What I Am Creating: Fall 2017

If you had asked me what would be healing after wrapping a two and a half year big project it would NOT be producing not one but two theatre events.

Instead I find myself at the helm of two small productions. Surprisingly, it is healing.

So far.

Nativity Play at Kimbourne Park United Church

All are welcome to attend and participate!
Kimbourne Park United Church at 10:15 am on December 10th
No experience necessary–just come and see what interactive Nativity story we can tell together.

I have wanted to do a play in a church for a long time. And just as I was starting to gather ideas for a proposal, my church invited me to revamp the usual “Paper Bag Pageant.”

After working on professional immersive theatre this summer, it’s a nice change of pace to focus on creating community, participatory theatre for the small congregation at Kimbourne Park.

Though I’m at the helm, I’m finding ways to include everyone in making arts and crafts costumes, recruiting youth group members and Sunday School teachers to give their input. I’ve rediscovered so much wisdom by pulling out the Bible to go over the stories as they were originally written and realized how much I have learned by hearing the Nativity in Texas, Tennessee, Toronto.

Girl with purple hair wearing a donkey headband costume

After coming off a collaboration gone very sour, these cooperative efforts are refreshing my soul and renewing my hope. In a year filled with unexpected changes, the Nativity Play is reminding me that God shows up in unexpected places with salvation that does not look the way I thought it would. Like with a baby boy in a manger.

And three days later, I am producing my company’s Talent Show.

I got wrangled into yet another producing gig in my other main community: the talent show at my company’s winter sales meeting.

This offer wasn’t quite as serendipitous. I collaborate with my co-workers in the office on a daily basis and I thought I could keep my artistic work and my day job separate. But when you tell non-theatre people about your plays, they immediately assume you enjoy acting, directing, and producing, too.

In this case, they actually aren’t that far off the mark. Though it isn’t my job, it was one of my first gigs in university–producing the Rice Players’ Talent Show in Spring 2010. I cannot deny that I know how to keep to a production schedule, recruit acts, and run the logistics for MCs, judges, and prizes.

Sometimes the ways we shine and the gifts we bring to the table are not always the activities we enjoy doing… but it will help me flex muscles I thought I’d lost! Who knows where that renewed strength could lead me?

And finally, I’ve been recruited to share my Gladly Beyond reviews with another theatre blog, Show Showdown.

It’s a bit nerve-wracking to write about theatre as a critic and a playwright in such a small community, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to spread word of the Toronto theatre scene on a New York City-centric blog. My reviews aren’t up to slam shows, but to offer my perspective as a fellow artist and member of the theatre community.

What SHOULD I be doing?

Unexpected though these opportunities might be, I’m glad I said yes. Otherwise I would feel myself at a complete creative standstill.

The past few months have been destabilizing to say the least. The ground has fallen away from me in more than one way. Some of it is old hurts I pushed aside to keep working and creating this summer. One is on-going. And the other affects me deeply, but isn’t my story alone to tell.

Not to mention the #metoo campaign and the multiple scandals that are just revealing more and more everyday the types of battles all women must fight to be respected, let alone create. I am feeling these particularly right now.

With all these hitting me at once, I haven’t been able to bounce back and channel all the creative energy into MY projects, as I thought I would be able to. I haven’t had much energy at all in the past few months.

And I want to address the well-meaning but painful well-wishing I’ve received–“You’re so strong. Don’t let this affect your creativity.”

I am strong. I am doing all the right things, according to medical professionals and my loved ones. But all of this is affecting me creatively. I cannot control all the factors and I cannot, as a sensitive person, just blast through them. I need time to grieve, rage, sob, fight, and then move from heartbreak and fear into creating out of those emotions.

To put it another way, if this were a play you would not expect me to get all of it down in the first draft. It would be okay if I took many, many, many drafts to get there.

Until I can build my house on rock instead of sand (skipping ahead in the New Testament), I will keep building what I can where I am.

Embracing my present moment and the opportunities it has presented have led me out of the deepest darkness. I am not alone. I am not weak. I will not give up. But neither can I skip ahead in the process.

While I wait, I am definitely praying for a Christmas miracle this year.



About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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1 Response to What I Am Creating: Fall 2017

  1. Nancy says:

    You make me so proud!

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