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25th Anniversary Blog

This page is a celebration of 25 years of supporting women playwrights. 

We will be posting 25 Opinions articles written by 25 members. The articles will appear at a rate of two per week starting 5 October.

All opinions expressed are personal to the writers.
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  • 10 Jan 2014 6:42 PM | Anonymous
    Writing has proven to be a medium that has the power to do many things. I started practicing my writing skills early in my childhood.  I wrote editorials on current events that I heard about on broadcast news, such as the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.  Those editorials helped me to understand the tragic loss of both King and Kennedy; moreover my voice began to emerge through those primary writings. 

    I continued to evolve as a writer by writing poetry. I asked a creative writing instructor once how I could find my voice.  The answer I received was to keep writing and that is what I have done.  One summer many years ago, I took my first creative writing workshop and with great apprehension I wrote a sensitive and personal poem.  I read the poem through tears in a seated circle among other emerging writers.  I found my voice and creative wings in that poem.

    Furthermore, I discovered that if I wanted to write I could not be afraid to reveal what is real. Thus, it is necessary for me as a playwright to be credible about what I am writing.  It is important for me to develop characters that are realistic characters.  Therefore, I must come from a position of authenticity as the playwright.

    Because of poetry I explored the wonders of language; on the account of poetry, my voice acquired depth and greater insight of the human condition.  Indeed, the power of writing is liberating, it certainly is true for me. Writing empowers me as a playwright to tell the stories that I choose to write about in the form a play.

    Lastly, my voice is paramount to the development and voice of the characters that I create in a play. I have met many people on my journey who have been influential in my growth. Thus, their meaningful voices helped me to establish my voice as a woman and writer.  Like Lorraine Hansberry in her time, I aspire to tell the stories that should be told.



    © 2013. Sharon Wallace. All rights reserved. This article  may be republished only with full attribution to the copyright holder.
  • 10 Jan 2014 4:20 PM | Anonymous
    In the late 1990s, right out of the batter’s box and fresh from having taken playwriting classes in grad school, I got three long one-acts produced Off-Off-Broadway, by Love Creek Productions.  Then came a dry spell of ten years without a single other production and only a couple of readings.  I was baffled – had I just had beginner’s luck, and was I not really destined to be a playwright?

    Now I look back with gained wisdom and realize this sudden success and then sudden demise was because I had started out writing several long, brand new plays, and then was just sending out the same old scripts over and over again – for ten whole years.  I did develop a new full-length in that period of time but it had no luck with Literary Managers, and so, when a playwright friend suggested I try writing ten-minute plays, I accepted the challenge.

    But not unwillingly.  After all, how can a ten-minute play stand up to a full-length or a long one-act?  Could it be called serious writing?  And there was the problem of how to tell a whole story in such a short span of time as ten minutes – I hadn’t tried it before.

    But I found I could often crank out a new draft of a short play in under an hour – one that I could actually take some pride in.  Before five years had gone by I had written over 60 ten-minute plays.  Writing all those short plays not only allowed me to take a slender plot and go to town with it for ten slim pages, but it enabled me to get many, many productions and readings which were not to come from the full-lengths.

    I write short plays now because:
    1. They are fun
    2. Even a revision can take as few as 30 minutes, rather than hours or days
    3. There are many more opportunities for ten-minute productions than for longer pieces of work
    4. They allow me to tell a simple, funny or dramatic story in a fraction of the time it takes to tell a long one
    5. I have been able to turn several of them into substantial one-acts, after seeing their possibilities for development
    6. They have built my resume
    7. I get a charge every time I get one produced!
    So I say, if you are mired in a fourth re-write of a full-length with no end to the revisions in sight, or if you have never tried anything shorter than a 45-minute one-act, try the ten-minute play.  You may find a use for memories or experiences or plots or characters you’ve thought of but couldn’t stretch into a full-length, and you may find yourself submitting them wildly and getting productions all over the country of new plays in a new form you’d never dreamed of trying before.  Gary Garrison’s A More Perfect Ten is a good book on the subject.

    And now, as a result of all of this new writing, I search gladly for opportunities with themes.  Many theatres offer ten-minute festivals with themes or motifs.  This was another suggestion my playwright friend made – write for themes.  In the past eight years I have written for countless themes – holidays, Grand Guignol, horror, gay or LGBTQ, children’s theatre, weird takes on fairy tales, environmental issues, the superhuman, the art world, politics, and the list goes on. 

    Writing for these opps has allowed me to branch out, and two of what I consider to be my best short plays were written for them - one a take on the painting Girl Before a Mirror, a Pablo Picasso work based on one of his mistresses, and another a wife’s description of her husband’s murder during the Parsley Massacre between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 1937.  Both these topics required research and were enormously invigorating projects to work on, short as they were.  And both plays are as serious as anything I’ve ever written.

    My Picasso play was produced by Short + Sweet in Australia, and the play about the Parsley Massacre was given a staged reading in New York by a group sponsored by Amnesty International – both opportunities I never would have had, had I not taken to writing the ten-minute play.  I also recently heard I will have a 10-minute political drama called AFTER THE DISSOLUTION produced by the Belarusian Dream Theater in Norway, in March 2014.  I consider these productions feathers in my playwriting cap.  And I earned a $100 check for a ten-minute play produced by Barrington Stage in western Mass. in 2013.

    Take on the ten-minute play!  You may find new life for yourself as a writer.

    © Martha Patterson. All rights reserved. This work may be republished only with full attribution to the copyright holder.
                           
    Website: http://marthapatterson.blogspot.com/

  • 19 Dec 2013 5:30 PM | Anonymous
    The very fact of Winter makes us take a different stance to our plans, our living. Winter changes our writing, our reading, our comings and goings. I read Winter themed poems in college where Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson made the snow the central character of the work.

    Lately my husband and myself send Solstice Cards rather than more traditional Holiday cards. He takes the photo, I write the text. It has become our way of finding optimism when the light is the least. The beauty of winter itself is celebrated and rewarded with hope.

    Playwrighting too takes the bare bones of words and brings light to them. As the play goes from script to actual production it takes on a warmth and extension of life. We cannot deny the chill of a play left unproduced. It needs the pulse of acceptance to truly come alive. The work requires the public pulse of acceptance to truly come alive. The coming together of a piece is its own solstice evening bringing the promise of Light.

    Celebrations around Solstice are our way of saying to the vast Universe:” Thank you for reassuring Us of the continuity of Time and Space.” We have had a Past, a Present, and with the coming of Solstice We cue a Future to join that chain. Our hands can dig into the cold know and know that in six months grass shoots will be there.

    © Christine Emmert. All rights reserved. May be republished with full attribution to the writer.
  • 08 Dec 2013 5:25 PM | Anonymous
    One of my advocacies as a playwright is to present the voices of the Chinese Filipinos through theater.  The Chinese Filipino in the Philippines should be viewed as ethnic minority, not foreigner.  However, many stereotypes still exist to this day.  Our identity is that we are born and bred in the Philippines, but we have Chinese blood.  We know no other country and are proud to be Filipinos.  There are many layers to this issue and it goes way back to the country's history.

    The Chinese journeyed to the Philippines in 982 AD, pre-Spanish colonization.  They were mainly traders and later on became cooks, carpenters, craftsmen and masons.  Forward to the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the Chinese were oppressed because they were successful in making money. 

    The Spaniards taxed them exorbitantly and then, isolated them in a walled city called Parian.  There was also a law that forbade the Chinese to look directly in the eyes of both Spaniards and Filipinos.  The worst was the statistic of massacred Chinese from 1603 to 1764 and the number is 72,000 murders.  The Chinese, in history, were known as the Jews of Asia.  Spain colonized the Philippines for 300 years.

    I'm merely condensing some history in a paragraph to point out that the oppression forced the Chinese and especially, their families into assimilation.  They darkened themselves to look native, they learned the dialects where they resided, they intermarried, they abandoned their connections with other "obvious" Chinese, they even joined in oppressing the others and they would constantly try to prove their loyalty to the Philippines. 

    In the 1950s, children of the Chinese and children from mixed marriages born in the Philippines were given citizenship.  But it was only in 1975 that migrants were granted to become naturalized citizens.  Thus, if not for the fair skin and slit eyes, people with Chinese blood function hidden within the culture and society.

    I come into this, born within the Philippine Martial Law period, still functioning within the seams of society easier claiming Filipino than acknowledging mixed culture.  Although, I'm a fourth generation; my great grandparents were the original migrants, the history is within me.  Growing up, I speak more Tagalog, the dialect of Manila than Fookien, the dialect of the province of my ancestors. 

    And because I lived in Chinatown, very near the old Parian of the Spanish Period, I was exposed to the trickles of the Chinese "culture" like lighting incense, drinking Chinese concoctions, some superstitions and beliefs.  But functioning outside the family, I unconsciously acted less "Chinese" except I couldn't escape discriminatory remarks and stereotyping because I do look Chinese.  Thus, the struggle and suppression was second nature and for a long time, unconsciously felt.

    I only got into the study of what is "Chineseness" and what is "Filipinoness" when I was into my Masters education.  And, oh my, it was a hard internal journey to even try and find the separation of cultures within a person.  Because even if I have the Chinese culture practiced within the family, it is a culture that is not pure Mainland Chinese, but a modified local Chinese culture and ways. 

    But I knew I had to find a niche to create a writing project that could be original enough.  I found out that there was no modern, fourth generation voice of a female Chinese Filipino in theater.  That was in 2002 and until now, there is a lack in this hybrid voice.  I did recognize that there were known Chinese Filipino writers in fiction, poetry and nonfiction; in theater, they would infrequently show the stories of elder Chinese of generations past, but not in modern, experimental theater with a female voice.  

    The term Chinese Filipino can be shortened into Tsinoy (Tsino and Pinoy or Filipino) or Chinoy (Chinese and Pinoy), credit to KAISA Foundation.  The confusion in the present day is that there are many Mainland Chinese migrating to the Philippines to do business and/or reside hereundefinedlike a cycle in our history.  They have the ways and manners of the Mainland Chinese, but Filipinos sometimes lump the Chinese Filipinos with them.

    I see that the children and grandchildren of these modern migrants will one day become Chinese Filipinos too.  But they, being first generation, are still self-identified pure and loyal citizens of China.  Thus, the stereotypes never leave us.  Some stereotypes that exist today are: Chinese marry their own kind (the reason why this happened before was because of oppression, the Chinese could only socialize among themselves, after colonization, discrimination continued so, the defiant Chinese who could not assimilate became defensive and exclusive but that is not true today among modern Chinese Filipinos); Chinese are good in math; Chinese are rich or great in business (they've always been into trade, but in modern times, the world's richest men, the Taipans are Chinese Filipino); Chinese don't speak straight Filipino (national language); Chinese are not modern; Chinese know hocus-pocus (Feng Shui, fortunetelling, etc.) and many more.

    In some of the plays I write, for I don't always write about the Tsinoys, I like to put in the element of magic realism, fantasy, black comedy or surrealism.  Of course, depending on the flow of the story, but I prefer not to outright preach or teach, theater is to be transported into another place and a distorted time inside the dark surrounding. 

    If the audience learns and finds out the truth in the play then that's a bonus.  Sometimes the point of my play is interpreted in many different ways and that is fine because the audience's insights are surprising, even adding another dimension to the original intention.  

    I like making audiences or readers laugh, because I'm not making my characters, be it Tsinoys or not, ridiculous in identity, but my characters are laughable in the situations that they are in and laughable for basic human mistakes regardless of color or culture.  I've only been produced six times in a major theater company, each time is to audiences probably less than 300. 

    Is there clamor for my type of plays? No.  Am I out there actively promoting myself or the work? No.  Are there more women playwrights? A few.  Am I going away? No.  It took "blood and tears" to finally overcome fear, rejection, criticism for being hybrid.  I own it now and found out that it does build character wherever life or writing takes me.

    References:
    Baviera, A. (1994)  “Contemporary Political Attitudes and Behaviors of the Chinese in Metro Manila.”  Philippine-China     Development Resource Center, Quezon City
    Hau, C., ed.  (2000)  “Intsik: An Anthology of     Chinese Filipino Writing.”  Anvil     Publishing Inc., Pasig City
    See, T. (1997)  “Chinese in the Philippines: Problems and Perspectives, Vol. 1 & 2.”      Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran, Inc., Manila

    --------------------------
    A personal Note:
    Please continue to help typhoon Yolanda survivors, please donate to Philippine Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate) and World Food Program (WFP) (https://www.wfp.org/donate/typhoon-philippines-b)" 

    © Debbi Ann Tan 2013. This article may be republished only with full attribution to the author. 
  • 28 Nov 2013 2:44 PM | Anonymous
    My son has recently started to parse the idea that people can have multiple identities or roles; a mom, a dad, a teacher, a wife, a husband, a sister, a brother, a doctor, etc. And he has subsequently realized that I am a playwright and a mom. And that I can be both as well as many other things. But it has been much harder for me to articulate that on my own than to him.

    I’ve been a playwright nearly my entire life. While visiting New York recently, fellow ICWP’er, Julia Pascal, asked me what makes me write. I ultimately answered that I didn’t know how to be any other way; it’s simply in the fabric of who I am. In addition to the actual writing, I have spent a lot of time building a professional presence for myself.

    I have a website, I have cards, I have a Facebook page for me as a playwright and I primarily use my personal Facebook page for theater related posts as well. I have found many ways to connect to the theater community, both here in New York and internationally.

    Then there is the other part of me. I am the mother of two young children, ages 2 and 5.  I have made sure that I have concentrated time in my week to spend with them because I believe the earliest years are critical to learning about and shaping who a child is. I have spent a lot of time building myself as a mother. I have found many ways to meet other parents and find resources for family activities. I always knew I’d be a mother; it’s part of the fabric of who I am.

    And never the two shall meet. My writing is not appropriate for children. My children are not appropriate for my writing. I do capitalize on my experiences as a mother when giving feedback on other people’s work in a playwriting group. And, of course, I want to teach my children about theater.

    I have had a number of conversations with other theater moms of young kids about being treated differently once the baby is born. It’s not that the theater community isn’t thrilled that we’re pregnant and pro-creating, hopefully giving birth to the next phenomenal actor, playwright or director; it’s what it means for us: it’s seen as a liability. And I’ve checked it out; it’s different for dads.

    For theater moms of young kids, there’s an assumption that we are unavailable for rehearsals or networking events and, therefore, might not get cast or invited. These assumptions are not without merit. I routinely have to go home after a show and miss out on the critical post-show drinks/networking because I have to get up early with the kids. My weekend time, the prime time for all things theater-related, are often given over to my family.

    Until recently, conferences have been impossible to go to and writers’ retreats are right out the window. But I try as hard as I can to go to friends’ and colleagues’ shows or readings, to participate in playwriting groups and to meet theater folks for coffee or dinner. Both the perception and the reality of my circumstances make the effort harder.

    I am aware that there are those parents who, once in a production or when they are part of a theater administration, bring their children with them to the theater when they have to work. Getting to that point is more challenging. I was encouraged when I recently saw a call for scripts from the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company who had received a grant specifically supporting playwrights who had families so they could attend a week-long residency.

    With the grant, playwrights received compensation for childcare while the parents were away. I was also encouraged when I attended the Great Plains Theatre Conference to see one of the playwrights had brought her baby daughter and the conference provided volunteer babysitting (for the first time in their history) when she needed to be focused. So I do see a few in-roads here and there.

    This year, my worlds began to smudge. My son’s pre-school class was doing a lot of work with drama and puppets. I offered to come in to do a little playwriting exercise with them. I talked with the teachers at length about how to do it with the children’s gnat-sized attention spans and, on my way there, I was probably just as nervous as I would be at the opening of a production. I explained dialogue and action in the simplest terms and then the class “wrote” their own oral play with actors acting it out in real-time. Smudge.

    This summer, I attended the Dramatists Guild conference and attended a workshop on the use of social media in playwriting. The presenter talked extensively about his Twitter conversations, philosophical or otherwise, about experiences in the theater world. But then…he also Tweets about his family and his son. “You want to be the person that people want to have a beer with.” he said. And that, to him, meant including all of your identities.

    I don’t know that I am ready for that. People in my local theater circles or on joint projects generally know that I’m a parent. Those who are just meeting me for the first time (some from ICWP) are often surprised. Smudge. You would think that, even in an organization of female playwrights, that I might feel more comfortable “coming out”, as it were, to these dual parts of my personality.

    But I’m not always and, after all, getting to be an adult and having conversations not about children is a refreshing change of pace. However, I have, very slowly, been posting some of my blog posts on my experiences as a parent to the ICWP listserv in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of link. And several members have responded with encouraging emails. Smudge.

    So…I guess I need to accept the smudges. After five years, this should be easier, shouldn’t it? Okay. Deep breath…I am a playwright and a mom. I am a playwright and a mom. Hi, I’m Elana, and I’m a playwright and a mom.

    Website: http://elanagartner.com/

    © Elana Gartner. All rights reserved. This work may be republished, only with full attribution to the author.


  • 25 Nov 2013 3:17 PM | Anonymous
    I see a lot of plays. And through this possibly almost exact research I have discovered that ninety minutes is my sweet spot. As an audience member, I can freely offer my attention up for ninety-minutes spans to be shown anything all of the types of stories. I am excellent at remaining engaged for 90 minutes.

    It’s true. And that’s why my infrequent movie-going self watched Gravity three times. Because it is 91 minutes. And I forgave them that one minute because of SPACE!

    For me, when things get over ninety minutes that I find myself counting the hairs on the head on the person sitting in front of me, making a Target list in my head or the more common “resting my eyes.” This may be the fault of the script for failing to be interesting or the director and actors for sinking the pacing, but it could also be that I am at the wrong show for me.

    I’ve thought about this a lot, as an avid theatre-goer. I see a lot of shows and most aren’t in the ninety minutes sweet spot. But if I find out a show is kissing that hour and a half mark, it will tip the scales for me to go see it. Drama, comedy, musical, dance, performance art, I will give you ninety minutes of my time for you to do what you wish. If I find out that a play is three hours I already am mad at the play and reluctant to go see it.

    So what’s this all about? Am I saying you should time your script and make sure it never is over an hour and half? I would love that, but obviously that is not what I am saying. A story takes as long as it takes to tell. What I am getting at is a matter of audience member taste. For me, it’s easy to forget that theatre is a taste-based universe, just like restaurants. 

    If I was someone who disliked barbeque, do you think I would volunteer to take myself there for a celebration dinner? Of course not, that’s not my hypothetical taste profile. But if this alleged non-BBQ loving self of mine was going to celebrate a pal’s birthday or had a free coupon or a reason outside of my taste profile. Yes, I’ll go. It’s not that this imaginary self believes BBQ restaurants shouldn’t exist, it’s that audiences and customers evaluate theatre and food in similar ways, using their own unique tastes, agendas and sense of adventure.

    So how is this helpful? Maybe it’s not. I try to keep this in mind when I assess my own work. Not everyone loves everything I write. I sure want them too, but I have to remind myself it’s not going to happen. And because I’ll never write the piece that pleases everyone, I probably need to focus on just writing the piece that pleases me? Even though writing the piece that pleases everyone would please me too

    (For the record, I love barbeque, barbecue, BBQ in all the ways and styles. I can tell you about all the ‘que I’ve enjoyed. I’ll probably write a show about it.)

    Hear more on Twitter at @heathermeyer2 and on the web at www.heatherjmeyer.com and email at heather@heatherjmeyer.com


  • 20 Nov 2013 8:15 PM | Anonymous
    It didn’t take a sharknado smacking me in the head to make me understand, as a child growing up in the 50s and 60s, that women writers were expected to swim in the sea of domestic dramas and leave the shake-the-world-upside-down stories for the boys.

    Before I could spell “g-e-n-d-e-r,” I vowed to write about the body politic outside my Adam’s rib.  “I’ll be *&!@#^! if my stories are going to have anything to do with my own life” I hissed to my imaginary (of course, male) muse.  I mean, why write about my school crossing-guard mother standing waist-deep in blackened snow to make the rent if I can imagine Joan of Arc, resplendent in saintly armor, bravely leading an army against the English?

    How many of us truly see to the bottom of the murky pool of our life’s creations?

    And so my pen(is) set out to conquer worlds far and farther.  Prospectors panning for gold in the California Rush.  Done!  American labor unrest in 1929.  Done!  Suicide bombings in Iraq.  Done! Done! Done!  I prided myself that my skill and craft as a writer gave me a ticket to ride on whatever ferry I chose to hitch my fins to – and that none of these stories could ever possibly be labeled ‘self-indulgent or autobiographical’ - you know, the shit they are always saying about female authors.

    Funny how we can believe something and it not be true.

     Our Town
    Photo credits:
    GTCC Fine Arts Theatre Nov. 2013 production of OUR TOWN;
    Damone Taylor (as Emily) and Tommy Trull (as "Stage Manager").
    This summer I watched my beloved father-in-law (Paul) take his last breath, and shortly after began directing a production of OUR TOWN by Thornton Wilder.  I had decided to direct the play a few months before; when people asked why I had selected this particular work, I trotted out the “75th anniversary of OUR TOWN” card – and I believed it too.  I didn’t want to acknowledge that Paul’s imminent passing had awakened a need to wrestle with the fleeting meaning of life, the thematic river that runs through OUR TOWN. 

    On the night we started rehearsing the final act of the play (the Death Act) and I heard those words spoken by the character of Emily as she painfully relives, after dying in childbirth, her 12th birthday with her family: “I can’t bear it.  They’re so young and beautiful.  Why did they ever have to get old,” a tsunami of grief washed over me and for the first time in my four decade long career, I left a rehearsal to collect my wits.

    Recovering from my emotional fall-out, one of those lightning-strike-me-dead-if-I-don’t-see-it-now moments occurred.  My creative pursuits – as a playwright and director – have always been reflections of my life.  And that 7,000 pound killer shark, that insidious whale of a lie that led me to believe, back in 1960, that women’s lives and my life in particular wasn’t worth ‘telling,’ suddenly lifted off my back and flew away.  Hallefuckinglujah! how sweet it is to stake a claim in that female personal space - our fertile crescent.  

    I recently started work on my 12th full length play.  Unfolding in the pivotal year of 1913, women’s right to vote, the global feather trade, class struggle, and the early rumblings of the American conservation movement thematically crisscross through this black comedy.  Oh – have I mentioned that the play, coincidentally, is about three women (I come from a family of three sisters ☺)?

    I no longer give a rat’s ass what people think women should or should not write about.  After all, if sharks can fly, anything is possible.

    For more information about June’s works, visit: www.juneguralnick.com
    Email: june@juneguralnick.com

    © June Guralnick. All rights reserved. This work may be republished, only with full attribution to the author.

  • 15 Nov 2013 4:43 AM | Anonymous
    In 1989 I tried to start the first venture capital fund to invest in woman entrepreneurs. Women weren’t (and still aren’t) gaining access to money. I figured if I could invest in the ten most brilliant women in the country I could make lots of money for my investors, but more importantly I could prove that women are a great investment. That would attract even more general investment in women and we would finally be working our way towards parity in all aspects of our world.

    The fund didn’t work out. But over the course of my effort I learned so much about all the cultural factors that keep women from achieving their objectives. I wrote a book about it, but it was so depressing I couldn’t figure out who would want to read it. The issues just seemed too enormous to ever be resolved. Then the 2008 election cycle hit and Hillary and Sarah were being eviscerated. It was clear that, decades later, these enormous issues were still weighing down American women in general. How could I make people pay attention?

    That’s when I turned the book into a play and joined your world of the stage. “And That’s What Little Girls Are Made Of” premiered in San Francisco in October, 2012. I found a director who was on the same wavelength and I self-produced amid the cacophony of the national election and the World Series (hooray, the SF Giants won!) Okay, I probably should have waited until the craziness died down, but I was so outraged by the inane comments spewing from more feeble members of the Republican party that I wanted to get out there and do battle.

    The play follows the arc of creating the fund, but it incorporates all the complicated issues that get in our way. There are only three actors and they all play different versions of me, demonstrating that women had to change their stripes depending on who we were dealing with. Simply staged and a little over an hour long, it moves very fast, with 80s music providing scene transition. Abba’s “Money, Money, Money,” and Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money” are just a couple. It incorporates both humor and heartbreak. But it also celebrates the uniquely American talents of innovation and entrepreneurship.

    So this is where you come in. Back in the late 80s I figured out that as long as women are cut out of the financial markets that make things happen, we aren’t going to make things happen. This is just how things work in a capitalist country like ours. Lots of books have been written about the lack of parity that cripples us in every aspect of American life, including popular books like Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.” Yes, there has been change, but not enough. I still believe access to money is the key.

    Reading the Anniversary blogs I couldn’t help concluding that we should use the power of the purse to accelerate change. All of us reading this probably know that most of the audience for theater is female. Many bring their male partners, but if it weren’t for women theater in general wouldn’t exist. What if we only bought tickets for theater productions that were produced, directed or written by women? Yes, it’s something of a Greek drama, but it would be a demonstration of our financial power.

    I so admire the talent and effort of members of this organization who have raised their voices, but I can’t help wanting those voices to have a practical purpose that results in ticket sales. We are women, hear us roar, as Helen Reddy* sang many years ago.  

    *”I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, 1975. Download it. Now.



    © Jennifer Wilson. All rights reserved. This work may be republished, only with full attribution to the author.

  • 10 Nov 2013 5:13 PM | Anonymous
    Sometimes I get mad about all the bullshit about writing. I’m not in the mood for anything fancy. I’m increasingly tired of glossy magazines showing people’s ‘creative spaces’ where it’s clear that absolutely nothing happens. My space is all about what happens there.

    Virginia Woolf famously said a woman writer needs a “room of one’s own.”  I politely beg to differ.  I’d like to take a moment to point out the little known fact that the reason Virginia Woolf had a room of her own was because she inherited from her aunt a substantial annual income.  Her ability to fund publication of her own work through her Hogarth Press may have contributed more to her literary legacy than a private room in which to write.

    While it might be optimal to have a room of one’s own, not having one certainly shouldn’t serve as an excuse for not writing.  Lately, at my local failing bookstore, I’ve seen entire periodicals devoted to showcasing the offices and studios of creative women.   My office is notably absent from these photographs.  For the last nearly two decades, I have written from a space of about two feet by two feet in the corner of our family room-kitchen.  Is this ideal?  No.  Does it work?  Apparently, yes. 

    My desk began its life as an IKEA diaper changing table for our second daughter.  In addition to a Medusa like tangle of cords, it houses a printer/fax, phone, headset for Google phone, an old fashioned but active Rolodex from my years in the film business, a tin of broken crayons, assorted pencils and pens and a snowdrift of papers and business cards.

    My office chair was a gift from my mother-in-law.  It is a carved Spanish oak antique, hand painted and upholstered by moi in a dark green satin stripe.  Is it beautiful?  Yes.  Is it comfortable?  No.  My desk is an ergonomic disaster.  To write, I must balance the key board on my knees and lean forward to reach the mouse, putting my face perilously close to the monitor screen.  And yet I have managed to write a dozen plays and countless letters, poems and essays in this space.

    In fact, it was at this same pitiful desk that I composed, while sick with a flu brought home from school by the children, my short play, Warner Bros., which was recently published in Best American Short Play 2011-2012.  Why would I make my writing life so difficult for myself, you might ask?  Because, life is moving so fast.  There is no time for niceties.

    Which brings me to the second complaint I hear:  I have no time to write.  It’s true that we all may dream of extended hours without interruption in which to contemplate our characters and structure. However, by necessity, I have become a ‘let’s get this done’ kind of writer.   No doubt, having limited time to write changes the writing itself.  But, can we imagine that it might change the writing for the better?  T.S. Eliot, in a 1959 interview with The Paris Review, said,

        “I think that for me it's been very useful to exercise other activities, such as working in a bank, or publishing even. And I think also that the difficulty of not having as much time as I would like has given me a greater pressure of concentration. I mean it has prevented me from writing too much. The danger, as a rule, of having nothing else to do is that one might write too much rather than concentrating and perfecting smaller amounts.”

    Yes, I would prefer to write alone in extended quiet.  But many a piece has been composed while my son sat behind my back assembling spaceships from Lego.  And while I’ve been known to yell at my kids to get out during critical writing moments, there is usually no barring them from the snack making that takes place just fifteen feet from my desk.  The interruptions lead to a certain staccato.  Again, not ideal, but if you are waiting for the perfect moment, I can almost assure you it will not appear.

    Virginia Woolf recognized this and noted, “one would say that women’s books should be shorter, more concentrated, than those of men, and framed so that they do not need long hours of steady and uninterrupted work.  For interruptions there will always be.”   While I agree that interruptions are nearly inevitable, I do not agree that the length of our work should be less ambitious.

    It may just take us longer to get there.  Accretion may happen at a glacial pace, but it does occur.  I understand what it’s like to be too busy to write.  With a husband, three children, a demanding day job, a house in constant need of repair, there is rightfully no time to write. And yet I must.  It’s the compulsion that keeps me going, keeps me putting it sometimes first (to the chagrin of my neighbors when they inspect my sub-par lawn while walking their dogs).  But, I write. 

    I often return to the memory of an evening around 1986 that I spent at the San Francisco Saloon in West L.A. with writer friends.  The bar is a gritty, man-ish place set on the awkward triangular corner formed by the intersections of Pico and Exposition boulevards.  At the time, I was a film student at UCLA, and writer-director Neal Jimenez was a kind of elder statesman in our informal group.  He had already written River’s Edge, and soon after went on to write and direct The Waterdance.

    I admired him as a writer and knew that he was the real deal, while I was sure I was not.  When I asked him about writing, his response was direct, forthright, “If you want to write, write.”  It made it seem so obvious, so simple!  There was no waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect tool, and the perfect place. And even more so, there was no waiting for permission.

    No waiting to be anointed - by the professors, the industry, our parents, our friends.  If you want to write, write.  As a matter of survival.  As a need.  As if you are hacking your way out of a jungle.  I often came back to his words and struggled to understand them, like a koan.  In their profound freedom, I eventually became a writer.  Or, more fully, I eventually gained recognition for the writer I always was. 

    Don’t wait for a room of your own.  Don’t wait until you have the time. If you want to write, write.  The rest of it is bullshit.

     © Andrea Sloan Pink. All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

  • 10 Nov 2013 4:32 PM | Anonymous

    In this age and time we have a new God named Google and cyberspace is the sharia of all religions if we can explore its depths and disseminate its boundless treasures of knowledge. 

    Seeking the gift of Reason from God’s glorious guidance.

    G         Gracious

    O         Omnipresent

    O         Omniscient

    G         God

    L          Living

    E          Eternally

    The title of this article is deceptive since it is written for young students of great intellect and inspiration who could master these few precepts of Islam on their fingertips to educate the would-be-suicide-bombers the true meaning of Islam which is peace and reconciliation.  These children of tragic times, either orphaned at early age or born into poor families are being recruited since decades by bigots and zealots as murderers, cutthroats and terrorists.

    Once time-bombs are strapped to their bodies, they are left with no choice to save their lives, for if they tried to take it off they would be blown to pieces, so they in utter desperation of bravado, confusion or exultation hurl themselves into crowds for the satisfaction of countless others joining them in their sinful journey to death. 

    As for the pious ignoramuses who have nothing left in their hearts but the fire of hatred continue to burn with the need to pour hatred into the hearts of the young and innocent Muslims so they too could be consumed by this fire for the sheer ecstasy of witnessing and gloating over their masterpieces of cruelty, violence and bloodshed. 

    Such fanatics wielding the weapon of hatred know how to feed their fledgling prey with the pseudo-reward of paradise, while creating hell on earth, and watching their young wards bribing God for the gift of houris in heaven.  These nascent Violators of sanctity of life are the same puppets of demonic fanaticism who hijacked the Grand Mosque in Mecca in Year 1979 where thousands of worshippers were killed in the name of Islam. 

    Nothing is sacred to these bearded hatemongers.  They are the same camel-riding, hate intoxicated zealots who had laid siege on the The House of God in Mecca, denouncing electronics, radio, television and forbidding such tools of progress, and labelling them unIslamic.  Now these camel-riding demons, turned fanatic robots are making full use of the evil devices such as cell phone, and electronically timed bombs to let the evil flow in rivulets of blood without any feeling of shame, remorse or even a thought of doing penance.

    For the sake of countering their streaks of evil, here are a few morsels of love, peace and harmony for the young generation of Muslims to offer to their less fortunate brethren whose pure minds are corrupted by the hatred of the few fanatics who fear neither God, nor care for the sanctity of any place or religion under the shadow of God’s Creation.

                Announce O Muhammad, unto My slaves that verily I am Forgiving, the Merciful.  (15:49  Quran)

                And lo, there is a party of them who distort the Scripture with their tongues, that ye may think that what they say is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture.  And they say:  it is from Allah, when it is not from Allah, and they speak a lie concerning Allah knowingly. ( 3:78  Quran)

                Confound not truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth. ( 2:42  Quran)

                Beautified for mankind is love of the joys that come from women and offspring, and stored-up heaps of gold and silver, and horses and cattle and land.  That is comfort of the life of the world.  Allah, with Him is a more excellent abode. ( 3:14  Quran)

                It is not for believer to kill a believer unless it be by mistake.  ( 4:92  Quran)

                Whoso slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is hell forever.  Allah is wrath against him and He hath cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom.  (4:93  Quran)

                O ye who believe, squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade by mutual consent, and Kill Not one Another.  Lo, Allah is ever merciful unto you.  (4:29  Quran)

                Whoso doeth that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into Fire, and that is very easy for Allah.  (4:30  Quran)

                Say:  O My slaves who have been prodigal to their own hurt!  Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgiveth all sins.  Lo, He is the forgiving, the merciful. ( 39:53  Quran)

                The good deed and the evil deed are not alike.  Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo, he, between whom and thee there was enmity will become as though he was a bosom friend.  (41:34 Quran)

                And when we made with you a covenant saying:  shed not the blood of your people nor turn a party of your people out of your dwellings.  Then you ratified our covenant and you were witnesses thereto.  (2:84  Quran)

                Wrong not mankind in their goods, and do not evil, making mischief in the earth.  (26:183 Quran)

                And each one hath a goal toward which he turneth; so vie with one another in good works.  Wheresoever you may be, Allah will bring you all together.  Lo, Allah is able to do all things.  (2:148  Quran)

                Keep to forgiveness, O Muhammad, and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.  (7:199  Quran)

                And when it is said unto them:  make not mischief in the earth, they say:  We are peacemakers only. ( 2:11 Quran)

                Those who spend of which Allah hath given them in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind.  Allah loveth the good.  (3:134  Quran)

                O mankind, call upon your Lord humbly and in secret.  Lo, he loveth not aggressors.  (7:55 Quran)

                And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah.  Lo, He is the Hearer, the Knower.  (8:61  Quran)

                Whoso doeth right, whether male or female, and is a believer, all such will enter the Garden, where they will be nourished without stint. (40:40  Quran)

                 There is no compulsion in religion. (Quran  2:257)

                  ‘Permission to fight is given to those who fight against you, but be not aggressive.’  Quran  22:39

                   Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said:  our Lord is Allah.  For had it not been for Allah’s repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down.  Verily Allah helpeth one who helpeth Him.  Lo!  Allah is Strong, Almighty.  (Quran  22:40)

                    And they have broken their religion (into fragments) among them, (yet) all are returning to Us.  (Quran  21:93)

                    Before long, Allah will bring friendly relations between you and those whom you regard as your enemies.  And Allah is Powerful, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.  (Quran  60:7)

                     And for every nation have We appointed a ritual, that they may mention the name of Allah on the beast of cattle; and your God is one God, therefore surrender unto Him.  And give good tidings (O Muhammad) to the humble.  (Quran  22:34)

                      Revile not those unto whom they pray beside Allah lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance.  Thus unto every nation have We made their deed seem fair.  Then unto their Lord is their return, and He will tell them what they used to do!  (Quran  6:109)

                      ‘And whoso doeth good works, whether male or female, and he or she is a believer, such will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged the dint in a date-stone.’  Quran   4:124

                     ‘Create not disorder on earth.’  Quran  1:12

                       _And when We made you a covenant, saying, shed not blood of your people, nor turn a party of your people out of your dwellings.  Then you ratified Our covenant and ye were witnesses thereto.  (Quran  2:84)

                      They ask thee concerning wine and the game of hazard. Say:  In both there is great sin and also some advantages for men, but their sin is greater than their advantage.  And they ask thee what they should spend.  Say:  What you can spare.  Thus does Allah make His commandments clear to you that you may reflect  (2:220  Quran)

                      Say unto the people of the Scripture: dispute ye with us concerning Allah when He is our Lord and your Lord?  Ours are our works and yours your works.  We look to Him alone (2:139 Quran)

                       And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection O Muhammad, then protect him so that he may hear the word of Allah, and afterward convey him to his place of safety.  That is because they are a folk who know not  (9:6  Quran)

                       And speak not, concerning that which your own tongues qualify as clean or unclean, the falsehood:  ‘This is lawful and this is forbidden.’  So that ye invent a lie against Allah.  Lo, those who invent a lie against Allah will not succeed (16:116  Quran)

                       O ye who believe!  Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they are, nor let women deride who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames.  Bad is the name of lewdness after faith.  And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil-doers (49:9  Quran)

    Salman Pak Farsi referring to a Hadith:

                       The Prophet said that on the day of resurrection, God will manifest Himself to the creatures in the forms that they themselves refuted, announcing ‘I am your Lord’.  In the face of this unfamiliar apparition, they will seek refuge in their own representation of God.  Then God will appear in that representation, and then they will believe that indeed it is Him.

                        Bilal:  if a Muslim forces a conversion, he doesn’t risk hell, he is certain of hell.

                        If you love God, sanctify your love by loving God’s creatures first.  Prophet Muhammad

                        God sent to the world since its creation two hundred thousand prophets, twenty-five of them are referred in the Quran.  The greatest of those are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.  Prophets are to be regarded as free from sin, the most sinless of all being Jesus.  Muhammad speaks of him as the Word of God, the Spirit of God, born of the Virgin Mary, and Worker of Miracles

    Many thanks to ICWP, all our volunteers and all the playwrights!

     

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