My 2015 in Review: Collaborations, Inspirations, and Getting Over Irony

2015 was a big year for me. I went part-time at my day job to devote more time to artistic pursuits, and made progress on some projects and goals I’d been carrying around in my brain for a while. Most importantly, it feels like the year I finally ditched irony (except in my satire writing, where it belongs). Not that I haven’t always been a sincere person, but irony gave me armor against being hurt, protection from the fear of failure, and an emergency pull-cord to opt-out of situations that were scary or unknown or dangerous. Dropping the safety net of irony made me more vulnerable than ever this year, but also helped me accomplish more than I ever have before, with the help of people who inspire me to keep following my passions. To wit:

  1. The White Rabbit Show: Grown out of the venn diagram of my interest in exploring the boundaries and possibilities theatrical improvisation and my desire to tell compelling stories of women, The White Rabbit Show launched a preview run at The Riot Theater in March of 2015, and an oversold one-time reboot at Catalyst Comedy in October. Proof that when you commit in earnest to art you believe in is that the brilliant and lovely TJ Connelly joined the production team as my Tech Director after seeing the show and being excited by what we could do with it. The casts I put together for each run were not only incredibly talented, but were so ready to jump into such an intense project. To watch them improvise an entire hero’s journey that was serious, but funny, but real, but surreal, and that could move an audience days after it was over (and make several people incredulous that it wasn’t scripted) was a thrilling experience for me as a director. I’m looking into what a third run of the show will be, and I can’t wait to share the next step of this journey with audiences.
  2. My improv teams, new and “old”:  Most Tuesday evenings I head to Cambridge to work with an incredible group of young and talented performers, The Gorge, who have submitted to being my total improv guinea pigs as I attempt to push the bounds of the form and their skill, then I move on to working with the embarrassment of riches that is the Boston veteran team Summer Boyfriend. This is all not to mention my first love, Maxitor. Each of these teams has come to be known in the Boston area (and beyond) as not only expert practitioners of the craft, but boundary-pushing ones as well. People want to book them on their shows, students know that they are “the real deal.” Running an indie comedy company is a total labor of love, and knowing that my performers are growing and discovering who they are as artists and that audiences see what we’re doing and admire and are inspired by it keeps me coming back to Cambridge every Tuesday night.
  3. Fine Line’s collaboration with Bridge Repertory: Like Fine Line, Bridge Rep is young and hungry and looking for its niche in the Boston arts scene. Bridge’s shows are powerful, visceral, and risky, and when their Artistic Director Olivia D’Ambrosio and I met, we knew we needed to join forces. What emerged were two collaborations this year where Fine Line casts performed improv sets following a Bridge Rep performance (Julius Caesar last season, Salome this). The shows were incredibly well-received, and to my knowledge, no other theatrical company and comedy company have joined forces in this way to explore how drama and comedy speak to each other in real time. I’m so grateful to Olivia for being a fellow experimenter and pioneer, and look forward to seeing what we cook up next.
  4. The Toast: 2015 marks my first appearance in The Toast, which is a lovely and wonderful website for humor, feminism, and various and sundry other great content. I was so proud of my Walt Whitman-inspired poem they published, especially because it was my first real foray into more autobiographical, seri-ish writing. Writing for The Toast also allowed me to make the acquaintance of the wonderful Nicole Chung, who has become a friend, a fellow-Hamilton-enthusiast, and an ass-kicking editor who’s taken my serious writing to places I didn’t know it would or could go.
  5. Reductress Top Ten: A piece I wrote for Reductress made the top ten list of most-read articles on their website this year. What I love about Reductress is how they’ve given me a place to be both silly and speak about issues that really matter to me (motherhood, the misogyny of school dress codes, privilege and intersectionality, etc.) Like all truly great satire, Reductress is both hilarious and saying something, and I’m so glad to continue to be featured there.
  6. Hamilton!: Speaking of Reductress, the site also gave me a platform to express my deep and abiding love for the musical Hamilton. In a beautiful turn of serendipity, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s friend saw the piece and passed it on to him. He then reached out to me to let me know how much he enjoyed it, and I died a little from joy:

Lin.tweet

Lin is a true artistic inspiration to me and such a genuinely nice and good human, and being acknowledged by him was maybe the highlight of my year.

There were more surprises and delights along the way–reading alongside Kevin Fanning and Josh Gondelman at his book event at Brookline Booksmith (Josh has been such a champion and cheerleader for me for so long I feel spoiled by his friendship), sharing the stage with improv inspirations Susan Messing and Rachael Mason on a women in comedy panel in D.C., and, in one of the greatest act of faith a person in their late-thirties can engage in, the forging of some truly wonderful new friendships.

I’m so excited for 2016. I’m going to write more, maybe even work in earnest on this book idea that came to me last week (It’s good, I think, guys! Sincerely!). I’m going to keep being inspired by art and artists and keep speaking my truth through comedy but also more serious writing and performing as well. This year has proven to me that there are people who are ready to listen to what I have to say, and that’s pretty much all an artist can ask for.

 

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