In December of 2004, I was living in Baltimore and had completed a brief stint at CENTERSTAGE. By January of 2005, I was working as a temp at Catholic Relief Services. For three weeks that winter, I walked to and from work; a total of three miles. I worked from 10:00am to 6:00pm. When I got I came home, I cooked dinner and wrote from 8:00pm to 11:00pm.
I liked my work. I liked being in service to the greater good. I was working there during the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. I liked the stability of my schedule and the steady salary. So much so, that I considered shifting my life and career. But theatre had saved my life after a series of traumatic experiences (that I'll write about one day) and I knew I wasn't ready to leave it. And as much as I missed Austin and missed being surrounded by artists of various disciplines eager to work and create with together, I knew that moving back to Texas wasn't an option. Mainly, because I had spent a fortune getting to the East Coast. So, I kept plugging along.
Towards the end of January, a dear friend sent me the notice for the Literary Internship at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. His message read: "Don't think about it, just apply. Don't try to figure it out, just apply. Don't freak out about all the reasons why it'll hard as hell to make work, just apply." So I did and by the grace of divine providence and all that is meant to be, I got the internship. Later, I learned that my boss, Mary Resing, who was then Woolly's Director of New Play Development, had gone to school with the brilliant and amazing Jill Dolan (one of my mentors, references and advocates). Mary figured that anyone who had successfully survived so many classes with Jill had to be smart, hardworking, talented and up for a challenge!
And I was, ready for the challenge and eager to absorb everything! So, I went from a lovely mile and half walk to and from work to an exhaustive hour long train commute each way. I went from having a steady and decent income to making barely enough money to cover transportation and had to take a part-time at the Ford's Theatre box office to make rent each month. But I was happy. During those one hour train ride, I read the most amazing and adventurous plays and I met so many wonderful people while working at the Ford's Theatre. Also, I started writing a play, DEEP BELLY BEAUTIFUL.
My time at Woolly Mammoth was amazing. The extensive training that I received and the actually professional opportunities given to me went above and beyond my expectations. I learned an approach to dramaturgy that works to serve the playwright's voice and vision. I learned how to ask questions about the playwrights' intention and writing process, which for me, is the first and most important part of the process. I learned how to bring the world of the play to life through research, music, food, photographs, geography, politics, and humor. I learned how to communicate the spirit of the production to the audience. And by working with such extraordinary playwrights as Gina Gionfriddo, Kirsten Greenidge, Sherry Shepard-Massat and Sarah Ruhl, I also learned how to be a better playwright.
I completed my internship in August of 2005. From there, I went to work at the Folger Shakespeare Library, but I continued to work as a dramaturg. Eventually, I became resident dramaturg at Active Cultures and African Continuum Theater Company. I worked freelance at the Arden Theater (Philadelphia, PA), Discovery Theater, Ford's Theatre, Howard University, the Kennedy Center, Morgan State University, Redshift Productions (New York, NY), Rorschach Theater Company, Round House Theatre, Theater Alliance and Theatre of the First Amendment. My dramaturgy packets have been used at Ensemble Studio Theater (New York, NY), Interact Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), Theater J, Horizon Theatre (Atlanta, GA). It's been an exciting adventure!
In the last two years, my focus has shifted to playwriting, but I truly miss my dramaturgy work. This is why I've been so excited to connect with the Women Dramaturgs of D.C. and present this series. In my next post, I'll introduce you to the women being featured and share their stories with you over the course of the next few days. I hope you'll enjoy learning about their lives and careers as much I as have.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!