So the month of June has arrived and with in a lot changes in the air. Theatres are slowly starting to open. I just had my very first in person theatrical rehearsal in over a year at the midtown Manhattan space of ART/NY and it was glorious. Moving for myself and my cast as we got to see each other in person for the first time. All of our other rehearsals have been via Zoom. This first weekend of June was a busy one with rehearsing and shooting the Zoom presentation off two of my plays, "CAGED" for the LITCouncil RAW/UNCUT festival and "TGIF Can't Here Soon Enough" for the Latinx Playwrights Theatre Workshop Festival and this coming week the live performance of the New York production off "TGIF Can't Get Here Soon Enough" for The Downtown Urban Arts Theatre Festival at Abrons Arts Center will be taking place. It's one of the very first live theatrical performances happening in the city and I'm really excited to be a part of this rebirth of our theatre community. I also just recently got named Associate Artistic Director of NYRep theatre company and I'm very excited to be able to help shape a season of theatre with this company. LAByrinth Theatre Company's Intensive Ensemble starts this week as well. Yes indeed the month of June is busting out all over.
April has arrived and with it the hopeful and promising Spring. Things are slowly starting to come back to life in the city. Work is starting again (not as much as before 2020) but it is coming back. Teaching residencies have returned and it's been an adjustment. I'm happy that I got my feet wet with the world of Zoom teaching with workshops taught with the LAByrinth Intensive Ensemble and the Writers Guild Initiative. But it's still a tough adjustment. I have been revisiting some old scripts, screenplays that I had put away for one reason or another. One in particular titled, "Los Hermanos Dela Cruz" which was based on a play of mine which was inspired by an old classic Italian film from 1960 titled, "Rocco and His Brothers" which was written nd directed by the great Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti. It was a wonderful re-introduction to a script that I was very proud of which was co-written with a fellow LAByrinth Theater Company member, Mary Perez. It's an interesting process to re-introduce yourself to material that you wrote almost ten years before and hearing the words of the writer that you once were as oppose to the writer that you are now. I felt the difference in me as a writer, the life and creative experience that I have gained from then to now was quite evident and it help with the revising of the draft. I'm very proud of this work and very excited to present it.
Today marks the one year anniversary when everything began to shut down. For me it was teaching assignments that suddenly were cancelled along with an prime acting assignment and a few play presentations; to say that I was devastated would be an understatement. All I remember about that time is it seemed that I was always deleting events from my calendar and with each deletion my calendar looked more and more like a barren wasteland. This week has been a good one, but it didn't start out that way. I had an appointment to see my doctor, the first in a year and the results were fine but also not great. They talk about Covid-19 weight and my lord was I ever hit with it. When I got home after seeing the doctor was I ever in a funk. I shut off the lights and just went to been for six hours of whoa is me pity party dreams. I let my self have this moment of self pity and it was time to get back on my feet and find my structure again and so far I have. Some good news did not hurt. I received another Artist Relief Grant and a couple of teaching residencies have fallen my way and for this I am very, very grateful. I also got my first of two vaccine shots. Yes, I believe even without wearing my glasses there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The first month of year went by quickly though there were a few bumps like going isolation due to Covid-19 exposure. But all is well and things are back to normal (or as normal as ones life can be while under the tent of a pandemic). I completed the galley's for my play, Prospect Avenue and sent off the pages to my publisher (there is a large part of me that really enjoys saying that). I completed a major emailing to close to a thousand production companies in both United States and Canada. I don't know if I will get any responses ( and sadly many of the emails bounced back) but I'm glad I did it. It's basically trying to get the work out there. I had a nice conversation with my agent and it was nice to find out that he is now an official signatory of the Writer's Guild. I am no longer submitting to festivals. I submitted to my last festival in late January. From February t February is a month that I am not going to stress about things in my life, especially my creative life. I am going to take things one day and one hour at a time. I have no deadlines at the moment so I can be creative at my own pace and I hope that once the doors reopen and this pandemic becomes a memory I will be ready with work that will be embraceed.
The official end of the first week of 2021 has arrived. From January 1st through January 8th I have been as the song says, Taking Care Of Business. I have been taking the steps to being more in charge of the year. Even though we are still living under the umbrella of the pandemic and will be more for perhaps another six to eight months I don't feel like I did in 2020 that the year was being taken away from me. I have been focusing on my work and most importantly myself. The first week of the year gave me a boost with the acceptance of my original screenplay to a west coast festival. That really made me feel good in regards to the strength of the script. I have gotten good responses from various other festivals as well as some rejections that shook my confidence in the material, but those festivals were outside of the United States, but getting a thumbs up from a festival in the states, especially one from the west coast was a great confidence booster. I did all my mailings for the first week and I actually got a response from a very important company who wanted to see the full text of my work. So here we are 2021 when the doors finally come back open for the arts and we are invited back inside I will be ready.
And so here we are counting down the final hours of what has been a horrific and tragic year for so many around the world. In the city, on both coast the industry in film, television and theatre has been for the most part non existent and for many like myself the year was marked a by great loss, loss of work, loss of whatever stability one had or hoped for and of course their was the loss of life , the most tragic of all losses. 2021 will be more of the same, at least for another six to eight months, maybe more. The difference this time as oppose to last March was the unknown impact that this pandemic was to have on the arts community livelihood. It was unknown territory. Now the territory is known, but that doesn't make it less tragic. There is hope but probably not till late Summer/early fall. Today on the last day of the year I received another certificate from another little festival regarding my pilot script being selected as "Best of". This festival was in India. The news brought a smile to my face and hope for a better tomorrow. The festival wins are encouraging, but one hopes that the praise will find the willing eyes of some producer who also sees light at the end of this pandemic and is willing to make an investment in the project therefore making an investment in me. There is much to hope for in the coming new year. I hope that I have planted strong seeds these past few months and the seeds will blossom and grow. One can hope and after this year it's nice to know that "hope" still exist inside of me.
It is Monday, December 14th. I've just gotten home from taking my second Covid-19 test in preparation for a film project that I will be shooting in a couple of days. As I write this trucks are being stocked and travelling cross country delivering hope, a vaccine that will hopefully sometime in the fall of 2021 left the darkness of this pandemic and bring us back to a sense of normalcy to our everyday lives like going outside mask less, running freely, dining out, meeting friends and loved ones, hugging freely. My focus these last few days have been on making sure that The LAByrinth Theater company Zoom Intensive runs as smoothly as possible. I am one of three producers who are organizing and trying to bring a sense of connectiveness in a world where disconnect has become the new norm. I have been receiving invites from various festivals in which my work as a writer has been accepted, invitations to come and joy in the festivities via Zoom. I am grateful for these invites, but there is a sadness that I cannot be there in person to meet, greet, be greeted and network, to be among peers and celebrate the work. As I've mentioned before these last few months with the acceptance of my work as a writer from various festivals around the world, some more important than others has been a bright light shining through the darkness of this year of the pandemic and for that I am truly grateful.
Here we are on December 1st, the final four weeks of what has been a year of a living nightmare of uncertain in regards to work, present, future and most importantly health. There has been much loss this year, loss on so many levels. I had posted before about the erasing of so many projects that were lined up that I had to delete from my calendar as the pandemic came into full force and now we here are in December and the since of dreed and fear of the future still exist. There is a sense of uncertainty, a sense of will 2021 be more of the same or maybe just a little bit different, just a little more hopeful. I wish I knew. As I write this I have gotten more positive responses from the many festivals that I have submitted my projects to, mostly non theatre project for film and television. The festivals vary from very important to perhaps not so, but at this moment in time, for me it's about trying to stay the course, get the work out there in the hopes that the possibilities of future work will arrive. I don't know. I know that it makes me feel really good and fills me with much confidence that my work is being seen and appreciated. Again I don't know the importance of the majority of the festivals, some I do know of their importance, but every little bit helps. My theory is very much my approach to the theatre and those opportunities that rise up - work is work whether the space is 25 seats or 500, whether the theatre is well known or not so well known. It comes down to working on your craft and seeking support for the work that you are doing. I am happy that I have received the recent recognitions for my scripts. I feel in my heart that it will help bring an awareness to the work and isn't that at the end of the day waht it is all about outside of the creative process itself.
It is the half way point of November. The news is filled with the increase in causalities from the Covid-19 Pandemic. The presidential election is completed and protest are breaking out over the outcome.
Work is still hard to find, especially in the arts where theatre's and production companies for the most part are shut down due to the pandemic. On the positive side of things my very first attempt at writing a television pilot, an hour drama titled, On The Boulevard has been accepted and acknowledged at various festivals such as HollyShorts, Los Angeles International Screenwriting awards, Rome independent Prisma awards and the Point Blair International film festival. There are many other festivals that I am waiting word from regarding other works of mine and the news of whether I made the cut for any of them goes deep in to 2021. So it's nice to have things to look forward to that bring in a little much needed light into ones life while living under the dark cloud of this pandemic.
It has been close to five years since my last posting many things have happened both very good and not so very good. As I write this we are in the middle of a world wind pandemic. Many businesses have been closed down. The arts has been totally shut down outside of Zoom readings and meetings, but many theatres and rehearsal spaces have been shut down. Jobs that were penciled into calendars have been cancelled. It has been difficult maintaining focus and not drifting in despair. A friend said: Why are we creating now? Is it to fill up up space or to really create something because we are inspired. I can only speak for myself, but at the beginning of March when the pandemic began to really hit and believe me it hit hard. I found myself with every passing day losing work both as a teacher and as a actor and writer as schools closed down, theatres shut down and productions were halted. Every day it seemed another email was being received telling me of another project, another job that no longer would exist. But slowly, very slowly I and many others began to adjust and we are still adjusting and I feel we will be remaining in a state of adjusting till well in 2022. What have I been doing during this time? Cleaning my room, tightening my belt, taking long walks and creating, yes creating. I have been doing my best to take advantage of the free time, time that I never actually had before. The time to stay up as late as I wish, to watch a film, a documentary or just write and write and write and create. The act of creativity, holding on that muscle has been the one life saving tool that I have constantly used during this pandemic. Until next time. Stay safe. Stay healthy.