Since Saturday I have been in Ashland, Oregon, soaking up the gift of artistic support. Lue Douthit brought me to Ashland to participate in the Black Swan Lab, a series that supports emerging and contemporary playwrights by bringing them to Ashland to hear their work read out loud by acting company members and allowing them to engage in a deep conversation about the play. It’s just what I needed. The play I presented – EUGENE – is a play that I haven’t worked on in over a year and this process has put my head back into the world of the play; I feel like I can move around and shift things now in a way that I didn’t before. I’m tinkering away at EUGENE and it feels wonderful.
In addition to hearing my play read, I’m getting to see several shows – I saw a beautiful production of CYMBELINE the other night and am anxious to see A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, THE LIQUID PLAIN and THE TENTH MUSE before I leave.
This gift of artistic support feels particularly significant because in many ways my playwriting self was BORN in Ashland at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. For three seasons I worked as a Resident Teaching Artist in the Education Department and my whole life was wrapped up in OSF. I was fed a steady diet of theater and storytelling and critical thinking about work. I met visiting artists regularly and was able to witness the daily artistry that goes into making beautiful sets, costumes, sound, and lighting. I grew to know OSF like family until it actually became my family in a way that I didn’t realize until I moved away to continue my path as a playwright. And now I’m back, visiting what was – and still is – my home. I have many people to hug still while I’m here, even though I know that I’ll be back at some point. A person always returns home.