10 of my favorite interactions with New Yorkers during my one month stay

9 Mar

Here are some of the most memorable interactions I had with New Yorkers during my one month stay in New York; I went there to produce and promote “Punk Grandpa” at FRIGID New York!

1. So, I had just checked in to my air b and b and was headed towards Times Square and Drama Bookshop to pass out my “Punk Grandpa” postcards, while dressed up like a fairy and these two things happened:

a) A man was gardening a small plot by the sidewalk and said to me, “You know that phone booth over there used to look like a fairy, it looked real, like it was alive, DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? But someone took the wings off, so I have been thinking about putting them back on.”

b) Then, as I was leaving the Drama Bookshop, a guy was coming out of a beauty shop and enthusiastically asked me,
“Are you a real fairy?”
“YES.”
“Can I get my picture taken with you?”
and so we went into the beauty shop and got our picture taken together and struck several silly poses with a friend of his and they told me they would come to see the show.

I felt like I was home.

2. Another day when I was out busking/passing out my “Punk Grandpa” postcards while dressed up like a fairy:

A lady on a corner in the East Village said to me, “I’m meeting a friend and I was feeling sad today and I saw you across the street and I thought, ‘Maybe I should stand by her.’ and then you came across the street.”

3. “Have fun in Candyland or wherever you’re going,” an employee at an organic food store said to me, in my fairy garb.

4. A guy came up to me on the street in the East Village and asked, “What do you DO?” I told him, “I’m a playwright and I’m doing this show….” and gave him a postcard – he said, “I have an eye for good artists, I’m going to check you out!”

5. An elderly man came up to me on the street and said, “You gave me a “Punk Grandpa” postcard (a couple days ago!), what is it about?” I told him and he started telling me about his grandpa – and how he got kicked out of SEVEN schools – and the authorities wanted to medicate him, but his grandma wouldn’t let him and he’d hang onto his grandpa’s leg.

6. A barista at The Bean told me, “I like how you match.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say that to me before! He was not being sarcastic or making fun of me, I know what that’s like~

7. One night after one of our “Punk Grandpa” shows, I met a friend of my cousin/stage manager/dramaturg/production manager, and she told me that I am going to write a musical, win a Drama Desk Award and that I will have a play on Broadway – might not have a long run, but it’ll be there and that I’ll win a Tony. I don’t recall anyone in my life ever saying even one of these things to me before, let alone all of them!

8. One day while busking in Brooklyn, I found a Superhero Supply store – with a cape tester (you pick a cape, stand on a platform and a fan goes on above you and I think, a light, too) and I also sat under a “mind reader” – it was an old-fashioned hair dryer and a voice came on that was supposed to be what I was thinking and said something like, “If I protect the city, who will protect me?” There was also anti-gravity solution, gumption and glitter vision!

An employee there said that I’m her soul sister and she asked me to be friends on Facebook and we are now and she said she would come to see “Punk Grandpa!” And, she showed me a “portal”/window where you can see the creative writing classes in the back!

9. One day, after finding out that a number of locations listed on my flyering route did not exist any more, having other places that were closed and having still other locations tell me that they don’t accept postcards anymore, I opened the door of a certain theatre and just feel an immediate feeling of magic. Their logo had a ladder to the stars on it (while in New York, I saw a sign that said, “When in doubt, take the stairs,” but I thought it said, “When in doubt, take the stars.”) I met an employee there who after about two sentences (something like, “I’m doing this play called “Punk Grandpa;” it’s about being different…”) asked me, “Do you have a script?”
“Yes.”
“Do you have it on you?”
I didn’t, but we agreed I would e-mail it to him.
Then, he said, “How did you find us? Have you been here before? Let me show you the space,” and introduced me to the artistic director and another employee. I handed the director a “Punk Grandpa” postcard and he said, “Oh yeah, I read about this!” I couldn’t believe he had heard about it! The employee also said they have grants to put on readings of plays – it was magical! Then, they invited me to their MainStage productions coming up, allowed me to leave some of my postcards and I e-mailed them the “Punk Grandpa” script.

10. My air b & b host came to see “Punk Grandpa” and he told me since he’s Asian, it means a lot to him that an Asian girl played me in the FRIGID New York production, with all the b.s. with the Oscars, etc. – and that the implication is that someone of color is not good enough to play the lead – and that a big deal wasn’t made out of it – it was seamless.

My solo show, “Punk Grandpa,” at The 2015 New York Planet Connections Theatre Festivity and now with a multiple character cast at The 2016 FRIGID New York Festival

6 Jan

In the Fall of 2015, I decided to apply for FRIGID New York, with my show, “Punk Grandpa” as a multiple character cast.

Previously, I went to New York in June of 2015 to perform my one woman show version of “Punk Grandpa” at The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. Every show in the festival picks a cause to support in some way and ours was the NYC chapter of The Alzheimer’s Association, since my grandpa had Alzheimer’s. It was a fantastic experience and I regret nothing: I got to see my New York family and share grandpa’s legacy with them, we got a good review here (& the reviewer showed up with a balloon animal!):

http://nytheaternow.com/Content/Article/2015-6-24-punk-grandpa

and we were nominated for a number of awards and won The Outstanding Performance in a Solo Show Award and
The Congeniality Award.

The audience of family and friends who came were wonderful! The only thing was I just wish that we had a bigger turn-out; we had about 30 people total that saw the show. On opening night, we had three people in the audience. And then, we had some technical difficulties and so one of our audience members, our lighting designer, graciously stepped in and ran the lighting and so we ended up having two audience members on opening night!

So, I decided to apply to the FRIGID New York 2016 Festival with “Punk Grandpa” as a local multiple character cast (it was first done with multiple characters at The Waukegan Theatre Festival at Three Brothers Theatre in July of 2015!) as well as a local director and stage manager, in an attempt to draw a larger audience. It’s a six character cast, with a Grandpa, Laura and four Ensemble members. My husband, Jake, helped me with this greatly. He told me about the world time clock, so I would know the time down to the second, as I applied for FRIGID. Here’s how the FRIGID application process works: the first 15 applications received by FRIGID at midnight on Labor Day get into the festival! Then, the remaining 15 are drawn by lottery. Jake also advised me to fill out the online form 10-15 minutes before sending, so that it wouldn’t expire (otherwise I would have filled it out hours in advance). So, I did and Jake’s advice worked!

Here is a listing all of the shows that are being featured at the 2016 FRIGID New York Festival:

http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Horse-Trade-Sets-10th-Annual-FRIGID-Festival-Lineup-20151218

Since then, a few highlights of the “Punk Grandpa” process with FRIGID New York have been:

1) We had about 500 submissions for the “Punk Grandpa” auditions between the postings on Playbill and Backstage!

2) When I was looking for someone to play a grandpa character in a play in Chicago, we had NO age-appropriate actors who submitted for the role for auditions. Then I kept posting and had just a few age-appropriate men apply before finding the right grandpa. He showed up in costume and ended up being perfect for the part. In New York, we had multiple age-appropriate men apply to be my punk grandpa!

3) The man playing our grandpa owns an alto saxophone and has offered to play music in the show for us!!! He can also sing and dance; I am thrilled, as my grandpa was always singing and dancing.

Here is the link to FRIGID New York:

http://www.horsetrade.info/frigid-festival-df84

Preposterously Prolific Playwright Panel at Dramatists Guild Town Hall Meeting

22 Jul

Tonight I had the immense pleasure of attending a Dramatists Guild meeting at Stage 773 in Chicago!

Highlights/playwright quotes of the night:

Anne Garcia-Romero mentioned the idea of writing a haiku version of your play!

Douglas Post said if you call his answering machine, it says, “Whatever you’re calling about, my answer is yes!”

Another playwright said, “By not asking, you already have a no!”

Brett Neveu to critics: “What you don’t like, I’m going to do some more!”

“Everyone has a way to tell your story, but only you can tell your story!”

Through playwriting, “I’m going to heal you and you’re going to heal me,” by Reginald Edmund. This really touched me =)))

Douglas Post: “Critics are paid to read what we write, we are not paid to read the critic’s work.”

“We have to be careful who we give power to.”

Will Dunne: “Find someone that fascinates you/who you are in love with; put them in different situations and see what they do.”

Reginald Edmund: “Every single play is my last play…a love letter/suicide note…the last thing I have to say….”

Uncle Fun is closing; wahhhhhh!!!!!

17 Jan

The first time I found Uncle Fun was on a Saturday sometime in the late 90’s. My friend Stacey Gardener (a fellow counselor at State Farm Day Camp) and I decided we would take the Amtrak train up from Normal, IL and spend the day in Chicago.  

We went to half tix and bought tickets to Midsummer Night’s Dream with The Pride Festival at what was then the Bailiwick Theatre Building. We had some time before the show and so we took a stroll. We saw this storefront (Uncle Fun!), & were not sure exactly what it was. We had no idea what was about to transpire & that my life would never be the same.

The store was pure magic. I bought a green, sparkly, star-shaped ring there, that I shortly thereafter threw off a bridge and made a wish…about a boy…that came true. His name was John Hunt and I remember him joking that Pizza Hut used to be called “Pizza Hunt,” haha! We dated for a while and it was not meant to be. I remember he gave me a snow globe and that it cracked, froze (I forgot it in the car) and it melted…symbolic…as it happened before we broke up!

When I got married and had a Wizard of Oz-themed wedding reception, it was to Uncle Fun I went. Billy, a famous employee there, had the idea for us to have a Munchkin-themed table, where everything was over-sized, so that we would feel small! Uncle Fun had over-sized scissors, combs, brushes, toothbrushes…in addition, to the rainbow see-er things, where you look thru a lense and see rainbows everywhere, transposed upon your reality…

Before my husband and I even met, one Christmas, we both bought allll of our Christmas presents from Uncle Fun!

Once, I saw a former Uncle Fun employee in the street and was star-shocked; he was a celebrity to me. Immediately, I started freaking out & screaming, “Ohhhh!!! YOU used to work at Uncle Fun!!!” He looked around, took the hand of the girl he was with and started to run away from me! =)

Of course, when we had an intern from Hong Kong for the Chicago Fringe, I HAD to take her to Uncle Fun!

Uncle Fun generously donated a basket of toys as a prize for Chicago Fringe Festival (when I was Fringe Central Manager and needed prizes for events such as Fringe Prom King & Fringe Olympics). The store also donated to Tellin’ Tales Theatres’ raffle (we’d have a give-away at the end of each show in “Six Stories Up, Up & Away!”) In the play, we were all circus performers with superpowers. The show was a collaboration of people with and without disabilities and I was Fairy Freak Finooza (I made dirt, instead of fairy dust).

For The World of Faeries Festival, I made Catch a Fairy Boxes by hot gluing on the mini things you can find at Uncle Fun in the old card catalogue drawers (rattles, cowboy boots, Coke bottles, all kinds of random things). My friends I sold crafts with later told me that they thought my stuff was weird and that it wouldn’t sell very well, but! Of the 3 of us, I ended up selling the most stuff/fairy merchandise! Thank you Uncle Fun!!!

Some of the best stuff at Uncle Fun, you’d just find, a discovery an employee might not have even known it existed! And some of the best stuff…is unclassifiable…you truly just don’t know WHAT IT IS!

Now, since Uncle Fun is closing its doors (& my brother says he feels more sorry for me than the store!), I feel that I have to do SOMETHING as a tribute. Hence, I am making a documentary. No one has made a documentary about Uncle Fun before and I have never made a documentary about anything; I HAVE TO DO THIS!

13 Feb

To end, the same male student from the beginning of the post, when pushed by the same female student, said, “I’m gonna put a cap in your head and I’m gonna put a cap in your mama’s head!!!”

Sequins instead of Pimples

“She said she hates me,” a male student told his teacher (telling on the female student standing next to him).

The teacher replied something like, “Don’t worry about her.
I love you. Don’t worry about what anybody else says,
because I will always love you.”

Wow, that was my favorite moment of my tutoring experience
today.

From the moment I entered the building, I encountered
chaos. When I walked into the office where I go before
tutoring, I saw around 15 kids standing there with a teacher,
principal & assistant principal. Apparently, the classroom
had recently descended into utter madness; so the
teacher had to bring a large portion of her class down to the
office & call the parents of the students, one by one.

I heard the principal tell one student that she was going to come to his house! She told another kid, “I don’t know, do…

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Ludicrously Lawndaling it

13 Feb

“She said she hates me,” a male student told his teacher (telling on the female student standing next to him).

The teacher replied something like, “Don’t worry about her.
I love you. Don’t worry about what anybody else says,
because I will always love you.”

Wow, that was my favorite moment of my tutoring experience
today.

From the moment I entered the building, I encountered
chaos. When I walked into the office where I go before
tutoring, I saw around 15 kids standing there with a teacher,
principal & assistant principal. Apparently, the classroom
had recently descended into utter madness; so the
teacher had to bring a large portion of her class down to the
office & call the parents of the students, one by one.

I heard the principal tell one student that she was going to come to his house! She told another kid, “I don’t know, do you think the school should stay open when you behave like that?” & in response to a tattler, “If she didn’t hit you, y’all got nothing to say. You do a lot worse to her!” & “Nobody sits in my office under no circumstances!”

I saw one boy pick up another boy by lifting up his head.
Not his neck, his head! Scary!

I knew today would be crazy when I went to get coffee
at the McDonald’s nearest to the Lawndale school where
I tutor & I saw a sign on the 1st window (where you pay) that
said this: Students are not permitted in the restaurant
until further notice.

Today, I was given 3 students who each had to be given different tests (that need to have an adult read every single question out loud for the students to answer!) at 3 different levels as well as the rest of the group, who needed to be given the regular lesson plans about the letters L & M…so, I gave everyone the workbooks & instructions & then made my rounds around the room. I went to one tester & asked the questions from section one of the test, then went over the next part of the workbook for everyone & then on to the next tester…that was all I could think of to do…

To end, the same male student from the beginning of the post, when pushed by the same female student, threatened her with, “I’m gonna put a cap in your head and a cap in your mama’s head!!!”

Turbulent tutoring

6 Feb

“He smacked his pee-pee!” I had to ask the kindergartner to repeat herself a few times to make sure I heard this correctly. Well, my first question was if the boy in question was ok & he said he was fine. I separated the girl & pee-pee boy to give them space and to protect whatever the pee-pee situation was and the boy she was referring to claimed that she made it up…I’ll never know what happened!

“Who’s that friendly creature?” I asked Breanna, a kindergartner I am tutoring in an after school program in Lawndale…she had drawn a picture of me on the board and an animal floating in the air next to me.  She said, “That’s your dog.”  When I told her my husband would love a dog, but we don’t have one, she said, “Yes, you have a dog.”  I love kids’ imaginations & that people just tend to think I have animals and/or want them…a couple of times, I had an actor call me who I hadn’t heard from in months who wondered if I wanted a pet!  That’s how I got a hamster that I named Yum Yum Chew Chew Octavius and a lizard…

“I like to drink beer,” a kindergartner told me at “lunch”/tutoring break time…not wanting to seem shocked, I asked him what kind he likes & he told me, “Strawberry.”  The other kids giggled.  When I told him that I hope he doesn’t drink beer because it’s not good for him, he replied, “Beer’s good on New Year’s!”  The kids asked me if I drink beer and also if I cuss…I had to tell them yes to both and they were APPALLED!  I told them I don’t cuss at school and that I don’t cuss very much, but I felt like I couldn’t lie to them…

Only half of my students came back to the classroom after lunch (food time at 4 pm)….I was sincerely spooked…I knew they would have to come back soon, because all of their stuff was in my room, but still…where were they?  Somehow we all made it to the world outside of tutoring…