Writers play a unique role in our theater and film communities and in our society as a whole. We understand how essential narrative is to understanding the human condition and to connecting with each other.
At this time, we are experiencing the impacts of a society that stifles Black voices and reinforces narratives that promote white supremacy. We should not be willing to continue to go back to business as usual. As we open this conversation, there are actions that all of us can begin now.
I invite you to participate in the elevation of Black writers using tools that are easily accessible to you.
1) Become familiar with the work of Black playwrights and screenwriters, particularly writers who are actively producing work. 2) Write recommendations for plays by Black authors on review websites, including online bookstores. 3) Promote Black writers and their work on social media. 4) Encourage theater companies that you respect to present more work by Black writers (it’s particularly powerful if you recommend two or three authors and specific plays). 5) Recommend Black writers for developmental opportunities. 6) Encourage your friends and colleagues, particularly your White friends, to get to know the works of Black writers. 7) Watch films made by Black writers and directors. When theaters open up again, make an effort to buy tickets for shows written by Black writers.
When we read the works of Black writers, we understand their concerns and their communities better, and we are better able to implement effective anti-racism strategies. When we promote Black writers, we redistribute access to opportunities to writers who may otherwise get overlooked. When we support productions by Black writers, we help ensure their longevity as playwrights and screenwriters and poets and novelists, and we often help create more acting opportunities for actors of color.
Most importantly, when we elevate Black writers, we get to experience their essential and transformative stories, and that’s really what storytelling is about.
In June 2019, I got to teach playwriting to a creative and clever group of teens through the Eugene O’Neill Studio Retreat. The students had one week to write an original play at the historical Tao House and then we had one week to rehearse the plays with students in the actor program.
It was a delight to work with Norman Gee, Brady Lea, and all of the writers, actors, and volunteers. I remain particularly grateful to the students who educated me about the significance of Vines and invited me into their funny, heart-string-tugging, and contemplative worlds.
Honored that my song “You Can’t Hide” co-written by Phil Surtees will be performed for Musical Cafe‘s Cabaret Benefit on Sunday, February 3. Musical Cafe is a project of Play Cafe, which both support the development of new plays by Bay Area writers.
This year, I was invited to return to the HBMG Foundation‘s National Winter Playwrights’ Retreat for the Fifth Anniversary reunion where I played (a version of) hockey on a frozen pond, ate at Arp’s a lot, and had a closed developmental reading of my full length play, “Sweet, Sweet Revolution.”
This winter, the HBMG Foundation invited me to include a second play in their American Playbook project. “How Touching” was originally commissioned by the Playwrights Foundation for their One-Minute Play Festival, and I updated this piece for the American Playbook.
Many thanks to Ann Pittman Zarate, Kate Brennan, Greg DeCandia, Amanda Bermudez, and Joshua Bermudez for reading and recording this important piece about consent and children.
I was privileged to get to develop my short film “Spilled Milk,” a romantic story inspired by true events, with Trap Street on November 17th.
This piece was read by Chad Eschman, Thi Nguyen, Luke Rampersad, Faith D’Amato, Katie Pelensky, Anne Berkowitz, Paul Whestone, Toni Maddocks, and Kimberly Alexander.
It was also a great opportunity connect with other Carnegie Mellon University Dramatic Writing alums, including Kate Mickere, Julianne Jigour (Trap Street Director of Development), and Dan Hirsch (whose play “Sisyphi” was also featured).
In September, my play concept “Intertwined” was accepted as a commission for The Vagrancy’s 2018-2019 Playwrights’ Group which will lead to a staged performance on Sunday, May 26, 2019 during The Blossoming new play development series. All of the plays have been inspired by the theme of “true crime,” and my piece explores anti-miscegenation laws and how they particularly impacted Chinese people living in the United States.
On Saturday, April 7, 2018,HBMG Foundation hosting a live reading and audio recording of my drama “Plastic Nest” that had previously been developed at their National Winter Playwrights Retreat. Although I had been developing this piece for three years, this reading allowed me to hear something that hadn’t come across before and now I’m rewriting the first act to strengthen the male lead.