The Gratitude Meme by Jennifer Lane

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Jennifer Lane is the playwright of HARLOWE, which was featured in Gulfshore Playhouse’s 2nd Annual New Works Festival. HARLOWE was developed under the mentorship of Sarah Ruhl. Jennifer’s plays include THE WOULD-BE ROOM which has been performed in New York City,  Washington D.C. and Chicago. Lane is a teaching artist with San Diego Writers and The Playwrights Project in Southern California. She is a graduate of the Columbia University MFA Playwriting program.
I love online memes and quizzes, lists and questionnaires. My social networking profiles are typically clogged with my Top Ten Most Memorable Books, the Five Albums That Changed My Life, or the number of movies I’ve seen on the AFI’s list of the Top 100 Films Of All Time. Over the last few weeks, a particularly lovely meme has been floating around my Facebook feed: one wherein the individual is challenged to list 3 things for which they are profoundly grateful, each day, for a full week.No one has tagged me yet, no one has challenged me to practice gratitude in such a specific and public capacity. But even in my travel exhaustion (I’m typing this from 38,000 feet, the cruising altitude from Dallas to San Diego, the second leg of my cross-country trip to and from the Gulf Coast) I’m overcome with an abiding sense of gratitude for what happened over the course of the last week. So here, in no particular order, are Three Things For Which I’m Grateful:

1. Enthusiasm. When I started my MFA program at Columbia, Chuck Mee said to us during our very first playwriting class, “Write what you want to write. If you’re lucky, a few other people will be really into what you write, and that’s the deal.” After a year of focusing primarily on fiction — and, as such, feeling extremely rusty and out of practice when I got back to the business of writing for the stage — it felt like such a huge gift to be amongst so many absurdly talented collaborators who took my weird little water play and said, “I really love this.” From the first moment I was notified of my semi-finalist status to being dropped off at the airport in Fort Myers this afternoon, I felt totally supported.

2. Community. I mentioned the ridiculous talent already, but it bears repeating: These people are rockstars. The actors, the staff, the directors, and my fellow playwrights, all of them are not only so talented, but also delightful individuals with whom I was always excited to spend my spare time. I felt immediately welcomed and connected to everyone at the Gulfshore Playhouse, and still can’t reconcile how the week went by so quickly but also managed to feel like I’d been there for months. I desperately want to work again with every single person I met, and they all have a lifelong fan in me. I’ll be hawking plays by Stephen Spotswood, Bianca Sams and Scott Sickles to any theatre that’ll listen to me. I already sent the names of the actors to another director friend in New York because everyone needs to know who these people are.

3. Work. Harlowe is my baby. It is the play I can’t explain, the play that emerged out of me largely fully formed. But that final scene… I’ve labored over it since 2011. I’ve seen countless actors perform countless variations of that scene, and it’s just never felt right. Until now. Finally, finally, that closing moment lands. And it was the work I did with these fantastic people, in this fantastic festival, that got me there.

I still have another few hours until I touch down in SoCal, another few hours before I have to go back to “real life”. And there is a not insignificant part of me that’s throwing a quiet internal temper tantrum about not getting to create art in paradise forever. But I am so deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to work with these fantastic people in this beautiful place, on this play I love, at all.

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