Gifts for 2013

We’ve made it through the mountain of presents. We’ve gone sledding with the niece. The family just tore through two giant plates of my Christmas nachos. And now we’ve all retreated to our respective corners to play with our stuff, fall asleep, or make good on a random promise to write an essay every day. But it’s holiday law you have to eat a massive meal every 4 to 5 hours so I don’t have a ton of time.

I’ll have to make this quick.

I don’t buy myself a lot of stuff. I’m the “I won’t buy new shoes until the current ones are literally coming apart on the street and even then I’ll feel bad shelling out more than 30 bucks” type. This actually happened to me recently. I was walking around a city looking at a potential grad school and the heel of my boot fell out of the back of the shoe. And I didn’t throw it away. I brought it home and tried to sew it back in.

If it’s for work – a music download for a show I’m working on or a book that I should read as research – it’s a lot easier to justify. I have a hard time giving myself “gifts”: things that are for purely aesthetic pleasure, things that whose function is an indulgence, things that don’t “do” anything. I have the same trouble in my art making.

Once in a while I have an excuse to do something artistic that isn’t “real” – aka it has no potential to become part of anything I’m working on at a professional level. Like this Halloween when I spent a full day and the equivalent of a week’s food budget making a jellyfish costume I wore for 4 hours:

Photo on 2012-10-31 at 17.35

But chances are, if I don’t think something has the potential to turn into a “real” project, I let it go pretty quickly. I rarely commit a lot of energy beyond a passing daydream to ideas unless I can see them morphing into a fully realized production. This is why none of you have heard about my “South Philadelphia Cat Tour” fantasy. (Someday world, some day…) I’m not in the habit of offering myself the gift of spending a little artistic capital just for the hell of it, because it’s fun, even if it’s not “useful”to my career.

What’s the old saying: Bread and roses? Maybe even in our art practice, we need a little of both.

Here’s a list of creative things I want to do and I can’t see the obvious use of. There’s no grant that needs to get written for this and I have no idea how any of these make it into a single project I’m planning. But they are some artistic gifts I’ll try and “buy” in 2013.

I want to:

–       Spend a few days making something with a person in Philly I’ve never worked with

–       Sing with a choir

–       Work with a visual artist

–       Make something for an audience of less than 10

–       Look up a bunch of Norse mythology

–       Make a piece that’s no longer than 5 minutes

–       Learn a lot about wine

–       Work with (in?) water

–       Play the piano

–       Create something performed in another language

–       Get onstage myself

–       Make a meal the central focus

–       Work on a scene from a play I’m not producing, just because its fun

–       Read a lot about something I never got to take a class on in college

–       Give myself permission to stop something in the middle

–       Take a dance class

–       Contact a person I’d think would never respond and ask them for coffee

–       Write something creative without a second author

–       Watch another person’s process

–       Create a board game

That’s mine for now.

What are yours? Throw them in the comments.

Happy happies and merry merries to one and all.



  1. I always suspected you were destined to be a Headlong collaborator, and now I am certain. (Audience less than 10…piece less than 5 minutes…water….meal central…so much overlap of artistic desires). So maybe we can check something else on this list off if I put you in my next piece as a performer! I love this writing series — keep it up, please!

  2. January 7 I moved to Altoona to teach a semester of college as a Theatrical Artist in Residence. I will be teaching introduction to theatrical design with a costume design angle. It is terrifying. I am sooo excited about it. Besides the class, I am getting paid to “just do your work”. Umm, my work!? So, I will be sharing my process of designing Renegade’s Glass Shattered (like maybe letting people watch me go through the painful process of painting renderings! Terrifying again!), starting to research and develop my playwright husband’s play that is still in draft form, assisting in the costume shop, and…? There are like 2 whole days of paid “work” time to fill!? I am going to put myself on a schedule to explore mask making of all kinds because I want to know how, and I can’t teach if I have never done it, so let’s do it! I also know nothing of theatrical make-up, so I am putting myself on a self taught course to just DO IT! No time like the present right? So these are my gifts to my artist self (yay, I am learning to use that word!) to grow and change.

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