After two years of Zoom, Tuesdays@9 returned to The Annoyance Theatre last night! My mind and soul are still all jumbled up in the best possible way. Great space, lots of hustle and bustle, terrific people. What can I say? Writing, actors and music are as essential to me as food, sunshine and water. The theatre is the only indoor place that refreshes me as if I’m outside.
I’ll tell you this: I got pretty good at listening to new work on Zoom. And I definitely think the technology is a useful and healthy tool — not just for humans, but for the planet. Zoom conserves energy, reduces driving and gasoline consumption. Zoom events and meetings connect people and help offset each of our individual carbon footprints. Yaye Zoom.
But, speaking only for myself, I am someone who needs to be able to do the weird work it takes to get to and fro the theatre.
I need the commute. I need to deal with parking. I need to be able to say “hi” to people and look them in their shiny, bright eyes. I need to be awkward and nervous and forget to make sure my shirt is pulled over my tummy. I need to turn in pages that I wrote to the best of my ability only to find out they still need so much work. And I need to be in the company of people who grasp why that’s so important.
About my pages: The title of my play-in-progress is Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be In Southwest China. This new work is lifted from a play I wrote in 2017. The panda mural you see photographed up top was part of my inspiration then and now.
I took that pic in Minneapolis several years ago outside my favorite pho restaurant on Nicollet Avenue. In its simplest form, it’s paint on a brick wall, just as this blog is simply words on a page, nothing more nothing less. Still, the mural ignites my imagination. It makes me long to be in a forest surrounded by pandas and bamboo and mountains. But it doesn’t make me think I am in a panda forest.
In my new play, two pandas are locked in a room with a similar “mural” painted on their walls, and Mama and Papa Panda actually do think they’re in China’s southwestern wilderness. Their imagination (mercifully?) allows that, but as the play unravels, we realize they are prisoners of a panda trafficking industry.
My old play was about the students trapped and killed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989. That one had a huge cast, close to 20 actors. This play is a three-hander and is about a different trap. I decided to leave most of the other characters behind and bring “Mama Panda” along and start over.
I’ve never done that before. I’ve never taken a character from another play to start another play. Once a play reaches the end of its life, I let it go. To paraphrase Joan Didion, I let the dead be dead.
“…If we are to live ourselves,” Didion wrote, “there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.”
For the most part, I’ve done that with my writing. I’ve thrown out so much. Moved on. Pushed myself to generate new content. Pushed myself to “be creative.”
But I’ve held onto so many other things instead, including the “brace” I wrote about yesterday. Each day I write this blog, I realize I’m holding onto the wrong things. I just need to figure out what those “things” are.
Thanks for reading. -Connie