Week 2 with NYSAF

Read Week 1 here

Week 2 was spent mostly finding a good space to write.  I tried to fulfill some strange ideal in my head of writing outside and being one with nature.  Well, let me tell you, nature is freaking hot in the middle of July.  I believe humidity was created by mother nature in an attempt to remind us not to mess with that temperamental bitch.  I tried sitting on a park bench under a tree. The only thing I accomplished was identifying several species of bugs crawling around me.  Note:  If you think you’ve seen giant ants, you haven’t been to Poughkeepsie. It’s like they’ve mutated from some super secret nuclear waste dumping site.  They are big.  But enough about bugs.  Back to writing.

I decided to go back to the library.  There, it’s air conditioned and roomy.  You have a plethora of choices where you can sit and write in peace and quiet. Unless you happen to be on the second floor of the periodicals section where they’ve decided to start their carpet replacement project.  Who knew carpet replacement could be so loud?

Because my play The Commencement of William Tan is about my senior year in high school, I was delighted to have a company of apprentice actors to choose from.  They range in age from 16-21.  I sat down with the Apprentice directors (Tom and Erin) and Becca (Assistant Producer) and we went over casting for my play .  It’s always strange casting a play that you haven’t finished writing.  Just like what I did with the 2G jumpstart commission reading, I had to decide what characters I was going to write beforehand, and then cast accordingly.  The nice thing about this is it kept me focused on only writing for those characters.  I think the results were surprisingly good.

After casting the apprentices, I then set off on a mission to get to know their work by attending their shows.  The apprentice program at NYSAF seems to be a rigorous boot camp.  They are always doing a show and rehearsing for another one at the same time, as well as attending workshops and rehearsals of the visiting guest artists.  It’s totally like a rep company.  It makes me miss using my body/instrument in that way, when I was an actor many moons ago.  I also miss referring to my body as an instrument.   The apprentices are a bunch of highly talented kids.  I was very impressed.  I saw a Sound painting show and Medea.  Also what’s great about these shows is that they’re usually only an hour long.  Not that I wished to see less of these kids, but I am here to write.

Eating in Poughkeepsie is interesting.  Along the northern most edge of the campus is a long row of restaurants.  It seems everyone goes to the Beech Tree.  Or on Saturdays, everyone goes to Billy Bob’s for karaoke.  I’ve tried lot of different restaurants.  My favorites are Tokyo Express and All Shook Up.  All Shook Up is a little vexing at first.  It looks like a 50’s diner where you can get a burger and a shake.  Which you can.  But what’s really great about the place is that it’s all HEALTHY.  Even down to their unsweetened ketchup, which is amazing.  I usually order their Turkey burger and a Chantilly Lace smoothie (yes, they have retro-named smoothies).  It’s run by a husband and wife team.  Both are actors.  It feels so Waiting of Guffman to me.

The other place is Tokyo Express, of which I have a love/hate relationship with.  The food is great but my server hates me and I believe I am in an emotionally abusive relationship with her.  I usually go there by myself and every time I go she looks at me and asks in a very sarcastic tone “one?”  She also puts one finger up, as if to visually remind me how singular I am at that moment.  One time I sat at the bar, where the singular people sit.  She reached across me to grab something and pretty much stuck her arm in my face.  She didn’t even excuse herself.  Another time I was sitting at a table, and she walked by and moved my drink to the other side of the table, without saying anything.  I swear this woman hates me.  Or I’m just paranoid.  The thing is, she’s consistently hateful to me, and for some reason I find comfort in that. It’s the only way I can explain me continuing to eat there.

The final thing I have to say about my second week is this:  Because everyone is in rehearsals during the day and Vassar doesn’t really have a summer program, when 2pm rolls by, the entire campus is like a ghost town.  It’s eerie.  So how did week 3 go?  Did I finish my play?  More importantly, do I continue dining at Tokyo Express?  Tune in next time.