Unceasing Labor

Labor Day is one of those holidays that we typically celebrate without thinking. There’s some union-sponsored parades, of course, but only a few of us are going to be sitting around thinking about the importance of organized labor in a functioning society. (Pity.) The bulk of us will be relaxing with family and friends, firing up the old grill, and enjoying the unofficial final weekend of summer.

I, of course, will be doing neither. Instead, I will be curled up on my couch with a vast stack of papers, reading other people’s scripts all day.

This past week, I was announced as one of the new co-Creative Directors of Tuesdays at Nine, the ongoing cold reading series produced by the Naked Angels theater company. Every week, we put up new work submitted by anybody who cares to visit the group and join its community – typically one solo piece and four multi-character dramatic excerpts. It’s an extraordinary (and totally unexpected) opportunity to help nurture new theater artists and new writing. It’s also an opportunity that, by definition, requires me to read a huge amount of new writing. And since the new season starts on September 10, and there’s a whole lot of scripts submitted at the end of last spring that are still waiting to be put up, and I’ve barely had a week on this job, I’ll have to do that reading today. Labor Day. That’s how I’m spending my holiday.

And it’s not an unfamiliar way to spend it. Because artistic seasons typically start in the fall, this last weekend of summer seems to be the time we cram in the preparations we need to do for the projects that are just around the corner. I’ve spent past Labor Days in marathon line-learning sessions. In writing out detailed outlines for projects. There was one Labor Day I spent crouching down on top of a dropcloth laid out in my parents’ driveway, painting the backdrop for a fictitious Iranian children’s television program. (Long story.) For some of us, Labor Day is indeed a day of labor.

Fortunately, reading ten minute dramatic excerpts isn’t too laborious. It probably won’t even take the full day. Of course, the second I finish that, I need to start making preparations for the reading I have next weekend. And the reading I have at the end of the month. And then I’ll need to turn my attention back to the new script I’m still trying to draft. For some of us, organized or not, the labor never ends…

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