Transmission- Help us launch

I love working on Transmission because it’s all about dreaming BIG.

Unlike the other independent productions I’ve worked on, Transmission promises to push the boundaries of what we can pack into one theatrical production.

Though I love writing for black boxes and small spaces, adapting to the challenges of small budgets and audiences, it’s freeing to dream in the other direction.

What are we creating in Transmission?

The short explanation: Arrival meets Pokemon Go.

The “long” explanation:
transmission is is an immersive theatre production that tells the story of two brilliant sisters selected to join a mission to meet our celestial neighbors. Their story is told through a live show at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a podcast, and several site-specific, augmented reality scenes that are linked to specific locations throughout Edinburgh.

What we’ll have by August 2017:

  • 16 podcast episodes
  • 13+ hours of content
  • Live 1 hour show
  • Augmented reality experiences sited around Edinburgh
  • An app developed to link you to all this content

That’s WAY more than a Netflix show.

What started with Ian Garrett (our artistic director) is now coming to life with an international team that reflects many beliefs, lifestyles, home countries, and families–all of them working artists and technologists who believe in the method and the message of Transmission.

For two and a half years, I’ve researched the science behind our show, read related fiction and nonfiction, consulted experts, hashed out the character details with my writing team, revised alone and in a group–most of this done alone.

Now it’s time to bring you into the process.

What does this mean?

  1. Buy a ticket to the show!
    If you’re in Edinburgh or can be there in August, come participate in the live show and the augmented reality sites all over the city.
  2. Donate
    We’re in the middle of a fundraising campaign through July 10th. In order to dream big, we need your support. Believe with us that in creating Transmission, we are creating not only the theatre of the future, but imagining a viable future for humanity.
  3. Share
    Listen to the podcast. Leave a review on iTunes. Share the show on your social media and, better yet, word of mouth with your network.

Computer screen with color-coded spreadsheetsI’m equally excited and terrified to let the audience into the world we’ve created. But there’s only so much that I can do on paper. It’s time to stop making spreadsheets of all the scenes and start embracing that there’s only so much we can do to predict how the audience will behave.

Isn’t that the fun of live theatre? Isn’t that the whole reason this excites me–because as a dramaturg and a writer, I don’t know how this is “supposed” to work?

If you’ve heard me talk about this show in person, you’ll know the science excites me just as much as the fiction we created. The people I’ve met are part of my family now. And I just know that it’ll invite new audiences into the theatre and it’ll challenge everyone’s world view.

Join me in a future where the daughters of Syrian refugees lead the world’s top scientists in launching the humanity’s first interstellar mission to Proxima b.

Let’s dream big.

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In the Room(s) Where It Happens

I haven’t seen Hamilton, but making Transmission feels just as epic.

Or more so, because our performance series does not recast the past but looks forward 50 years into the future…

Last weekend I spent most of Saturday and Sunday gathered with the cast and crew of Transmission in various locations in Toronto. One of them being a stage at CineSpace Studios–just a big long hallway away from where they filmed Handmaiden’s Tale.

No, I didn’t get to watch much of the green screen/motion capture filming. But I did contribute as a writer and dramaturg as we recorded audio and video scripts that I had written.

After years of developing the structure, months of creating the characters, and weeks of writing and re-writing the scripts, I got to help our cast and crew bring them to life.

It was electrifying to finally meet the actors, director, producers, and designers. We’re going to make the thing!

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The first batch of recording happened without me. Sadly, the day job didn’t allow me to pick up in the middle of April and go to Edinburgh for the International Science Festival and a week of filming on site.


Writing for Transmission has been a new creation experience for me, one that I need to learn to keep working in theater and film. Due to the international cast, international crew, international producing and span of the entire project, collaboration is key. Working in the moment, responding to feedback and making changes on the spot–after months of planning ahead–is what it’s all about.

It’s also different to be asked by actors what I meant when I wrote a script. My first two college productions kept me strictly out of the rehearsal space. My Indie 6ix staged reading at Storefront was still a workshop, so Q&A with the cast operated in a different way.

But in this case, the actors ask and they CARE. And it’s essential for this production that we incorporate their perspectives.

It’s important that main characters Leila and Zada Karam are the daughters of refugees from Syria. Fifty years in the future, we’re imagined two leaders in the interstellar mission to meet humanity’s celestial neighbors on Proxima Centauri B as the children of Syrian refugees who are entering Canada right now.

Bedroom audio recording session with man standing, women sitting in front of microphone and script pages reading, and man on phone recording

Aaron Willis, Leila Ghaznavi, and Myles Avery recording Transmission audio.

Imagining all this to write a first draft was one thing. We had to make some guesses to get the bones of the scenes and conflicts on the page. But now that we have actors on board who have experience with immigration, persecution, leaving home behind due to war and conflict–those guesses needed to be corrected.

The experts interviewed in the podcast corrected the science at the root of our fiction.
The actors are our experts in fleshing out each character as a living, breathing human.

Thankfully one actor pointed out a character’s name meant “horny cat” before it was too late to change…

We’ve got over half of the scenes recorded, the ticketing page is LIVEso please go and buy your tickets for the Mission Briefing in August now–and the rehearsal schedule is up for the rest of the summer.

I’ve bought my plane tickets.

For a deeper look behind the scenes, stay tuned to the podcast as June will bring interviews with the cast and writing team.

Stay close…

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Unexpected Superhero

My mom always knew I was a superhero.


My mom sent this card to me during my first year at Rice. And then again in this version during my first year “in the real world.”

In the past month, I’ve begun to believe it.

The new year has been hard on me. A future I thought had been laid out at the end of 2016 blew up in numerous ways. You know what they say about the best laid plans…

My word of the year SERENITY sure is coming in handy.

It’s been difficult to put into words because I don’t usually post about my personal life on the interwebs. At least not in straight-forward ways. I’m not a big fan of navel-gazing, bemoaning my lot in life and all the obstacles I’m fighting against. That doesn’t help anyone–least of all myself.

Those obstacles–my vulnerabilities and fears–are indeed what make me a superhero.

I can tell you about the many ways that I’m keeping busy, making art, climbing mountains, WRITING UP A STORM on Transmission, grieving and burying the broken parts of my heart. Or I can show you.

Hercinia Art Collective’s April 29th Arts Party brings you…



Massey Ahmar, Maggie Sulc, and Caroline Sawyer (left to right) in ZOMBIES OR SNORING?

Jim and Olivia are settling in for the night. Or at least, that’s what Jim would like to do. Olivia would love to turn off her night terrors and drift off just like her new boyfriend.

But something won’t let her nod off… could there really be something sinister that only she can sense?

This fifteen-minute radio drama flips the narrative on the dumb blonde girl screaming away at that zombie movie. Cute horror, as some Toronto playwrights have called it. That’s my style.

I felt bad for a milli-second casting my co-worker in the male role. Why? Because there’s not much to him besides snoring. In fact, looking back at my plays, most of the male characters look pretty weak and act weak for large portions, if not the entirety, of their stories.

This is not because I dislike men. I’m not a raging feminist trying to twist them all into evil privileged impotent dudes. I didn’t even realize I had this habit until after last Saturday’s reading of Zombies or Snoring? It’s just that the stories I choose to write revolve around strong women finding their power and facing their fears.

Personally haven’t found as many men who are willing to do the same: admit to their fears, ask for help, and then face them. Or maybe I’m not willing to slow down my journey to walk them through it.

I’m still hurting. It may not look like it, but that’s because I see no reason why I can’t grieve and continue building the future I want for myself at the same time.

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway?

Like I said, that’s what makes me a superhero.

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Are you listening? Transmission the Podcast

I can’t even begin to tell you how PUMPED I am to share Transmission the Podcast.

So I won’t… Listen for yourself!

Proxima B Centarui (exoplanet) and "transmission podcast"

Each of the first 8 episodes answer a question related to interstellar space travel, the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, and what this would mean for our society today. And they’ll all be out by April 16th: binge-worthy podcasting.

I listened to the first episode on the way home from work. It perfectly fit my commute home. Giddy is how I felt leaving the subway. I heard Seth Shostek speak on OUR podcast–I heard him on Star Talk Radio speaking with Neil de Grasse Tyson just a few weeks ago!

That means I’m even closer to Neil de Grasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy in six degrees of separation…

Then the next episodes released in May, June, and July will lead up to the launch of the distributed performance of Transmission: a fictionalized narrative based on all of this science and expert thought.

I wish I could bring all of you with me to the Edinburgh Fringe in August, to discover all the visual, audio, and live bits of this story haunting the city.

But at least I can bring you all into the story and get you hooked on what it means to not be alone in the universe.

Listen, share widely, and follow @luxtaterra on Twitter and Facebook to follow the last stages of development before our August 2017 launch!

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The List – What You Consider Great Art

When I called out for great art, you responded in spades.

13 responses before I even went to bed that night!

I’ve read/watched a few (marked with stars), but there are so many more here than I will be able to consume on my own. Please share!

And before you stop there–scroll down to the bottom of the list for my own personal suggestions.

*There may or may not be a surprise at the end…

The List:

  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente *
  • Annihilation/The Area X Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer
  • The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan*
  • Star Trek: Voyager (TV show)
  • Masters of Sex (TV show)
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Unscrewed Podcast “An Army of Lovers” (Podcast)
  • Leonard Cohen poetry
  • Dreams by Akiro Kurosawa (Film)
  • Ireland by Frank Delaney
  • Speechless (TV show)
  • Fleabag (TV show)
  • Pushing Daisies (TV show)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Angels of Our Better Nature by Stephen Pinker
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • Tactical Performance by Larry Bogad
  • The West Wing (TV show)
  • I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb *
  • Works by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Nayyirah Waheed poetry
  • When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
  • Stephen Universe (TV show) *
  • Juana Inez (TV show)
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Doc Martin (TV show)
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Ringworld by Larry Niven
  • Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  • Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Loved Ones by Evelyn Waugh
  • Dorothy Sayer’s mystery novels, in chronological order

My own suggestions:

  • StarTalk All Stars (Podcast)
  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
  • Fuller House (TV show)
  • Gilmore Girls (TV show)
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Me and 2 puppies!

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Send me your art

Dear World:

I’m struggling this year. I thought I’d left the struggle behind at the end of 2016, that the sunshine peeking through this week had cleared it all away. Not so.

I’m in need of lights of art to help me through. To be clear, I’m making my own art: radio plays, new draft of Raggedy’s Kingdom, always research and connections for Transmission, more writing everyday. But I need more in the tank.

What movies, television, and books do you suggest for me at this moment?

They don’t have to be super positive, shallow, only animated or comic in nature. One of my absolute favorite parts of 2017 so far has been reading Seveneves by Neal Stephenson–which starts with the Moon exploding and making the Earth uninhabitable for 5,000 years!

Things I love but cannot watch/read more of at this moment:

  • Black Mirror
  • The Untold History of the United States
  • The Nightingale (books like this about war)

Everyday I look at the news and I die a little. I go to work and face my limits there, overcome them. Drain the batteries and come home to care for myself and do it all over again.

I’m not the only one doing this. I am lucky to be safe, gainfully employed in a supportive workplace, cared for and supported by family both near and abroad.

This phase of history is just one in a constant cycle. It’s not the end of the world. The world as we know it is constantly dying and being reborn as something slightly different.

A few weeks ago, I was tagged to repost more art on Facebook, to fight the constant stream of news. A good idea, but I couldn’t remember to add it there. So I’m adding it here.

Petunias. Georgia O'Keefe painting from 1925.

Petunias. Georgia O’Keefe. 1925.

Either on Facebook, Twitter, responses to this post here, or personal messages, please share your suggestions.

I cannot promise to take you up on every single one, but I will repost to make sure they are shared for all of us. To keep drinking in and turning back out into the greater world.

Thanks, Maggie


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One Word 2017

What has the new year brought so far?

I’ve heard it said that what you do on the first day of the New Year is a precursor to what that year will be. Then again, I don’t make new year’s resolutions, I rarely eat the black-eyed peas my Southern upbringing considers good luck charms for the new year, and I still consider August/September more of a threshold than the end of each date in my calendar going up one.

But if you believe in all that, it’s another sign to me and my stubbornness that healing doesn’t come overnight. I spent New Year’s Eve 2016 in bed, sleeping. Knocked out by Tylenol PM by a cold that struck hard. By the first day back at work it was practically gone from my system. But it took a whole night and day of pure rest to nip it in the butt.

I thought I’d learned enough to enter this year with both fists swinging, ready to fight the fight, hit the ground running. It just took the one day of me taking care of myself, right?


Like the end of 2016, the beginning of 2017 has shown me that not all of what happens is in my control. In fact, only a very tiny little bit is.


Serenity is my one word for 2017.

I cannot change the results of political elections, I cannot change the entire capitalist system we live in or even the bits of my industry. Not on my own, not overnight.

I cannot keep things as they are. I wouldn’t really want them to stay them same, even though at this very moment I am wishing for just that.

Until I can embrace the fact that change is the key to the future, to my favorite stories, people, and places, I’ll say my word and remember the whole serenity prayer. And I’ll keep saying it, even if it takes all year!

One year soon I’d really like my one word to be more goal-related in terms of my art and writing career. Although maybe that’s why it’s not: I don’t need to keep that front and center. It always is.

What’s your one word for 2017?

Honorable Mention goes to this great quote I saw on Matt Nathanson’s Facebook page: 

You are allowed to be a masterpiece and a work of in progress, simultaneously.

(Apparently it’s a repost from Guerilla Feminism, but I’m crediting it to both.)

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The year of Transmission

I haven’t given up on horror–if anything, I’m personally diving into more horror flash fiction and audio play scripts–but 2017 is the year for the premiere of the large scale theatre project I’ve been working on since November 2014.



Transmission is about aliens, interstellar travel, new technology, collaboration, family, loss, and the human race’s place in the universe. It’s science fiction at its best and even better, theatre at it’s best. I’ve had a blast playing with film, audio, podcasting, dance, and augmented reality as a writer and dramaturg.

And this year, I finally get to share all this work with you.

A few months ago, I put together this short video clip for Volcano Theatre’s Emerging Artist showcase to introduce the work that Ian Garrett and the rest of the creative team have been working on for the past few years.

The background comes from the summer 2015 Indy Convergence where we explored the themes, but also the performance formats of geo-location and site-driven work that drive Transmission. It’s where we started to figure out how to make the context and the content speak to each other–to tell a story that can be followed by individuals in pieces but speaks to us all as members of the human race.

Now we have this almost fully formed story and the pieces are coming together for it’s launch!

To learn more about the developing story as we prepare for the premieres later in 2017, check out the following:

And check out this blog for my personal dramaturgy updates! Over and out.

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An American Playwright in Canada (Post 2016 Election)

I meant to share this article, my latest contribution to HowlRound, a few weeks ago.

An American Playwright in Canada

It’s the first of a three part series about new play development in the United States and Canada. I straddle the border in many ways, and often wonder what it’s “really like” for artists on both sides.

I know where I’m supposed to be right now–here in Toronto, making connections, creating–but it’s hard to gauge from the constant complaints about “well, in the States they do this for new play development…” and then “but they have funding and government support for the arts in Canada! Why are they complaining?”

So I decided to ask two people even more immersed in new play development to weigh in for the next two installments. Stay tuned!

Somehow in the spin of getting the second installment up and running, I’ve let it slip away to the bottom of my to-do list.

And then the election happened.

So much has been said, so much will be said. Anger, hate, miscommunication, false information–it’s running rampant.

I feel like I should contribute my voice this time, but I don’t know what to say.

It’s odd being in Canada right now, still in flux as to whether I’ll get permanent residency. It’s scary to really feel like the place I come from is now dangerous, unwelcoming. It started this summer with all the shootings and violence, continued with the primaries, and is just spewing negative energy and actions into the universe right now.

No longer the refuge and safe space that home is supposed to be, America is my origin but at this moment, it is not my home.

A friend from Rice put this on my wall a year ago:


It’s even more true today. Don’t look to Canada to escape. Only come here if it’s where you need to be.

As I said in my article: the grass always looks greener elsewhere. It’s not that simple.

The people I’m proud of are the family, friends, and acquaintances working to create positive change NOW. Whether that means donating to organizations to protect the rights of everyone in the United States, writing to their representatives to voice their growing concerns, or sponsoring a bipartisan group hug (Go Rice Owls!!!).

I super respect the comments made by the Hamilton cast. They were respectful, but acknowledged the feelings of many Americans at the prospect of the new federal administration. I always knew the theatre was where it’s at!

Yelling and screaming to tell someone that their way of thinking is flat out wrong has never seemed effective to persuade anyone, at least not in my experience. Check out the NPR episode “Flip the Script” of Invisibilia for some pretty stark examples of how this works.

I’m trying to figure out now how best I can foster conversation and work to create the world I want to live in. I can’t control everything, but the small slice of the universe I do control will be welcoming, peaceful, optimistic, proactive, and supportive of others who want the same.


(or this other xkcd comic that I found today, of course)



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My First Quarter Century: Year in Review

The constant stream of social media and calendar engagements makes it difficult to see what I have accomplished every year of my life. This was a big one, as predicted by everything that brought in my 25th year.

Pictured: First visit to Niagara Falls, first sisters-only vacation

  • Took on full-time work in sales and marketing in the publishing industry, higher education.
  • Attended two writers retreats and fully participated in every aspect available within Storefront Theatre’s Playwrights Unit 2015-2016.
  • Wrote 400-500 pages of new material in crafting my horror play Raggedy’s Kingdom. (This page count does not include any other projects, personal or collaborative)
  • SOLD OUT the staged reading of Raggedy’s Kingdom in Storefront Theatre’s Indie 6ix Playwright’s Festival. (Which means I ran a successful email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing campaign–check out the Before and After.)


  • Represented Playwrights Guild of Canada as their Friday “Follow-the-Playwright” at the 2016 Canadian Writers Summit.
  • Successfully managed a smooth transition out of my friendly housemate position after a year and a half of service and living in community.
  • First steady romantic relationship since high school.
  • Became a contributing member of Kimbourne Park United Church and the Garden @ Kimbourne.
  • Attended Zumba classes so regularly my instructor came to my staged reading and I now get invited to dance at the front of the class on at least three songs most weeks…#dancingqueen
  • Traveled to Asia for the first time, which included training for and climbing Mount Fuji in Japan.
  • Succeeded in giving up social media for a full calendar month–plus even a few more days into August!

There are less items on the list than in previous years, but I am narrowing down to pursue the projects that really mean the most to me. Sales, I realize, is something I have a knack for and need to keep developing as an artist who wants to promote her work–plus it’s great practice in storytelling and engaging an audience.

So that full-time plus Raggedy’s Kingdom and Transmission, the big project I’m collaborating on for the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, are it right now.

Winnowing my projects down both inspires and infuriates me at turns. Shutting doors for any reason–even a good, healthy one–is depressing, even while the grasping desperation and exhaustion of previous years haunts me.

But for now, at the beginning of a new year with lots to be grateful for, it is time to listen to the old soul within me as it whispers: “It’s coming. Slowly, but surely, it’s coming.”

As I enter the second half of my twenties, this is what I’m writing to remember and embrace everything that I’ve accomplished. Let it inspire and motivate every new step I take next.

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