ENGCOMP 130E Winter 2021
Where I Played Kate & Ophelia
Mary Alex Daniels
Artist, Leader, Optimist
Artist: I am an actor, director, producer, and self proclaimed Shakespeare nerd who strives to tell female driven narratives and reimagined versions of ‘classic’ stories.
Leader: I am an arts educator and entrepreneur focused on community building and helping artists advocate for themselves and their work.
Optimist: It’s a beautiful day to be alive. A mantra of mine.
There is nowhere to hide in the theatre; it is raw, alive, and unpredictable, which I think is an incredible way to live as an artist. I am a woman, a storyteller, a theatre artist, a creator who desires to share physical space with other artists and audience members. I’m interested in inspiring deep connections to the self and to others through my work that is not found easily in everyday life. I will harbor mental and physical presence in the face of decreasing attention spans and increased technology. In my theater there will be a desire to be present, to be connected, to welcome the feeling, and to want to share that with others. My art will include. It will work at breaking down systemic and elitist barriers in the theater space that I have been privileged to benefit from. It will share, it will support stories from different perspectives. My art will welcome others, and tear down gatekeepers. I will hold onto the tradition of gathering in a shared space to tell a story and have a shared experience, even in the face of a virtual future. I want to live in the space and time where the lights dim in the theatre, and there is a palpable energy and excitement of what is about to come.
ABOUT THIS PORTFOLIO
This portfolio is the culmination of months of creative work, multiple rounds of revisions, and lots of self reflection. My writing process focused a lot on finding my voice/perspective, and what larger statement I was trying to make through the piece. As a theatre artist, I wanted to put a healthy dose of my voice and opinion in each piece (more so in the critical review than in the profile). I started both of these pieces with a 'stream of consciousness' session where I got all of my ideas out. Then I would step away from the piece for a while, and come back and excavate the ideas and sentences that were worth keeping. From there I would add transitions to help the flow, and incorporate edits from my peers. The final round of revisions for both pieces incorporated the notes from our professor, and rereading the product multiple times to make sure my ideas are clear and flow.
I am proud of both of these pieces, and I believe I have improved as a writer significantly since working on this portfolio. In my profile, I am most proud of the incorporations of quotes and descriptions of my subject. While I never had an actual interview with him, I think the profile reads like a conversation with him. I think the reader can get a clear picture of who this person is, what is essence is, and what he stands for. Since I think my subject is an incredibly interesting artist, I am proud of how his essence and impact on the theater industry permeates this profile. The photos help too, of course! For the critical review, I am most proud of the improvement I made from the first and second draft. In the first draft, my stance was unclear, and I focused a bit too much on the play rather than the film that I was writing the review for. In the second draft, my opinion of the piece became much more clear, I gave a deeper, more thoughtful evaluation, and my context made it easy for the reader to follow through the piece even if they had not seen the movie.
For both of these pieces, my main struggle was crafting the flow of my ideas, and making sure that my voice as a writer came through. I have never wrote in this kind of style before, so it took me a while to shake off the 'academic analysis' feel that my writing usually takes on. The main way I overcame this struggle was in the brainstorming process. I wrote out exactly how I felt about what I was writing about in the most plain of terms, and then referenced those notes throughout the editing process to make sure my perspective was included in the work. My advice for my future self and for other writers in this style is to distill the purpose and perspective of the piece into one sentence, and let that guide you through writing out your ideas and developing a flow.
I have grown a lot as a writer this quarter, partially because of the material covered in this course, and partially, I think, because it is my last quarter at UCLA ,which yields itself to lots of self growth and reflection. My main breakthrough as a writer this quarter was that I had a voice and perspective! Through college most of my writing has been purely academic, so even though I would sometimes take an argumentative stance, it was very structured and purposeful. Throughout this course I think that I have begun to come out of my 'academic' shell and have a bit more fun with my writing! I think I still have a long way to go, but now I have developed my tool box enough where I know where to start the process, and what steps to take along the way.
While I am not pursuing a career in journalism or professional writing, I think the writing skills I have developed throughout this course have been critical in developing my voice as an artist. I feel much more confident in expressing myself in a written format, and consistently editing and improving my work. I believe that I will apply the skills I have learned this quarter frequently through the next year (in writing cover letters, networking emails, descriptions of my professional & artistic goals) and through my life (adjusting my artist statement, writing grants, mission statements, etc.). For the future of my writing, I am most excited to share my passion for theatre for however many people will read, and hopefully inspire others to realize how important and beautiful of an artform this is with so many incredible artists and stories to explore.