Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's Next?

“Are you going to be at the cast party?”

Everybody dreads that final goodbye. So it’s nice to be able to postpone it for a few more days.

Since everyone but myself involved in “Leave” is actually based in Morris, they all needed to get on the road back to where they came from when the house lights came up in the Bryant Lake Bowl and the set was dismantled and the costumes and props were bundled into cars and vans for the trip. We hung out for a bit, but there was a time clock on how long they could afford to be social and still drive safely back.

So it’s a relief that the director decided to host a little gathering at his home in the coming days so we could all get together and enjoy each other’s company as a unit one last time. The production may be shuttered, but we’ll get to relax a bit in the post-show buzz this way.

“We’ll play beer pong,” one of them said. “You’ll have fun.”

And off into the night he went with some friends.

“You’ve never played beer pong?” the director asked incredulously.

Internally I thought, “I was an uptight closet case in college. I’m pretty sure that’s how I missed beer pong.”

Apparently I’ll get to correct that soon.

I saw the last of them off in their cars. Hugs all around seemed to be the order of the day since we weren’t *sure* we’d see each other soon again, we only hoped.

It had been a good night. The house was not only sold out, a couple of extra seats were put in, every one of them filled, and still people were waiting and had to be turned away. We had some people in the crowd who will write reviews to document the production after the fact. Some representatives of theaters large and small got to see a good example of what it is I do. The laughs were generous, the applause enthusiastic. The multitude of snifflers in the crowd during the play’s closing moments audibly told me the actors had them in the palm of their hands. A bunch of people even stood at the end. You couldn’t ask for a better way to close out a run.

I cocooned myself after waving the Morris crew off on the road again. It was after 10pm. The day was essentially over anyway. Stay in the moment. Don’t turn on the TV. Don’t turn on the computer. Don’t go online. You don’t have to do “normal” everyday stuff again quite yet. The night belongs to the show. You’re going to the gym tomorrow morning so don’t even bother to shower. Just crawl into bed and get some sleep.

The company was apparently determined to make me cry last night. The cast and crew had made their own gift for me – a miniature of the show poster, which all of them signed, and framed. The director/producer had worked with the lighting designer, who was also our production photographer, and compiled what someone jokingly called “The Men of ‘Leave’ Calendar.” It was in fact a gorgeous picture book of the entire show, images of every scene from first to last, plus some cast, crew and company shots at the back. They had forbid me to come into the green room earlier so they all had a chance to sign it.

I flipped through the picture book a couple of times before setting it aside and turning off the light for the night.

What do you do after one of the best nights of your life?

You start trying to build the next one.

If the one of the best nights of your life happens to be on a Thursday night, you resist the urge to call in sick to both of your day jobs on Friday (or rather, the day, and the evening job). You resist the urge to lie in bed and hit the snooze button. But you also resist the urge to allow your body to tell you to get up too early. For some reason, I woke up at 3:30am, and again at 4:30am. Roll over, sleep more, wait for the alarm. Don’t start a hard day already exhausted, or run out of energy too soon.

You resist the urge to give in to being weepy, and you get your butt down to the gym. Nice thing about this time of year, summer’s over and the days are darker sooner on either end. Walking down to the gym at 5:30, and back again at 6, it’s still dark now. I could pretend a little longer that I was still connected to the night before, rather than rolling into a new day.

You make your lunch, you eat your breakfast. You listen to a DVD commentary track on an episode of “Mad Men” season 1. You resist TV and the internet a little longer. You resist the urge to start putting the production of the play in the past tense.

There is a list of things to do – long delayed financial updating and bill paying for one. But mostly, it’s all about the marketing. I need to do my homework on the network of gay and lesbian theater companies and festivals around the country, just for starters. It’s been a while since I did a submission blitz, but “Leave” seems like as timely a candidate as anything to get out there in circulation. There’s also the local contacts – people who saw the play, people who weren’t able to see the play but are willing to read the play, people connected to theaters and other artists I very much want to work with (not necessarily on “Leave” but on whatever comes next). There’s the online publication resources I need to punch up some more – starting with covers actually designed for the plays, rather than just out of an image library. There’s the website, which is stalled out right in the middle of redesign again – partly due to the fact that the Fringe and then “Leave” took over the free time I had available to spend on it. The programmers can only do so much without me. The blog, and other arts writing that has languished. Getting started on whatever the next script is – rewrites of “Leave” will be left to simmer, so I can get some distance from it. “Love’s Prick” and the two related one-acts that might pop out of it have been simmering way too long, for the same reasons as the website. “Autumn Roses” my stubborn little riff on “Uncle Vanya” that has refused to flow out of my typing fingers, also sits thumbing its nose at me in my computer files. There’s the ongoing project of taking the published copies of my plays and getting them into the hands of the people that helped me create them – low-impact networking, as I like to call it. There are other scripts that should be in the pipeline for online publication treatment. There’s the whole issue of T-shirt design, which has been resisting solution, and may require some new software to clear the roadblock. There’s also the issue of documentation on video and DVD. Conversion from one to the other has been an ongoing tug of war. Looking into a computer based solution, and a new camera, seems to be on the immediate horizon. Organizing the apartment would also organize my “home office.” So much time could be saved if I just knew where everything was. Including a decent mailing and emailing list. I started to build one the right way this time with “Leave” – now the trick is to funnel all the other failed attempts into this format and really start gathering everyone in one place. Then of course, there’s actually contacting everyone. Reconnecting with friends. Having more of a life and less of a list of endless tasks to do. The tasks will always be there. The people will not. It’s time for a little more balance in my life.

That’s what a great night in your life will do to focus your mind.

The trick is not to let the ridiculous nagging details of everyday life knock me off track again.

My life, like my scripts, is a work in progress.

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