I know love. But I've never known a love like this. The shear bliss of writing. Even when he makes me angry or shakes my confidence a bit, I love writing. He's one beautiful being.
I'm sitting up here in my room with Maluma playing and a big cheesy smile on my face. No... bae(s) have not texted. No... Shonda Rhimes has not summoned me to work in her writers room (yet). No, I have not finished the thriller play I told you I'd be working on. But I had a reading and it changed my entire life.
Maybe I'm being overly dramatic, but everyone who knows me, knows that I'm overly dramatic. So, as this J. Balvin song plays, and before the high fades away, I will tell you about this reading.
My parents and I drove to Austin last Sunday for reading of my new play called Delivery hosted by Scriptworks. I was nervous. Partially because this was Scriptworks and partially because the actors that Christi Moore cast were professionals. I didn't want to "waste" their time.
I called friends and messaged them to see if they were still coming. I knew that bringing something into the world was scary and I needed that support. I thought only a few people were showing up but so many friends and colleagues that I worked with in Austin came. I felt loved.
Delivery was about to be "delivered" into the universe. I found my nerves rolling away after the first scene. Hearing the world of Mani, Murdr and Javier come alive made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Here was a snapshot of the world that my students inhabit. Here was a snapshot of the world that my community inhabits. Here was a snapshot of the world I inhabit. No, it was not autobiographical, but it is inspired by realness.
The actors really put their all into the roles. They made the characters come alive and their chemistry was crazy. I had the opportunity to see one of my friends and biggest supporters Micalah Nobles slay on stage. I also got to work with the super fabulous Lori Navarrete again (she was in The Stories of Us). I loved that Javier, Murdr and Mani were played by actors who in some way shared the identities of my characters.
MURDR - Christopher Alvarenga
JAVIER - Nasir Villanueva
MANI - Micailah Nobles
MAMA - Lori Navarrete
MS. TOLIVAR - Hayley Jeanne Armstrong
Look them up. They are dope.
The feedback was real. As always, I am learning to take what I need and let the rest be. I'm building my own craft not following a pre-order manual called What it takes to be a dope Negra-Americana Writer. Growing into the writer that I want to be will take time, sacrifice and most importantly love...lots of it. That's the main theme in all my work. Love. Even if it comes through as anger or regret, at the core is love.
I just want to give a big thanks to everyone who came out to see the reading of Delivery. It meant so much to me. Thank you Christi Moore and all the Scriptworks family. Thank God, my family and friends. This journey is real and I'm here for it.
There always has to be another play.
The question "What are you working on now?" is constantly being thrown at me.
What? People want to see the stories I put out? What?
I am blessed to have a community that cares about the work that I write.
This next play, Delivery, was conceived in April of 2016 when I was on the freeway thinking about the many ills of society. Especially, the death of Black people (and Brown people) by the hands of police. Then, this Blaxican kid Javier pops into my mind and his Black American girlfriend Mani. I write the idea down and don't touch it for months.
In the fall of 2016, one of my students came into my classroom feeling down. He's usually a hype student who participates in all the performances, but that day he was not feeling it. He didn't answer when I asked what was wrong, so I told him he could sit this one out and that I was here if he needed to talk. The next day he was laughing and joking. He came up to me after class and shared that that day was the anniversary of his friend's death. I began to think about how hard it must be for a teenager or anyone to process the loss of a loved one.
I start writing.
I began to listen more to my students when they were talking amongst themselves. In addition to the gossip, tea or chisme, themes of losing friends, police brutality and the hardships of growing up in poverty were ever present. I listened for the stories and sure enough they came. Latinx students who used the n-word and Black students who grew up in a world where both Black and Brown students were the same. "It's different than when you grew up Miss. We [Blacks and Hispanics] cool now," one student assured me. One of my students, who identified as Salvadorian, and grew up with the African American community told me that he was called "less hispanic" because he didn't speak Spanish by family and friends. Students would share songs with me and through music and stories, I learned about their world.
Even though I'm from the same hood as they are, my experience growing up in the early 2000s was vastly different.
When I began writing this play, Delivery, I had my students create their own poetry slam to give them an opportunity to express themselves, but to also get the feel for the world of my own play. In this play, I scripted a world that took its inspiration from my...I mean our surroundings. It's not based off any students life in particular, but their conversations color the world of this story.
After an initial "1st draft", I sent the play to my two writer friends, Krysta and Raymond for feedback and they let me have it. It was good feedback that changed the trajectory of the story for the better, and I am excited to hear it aloud for the first time. It takes a village.
Readings of Delivery in two spaces in Austin. I am working with some dope actors (The Stories of Us Family!) for the June 3rd reading so I am stoked for the reunion. If you are in town, you should drop by.
Scriptworks will be hosting a workshop reading of my latest piece Delivery and I would like you to be there.
Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 6:30pm
When high school juniors Murdr, Mani and Javier begin find themselves in Ms. Tolivar's English class, they begin to find themselves and express their views of the world around them. They compete for a space in the end of the year poetry competition for scholarship money and bragging rights. Welcome to the world of Black and Brown voices as they navigate living in the hood, police brutality and the adventures of teen hood.
Location: Austin Playwrights Studio is in the office park behind Half-Price Books on North Lamar, 5555 N. Lamar, Bldg. K, Ste. 125.
SECOND READING of DELIVERY
TIME: SATURDAY June 3rd, 2017 1pm-2:15pm
at the Raul Salinas room at the MACC
600 River St, Austin, TX 78701
As always, thank you for the support!