone a blog entry about how artistic directors of companies who hold “young theater professional nights” should make it a point to be there and shake each of our hands and introduce themselves- not just rely on the rather irritating but widely held belief that all “young professionals” need is artisanal appetizers and booze- as much as I like both of those things- to qualify an event as “an event.” Please, please, please, Theater Company, I respect your attempt to get with the new culture of engagement that permeates the youth these days but take a cue from other industries and recognize that it only works when the leadership of an organization is on the front line of that engagement endeavor. A room full of people who make theater companies are not showing up to an event to help you play restaurant for a night- they’re there to network and get involved, and your event should find a way to facilitate that if it wants to truly fill a need and not just be a cheap way to package dinner onto a play (which, granted, I appreciated).

Anyway, regarding the lack of inspiration: I’m not worried about it. One of the best things about being 35 is that I no longer worry that my well will run dry, that I won’t ever get around to writing everything I want to write, that my glory days as a writer are done. This is because I know there is no such thing as glory days, or rather that glory days happen all the time, but they definitely come and go. Having a more mature understanding of my own art and ability allows me to create less fear around the “go” and place more emphasis on the “come” (how is that for an art as spooj double entendre? Another great thing about 35 is embracing being 14 at heart!). Having long accepted that I will die with projects unfinished, no matter how many I knock out between now and then, has also relieved that pressure and guilt I used to feel whenever I wasn’t actively pushing forward or marking things off the list of ideas and titles I’ve carried with me for decades. That list is just too long and it keeps growing, because the well will never run dry so long as life continues to be interesting, and I keep being interested in life.

“White. A blank page of canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities,” is the last line of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday In The Park With George, one of my favorite shows ever, and it brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it on the recording or in performance, and it resonates very deeply inside of me. In Craig Zadan’s book about Sondheim, Sondheim & Co, the final chapter ends with a quote from the man himself, “Probably one of the most frightening things in the world is staring at a blank sheet of paper wondering how you’re going to fill it… but somehow you do.” He’s exactly right, and the reason why you’re able to do it is because there is no such thing as writer’s block- the lack of inspiration- there is just the fear of getting started. True, that can be a daunting hurdle, but the truth is, anyone who knows how to scribble or babble (and we all know how to do both) will stumble their way into coherency someday, and “give us more to see” (that’s a quote from Sunday too). The moment you understand that, and truly understand it, is the moment you are done with writers block forever. It’s also the moment you learn it’s okay to walk away from the blank page for a bit. Not because you’re afraid of it, but because it’s just not all that interesting today. Outside is beckoning, with all its delicious things and experiences to write about… later.

The reason we took this blog to a new level with regular columnists and an on-going series of guest writers was because there was a recognition of how diverse and unique the community here is. Few other major cities can boast such a wealth of micro-theater, indy artists and theater makers, while also having and admirable number of larger houses and a bona-fide regional theater presence. But the diversity of practices and productions in the Bay Area only makes us great if it is putting itself out there and declaring its presence, and creating platforms for that voice and those people has been SF Theater Pub’s goal from the beginning- first with the stage, and now with the page (including, but not limited to, the Allison Page).

In light of that, and looking at our March calendar with the idea of sparing you more meandering entries like these, I once again invite folks to send in proposals for articles, either one shot, or short series (1-4 articles), detailing their experiences in our theater scene, sharing their advice, or profiling elements, places, people, companies, or work that is interesting to them, teaching them something new, or they feel has been ignored or misunderstood by the larger community.

Please submit your proposals to theaterpub@atmostheatre.com. Not all are approved, but all are read and considered.

Give us more to see.

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3 comments on “Theater Around The Bay: A Blank Page?

  1. Now I have the term “spooj double-entendre” stuck in my head. Thank you for that.

  2. AnotherUnknownActor says:

    How about a piece about the fact that “emerging theater professionals” are not always “young?”

  3. sftheaterpub says:

    Stuart here: That sounds like something which could trigger a very interesting and much needed conversation. Please feel free to draw up a proposal and submit it to theaterpub@atmostheatre.com.

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