I am They as You are They

December 5, 2017

My use of “they” over “he” or “she” has greatly increased over these last few years.

I use “they” when I don’t know the gender of the person or when the gender of the person is irrelevant.

Read more I am They as You are They

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This is Not a Pipe, 2017 Version

September 20, 2017

Select all images with pipes. If there are note, click Skip. Five drawings of pipes. A Skip button.

This is not a reCaptcha

Continue reading This is Not a Pipe, 2017 Version

Processing “Do Black Lives Matter at Your Theatre? In Your Films?” by Bitter Gertrude

June 25, 2017

Melissa Hillman’s post came just in time for me to see Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray) by Kimber Lee at Shotgun Players. It’s great to know that at Shotgun, the answer is yes, both in front of and behind the stage. At Marin Theatre Company as well, where they regularly do more than one show by playwrights of color each season. And not waiting for February (Black History Month) to do it.

(And shout-outs of course to the theatres of color that regularly put this work on stage: African-American Shakespeare; Lorraine Hansberry; Gritty City Rep; Lower Bottom Playaz, who I haven’t seen yet; and others. Still, it’s important these narratives make it into the mainstream.)

And as a playwright, I regularly examine the stories I’m putting into the world for the kind of bias and images Melissa Hillman discusses.  I haven’t written a specifically Black full-length play yet – I do have one in mind – I did write a ten-minute #BlackLivesMatter play, Off the Grid, for Playwright Center of San Francisco’s 24-Hour Play Fest when God and math “randomly” gifted me with a cast consisting of a Black woman, a Black man, a Latino man, and a White woman during a hunger-strike protest in San Francisco over a police shooting of an unarmed man of color. My full-length My Visit to America attempts to unpack the persistence of racial prejudice in our world and the consequences of our inability to eradicate it.

As I write this on LGBTQ Pride Day here in San Francisco, I’m reminded that the huge shift in our rights in recent years is at least partly due to the big shift in how we LGBTQs are being portrayed in films and television. When I was first coming out, there was always a gay character who killed themselves or was killed by someone else. I believe that mold was broken in the mainstream by the film Making Love (and on TV by Consenting Adult). Now, it’s typical.

I also remember when police and LGBTQs were not friends. (Not saying they are everywhere, but if there can be a small-town lesbian police chief, that’s a big shift.) If we can change this narrative for LGBTQs, we can change this narrative for people of color.

Media can help make that shift, and it is one piece that is in our power.

Happy Pride!

Here is Melissa Hillman’s post:

I had intended to write about the Philando Castile verdict. Philando Castile was murdered because an officer claims he believed Castile was reaching for his gun when he was reaching for his ID as instructed. That officer walked free. Had Castile been white, I believe that officer would have heard and believed him when he said […]

via Do Black Lives Matter at Your Theatre? In Your Films? — Bitter Gertrude

Julius Caesar: Suddenly Controversial — Bitter Gertrude

June 13, 2017

*sigh* Will there be any airline left for me to fly with?

The Public Theatre is staging Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as part of its annual Shakespeare in the Park, and hauling out that most overdone of concepts: Julius Caesar is POTUS! They’re all in suits! It’s AMERICA! This is exactly why I never directed Julius Caesar— it’s just about the only approach that makes sense in modern America, […]

via Julius Caesar: Suddenly Controversial — Bitter Gertrude

Theatre Resistance Plan, 2017 – 2020

January 19, 2017

Theatre during the next four years – read this!

Bitter Gertrude

There is no more powerful tool for changing ideas, shifting cultural zeitgeist, and resisting authoritarianism than art. While theatre is not the biggest bat artists wield, our impact on the culture is not nil, especially if you include community theatre and school plays, and we must. Resistance to the Trump regime is the most crucial political battle of our lifetimes because this regime– and the zeitgesit behind it– stands to undo progress in every area of our society. Trump, Pence, McConnell, Ryan et al are actively seeking to impoverish you to enrich themselves, roll back every civil rights and workers’ rights gain of the past 100 years,  eliminate every consumer protection, eliminate the social safety net, and pretend you begged them to do it. It’s telling that the very first appointee of the incoming administration was an amoral white nationalist, and the very first act of the new Congress was…

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In For a Penny: Bum-rush the Show!

December 19, 2016

Playwrights, we need audiences like this at our readings.

Reblogged on WordPress.com

Source: In For a Penny: Bum-rush the Show!

Academia, Love Me Back

October 30, 2016

Latina scholar gets called out for alleged plagiarism in front of class by prof for using the word “Hence”. Totally unprofessional behavior (even if the charge were true) gets magnified by years of microaggression.

Not that she needs my approval – she doesn’t – but her writing ability is clear from her blog post.

TIFFANY MARTÍNEZ

My name is Tiffany Martínez. As a McNair Fellow and student scholar, I’ve presented at national conferences in San Francisco, San Diego, and Miami. I have crafted a critical reflection piece that was published in a peer-reviewed journal managed by the Pell Institute for the Study of Higher Education and Council for Opportunity in Education. I have consistently juggled at least two jobs and maintained the status of a full-time student and Dean’s list recipient since my first year at Suffolk University. I have used this past summer to supervise a teen girls empower program and craft a thirty page intensive research project funded by the federal government. As a first generation college student, first generation U.S. citizen, and aspiring professor I have confronted a number of obstacles in order to earn every accomplishment and award I have accumulated. In the face of struggle, I have persevered and continuously produced…

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Skipping disliked songs in iTunes

September 25, 2016

I’m a big fan of iTunes, and am growing to love Apple Music. Two things I love about Apple Music is that I can follow my interest in popular music from around the world and can research different musicals to inform the one I’m writing (not to steal, but to learn what works for me and what doesn’t).

Recently, iTunes added the ability to not just flag songs you love but also flag those you dislike. But it didn’t provide a way to skip disliked songs. That bugged me.

Warning: Technospeak ahead.

Continue reading Skipping disliked songs in iTunes

Birth of a Musical

March 13, 2016

I should have known this was coming.

I’ve been writing songs and instrumentals since I was 4 (my first was a song about Tigger that I have the sheet music for around somewhere – my father transcribed it for me), but at some point became dissatisfied with my lyric-writing ability. My straight play Hemlock (it’s a gay play, but versus a musical it’s a straight play) wound up with a song, and has recently picked up a second song, both meant to be a cappella.

Continue reading Birth of a Musical

Theater Around The Bay: Self-Care And The Actor, Part One

February 18, 2015

This has something to say to playwrights as well.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Bay Area actress Ponder Goddard offers up some thoughts for actors on keeping it together in today’s theater world.

The Problem

Actors are the foundation of theater. You can take away the lights, costumes, sets, you can even go Original Practices on Cymbeline’s ass and take away the director– but you cannot remove the actor or the audience and still have what we think of, know and love as theater.

Actors are necessary, actors are fundamental, if we want theater we need actors.  If we want bold, brave, exciting, moving theater we need bold, brave, risk-taking and vulnerable actors. An actor’s ability to show up and be seen, to be truly wholehearted and vulnerable in their craft and in their lives, is entirely undermined when they are perpetually struggling for a sense of self-worth and worthiness. The systems of production around us make that struggle for worthiness endemic to the actor’s…

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The Most Important Thing in Theatre You’re Not Talking About

December 3, 2014

If you love theatre, read this.

Bitter Gertrude

There’s a massive disconnect between theatre intelligentsia– bloggers like me– and what’s actually happening on the ground.

Theatre writers have been doing an excellent job drawing attention to issues of inclusion and diversity, issues of copyright and contract law and copyright/contract violation, issues of audience demographics, issues of access to arts education, issues of season selection, issues of censorship, especially in schools. Those are crucial, vital, important issues about which we need to continue to write. I have no plans to stop writing about any of those, nor do I expect (or want) anyone else to stop.

But we’re all avoiding the elephant in the room, probably because it’s simple, and boring, and all too painfully obvious.

THEATRES ARE CLOSING.

Nonprofit theatres all over the country are in trouble. While larger theatres are doing better than they were during the recession, a jaw-dropping amount of small, indie theatres and even…

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The Performance of Protest vs The Performance of Excusing Apathy

November 29, 2014

Thinking about American Indian (his term) Vine Deloria’s book We Talk, You Listen, which, among other things, discusses Marshall McLuhan’s theories as they apply to the Civil Rights movement. The message gets lost in the image. The image becomes the message.

How do we get the media to show all of the images? What role does the need to sell papers/get ratings play in choosing which images get shown?

Bitter Gertrude

Once upon a time I met an actor with mental health issues. Just . . . save that joke for later; I’m serious times right now. He told me that the Korean government was trying to kill him because of his political street theatre. When I tell this story, it never fails to get a laugh. Political street theatre? Harhar. No one cares about political street theatre that much! Harharhar.

In the wake of the failure of the grand jury to indict Darren Wilson, protests have exploded all over the country. The internet has also predictably exploded with people condemning the rioting and looting that have been an unfortunate component of some of the protests. The theatre around this issue is fascinating, and enormously telling.

There have been peaceful protests in Ferguson (and elsewhere) literally every single day since Michael Brown was killed. Here are some shots:

Ferguson, August 11. Photo by Robert Cohen, AP. Ferguson, August…

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Playwriting and the Pet Peeves of Others

November 12, 2014

There’s an incredibly useful article over at the Playwrights Center website (not Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco, the group I’m involved with, but the national one in Minneapolis), Tips From Artistic Directors. In that article, there are a lot of positive tips: send your best work, follow guidelines, and many more.

Two ADs chose to include their pet peeves. Among these were opening monologues and phone calls. They suggested only using opening monologues if absolutely necessary and keeping phone calls to two or three lines. I’m assuming – I could be wrong – the ADs are referring to those phone calls where we only hear one side of the conversation.

One of my works contains two long one-sided phone calls and several have opening monologues. Do I:

1. Remove them immediately?
2. Make them better?
3. Not send them to these particular ADs?

Read more of Playwriting and the Pet Peeves of Others

Ninja words and phrases

September 14, 2014

What do the words and phrases cheeseburger, mentee, La Niña, Silver Alert, and Nannygate have in common? Answer after the jump.

Continue reading Ninja words and phrases

The Class Divide in Theatre

August 3, 2014

Bitter Gertrude

For so long I’ve wanted the Theatre Industry machine to behave a certain way and suddenly I realized I want to take that machine apart and build a new one instead.

It’s been brewing in the back of my mind for awhile, but it really came to a head last week in a Facebook discussion about Charles Isherwood’s condescending language when writing about plays by people of color. Isherwood has enormous power to make or break the success of a play and/or playwright, and he’s not the only one using that kind of language, but he has extraordinary power because of his position with the New York Times.

But I think the problem isn’t just Isherwood personally, since we could fire him into the sun and there’d be another one right behind him to take his place. We should start thinking in terms of dismantling the power we accrue to that position…

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Things Playwrights Do That I Love

August 3, 2014

Interesting to hold my plays up to this yardstick.

Bitter Gertrude

Sometimes I open a play and see something that makes me feel like this:

Here’s what you do that makes my heart sing as I’m reading the plays in my stack. Are these subjective? Sure. But I made sure to only include things I’ve heard echoed by other artistic directors. Is this meant to be all-inclusive? Of course not. I’ve written a lot about playwriting already, so there’s a lot I’ve left out here. (Search for the tag “playwrights” if you want to see more.) So here we go– what makes my eyes turn into cartoon hearts when I look at you:

heartsforeyes

1. Your play is set anywhere but New York. Every time I talk about this, I get ten playwrights saying, “That NEVER HAPPENS anymore. That’s OLD SCHOOL.” And then I open the next 20 plays in my consideration folder and 14 of them are set in New York…

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Our Role in This as Artists

May 29, 2014

Time to reread my plays for possible edits.

Bitter Gertrude

Like pretty much every blogger, the plan I had for my next post got chucked out the window after the violence at UCSB. I’ve been closely following #YesAllWomen on twitter, the news stories, the many, many blog posts, the many discussions on facebook. Like we all have been. Like so many women, I’ve been repeating the truth: This isn’t at all surprising. This is just the extreme example of what women experience all the time.

The reaction to that, honestly, has surprised me far more than the attack itself. I expected some blowback, but I didn’t expect the AMOUNT and TYPE of blowback I got. Things like, “We need to wait for more information because I didn’t believe a word of that manifesto,” “You need to have more compassion for men. We’re sick of this vitriol,” “You’re just making men angry and scared,” “A lifetime of being nice to women down…

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Single-Field Password Set/Reset: Threat or Menace?

April 28, 2014

This post is dedicated to everyone who ever had trouble logging into a website (myself included, way too many times) or whoever had their account hacked because their password was too simple (way too many friends and acquaintances, way too many times).

This is for us.

Dear website designers and programmers:

Every modern website adds new features. Google added Maps, Books, Street View. Yahoo! added its latest e-mail layout. Twitter added hashtags and now is thinking about revoking them, but has added line breaks. And, most importantly, I have the choice whether to use them or not.

Then there’s the We-Have-a-Great-New-Feature-and-You-Must-Use-It Syndrome. Think Facebook Timeline. Well, that doesn’t cost me any time and I got used to it. And it doesn’t slow me down.

(By the way, Yahoo! initially took away Yahoo! classic e-mail, but after not too long a delay, restored it, if I recall correctly. Thank you for listening to your customers, Yahoo!)

Now there’s a new We-Have-a-Great-New-Feature-and-You-Must-Use-It Syndrome feature.

Your wonderful new feature is giving me a negative view of your website. Negative enough to write a 3300-word blog post complaining – occasionally ranting – about it. What would your advertisers think of that?

Day by day your numbers are growing, User Interface (UI) designers following the siren, zombie call of this new feature.

I mean you, force-me-to-use-a-single-field-when-setting-or-resetting-my-password-UI website. Yes, you. You’ve turned simple inconvenience into dread.

Warning: This is a scattered, discursive essay. Much like my experience of dealing with passwords on your website.

My first draft was about 500 words. But, as I thought about the complexities of what you are asking me to do with regard to the care and feeding of my password, the article grew and it grew, much like the burden you’ve placed on me.

Please stick with it. I’ve done my best to make sure it will be worth it. And I’ve actually proofread it.

And, hey, if your response is TLDR (too long, didn’t read), feel free to skip to Here’s the ideal situation and hope your customers – isn’t it time we retired “users”? – aren’t saying Too Hard, Didn’t Log In.

Continue reading Single-Field Password Set/Reset: Threat or Menace?

Cumulative advantage and women playwrights

March 12, 2014

I feel like I’m up against this as well, as an unknown non-MFA gay/queer white male playwright. Still, I’m just one guy, and this is a whole gender. A must-read about who becomes well-known and why.

writing.performance

At The Summit, a public conversation with prominent DC theatres’ artistic directors convened by Washington Post theatre critic Peter Marks, Ryan Rilette tried to explain why it was more difficult for prominent theatres to stage women playwrights than to stage their male peers. Part of his reply–that there were fewer women “in the pipeline” (meaning a production circuit from major London and New York stages) went viral on social media, inspiring some very funny memes like Daniel Alexander Jones’: Daniel Alexander Jones' meme Daniel Alexander Jones’ meme .

It also inspired Elaine Romero to initiate WE EXIST, an open-source, editable list of female and trans* playwrights to which anyone can add herself or another playwright. (see my previous post.)

But I don’t want to make Rilette the bad guy here; his theater, Roundhouse, is committing to gender parity in future seasons, and is part of a group of 44…

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Unpopular Chinese New Year sentiments: on prosperity

February 1, 2014

心想事成 (Xīn xiǎng shì chéng / All wishes come true) to all my Chinese friends (and may you have good wishes). Happy new year.

Scribbles from a Singaporean girl

Warning –these are my own reflections and not opinions I derived from anyone else. We can agree to disagree. 

It’s the eve of Chinese New Year. Families are gathered around tables brimming with delicacies, busily smacking their lips and rubbing their full bellies. The rare evening of the year that people gather to celebrate a one-ness that is made possible only by the ties of blood. Ties of patrilineal blood, the tiny voice of anthropology in me cries.

I’m thinking of what everyone is saying, wishing to each other and to themselves. Huat ah. I see on Facebook statuses and posts. We’re eager to usher in the new year with catchy phrases and sayings. Do we really mean what we say? Do we even bother to mean what we say?

Huat ah. Gong xi fa cai. Nian nian you yu. They sound good to the ears, I will…

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