Daily Archives: November 28, 2008

Randy Author-’tis Thanksgiving. Get over it!

      It was as a social worker that I earned a living.   And I hadn’t been educated or trained in that field: a creative mind served me better, and my empathy for the disabled, the homeless, the abused, and the mentally ill kept me going.   And it was as an innovator that I started programs that in one form or another are still helping people today.

      There had been a disabled person with spina bifida, and for most of his childhood his father denied him freedom by taking away his wheelchair.   One thing this person and I did together was to climb a mountain, a risky adventure for both us given that he didn’t have the use of his legs.   But there was his strong will.   And when we made it to top, after pushing and pulling a wheelchair together, there was a celebration and the biggest grin on his face.   He said the experience changed his life.   Then we had to get down, and that was just as harrowing.

      From that experience came the idea for an outdoor education program for disabled people, not unlike Outward Bound.   Deaf people went on a bicycle tour and from that a school for the deaf and blind established their own adventure program.   With pride I look back on that.   And on days when I lament where I am with my writing it helps to look back on that and other worthwhile diversions, a living skill center for the disabled, a number of programs for the homeless, and working to protect children.   But it’s not my purpose here to brag about any of this.

      This is how I’ve spent most of my life; a description of who I am; both substantial and fulfilling.   I should be satisfied.   But the writer in me won’t allow me to rest: I speak now of all of the material I have; and that’s the excuse that I gave for all of my diversions.   Forty years later and I wonder where has all the time gone?   But I need to relax.   Chill.   Even if I never write another play or story, I’ve had several full lifetimes, and on this Thanksgiving, it is something I’m thankful for.

      There is another connection this Thanksgiving between my past and me brought home by CNN yesterday and today, as they covered the tragedy at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai.   This place, when my wife and I walked in front of it a number of times within a week, was peaceful enough, and we had no idea of its significance.   More important to us was the coffee shop, where we would have our breakfast of dal.   In those days, in an arrangement that demanded our attention, there were people who slept on the sidewalks, as though they were logs put there for us to step over.   Since then, India has obviously changed, with the greatest acceleration of change (in front of the Taj Hotel) occurring within the last forty-eight hours.   ‘Tis sad people can’t get along.

Randy Ford

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Playwrights Foundation-Invest in the Future of American Theater

This Thanksgiving, Invest in the Future of American Theater

To our wonderfully loyal friends,

      Thank you ALL for your continued interest and support of our work invigorating the theater with new work and new voices.   For 32 years we have offered unparalleled support to exceptional contemporary playwrights early in their careers, like yourself and/or your colleagues and friends, many of whom go on to become the cultural ambassadors of our times.

      At this moment, Playwrights Foundation finds itself poised at the brink of a new beginning, coincidentally aligning with the hope and possibility raised by the recent election.   And yet, the ebullience of the moment is tempered by economic fears, presenting a daunting challenge for all of us.   Though we are keenly aware that the economy is at a pretty low ebb, we feel it is not the time to pull back in fear, but rather step forward and create the future we want to live in. It is critical that we all pull together to keep our work thriving.   The staff and board of PF remains steadfast in our support of modern playwrights and creative expression.   We are counting on you to help us meet the challenge and persist in the discovery of new playwrights.

      For the past eight years, PF has grown steadily, and with that momentum, we have exponentially increased our impact, and reach: In 2008 we launched two new programs specifically for Bay Area writers: PF Resident Playwrights and the INKubator Project; we continued to expand opportunities to over 175 writers; we partnered with 13 local and national producers to advance the work of exceptional playwrights; we were awarded a 3-year, $90,000 grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and we are now recognized as one of five leading new play development organizations in the country by our national peers.

      In the coming year we dearly hope to maintain increased staff support of all our programs, launch a new Playwright Mentorship and continue to take steps to accomplish our over-arching goal of founding a center for new play development on the West Coast.   As we work towards these accomplishments, our success will occur, in no small part, because of the generosity of loyal supporters such as yourself.

      Artistic expression plays such an important role at times like these, and yet arts organizations are increasingly vulnerable.   Investing in our work now, at any level, will guarantee that we weather this difficult time. Please consider making a stretch donation to keep our doors open.

      We have just witnessed the power of small donations on the national stage, and PF’s size means every dollar counts. If each of you gives only $25, we will make our end of year goal.   Your support will expand beyond the sum of its parts: it will ensure the future of American theater.

Our appreciation is immense, thank you.

Warmly,

Amy Mueller
Artistic Director

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