Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy


A Forever Decision

For the past few years, I have been writing articles for Open to Hope, a website which helps people to find hope after the loss of a loved one. Please visit the website and refer your friends, because it is a very helpful resource.

Here is my latest article.  Read my others on the Open to Hope website

A Forever Decision

By Anne Hamilton

I’m starting to realize that she is not coming back.

Five days ago, I put my beloved dog Camilla to sleep. She had a tumor on her pituitary gland and she was experiencing debilitating symptoms. It was best to end her suffering. It was a forever decision.

The first day I felt relieved. I had been nursing her for a year and a half. I never knew when she would have another seizure. I had to guide her to and from the backyard by clapping so she could follow the sound – she had gone blind.

I have another dog and together, we cuddled and went for walks and bonded again.

The second day I still felt like I was on alert. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I think it’s much better for me to reorient myself without the burden of interacting with people.

The third day was September 11th, a day where I traditionally stay home and remain quiet, out of respect for the American tragedy which I experienced as a resident of New York City eleven  years ago.

The fourth day, I felt like I had to get out of the house. I wrote thank you cards to my parents and family members who supported me while I was making the decision to let Cami leave our close-knit family peacefully. And I felt a fear of the vet’s office where we all went together to say goodbye to her, knowing that we would leave with a hole in our hearts and our lives.

I decided to be brave, so that I wouldn’t be afraid of that place which was a necessary part of our lives. I cleaned out the dog’s medicine cabinet and took Cami’s unused medicines back to the vet’s office. I took my other dog, Isabella, with me, because I wanted her to feel comfortable going to the vet when she needed care.

I walked in and immediately saw the room where we lovingly surrounded Cami and held her as the doctor administered the medicine to put her to sleep. The door was open. I looked at the floor and pictured her there, that last time, and also the time before, when I visited her during her last hospital stay and she fell asleep as I petted her dear face.

I didn’t cry. I told the vet’s assistant that I came because I didn’t want to be afraid of the vet’s office. I gave the medicine back and walked the grounds with Isabella, exploring the field with the dog agility equipment.

I decided then that it was time for Izzy to have some canine company and determined to bring her back the next day to play in the fields with her friends.

Today when I awoke, I felt the dread of dropping her off, and I also felt the absence of Camilla. It’s easy for the first few days after a death to think that the loved one is just away for a few days, but as the adrenaline wears off, we are left with stone cold logic. She will not return and I have to live with it.

At the same time, my boyfriend boarded a plane to speak at a conference in the Midwest, placing him farther from my reach.

I battled my fear and put the dog in the car and drove her back to the kennel. She happily went with the doggie day care worker. I left quickly.

It’s important for me to keep up my relationship with the kennel to get the needed care for my remaining dog. It’s important for me to find a way to process my own feelings, and to care for Isabella’s socialization and exercise needs while we are adjusting.

I need to adjust to the loss of a pet whose presence made my life easier during difficult times. It’s important for me to continue to get the necessary medical care for the surviving pet companion.

I feel like I’m walking through a dark cave. I’m trying to find the right thing to do. I’m praying and crying when I need to. I’m writing to help process my emotions. I’m showering my surviving pet with affection.

I’m balancing needs. My own, first of all, because I’m a caregiver for Isabella and responsible for running the household. When one member of the family dies, life must go on.

I think that proceeding slowly and steadily is the answer. It’s the method which works for me.

In five more days I’ll open my office again. And begin to speak with my clients again. And go back to work. I have a lot of tasks to complete.

But for now, this week, I’ll slow down and breathe. And remember the perfect pet who gave me so much love for ten long years.

And thank my lucky stars for letting me know such a beautiful soul for so long.

You may download a copy of the article here: A Forever Decision by Anne Hamilton.



Losing My Touchstone/ Remembering Romulus Linney

I lost a great friend and mentor this week.

Romulus Linney, the playwright and novelist, died on January 15th in New York of lung cancer.

In a twist of fate, Rom’s daughter, the actress Laura Linney, won a Golden Globe the day after her father’s death, for her starring role in THE BIG C, a story about a woman with cancer.

Rom was my professor at Columbia University School of the Arts, and then my colleague at the New School’s Actors Studio Drama School. He led the playwrighting programs at both universities.

I learned from him first as a student, and then as a colleague.

My main tie to Rom, however, is that he taught me everything I know about being a dramaturg, a profession which I have practiced for the last twenty years.

He was what I would call rabidly protective of the playwright and his or her plays. I first met him when I was a Columbia student learning dramaturgy – developing new scripts and giving artistic support to a play when it was going up on stage.

I worked on many scripts while I was at Columbia, and have helped develop countless more since I opened my dramaturgy practice.

Rom taught me about how important words are: the word on the page, the words we say to one another, and most of all, how crucial it is to use words in a way that is appropriate to the situation at hand. What Rom said was what he meant. There was no subterfuge. What you saw was what you got. He was a very clear man in his words and actions.

I feel extremely sad to have lost him. Yet when I think about what he would say to me today, I think it would be, “What are you crying about? Go on with your own life.”

Unlike many great teachers, Rom knew the distinction between his life and my life. He never tried to use my talents or rope me in for his own glory. He moved full steam ahead in his own life and expected me to do the same. No hanging on, no whining, and most of all, No Excuses.

Having lost another mentor and friend, Gerald Schoenfeld, three years ago, I feel the burden of moving up in the ranks of experienced theatre professionals. I am losing my mentors. And now I’m getting to the place where I am It. I am the expert. I am the one of whom people ask questions. I am the one who is helping others achieve their glory. I am the one doing the work and showing the way.

I know that I have been actively doing all these things for the last twenty years, but I always had Rom and Gerry as my touchstones. I would ask their advice on certain sticky matters, and when faced with an ethical dilemma or issue of integrity.

They always gave me good advice. Now they’re gone.

I have realized a very important lesson. While I respect my elders, I cannot be my elders. I have my own identity and life path.

Everyone seeks to please the ones who taught them. But a good teacher expects that the student have her own identity. A good teacher doesn’t seek to merge with the student, or live on in them. A good teacher has so much activity and growth going on that he doesn’t think about replicating himself. He teaches by example.

That’s what Rom did for me. He didn’t expect a cookie cutter career out of me. He expected me to use my own mind and live my own life, just like he did. Rom was not intrusive. And he expected me to keep out of his business as well.

That makes it a little more OK that he’s not physically here in the body anymore.

His spirit lives on. And I spent enough years working with him that I can almost instantly call up what he would answer to any of my questions.

“What do I do now?” – “Go on with your own life.”

“What will I do without you?” – “Hey, stand on your own two feet.”

“I miss you.” – “We all lose people, Anne.”

It’s pretty simple. Rom was a simple, yet intelligently elegant man. He lived in the moment, wrote out all the stories he felt inside, and faced every day with strength and enthusiasm.

He knew what he wanted and he went after it, moment by moment.

That’s a pretty simple and lasting lesson.

So I think I will be OK. More than OK.  I’ll be all right. I’ll do what’s right for me. No more, no less. That makes sense to me. It helps me deal with the pain of losing my beloved touchstone.

This article will be posted on the Open to Hope Foundation‘s website on January 29, 2011. Open to Hope is an online community helping people to find hope after losss. It has published several of my articles on Healing Through the Arts.



Read Anne’s Lead Article July 24th on Healing Through the Arts on the Open to Hope Website

Anne’s lead article “Writing Poetry Helps Decades After Friend’s Death” will appear on the Open to Hope website on July 24th, and will remain on the site. Search for her articles under her name.

The Open to Hope Foundation (www.opentohope.com) helps provide guidance and hope to those who have suffered losses, particularly the death of loved ones. Anne has a column on Healing Through the Arts and she has created a series of articles based on her own experience of processing grief through artistic expression. Part II describes her inspiration for her poem “Summer Storm”. Check back for Parts III and IV, which will be published soon.



Recent Successes: Playwrighting Awards, Anne on The Air, Dramaturgy, and LPTW

Playwrighting

  • Two of my plays and a poem have been selected for the juried exhibition TRANSITIONS at Pen and Brush, Inc. in NYC. ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT (play), THE STACY PLAY – A LOVE SONG – VOLUME I (play) and GONDOLIER (poem) are appearing in the virtual exhibit at www.penandbrush.org through September 3rd. I read excerpts from both plays at the exhibition’s opening on June 3rd. THE STACY PLAY – A LOVE SONG – VOLUME I is an expansion of AND THEN I WENT INSIDE, premiered by Kathleen Chalfant at the Cherry Lane Theatre last November. Thank you, Pen and Brush. I am truly honored.
  • As a playwright member of NO PASSPORT, an unincorporated theatre alliance and press, I have read from my work in our monthly HIBERNATING RATTLESNAKES event. Plays include: ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT, THE STACY PLAY, as well as TYRONE’S SLIDE RIDE, a short, humorous/dangerous tale of gentrification in Brooklyn. Please join us at future HR events at the Nuyorican Poets Café, 236. E. 3rd Street (Avenues B/C) in NYC ( http://www.nuyorican.org).Suggested admission is $5.

Anne On the Air

  • My blog https://hamiltondramaturgy.wordpress.com features TheatreNow! podcasts as well as my columns on Healing through the Arts for opentohope.com and interviews given to various stations.
  • On June 24th, I served as a guest commentator for the upcoming L.A. Theatreworks audio presentation of Lee Blessing’s GOING TO ST. IVES. The topic was Mothers and Sons in Blessing’s play, OEDIPUS REX, THE GLASS MENAGERIE and ALL MY SONS. The segment will be aired on NPR as a companion piece to the rebroadcast of the play, set for July 24th. Check my blog and website for the exact times and member station call numbers.

L.A. Theatreworks has a large catalog of audio recordings of important plays performed by leading actors. Its website is a terrific resource at www.latw.org.

  • I launched the audio podcast series TheatreNow!, an oral history of leading American female theatre artists, at https://hamiltondramaturgy.wordpress.com . The inaugural segment features playwright and librettist Quiara Allegria Hudes, who wrote ELIOTT, A SOLDIER’S FUGUE, and the libretto for IN THE HEIGHTS (2008 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, and 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama nominee). Please listen to additional guests already online including: Ruth Margraff, Claire Lautier, Valentina Fratti, and Catherine Filloux, Yvette Heyliger, and Yvonne Farrow.  Upcoming guests include:  Lynn Nottage, Anne Kauffman, Kamilah Forbes,  and Maria Alexandria Beech.

Dramaturgy

  • I served as a script development consultant to Tina Andrews for her groundbreaking period drama CHARLOTTE SOPHIA, about the wife of King George III. Please see the Testimonials section for Tina’s comments on this wonderful collaboration.
  • I am currently approaching theatres hoping to gain a production for Warren Bodow’s drama FRONTING THE ORDER, which I also dramaturged. The five character ensemble piece explores the ethics and practicality of using deception to gain a short term profit, and we see a premonition of the conflicts of our 21st century information age. Please send all inquiries to me at: hamiltonlit@hotmail.com . Warren is the retired President of radio stations WQXR and WQEW and received great reviews from The New York Times for RACE MUSIC last year on Theatre Row. The Cherry Lane Theatre will  present a staged reading of his new play later this summer.
  • Broadway legend George Marcy performed his musical play THE BALLAD OF GEORGIE PORGIE (co-written with Bob Goldstone, who also serves as Musical Director) on June 9th at Don’t Tell Mama in NYC. Carol Lawrence and Chita Rivera were in attendance. George will perform the show again at DTM at 8pm on September 9th. Here are his comments: “Anne Hamilton, with her insight, creativity and knowledge, is responsible for guiding THE BALLAD OF GEORGIE PORGIE to where it is today.” Tickets are $20 through www.donttellmamanyc.com This show is terrific! Don’t miss it!

LPTW Activities

  • After a whirlwind year of serving as Co-Secretary of the League of Professional Theatre Women, I have resigned in order to focus on hosting and producing a new League oral history podcast series. I will interview League members in the audio series LPTW Voices: Women Have Their Say. Many thanks to the League for this opportunity, and also to all the Officers and Board members who serve our constituency so faithfully. I treasure my League membership.
  • I still serve on the LPTW’s Mentoring Committee under Chairwoman Margery Klain. The committee is dedicated to providing mentoring opportunities to female theatre artists who are members of the League. Please see www.theatrewomen.org for an application.


Healing Through the Arts – Maintaining Emotional Fluency Through Artistic Expression

The Open to Hope Foundation website has featured my article, “Maintaining Emotional Fluency Through Artistic Expression”.

It can be found at:

http://opentohope.com/dealing-with-loss/death-of-a-friend/maintaining-emotional-fluency-through-artistic-expression/

Last year, when the 30th anniversary of Curtis’ death was coming up, I set out on a journey of healing…one of the results has been my play AND THEN I WENT INSIDE. The first line came from a realization I had after I gave an interview on the “Healing The Grieving Heart” radio program.



Anne Hamilton, Contributor to Open To Hope

Anne has been a contributor to the grief support website OPEN TO HOPE for almost two years.

Anne Hamilton lost her best friend Curtis in a head-on car accident in 1979, two weeks after his high school graduation. Her emotional life became frozen and she has spent the last thirty years exploring all areas of self-expression, particularly through stage plays, poetry, theatre, art, and music. She is currently developing her own chamber-play-with-dance entitled ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT, about the way that grief moves through the body. Kathleen Chalfant performed her one-woman short play AND THEN I WENT INSIDE, about Stacy Lee Madison, an artist and scholar coming to terms with the triumphs and losses in her life. With Kathleen’s encouragement, Anne expanded that piece into the full-length play THE STACY PLAY – A LOVE POEM.

As a professional dramaturg and script developer in New York City for the past 19 years, Anne has helped leading writers and performers in all fields to express their grief, loss, hope and recovery in works of art through her website http://www.hamiltonlit.com.

Recent dramaturgy projects have included: Israeli filmmaker Judd Ne’eman’s STONE DANCER, about the human, personal cost of the Vietnam War and its aftereffects, and Enrique Menendez’s AboutFace, a short film about Enrique’s experience of living with HIV/AIDS. AboutFace was screened at the 2007 New York AIDS Film Festival.

Anne is an award-winning Columbia University graduate and the principal of Hamilton Dramaturgy. To ask Anne for help on developing your own play, screenplay, poetry, fiction or non-fiction, please contact her at hamiltonlit@gmail.com

She has developed a one-day, experiential workshop on HEALING THROUGH THE ARTS that is available for hospitals, schools, and other organizations. Please inquire about it at hamiltonlit@gmail.com



Anne Hamilton Interviewed on “Healing Through the Arts” on WMNF

Last year Dewey Davis-Thompson interviewed Anne on the radio program “Art in Your Ear” on WMNF in Tampa, Florida.

Again, she spoke on the topic of healing through the arts, and her healing process while writing ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT, her chamber play with dance, puppets, video and new music. She also gave a series of practical exercises to help others turn emotion and memory into artistic expression.

Listen here: Anne Hamilton Interviewed on ART IN YOUR EAR on WMNF July, 2009

(Please be patient while the file downloads. It’s a large one.)

Listen here: Anne Hamilton Reads a Monologue from ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT

Listen here: Anne Hamilton Reads Her Poem SUMMER STORM

Many thanks to Dewey, who conducted the interview and provided the audio file. Dewey is a video and internet designer who can be reached through www.internetadept.com