or, yes, you too can be addicted to work when no one cares
Any op-ed I read that tells people to take a break, I agree with. Walk 6 feet away from each other, smell the roses and purell after, pick up on a prestige drama you haven’t watched and then watch it 5 times over. Take a break. Go to the mountains in your mind and pick up meditation. Watch CHEER. Relive the times that someone told you you were special (2009 Carnegie Mellon Audition, 2010 Freshman Play Projects, 2011 Huron Playhouse Audition…I digress). Look out the window and see the seaside. Take a break. The deadlines, the writing, and the creations are, in fact, futile at this moment. Put on a mask and take a break. Kick back in your hazmats. Recline and gently ease the ventilator in. Take a popper to relax. Just let go and take a fucking break.
The best question I could possibly ask myself is who am I without work. At least, this is what I say to anyone who asks me. I don’t think the mania to discover what version of Zoom will produce the best theatre feels like the activity for today. The activity is to watch the West Wing. Watch it 6 times. It’s a fairy tale, and the writing is so good. I should ask myself who am I when I don’t have work. When I don’t have the illusion of work. When the work will be predominately changed in ways I don’t expect and am not ready for. The youtubers had it right. Just set up a camera and pretend you are in England (the England of a few months ago, not the England now). Stream me, baby, stream.
However, I am a work-a-holic.
I can’t do nothing.
Because I need. To work.
Thusly, I propose that for those of us who cannot take a break. Who will not and cannot. This is the time for your dreams. The screenplay that is fraught with issues, the play that will not sell. Work on the thing that you shouldn’t make time for. “It’s bad! It’s bruised! It’s too personal!” cries your internal self, “It’s immature. It’s stupid. It’s lame. People will make fun of me. It will not sell. It’s not a smart idea. I like embarrassing things. My parents will think I’m an idiot. My spouse will feel betrayed. I don’t want to ever think about producing it, but I kinda wanna write it!” The list continues, but this is the time to write the bad thing. At current, there’s little danger of having to get it seen. On attempting to sell it. On having to do the very dangerous work of marketing.
Note: I do not endorse marketing. I do not advise getting out your calender to pick the day to make the thing. I don’t advise planning too specifically. “I do not belive in ‘isms,” said Ferris Buehler, and I say it too.
The freedom of this exercise is getting to write when there is absolutely no immediate threat of the fucking thing getting made. This is the time for the unreachable, the bad, and the really, really, really bad. Dust off the humiliating ideas from where you left them in your morning cheerios, and I dare you to write something horrendous. If you cannot take a break, I encourage you to work on the thing that time, intelligence, and good sense cannot allow you. There’s no time like the present to make the worst thing ever.
If you cannot, of course, kick back. Enjoy the sunset. Think about the sun being your friend as you run through the park. We’re in this thing together with the warm weather. All the relatives all over the world feel the same way. It’s boring, it’s tiring, and we were tailor made to enjoy the laptops. Get on Chatroulette, fuck it, see the sights. I don’t know where divinity is, but, the smart people say it’s everywhere. Soak it up and, if you can’t, at least do everyone the decency of writing something that may be absolutely asinine.
If you do write it, email me at alexandra dot spieth at gmail. I will be waiting.
Alex Spieth is Brooklyn-based actor, writer, and director. Her most recent work includes the original series, “86’d”, a dark comedy she wrote, created, and starred in. The series was produced by the Emmy-Winning BRIC TV. She’s the writer, creator, and star of the original series “Blank My Life”, which spans 4 seasons, 30 episodes, and features over 60 actors. “Blank” has been honored at Austin Revolution Film Festival, Brooklyn Webfest, and NYC Webfest. Alex has acted in over 20 professional theatre productions, including work at Irondale Ensemble, Everyman Theatre, Quantum Theatre and NYC’s The Public Theatre. She works with Ramona’s Talent and Take 3 Talent, tours a one-woman show about rape culture to colleges and universities across the country, and recently shot an AT&T spot. Alex is also a member of Filmshop’s NYC Chapter and is slated to direct an indie pilot called “Grinding Doubt” which will be produced in late 2020. In 2013, she graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in Acting, where she was awarded the Adelyne Roth Levine Memorial Award. Read more at Alex’s Blog at alexspieth.tumblr.com.