Monday, June 7, 2010

Celebrating the Life of a Great Theatre Maker

I'm working with Theatre Bay Area to put together a celebration of the life of Quentin Easter to pay tribute to his life long work as an extraordinary theatre maker and fundraise to ensure that his home, the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, can continue to create amazing theatre.

Please come out and join us in song, performance and voice.

go to www.lhtsf.org for more information.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In a Name

"Young Jean Lee's Theater Company creates and produces new, experimental performances for theater that are written and directed by Young Jean Lee."

Gabby Gomez started a small theatre company with me and we called it Ann Marie Productions. We were asked again and again who Ann Marie was. Was she the playwright? The founder?

Then we would say that my middle name is Ann and her's is Marie and together with the word "Productions" it formed AMP which sounded cool. AMP. This made preshow announcements difficult. "Thank you for coming to Ann Marie Production's production of..."

We set out in our mission statement that we would produce new works by new playwrights...by this we meant ourselves. It sounded high minded to separate ourselves in this secret way. Like it was too much to say we where producing our own work. Our intention is to produce our own work. Or that we had no other intention then producing our own work.

Then I read the New York Times review of Young Jean Lee's Lear. The audacity of an Asian American woman to recreate what may be the master work of THE master...using specifically black actors. But more than that. She has the audacity to direct her own work. To produce and direct her own work under her own name!

That's when I read about her company, which lead me to 13P.

"13P (Thirteen Playwrights, Inc.) was formed in 2003 by 13 midcareer playwrights concerned about what the trend of endless readings and new play development programs is doing to the texture and ambition of new American plays. We decided we were ready to take matters into our own hands."

Can I just say? I'm in love. I love the honesty. No hiding behind niceties or pretending. Self producing/directing playwrights are frowned upon. That much creative control in one place is seen as pretentious or completely lacking in humility. Yet, how else does a playwright get work up on it's feet? How else can they refine and enrich their writing to prepare it for other stages? Here are playwrights, good playwrights, taking risk and reward in their own hands.

I'm going to have to say that I don't think I'll be able to be Ann Marie Productions much longer. I don't know who she is. I've never met her. And Gabby and I worked very hard for her and her productions, and I don't remember her lifting a finger. I think it might be time to be as honest as I'm demanding of others. It might be time to take risks with out hiding.

I might still be AMP...but I think I'm ready to play around with what it means.