Cartoons. I love them. I adore them. Since I was little, cartoons have been something I've treasured. I'd wake up early for them on Saturday, usually 5:45 am with no alarm! My parents, the sly devils, would wake me up on school days by whispering, "Cartoons are on." And I fell for it every, single, damn day. I drew my own cartoon characters: Dorky Dog and Dopy Duck (the missing "e" in Dopy was deliberate). Sometimes Dorky had a brother, Doofy, sometimes not. Sometimes they were Ghostbusters, sometimes they travelled through time.
My original plan for my life after high school was to attend the CalArts and study in their character animation program. I had dreams of working for Disney, working and hanging out with Glen Keane and Andreas Deja. I even convinced my parents to stop by the campus for a tour when I was a junior. I remember walking around campus, feeling as though I was at home. I felt like I knew where everything was, that things felt natural. All of daydreams were coming true: this was it. Then, something changed.
After walking through a gallery of sculpture (my mom was quite taken by the pile of "chile peppers" that weren't chile peppers...), we ended up at what is now the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT). I remember it as a black box theatre that had portions of the floor on hydraulics that could manipulate the stage to be at different heights. The stage floor could become the set! My mind was blown. Around this time in high school, I'd also been in some plays at school and was starting to question which way I wanted to go: animation or theatre. My art teacher, Mr. Calnan, was really upset when I took theatre as my elective after years of his classes...
In some ways this is a story of a path not taken, maybe a story of regret for late nights animating on Disney features of the early 2000's. I don't know what would've happened had I followed that path. I do know that I chose being a theatre artist, a director, and a playwright. My love of animation informs my writing in different ways, reminding me to think of the medium I'm using at all times, know its strengths and the ways I can hit against the barriers of the medium. My love of cartoons and my love of theatre definitely inform each other and my plays are what they are because of those dual loves. But now, those loves have somewhat come together in a new project: Writers Get Animated. The Podcast!
One of the best things about my day job is definitely the people i'm surrounded by and what they bring in terms of talent and passion. Mackenzie Worrall is a playwright and writer that I befriended at work because when you have two playwrights working at the same day job, they have to talk! Over the years we've talked shop, we've read each other's work, we've seen each other's work, and have been strong supporters of each other to keep going, to keep working. We've also gotten into a lot of heated and passionate conversations about cartoons and their dramaturgy. One day we joked that we should make a podcast in which we'd discuss cartoons through literary analysis. After the weight of this seemingly innocuous joke sunk in, we found ourselves researching podcasts, making spreadsheets of our various cartoon knowledge, making lists of topics, enlisting a sound engineer (Nigel Coutinho), getting jazz drum Birdman-ish theme music by Jacob Reed, and, as of today, found ourselves on iTunes, ready for people to download our first episode.
My two passions have finally intersected in an unexpected, but completely joyful way. Come and have a listen; I'm certain you can hear the joy in my voice.
Keep working, fellow theatre-makers and fellow cartoon-lovers. As always, be excellent to each other.