Rereading Your Twenties

Today, a friend of mine posted on Facebook about how he reread the work of a writer he used to think was brilliant. However, while rereading her work this time, he realized that she was actually quite insane and likely a sociopath in need of heavy medication.

He was rereading the complete works of Sarah Kane– a playwright that me and all my drama major friends had been completely obsessed with in college and afterwards. We worked on novel ways to stage her plays and bring her genius to life.

Her writing is littered with violent, heart-stopping moments such as the gouging out of eyeballs, urinating on beds, rape, and dead baby eating. My friends and I all loved her and thought she was misunderstood and amazing. She had committed suicide at the age of 28.

When I saw the Facebook post about rereading Kane’s work, I realized that there are a ton of things I used to love that feel different to me now. It’s almost like I have to go back and rewatch my favorite movies (which used to include Moulin Rouge but I’m pretty sure that needs updating) and reread my favorite novels (which used to include A Prayer For Owen Meany, but I haven’t read that in years).

When I used to love Sarah Kane plays in college, I was surrounded by people who wanted to ‘push the limits of theater’ and do ‘groundbreaking work’ which seemed to mandate plays that were shocking and possibly offensive. Nowadays I have different standards for groundbreaking work. And from my twenties to my thirties, I also have different standards for my relationships, friends, and work environments. A lot has changed.

Have you checked on what you’re still holding onto from your twenties that might not represent who you are anymore?

sarah kane

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Portrait of a Thirtysomething- Kari Bentley-Quinn

We’re so happy to have Kari Bentley-Quinn as our next featured guest in our new Portrait of a Thirtysomething series! Portrait of a Thirtysomething asks our invited guests (in their 30s) questions about their lives and what this decade means to them.

Kari Bentley Quinn is an absolutely amazing playwright and we co-founded the theater company, Mission to (dit)Mars together along with two other wonderful cofounders. Kari and I met a few years ago through another theater group, Packawallop Productions, and have been friends ever since! Jane and I are thrilled to have her here!

Enjoy her beautiful interview below, and be sure to check out her website and say hi!  http://www.karibentleyquinn.com/

Kari Bentley Quinn

“The challenge is “how do I live as happy and fulfilled a life as possible?” At the end of the day, the person I most have to answer to is myself. I can’t live for anyone else – my husband, my family, my friends – I have to be a whole person. And I think that’s hard sometimes, but it becomes more necessary.”

Name/Age/Location:
 
Kari Bentley-Quinn/ 33/ Astoria/Woodside border, in the amazing borough of Queens (Woodstoria?)
 
Occupation: 
Playwright/Executive Assistant (proud hybrid for ten years strong!)
 
What’s the accomplishment you’re most proud of in your 30s so far? 
It has to be the fact that I went back to grad school after nearly ten years out of undergrad. I am getting my MFA in Playwriting from Hunter College, and I graduate in May, which I can hardly believe. It was an absolutely terrifying thing to do, but I did it! Well, almost. Still have a few things left to do. But I am 90% of the way there. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done – mentally, physically, emotionally, creatively. I did it while working a full time job. I don’t know if I would have been able to do this in my 20s when I was less sure of myself. I also got an agent last year, so that was really nice. And I’ve had two productions!
What do you NOT miss about your 20s? 
I think just the crushing uncertainty and working so hard to have people take you seriously. The 20s are the time you’re supposed to be making a lot of mistakes, but is also the time when you become a full blown adult. Trying to reconcile the fact that you’re still young and inexperienced with making good enough decisions that your future won’t be a wreck is tough. There were a lot of wonderful things about my 20s. But there were a lot of scary and bad things, too. I would say that my early 20s were actually quite awful. My mid to late 20s, less so.
 
Looking back, what shouldn’t you haven’t been afraid of in your 20s? 
Being a failure. Not making everyone happy. Money stuff. What people thought of me. Being fat. Not working hard enough. Getting older in general. What my future was going to be like. I spent a lot of my 20s freaking out about stuff that 1. was impossible to know the end result of and 2. didn’t matter one bit. I am a huge Type A perfectionist and I think it held me back more than it moved me forward!
Any surprises about what your 30s are like? 
Yes – which is that I kind of love being in my 30s! I feel much more confident and assured in professional situations. I think I’m a way better writer and just more capable in basically every aspect of my life. I have a strong marriage and absolutely amazing friends. I also like that its totally okay to stay home on Friday night when you’re in your thirties. I have learned to value my downtime, to fiercely protect it, and to say no. Learning to say no has been super important.
 
What do you find most challenging about this decade? 
While in some ways I am much better than my 20s, I find that I have less stamina and way less bullshit tolerance. I also found a WHITE hair on my head (thanks grad school!), and while I don’t like to think of myself as a vain person, seeing the fine lines start to appear is a little humbling. I also think its tough for women to age. Youth and attractiveness are so overemphasized for young women, and as much as we all like to think we’re above it, the messaging we have received is really damaging. I really hope that we stop that in future generations.
I also am just more aware of my mortality in general. I don’t know if that’s bad – but the challenge is “how do I live as happy and fulfilled a life as possible?” At the end of the day, the person I most have to answer to is myself. I can’t live for anyone else – my husband, my family, my friends – I have to be a whole person. And I think that’s hard sometimes, but it becomes more necessary.
 
What are you most looking forward to? Be it tonight, next month or ten years from now.
 
More travel, more love, more laughter, more time off, less giving of fucks about dumb stuff. I think I’ve made good choices. At least I hope I have!
 
What would you like to hear more about regarding the thirties. What articles would you like to read?
 
I’d love to read more about the challenges women face professionally as they get older. I think these struggles change and continue as we age and as our lives change.

New Feature: Portrait of a Thirtysomething

We’re thrilled to announce that today we’re launching a new weekly interview series: Portrait of a Thirtysomething. We will ask our invited guest (who will be in her/his 30s, obviously!) questions about their life and what the decade means to them.

Our first interview is Eljon Wardally, an incredible playwright/screenwriter, who is good friends with both Laura and I. We all met at youth theater company, Downtown Art, while we were in high school. Over the years, we’ve all collaborated on projects together. Eljon’s got one of the sunniest and brightest outlooks of life of anyone I know, is an incredible artistic talent and an amazing friend to boot.

EljonWardallyHeadshot (1)

Photo courtesy of Champion Eye Media

 

Name/Age/Location:
Eljon Wardally/on the cusp of 34/New York

Occupation:
Playwright/Screenwriter

What’s the accomplishment you’re most proud of in your 30s so far?
I’m most proud of my MFA in Playwriting from Fordham University/Primary Stages! Not only did I go back to school after being out for 10 years, I am part of the Inaugural Playwriting class for this type of MFA. You only get to make that kind of history once!

What do you NOT miss about your 20s?
I don’t miss the people I left behind in that decade.

Looking back, what shouldn’t you haven’t been afraid of in your 20s?
I shouldn’t have been so concerned about where I was going to end up. I think that being in my 30s has grounded me in a big way. I’ve learned to just be kinder to myself. I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason. Stress only gives us wrinkles. Don’t be afraid, be still and listen. I promise, it will work out.

Any surprises about what your 30s are like?
I have to say that there are no surprises. Is that bad? Everything just feels more comfortable. My skin feels more lived in and I feel like I know myself better.

What do you find most challenging about this decade?
When you’re in your 30s, people expect you to be married with kids or with one on the way. It’s challenging to feel like you have to justify why you may not be at this stage of your life in your 30s. In a way, this generation is at a crossroads. Things are changing and what was conventional isn’t anymore. More people are focused on their careers and other aspects of their lives and getting married later and having children later. There’s nothing wrong with this but it’s hard to constantly hear about grandkids from the elders!

What are you most looking forward to? Be it tonight, next month or ten years from now!
Tonight I’m looking forward to curling up with my dog and a cup of tea.
Next month I’m looking forward to having a new draft of a play I’m working on.
Ten years from now I’m looking forward to being happy and healthy.

Thanks so much, Eljon! Here’s a link to Eljon’s award-winning web series Docket.  And here’s her personal website, say hi!

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