1. Enthusiasm. When I started my MFA program at Columbia, Chuck Mee said to us during our very first playwriting class, “Write what you want to write. If you’re lucky, a few other people will be really into what you write, and that’s the deal.” After a year of focusing primarily on fiction — and, as such, feeling extremely rusty and out of practice when I got back to the business of writing for the stage — it felt like such a huge gift to be amongst so many absurdly talented collaborators who took my weird little water play and said, “I really love this.” From the first moment I was notified of my semi-finalist status to being dropped off at the airport in Fort Myers this afternoon, I felt totally supported.
2. Community. I mentioned the ridiculous talent already, but it bears repeating: These people are rockstars. The actors, the staff, the directors, and my fellow playwrights, all of them are not only so talented, but also delightful individuals with whom I was always excited to spend my spare time. I felt immediately welcomed and connected to everyone at the Gulfshore Playhouse, and still can’t reconcile how the week went by so quickly but also managed to feel like I’d been there for months. I desperately want to work again with every single person I met, and they all have a lifelong fan in me. I’ll be hawking plays by Stephen Spotswood, Bianca Sams and Scott Sickles to any theatre that’ll listen to me. I already sent the names of the actors to another director friend in New York because everyone needs to know who these people are.
3. Work. Harlowe is my baby. It is the play I can’t explain, the play that emerged out of me largely fully formed. But that final scene… I’ve labored over it since 2011. I’ve seen countless actors perform countless variations of that scene, and it’s just never felt right. Until now. Finally, finally, that closing moment lands. And it was the work I did with these fantastic people, in this fantastic festival, that got me there.
I still have another few hours until I touch down in SoCal, another few hours before I have to go back to “real life”. And there is a not insignificant part of me that’s throwing a quiet internal temper tantrum about not getting to create art in paradise forever. But I am so deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to work with these fantastic people in this beautiful place, on this play I love, at all.