Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fire to Ash

The wordsmithing is failing me on this particular topic, so in lieu of any organized thoughts I'm going to just ramble and see what happens to fall out of my brain through my keyboard.

One of the reasons I started hitting this blog with (relative) heaviness back in August was, essentially, burnout from Theatre. Though it wasn't quite so much burning myself out--that would imply things were getting done--as much as seeing everything else go up in smoke. Basically, three incidents and factors, independent of one another, converged to strike in rapid succession this summer and left me wearied and bitter.

The first was a protracted Playwriting MFA application process: seven of the eight schools turned me down outright (which is not unheard of), while the last one invited me for an interview in May and then took two months instead of two weeks to tell me they they weren't interested.

The final word on that came in early July. I was directing David Mamet's Oleanna at the Alpine Playhouse summer show by then. It was only a week later, two-and-a-half weeks before we were to open, that one of my actors fell extremely ill, so much so that, with her moving a week after we would have closed, we had no room to reschedule and had to cancel the show.

Shortly thereafter I finally got around to reading the much talked-about study Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play, which quantifies the generally awful economics of new play production in the U.S. Suffice it to say that I wanted to throw the book against the wall while I was reading it and spent a lot of time brooding--on theatre, cultural (ir)relevance, the future--afterward.

The effect of this, following as it did on the heels of the exhausting MFA process and the Oleanna cancellation (sounds like the title of a Robert Ludlum novel...), was traumatic. Never mind a perfect storm, this was starvation in a monsoon on top of an earthquake.

It killed any enthusiasm I had for the theater, which is why I didn't bother to see any shows on my September trip. It's also, as I said, why I've been spending so much more time on this blog than I was before (there were also some major writer's block issues at work, but that's another story).

I didn't write about any of this as it was going on--not here, anyway--because it was a lot of ugly anger and self-pity that I would have regretted publishing, and I had better things to blog about anyway. And I probably wouldn't be writing about it now, except that it provides some useful context for the past couple weekends, in which, to mix my metaphors, my burnout began to thaw.

But that's for another post; this one's long and unfocused enough as it is.

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