Date: April 1, 2014
Days Spent on Project: 408
Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC
Person I would have sent it to: I think it’s time for me to move beyond the Yale School of Drama. I’ve almost thanked 100 people that I met there. I’m sure I may double back around and continue to thank people I was introduced to when I was there, or maybe people I met through the shared Yale School of Drama experience in the subsequent years. I don’t think I’m done with Yale. I don’t think I’ll ever be done with Yale. It’s been a huge presence in my life; it’s a chapter that was closed years ago, but I keep finding reasons to revisit it.
After I graduated from Yale, I decided to spend another summer with the National High School Institute. It would ultimately be my last.
I wonder sometimes if I should have tried to find an immediate post-grad school job that was closer to the East Coast. Maybe I should have tried to assist someone with a Big Career immediately. Maybe I should have tried to align myself with a Big Summer Company. I didn’t though; I needed a six week period to see my old friends before I was about to embark on a new life entirely.
I was about to move to New York City. The original plan was to room with two friends from the YSD, but those hopes were dashed quickly as freelance work almost immediately sent us in different directions.
So I eventually found an apartment in Brooklyn- Bay Ridge actually- and my time as a freelancer in New York started.
My first job in the city? Remember Katherine from Actors Theatre of Louisville? (She was Crane number 277.) She contacted me, and offered me a chance to assist a designer she worked with frequently at the time.
So, my first job in New York City was assisting a designer named Donna Z.
I learned so so so so so so so much working under Donna for those few months.
How to swatch fabric effectively. How important it is to organize all the information that comes your way. How important an unlimited subway card is. How important it is to know how to navigate the subway. How important it is to look for fabric that isn’t “common” or easily recognized. How important it is to keep your paperwork in order. How important it is to keep track of expenses, even if they aren’t your own. How sometimes you just can’t stay under budget. How there are different degrees of well-done stitching. How to bid a show. How you can find REAL vintage clothes in the city that you didn’t think still existed. How you can have those clothes copied. How the real can be so much more beautiful than you imagined.
How an assistant needs to be that first and foremost, and put everything else on hold.
I was also designing a show out of town at the time. I quickly realized how BAD it could be to focus on my work, when someone else needed me to focus on theirs.
Donna really is a great designer. I love the clothes she designed for that show, and several others. (Two summers ago, I was working at that same theater and saw they had a production photo of that show prominently displayed. That was a trip down memory lane for sure…)
It was a fantastic learning experience for me, and a great way to introduce myself to the New York theater scene. I wasn’t perfect at my job- I was still learning- and I sometimes grimace to think of what I thought “assisting” entailed back then.
But, you live. You learn. You move on. Hopefully.
Music I listened to while sewing: I’ve got a Spotify discovery on this morning… a group called Arms and Sleepers.
Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: I did it. I leapt last night.
The net should appear, yes?
Bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles for the California workshop.
And this is terrifying and exciting and seems irresponsible and unknown and foolish and fun and a little out of control. But I think it’s also an opportunity; a chance for something to happen. Nothing may happen, true, but why not try and see?
What do I want out of the workshop? I want to learn a little about how to approach directing and staging a piece like this. I want to take the text I’ve written- which is NOT a screenplay or written like a play- and see what a group of people can devise from it. What more do they need? What’s helpful? Have I given them enough?
I know I’m working at a disadvantage- two weeks to do everything, no budget to work with, and young performers- but I still have access to a space, to performers, and some technica support and resources. That’s so much more than I ever would have been given in New York for free.
Maybe it’s best to think of this like a working vacation? I’ll be busy most of the time- time to focus on the work- so it’ll be productive in ways. I’ll learn a lot, if anything. Is it something to pursue legitimately?
You gotta take what comes your way, right?