Whenever I'm in the middle of a production, all I want is for that production to be over.
It's not that I hate whatever project I'm working on. It's not that I can't stand being in production. It's that being involved so heavily with the creative process makes me want to do just that: be creative. For the past three weeks my play THE PRINCEMAKER has been running at FringeNYC, and I probably spent more time during those three weeks planning and writing my next play than I did thinking about audience reaction to the play I was currently running.
Playwriting is a lonely process. Most of it is done alone, and all of it is done through intense struggle. Putting the play up is the end of that struggle. It's this weird hinterland between your current project and your next. For me, I can't do anything for the current project. It's completely out of my hands. I wrote the thing months ago, now it's in the care of the directors and actors. So I find myself in this incredibly creative environment where people are trading ideas off of one another and the magic of theatre is happening between the actors and the audience, and there I am twiddling my thumbs just wanting to be creative somehow. So naturally my mind wanders to the next thing. And the next thing for me is my residency and new play commission.
I feel like it's a classic case of "grass is always greener." Every time one of my plays goes up on stage, that is the time when I get the most writing done. I don't know if it's just a matter of being in an environment where I have to thank about my writing constantly, or if it's a byproduct of being engaged with theatre, but something about the process drives me to withdraw. Two things then happen: I completely remove myself from being in the moment with my current project, and I throw myself head first into the next project.
The end result is that I end up never not working. Ultimately I think that's a good thing. It means that I'll always have something to write and I'll never fall into a pattern of laziness. The problem is that laziness is replaced with restlessness. I didn't get to see a single performance of The Princemaker. I could have if I wanted to, but I chose not to. Instead, I spent those ninety minutes during every performance in a bar writing dialogue from my next play. I was working, which was great, but part of me wishes I could shut off the part of my brain that demands to move forward.
What it comes down to, I think, is that I'm a playwright. I'm not a director by training and I'm certainly not a producer. Whatever work I do in the theatre is restricted to the page and the rehearsal room. I have nothing to contribute at performances of my work, so I'd rather not be there so that I can let the people who are actually working do their thing. I'm glad that I have this urge to keep moving forward and to keep on writing, I just wish I could stop being a playwright sometimes and learn how to take a break.
This is all to say that The Princemaker wrapped a week and a half ago, and I'm feeling many things at once. I'm happy of the work we did, I'm envigorated by the collaboration I experienced with the creative team, and more than anything I'm already restless. On to the next one.