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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dear Applicant

A friend whose book is making the rounds of publishers wrote today with rejection anxiety. Lacking any original wisdom about how to handle either the anxiety or the rejection, despite such a wealth of experience with both, I turned (as usual), to e.e. cummings but also to Larry Kramer, who was generous enough to include this passage in introducing The Destiny of Me:
Like me by the men in my life, my play had first to have its own history of rejections: by the Public Theater (both Joe Papp and JoAnne Akalaitis), Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center, Playwrights Horizons (both André Bishop and Don Scardino), American Place Theater, Second Stage, Long Wharf in New Haven, Hartford Stage, Yale Rep (both Lloyd Richards and Stan Wojewodski, Jr.), South Coast Rep in California, the Goodman and Steppenwolf in Chicago, and Circle in the Square on Broadway.

I list these not to either tempt fate (oh, the nightmare possibility of those reviews that begin, "The numerous theaters that turned down Larry Kramer's new play were wise indeed...") or flaunt my rejections (The Normal Heart, Faggots, and my screenplay for Women in Love were originally turned down by even larger numbers), but to offer this thought to other writers, and to the little child inside that one talks to: almost more than talent you need tenacity, and an infinite capacity for rejection if you are to succeed. I still don't know where you get these even after writing this play to try to find the answer.
As for E. E. CUMMINGS (as his name is given in the collected poems of 1954), below is the dedication to the volume of poems whose title page is found above:


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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.