“We’re Not Strange, We’re Dramatically Different.”
I love NJ. I do. I didn’t when I was 14 and insanely miserable, unable to drive, bored out of my mind and unhappy with everything, which I attributed to suburb hell. I swore I’d never live my adult life in Jersey. I grew up lived and tried to be a playwright in Manhattan, Queens, Los Angeles and liked it, but I longed for a stable salary that also afforded me time to write. I wanted something that had trees and parks that I was not afraid to bike in at odd hours and not get spit on (that happened to me in Queens—little kid–slurpee—ugly story.) And so I moved back to Jersey, got a full time gig teaching theatre to 14 year olds (go figure!) Funny thing is, now I am insanely happy, able to drive and not bored for a second but I do still wish there was more theatre art going on in suburbia. I do envy those who live in Philly or NYC for there is always a professional show going on, colleagues to collaborate with and spaces to perform in. I still want my biking in a clean park, but I want an active theatre scene as well.
So I started focusing more on doing theatre in NJ. I loved meeting with the other Passage Playwrights. It’s my artistic home and I am inspired every time we meet by the talent, dedication and professionalism of my fellow struggling NJ scribes. I also started The NOW Theatre Company with an actor friend of mine, Scott Langdon. Through our small start up company I’ve met so many great, talented actors and directors who live in NJ but they commute to Philly and NY every day. This is so sad. I have made it my mission to use give NJ actors & directors time to shine in our own state, where we can invite friends, family and neighbors and not feel bad for making them shell out train/toll fare as well as the ticket price.
I’m starting to realize just how close we are to having a NJ professional theatre community. I feel like my dream is coming true. Yes, we don’t have one city where everybody converges and we don’t yet have our own summer Fringe Fest. But we have small theatre companies dedicated to new original plays like Passage Theatre. Hey, maybe some day we’ll have the NJ Fringe Fest. Someday. Until then, I am very excited to experience the One Minute Play Festival this weekend. Most of all, I’m excited to bond with my fellow theatre artists. ‘Cause you know what? You can’t be bored around theatre people; it’s impossible. As the t-shirt I’m ordering for the junior high drama club this year says, “We’re Not Strange, We’re Dramatically Different.”