April is gone as quickly as the rain it brings. Sometimes life overwhelms you but as April teaches, it passes and brings on sunny days – sometimes which arrive later than expected, but they will arrive!
Most of my April was spent preparing for the debut of MAGIC? at Dixon Place. The second half of my April was consumed by a personal issue which has stifled my creativity, productive energy, and emotional wellbeing. Overall, things are looking positive as I pass through the transitory month of April but to refuse to acknowledge the difficulty I’ve been experiencing would be being dishonest with myself.
The work required for production of MAGIC? was gargantuan. Firstmost, the script needed completion, a revision, and then some tidying up – all of which took place at an alarmingly fast pace. Christopher Erlendson and I spent many late evenings in downtown Manhattan sometimes working as late as 1AM. Our brilliant collaborator Kelly Catlin composed some amazing music for the piece from an outline of a draft we provided to her ahead of time. Once the script was complete, she fine-tuned her music to match our words. At last, the script came together and then the real work began for our cast and creative crew to begin building the show from words to a performance.
Honestly, much after finalizing the script was a dizzying whirl for me. I like to say that I’m a writer and that my role (aside from Producer roles) ends there. Christopher really took the reins thereafter as the Director and led the production into rehearsals, working with our talented Stage Mangers Jane Silverstein and Devorah Merkin, Costume Designer Elizabeth Seaver, and highly talented cast: Amanda Boekelheide, Victoria Giambalvo, Yasmine Schancer, Emma Lieberman, Sarah Teed, Hannah Yi, Matthew Axel.
The approach of our production process was different than the past in that Christopher and I decided to utilize this production as a developmental instrument in which we would try new approaches, designs, and outreach. This included rehearsing in sections: an overall familiarization of the script, rehearsing with a partially completed script, and with a complete manuscript. This method proved effective given the final period had more than 10 days of work – which it did. As for design, our approach was to choose major points of investment and cover the other areas with short term solutions – this took form as a simple set with extravagant costumes – most of which had a high level of design and low level costs. This method proved effective in generating medium quality costumes and set with minimal funds – our focus on the orchestration of available materials rather than the choosing and purchasing of them. In a project with little funding, human hours and available material are in abundance – of which we used abundantly (touché). Lastly, our approach with outreach was one of media, industry professionals, and consumers. This is a complicated process which, I’ve learned through the help of Mike Griffith and David DeAlmo, requires planning, structure, and methodology.
Enough about technicalities, what about the show? It was a smashing success. From the strong acting, to beautifully designed lights, eloquent music, and graceful hand of directorship MAGIC? turned out to be a beautiful and fun piece of entertaining theater. Briefly, MAGIC? is dramatic comedy where a magical world faces a threat of magical powers being lost. When two tricksters arrive with their fake magic show, the government believes they have found the root of the problem. The feedback received from our audience at Dixon Place was positive and voiced scene-specific criticism, suggesting the overall story of the play is in good form. Christopher and I expect to begin revising this in early June.
Our single night performance was a ton of fun and a ton of work – requiring completion, revision, and then more revisions of a 70 minute all-rhyming play in under 6 weeks. After the show, I simply collapsed and hit reset on my creative monitor. I spent time meeting with friends, watching plays (Bamboo Bushwick, Last Bite, Oslo), watching movies (Pirates of the Caribbean I, II, and III), and reading books.
Another reason for my collapse after MAGIC? is a personal difficulty regarding my living situation. Simply, my living space in Harlem is going through a transition which will be complete by the end of May – until, has been causing me significant amount of anguish. This situation is resolved but as most complicated things, it is in a timely process playing itself out to resolution. The result is a continuous presence of negativity in my living space – a significant factor in the well-being of any person, including (perhaps especially) an artist’s. Frankly, I have been feeling devoid of productivity, emotional availability, and creativity from this situation. May 31st is when this will be over – a short month away. In the meantime, I will focus on positive energy from friends, mentors, family, and art.
On a completely different note, I have been studying war, peace, and strategy on an academic level (for no reason other than interest). I started reading a book a while ago on military maneuvers and have been hungry for knowledge on the matter since. I hope to incorporate this knowledge into my purview of artistic expression soon but in the meanwhile, I will pursue my interests without investigating them too scrutinously.
On a final note, my talented friend Emily Chan helped me with a new headshot! She also helped design my new business card. Isn’t she amazing?
Thank you for following and being part of this journey with me!