Theater Around The Bay: Not Safe For Work

Stuart Bousel doesn’t mean to offend you, he’s just heavily referencing not-so-gentle literary satire to make a point without having to name names or get too specific.

Dear Everyone,

You know that scene in American Psycho where Patrick Bateman and one of his asshole friends are doing lines in the bathroom of the nightclub and his friend is blathering about how the drugs aren’t good and then the dude in the next stall is like, “Can you keep it down, I’m trying to do drugs” and then they almost get into a fistfight because they’re all coked out of their minds? No?

Watch this.

That’s basically where I’m at right now, and I’m fairly certain I’m not alone there. Turn that club into the San Francisco Bay Area, that bathroom into the local theater scene, use cocaine as a stand-in for Art or Theater or Idealism or Funding or Resources or Values or Cause Celebre Du Jour, and you get a pretty good idea of what my head has been like 78% of the time for most of this year, maybe longer. Maybe it was just less obvious in the past, but progressively I feel like there is a tension on the rise as the bathroom keeps getting more packed, the club more exclusive, the cocaine keeps ebbing and flowing and the only thing that shifts from day to day is who I am and who you are.

And you know who you are and you know what I’m talking about.

Sometimes I’m Patrick Bateman and you’re the asshole friend, and the asshole in the next stall is mouthing off about his bullshit needs but I’m ignoring it because I’m just trying to have a good time with you and bond over our common interest but you keep screwing it up by having to pick fights with people and yes, I know, they started it, but honestly, if you could hear the shit coming out of your mouth you might understand why they feel a need to say something because man oh man, is it pretentious and stupid and I know you want it all and you want it all yesterday but complaining about the stuff I put a lot of time into getting after you’ve only done one line tells me that you’re either an ungrateful bastard or trying to make it sound like you’re some kind of expert but in reality you’re so inexperienced you don’t know that nobody gets high on the first line unless it’s really really pure and guess what, kiddo: really really pure costs way more than you’re willing to spend so shut the fuck up and make the best of what we have or get out and stop hogging the straw.

Sometimes I’m the asshole friend and you’re the guy in the next stall and even though you may have a legitimate gripe the truth is you’re also a whiny drop of snot who is taking stuff way too personally and while I get that you think I’m a loud-mouthed windbag with nothing important to say, and you may even be right, I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to my friend, and expressing my standards for the bang I get for my buck is not doing you any harm, especially since you’re over there engaging in the same tomfoolery we’re pissing our lives away on and thus really don’t have a fucking pedestal to mount – which means get the fuck off of it and go back to your business or invite us into your stall since you clearly have the good shit (or think you do) which apparently requires so much concentration and focus on your end that my griping about my needs and desires is turning you into a confrontational blowhard when you would otherwise be politely ignoring us ignorant plebes and worshiping whatever fountainhead it was that made you God and leads you to believe you get to tell me or anyone to shut up and by the way, no, no, I’m not sorry that I want more and better.

Sometimes I’m the guy in the next stall and you’re the asshole friend who won’t stop talking and all I want you to do is shut the fuck up because I am trying to get on with my life over here, I’m trying to make the most of my night, okay, so even though in another context we’d probably get along or at least get drunk together, I don’t really give a fuck (nor should I be obligated to give a fuck just because we’re in the same bathroom) about your opinions, your complaints, your needs, your desires, your stupid, made-up, the-world-isn’t-fair-but-I-only-care-about-that-in-regards-to-me “issues”, instead of just going about your business doing what all of us here are trying to do which is pursue some kind of vaguely enjoyable, vaguely satisfying (or at the very least medicating) experience in relative peace for the short duration of time we have on this planet.

Sometimes I’m the other guy in the next stall, the one who doesn’t say anything, you just kind of see his head as he slips in the stall, and you’re Patrick Bateman and because I’m keeping quiet and not saying anything, just minding my own business (or trying to) while our asshole friends are fighting about stuff that doesn’t really matter, I notice that there’s something kind of… off… about you, despite how nice and in charge you’re pretending to be, and I realize that it’s probably a good thing we’ve got this stall between us and, if you chose, that wouldn’t be much protection either so maybe it’s best if we just all got back to our separate parties and pretended this never happened because hey… I’m just having a good time here, life is fucking short and I don’t want this to be the hill that I die on, OK? Or maybe that’s you.

Sometimes you’re the mirror and I’m the cocaine and you keep showing me that I have the power to make this a night to remember and/or turn all of us into monsters.

Sometimes I’m the mirror and you’re the cocaine and I feel like basically I exist for you to be spread on, crushed, divided, consumed, and I recognize that really does kind of suck for you.

Sometimes you’re the music and you’re so loud it’s making it impossible to hear myself think but I sure do like dancing so turn it up.

Sometimes you’re the club and all I want is to get out of you even though I worked so hard to get in and it can be a really fun club.

Sometimes you’re the stall and I’m hiding inside you.

Sometimes you’re the lock on the door and I just need to remember the door locks from within.

Stuart Bousel is a Founding Artistic Director of the San Francisco Theater Pub. He’s had a play about to open, EVERYBODY HERE SAYS HELLO! that you should see. It’s way more cheerful than this. He’s also the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Olympians Festival, which is trying to raise it’s annual budget, and could use your help so DONATE HERE. He promises he won’t be spending the money on drugs.

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Everything Is Already Something Week 20: Actors Who Write

Allison Page is the new James Franco. 

It’s three years ago or so, and I’ve just finished a reading of several episodes of a web series I wrote. We’ve all been milling about the theater chatting, having snacks, and discussing the episodes. I’m scratching down a bunch of notes for myself – things I want to change, things I really liked, changes inspired by the way a person read the character, all the regular stuff. A guy walks up to me, and says completely seriously, “That was pretty good writing, for an actor.” He smiles and leaves.

I would argue that I’ve been an actor since I’ve been a talker – possibly before that. It’s never not been a part of my life, and every time I’ve made an attempt to cut it out, I just can’t. But the last three years especially have been co-focused on writing. I make my living writing allllllll day. And yet, I have this chip on my shoulder that I’m always going to be seen as an actor first, and a writer second. Or that somehow I can never really be a writer because I was an actor…which, when you say it that way, sounds really stupid. Generally, no one cares what you focused on before you started focusing on whatever you’re doing now. There are probably people in the NFL who used to work at Best Buy. I doubt anyone’s watching the game saying, “Yeah, he’s okay, but shouldn’t he be selling TVs? I just can’t see him doing anything else, ya know? He’ll always be Best Buy Brian to me.” Which isn’t to say that acting is as important to me as selling TVs, but the point is that most of the time, no one cares about that. But the actor/writer combo feels like it has a weird little stigma. Or maybe it’s because I am doing both of those things, and not giving up one for the other. If anything I’m using them to inform each other – something that I imagine and hope other actor/writer hybrid monsterbots are doing. I’m pretty happy with that, but every once in a while someone will say something like “That was pretty good writing, for an actor.” And after I’m done mocking his hairline, which is not so much receding as it is just running away, to make myself feel better – I get to thinking about the various reasons he might have said that.

Actor/writer is definitely an interesting combo if you look plainly at stereotypes. Actors: flighty, demanding, vain, difficult, extroverted, emotional, possibly dumb, probably-loves-swimming-with-attractive-people. Example: Marilyn Monroe

I'm carefree because I don't have to think...WHERE ARE MY BLUE M&Ms?!

I’m carefree because I don’t have to think…WHERE ARE MY BLUE M&Ms?!

Writers: brainy, quiet, meditative, introverted, probably-shut-themselves-up-in-a-cabin-for-months. Example: Ernest Hemingway.

This is my writing beard. Do I look smart yet?

This is my writing beard. Do I look smart yet?

Putting those two things together seems impossible. But those are also just stereotypes and don’t hold a lot of water in real life, but just because they’re not true doesn’t mean that the idea of them doesn’t still exist.

I’m aware of other actors who have started to write and don’t even wait for someone else to put the burden on them, they just do it themselves. Putting themselves down for having been an actor first and discounting their own writing because of it. Congratulations for getting to it before your nay-sayers did…but now you’re your own nay-sayer! For me (and I’ve said it before) one of the best things about the bay area is that you can do nearly anything. It’s a big beautiful testing ground on which to spill your artistic guts. There are so many outlets for you, if you look for them.

Last night I took a Lyft home, as I am like to do. I had just come from Write Club SF, an event which describes itself as “Literature as blood sport”. Naturally I was a couple of beers in (when you become a writer, you get to drink more. BONUS.) and got to talking to the driver about the event. I won my bout that night and have a tiny trophy to prove it. He told me, somewhat sheepishly, that he’s always wanted to be a writer. “So be one.” I said. “I don’t know” he told me, shaking his head. “I just feel like I don’t have the education, and I can’t afford it.” Naturally, I pish-poshed at that. I told him my whole rambling story, (you can check out my previous blog “Sorry I Didn’t Go To College” if you want to find out how I got here.) He’d been wanting to write for years. He’s started writing several novels but hasn’t finished them because he doesn’t feel like he’s really allowed to. After all, what right does he have to join the ranks of the elite alcoholism and snobbery of writing…right? My advice to him was that if he wants to do it, he should do it. The best thing about writing is that you barely need anything. If you have a laptop – great – if you don’t, paper and a pencil are damn cheap. I told him about a ton of free events that can help get him started. He ended the ride saying he thought it was fate that brought me to his car to encourage him to go after his dream. I won’t put quite that much weight in it, but I’m glad he felt inspired. I’m no Hemingway, but I do what makes me happy without regard for the opinions of people who don’t have the right to set the standard for me, because I don’t let them.

Tonight I have a short play in the SF Olympians Festival. It’s my first time writing for it after having acted the last couple of years. One of the many things I love about this festival is its dedication to not giving a fuck who you are. You send in a proposal. If your proposal is chosen you have a year to write a play. Then a staged reading of that play is produced. There are first time writers, long time writers, sometime writers and everything in between. There are, like me, other actors who are writing for the festival. There’s a drama critic writing for the festival. People from the fanciest of colleges, and people who barely graduated from high school writing for the festival. Unemployed people, authors, mothers, teachers, grad school students, tech people, and directors writing for the festival. And the best part is that we are all on an even playing field. Sure, the quality of each individual play is up to the writer, but we all have the same resources. We all get a director, actors, a theater, and even a piece of artwork representing our plays, regardless of background, experience or education. We’re pretty well supported by the festival and each other. I personally have missed only 2 plays, and have seen 22 in the last 2 weeks. And at no point has anyone mentioned that I’m just an actor who writes.

I try to work really hard at what I do to get that cozy “I earned this.”, feeling. But I’m also sure not to get down on myself just because I’m not Pynchon or Poe or some other writer with a P name. I’m actually happy to be both an actor and a writer. It’s satisfying for me; otherwise I wouldn’t do it. In the end I don’t think of myself as an actor who writes or a writer who acts – I’m an actor and I’m a writer and a bunch of other stuff too. I don’t think I know anybody who boils down to only one thing.

And for good measure, here are some people who did both, in no particular order and including playwrights, screenwriters and authors. (Don’t worry, I won’t mention James Franco):

Sam Shepard

Tina Fey

Bob Newhart

Mary Pickford

Wallace Shawn

Molière

Mindy Kaling

Christopher Durang

Kristen Wiig

Jerry Seinfeld

Marion Davies

Larry David

William Shakespeare

Carol Burnett

Steve Martin

Amy Sedaris

Harvey Fierstein

John Cleese

Gilda Radner

The Marx Brothers

Paddy Considine

Woody Allen

Mary Tyler Moore

Christopher Guest

Jon Favreau

Jennifer Westfeldt

Kenneth Branagh

……JAMES FRANCO. (gotcha)

This smile never needs a caption.

This smile never needs a caption.

See Writer Allison’s play The Golden Apple of Discord TONIGHT (November 20th) at 8pm at the Exit Theatre along with other short plays based on the Trojan War. You can find her on Twitter @allisonlynnpage.

Working Title: The Unexpected Routine

Will Leschber gives us his second article in an on-going series of comparisons between local theater and the endless horizon of the film world.

One free evening last week, I had the chance to catch one of the many running shows in this years SF Fringe festival. Beforehand I asked the opinions of friends in the Bay Area Theatre scene in an effort to find a show of quality. This was my local equivalent of checking Rotten Tomatoes. Neither of these methods is by any means fool-proof but they do usually provide a general gauge of quality that can help point one in the right direction. I settled on “Serving Bait to Rich People”, a one woman show about a bartender in a high-end sushi restaurant.

S_F_Fringe_blog_image_#1

While very entertaining with quite the charismatic performer, this Fringe Festival entry by Alexa Fitzpatrick was more stand-up comedy than a traditional play. Here was a challenge. Since there were no theatrical design aspects, this unexpected routine made for a hard comparison when attempting to dissect at how the tools of the Theatre stack up against the tools of Film.

The story elements could easily be drawn upon for comparison but is that enough? Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 film Waitress might make a great juxtaposition. 2005’s Waiting… starring Ryan Reynolds may well work if we were to draw upon the comedy instead of highlighting the romantic entanglements. Then again since this is a stand-up comedy story why not talk about last year’s Sleepwalk with Me that focuses all about the process of an up and coming stand up comedian, Mike Birbiglia. All of these films are worth checking out but in the end none of them seemed exactly right for a side by side assessment. However, this presented an opportunity to take step back and look at a different aspect of what made the evening a unique theatrical experience: short form theatre.

The prevalence of short form theatre in the Bay Area may not seem quite the unique thing, but ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a short play and when was the last time you saw a short film in the theatre? We are graced with a number of short form play festivals here: The SF Fringe Festival, Bay Area One Act Festival, The San Francisco Olympians Festival, Pint Size Plays to name of few. All of these showcase short plays in part or in full. These can be premium in and out experiences. They don’t waste time. They showcase a lot of talent. And if you don’t care for the piece, it’ll be over soon. The access to short form film, on the other hand, is entirely different. A theatrically released short film is quite a rare thing. You get the occasional Pixar short that is released to the masses but mostly wide release short films are relegated to the arena of animation tacked on to a larger full length feature.

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Short film is simultaneously harder to see and easier. Viewing one on the big screen is uncommon but one can find a myriad of them online. But then does that change the film watching experience into something else if we can only access what we are watching at home on a computer screen? I think it does.

Watching theatre live is intrinsic to the experience. Similarly, something is lost when you take film out of its natural environment. I’m not saying that there is no place for film outside of a movie theatre. Obviously films need a life outside the big screen. But I am saying that viewing film outside of a movie theatre alters the experience. I think it a shame that it’s so hard to find short film in theatres. Every year creative teams win Oscars for making a live action or animated shorts but who is ever able see these things? The Oscar Nominated Short Films are normally bundled together during Oscar season and released in a limited theatrical engagement. It’s a wonderful change of pace to see high quality short film on the big screen. I recommend it.

Oscar_shorts_2011_blog_image_#3

In the business of film, the main-stream market for this is almost non-existent. No one makes money off short film so they are left to the internet. Just like in short form theatre, short films can be a brilliant experience. Take a chance, seek them out.

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!

Hi-Ho The Glamorous Life: Once More Unto the Breach

Marissa Skudlarek is very busy, but she still has time to share.

As a postscript to my last column, written as I was about to go on the Theater Pub retreat, my editor added, “Tune in next time to find out if Marissa survives the weekend!”

An easy joke to make, I suppose, when you consider that twenty of us were going to be holed up in a remote house in the Marin Headlands during drizzly weather, and that the favorite pursuits of theater people are reputed to be drama, gossip, and backstabbing. Really, though, there wasn’t even the slightest hint of violence or anger in the air. In fact, being theater people, what we really possess is an endless capacity to entertain ourselves. When the apocalypse hits, come hang out with us. We’ll be the ones seated around a campfire, sharing a bottle of strong liquor and telling off-color jokes late into the night. (That’s basically what we did in Marin, anyway.)

The official Theater Pub postmortem of the retreat is well worth your time to read: it contains our lovingly crafted new mission statement, and information on ways you can get involved in the coming year. And thanks again to the person who commented anonymously on my last column; we used your remarks as a jumping-off point for a lengthy discussion on diversity and inclusiveness at Theater Pub. Our resolve to improve in this area has found its way into our revised mission statement.

So yes, I survived the weekend. More than that, I came back inspired to make art. (I’ll be submitting a proposal for a 2013 Theater Pub project – will you?) However, I will say that I’ve had such an incredibly busy few weeks that the retreat almost feels like it happened in a different lifetime. The Olympians Festival is kicking into high gear, along with the holiday season, so I’m entering another one of those stretches where I run around town like mad. I feel more glamorous and active and alive than usual, but also more run-down and confused. Was it really only twelve days ago that I was in the Marin Headlands discussing the directions that Theater Pub should take in 2013?

I was going to write that, like a good theater person, I thrive on stress. At its best, stress can bring a kind of ruthless clarity: when you have so many demands on your time, so many things that need to get done, it’s easier to know exactly what to do when. But here I am, coming to the end of my lunch hour, tap-tapping away at my laptop, stealing WiFi from Starbucks, and I realize that I have no idea how to bring this column to a thrilling conclusion. Perhaps stress only muddies my thinking, after all.

But, in the interests of clarity, I should let you know exactly why I am so busy. I have a staged reading of my screenplay Aphrodite, or the Love Goddess coming up on December 7, as part of the Olympians Festival. It’s a sexy 1940s interpretation of the Aphrodite myth, and will be paired with Amy Clare Tasker’s existentialist take onPhoebe & Theia. Please RSVP at our Facebook event if you are interested!

Beyond plugging my show, the only thing I can think to do is borrow the words of another when my own fail me; to think of the hectic two weeks I have just experienced and the hectic two weeks that lie ahead; and thus tell myself “Once more unto the breach, Marissa, once more!”

Marissa Skudlarek is a San Francisco-based playwright and arts writer. Check her out elsewhere atmarissabidilla.blogspot.com or on Twitter @MarissaSkud – or in person on December 7 at the Exit Theater, for the staged reading of Aphrodite.