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                                        A trio of short scenes that                                            exemplify some of my shorter                                          work in playwriting. Included                                          within are The Undertaker's Assistant Hath ComeQuadruple Jeopardy, and Lewis the Pet Transporter. Enjoy these strange, temporary worlds skirting the edges of conventional worldbuilding in theatre.

                                                  Is a play that I                                                      wrote in September                                                    of 2020 and                                                            produced over the next half-a-year, finally putting on the performance in May of 2021 in the Denison University Fringe Festival. The play was written specifically for performance during COVID conditions, making it quite a departure from “normal” theatre. The play consists of pedestrian movement, mantras/monologues from offstage actors, unison sections with the offstage actors, modern dance, and a dialogue between demons and the human incarnation of compassion/harmony. The piece covers themes of body shame, body dysmorphia, gender dysphoria, perception of time, exploitation of the working class, and the dead corpse of the American Dream, a broken lever.

                                           Is a play I wrote in April                                             and May of 2019. The piece                                             depicts an alternate world                                             in which every living being is reincarnated every time they learn a lesson during their life. This constant revolving door of life and death gives the characters wholly unique perspectives informed by their knowledge of their proximity to death. We follow the seemingly eternal death and rebirth of a pair of spirits, described as man and woman, who take up different roles (or sometimes meld and become the same person) down on Earth. Their experience of this never-ending cycle is made explicit to the audience during their time in space, where the souls sit briefly before returning to the spiraling wheel. The play covers themes of gender identity, multiplicity, capitalism’s effect on the exploited, and spiritual revolution.

                                    Is a short play written in March                                      of 2019. The play depicts a                                            future world in which Late-Stage                                      Capitalism has continued to ravage our world, offloading garbage to poor countries in the Global South, creating an island of trash off the coast of Malaysia. Oh wait, did I say future? All of the previous sentence has already happened… The play keeps all of the systems found within our own waste exportation Hell while imagining a fictional regime of upper-class Malaysian lackeys of Western countries destroying their people’s lives through senseless folly and brutal suppression of action against the Status Quo. Deeply political, this play is not intended to represent Malaysia, but rather the interactions found throughout the Global South’s governments, especially those that have Capitalist or pro-America leaders. 


                                       Is a screenplay written over                                           the course of late 2020 and                                           all of 2021. The work devises                                         a modern version of the Akkadian mythological world in which Inanna, the Great Goddess, returns from the Land of the Dead. Back after approximately five thousand years, Inanna must now find her mysterious true killer, “The Signer”, with the help of Enki and Urshanabi while dealing with her own trauma and bloodlust. Throughout her adventure, Inanna slowly uncovers that all is not as it seems in even her own plan and memory. Minimalist in structure and dedicated to this singular plot and its characters, A River Beyond, Below thrills with its explorations of the emotions of rebirth, revenge, and spiritual prisons.

Approach to Directing

      I started directing scenes only two years after I first did theatre. The instant that I first auditioned in the spring of my naïve seventh grade year, I knew how important theatre would be for me from then on. I had, in a way, found "my people". I was hooked on theatre, returning each time there was an acting opportunity that wasn’t a musical. At the time, I had convinced myself that I “couldn’t” sing or dance. Many of the theatre-makers at my school were creative, gregarious, and accepting. A far cry from many of the other individuals present at my alma mater.

      The director of most of the productions I participated in was Mr. Peter Moore. Mr. Moore created an environment that accelerated my ability in devising theatre. He ran a program every spring in which high school students directed a short scene that junior high students acted in. Through that practice, I was able to collaborate with a number of actors/directors and hone many of the skills that I still use in my current directing.

      I always watched Mr. Moore’s directing style closely. He was never judgmental, and yet able to give effective critique.  He was always direct, but never confrontational. He held deadlines, but they were always fair and achievable. He ensured that the acting process was first enjoyable, then rigorous. This approach is exactly how I understand directing now. I have added a lot from theory and psychology over the years, but my original observations hold the most true.

      I was struck at the end of each cycle of acting. We would meet in an Olive Garden and cry our eyes out about how beautiful the experience of creation and collaboration was. Then, the actors would go to Waffle House and laugh for a couple hours, relishing in the feeling of emotion. Theatre is a very emotional thing; we should not prevent this emotion in directing or acting.

      I have a lot of memories from that time that seem as wisps. I remember I wrote a poem to Mr. Moore when I finished high school, I don’t have it anymore. It talked about mist; how the fog rolls in over all the time we had spent learning from each other. How memory would fade and grey the colorful world that Mr. Moore had shown me. I think that’s what it said. I think I was afraid of losing my creativity, my own color. I was headed off into the all-too objective world of science, of biology. I felt like I was giving up art, but I couldn’t. Art kept calling my name. The colorful fog never greyed or left; I was only blind to its presence briefly.


       In my most recent instance of directing, I was also undertaking a great deal of other responsibilities in the production of The Compassion of Mundanity. I was its producer. I was its audio designer. I was its casting agent. I was its writer. I was its prop designer. I was its actor. I was its everything. I was using Carl Honoré’s book, In Praise of Slow, to inform my directing, as I wanted to learn along with my actors. The consensual and collaborative experience of learning is essential for fashioning a good environment to create art. If the director hands down their ideas from on high, the actors lose interest. If the director involves and engages the actors in the process of making meaning from the text of the play, the actors create their own versions of the characters, informed by their personal experiences. This allows them to invest more heavily in their portrayal of those characters. To accomplish this goal, I decided to give my actors 10-20 minutes of meditation prior to rehearsal. Ergo, when they got to the theater, they had relaxation to look forward to, not just work. This opens the mind to a wholly willing experience of acting after that meditation. This also improves good will between the director and actors, lessening the separation between their goals.

       Detractors of this method may say that they don’t have enough time to allow for this meditation. However, this is fallacy. Actors work faster and more effectively after a period of relaxation, as is consistent with all forms of work. A short, restful break has the ability to completely alter the artistic process, creating a new environment of engaged learning instead of just engaged production.


       I find it very difficult to summarize my approach to directing. I am often loud and humorous, bringing people down to my level. If you’re stuck up, if you want to make “high art” and act like it, get out! My spaces of creation are classless. My spaces of creation build other people up to their best. My spaces of creation give back to the performer while taking what is needed for the production. Any creator who works with other people must balance this dichotomy. I am still very direct and give a lot of critique, but all of those difficult things need to be surrounded by an accessible space for the performers.

        Directing is one of my greatest loves. I love bringing people ideas and seeing them play with them and create anew from them. I have, for the most part, acted as an independent artist. Most of my music has been self-directed and involves nobody other than myself. My dance has also been individualistic, choosing to focus on the intimate experience of motion within and without our bodies. Writing is similarly singular and reeks of solitude. My visual art has occasional collaborators, yet most of it remains me alone. Is this perhaps the nature of my art? No. Theatre stands as the most communal of my art forms. Theatre is how I translate my ideas when I want others to participate in them, not just view them. When I want to say something truly human, I say it in the language of theatre.

        When I was most depressed in college, I wandered aimlessly in Granville, Ohio. I would monologue to nobody, soliloquizing my tiny life to the world around me because it felt REAL. When I write a piece of theatre, I am completely within that world. My mind exists as the characters. I am the actor and the narrator. I feel their emotions when I write dialogue. Little twitches in my hands suggest a deviation from my original thoughts about a character. I allow myself to be changed by the process. Writing a play is like looking at a tree. When a human looks at a tree, they see themselves and the tree. When a human looks at a tree, they only see half of its whole. The other half is completely obscured. Theatre is the process by which the great tree is slowly dug up. We see the tiny intricacies that we missed the first time. We see how each gnarled root corresponds with a branch of leaves above. This is something that the whole production sees now. The goal of theatre is to not only see the tree, but for each member of the digging party to FEEL the tree in its entirety.

        When I finally watched the production of my play, I cried. I looked at it and I couldn’t believe that it existed. All the work. All the work that I poured in. More importantly, I reckoned with the fact that everybody who helped me wanted to be there with me. I cried in that moment because I hadn’t taken them to Olive Garden. I hadn’t cried with them. I missed that…

        I want that to be what people know about theatre. I want people to know that it’s the feel, not the product. When you see a good show, you aren’t seeing writing or acting. When we see a show we really love, we are watching people who love each other be the people that they know they are. The best plays don’t have a separation between the performer and the character, the director and the play. The audience is drawn in because they, deep down, know that this is the essence of collaboration, of refusing to not come together. It isn’t a yielding, but a statement of communal power. Theatre is the communal power to transcend our own lives and beliefs. For a moment, everything is a colorful mist, a fog that will never grey.

        I used to sit on the sides of the theatre, in the wings. I watched the purple light catch dust above the stage as actors were themselves. That purple light is theatre. That purple light catching dust is my theatre. There was something guttural and visceral about that light. Its hue was too dark for light, yet too bright to be dark. I think I’ll always remember that feeling…

Approach to Prop Design

        Firstly, I want to say that I am no expert in prop creation. I have created props for only a short portion of my life, though I do think it’s important to recognize my efforts in creating new understandings of prop usage within theatre during my play, The Compassion of Mundanity. For much of theatre’s existence, props have been little more than objects and backdrops. A character needs a box of animal crackers? It’s a prop. However, I believe that the sets and props we use in theatre should be given a little more thought than how most directors approach the concept.

        My props are always specific and otherworldly. Theatre is a space beyond the real and the objects that actors interact with should reflect that. I believe that the future of prop and set design lies both in the real and the unreal. We must represent a version of our own world onstage while maintaining our distance via displaying the imagined world extant in the writer’s script. These oppositional ideas seem at first to create a paradox, “How do we show both the real and unreal simultaneously? How do we show a non-reality that is consistent with our own reality?”. I solved this problem for myself via the use of found-object sculpture art.

        The Compassion of Mundanity’s props were all found-objects. Garbage, effectively. I collected old laptops that had been left to their own devices, a tire wallowing in muck, a strangely painted television, an abandoned skateboard, a variety of cans/containers, and two levers that had been left to rust. The collection of the props was followed by a revitalization of them. I cleaned each piece of its respective filth. Cobwebs and rust fell away as my hands busied themselves with the objects’ repair. Once the garbage had been cleansed, I took three cans of spray paint and began to cover the objects with the coat of unreality they desperately needed. Color and vibrancy are not inherently unreal, but these objects were neglected and understood as faded/dirty. They were not thought of as colorful by most people. When I see garbage, I don’t just see waste and destruction. I see an aesthetic and beauty inherent to that trash. My found-object art only pulled that beauty into focus for an audience that doesn’t normally appreciate the grotesque beauty of the reviled and forgotten.

         Our world is becoming more and more full of trash every day. We feel incapable of slowing or stopping the great capitalist beast that stirs the plastic wrapping our daily bread. I want to confront people with this reality, this neglect. My props are not made, they are found. My props refuse to be defined by their creation. They are defined by their reformation and rebirth. The set and props that actors interact with should tell their own story, describing the world-building of the writer’s creation.

         In my case, I purposefully smashed the screens of the laptops and left the trash strewn about the stage, surrounding a chair. I intended this visual to describe the ways in which we release our colorful waste, the trash of our own lives. The throne of old Kings has not been desecrated, it sits in a regal garbage dump. It is our own want of that regality, of royalty, of high class that has led us to the trash world that infects our entire Earth now.

         As you can see, my props tell a story all on their own. They don’t need me to make explicit the themes of the piece, as the written subtext lines up with the props’ and set’s subtext, enhancing the overall meaning of this theme. Show, don’t tell. The sets and props we build don’t have to be elaborate or ornate. They should be thematically relevant to the play being performed around and with them.

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