The world went a little more nuts than usual in 2012. And, in a year that brought Hurricane Sandy, senseless acts of gun violence, another proposed apocalypse, and the impending fiscal cliff--it's hard to find the silver lining when you've got a shit storm perpetually coming at you. But never mind staying positive, sometimes the question is how do you stay sane? Drinking helps. As does writing and traveling. And, thankfully, I got to do these things quite frequently in 2012.
It was a good year for writing, actually. On stage, 2012 was the year of the one-act play. I wrote and staged four: Crazy at Heart, Smiles to Saturn and Midnight Musings (as part of Acts of Love in the 2012 Planet Connections Theater Festivity with my playwright buddy Gabrielle Fox), and You Gotta Have Faith (or We'll Disown You) at Arthouse Productions in Jersey City. Though it might seem like less work than a full-length production, staging a successful one-act can be a challenge. You have less time to set-up the story, characters, and convince the audience to take the ride with you. Thankfully, each production went well, and each play was special to me in different and unique ways.
Crazy at Heart, for example, was a screwball comedy about a man and his therapist that also featured painfully funny truths about dating and relationships--and the audience ate it up. I'd never heard an audience laugh so loud at one of my shows, and I took away the notion that I'm way funnier than I give myself credit for. With Smiles to Saturn, a play about a man with autism and the frailty of sibling relationships, I realized that I don't need to create over-the-top drama to tell a provocative story. One person told me after the show, "that was so sweet, I didn't think you'd be the one to write it." In Midnight Musings, about a woman confronting the ghosts of relationships past, present and future during a sleepless night, I also took on the role of director. I'd always been opposed to this, but I really enjoyed the experience, and a critic even said, "everything about this gem--the acting, the writing, the directing--is perfect." That was a huge compliment, and it's the classic tale of how stepping outside of your comfort zone can amount to a huge payoff, both personally and professionally. And finally, You Gotta Have Faith, showed me how much my writing has truly matured. I tackled some big issues here, including being an atheist in today's society, but used my trademark sarcasm and monologue story-telling. It was the first play I've written where I wasn't afraid to offend people. And I loved it.
Offstage, my full-length plays continued to shine. Recovery and The Other Day were both published on Indie Theater Now, the iTunes for independent theater. I also became a participant in Visible Ink, a writing therapy program administered through Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. Established in 2008, Visible Ink offers patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering the opportunity to work individually with an experienced writer, editor, or teacher on a writing project of their choice, which need not be disease related. Through this program, I met a great mentor and friend, and we've taken Recovery to new levels--to the point where two Off-Broadway theater companies have requested to read the entire script.
Of course, I wasn't writing all the time. I was easily distracted with trips to Maine, Oregon and Washington. When you can say you visited two Portlands in one year, then it's been a good year! Plus, there's my job at the law firm, where I continue to be a file-bitch, and love it.
So, if there's one thing I can say about 2012 it's that, no matter what, the world did not end, and I like to think and possibly hope that this year has put down the foundation for 2013 to be a highly, creative and successful year.
Mark Jason Williams
I find trouble wherever I go