Sticky v Parenthood, or The Artist Mom Thing Gets Serious

I’ve often pictured Dave and I off in some retirement home somewhere, producing Sticky with the other gray hairs, still making theater on a shoe-string, laughing that the kid has gone and put us in a home. If the kid doesn’t put us in a home, I see us as these old head ghosts of downtown New York, skinny and hunched. Like a resurrected Taylor Meade, we will perform our plays for an audience looking for younger things, but feeling a slight reverance for the aged artists, banging out our words, shuffling toward our own end of days.

Sticky was Dave’s idea, back in 2000, and while initially it seemed like he wanted a reason to spend more time at the bar, it turned into an artistic enterprise that saw us through some rather hard times. Sticky introduced us to an unbelievable number of talented, generous, and gifted artists, spurred us to make art when we’d have rather crawled under rocks and cried, kept our marriage together (i.e. we can’t split until we finish this Sticky), made our writing better through the sheer number of plays we were reading and writing, educated us about finances, made us happy, brought us joy, and kept us creatively engaged to ourselves and to the artistic community around us.

In 2010, we had a child. We produced a Sticky less than a month before our son was born, and we had a show up within 3 months of his birth. We were still in residence at Bowery Poetry Club, and even though parenting and producing theater was insane, we thought we could handle it. Even more, we thought we had to handle it. We thought that if we didn’t handle it, we would be failures as parents, and as artists. The work was good, but we were exhausted. At that first Sticky back after I had my son, there was still wax on my c-section scar and I wore three layers of shirts to sop up the inevitable lactation leak.

From when C was born to when Bowery Poetry Club closed in July 2012, we produced 140 Sticky plays. After that, we produced another 27 plays at the old Mama’s in Williamsburg, Under Saint Marks, and Beauty Bar. In addition to that, I kept working on longer form work, presenting Connie in Detroit, I Am Not an Allegory (these are people i know), Radio Mara Mara, and Puff Puff. During that time, C underwent cranial surgery, Dave became a republican, I started this blog, and C has grown into a pre-schooler about to enter Pre-K. That’s where we are now, just a few days before the start of the school year.

Parenting and Sticky have finally hit an impasse; the only surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner. We cannot keep rolling along as we have done, or we will go right off the tracks. If you’ve been following along, you may remember that C underwent some Department of Education evaluations, to determine if he’s eligible for some special services. He is; he’s got a whole educational play. Four times a week, after school, he’ll be doing occupational and physical therapy. Now this is Brooklyn, and everything’s in the neighborhood, but even so that’s alot of running around. It’s also alot of coordination, to make sure that we’re employing the same strategies at home, and in the classroom, as that which we’re learning at the therapies. We’ll also be juggling that with C’s regular school stuff, our own jobs, and our own writing, of which Dave and I do quite a bit. It was difficult to come to the realization that we couldn’t do all that and produce a play series. But it was also a relief.

When I think about what I will miss most about Sticky, it is the people. My favorite thing is seeing everyone, the work they’re doing, hearing what they’re thinking about, seeing what they are making. Doing Sticky is like throwing a party, inviting your favorite people, and forcing them to show up by making them perform, too. No one ever calls the day of to say they can’t make it; Havilah Brewster even performed once with a  brand new broken arm. The other thing I will miss is providing a place for artists to try shit out. The Neo-Futurists did an early incarnation of the Eugene O’Neill stage directions thing, Rachel Klein test-drove Maria Macabre, and we got to see it up close, personal, and even felt like we were part of it in some small way. A number of actors, like Holly Ellis, Ana Valle, and Havilah Brewster, wrote their first plays for Sticky. I produced plays by my Columbia classmates and professors. One night at Bowery Poetry Club, Olympia Dukakis came to the show, a guest of one of the writers, and she and Dave argued about Catholicism at the after thing. Christopher Burris showed up with naked old people and had them run through the audience tossing Easter candy at everyone (okay, that was Psycho Space Party, not Sticky, but they were very related).

Sticky was a playground. A nighttime playground with ideas, art, madness, and drinks. Artists came to play, to try things out, to make a mess. I did, too. I made big messes, like the time I cast 12 women in a 10-minute play I hadn’t written yet, then set it on a cruise ship that had been overtaken by Somali pirates and Sarah Silk ended up with a large lipstick penis on her back. Or the time Dave and I performed a play that was not so much a play but an outline about a blind date, and just winged it. Or the time Ali Ayala and I performed one of my plays and I blanked on all my lines, so I drank more of my margarita, and still couldn’t remember, so drank more, and forgot more, until I made things up while Ali glared at me, in character.

From now on, or at least until C is more grounded in this whole miasma we call education, I’ll be at the other kind of playground. Swings and climbing aparatuses, slides and monkey bars, a small bench in the shade, just for me, to watch, to make sure C keeps his heels on the ground (he’s an avowed toe-walker), to help him when he gets over-frustrated, to wipe his nose, to provide a band-aid and kind words.

I’ll just have to get my fix of artistic madness somewhere else.

I did some writing about the first Sticky, and the myth of the last Sticky, which you can check out here and here, along with lots of other good stuff about the series, including photos, programs, and lore.

Official details at blueboxworld.com

Driving back from my Gram's in my mom's convertible.

Driving back from my Gram’s in my mom’s convertible.

Me and C in the back seat.

Me and C in the back seat.

My Gram, aka Nona, reading to C.

My Gram, aka Nona, reading to C.

Playing with public art.

Playing with public art.

 

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2 thoughts on “Sticky v Parenthood, or The Artist Mom Thing Gets Serious

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