Friday, March 22, 2013

She Fills Her Head With Culture, She Gives Herself an Ulcer (New SF Theater Pub Column)

My latest column (part 1 of 2) is up at the Theater Pub website. Recently, I've been feeling overwhelmed by the Internet and the mentality that it encourages in us. "We’re living in an information deluge, and the salt water is starting to fill my lungs," is, I think, the key line in the piece. (I titled it "Sur Moi, Le Deluge.")

This was a difficult column to write. I was in a weird mental state at the time, and wanted to convey that, but in such a way that readers wouldn't just say "Marissa, do you need to get therapy?" It also has less to do with theater than my Theater Pub columns normally do.

The day after I wrote this column, I was listening to BBC 6 and heard the song "At Home He's a Tourist" by Gang of Four. Couldn't help thinking that one of the couplets perfectly summed up the mental state that I was trying to describe in my column:

"She fills her head with culture / She gives herself an ulcer." Oh yeah.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Upcoming: "The Rose of Youth," "Orphée," "Pleiades"

 Apologies for the lack of posting, but 2013 is turning out to be busier than I anticipated. I spent much of this afternoon in a coffee shop, revising my translation of Jean Cocteau's Orphée in preparation for its staged reading at Theater Pub on April 15. The sunlight streamed through the beveled edge of the coffee shop's glass door, casting rainbows on my computer screen and making me think of the glass panes of Heurtebise, the guardian angel-glazier character in Orphée.

It's slightly odd to return to my translation of Orphée after I first translated it two years ago. The initial translation project might be one of my favorite bits of writing I've ever done, though, just because I accomplished it in such a stress-free, orderly fashion. Every night, I would translate one page of the script, and in a little over a month (it's not a long play) I had a finished translation. Instead of making me insane, it actually made me feel saner and smarter. Though I don't like admitting it to myself, I need routines and patterns. Maybe I should do more translations; maybe I should just be better at setting aside a dedicated time to write.

Moreover, because it's a translation, I feel less of an emotional connection to the writing than I usually do, so it isn't too difficult to go back and revise it. Often, what I write is intimately linked to my emotional state at the time, so revisiting a work years later means I must make an effort to remember my mindset when I first wrote it. With Orphée, though, returning to the work does not mean dredging up the past, because I've always viewed the work rather objectively.

Perhaps one theme of 2013 is seeing artistic projects come to fruition years after I first conceived them. I decided in 2010 to translate Orphée, worked on the translation in early 2011, and only now am I actually getting to present it publicly.

Furthermore, I have my staged reading of The Rose of Youth coming up in less than two weeks, on March 29. And, as I've said before, I wrote that play during the 2007-2008 school year, saw it as the culmination to a great four years studying drama at Vassar, and never expected anything more to come of it. But here I am, five years later, directing a staged reading of it.

I also wanted to announce something else exciting that I have coming up this spring. Atlantic Stage, a theater company in Myrtle Beach, SC, will present a staged reading of my play Pleiades on the second weekend of April, as part of their New Voices PlayFest! (I wrote Pleiades in 2011, if you're counting.) This marks the first time my work will be seen in the South, and makes Pleiades one of the many San Francisco Olympians Festival plays that have gone on to have a continued life. And I kind of love that the play, which takes place in the Hamptons, will be performed in a different East Coast beach town. I practically danced around my room when I learned that Atlantic Stage had selected my play, and I hope to have more information soon. Unfortunately, I can't jet off to Myrtle Beach to see the reading -- I could really use a beach vacation after the busy month I've been having!

Image: Jarvis Cocker, holding a French dictionary. Yeah, one reason I wrote this post is to have an excuse to use this picture.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Am My Own Director @ SF Theater Pub Blog

Announcing my upcoming staged reading of The Rose of Youth (March 29!) here on this blog, I confessed I was a little nervous about directing it myself.

In my latest Theater Pub column, I delve a little deeper into the stress and worry that comes with directing your own work. Including some musings on whether gender comes into the equation — are women more hesitant to take on the authoritative role of the director?

I had a minor freakout a few days ago when I fully grasped that February is a short month, meaning that my staged reading is happening in just four weeks. If any of you more experienced directors have words of wisdom for a newbie like me, especially when it comes to dealing with this kind of stress, feel free to leave them in the comments of my column.