Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mo Drama

NOW THAT I'VE COMPLETED my MFA in Poetry and now that I''ve joined hundreds of other MFA graduates in playing the ludicrous lottery of submitting the manuscript to poetry first book contests, one might think that I would be itching to put the MFA to work and start on my second collection.

One might think that, but one would be wrong.

Instead, on February 5, I began writing the next chapter of my literary development by enrolling in a course entitled Intro to Playwriting at Actor's Express, taught by none other than local playwriting prodigy, Lauren Gunderson.
My Mondays begin with me rising at 7:00 a.m. - prepping and grooming before the commute into the sun at 7:45. About 40 minutes later, I arrive at the new day gig, work until 5:30, and hit the gym for an hour. By the time I get to the Playwriting class at 8:00 p.m. - 13 hours later - I should be running on fumes.

But I'm not. I'm a live wire.

Lauren's really passionate about playwriting, and it's contagious. I haven't been this enthused since I took my first poetry workshop with Blake Leland as an undergrad at Georgia Tech in 1994. There are striking similarities to that experience and this one. For starters, I'm the only Black person in the class.
Which is to say, I stick out. Again. But that's par for the course.


I remember the first time I picked up the Nuyorican anthology Aloud in '94, and how I dreamed of one day performing on the Nuyorican stage. I had no idea how I would get there. I'd never seen the place, but it happened. It took 6 years.

This time, my sights are on an analogous institution in the theatre community, New York's Public Theatre. Though I've never been there, I've seen/read many works incubated there: George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum, Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog, Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out, Daniel Beaty's Emergence-See!, and Savignon Glover/George C. Wolfe's Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk. I've always admired the Public Theatre's commitment to developing new work and its commitment to community outreach. And I'm excited to have my own work join that tradition.

I'll give myself 6 years to get a play staged there. 2013 here I come!


Collin said...

I would think you could avoid the lottery and just submit to open readings at some of the lovely poetry presses. Is it now "required" that MFA grads enter contests until they are published or be thought of as losers?

Glad you're diversifying your skills. Playwrighting can be fun, although is probably about as lucrative as poetry. Doh!


M. Ayodele Heath said...

Collin, you're right. Submitting myself to the lottery of contests isn't "required," but I've decided to play the game. I've submitted to about 11 or 12 so far, with the goal of submitting to 20. I know the odds are slim, but hasn't my path been one slim odd after another?

I'm entering theatre with the same attitude as I did with poetry. People said I'd never make any money from poetry in the beginning, but that's hardly been my case. Ask the IRS!

As you might imagine, I'm not going into playwriting for the money, but I'm not going to ask for money not to come.
Ask not and ye shall receive not, I say.

Aaron said...

You have started the process of claiming what you desire. Continue to own that claim and your dream will be realized either before or after 2013.

Collin said...

Well, I can't deny I haven't made some money off poetry, because I have. I just got a couple of tax forms in the mail and damn if I ain't turned a profit. Of course, without the day job I'd be living in my car...but that's a whole different story. :)

Keep us posted on the book, the playwrighting, etc.

RareEpiphany / Pamela said...

AYOOOOOOOOOOOOO uhm you know I need a role in this play...make it happen young man!! :)
great running into you in cyberspace.
holla at your folk man!

Pamela aka Tiny Phillips!

BLUE said...

this is pleasant (!!!!!), but i'm not at all surprised. it's always been in your voice. let me know how the process of theatre goes for you. queen james might have some more to say to folks, no? (lol)

i've been thinking a lot lately about the intersections of poetry and theatre (beyond the normal things we tend to think about in segue modes). i remember thinking how insane some of those thoughts were as i read archibald macleish's pulitzer winning "JB." initially, i couldn't find a "believable" entry into his parody/"story" about Job. but then, around page ten of the script, i found a fat worm crawling lovely beneath the skin of the play.

i've now finished my first verse play ... and, oh, the possibilities!

Tara Betts said...

Hey honey,
where you been? What's up with the new gig? Called when I was in ATL & didn't hear from ya. Other than that, I will send some stuff about plays in NYC if it comes my way since I hear about that stuff sometimes. Gimme a call. Lots to catch up on.