Monday, April 3, 2017

Five Things: Notes from Acute Care Tech

1. Jason Tremblay and I went to grad school together at UT Austin. He was an MFA playwriting candidate while I was in design. His play Katrina: The Girl Who Wanted Her Name Back was first produced at UT our final year there. I think that was the year I was on the play selection committee, too. I found out this afternoon that he died this morning. This was a shock to me - he wasn't a close friend though we were both a part of the Austin theater community for years and years, friends of mine had produced his work, and I had bumped into him again when I began to design for ACC. He was one of three Austin theater makers who have been battling cancer on and off for a number of years, and I think that's what hits me the hardest - since I heard the news, part of me has been thinking quietly one down, two to go. Given Travis's recent heart attack, I'm coming to realize that even people our age die.

2. And I am now the age my mother was when she died of cancer. The unknown quantity in my life - the empty chair, the big what if. There isn't a single thing (non-debt related) about my life that I regret or want to change, but would I have been different? Would I have handled life differently? Would I be a better person? A better artist? How much of my art is a result of how hard I am on myself?

3. Death is following me around lately. Literally, too. I have been beta testing The End for Swim Pony, which starts May 1 in Philadelphia. Aside from completely using up all of the month's text messages in the space of ten days and causing my husband to think someone hacked my phone because I NEVER text that much, it's been powerful and surprisingly effective. That "presence" issue that I always have with theater, that I couldn't quite get past in The Tension Experience, my inability to suspend disbelief and lose myself in it no matter how much I want to - I feel like I could be fully present with The End. But, I'm not sure that I want to. If you're near Philadelphia, definitely look into The End.

4. Acute Care is about nursing. And much of my research for it was done while Travis was in the hospital (after we knew he would be fine). There's even a reference in it to the ICU and ECMO, which is what saved him. It's my first combination set-and-lighting design (well, since Transformations, a whole lifetime ago and a different set of circumstances entirely). It has been a bit weird to be a part of this show with the experience of his heart attack so fresh in my mind (the sound design alone is enough to make me think I'm back in the cardiac ICU).

5. Next week, I get to tech the play about the dead mom.
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