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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please feel free to add to the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Little Story to Encourage Authors to Have Faith

I was touched by this essay from a good friend of mine, so touched that I thought it might inspire my followers, subscribers, and visitors to persist, that it might give them hope.  Many thanks to author, playwright--and friend--Marlan Warren for allowing me to reprint her little story that reaffirms my "never give up" and "keep persisting" mottoes.


Bits of Paradise my play about the women of the World War II Japanese American "internment" (aka "incarceration") women's movement led by budding activist Yuri Kochiyama (then named "Mary Nakahara") was accepted in May by Rogue Machine Theatre in Hollywood (they are upstairs in The MET Theatre, which also has a great rep for theater artists).

It's been a long haul since I directed/produced the show nine years ago in San Francisco at The Marsh Theatre in '08, and returned to L.A. in '09. An uphill battle to interest anyone in the show. Then, last June, I noticed that Ariel Kayoko Labasan was performing her one-woman show, Yuri Speaks, but I was too sick to attend. After months of missing each other, Ariel reached out to me recently to say she's on board.

Last month, I came across the beautiful MET Theatre in Hollywood. They do not answer their phone or emails, so Ariel and I had our first meeting about how to rewrite the play (now entitled Bits of Paradise: Kochiyama's Crusaders), and afterward, we walked into The MET, ran right into a producer and she said, "Yes!" They will host us and split ticket sales. She told us that has never happened with folks walking in off the street. 

And...(drum roll)...The set they have up right now for their production looks exactly like the inside of a barracks in a Japanese American concentration camp barracks. (But they can't guarantee the set will be there in July for us.)

So the show is slated to run July 19 and 20, with possibly the following Friday or Sunday. And we have to do everything, including finding rehearsal/audition space.

Last week, Ariel gently pushed me to find audition/rehearsal space. We have zero budget. I made some calls, sent emails re possible spaces that morning, and an hour later, I got a call from the pastor of the Founders Metropolitan Community Church in Los Feliz.

"How fast can you get down here?" he asked.

Here's what happened:

I walked into that church and cried the whole time that the pastor (with the unlikely name of "Reverend Downer") showed me around rather gleefully unveiling each miracle. 

Kicker #2: The pastor informed me that the original church congregants had protested against the Japanese Americans being placed in concentration camps on US soil during WWII. And he really, really wants us there. The church has many beautiful rooms, perfect for rehearsals. And they do rent space to actors. But...since we do not have money...we will not have to pay. 

He took me into various rooms, all with names. And each one made me go: "Oh this is perfect!" He twinkled, "Now you really should look at all the rooms..."

Finally, I walked into a room at the highest level of the church. The light from the windows, the Oriental carpet, the space and the acoustics...all perfect. With tears in my eyes, I asked, "What is the name of this room?" He smiled, very happy and announced:

"This is the Ghandi Room."

He explained that he had conducted a series of workshops in that room re non-violent resistance. That is what Yuri Kochiyama did. I told him how she chained herself to the Statue of Liberty. And I have her telling her story about it, for the documentary I've been making about the actual women who were The Crusaders.

The Good Pastor has a sense of drama because rather than tell me everything at once, he seemed to enjoy showing me this and that...revealing this info and that info...very gradually. Until...
We were in the Church Theater! And he said we could do our show there too (yes, they have projectors for the film clips I want to blend with this new version of the show).

When I first saw him and he showed me the chapel with its wooden pews for auditions, I said, "This is Divine Intervention!"

And he said, "You are exactly right."

Then he issued the coup de gras: taking me into the cathedral. There, in front of the altar is a wooden cross draped with golden cloth. 

"The cross is made from the wood of a Japanese American concentration camp," said Rev. Downer. "It was in the attic when we moved in, and we didn't know its history until an original member came by and told us."

That made me cry harder.

Only the people I've known for years know what I've been through with this play and then with the documentary which remains unfinished for lack of post-production funds. And I will not even bother to explain all that. 

All that matters is that I know we are in the right place.

The MET is located at 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029.

Show Dates and Times:
July 19 (Afternoon and Eve. - Not sure what time yet)
July 20 (Eve.)
Maybe July 28 or 30, but not confirmed yet.

Do not call the theater (not sure how much the tickets are yet).
Call Marlan Warren for Details: (323) 347-6762

Bits of Paradise places its footprint on the timeline of a much needed theatrical examination of the Asian American journey."--ASIAN WEEK Bits of Paradise was ...


Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter (where she talks more about choosing and the advantages of winning contests and how to use those honors)  and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more on her Amazon profile page, http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfileGreat Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and, another booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. In addition to this blog, she helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com )

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