Claire Rice’s Enemy’s List: By Any Other Name

Claire Rice submits her last list item for San Francisco Theater Pub.


The most wonderful thing happened to me on Tuesday. A woman asked me how to pronounce my name. For a moment I was caught off guard. I’ve never been asked how to pronounce my name before. Claire, while mispronounced more often then you would imagine, isn’t immediately intimidating. The women, when she asked, did so with such kindness and sincerity that I was taken aback. Then I remembered: on Facebook I changed my name to “Erialc Ecir”.

Since I changed the name I’ve gotten the same question several times. Why?

For the last few weeks I thought the answer was simple. I thought it was a kind of vague, if limp, protest against Facebook’s real name policy. That it was an experiment to see what it would be like, what it was like, for all those men and women who Facebook forced to change their names to their “legal” name. When I changed my name, I was still myself as I am, but I was not as I was known. The reorganization of the letters had caused me to move into a digital shadow. I couldn’t be seen and when I was seen I was ignored. Not in a cruel way, it was just that now I was unfamiliar.

It isn’t the first time I’ve had a different persona online, but my other persona was short lived and more of an inside joke than anything. That name was about hiding in the hopes that my words would feel truer. They didn’t. They were still mine. They were as true as they were when they came out of my fingers.

Seeing my words under a different name isn’t too far from hearing them through other people’s lips. There’s a sort of out of body experience. At times when listening to actors speak my words out loud I’ve had moments when I’ve taken quiet satisfaction in my own abilities, and others when I’ve been proud enough that it could be called a sin. There have also been moments, whole hours even, when I’ve cringed and grimaced and almost had to tie myself to my chair to keep from running from the theatre. But, even when they were terrible, they were my words.

But what version of me?

There is a version of me that writes poetry. Some of it sacred, some of it saccharin. There is a version of me that writes romantic comedy novels and a version that writes punk fantasy. There is a version of me that writes epic revenge tragedies and a version that writes kitchen sink dramas. There is the version of me that writes angry opinion pieces and a version that writes self deprecating personal essays. There is a version of me that stares at my computer screen as the curser blinks on the empty page, and a version that writes for days on end obsessively as easy as breathing.

This version, that has written for San Francisco Theater Pub, has enjoyed this last year very much. This version of me has both loved and feared the opportunity to write here, as it should be. This version of me is both very sad and very happy to be moving on.

I expect my name on Facebook, once my sixty days are up, will change back to Claire Rice. I expect that you may see one or two impassioned blog posts about theatre on my personal blog before too long, but this version of myself will no longer be the Enemy’s List version. Thank you for letting me in. This version, any version.


Claire Rice’s Enemy’s List: The Adding Machine

Last week Claire talked about all the shows happening on a particular day in September. This week she’s going to make wild assumptions based on guesses, wishful thinking, and poor research.

When we say there are over fifty shows playing on a given night (my rough count is 54), what does that mean people wise?

This shouldn't be too complicated...right?

This shouldn’t be too complicated…right?

I estimate that on the night of September 19th there are over 450 actors performing in the Bay Area. For the sake of argument, let’s say there are as many shows in rehearsal as there are in performance. Continuing that argument, let’s say there are at least as many actors in rehearsal as there are performing. Yes, I understand that many actors might be in rehearsal and in performance at the same time. I also get that shows like Beach Blanket Babylon and Foodies! The Musical aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and those performers aren’t necessarily going anywhere either. So, we can put an estimate on over 1000 actors working (or enjoying a well earned night off) on the night of September 19th.

The estimates above are based on published cast lists and play descriptions. It’s a rough estimation, but the number is close. A harder estimation to make is the numbers of directors, writers, artisans, designers, crew members, house staff, and administrators are also being employed on a single evening. Some of the directors, and many of the designers, double up on shows. Some theatre companies need a very large crew of ushers to handle the large numbers of audience. Some theatre companies are able to work with a single stage manager who also acts as box office manager because there is no one else to do it. We’ll imagine, for this exercise, that it averages out to five on site crew members for each performance that evening. That’s 270 people working shows that night. Yes. I agree. I also think that number is too small. But let’s keep going. If we say that there are as many shows in rehearsal as performing then we’ll also say that there are an average of three crew working each of those rehearsals (I’m counting the directors in this number). So that’s 162. So, that’s 432 total.

1432 actors, directors, artisans, crew, administrators and assorted ner-do-wells working on the evening of the 19th.

But Claire, you say, you just made up all those numbers. Correct, smarty-pants-math-person. But, let’s keep playing pretend for now because I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts my number is off because it is too low.

Let me say that again. 1432 is a low end, non-scientific estimate of how many theatre artists are actively engaged in their art on the night of September 19th.

1,432 artists.

If Bay Area Theatre were a single employer, then they would be almost on par with Twitter, who employes 1,500 people in San Francisco. Twitter is, by the way, the third largest tech employer in San Francisco.

So that’s something to make you feel good. Sure, it’s a little superficial , but even so it’s the kind tag line that could get you through the day if you need to feel good about your life choices.

Next time we’ll go back to that 432 number and see how many of those roles are actually available to Bay Area actors, take wild guesses on who in that number is getting paid, and check out hot button topics like gender and ethnic parity.

Claire Rice’s Enemy’s List: Theatre Gets a Big Tax Break

Claire Rice has tax code stories on her Google Alerts.

Excellent news!!!

A tax relief program will begin this fall which could give theatre companies up to a 25% tax rebate on 80% of a production’s up-front budget costs ahead of its run. Touring shows will receive a 24% tax rebate. Other productions will be eligible for a 20% tax credit. It is intended to benefit both commercial and subsidized companies, who can claim their relief by either offsetting taxes or as a cash credit. The relief will be evaluated on a per production basis. It is hoped the tax relief plan will help the theatre industry to compete with cinema and television, which has enjoyed similar tax relief measures for years.

You just know this guy is going to use his rebate to do a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar"

You just know this guy is going to use his rebate to do a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”

An industry professional said: “Our desire is that this gives a boost to producing across theatre and other forms of performing arts such as dance and opera, and in particular that this helps regional theatre. There is an opportunity here to boots production, jobs and investment.”

The measure was first conceived in 2011 when tax credits for angel investors in small start ups were in the process of being reviewed. Lobbyists for the theatre industry called for a similar, but separate, review looking at tax breaks for the creative industries. That proposed relief would have been more about making investing in theatre attractive, while the relief that will go into effect on September 1st gives tax breaks directly to commercial and not-for-profit corporations.

Without a doubt, the most important part of this announcement is that the government is openly supporting the creation of art and it’s ongoing survival. “It’s a massive vote of confidence from the government,” said another industry insider. The big winner in this equation is touring companies, which means plays and productions will be able to survive longer and will be seen by more people.

Ah…wait. I’m sorry. I’m a bad reporter. All of this is happening in the UK.

It is good news for our friends across the pond who often have reason to crow. One of their major exports is, in fact, theatre. Though, while it may be a vote of confidence in the industry, it is also a little salve in the major wound of awful cuts to smaller subsidized theaters across the UK.

Still….le sigh.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have our president come out to his podium, smile, and say anything at all about theatre? Wasn’t it exciting to pretend, even for a moment, that our government was willing to throw us a bone?

A girl can dream.

For the real skinny on the tax relief plan:

For more information on cuts to UK theatres:

If you haven’t bought tickets for Thunderbird Theatre Company’s upcoming production of SHOW DOWN! you should. Thunderbird Theatre Company is back with a new comedy and the battle for television has begun…on stage! To buy tickets click here now:

Claire Rice’s Enemy’s List: Reviewers Suck

Claire Rice bravely talks about one of the Bay Area theater scene’s biggest elephants in the room.

“Critics sometimes appear to be addressing themselves to works other than those I remember writing.” – Joyce Carol Oates

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I’ve written on this blog multiple times that honesty about our opinions on the art around us shouldn’t be condemned, but is itself a necessary element of the act of creation. We do not create in or for a void. I myself go on and on about my wishes, my favorite things and my awkward (and possibly hypocritical) feelings about pretentious theatre. While I believe what I say has merit, it also is done on an utterly volunteer basis. My opinions matter to me, but they will not be part of the historical record of events. Whatever my impact has been as a writer for this blog (whether it has induced eye rolling or link clicking or whatever) I have my doubts about any sort of prolonged impact. Despite the fact that it’s called “Enemy’s List”, it is more or less a victimless blog.

This is not true of reviewers. These are the men and women we reserve seats for, hand press packets to, and have debates back stage about how to interpret their laughter or their sighs. Their opinions do matter. When a person is paid for their review it has a legitimizing effect on both the writer and the show. It means that the opinion was worth paying for and the show was worthy of the time it took to see it and write about it. This is, of course, an over simplification; but then to your average civilian who is looking for either a) something to read about while on the train or b) something to do on a Friday night none of this background matters. They only have what is right in front of them in black and white. This person’s opinion is worthy of print and this show is worthy of being reviewed.

In my day job I’m asked to research news items from “legitimate sources” for evidence in cases to be presented to our government. The government still operates on the premise that if it is in print it is “legitimate”, which is why when you create a business and you have to post your business name it must be in a printed newspaper. These sorts of things may be the only thing keeping the printed word a float: people paying to legitimize themselves. It certainly isn’t the news or people’s opinions of art. So print news sources have had to cut back to the minimum.

Which means critics and reviewers are a dying breed.

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Reviewing used to be one of the avenues for writers to earn an income while writing books, or poetry, or plays or something. Now that there is so much free space on the internet, the phrase “everyone is a critic” is literal. Social networking is dependent on opinionated people dispensing of their opinions for free. Or, a person can start up a blog, sell ads for revenue, and start saying whatever they want about anything. Aggregates like Huffington Post aren’t necessarily curators of these blogs when they re-post them. Sometimes they are, sometimes the relationship is based on algorithms.

Is a person now legitimate because of their click rate? The title of this post is “Reviewers Suck”. This is a little bit of the old bait and switch. I don’t think reviewers suck. But if a lot of people read this, does it mean it is legitimate? Am I the one who decides something like that? Is it you, the reader? Is it a reviewer of blogs? If this blog gets an award does it mean it should be taken more or less seriously?

I would like to reiterate that I don’t think reviewers suck. I do think the relationship between the reviewers and the reviewed is always fraught with emotion.

I didn’t invent being butt-hurt due to an unfavorable review.

“Asking a working writer what he things about critics is like asking a lamp-post what it feels about dogs.” – John Osborne

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What I do wonder is, who are the reviewers I should be listening to? Who are the reviewers that anyone should be listening to?

And when is it ok for me to be critical of them?

Taylor Mac commented on fellow Theater Pub blogger’s Facebook page to call her out for her opinions on his show “Hir”. You can read her post here. Unfortunately, the conversation happened on her page on Facebook, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to link to it. Marissa’s opinion of “Hir” did not illicit a loving and positive response from Taylor Mac and he felt the need to reach out and tell her so. Is it because she isn’t a published reviewer, but her thoughts are published on her personal blog, so he felt she was approachable? Is it because she is a big fan of his and he felt he could change her mind? Is it because he’d gotten several favorable reviews and this one was the one contrary one? Did he get too many unfavorable ones and this one was the straw that broke his back?

Whatever the reason, we’ve all wanted to do it.

I do sympathize with him. We’ve all wanted to publicly lambast our detractors. We’ve all wanted to pull apart their critiques piece by piece and present evidence that refutes their beliefs. We’ve all wanted to cross our arms and stop our feet and say “But we sold out! I’ve had many people say they loved it! You are just too (old, white, stupid, irrelevant, apathetic, jaded, sheltered, biased) to get it!”

“Reviewers , with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

A reader can develop a relationship with a critic over time and come to trust their taste and their expertise. A reader can also come to trust that they will disagree with whatever a critic may say. I really only read theatre reviews after I’ve seen a play. In which case, I am either looking for someone to agree with me (because I like that) or someone to vocally disagree with (because I like that too.)

But, in this atmosphere of fly by night bloggers, Gold Star reviewers, social media status updates, aggregators, and dying print media; how do we develop relationships with reviewers? And I do mean develop. The people coming out of college and starting up little theatre companies, who do they email to invite to shows? Who’s opinions to do they take seriously and who’s do they silently tolerate? Who is legitimate?

In the heat of the moment, after reading five hundred or so words on something I’ve worked the better part of a year on, I am willing to dismiss the whole lot. But I know this isn’t fair or correct.

But, here are the things I want for our reviewers and critics in the Bay Area:

I want more of them.

I want them to be younger and hungrier.

I want them to be well informed culture omnivores.

I want them to have cult like followings.

I want them to be better writers then I am.

I want them to be openly critical of each other.

I want them to be openly critical of and write often about the whole Bay Area scene.

I want them to work the whole Bay Area.

I want them to have a sense of history in their reviews.

I want them to be rewarded and awarded for their efforts.

I’m not looking for a reviewer or critic who will be “on my side”. I’m not hoping that with a critical mass of writers there will be one out there who “gets my work”.

“Loyalty in a critic is corruption.” – George Bernard Shaw

“You need a high degree of corruption or a very big heart to love absolutely everything.”
– Gustave Flaubert

But I will say that there are some reviewers and critics who I don’t take seriously, whether it is mine or someone else’s work they are commenting on. I will also say I don’t feel like there is a guiding star to tell me who I should take seriously and who I shouldn’t. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. And since reviewing our reviewers is the only real taboo in theatre, I’ll leave you with that.

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Claire Rice’s Enemy’s List: And Now a Note without a Suicide

Claire Rice on the Year of the Rat.

Madam life’s a piece in bloom
Death goes dogging everywhere:
She’s the tenant of the room,
He’s the ruffian on the stair.

– William Ernest Henley


I’ve spent the last year of my life contemplating incomplete suicides and other deaths. I’ve killed a great number of people on stage in a variety of ways. Sometimes I’ve written their deaths and sometimes I’ve directed them. Once or twice I’ve acted them. It often surprises me how flippant in the moment I can be about death, but after all the actor will get up and walk off stage in the dark only moments later. Crudely, it is often just one tool in the great storytelling tool box. Character B must die to show that Character A has lost all humanity. Meanwhile, Director A and Playwright B have spent hours going back and forth on the best method to bring about Character B’s demise. Should we slit the throat? Hang from rafter? Drown in a well? Poison? How fun it is to play at such violent fictions.

But this year has been the year of the Rat. Kristin Hersh’s Rat Girl, that is. In particular, I’ve spent the last year contemplating the climax of act one where she attempts to end her own life. I spent hours contemplating her method of death. Her door out. In the end I choose a violent and painful end. She picks up a discarded and used box cutter from the clutter that surrounds her. The tool yields itself up out of her world as if she’s bidden it to come. The box cutters appear during a discussion of the death of god, perception and responsibility, art and creation.

But it isn’t easy. The idea is there. The tool is there. The will is there. The need is there. Everything except the action.

In literal time it takes about ten minutes to get there.

In stage action time it takes two full songs and a monologue to get there.

In play time it takes a sleepless night, the purgatory of a hallucination, the stalemate between the fractured self and the sane self, and a calm acceptance of deeper desires.

And then she is reborn. At the top of act II she’s faced her own death at her own hands and now has to move forward and deal with consequences of that battle: the pain on the faces of her loved ones who feel betrayed and scared, the condescension of professionals who’ve seen it all before and the dismissal of those who expect nothing less of an artist. She’s died, but she hasn’t yet decided to live. As the evidence of the value and worth of her life piles up around her, she still cannot be sure. How can she be? How can we demand of her to hurry up and start living when she knows just how close death is and how easily it can be willed closer? At any moment the door out can be manifested before us and we can choose to walk through it or stand before it still.

When she finally chooses life she does so with her own voice.

How long does it take for her to find that voice?

In literal time it takes two hours and thirty minutes including a fifteen minute intermission.

In stage action time it takes about 38 short scenes split between two acts, several songs, a few monologues and two car scenes.

In play time it takes a crisis of identity, a swim in the ocean, a loss of a friend, a terrible accident, multiple discussions about art, the value of art (and thus the value of the self), a lonely suicide, a fractured survival, a move, a pregnancy, a validation, disillusionment, an escape and a return (all in all about a year and change).

Maybe in future productions it won’t take that much literal time, or that many songs or that many car scenes. Maybe in future productions it will take longer. But it will never be easy and it will never be separated from the discussion of art. How could it be? How could the life of an artist, who lives to created, not be filled with discussions on the value of that creation? The perceived value of that creation? The act of creation? Its place in the world? Its place among other art? The difference between art and product?

Of all the deaths on stage, it is this near death that has been the most difficult for me and the most rewarding to contemplate and put out into the world. It isn’t mine. It’s so many other people’s before it is mine, but it is so close to me.

I refuse to allow this death to be easy, or the life that follows it. I refuse to make it simple or direct, because it isn’t.

I’ve taken death on stage for granted, but I refuse to take the choice to live on stage for granted any more. And I’m not going to let you take it for granted either.

Claire Rice’s Enemy’s List: Money Talks and Bullshit Walks

Claire Rice, here to slap your new year in the face with some hard-hitting journalism. 

I won second place in a bullshit contest in middle school. I don’t mean the contest was bullshit, I mean that I was the second best bullshitter among thirteen year olds in New Mexico and I was given a medal to prove it. I didn’t win another award until college. It was an award for my performance in one of the main stage plays. I received the certificate during an assembly where scholarship awards were also being given. When I went up to shake the department chair’s hand and collect my piece of paper he pulled me close and whispered in my ear: “You should have gone for the money.”

These were my first lessons in how important awards really are.

Please sir, I need a little something to fill out my CV.

Please sir, I need a little something to fill out my CV.

There is big money to be had out there. More important than the Critic’s Circle or, the best major grants are awards that recognize past achievements and the potential of future achievements. This year the Andrew Mellon Foundation gave $3.7 million dollars for playwriting residencies all across the country.  Awards went locally to ZSpace to hire Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and to Cutting Ball to hire Andrew Saito.  I haven’t talked to the Mellon Foundation myself, but I can’t help but feel this award was given in large part because of the book “Outrageous Fortune” and the national conversation about the state of new play development in the United States.  If so, it was given in an effort to effect change on a national level.  Mellon was using its money to talk.

The Mellon Foundation is privately funded and isn’t accountable to the general public for its actions.  The National Endowment for the Arts, on the other hand, was founded by Congress.  Wikipedia said, at the time this article was written, that the NEA is the largest grant-maker to arts organizations in the nation.  That fact needed a citation so, it’s hard for this piss poor journalist to say.  What I can say is that someone had the balls to type that into Wikipedia in 2012 and no one had refuted it at the time of this writing.  So, we’ll say it’s true enough.

So, what is NEA money saying?


The total budget for the NEA was $158 million dollars, which is about half of what the Washington Post says the Affordable Care Act’s website cost. The NEA keeps a wonderful search tool on all the grants it has given out since 2000 here: Since 2000 the NEA has given over 300 grants totaling over $6 million to just about 70 Bay Area theatre companies and supporting organizations. The smallest grant was in 2003 to American Conservatory Theatre for about $2000 for pre-production support for the world premiere of “Malaya” by Chay Yew, a play A.C.T. has yet to actually premier. The largest grant was made in 2013 to Berkeley Repertory for $75,000 to support Marcus Gardley’s play “The House Will Not Stand” which opens January 31.

Compare that to New York, who’s theatre companies received almost 900 grants totaling over $25 million. TCG received the largest grants consistently since 2000 with the largest sum of money being $380,000 in 2000, 2003 and 2004. The Lincoln Center received $100,000 to produce “War Horse.” The smallest sum was $5000 to support Amas Musical Theatre’s production of “Four Guys Named Jose”. Chicago, on the other hand, has only received about 195 grants totaling just over $4 million. It’s smallest grant was to the American Theatre Company for a reading of a new translation. The largest grants were for $100,000 each for Steppenwolf and the Goodman Theatre, both were to support world premier productions. Minneapolis has been awarded just over 140 grants totaling almost over $3 million dollars. The smallest was $5,000 to Pangea World Theatre to support new works. The largest was $100,000 to Mixed Blood Theatre company to support two new works.

Of course, cities all over the United States received funding, this is just a very small sampling. Also, I’ve only looked at projects that were listed under Theatre. This does not include any of the other multiple categories that theatre companies might apply under for funding (including dance and music).

No one reading this will be surprised that New York also receives the lion’s share of the NEA pot. What this spot check shows is that the majority of NEA funding is indeed going to new works and organizations that support new works. It isn’t all world premiers either, there are rolling and regional premier. Apparently “Ragtime” didn’t make its way to Austin, Texas until 2012 so it counted as a regional premier according to the NEA grant. So, this writer feels that the NEA has been saying since 2000 that it supports new works and the creators of new works. If you look over the lists and lists and lists of grantees you’ll find all of the usual suspects, but the projects being funded are incredibly diverse. The NEA grants tell us that, yes, New York is still the center of American theatre. What they also tell us is that the NEA is so full of hope. The NEA isn’t thinking about risk. So often new works are associated with risk and trouble. “Will we fill seats? No one has heard of this playwright or this play.” But the NEA is saying it believes in new works and the artists and organizations creating them.

I encourage everyone to go and download these reports and create wonderful diagrams on gender equity, ethnic diversity, zip code funding disparity and anything else and everything else. It’s all right there for your to create beautiful charts and graphs to measure all kinds of things.

And while the numbers may tell you that the NEA has hope for the future, they won’t tell you the actual future.

Rocco Landesman stepped down as chairman in November of 2012. He was appointed by President Obama in 2009. Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa is filling his role until a new Chairman can be appointed. President Obama has yet to nominate a replacement for Landesman. Also, Ralph Remington, the NEA Theatre/Musical Theatre Director, left in November. His seat is also still empty. The senate will vote to confirm Janet Yellen to the Federal Reserve on January 6. I’m sure finding someone to fill the empty seats at the NEA is totally on the to do list. Probably.

There is more to worry about than just a slow bureaucracy having a hard time catching up. After the government shutdown and a continuing power struggle, politicians on both side of the isle are considering what should be considered “necessary” funding. Writers like Rick Smith, who asks if America still needs the NEA since we now have Kickstarter, aren’t helping. The Washington Post found arts administrators across the board are feeling edgy about the vacancies “Without a leader who can champion its initiatives — or defend its mere existence — the NEA flails and tends to lose funding, experts say.” You can read the full article here.

The NEA is a common and easy target for Republicans, Social Conservatives, and budget cutters. And since theatre organizations are generally hinging their budgets on $10,000 NEA grants, it’s doubtful that there is a lobbying voice that will be able stand up for the NEA in Washington with any real power. And looking at the top lobbying clients, I don’t think any of them will stand up for us either. $158 million dollars isn’t a large piece of the pie when thinking about the national budget, and it’s possible that the smallness of the number is what makes it seem so unnecessary. Too little funds are spread too thin to too many places. American Conservatory Theatre received $30,000 for the production of “The Orphan of Zhao” from the NEA. It received $326,000 from San Francisco Grants for the Arts to support the entire season.

Go ahead and plan your Oscar Awards party and scoff at the ridiculousness of it all. I also look forward to sitting with you at a bar and complain about how awards are strange and meaningless. As Theatre Bay Area gears up for its first year of excellence awards, I look forward to the debates about how much weight a piece of paper or a plaque should be given. Only time will tell if new local accolades will mean increased funding opportunities. Where does legitimacy come from? What comes first: the accolades or the funding? Is there a funding source that carries more legitimacy than another?

Lastly, if the NEA isn’t seen as a legitimate way to spend government funding, how do we change that?

Should we give them an award?

Claire Rice’s Enemy’s List: Why Are You Hitting Yourself?

Is Claire Rice her own worst enemy?

When I started this column it was with the directive that it could not be a place where I berated myself for not being “the wisest of us all.” Now, I am very good at berating myself. I’ve done it for years. One of my favorite things to say is “Alright, I’m the asshole here.” This is both a line from a movie I watched over and over and over again in high school and a funny way for me to take the blame foreverything that’s gone wrong. Everything.

KWOCK! is the sound my self-deprecation makes

KWOCK! is the sound my self-deprecation makes

Recently my therapist told me that was unhealthy. And by therapist I mean the internet. And by internet I mean Buzzfeed. And by Buzzfeed I mean I zoned out in front of cat gifs and now I feel like Buzzfeed is the new opiate of the masses and controlled by the devil. So, can anything really be my fault entirely?


I feel like maybe in the future I’ll be able to not call myself an asshole every time something in my vicinity goes awry. Still, there are a few things about this past year that are irking me. Things I’ve said or done that I’m not proud or I’m still kicking myself for.

So I’ve gone back in time to January 1, 2013 and I’m having a good talk with myself over a healthy salad at a reasonably priced restaurant about what to do when those things happen.

When You Find Yourself Working With Someone Who Doesn’t Like You
He doesn’t like the show. He doesn’t like you. He has other priorities. He just wants this to be over. You can’t avoid it or change it and you shouldn’t try. You can’t go back and make a better first impression, you can’t impress him with your prowess in theatre because he already thinks you are full of shit, and you can’t pretend to be his friend. It just isn’t going to happen. It’s fine. Stop worrying. You won’t always get to work with people who hang on every word you say. Sometimes people will disagree with you for more than just aesthetic reasons. Sometimes it will be personal. Stand your ground, but don’t kick the beehive. Don’t apologize if you don’t mean it, it will only feed his theory that you are a fake person. Don’t hate yourself because you can’t make him like you even though you don’t like him. On opening night he will sit in the back row and talk through the show, he’ll laugh at your work, he’ll make fun of the actors, and he’ll annoy the audience. You’ll feel stupid for trying to get him on your team and you’ll feel vindicated because you never liked him in the first place. Here’s the thing: there’s nothing that says if someone doesn’t like you it means they are bad or you are bad or anyone is bad. The work comes first. If you aren’t both on the side of the work, then there is trouble. Recognize when that happens and be strong. It’s great when we all get along and are friends, but don’t work harder on making that happen than putting up a good show.

When the Playwright Doesn’t Like Your Concept
Communication. Communication. Communication. Communicate often, clearly and early. You can’t compromise or even create better art if you don’t understand each other. Honest and open communication might prevent a late night talk where you end up changing something you aren’t really prepared to change. I mean, maybe you should change it, but you need to do so with a clear head. Your visions of the play might also be utterly different. You are so enamored with her and her work you would do just about anything to make her happy. When you find yourself at a late night meeting with her over whiskey you will be willing to do just about anything for her because you haven’t eaten anything all day, you just got through three days of stressful tech while working a full time job, you’ve been worrying about ticket sales, and you are worrying about how long it’s been since you spent meaningful time with your husband; so you have no real brain. If you had communicated better earlier the conversation would have been different, but it would always have been stressful. Go home. Sleep. Sleep well. Take the next day off from the day job to have lunch with her. Use this as an opportunity for meaningful creation through collaboration. She’ll feel better. You’ll feel better. They play will be better. Everything will be better.

When You Say Something Stupid On The Internet in a Networking Group
By the end of the year you’ll be the only one who cares any more. Everyone you talk to about will just nod politely and wait until the topic changes. Seriously, you’ll really be the only one who cares. Get over it as fast as you can.

When You Refuse to Answer Your Emails Because You Are Overwhelmed With Anxiety
I’m not going to lecture you about how you shouldn’t procrastinate. I’m not going to coddle you and lie and tell you that procrastination is a sign of an artist. I’m not going to tell you to get over it. You just need to figure out how to work better, smarter, and with less anxiety. My instinct is to remind you that when you don’t get back to people in a timely fashion they think you are an unreliable jerk, but I’ve come to understand that berating you only leads to more anxiety, more stress, and more procrastination. Let me just say this: there are bigger, better and more fun problems that are worth stressing about. Hit reply. Say thank you. Put it on your calendar. Move on.

When It Feels Like You Aren’t Making Enough Time to Write
It’s because you aren’t. Sit down and write. The more you beat yourself up about it, the worse it’s going to be. And every time you get jealous of other writers who are always writing and you say “Ugh, I hate you” you are really saying “Ugh, I hate myself.” Stop it. Sit down and write. Or don’t. Whatever. Just stop hating yourself for it. It isn’t productive, it isn’t fun, and it doesn’t make the writing any better. And when you don’t like what you wrote, just write more. You aren’t going to be a better writer by watching shitty reality TV and hating yourself because you should be writing but feel like everyone else in the world is so much better than you are. Pick up your laptop, take out that composition notebook, scribble on a napkin; whatever. Just write.

When You Throw-Up in a Cab
Don’t. You are thirty two, happily married, have a good job, you are proud of your directing work, and often you are very proud of your writing. Hooray! That will all suddenly, and ridiculously, feel utterly unimportant when you can’t keep your food down. You will feel cold and sober and shocked at your own stupidity. Congratulations. You aren’t perfect and it was trying to be perfect that made it worse than it should have been. Sit down on the sidewalk in the rain like a good girl. Throw it all up right in the street then walk to the muni station. You’ll still be embarrassed, but it’ll be cheaper. Oh, and maybe eat before you drink. And maybe don’t drink as much. That night.