Friday, September 26, 2014

Deferring, Directing and Los Angeles

"The best way to get a job in your city--is to move out of it." 

Several artists said this to me when I discussed the potential of graduate school as well as moving out of Los Angeles. Lo and behold, just one week before my one-way flight to NYC I got a call from East West Players' artistic director inquiring if I'd be interested in directing a show in their season.

I can already hear it now, "Aren't you supposed to be in school earning your Directing MFA?"; "You're going to be in L.A. again?"; "Did you even move to New York?" Yes, yes, and yes. Let me address all of these questions.

The Deferment

My Obligatory NYC Instagram Photo
Early June, I received a call from The New School of Drama's admissions program. They found themselves in a unique situation where their program designed to have a specific playwright/director/actor ratio was uneven, so they were looking to one of the accepted directors to defer their admission in exchange for additional scholarship monies. I considered it briefly but I had already made my big announcement on Facebook that I was moving. And we all know when something goes up on Facebook it's PERMANENT! So, I turned down the offer. 

Fast-forward six weeks later, in which there were a few additional discussions between the administration and other admitted directors to no resolve on the deferment issue. Again, a call with a final offer from the administration in hopes of enticing me to defer. This time, with a generous scholarship package, an opportunity to start classes part time, access to an advance directing course designed for 2nd and 3rd year MFA students, and an effort to connect me with working directors and professional theatres during my part-time year. In evaluating my priorities, my overall goals, and my financial circumstances; for me, it was a package too beneficial to pass up.

So, yes, I've moved to New York, I'm in school, and I'm part-time. What this means is, at the earliest I'll be graduating in 2018.

The Offer

As my departure from Los Angeles drew near, I got requests to set up a few goodbye get-togethers, which included some of my favorite artists, artistic producers, and my Artists at Play cohorts. I shared news of my deferment with some, and of course, as people in L.A. love to hear the latest news, it made its way through the grapevine.

East West Players' David Henry Hwang Theater
As I said, I got the call from East West Players just a week before my one-way flight out of town. "Would you be interested in directing a show in our upcoming season?" A rush of thoughts ran through my head. I read the play, researched the playwright, and checked my class schedule. I would be missing three weeks of school in the spring semester if I took the job. I contacted the school and asked their opinion. There were questions. There was conversation. And in the end, "Do it! If it's a play you're excited about and a good opportunity, take it now. You won't be able to when you're a full-time student." I pursued the opportunity. And after some discussion between myself, the playwright, and the producers, I got the green light.

So, yes, I'll be returning to Los Angeles for a couple of months, I'll be directing at East West Players, and I'm very excited. Because of my deferment and part-time status, I am able to direct this show and simply not enroll in the spring semester.

The Show

There it is. The crazy twisted journey that will have me a bit bi(-coastal) this year. And without any further delay, the play and the great team I get to work with:

East West Players presents 
the World Premiere of

by Nandita Shenoy
Directed by Peter J. Kuo

Set Design by Art Betanzos
Costume Design by Sara Ryung Clement
Lighting Design by Rebecca Bonebrake
Sound Design by Howard Ho

Prop Design by Sasha Monge

February 12 - March 15, 2015

Love. Loneliness. And Laundry.

Washer/Dryer is a hilarious new farce that features a diverse cast of characters of different races and sexual orientation. A newlywed's marriage is put to the test by the husband's intrusive mother-in-law, their New York co-op’s strict president, and--worst of them all--the wife’s washer/dryer. Tempers and misunderstanding flare and mayhem ensues as the couple is forced to re-evaluate their relationship and decide whether all is fair in love and real estate in this world premiere.

In addition to this play being produced in February, Nandita and I will be preparing a public reading of the play at the Japanese American National Museum on Thursday, October 16, at 7:30 p.m. followed by a talk-back with the cast. This reading is presented as part of East West Players' Writers Gallery reading series.

So, I hope to see you at the reading and the production. And Los Angelenos, let's get together when I'm in town. Oh, and since I won't be enrolled in the spring semester next year, if you hear of any directing opportunities between mid-February and mid-August in Los Angeles or New York, you know where to find me.


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