I’ve talked to my old friend and collaborator T on the phone a couple times in the last few days. I think after reading what I’ve been writing here, he was a little worried about me, which is not surprising. I’d be worried about me too if I loved me. We’ve been in close touch recently because of all the stuff that’s happening with Lizzie Borden (which I am not at liberty to discuss just yet, but soon), and we’ve been throwing around ideas for new work, since the writing part of Lizzie Borden is pretty much done.
Because I’ve hit such a hard dead end here, I’ve been thinking a lot about the trajectory of my career.
Opportunities to do good work always came to me, things landed in my lap: the Woods, Tiny Mythic, Y’all, Life in a Box.
In my early twenties, a couple years after dropping out of art school, I met B who played drums and wrote songs and was forming a new band. I tagged along, bought a guitar, taught myself a few chords, and started writing songs. I wasn’t very good, but over the years I got good.
B worked at a restaurant with some people who were starting a theater company called Tiny Mythic. They asked us to compose music for their first production, which was Strindberg’s Dreamplay. We did that, successfully I think, and then we did the next show. I left B soon after that but continued to work with those people, eventually just with T, whose sensibilities, of the directors in the company, meshed most closely with mine. We did Lizzie Borden, Frankenstein, The Scarlet Letter, and other shows, and we became good friends.
I met J through that work, indirectly. He was the recent ex-boyfriend of one of the performers in A (our adaptation of The Scarlet Letter) and a writer for a local magazine, and he came to see the show several times. We fell in love, we found that we both loved the same country gospel music, and we started writing and performing within a few months of meeting. We did that for 10 years, it took us out of New York, to Nashville, then to the road. And through a chain of circumstances too complicated to recount this afternoon, we ended up making a movie about our last year together, which I spent 2 years finishing after we separated.
One thing led to another. But Life in a Box, which of all the work I’ve done had the most promise of leading to new work, didn’t. Pretty much since then I’ve been floundering. I thought certainly I would make another film -- I’d discovered this new medium that exploited my visual, my musical, my storytelling talents, and it just all seemed to make so much sense. Now I was a filmmaker! But I couldn’t figure out how to make it happen. All my schemes came to naught. I had, I have, no shortage of ideas, but I have not been able to put together the whole operation. Turns out I am hapless when it comes to the infrastructure.
And then there is the return to theatre, which somehow snuck into the story a few years ago. I don’t want to discount the creative energy I’ve put into Lizzie Borden in the last three years. It’s been tremendous, and very satisfying artistically. I think I viewed it as an anomaly – and maybe even a step backward to keep my artist’s mind occupied while I tried to figure out the future. I guess that’s the wrong way to think about it. Maybe the return to Lizzie Borden, return to theatre, return to New York, is the direction forward. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe this was all a dream.