The Regular Job, Day 2

I got to do more last night.  Instead of awkwardly following the head waitress around, she followed me around.  It was good that it was a slow Sunday, so that I could go and learn at a more leisurely pace.  I no longer think I would be dreading working there any more.

Only one slip-up, as well.  I accidentally took an order to the wrong table, but luckily no food was inadvertently consumed before I could rectify the mistake.

I also think I’m most self-conscious when I’m serving people closer to my age.  I know it’s silly, but I feel thoroughly beneath these people at these moments.  Hopefully I’ll get over that.

But a girl puked.  All over a whole quarter of the restaurant floor, right before closing time.  It smelled.  This was a family of five, who made every silly demand they could make on us and on the kitchen, and then the daughter puked . . . and they still only tipped two dollars.  I’m just glad I didn’t have to clean it up.


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The Regular Job, Day 1

So, now that I’m out of school and have nothing left but my thesis, I’ve had to find a regular job.  The kind of job I haven’t had in.  Seven.  Years.  The last real job I had was cleaning a utility vehicle garage.  Before that, data entry for an information management company.  In the interim, I’ve been able to worm my way into theatre jobs often enough to keep me in movie rentals and Chips Ahoy!

But, for a number of reasons, I did not try to find a theatre job this summer.  Perhaps I should have.  Yet I feel as though it’s about time I get back in touch with a non-theatre based lifestyle.  I hope this isn’t coming off as haughty, but I mean it.  It’s more a combination of fear and laziness that has kept me from waiting tables or selling shoes or answering phones.  So this summer I applied for about eight or ten jobs around town that I have little to no experience in.  And the Thai House of Bloomington said yes.  Yes, Neal.  We’ll take you.

It’s only a tentative training situation, so I don’t yet have the job.  But I think it’s there if I want it.

Tonight I shadowed the head waitress for about four hours, standing silently, awkwardly behind her as she took orders and the seated guests tried not to stare.  After a while, she actually let me do stuff.  The first time she let me carry a tray of food, though, I was apparently holding it wrong and she had to take it from me lest I spill it all over the guests.  I got the hang of it, though, and was eventually taking the occasional order, bringing out the foot and delivering checks.

The routine part of waiting table is the part I think I could get used to pretty quickly.  It will take time learning the menu, on the other hand.  You know, the part that makes working at this restaurant from working at that restaurant.

I guess they like me, so I’m going back for another shift tomorrow night.  Will I make it?  Will I make best friends with the other servers?  Will I ruin some child’s first experience eating Thai food?  Will I continue to be one of the tallest people in the kitchen?

Come back for seconds.

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The Home

Got it.

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The Site

This is a stop-gap until I’ve explored all my options.  Only somewhat purposefully is it so skeletal.

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The Cryptic Email

Got an email from the director of KCACTF, asking me about my summer.  No other information or questions.  After responding, he came back asking me to asst. the dramaturgs for his summer MFA playwriting workshop in DC.  One week.

I accepted.  Feeling great about this.

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The Misfit

I’m feeling like all kinds of misfit lately.  I really, really like that word.  “Misfit.”

I’m learning a lot lately about the hazards of perfection.  For the last few months I’ve been in scholar mode, and last week I was in hyper dramaturg mode, and all I could think about was how I have been failing miserably at both.  I have constant attacks of anxiety concerning my talents as a scholar and my skills–including, apparently most importantly–people skills applicable to dramaturgy.  As another chapter in my education comes to a close, I feel ill-prepared to make an impression on the professional theatre community, super reinforced my week of dramaturgical goodness and nightmarishness at the Kennedy Center.

I met lots of pro dramaturgs, people who held my dream job.  But mostly hung out with the playwriting students.  I will freely admit that I wish I could have referred to myself as a playwright last week, especially because I’ve come to understand better than I ever have to benefit of imperfection to the playwright.  Whereas as a dramaturg I feel pressure to get everything right, and to know what I’m talking about all the time (even though in practice that’s impossible), the playwright in me thrives on sloppiness, on the ability to redo or start from scratch or totally abandon for something else.  As a purely creative artist, the playwright can embrace or dismiss anything he or she wants to.

There’s no question in my mind that I want to be a dramaturg.  I love the work and am learning more and more about it.  And learning how to be a pro about it.  Right now, in the midst of my thesis and trying to land a job, though, all I can think about is the next play I want to write.

Certainly this entry is imperfect.  I may or may not remedy that in the future.

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The Next Step

Yikes! it’s been a while.  I’m afraid I suppose I hit that time of the semester in which neglectfulness is a rather easy mode to slip into.  I’m doing fine, though.  I mean, I’m re-working for like the fifth time the conceit underlying my new play; have less of an idea about what my thesis will actually be than I did two weeks ago; and have had the same Netflix rental for over a week.  But, other than that, just fine.

The reading went very well.  Remember what I said about not compromising, though?  About how I was going to find my ideal cast this time?  I compromised.  The actress we cast was very green.  I had to rewrite the Asian American male part as a Caucasian.  Why?  Because only three people showed up to the audition.  Green Girl, a Japanese girl with a very heavy accent, and an halfway decent guy who ended up having a scheduling conflict.  I wasn’t happy about it.  Really not happy.  Funny thing, I of course had my own ideas about what it meant for the two Asian American characters to be Asian American, and what message they telegraphed and how they messed with notions of representation; but changing the male character to a white guy carried brought it a whole new set of resonances to the play that rather compelled me.  Now I really need a production as I originally intended it to see if I like it enough.  Anyway, we pulled through, I made lots of discoveries in the rehearsals, and on the night, despite any shortcomings on anyone’s part, I got a very good showing and a very responsive and supportive audience.

It was strange conducting the feedback session here, though.  Not what I’m used to.  That would be friends and other playwrights who don’t try to imagine what an actual production of the play would look like, or, worse, try to rewrite your own play.  To be fair, my audience was very thoughtful, and didn’t so much try to rewrite my play as to suggest that some trimming might be in order, but it was rather odd hearing them say how much they thought some video projections, sound design or cool lights might “help” the play.  Anyway, I got what I wanted, and that’s what counts.

From this point on, well.  This is the first full-length play of mine that I have enough confidence in to start submitting to reading/production opportunities.  Granted, the subject matter is a little pedestrian (the play is about college students), and the phrase “monologue play” doesn’t immediately conjure the best associations, but I feel that I take enough risks both in terms of content and dramaturgy that it holds some merit.  Not to mention that it’s a really easy show to produce.  Three people sitting in chairs–come on!

Between the listservs and the Loop, I’ve got about half a dozen places I think I can submit to.  After rewrites.

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