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How the Government is Failing Non-Essential Workers

Let me start this by saying I am not a public health expert or medical professional or politician or anybody in a position where I would have insider knowledge about why certain decisions are being made, but I’m assuming that if I don’t know why something is happening and I’m not able to find out, it’s likely that nobody else knows either.
So here’s what I have to say and it’s a TL;DR so fair warning:
I think the state of Rhode Island is doing an admirable job of handling this crisis--for the most part.
Where I, personally, can see room for improvement is with non-essential state and city/town workers, many of whom, like me, are still on the job and have been on the job since this all started.
I am very happy that I still have a job, but I also know that every day the state is encouraging people to stay home while essentially forcing people who could stay home to come into work instead.  The response I’ve gotten and that I know others have gotten in regards to this is--
“If you want to sta…
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On Terrence McNally

I learned how to be a playwright by reading plays.

There were classes here and there that helped, but as someone who's lucky enough to get paid every so often to teach people how to write, I'm going to give you a secret that could put me out of business--

Just read plays.

That's the easy part.

The hard part is finding a person who has a voice that you can recognize, because before you can find your own voice, you have to listen to a voice that sounds the way you want to sound.  It's not about copying anybody anymore than children who learn to speak from their parents copy them.  First you get the language, then you come up with how you want to use it.

When you're a writer, language is more than just words--it's style and content and symmetry and all that other magical stuff.  Every writer speaks their own language, and if you want to become a writer, it helps to find somebody who seems to speak the same language that you do so you can (lovingly) use them as a j…

Theater and Who We Are Without It

My interview this week is with an old friend who I've been checking in with every day.

We figured as long as we were having these daily conversations, we might as well have an anonymous one for your enjoyment.
Here's the interview:
ME:  How are you doing?

THEM:  Wait I'm going to say it.
ME:  Say it.
THEM:  I've been better.
ME:  Me too.
THEM:  That's the new hashtag.
ME:  Not 'It Gets Better.'
THEM:  #IveBeenBetter
ME:  Get that trending.
THEM:  I've got nothing but time.  We're going to make you a star, Kevin.
ME:  Celebrity culture will be dead by the time all this is over, so why does it matter?
THEM:  Careful, I'm sensitive right now.
ME:  Yes, let's get into that.  How long have we been friends?
THEM:  Ten years?

ME:  Longer.
THEM:  It's been longer? ME:  It's--yeah.
THEM:  So longer than ten years.
ME:  You were working on a big project when all this went down.
THEM:  Yes.
ME:  This was like--Was this the biggest--
THEM:  Oh yea…

Questions for the End of the World

Like most people, I've taken a class I was teaching and moved it online.

It's a writing class for teens, and one of the ways we look for writing prompts is to talk about what's on our minds.

As you can imagine, right now, the only thing on their mind is the state of the world and the fear that's permeating it.

It occurred to me that many of them are the same age I was on September 11th, and when we started discussing that time, I mentioned all the wonderful adults I knew at that time who were able to give me guidance, and how I hope I can be that for them right now.

Then, I pulled out the tried-and-true write a letter from your future self to the person you are right now and give them whatever advice you think they need to hear.

It's kind of an impossible assignment, because it requires insight you just don't have yet, but I've found that when I assign it in the past, the teenagers I teach are able to come up with some truly remarkable bits of wisdom.  It's …

Theater and What We'll Do Next Year

In the midst of a lot of anxiety, I wanted to talk to a fellow Artistic Director about how the national crisis is going to affect their theater next year.

Here's the interview:

ME:  Hey, how are you doing?

THEM:  I'm--what the person in your last interview say?

ME:  I've been better.

THEM:  I've been better.

ME:  I'm going to rename this series--I've Been Better.

THEM:  I hope it's a short series.

ME:  Can you tell me where your theater is at right now?

THEM:  Right now, we had one show left in the season that we were in rehearsals for, and it looks like it's not going to happen.

ME:  I'm sorry.

THEM:  It's very sad.

ME:  I know you and I talked about the problem with bringing certain shows back--as in delaying them.  Can you talk a little about that?

THEM:  Yes.  When all of this is over, and I hope it's soon, we are going to have to return to some of the business models we had before.  One of those models--and this may change--is that audiences …

Theater and the Freelancer in a Time of Crisis

Since we're all going to be spending a lot of time at home, I thought I'd try to be as productive as possible.  Many of my friends are freelancers and are experiencing major panic right now.

Yesterday, I sought out someone who has been doing freelance work for a long, long time and asked them how they're coping and what advice they might have.

No worries--we're not going to get into medical advice or attempt to play politician.  We're just going to talk and try to offset some nerves if possible.

Here's the interview:

ME:  First off, how are you doing?

THEM:  I've been better.

ME:  That's my favorite thing to say.

THEM:  I know, I follow you.  I know what you like.

ME:  (Laughs.)  So pugs, cheese, sarcasm--

THEM:  All good things.

ME:  BUT REALLY--

THEM:  But really I've been better, but...I've been doing this a long time.

ME:  How long have you been a freelance artist?

THEM:  Twenty-four years.

ME:  Wow.

THEM:  Long time.

ME:  So you were a freelance…

Theater, The Stage Manager, and The Music Director

You'd better buckle up for this one.

This is the first part in a multi-interview series--most of which will be happening over at the Epic Theatre Company Patreon.  If you haven't signed up for Patreon yet, go to www.Patreon.com/EpicTheatreCo and subscribe under whichever tier you'd like.  Even the lowest one ($3.50 a month which comes right out of your account) will get you access to all these interviews, plus tickets to shows and other content.
That's my standard promotional blurb.

Now, here's the interview:
ME:  So what's your position?

THEM:  I'm an actor.
ME:  And we started talking before this whole thing went down, right?

THEM:  Yeah, although when it did, I was like--Now I have something Kevin can write about it.
ME:  So did you instigate it on purpose?
THEM:  For that reason?  Yes.  I'm the cause of all this.
ME:  Thank you.  I really need the content.
THEM:  Anytime.
ME:  How big is the community where you do theater?

THEM:  It's not that big.…