Jan 3, 2013

Looking Back at 2012

I’ve been putting together these end-of-year letters for some time now and I’m thrilled that this year, I am not covering just me. That’s right, as most of you know I got married this year! So, this letter will cover both Ruth and I.
On New Year’s Eve 2010 I proposed to Ruth in Las Vegas. We set the date for February 25, 2012. So, 2012 started off with the ramping up to the wedding. There were a lot of preparations and decisions and it was kinda like a pre-marriage bootcamp as Ruth and I struggled and worked together to get everything ready. We wanted to go big, so invited a bunch of people and held both the ceremony and the reception in the same venue. We had awesome support from our families and friends and could not have done it without them!
In January, I headed for a couple of days to New Orleans with a few of my close buddies – who I referred to as the Corps of Best Men - for a bachelor weekend. We had a blast and I was really touched by how just completely awesome my little circle of friends are.
The wedding was great! So much love and celebration. A hiccup or two, to be sure, but everyone seemed to have a great time and Ruth and I felt really great about starting the new chapters in our life together in such a way.

The weekend after the wedding my short play RASPBERRY FIZZ opened to wonderful reviews at the Addison Water Tower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. The piece was directed by Andy Baldwin, and featured a delightful cast, including Shane Beeson, Natalie Young and my good friend and colleague Jeff Swearingen. It was not a big production, but was the first non-solo thing I’d written in a while. I was pleased with how it came out.
Jeff Swearingen and Natalie Young in RASPBERRY FIZZ
In Mid-March, Ruth and I went honeymooning in the Caribbean. We took a week-long cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines and had a ball. Neither of us had been on a cruise before. In fact, because of the backpack/ sleeping-on-friends-couches way we usually travel, we kinda made fun of cruises before. Not anymore. It was awesome. We really got the luxury out of the trip.

We ate our body weight in great food every day, danced every night, saw shows, got massages, slept in and visited some wonderful places. We swam with dolphins in Cozumel and toured Mayan ruins in Costa Maya. We zip-lined over a jungle canopy, hiked and floated through caves on inner tubes in Belize. We stopped in Honduras at a place that looked like Fantasy Island (Roatan).
It was back to teaching after spring break. Ruth taught developmental English, Composition and American Literature at the Trinity Campus at Tarrant County College. I also taught at Tarrant County, though I was in Arlington at the Southeast Campus and taught Film Appreciation and Intro to Theatre classes. Ruth also tutored via the website, WyzAnt and I took on extra classes teaching 3rd graders after-school drama for a great service organization called Junior Players.
I continued to perform improv throughout the year. I performed in the 2nd Annual Winter Monologue Jam (a very simple, but challenging and fun format I created) in January. I also hosted a version of the Monologue Jam at the Big Sexy Weekend of Improv in June and it went over wonderfully. On a related note with where I am as I write this, I'm on the fence about what to do with the Monologue Jam. It could be this big thing that takes off in cities around the country, but I'm not sure I want to put that much energy into developing it.
Doing ArtProv in NYC
Jeff Swearingen and I still do our longform improv duo Fun Grip and we performed several sets in 2012. We performed at the Alternative Comedy Theatre’s Big Sexy in June. In May and November Fun Grip headed to Austin to perform at the Hideout Theatre with their house-troupe Parallelogramophonograph. We got one more gig in at the beginning of December at the Dyer Street Bar.

I did not perform any Dribble Funk Solo Improv sets this year, but I did teach several workshops and created a new website. In August I did get to sit in with ARTPROV in New York, which was a rare treat, since they did short-form and musical sets, both of which I hardly ever do in Dallas. In fact, it was my first completely sung improv set ever. So fun!

Ruth and I drove to Cheyenne, Wyoming in late May to visit Ruth’s sister Linda and her family. I ate road trip crap all the way there, then ate gluten-free vegetarian for a several days straight. My digestive system did not know what was going on. Linda and her family were great hosts at their big house in the middle of the northern prairies.

In June we headed down to San Antonio where my early play FOR THE LOVE OF AN ANESTHESIOLOGIST was being given a revival by the Overtime Theatre. Everyone was super-hospitable and it was fun to see some other theatre’s take on a play I’d written, especially one of the early ones. In fact, it makes me want to rework the piece to make it even better. I also performed CHOP at the Overtime and got a standing ovation 9the first one for CHOP). I sold some of my books and I felt like a rock star the whole weekend.

Ruth and I continued to travel in the summer. We headed to Las Vegas to see my folks renew their vows. They had their 40th wedding anniversary at a wonderfully cheesy Vegas chapel. It was then off to NYC with my solo show CHOP for the New York International Fringe Festival. I performed and Ruth ran the tech.
CHOP at the Seattle Fringe
I performed CHOP in Dallas for a limited run in July at a small theatre called Nouveau 47 and had a successful Kickstarter fund-raising campaign leading up to the Fringe. The show went well, though the festival experience was not all that great. FringeNYC, which I had attended as a participant three times previously, has just grown too big. The Fringe folks were the opposite of welcoming. Though the Fringe itself left a bad taste in our months, Ruth and I did have a good time hanging out with the excellent avphibes and Will Harper, both of which each put us up a few days. We also caught up with the charming Emily Woo Zeller as well.
At Will's place in Brooklyn, August 2012
From NYC it was off to Houston. Ruth and I took my solo show CYRANO A-GO-GO down to the Houston Fringe Festival. Despite it being super hot at the outdoor venue I was performing at (which I only found out was outdoors once I’d arrived), we had a ball. The Fringe folks were super-hospitable there too. Ruth and I stayed with my second cousin Debbie, who was an excellent host and made us grilled cheese sandwiches.
After Houston, the school year up again at Tarrant County, but in September got in one more trip, this time to Seattle, for the Seattle Fringe. CHOP had its best showing ever and was the talk of the festival. The Fringe organizers and fellow performers were so warm and welcoming. Ruth and I made a lot of new friends. I think if I were to be part of a "community" I'd be in the fringe performer circuit. Just really open, adventurous, creative folks. We also saw some great shows. Ruth and I stayed with my mom’s cousin Richard and his partner Curt. They were nice hosts as well and we had a great time in Seattle.

After nearly three years of developing and performing CHOP I’m putting it away for a while. I put together a 
website about the show which will live as a sort of archive. I’m moving onward to write and develop more work. I was commissioned by a small theatre company in Denton, Texas to write a full-length piece for them. I’m nearly done with it. It’s called CARTER STUBBS TAKES FLIGHT and will go up in April 2013.
The fall has been relatively quiet. We moved into a new rent house in between all our travels. Our friend and real estate agent, Jeremy Whiteker was super-helpful helping us find a place. We threw the first of what we hope will be many parties in November and another one right before New Years. We went back to teaching. Ruth finished a semester-long certification to teach Distance Learning (online classes), which she is very excited about.
Ruth and I spent the holidays with both sets of families. We now have a fish named Winston Churchill. Ruth has begun crocheting again, this time with the aim of putting up an Etsy store. Since the summer I've been drawing again – the most since I was a kid - and plan to draw an original graphic novel next year. Ruth’s sister Christine got married in Hawaii on 12-12-12, but we were sadly unable to make it out. Our travel time/budget will have to be put on hold for a few months. We plan to head out to California in the spring of 2013 to have a belated celebration with her and her new husband Mark.
That’s the update. And here's to a wonderful 2013! Hope it is filled with adventure, romance, travel and accomplishment.

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