Couldn't be more thankful for the team of artists, pictured below, who brought NOMAD AMERICANA to life at yesterday's reading. Thanks to Fresh Ink Theatre and the Boston Public Library we had an incredible experience. The post-show discussion was extremely helpful. I took so many notes!!! I am so fired up for this opportunity with Fresh Ink Theatre to dig back into this story! Watch out Boston, the Echos are coming to a stage near you this February!
In October I had the exciting opportunity to join a local non-profit group here in Boston, Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF). The mission of Hyde Square Task Force is to develop the skills of youth and their families so they are empowered to enhance their own lives and build a strong and vibrant urban community. HSTF uses the arts and community development to promote the creativity, leadership, and overall potential of young people.
When I joined the team as Playwright/Theatre Teaching Artist, I quickly learned of their ambitious goal to create a brand new musical that would celebrate the history of the Latin Quarter they call home. Ideally the musical would allow their three youth art programs: Music, Theatre, and Dance to come together and collaborate for the first time.
I had just been in Boston about a month or so when I had accepted the position. One month in a brand new state. One month in brand a new region! And I was signing on to help write a musical (my first) that would tell a community's history? No pressure right? Luckily I was not undertaking this project alone. The entire HSTF youth and staff teams came together to make this musical happen. Even in the drafting of the script.
EL BARRIO began with the students taking the time to listen to their community share stories. From those stories, and the countless stories of the youth and their own families, we were able to create our own. As the playwright for this project, I liked to think of myself as the "master puzzle putter together," when drafting this musical.
Below are a few photos that were taken during our immersive and interactive production on May 20th, 2017.
Through projects like El Barrio, youth develop the skills they need to succeed today and into the future. HSTF youth and staff took an artistic risk by co-writing and co-producing El Barrio: Boston’s Latin Quarter Musical. Grounded in Afro-Latin arts and culture, the interactive show features the stories of countless immigrants, youth, and hardworking families that have contributed to the fabric of the community – the Hyde/Jackson Square area of Jamaica Plain.
Dear Mr. Critic,
You probably don’t remember me. Or maybe you do? Maybe. But, probably not. I’m writing you because, well, because I want to apologize. I guess I should start by re-introducing myself to you. I’m Kira, Kira Rockwell; I write plays. Does the name ring a bell yet? No? Oh–sure, yeah that’s okay. It’s been three years since the last time we encountered each others work. A lot has happened since then but three years ago you attend the first production of my first full length play. You attended the show and you wrote a review about the show. Your review was my first review. I never told you that. You may not have ever known, but now you do. You were my first critic. I know I wasn’t your first playwright to critique, oh no, I know you’ve critiqued LOTS of playwrights and their plays. Lots. Which is great, good for you, but I digress? You were my first so that makes you kind of special to me…kind of, don’t get too excited.
You began the review by saying, “The play has many telltale signs of a young writer’s first play.” It was the first sentence of my first review and it crushed me. It made me cry.
Granted, I did read your review the day after the production run had just ended. BAD IDEA. I was a bit naïve then. I was in a sensitive place. I was exhausted. I shouldn’t have read it then, but I did. The next line read, “The storyline is dangerously close to cliché…” and I stopped there. Mid sentence, I was done. I didn’t want to hear anything else you had to say. I just lost it. I threw my phone across the bed and buried myself underneath my comforter and just cried. Like a real, snotty, sob. Again, I was a bit naïve then. I was in a sensitive place. I was exhausted. I shouldn’t have read it then, but I did.
Days after reading those few sentences from the review you had written I remember feeling as if I was thrown into an expedited version of the Seven Stages of Grief. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. Did I mention, I write plays? But my mind was in a tumultuous state of being. I was mad at you. I was sad. I was embarrassed. I was hurt. All I had ever wanted from you was affirmation. All I ever wanted from you was validation. I wanted you to make me feel good. I wanted you to tell me I was good. I wanted you to tell me I wasn’t an imposter. I needed you to tell the world I wasn’t an imposter. I needed you to tell me and the world that I was someone.
And this is where I want to say I’m sorry. I see now I wanted far too much from you.
Mr. Critic, I was a bit naïve then. I was in a sensitive place. I was exhausted… I was insecure. I am insecure. I am learning how to be more secure. Three years ago you came into my life like a wrecking ball. And three years later, I look back and I realized something. I never finished reading the review. I stopped at line two. And now, three years later, I realize, you actually said some really wonderful things…
Rockwell is “a dramatist who shows promise. Her dialogue is economical and natural, her characters are well drawn. It’s a sweet, familiar story told in a comfortable, engaging way.”
Three years ago, I was a bit na… I let me own insecurities get in the way of our relationship. I never valued you or what you had to say to me. I didn’t even give you a chance to speak or to be heard. It’s quite funny now to look back on the short time we had together. I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAS SO DRAMATIC! I’m sorry. Really. Good thing I didn’t have your number. Saved you from all the angry drunk texts at three A.M. you would have gotten. I mean you were still a jerk… com’n, of course it was my first play! I never denied it! But you were also pretty nice too. I guess what I am trying to say, in a weird, dramatic sort of way… did I mention I write plays–is thank you. I’m still writing plays. Better plays. I made it all the way to grad school. I hope you are still critiquing. I’m sure you are. Maybe one day, our work will cross paths again? And if they do, to be honest, I probably won’t read your review until three years after the production run has ended.
If you are a playwright, APPLY TO THIS CONFERENCE! It is a superb theatre experience in an absolutely breathtaking place. Valdez, Alaska is literally surrounded by mountains. The air is fresh. The water is captivatingly blue, and the sky is full of eagles soaring above you. NO JOKE! It's a place of majestic beauty, oh, and a bountiful population of bunnies bounce around every patch of grass in Valdez. How much more storybook can you get?
It is a week long conference packed FULL of workshops, new play readings, new play productions, a fringe festival and just pure fun! You get to network over provided meals and meet TONS of new people in the theatre world you may have never encountered before in your lifetime.
My play, WITH MY EYES SHUT, had the opportunity to be a part of the Play Lab portion of the conference where it received a staged reading performance. It received critical and dramaturgical feedback, which was beyond helpful. I would definitely apply for this conference again, and I highly suggest you do so yourself.
Coincidentally, the dates of the conference fell on Mark and my's three year wedding anniversary! It was such an incredible summer trip away in the mountains.
I've been accepted into Boston University's graduate program for Playwriting, under the direction of Kate Snodgrass! A fully funded, three year program who accepts four to five students every other year!
(insert happy tear emoji here)
(insert my actual tears here)
(insert my exploding heart here)
*jumps up and down, waves her hands in the air like she just doesn't freaking care*
Three weeks ago, my waitlist status at Boston University turned into a "no" status. I had been informed that the class of five had been filled and I just hadn't made the cut. I was bummed. But, I was okay. I was truly okay because I knew that just meant I had to keep going, keep fighting for the next year. AND THEN SUDDENLY I received a call saying, "We have a spot for you." PRAISE THE LORD! I'm still in shock. I said yes. So, hello grad school! See you in September. I hope you're not some internet scam...
So very thrilled to announce that my play, "With My Eyes Shut," will be a part of the 2016 Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Alaska this summer. Along with receiving a staged reading, the conference will allow opportunities for various workshops and panel discussions. I am so looking forward for this great experience. The conference also, just so happens to fall on the date of my hubby and my three year anniversary! Hurray for mountains.
Check out link below for F U L L I N T E R V I E W // with, Shelley Kenneavy, of KERA's Art & Seek, to learn more about Goat Song Theatre Collective's production of my play, WITH MY EYES SHUT.
Opening night is a week away!!!!! I have had an incredible time working with Goat Song Theatre Collective. They are a mighty group of tenacious young artists starting their own company in Dallas, Texas. Since day one, I have felt so supported and completely understood by them, which is VITAL for a world premiere. This collective has been such a gift to the development of my play, WITH MY EYES SHUT. I can't wait for it to be received by Dallas audiences. Also, check out that awesome promo design by my hottie of a husband, Mark Rockwell. He's the best.
Purchase tickets with this L I N K H E R E // http://www.watertowertheatre.org/tickets.aspx
Check out link below for F U L L I N T E R V I E W //
I had the honor of directing a production of "A Christmas Carol" this past month with my MCH students. They did incredible! I am so beyond proud of them especially for the ones who took the stage for the first time ever and totally rocked it. I have learned so much from teaching this past year and half, and if you work with urban, at risk students, you too can relate on the sometimes tough but always rewarding, authentic relationships that spark from these sweet students. I truly believe that teaching theatre at this age is not about being UBER GREAT and TALENTED but more about developing confidence and believing that you are worthy to be seen and you were made to create beautiful things.
The Methodist Children's Home even wrote an article/review about the show check it out!
L I N K H E R E // http://methodistchildrenshome.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-christmas-carol.html
Here's us all together going to see Baylor University's production of "Into the Woods," this past October.
This 10-day Festival of the arts is packed full of the latest in live theatre, dance, music and visual art. The 2014 Festival will be the 14th year for what D Magazine called “the Best Fringe Festival in town.” The Festival continues to present a wide-range of artistic disciplines that explore varied themes and cultural expression. The Out of the Loop Fringe Festival is one of the most accessible arts events in North Texas both in terms of admission prices and programming. As always, it is WaterTower Theatre's mission to provide access to and participation in cultural arts events to the widest possible segment of our community.
Deadline: November 14th 2014
L I N K H E R E // http://www.watertowertheatre.org/outofloop.aspx
The Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellowships are awarded annually, providing emerging American playwrights with funds and services to aid them in the development of their craft. Four $16,000 fellowships will be awarded for 2015-16, in addition to $1,500 in development support. Fellows spend a year-long residency in Minnesota and have access to Playwrights' Center opportunities, including workshops with professional directors, dramaturgs, and actors.
Deadline: November 20th 2014
L I N K H E R E // https://pwcenter.org/programs/jerome-fellowships
Deadline: December 1st 2014
Two and a half years ago my life looked radically different in a number of ways.
- I was still in undergrad at Baylor University
- I didn't own a laptop
- I had to rent out laptops from the library to do my work
- I did all my writing projects using Microsoft Word......
- I did all my writing projects on rented computers using Microsoft Word.......
If you are any type of writer that has to use certain formatting rules, I hope you can simultaneously cringe and think I'm hardcore for enduring Word before I was able to buy
- My mac laptop!!!!!!!!!!!
- Final Draft!!!!!!!!!!!!
As always, in those moments of extreme not-so-awesome-ness, I learned something forever valuable. HOW TO MAKE USE OF A GOOGLE ACCOUNT. If you have not yet ventured onto the different pathways in the land of google it's time you do. It is, by far, the perfect place to file all your writing documents via the inter web on your very own google drive. It not only saves you space on your computer's hard drive, but it also saves you money from having to buy any sort of Microsoft Office or Pages packages you would need otherwise.
With your Google drive you can create word documents, excel spreadsheets, even power point presentations and much more. The excel spreadsheet has been most helpful for me. As shown above, I have used it as a place to store all of my current deadlines.
Organization of that kind of information is key for us writer's because we need to have those deadlines staring at us in the face to keep us moving forward. When we know our goals and what it takes to actually achieve them, we are able to fight strategically to make the goal a finished reality.
S I G N U P H E R E // https://accounts.google.com/SignUp