Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Monthly Check In: December 2019

Marge Dunn and Stephen Sampson in Cato & Dolly at the NEMA conference

November was a lot more relaxed than the previous six months, which was lovely. I got to see some plays again and even do some writing that was just for fun (including two new ten-minute Christmas comedies).

The big work event was bringing Plays in Place's Cato & Dolly to the annual conference of the New England Museum Association (NEMA) in Burlington, VT. On our first afternoon there, I gave a talk with Courtney O'Connor (who has directed the play) and Jon Ferreira (who runs the theatre program at the Old State House Museum that commissioned the work). The actors, Marge Dunn and Stephen Sampson, and Courtney and I all stayed at an Airbnb right on the edge of Lake Champlain, which was a nice escape from the city.
Our view of Lake Champlain

The next day Marge and Stephen performed the show in front of an 8ft tall banner featuring an image of the door from the Hancock Mansion, in a large exhibit hall, in front of 50-60 museum professionals all sipping their morning coffees. As expected, they gave a strong performance that captured folks' attention and led to some promising conversations. Courtney and the actors had to return to Boston for work, but I stayed another day to get the entire conference experience. I kept pitching Plays in Place and also soaked in as much as I could about the museum world.

I love going to conferences as a non-expert--there's just so much to absorb, not just about content but also culture of the profession. (This was my third time at a NEMA conference.)  I think I could go to a random conference at least once a year, just to see what makes the people excited.

The good news is that the conference feels like it paid off and led to some potential projects. I'm driving up to New Brunswick, Canada, later this week to see if I can get one of these to really happen. One of the best things about the shift my career has taken is that I suddenly have a lot of excuses to visit cool museums and historic sites.

New furnace in the barn.
Because my schedule has been so crazy busy, my time to attend plays has been sharply curtailed--I was in daily rehearsal and production mode for more than 8 weeks between April and October. Plus I was busy fixing up the house and barn in Northampton. In a normal year, I see 50-60 plays, but this year, I'll barely make it to 40. Right before Thanksgiving I had a week where I got to see three plays--Quixote Nuevo at the Huntington, The Seagull at Arlekin Players (amazing!), and Murder on the Orient Express at the Lyric, plus a magic show by my friend Evan Northrup (he's the best). Plus we had auditions and callbacks for my upcoming play, Mox Nox, with Brown Box Theatre Project.

It might be true that I feel most myself when I'm really busy.  (But I actually like a mix.)

We did make some minor progress on the barn in Northampton--we had a furnace installed in the basement of the barn, so we can have water there year-round. Now we're waiting for the inspections and gas hookup, but the initial stage is done. And I spent three days fixing up one of the studios, doing cleaning and painting and repairs, so that now both are available for rent.
Stripping and painting these doors took some work, but they look great now.

What's up right now:
I'm doing research for the trip to Canada to see if I can firm up the next gig for Plays in Place, with a whole new pile of books from the library. Starting to add up stats from the year and doing end-of-year accounting for my writing business as well as Plays in Place. Trying to rent out the studios. And reading a bunch of plays--I'm a reader for the Seven Devils Playwriting Conference, as well as a board member.

And very much looking forward to my daughter, Kira, coming home from grad school for a few weeks. The holidays will be a little darker without being able to talk to my dad, but having Kira home will make them bearable. Writing-wise, I'm crafting Plays in Place proposals for various sites, and also hoping to do minor revisions on a whole list of my plays, though I December is generally my least productive month. My 2019 goal for writing/research time was 450 hours, but I won't make it. There is a slight chance I could get to 400 hours, but it'll be a stretch.

What I'm reading:  Work Optional by Tanja Hester. I also just finished reading Don Zolidis' novel, The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig, which was a fun read.

Look for the annual year-end Writing by the Number post at the end of this month.  What kind of writing tasks are you willing to take on for the end of the year?

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