Monday, August 10, 2009

Improving my mind

Well, the inconvenient internet snafu persists so I haven’t submitted my application. I did go to the website and click on the link about a million times in both the Mac and PC sides of my computer. That seemed pretty constructive.

Enough about non-action. The main thing I did today was go the New York Public Library and check out their plays. It was a good selection, and I didn't even go to the Lincoln Center branch which I think houses their big showy collection (it’s probably all rare recordings and no take home content).

The standard fare advice for young writers (besides telling us to write) is telling us to read. Everybody says if you want to write you have to read, you have to internalize the written word, expose yourself to a diversity of styles and points of view because there’s no telling what’ll inspire you. In theatre they tell you to see as much as you possibly can for the same reason. As lovely and important as that all is there are also practical concerns: theatre (like art, design, music, literature, film, and I assume medicine and animal husbandry) is a somewhat insular and snobbish world. everyone has essentially the same knowledge base and if you haven't done your homework you’ve got nothing to talk about.

I’m cheap. This is a good thing because I’m unemployed and if I weren’t cheap I would very soon be poor. Because I am cheap I’m reluctant to see as much theatre as I probably should because basically every show in existence costs more than two days worth of food for me. So even though new plays take a long time to get through multiple productions and rewrites and edits, at theaters of ever-greater importance before publishers even consider them, and a very small percentage of plays get published at all because they don’t make anybody any money, and what’s new in theatre is old before it’s in print, and as slow and skeptical as the publishing industry is library’s are doubly so, despite all that the library is an important resource for me.

See, I was really happy with my education on the whole (just over half of my teachers were intelligent and helpful, that’s actually a really good percentage), but it was very writing intensive. Actually from what I’ve heard Purchase is uniquely writing intensive for an undergrad program, but the result is that it was not particularly reading intensive. There just wasn’t time for it to be both. As I’ve mentioned previously, recommendations were thrown around like Mardi Gras beads during critiques, and rather than taking these recommendations I generally just recorded them. I recorded them hoping and doubting that someday I’d have the time and motivation to refer back to these poorly spelled scrawlings and that they might expand my mind.

Apparently that day has come: Four Plays by Wallace Shawn (really just three since I’ve already read Aunt Dan and Lemon) and The Mammary Plays: How I Learned to Drive & The Minola Twins by Paula Vogel. I’ve got them until August 31st, maybe I’ll learn something.

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