#Blessed

I’m not working right now.

Well, not working “in my chosen field.” I still spend long hours at the computer, attempting to put together lessons and exam questions and nonsense I am highly unqualified for. Which is still 1000x better than working in a restaurant.

Fall is supposed to feel hopeful. I’m supposed to feel refreshed. I’m supposed to be breathing fresh, crisp air and not continuing to roll through life unshowered and apathetic. My friend runs cabarets for kid Broadway performers. There are constantly pictures of her events with them. Kids join and leave shows more often than adults (they grow, they age, they get tired because they are still CHILDREN) and it constantly seems as though a small child is weeping about making their Broadway debut. This is actually from one’s Instagram (bolding mine):

I am so incredibly excited to FINALLY be able to announce some awesome news!!! I am both thrilled and honored to be joining the cast of Fun Home on Broadway- making my Broadway debut!!!!!! I am going to be the newest#superswing, learning the roles of Small Alison, Christian, and John! This new journey has only just begun and everyone is already so kind and supportive and I can’t say thank you enough!! I have always imagined myself being able to step out onto that stage as Al, it really goes to show that with dedication and hard work- dreams can come trueeee!!!#funhomemusical#funhome#funhomebroadway#broadway#honored#YAAAAAYY#okimfreakingoutalittlebit#justkiddingimfreakingoutalot!!!!

Yes, sweet wee eleven year old. Hard work.

Like being born in the tristate area.

Like being able to afford to take classes.

Like having a mom to drive you to auditions.

Not that I begrudge any children that. While some child actors are irritating, others (like the girl this one is replacing) are sweet and down-to-earth. I can only speak from my world.

And in my world, hard work don’t make dreams come true. It helps, but you also need relentless ambition, a willingness to make yourself very uncomfortable, the ability to be told “no” constantly and yet still be willing to keep going (in other words, being a masochist), and a really fucking enormous scoopful of luck. ENORMOUS. SCOOPFUL.

I know I always get like this when I’m not working. I try to keep a bright attitude in life, because how else do you make it through?

But here, I can break. Here I can whine. Here I can feel stuck and angry and lost and bitter and JEALOUS OF AN 11 YEAR OLD. That’s where I am today.

Apartment Hunting, boom boom

We found out we’d have to move after sending our landlord a kind, intelligent message about the raise in rent and the change to a month to month lease on September 23.

I was still away doing a show. I did some legwork and he saw a handful of apartments. This was three days or so worth of agony (this is NY real estate after all). We put in an application on a place I didn’t even see on September 28. We felt sure.

We waited. And waited.

Two weeks of waiting, I had had enough. I scheduled a number of viewings on October 10. We saw four units that were fine and then… the one. We still hadn’t heard from apartment #1, but this one was so clearly “it” that we didn’t even care. We got our application in that day.

October 13. Find out the first application for the first apartment was rejected. Unclear reasons. We’re not married, our income is too low, our guarantors are out of state… the bottom line is that they’re obviously assholes so who cares. We found a better place anyway.

October 14. Today.

We find out we lost the second apartment. A hair’s breadth too late. I am heartbroken. I am exhausted.

I spend hours staring at a screen, sending emails, making appointments, completely unsure that I’ll find anything at all, alone and crying and frustrated because it’s NOT FAIR. It’s NOT FAIR that we are good people with a great rental history and good credit and amazing tenants and now it’s no no no no no no no.

And I am binging.

I can feel myself hurting myself because this is too hard. It’s too much. I can’t handle my own feelings of anxiety AND A’s, because his are strong too. I can’t do this much longer.

We’re living in an apartment that is completely packed up. I haven’t unpacked from my two months away. We don’t have fall or winter coats.

I am so tired of this. I am so scared we won’t find another place we love. I am scared we will be down to the wire with this move. I am scared that I won’t be able to get back on track… this month feels like it’s running away from me. So does this year.

Why did I get to have such joy to come “home” to such awfulness?

The things that make me happy are not making me happy because all that’s in my head is 1 bedrooms west of broadway pullman kitchen dishwasher laundromat across the street .5 miles from the A train sunny Hudson Heights steps from transportation roomy comfy converted uptown rent stabilized walkup low fee broker fee st nicholas eat in kitchen

My eyes are crossing and my heart is hurting and I’m hurting myself because I don’t know what to do.

Don’t let me read this. It’ll make me sad.

I’m back from a 2.5 week vacation with my folks in London, Drumnadrochit (a wee town on Loch Ness), and Edinburgh!

But that’s not what’s flitting through my mind.

I lost a friend somehow. A best friend.

I said something possibly insensitive in a text. I didn’t think twice about it. Looking back, it was probably misguided, even though my intentions were to be amusing and share a silly moment in my life that made me feel connected to this person.

This was three months ago.

I hadn’t heard a word from her. I continued to text, to “like” on Facebook, to comment, to talk about, to generally act like a friend through this whole time. While in the UK, I sent a text like usual, remarking on a funny thing that was happening that I wanted to share. Her response was that she has been distant because I really hurt her with my text, she wished I hadn’t said it, and maybe we can talk about it when I’m back.

Heart. Pinioned.

We were headed out the door to breakfast when I got this, so I dashed off a reply along the lines of “oh my god. I had no idea and I am so sorry I hurt you. I hope you know that I would never hurt you on purpose and I regret hurting you then. I love you, but I understand you need your space and please do what feels right.”

And subsequently deleted every single communication so that I couldn’t look at that text ever again, and left my phone at home all day, even though I wouldn’t have Wifi or cell service anyway. I sobbed through breakfast, and burst into tears throughout the day. I still am hurting, deeply. The shame is overwhelming, and I’m hurt too.

***

I’m also finishing up a two book audiobook contract with an author who HATES me. She hired me, for goodness’ sake, but she is horrifically disappointed in my work and condescends to me at every juncture. And of course all the stupid little things are going wrong in production, so she treats me like I’m unprofessional and terrible at my job. The worst was the three page LETTER she wrote me after I finished the first book, about how much she hated my narration. So that whole situation sucks.

Obviously one hurts more than the other, but they both make me feel physically SICK.

I’ve gotten to a point where I get that sick feeling when reading an email from the author about the audiobook, but I’m able to let it go within a relatively short amount of time as long as I make the change she wants or respond IMMEDIATELY.

***

But this friend.

It hurts so badly.

And I have many feelings that contradict the sick, shame feeling:
Our friendship of years couldn’t withstand a mistake?
Everything we’ve been through together can fall apart because of this?
Why didn’t you tell me till now?
Why couldn’t you let go?
Why couldn’t you forgive me?

How could you not wish me happy birthday?

How could you watch me reach out, continue as if nothing was broken, while you pushed me unknowingly away?

***

So there’s definitely anger.

But mostly, I am sad.

I am so, so, so sad that it makes me want to throw up.
It takes my heart and pokes tiny little holes in it so it wheezes with each beat.
The shame wears me like a thick, wool coat, the heavy hood pressing my chin to my chest.

What do you do when your best friend isn’t your best friend?

Does the sadness go away? Does the SHAME?

Do people forgive as easily as I do? Because I do.

I have to let her go. It’s in her hands. And if we talk, I’ll collapse in a heap and the tears will never stop. So I hope she just forgives me.

I wish I didn’t care so much. I wish I didn’t feel shame so deeply.

It’s amazing how quickly…

..you can go from feeling good, solid, grounded, successful, PROUD…

to feeling angry, sad, frustrated, and stuck.

Questioning every decision.

Hating hating other people, and resenting resenting their success.

Ugh.

“Sometimes this human stuff is slimy and pathetic – jealousy especially so – but better to feel it and talk about it and walk through it than to spend a lifetime being silently poisoned.”
Anne Lamott

“A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it.”
Lionel Shriver, Checker and the Derailleurs

“Jealousy always has been my cross, the weakness and woundedness in me that has most often caused me to feel ugly and unlovable, like the Bad Seed. I’ve had many years of recovery and therapy, years filled with intimate and devoted friendships, yet I still struggle. I know that when someone gets a big slice of pie, it doesn’t mean there’s less for me. In fact, I know that there isn’t even a pie, that there’s plenty to go around, enough food and love and air.

But I don’t believe it for a second.

I secretly believe there’s a pie. I will go to my grave brandishing my fork.”
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith

“Jealousy is the most dreadfully involuntary of all sins.”
Iris Murdoch

This is why we shouldn’t be allowed to have nice things.

Just some of the roles listed for self-submissions just TODAY on Actors Access. This is the MAIN website for casting calls, used by all licensed agents and CDs (all Broadway shows, TV shows, films, etc, use this site), so this isn’t like a trashy website for bullshit casting calls. These are taken from just the first page of results for a woman my age.

I’m curious what your reaction, non-acting-industry-people, are to this casting calls. Are you shocked? No? Do you find them strange? I’m so used to them by now that it’s hard to gauge my actual reaction.

BALLERINA/MODEL ]
LOOKING FOR VERY, VERY, VERY SKINNY GIRLS!!!! Casting Women 18 and older. I am looking for a very, very, very skinny girl to play an anorexic ring girl. This is a VERY important character!!!! You would be playing a ring girl in a boxing ring, you will be wearing a bikini carrying a piece of cardboard with the number 8 on it. you will have special effects makeup to make you look skeletal. And there is a part where young boys will be throwing food at you.

NUDE BEAUTY ]
Beautiful, caucasian girl who will be rapping the lyrics to camera. She is the main focus of the video.  My goal is to create one of the most disturbing and unsettling music videos ever.

[ROLE 3 ]
Caucasian Female, age 18 – 25.  Hot looking model/ actor with a good body and looks that can make her stand apart from a crowd.  Lead

OLIVIA ]
(22-25) She is a very average looking girl, who wears no makeup. Being with Sebastian makes things much easier in that regard. She wants to be viewed as independent, but cannot bare the thought of being rejected. She always feels guilty around her mum – for having abandoned her -, and strives to make her dad feel proud….FEMALE… LEAD…CAUCASAIN OR LATINA….

2 GIRL FRIENDS ]
Age Range: 24 to 30. Latin American, Caucasian (European or American) Female Models. Very beautiful high end looking model types. Because they are the 2 best friends of our lead girl who is playing a high end model. Skinny. CAN YOU SUBMIT BODY SHOTS AS WELL. Picture Submission Only

LEAD GIRL ]
age range 18-25, any ethnicity and body type, a natural beauty who is also very sexy. This girl must be very cool and down to earth but also very hot and sexy.

GIRL ]
Caucasian, 18-25, Perfect, bad girl, beautiful, dangerous, but also “a vision of perfection” so angelic with a bad streak.

My Sister: An Exegesis on Patterns and Ice

Okay.

I’ve written about my sister before on this blog. She is probably, apart from my mother, the person I have the most complicated relationship with. In fact, it’s probably more complex than my relationship with my mother. At least we communicate.

My sister is 4 1/2 years younger. As you know if you’ve read my blog, from about age 8 to age 14 I was a hellion– or in less inflammatory terms, a very troubled little girl with symptoms of OCD, bipolar, and depression. Now, as my parents jump to remind me, she wasn’t a perfect kid either. She had learning disabilities and struggled in school. But really, that’s no match for a little girl who bangs her head against walls and threatens her mother with a knife. Yup. Both those things happened.

When I was struggling, I didn’t get along with anyone except, perhaps, a teacher or two. I had friends but I didn’t feel like I did. Basically I was too sick to really give a shit about much at all. The moral being that I CERTAINLY didn’t get along with my sister.

We fought in the normal ways, but she also was part of the collateral damage when things were very bad. It never got much more violent than an Indian burn (wow, looking back, that’s a terrible name for that), but the intention to hurt was there. I certainly made her cry because I was mean, and most importantly, my behavior scared her. I was unpredictable and lashed out at the smallest provocation. i wasn’t a safe person.

But, being my sister, she also learned how to provoke me. And when she provoked me, she knew exactly when to call for Mom’s help. And no matter what, on every occasion, my sister was comforted and put somewhere safe and I was punished. Because I reacted. I know this is basic sister stuff. Everyone does this. But for a kid whose ability to hold it together is on incredibly thin ice, and for a kid whose parents are hyper-vigilant about her moods, and for a kid who doesn’t really feel much of anything thanks to the psychotropic drugs… An angry reaction from me is met with severe consequences from my parents. And of course, because no one believes the “bad kid,” I could never convince anyone that there was an instigator in the sweet, sticky face of my cherubic sister.

We also struggled because she took on every activity I did, again, like most sisters. But again with us, this tension was on crack. Getting to feel special and good at something was, for me, the only way out of my unhappiness. Dancing was something I was good at, and made me feel good. My dad teaching my flyfishing made me feel closer to him. The boarding school I went to was a magical place that was mine, that I had made. And each one of these steps, she stepped in after, and they stopped being mine. And I felt forgotten and lost. I still feel this way sometimes.

And, of course, the icing on the cake was that I moved out at 16 to go to boarding school. My sister was 12. I missed her entire adolescence, which was fairly “exciting,” though in a different way than mine. She dated boys who treated her badly. She drank. She had ceaseless health problems. When I fucked up, I must have done something wrong. When she fucked up, she was damaged and needed protection.

The clearest recent experience of this dichotomy was when I was deep in the early part of my disorder. I’ve told the story about Russia a million times, but in a nutshell– I was moving into a new apartment, then was flying to study in Russia for a month. My mom came to help me move, then my family spent Christmas together on the East Coast before I flew away. I had a blast, despite my disorder. My family pretended to. When I returned from Russia, after a month of cheery emailing, I came back to my therapist who had a letter my parents had sent her behind my back. I was falling apart, they said, and I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was tightly wound and treated other people like shit.

I was infuriated for a million reasons, but key among this was the assumption that I wasn’t in control of my own life. Someone needed to come in and MAKE ME change, FIX me. There was no encouragement. There was no compassion. There was a mistake that needed to be fixed.

When I decided to go back on Zoloft, I called my mother, since I’m still on my parents’ insurance. I told her, very practically, what I had chosen to do. I had recently suffered an injury (which was NOT caused by the ED, fyi). My mother’s response was, “Well, it’s about time. It’s too bad it took an injury to get you to see the situation clearly.”

My disorder. My fault.

My sister’s poor decision-making. Well, she was sexually assaulted so her boundaries are fucked. Well, she’s just confused. Poor thing. Let’s make sure she has the resources to recover and let’s love her all the way through it.

My mother never came to New York to help me recover or support me in my struggle. She never offered.
When was being treated for endometriosis and migraines, my mother moved to San Francisco for a month to take care of her.

My eating disorder is selfish. I should get more help for my depression. I suck at getting “well.”
My sister’s assault is obviously not her fault, so her actions after the assault are not her fault. She’s recovering, in her own time. She gets time.

I am the perpetrator.
She is the victim.

The pattern continues.

Another layer is petty but real. My sister is beautiful. She’s 5’9″, slender, long-limbed, with a round, stunning face and big brown eyes, hair that naturally curls in ringlets. She’s got that sweet sexiness of a commercial model.

I am not unattractive. But I’m not a model.

Boys flock to my sister. Girls flock to her too. She’s popular, and always has been. She gets what she wants because people want to give her things. She’s like Jon Hamm’s character on 30 ROCK.

Haha, now I believe we’ve finally gotten to the crux of the matter.

Here’s why I’m writing this entry.

My sister is studying abroad in London this semester. She whined about the program at first, but is relishing in the fact that it’s apparently the “best” ceramics program in the world.

She has also been traveling. She’s visited friends in London, Copenhagen, Munich, and now, Iceland. She’s seeing a number of different boys of high quality and doesn’t seem to understand that most people don’t get to have their pick of international hotties. She’s spending my parents’ money on all of this. Her lifestyle doesn’t take money into account at all.

None of this is objectively THAT BAD. But here’s where it gets tricky:

I’m jealous.

I live a pretty “fancy” life in New York City. I see Broadway shows, I pee in bathrooms with Julie Andrews, I go to world-renowned festivals. But I don’t travel. I am here, or I’m at “home” with my folks. MAYBE I’m in PA with A’s folks, MAYBE spending the weekend in CT or a day in Cold Spring. When I studied abroad, I chose a frugal and logical choice. I know Shakespeare well, and I didn’t want to miss any time in NYC. So I went to Russia for a month instead of London for six. Russia is a terrifying place, and I learned a lot about myself. But we didn’t travel. We didn’t have time. And when we did do “big” things — New Years’ Eve in Red Square, for one– I was scared because Russia is FUCKING SCARY. And I was logical enough to know what I needed to do to stay safe. My choice to go to Russia was a bold one, in that way– Western Europe is COMPLETELY different from the Eastern Bloc. But I didn’t travel the world. And I only spent my own money and scrimped and saved beyond belief.

But I see her pictures– traipsing about Copenhagen without a care, sipping Guiness at the factory in Dublin, jaunting up to Rejkjavik with a boy she doesn’t even really like, while money is flushed away. This really hit me when i called my mom recently, and I told her how I was jealous my sister was in Iceland. My mom heaved a sigh and reiterated that my sister is frittering away funds that they don’t have, and she doesn’t get it. She’s mad and jealous too.

So a part of me is grateful that I’m sensible and responsible.
But another part of me wishes I could do what I wanted and not fear the consequences.

My whole life I have been aware of consequences, aware that the way I act will affect the way my parents see me. I’ve lived my entire life as though I’m on very thin ice with everyone. It’s not a great way to live, but it has kept me safe.

My sister blows through her life without a sense of how she takes advantage of people. She is loved no matter what. By my parents, by men, by friends. And there will always be someone new for her.

So yeah. I’m jealous, and I’m mad, and I’m a bit sad.

And maybe I needed to talk about this?! Jeez!!

Stop getting married, good GOD.

Remember when I mentioned that A’s ex just got engaged? Haha, yeah, it was a LOT for me and I don’t know why. A didn’t seem to care.

Well, I did what I always encourage my mentees to do when they’re feeling strange. REACH OUT! And I got some amazing texts back from my amazing friends. Seriously, people, how great is support?

I still feel insane, but also, somehow, relieved? Freed? I dunno. 🙂

Here’s what they said:

photo 1 photo 2 photo

HOW?

How? HOW?! (so many hows)

HOW #1: How do I balance busy and not busy?

I’m not happy when I’m not busy, but when I’m busy, I feel run down. Balance? What’s that?

A and I fought last night because I was irritable and needed space and probably other things I couldn’t articulate. All day today I felt overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t completed (learning lines, cleaning the apartment, literally my entire job at school) but when I sit down at my desk, I can’t focus on doing them. It’s terrible. Why can’t I complete tasks like a normal person?HOW #2: How to I figure out what I need?

Do I need more space? Probably. A’s not working right now, except from home, which somehow really irks me. I run to work at 11am, then to rehearsal at 5pm, then home at 8pm, and then he’s there and wants to talk… so YES, I need space.

But even when I have it, I’m not happy. I need MORE. Or I need something else. I need him to make choices? I need to relax more? I need to work harder? I seriously don’t know what I need. It would be so much easier if I could answer the question A asked me today: “Is there anything I can do, or say, or is there a food, or an object, or an activity that would make you feel better?” How the fuck do I know? I WISH there was.

HOW #3: How can I stay focused?

The second I get busy I lose my drive. I simply can’t fathom picking up my script and memorizing lines, so I wander around and submit audiobook auditions. What IS that? I know I need to clean the apartment, but instead I take a bath. WHY? I know A’s coming home so I should enjoy my me-time but instead I lock myself in the closet to do voiceovers, which I could do to get space when he IS around. WHY?

HOW #4: I don’t even know how to cohesively write a post right now, so how on earth am I going to accomplish anything else today? HOW????

 

Irks and Happy’s

Things that irk me:

False, ceaseless, unrelenting positivity. Look. If you spend this much time blogging about how GREAT your positive life is, how MUCH you love yoga, how DETERMINED you are to give back, how REWARDING it is to free yourself from the material things… I’m not going to believe you. That’s what people find so irritating about a lot of these “healthy living bloggers.” The way they write makes you feel like shit because they are constantly on the “right track.” They are self-aware and GOOD, focused and DISCIPLINED, and you are a schmuck who has good days and shitty days and is honest about it.

Look, here’s the specific example. I’ve done… okay… at detoxing from A’s ex’s social media. I’ve definitely cut down. However, i still occasionally look at her blog. Basically since January she’s been giving up one thing per month and writing about it. At first it was stuff like giving up meat, giving up social media, giving up sugar, etc. Normal human tests of will. Now it’s like… giving up NEGATIVITY, giving AWAY EXCESS (not shocked this came around the time she started working at Lululemon)… and all she writes about is: “I have the important things.  Family, friends, dogs, food, water, shelter… everything else is secondary” and “Can you come out on the other side as a positive person?  You can.  And that will change your life.” and  “I’m grateful for you coming on my journey this month.  I hope you learned something too.  🙂  Stay happy!”

THAT? That makes me want to punch someone. Partly because I irrationally hate her, but partially because of that thing of “who are YOU to tell me what happiness is? Who are YOU to change your entire life in one month and be like, oh my god! I figured out the universe! Who are YOU to post affirmations without humanizing them?”

I don’t know. Am I insane? Because I post happy shit too but I don’t think I’m quite so annoying? Why am I so bugged by this?

But now, onto the happy (you get both here, folks):

Things that make me really, really happy:

Walking outside and discovering it’s bright, clear, and warmer than you’d expected

Rehearsing with someone, and looking straight into their eyes– it’s like this totally bold way of connecting that is truer than almost anything in the world

Noticing a card that fell from someone’s pocket into a seat on the subway and giving it back to her before I leave the train

Wrapping Christmas presents for A

Looking up as I walk into the courtyard into my building and seeing the star on our Christmas tree through the window

The first moments in bed at night, reading, and the first moments after the light is out, snuggling

Getting an audition

Completing a transcription project (side jobs, sigh)

The weight of the cat when she lies on my legs

Realizing you’ve memorized something faster than you thought you could

Wearing a cute outfit to a student meeting and feeling important

Lots of red wine and the Sound of Music live telecast

People who read my blog. 🙂

A really long post about theatre and feminism and critics and ingrained gender norms

I’ve gotten feministy on you guys before, so this should come as no surprise, but, like, I’m a strong independent woman?

Haha women are funny.

To the point.

In the last couple of weeks, I saw two plays off-Broadway that were within a few blocks of each other. The first, Small Engine Repair, is a “taut, twisty, comic thriller” starring four men (one of whom is the writer, another of whom is most famous for being on Pretty Little Liars, not that either of those things are inherently bad). SMALL-articleLargeThe second is How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them, a “provocative surrealistic fable about codependence,” stars three young women (I’ve seen two off-Broadway before, again not that it matters, just trying to give equal coverage here).14howto-web-articleInline

It’s pretty unfair to compare these two plays on their merit as plays and as productions because they are markedly different. While both feature unexpected violence and cruelty, SER is written and performed purely realistically, while HTMFATKT is surreal and strange. There is swearing in both, brief nudity in both, some comedy in both, and both feature an exploration of relationships bonded in friendship.

However.

While I won’t deny that I enjoyed the twisted turn at the end of SER, nor that the performances and text were strong and amusing, but I will say that I left with a bit of a sour taste. I felt like I’d seen it before. Three white bros, one twenty-something white douche. Jokes about women. Texting. Jokes about social media. Drinking whiskey. Talking in an accent. Cyberbullying. Exacting revenge. I realized that I was pissed off because I’m so bored of seeing men do “men things” onstage as if they are actually interesting to the average bear. I looked forward to a reviewer agreeing with me when the show opened.

smallenginerepair5

Now, to HTMFATKT. It has flaws too—a bit overwrought and overwritten at times, a bit too long. But it felt fresh and unique, like suddenly I was in a room of people that suddenly realized we could actually talk about birth control with each other and not whisper or feel like a slut. You know? Like this private thing, or private feeling was being explored onstage. The world and relationships were almost devoid of time or place—the girls (eventually women) talked about their feelings openly, showed emotions physically with their faces and bodies. They weren’t good people. They were flawed and ugly and conceited and selfish and we saw right through them. There’s something so satisfying about that.

87384

So, I started to think about these two shows and my reactions. Let’s compare a few notes:

Small Engine Repair                              How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them

4 white men 3 white women
Set in time and place Could be any time/place
Comedy is based on characters’ stupidity, as well as jokes about women, social media, man things. Comedy is based on complete and utter truth-telling; exactly what characters are thinking they immediately say
Violence at the end of the play is all against one, focused on revenge Violence at the end of the play is inflicted on all, and on selves (everyone is hurt and everyone hurts themselves)
There are no consequences to the violent behavior The consequences are brutal if not law-enforced—we know they will continue a horrific pattern of codependency

So, cool! Got that. Perhaps you’re starting to see why I found HTMFATKT significantly more interesting than SER. I mentioned I was looking forward to reading the reviews. Let’s compare those too!

Now, of course, I’m only pulling representative quotes—there were a lot of reviewers who had very smart things to say about HTMFAKT (and SER). What strikes me and really gets my goat is this:

We do not talk about male-centric plays and female-centric plays in the same way.

See below:

Small Engine Repair                                How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them

NY Times

“a raw, funny and well-tooled new play”

“crackling comic dialogue steeped in the tang of male aggression and rivalry

Only male cruelty here is taken seriously. When women are vicious, they’re belittled into “mean girls.” This perversion of language creates a dynamic where men throw spears and women throw Pixie Stix. Both hit an opponent, but one is dangerous while the other is almost cute and mostly stupid.

NY Times

“Ms. Feiffer [playwright] … delves into the mean-girl genre. The play features acne, licking, acne licking; drinking; vomiting; breast baring; and more as Ms. Feiffer makes sure everyone understands that this is no feel-good comedy.”

EW

“…guides your expectations so smoothly that you’re half-shocked to suddenly realize that the coming-of-middle-age comedy you were watching has stealthily morphed.”

“one scene that’s funny, nerve-wracking, and ballsy enough to justify the whole show.”

For men, torture is ballsy. For women, torture is weird (and let’s be clear, I could argue that SER is the more vicious, but at the very least they’re equivalent in violence). Oooh, men are fighting, I’m on the edge of my seat. Ladies going at it? What strange little creatures.

EW

“As the girls get older, their co-dependent habits only deepen and becoming more disturbing until, as the title suggests, their weird little world gets deadly.”

“The manic performances and the mind-numbing repetition of Feiffer’s script suggest that everyone involved had been encouraged to binge on Pixie Stix before coming into work.”

 

NY Post

“The new comic thriller “Small Engine Repair” isn’t subtle, but it more than makes up for it by being tawdry, nasty and fun…”

Who cares! A bro wrote a show! And it’s gross! Cool!

We’re treated to intense bro chatter spiced with nonstop swearing as the trio catch up.”

Bros that add “fucking” to every sentence are just bros, man!

New York Theatre Review

“Feiffer constructs her play to sidestep all but the most superficial conventions of realism. She isn’t interested in cause-and-effect, and her script doesn’t display either psychological truth or social insight. Instead, it uses a lurid form of melodrama

Where’s the depth, ladies? I expected more considering all that hemming and hawing you insist on doing.

potently combines inflated emotion with flat characterization.”

Shut those whiny girls up.

 

Now, I’m willing to concede that I’m digging too deeply. However, as a woman in the arts, it is stunningly rare to see honest portrayals of women like me onstage. I can go weeks without seeing anything that explores women without belittling them, and I see a lot of stuff. And this is just a co-issue with the lack of gender diversity in produced playwrights—12% of all plays produced in the US are written by women. Ergo, 88% of plays produced are written by men.

So seeing this kind of stuff gets me feisty. I get riled. I get angry. Because women are stepping up to the plate, onstage and off, and some brave producers are willing to give them a boost. But even still… we are so ingrained with faulty notions of gender that frequently we can’t see clearly at all. Certainly none of these (all-male, interestingly) reviewers could.