I belong to a wonderful playwrights group, The Playwrights Binge. It's a collective of just under a thousand playwrights who share submission opportunities. We recently ended our March "Binge". Each playwright participating in the binge pledges to send at least a submission a day. It's an excellent way to get focuses on your work, and has definitely gotten me productions and publication. I'd like to share my stats for the month of March:
Recorded Airplay with my piece Linda (Thanks Coni and Rachel!)
Linda published in the Acentos Review.
Rounds Per Second published in 105 Five-Minute Plays
Reading and revision of Enemy|Flint (Thanks to Richard Soto for directing)
Prepping Policarpa for the Drama League. (I will also be appearing as an actor)
Chisme y Queso for Center Theatre Group and Eastside Luv. (Join us it's so fun!)
Working on Señor Plummer for Rogue artists.
Linda at SWAN Day in Los Angles with the LAFPI, where I had the good fortune to make a connection that might lea to a production of Fabulous Monsters. Stay tuned!
I pour a bag of Trader Joe’s salad into a too small metal bowl, then struggle not to make a mess.
“Dang it, I need a better salad bowl. Maybe Etsy— Lisa had a great salad bowl. I wonder what happened to it—.”
It was the perfect sand bowl, very high sides, very deep. One flip of the tongs would coat everything with just enough salad dressing.
Lisa’s been gone now for about a decade. The perfect salad bowl belongs to someone else now. Maybe her widower kept it, although I can’t really picture him making salads. Maybe her partner in the Metal Arts business. Maybe— a garage sale. I don’t know. But that salad bowl reminds me of wonderful conversations in her little Long Beach house, movie nights, crafting things. I’m a terrible crafter, but Lisa was always patient with me. She made huge iron things, furniture, bicycle racks a pair of beautiful Iron Gates that are at an art part a block from my current apartment.
Lisa died of breast cancer. They thought they had got it, missed one recalcitrant lymph node, and the neoplasms ravaged her.
One time, before she got ill, I was at her house at a crafting group. And we were having a conversation about what happens to us after death. Lisa said she thought the soul was like drops of water, that when we died we all went back to the pond for another go round. I protested, hating the thought of losing my individualness. (I was a punk. What did I know?) I wonder if she already knew about the cancer. I wonder if it comforted her to be a drop of water. I wonder about her powerful essence.
The lymph node got missed because Lisa had been such an empath, that she was comforting the oncologist, who’s mother had just died and something was missed in the tests.
Oh Lisa. There’s no mixing your soul. You’re there in the gate, in the beautiful chair that’s in Lionel’s room. In that damn salad bowl. I hope whoever has it enjoys it’s easy perfection. The easy perfection you always gave to your art.
This piece was originally performed at the first Artists Rise up Los Angeles Jan 31 2017. With Stasha Surdyke and Julianna Stephanie Ojeda
Mrs' protest song at the end can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk7R0TGRpeg
Cast of Characters
Mrs: A gorgeous 47 year old former model of Slovenian descent.
Lani: A young tutor. Mexican. No accent.
(When Mrs interrupts Lani. This is indicated by / )
The suggestion of a large, gilt encrusted New York apartment. A very beautiful 47 year old woman is looking out a window. She is wearing sky-high Louboutin heels. A younger woman, with a backpack enters quietly. She is crossing to exit, and as she looks up she notices for the first time the woman staring out the window.
Missus! Sorry! I know I should leave through the other door, I'm running late for class and security takes forever--
(In an indefinable Eastern European accent.)
His grades don't get better.
No, you're right Ma'am. They don't. It might be more effective to home-school him./
/No. he's isolated enough. Has the hamster been replaced?
Yes Ma'am. Jose got two identical ones, just in case.
Thank you Lani.
Lani turns to leave. Mrs stops her.
He likes that book you got him. The-- what is it? The--
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid". It's pretty silly, it makes him laugh/
/What is "Wimpy"?
Uh, the word?
Yes. What does the word mean?
Dorky. (That doesn't land.) Awkward. (Closer.) Weak?
Oh. Perhaps he shouldn't be reading that.
Ma'am. it's the first thing he's really responded--
/Why does American literature always have to include such, how is it? Losers. Why? My son is not one of them.
I think he's getting bullied.
(In a rush.)
Yes, Ma'am. The whole political-- (change of tack.) The kids don't quite approve of what his father-- You know, the media-- Some of the kids are giving him a pretty bad time.
I thought it was a good school. That's why we are staying in Manhattan.
You know how kids are.
There is no discipline in this country. I will go to the school tomorrow.
He doesn't want more fuss made! --sorry-- he's under a lot of stress. He says he has no friends.
I don't have friends. One has to be private to stay safe.
I make myself heard. In my own way.
(This is a big thing:)
Like when you wore the pussy bow blouse on TV! That was genius.
Mmmm. (A pause.) I was born in a communist country, you know? I lived in a hell made of cinder blocks as a child. This...
This was a dream.
My family came to this country from Mexico.
You look white.
Hillary and Bill came to my wedding.
I love it here. Surrounded by gold.
Like Rasputin-- sorry, I mean Rapunzel.
I'm a happy bird.
I need to go Missus--
You American women are so, how you say, "enlightened." Up by your bootstraps, that odd phrase, what is it supposed to mean?
To pull yourself out of--
Yes, yes, but literally, where does it come from?
Horses? I could Google it.
Do you like being a tutor?
It's a good job.
You don't like it.
I'm putting myself through college.
You can go now.
You're in a position to do so much--
Being made fun of by comedians? Who mock the way I speak. I thought that wasn't politically correct.
I want to be left in peace. This open, uncensored "culture" You Americans think you can say anything to anybody. It's shameful.
You're an American.
Not everything was bad about communism.
Your son is reacting to what he sees about you in the media.
You see how they treat us? With such contempt? They left the Negro children alone.
You're Mexican? I thought you were Spanish.
I speak Spanish.
I see. Did you come here legally?
My stylist picked that blouse. We had her fired.
I have to go. I'll be late.
The office will cut you a check. You have an NDA.
(A beat as Lani leaves.)
What are you studying?
(She gives an unladylike snort.)
When I found out out after that ridiculous vetting process that I would be tutoring HERE, I Googled you right away. Oh, my god. Those awful, awful pictures! Lying on the piano that nobody plays, pushing a gold baby stroller, naked on rugs! And that one of your son, standing over you-- ugh. I can't believe women like you still exist. You're-- a commodity. What's that like, Missus? Especially now. At your age.
You are superior to me. Clearly. In every way. You will get your degree, live in a tiny flat you can barely afford, and eat your principles.
A person raised in hardship should be more generous.
I have earned every ounce of gold. This is a difficult job.
Tell Baz not to squeeze his hamsters so tight.
He can do as he pleases, there will always be another one.
Lani exits. Mrs. stares impassively after her. When Lani is gone Mrs. pushes a button on a table. Music fills the room it is Mario Marzidovšek - Naši Lepi Generali- a Slovenian protest punk song from the 80's. It is loud. Mrs. listens, staring out the window.
Playwrighting Year by the numbers:
Wrote 2 full lengths- Policarpa and Enemy/Flint
One 1 act- Picture Me Rollin'
10 minute or shorter- All The Somebody People, The Tower, Myrtis, Sin Made Flesh, "Homeless" monologue," Josephine" monologue, DragonzFire, Finding Neoplasms, Almost Fairy Time, Bullet Proof.
Submitted by email to 62 opps.
Submitter to 23 opps on Submittable
Snail mailed about 5? (Bad record keeping!)
Published: Caliban's Island and DragonzFire in Bullying, Ink. Both by YouthPLAYS
New Musical reading ASCAP w/Tom
Joined Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights
Taught @ South Coast Repertory and OCEAA
Wrote my first commissioned treatment. Didn't get the job ultimately, but got great material for DragonzFire
Finished “Picture Me Rollin'" my tribute to Sam Shelton's joyful life and untimely death. Please donate to the scholarship in his name HERE
Wrote “Sin Made Flesh” 10 mins
Joephine for BoxingLove Theatre Arts West
“Linda” is produced @ “Viva La Muxer” w/Sylvia Blush and Andrea Esparza
Taught at Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble
Took “Picture Me Rollin’” to the The William Inge Festival
Saw Patti Smith (Sublime)
Linda @ Teatro Sinergia
Fabulous Monsters at Barefoot Theatre Company in New York.
Vamping @ Monster Box Theatre, Detroit, MI
Caliban's Island reading at BOFTLE
Almost Fairy Time @ Patty Howard productions, Bound Brook, New Jersey
Fabulous Monsters @ Festival 51 in Rhode Island
Caliban’s Island published by YouthPLAYS
Almost Fairy Time @ Poor Monsters, St. Louis, MI
Linda @ Bill’s Shorts
Linda @ Reclamation, MOOJOA Performing Arts Company N. Carolina
Libertadoras accepted for The Eddy
Linda @ Short and Sweet in Hollywood
Vamping @ Lionheart Theatre in Georgia
Bullying ink, DragonzFire published by YouthPLAYS
Silueta at Teatro Tercera Llamada
Open Mic at BOFTLE
Finished Enemy/Flint. No longer going to London due to circumstances beyond my control, but I’m damn proud of the play.
Finished Myrtis and The Tower
The Tower Semi-finalist for Women In The Age Of Trump.
Policarpa accepted for Rough Draft at The Drama League
Ana and Cuba
Version Español: (English Below)
No habían pasado dos semanas cuando recibí una de esas llamadas que cambia tu vida. Del Ministerio de la Cultura de la republica de Cuba. Castro buscando artistas cubano-americanos para exaltar su Revolución. Cabrón! Le dije que sí inmediatamente. Bailando con el diablo. No me importaba. Yo quería ir a casa. Quería sentir la arena de Varadero deslizarse entre mis manos y la cálida brisa del Caribe acariciar mi rostro.
CARL, EL VIEJO :
Era muy personal, ¿no? Mucho más allá de la política.
Fui uno de los catorce mil niños cubanos que fueron transportados por avión a Miami durante la revolución.
CARL, EL VIEJO :
Auspiciada por la CIA. La llamaron ...
Operación Pedro Pan.
CARL, EL VIEJO :
Peter Pan. Ah, no es de extrañar, la CIA representó mal la historia. The Lost Boys eran, después de todo, desaparecidos
Castro se robó mi casa. Destruyó mi familia! Mi padre era un abogado famoso, al otro lado inoportuno de La Revolución. Yo era sólo una niña cuando Castro lo tiró a la cárcel. Perdimos todo. Llevo 18 años sin verle. Hasta que finalmente llegó a Iowa. El único trabajo que podía encontrar ahí era limpiando pisos. América lo destrozó más rápido que Castro.
Estudio de Co-op 3 de Ana: Primavera 1978
Ana está empacando sus materiales de arte.
¿Regresarás alguna vez?
Por supuesto que sí. No te preocupes. Me puedo cuidarme sola.
(Le da un beso de despedida)
CAMBIO DE LUCES
Me dejaron escoger los sitio para hacer mis esculturas. Elegí un hermoso lugar en un parque nacional en las afueras de La Habana. Era una cantera antigua de piedra caliza llamada La Cava de Aquila. Tallé enormes figuras femeninas en la piedra, diosas, indias primitivas. Diez de ellas. Representaban el vientre de la Madre Cuba, y el vientre de donde proviene toda la humanidad, la mujer. Mis manos se movían como dirigidas por espíritus. Cuando estaba esculpiendo la caderas y pechos de estas diosas parecía que iba desencadenando la esencia de Cuba.
CARL, EL VIEJO :
Tu ego es más grande que el mío! ¿Sabes lo que era en realidad? Tu infancia perdida. Estabas metida en un mundo imaginario y totalmente extraviada.
Tuvimos una niña en la casa de mi abuela, que era puro india Taíno. La llamamos "Chica". Una noche ella me dijo que su nombre Indio era, Yuisa. Ella me contó historias sobre la isla cuando se llamaba Cubanacán. Mi favorito era la historia de los taínos Venus.
CARL, EL VIEJO :
La historia era realmente acerca de ti, Ani.
Cuando los colonizadores españoles aparecieron por primera vez y sentaron pie en la pequeña isla de Key Loco, frente a la costa sur de Cubanacán,
la encontraron vacía excepto por la presencia de una mujer joven y bella.
Estaba desnuda adornada con un collar y una pulsera de conchas y semillas marinas. Donde quiera que fuese esta mujer hermosa era seguida por una garza de color azul.
Extendiendo sus alas, sabía tocar su boca con el pico en una caricia silenciosa. Una vida perfecta.
CARL, EL VIEJO :
Eras como un arqueóloga excavando una leyenda que pudierais aprisionar en tus entrañas.
Un comandante español apasionado por su cuerpo, la arrancó de su isla. La encerró en la torre más alta de su fortaleza, donde no había escapatoria. Intentó
seducirla, pero ella resistió sus avances. Enfurecido, le advirtió que debía ceder a él o la mataría. No había manera de huir, así que se encerró en su habitación de la torre. Pero cuando el Comandante pulverizó la puerta, ella había desaparecido. Pero cómo? Solo había una ventana cerca del techo, inalcanzable. El Taíno dijo
que la joven había sido rescatada por la garza azul que voló y la trajo de vuelta a su casa en la isla. Se dice que aun vive allí y mientras ella viva, el espíritu de Cubanacán vive con ella.
Apartamento de Carl en 1978
Tu eres algo mas. ¿Qué parte de esa historia improvisaste ahora.?
Nada de lo que dije.... Todo.
Lo dije como un galantería. Eres hermosa. Un trovador.
En mi caso un ladrillo es un ladrillo. Para ti, Ana, cada curva de
tu cuerpo encierra una leyenda.
Y la Venus taíno será recordada por todo el pueblo de Cuba,
porque ella vive en mis esculturas en el cuevas de Cubanacán.
La extrañas , ¿no? Es tu refugio.
Fue. Yo no tengo más un hogar.
Not two weeks later I got one of those calls that changes your life. From the Cuban Ministry of Arts and Culture. Castro wanted Cuban American artists to glorify his Revolucion. Cabron! I said yes instantly. I danced with the devil. I didn't care. I wanted to go home. I wanted to feel the sand of Varadero running through my fingers and the warm Caribeño licking my cheek.
It was very personal, wasn't it? Way beyond politics.
I was one of fourteen thousand Cuban kids who were airlifted to Miami during the revolucion.
By the CIA. They called it...
Operacion Pedro Pan.
Peter Pan. Ah, no surprise, the CIA misread the story. The Lost Boys were, after all, lost.
Castro stole my home. Destroyed my family! My father was a famous lawyer, on the wrong side of La Revolucion. I was just a girl when Castro threw him in jail. We lost everything. I didn't see him for 18 years. Until he finally made it to Iowa. The only job he could get here was janitor. America broke him faster than Castro did.
Ana's Co-op studio: Spring 1978
Ana is packing her art supplies.
Are you ever coming back?
Of course I am. Don't worry. I can take care of myself.
(Kisses him goodbye)
I was given my choice of places to do my sculptures. I chose a beautiful location in a National Park just outside of Havana. It was an old limestone quarry called la Cava de Aquila. I carved huge female figures in the stone, primitive Indian goddesses. Ten of them. They represented the womb of La Madre Cuba, and the womb from which all mankind comes, woman. My hands moved as if directed by spirits. As I was sculpting the hips and breasts of these goddesses I was releasing the essence of Cuba.
Your ego is bigger than mine! You know what it was really about? Your lost childhood. You fetishized it because it was so completely lost.
We had a girl in my grandmother's house who was pure Taíno Indian. We called her Chica. One night she told me her Indio name, Yuisa. She told me stories about the island when it was called Cubanacan. My favorite was the story of the Taíno Venus.
The story was really about you, Ani.
When Spanish colonists first set foot on the tiny island of Key Loco, off the south coast of Cubanacan, they found it empty but for a beautiful young woman. She was naked except for a necklace and a bracelet of seashells and seeds. Everywhere this beautiful woman went she was followed by a blue heron. Spreading it's wings, it would touch her mouth with its beak in silent caress. It was a perfect life.
You were like an archeologist digging for a legend to call your own.
A Spanish Commandante lusted for her body, and stole her from her island. He locked her in the highest tower of his fortaleza where there was no escape. He tried to seduce her but she resisted his advances. Enraged, he warned her that she must yield to him or he would kill her. There was no way out, so she bolted herself in her tower room. But by the time the Commandante battered down the door, she had disappeared. But how? There was but one window 300 feet from the ground. The Taíno said that she had been rescued by the blue heron who flew her back to her island home. She is said to live there still, and as long as she lives the spirit of Cubanacan lives too.
Carl's apartment 1978 fall
You are something else. How much of that story did you make up just now?
None of it... all of it.
I meant it as a compliment. It's beautiful. You're a poet. With me a brick is a brick. For you, Ani every curve of your body contains a legend.
And the Taíno Venus will be remembered by all the Cuban people because she lives on in MY sculptures in the caves of Cubanacan.
Miss it, don't you? It's your home.
It was. I don't have a home anymore.