2017 Goals

For 2017, I want to be more intentional. I want to divide up my work so that I’m not working on quite so many things all at once. In 2016 I felt perpetually behind, which wasn’t helpful for anything. (Realistically, I think not working on so many things all at once means “today is Tawawert day” rather than “January is Tawawert month”) I want to give myself baby steps that I can actually finish, rather than a snowballing todo list that I can’t find my way out from under. (Which is where I am right now)

So! To that end:

Attention goals (no numbers, no recording, no guilt, just try to do them every day)

  • Write every day
  • Read every day

Writing goals

  • 10 10-minute plays (6 for PlayGround, one PlayGround Alumni play, 2 for PACT, and Tawawert)
  • Finish a real draft of the Orkney Project
  • Write a new full length play

Editing goals

  • Finish editing Preapocalyptica
  • Finish editing Katya’s Opuscule

Education (this might be pushing it)

  •  Read 12 plays
  •  Read 12 other theatre books
  •  See 12 plays


  • Keep reaching out to local playwrights and theatre
  • Make a web page
  • 12 blog posts


  •  Total goal: 75 submissions

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2016 Recap

This year I’d hoped to write

  • 6 10-minute plays
  • Finish editing Preapocalyptica
  • Write two new full-length plays

    I wrote

  • 8 10-minute plays (including “Don’t let the Pigeon Vote”, a 10-minute Commedia del arte show for 27 5-11-year-olds, and Floating in a Tin Can, Rossum’s Universal Truckers, Tsunami, Dogpatch Twins, Diaspora, Truth to Power, and The Other Kind for PlayGround)
  • 1 1-minute play (Uber for Fruit)
  • I finished a preliminary draft of the Orkney Project, which is less than I’d hoped.
  • I didn’t finish Preapocalyptica. (I’ve been blocked, and have been trying to figure out a way past it)

    I tried to improve my brain. This didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

  • I read some plays.
  • I read some theatre-related books.
  • I saw some shows. I have lost track of my carefully-curated lists. I didn’t do enough of any of these things. I have bookshelf-full just leering at me uncomfortably. I will do more this year.
  • Post to the blog — hahahahaha. 5 posts last year. Far less than the goal of one a week.
  • Look for a closer community — I’ve continued to do PlayGround, which I love (but which continues to be in Berkeley, though more events are in San Francisco these days). I’ve been reaching out to closer theatre and other playwrights, and will continue.
  • Work on my online identity — Hasn’t happened.


    I had a goal of:

    •    10 short play submissions
    •    10 Preapocalyptica submissions
    •    10 other submissions
    •    (Stretch goal: 52 submissions)
    •    Get things set up to become a submitting machine.

    I followed Donna Hoke’s advice on setting up to be a submitting machine. This year I managed 52 submissions! That breaks down into 16 submissions of 10-minute plays, 29 submissions of full lengths, and 19 submissions of Preapocalyptica.

    Production goals (i.e. things I have no control over)
    •    Get at least 1 thing in to PlayGround
    •    Get or otherwise set up at least 2 readings
    •    Get a production lined up

    Last (calendar) year I had one piece in PlayGround: Rossum’s Universal Truckers. I had one other short play performed at PACT. That gives me an audience of roughly 700 people who saw my work. Which is not shabby. I’d like to work on getting better statistics on that.

    I had one table reading, of Katya’s Opuscule, which left me energized to rewrite.

    I got one commission, for a ten-minute play about Tawawert, for SF Olympians next year.

    I also have a commission from PACT for another classroom play for use this spring.

    All in all, pretty good year.

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Playwriting, Brief and Brilliant

Playwriting, Brief and Brilliant

by Julie Jensen

“Marsha Norman claims to read four hours a day.”

Not something I often manage.

“playwriting is high-risk behavior”

What am I doing here?

Similar to the last in its brevity, but a bit more results-focused.


But this is a beautiful, loving little (87 pages) book that makes me feel happy and like I can do this, and like buckling down and getting to work.

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100 Essays I don’t have time to write on umbrellas and sword fights, parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater, by Sarah Ruhl

Also known as one more book I don’t have time to read.

My dad bought it for me for Christmas last year. I read it at Christmas this year. I wish I had read it when the twins were  born. (Before it was written) What a beautiful collection of thoughts: intellectual, writerly, parently. There was a burst of recognition as I saw someone who has been through a difficult twin pregnancy, who has three children, and yet manages to simultaneously have a rich and (very) successful artistic life.

I was excited when I heard about (and then saw, at OSF, with Catherine Coulson)  Dead Man’s Cell phone.

I cried when I read this book. With recognition, with the knowledge that I don’t have the background I’d like to have,  or the time or life structure to get it. With the stories that I would really like to tell. What a beautiful book, and what a book that I need.

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Goals for 2016

Thinking about goals (and looking at other people’s year-in-summary posts) is always daunting. The numbers of productions people have had, submission numbers (I’m looking at you, Patrick Gabridge and Donna Hoke), make me feel hopelessly behind as I sit here trying to work while the baby cries and I feel hopelessly old to be just starting out.

This year I’d like to carve out more time for writing:

  • 6 10-minute plays (last year it was 7)
  • Finish editing Preapocalyptica
  • Write two new full-length plays

I want to become better educated:

  • Read 12 plays — this is way too low.
  • Read 12 theatre-related books
  • (see more plays isn’t here. Because I still have a baby. Soon.)

I want to have more community:

  • Post to the blog every week (52 posts)
  • Look for a closer community
  • Reach out to other theatre artists
  • Reach out to the theatres I particularly want to work with
  • Work on my online identity

Submit more plays:

  • 10 short play submissions
  • 10 Preapocalyptica submissions
  • 10 other submissions
  • (Stretch goal: 52 submissions)
  • Get things set up to become a submitting machine.

Production goals (i.e. things I have no control over)

  • Get at least 1 thing in to PlayGround
  • Get or otherwise set up at least 2 readings
  • Get a production lined up

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Looking back at 2015

In 2015, I wrote the full-length Preapocalyptica, which had an amazing cast for six staged readings.  The 10-minute Preapocalyptica made it into this year’s Best of Playground and had a 12-show run and is my first published play. I also wrote another seven 10-minute plays, one of which was produced at PlayGround in November.

I made a total of 18 submissions.

I saw 11 evenings of theatre, including two pantomimes, plus another three readings of new works (not counting Best of PlayGround or readings of Preapocalyptica)

I failed (due to pneumonia, bronchitis, colds, strep, and Fifth disease) to finish editing Preapocalyptica. And therefore didn’t submit it in the places I’d intended to. Similarly, I failed to write a new full-length, though I have ideas kicking around all over the place. And I failed to read any plays at all, which is absurd.

It was a phenomenal year. Next post: figure out what my goals are for 2015: bigger and better!

First half of 2015:

Wrote Preapocalyptica
Submitted 3 10-minute plays
Submitted 2 full-length plays (Preapocalyptica)
2 reading opportunities (6 readings of the full length, 1 reading of the 10-minute)
1 production (12 performances of the Preapocalyptica short)
Submitted 1 proposal (Apocalyptica)


Goals for the second half of 2015:
Write 1 more full length
Write 34 10-minute plays  (The Gods Were Ever Fickle, A different way to tell him I love you, Spirits of the Season, The Protest)

Submit Preapocalyptia (10 places 5 places)
Submit other plays (10 8)(four above, plus Katya’s Opuscule and Waiting)

Submit a proposal (1– Apocalyptica)

See plays (10 11(counting the 12 PlayGround plays as 2 nights of theatre))(PlayGround: Race Matters, PlayGround Musical Night, The Country House, Guys and Dolls, Head Over Heels, The Happiest Song Plays Last, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, Sweat, Aliens Love Underpants, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland)
Read plays (6)


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Musical Theatre Night

This month was PlayGround’s annual musical theatre night. This year we were given a list of ten songs by Misner and Smith, and allowed to pick one song to play with. Which of course led to a whole desperate mathematics of trying not to pick the song everyone else was picking.

But I listened to the songs. All of them. Over and over again, taking notes on paper taped to the cabinets as I went through my day. Songs went up and down in likelihood as I thought about whether each song had enough hooks for me to grab, whether it over specified (and whether I felt I had anything to bring to the story). And then eventually I started writing. And writing some more and tweaking and editing.

And this month I was lucky enough to be picked.

(Trigger more editing and tweaking)

And then I got the experience of being in the room with Misner and Smith, who transposed the song, and were wonderfully game to participate in the song  any way that worked. One of the things I love about theatre is working with people who have completely different skillets than mine. And adding people who can effortlessly transpose a song, or harmonize on the fly to the mix makes for an incredible rehearsal. I could work on musicals every day.

My actors were terrific, and I loved getting to see how everyone else interpreted other songs. And we experienced, even more than happens in a normal month, the pain that is not having enough time to rehearse.

But I can’t wait to write my next musical.

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