Monday, May 23, 2016

Saw The Who last night, at the Honda Center. (Venues get worse and worse for concerts don't they? I mean, who can dance on a rake like that? I was afraid that the boozed out broad standing over me was going to do her cigarette yell too hard and go rolling ass over tits straight down the Everest of these seats.)
I've always loved Rock and Roll. The sheer muscular howl and screech. If I could go back and do one thing in my life, it would be to pick up the guitar much earlier, and to hell with being feminine and delicate. What a dichotomy. I wanted boyz to LIIIKKKEE me. To think I was cute. They never thought I was cute, men have always been a little scared of me, I shoulda given up on the fuzzy bunny aspect of my personality earlier.
Any who, The Who.
I love these guys. I've gotten into fights about them, specifically viz a viz Zeppelin, which I won't get into here. Anthemic, face melting, loudest band in the history of rock. Theatrical as hell. Each song a mini-opera amplified.
I last saw them just after the Ox died, at the Hollywood Bowl. Pete, unsentimentally noted that the Who was now the Everly Brothers, just him and Rog.
Roger is a showman, the golden throat. I'd like to meet his voice coach. How the hell does he howl like that? Still? He was fooling around with some notes at the very bottom of his register last night. He seemed a bit tired. I think we almost lost him last year to the viral meningitis that rescheduled the tour. In fact Pete said as much. Pete was actually showing some affection for old Rog. It must've been dodgy there for a while. I couldn't take it if this year claimed Roger too.
Pete, dear angry Pete. He was ON. Fingers of gold. I could watch him play all night. In fact, if there was a camera planted in front of his guitar, there I would be. Sighing. I wish I could play like that. He hasn't got too much mellower, thank god. Very little sentiment from the legendary nose on a stick. In fact he mocked us all for being so damn old. He also called out some jerk in the front row who said, loudly, "Let's go." Pointed right at him and told him that there was nothing he'd like better.
Ah Pete, your best fans can't afford the front. I'd never take my eyes off you.
After the concert i hung around the bus for a couple of minutes, felt stupid and left. I'd love to shake Pete's hand and thank him for the inspiration, for giving voice to my frustration and anger.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Monologue for the AIDS ride. With love.


An older woman is riding a bike. She is going fast. She is wearing a red dress from the '80s


Ohmygod, ohmygod. I need to slow down. I need to slow down! ... Crap. (Screams as she flies down hill) AAAAHHHH!!!!! (She maneuvers around the curves as she speeds down the hill. Flying,  staring to enjoy herself. Gradually the road flattens. She sits, begins to pump her legs. Looks back.) Holy sugar. Holy suuugggaarrr!! (Looks forward again. Lets out a small satisfied yelp) Wow...

Oh Andy. I am actually enjoying this.  The riding. I hate the tents and the porta-potties make me puke. But this... Oh. This.

I haven't ridden like this since I was... 12? I used to love riding my bike. My bike had little cheerleader streamers coming out of it's handlebars and I would pump and pump and ride as fast as I could, I'd yell to you and you'd join me like the kid from ET. Flying all through our cul-de-sac, out in the neighborhood, flying. Me, and you, Andy. I loved that feeling. I certainly don't remember feeling this sore in the rump though. Hell, there's a lot more rump than there was when I was 12.

I had the biggest crush on you! You had beautiful floppy hair, looked just like John Cusack, but with floppy hair, (Sings) "If you leave, don't leave now..." That was our song. We went everywhere together, me dressed like Molly Ringwald, and you...  beautiful in your uniform, white tee, black vest, pleated pants, winkle-pickers and that gorgeous floppy hair that I longed to brush off your face. You hated having your hair touched though. It ruined it.

You were so funny, I mean I should've known, right? At our prom you sang "You Make Me Feel like a Natural Woman" at the top of your lungs when we were in line to get our picture taken. It was so embarrassing. You look crazy too, in the shot. I'm trying to look like Liz Taylor in Cleopatra and you're crossing your eyes. I'm glad we went to the prom, even if we only stayed an hour. It was stupid, they were playing the WRONG music. Ugh. And I don't think you wanted to slow dance with me to "Stairway to Heaven". I always got handsy during that song.

Anyway. We drifted apart in College, like you do. We tried to keep in touch, but I loved you so much, it got awkward.

Then my daughter got me on Facebook. I absolutely have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I've gotten so damn fat. And all of my old friends are so successful! I was supposed to be a rock star, or a poet. I ended up in the tech industry. I'm really very good at my job. I used to only go on Facebook to spy on Laura, but she probably hid most of the awful things from her mom, because why wouldn't you?

A few years ago there was a friend request from you, Andy. You must've really been looking for me because I only had my married name up there and I don't go by Karenina anymore. I told everyone in HS that was my name. It's actually Carol, but Karenina is in the yearbook. Isn't that hilarious? Anyway you found me and friended me. My heart was beating like a drum when I clicked on that request. Oh and there you were. Still absolutely John Cusack. Older, cute mustache and your hair wasn't floppy anymore. Ohmygod. My heart.

Your status said "married" "OK", I thought, "You're married too, stupid. It's OK." Then of course, I click through some more pictures, and you're married to Charlie. A very cute, VERY young Guatemalan guy. Very young. Charlie's younger than my daughter! You two looked really, really happy.  You were actually smiling. In all the pictures I have from high school, your smirk was tight and constrained or you were goofing off. These pictures with Charlie... what a beautiful wide open grin. I accepted the friend request, went through the shoebox of old pictures, scanned the prom picture and tagged you.

You responded right away. Asking me if I remembered how we got completely clobbered in the bunkers above the Golden Gate bridge. Of course my daughter read that and told you she didn't believe you. And you proceed to put up the most AWFUL, WONDERFUL pictures of us. Me and you as Sid and Nancy, Andy and Duckie, Ferris and Cameron. You MADE me be Cameron. Years of our Halloween costumes, pictures of our adventures in the city. My big hair! Oh I was so cute. I looked so ready to conquer the world. I looked pretty wonderful. And oh, Andy, you tagged all of the pictures with stories that I had forgotten. You remembered the sandwiches I brought for our picnics, You remembered my Giorgio fake perfume and how you shoplifted the real thing for me, because the fake smelled so awful. You told Laura that I had saved you in high school. That with me you never had to sit alone in the cafeteria, that I took care of you, defended you from the Jocks and Princesses. We were two inseparable weirdos.

And you told her you loved me. You loved me the way that I loved you. We completed each other. We were a John Hughes movie. But then the movie was over and life intervened, throwing the curves that kept us apart for 30 years.

I'm really glad we got back in touch. And that we could talk like we used to. Both of us super phone-phobic, but we would text each other all day. Like teenagers. You were so fit, you tried to get me to do the AIDS ride with you, and I refused because I thought it would kill me! I hadn't gotten on a bike since high school. You were very passionate about the AIDS ride. You'd lost a lot of friends. It was the 80's after all. And I cried when you told me you were positive. Even though you'd managed it for years. I shoulda been there to hold your hand when you found out.

Charlie isn't positive. I mean he's the most positive guy I know, and sometimes when he's happy or excited I can't understand a word he says. But he doesn't have the virus.

3 days ago, when we were getting ready to ride out of the Cow Palace, Charlie took a picture with me and posted it on your Facebook page. It said, "OMG, look who's on the bike with me this year!?" I didn't train hardly at all. I was terrified riding out of the Cow Palace, I was pretty sure I was going to die. But they really take care of you. They feed you, they cheer you, they sag you if you fall behind, which sounds awful but is bliss. I slept for an hour on that bus back to camp on the first day, I was so freaked out.

But today, day three. I get it. I get the joy. I'm not going to die. I'm stronger than I thought. I've been taking the hills and the curves like I know what I'm doing. Helps that I've got your thousand dollar road bike. You're probably wincing at how badly I'm abusing it.

Charlie and I are odd tentmates. I kind of think I'm cramping his style, but he says I'm not. I watched him dance in the disco tent last night. Uh-chuh, Uh-chuh, Uh-chuh wacka-chicka, Uh-chuh. He's so cute! I'm not sure what Charlie is going to do now. Thank god the gay marriage act passed the supreme court, and they can't deport him. He's a widower and he has rights. I told him he should go back to school, get his degree. He's very smart. He cries in his sleep sometimes.

Geez, Andy. I'm sorry I didn't go with you last year. It's so beautiful. This ride, these people! They're so tolerant of a goofy old lady. The Chicken lady hugged me yesterday! Shit Andy. (she tries to wipe her eyes, the bike wobbles. She's going up hill again)

I should've called you back. I should've. God. I hate the phone.

Oh! (She's up the hill looking down) Look at all that red going down the mountain. It is beautiful Andy. I've never seen anything like it. A living red ribbon. (Looks back, yelling) Charlie! We made it! One more downhill and we rode the whole day!

The whole day. With the other weirdos and the freaks. Let's get down the hill. Take the curves with no brakes. And there's a disco tent at the end. I'm going to dance tonight. I am Andy. I'm going to dance.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Monsters hit New York!

Fabulous Monsters will be bareNaked in NYC on May 27th at Barefoot Theatre Company.

When punk rock exploded in L.A., Sally and Lou were there: feminists, Latinas, queens of noise. One went pop, one stayed punk, but sparks from their tumultuous friendship remain. Decades later, they have to overcome old wounds, forgive each other, to rock as hard as they ever did.

Friday, May 27th @ 7pm
Directed by Paula Pizzi-Black
Cast & Musician TBA

LIVE MUSIC and FREE DRINKS. Suggested Donation: $5.

RESERVATIONS are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - email with DATE of the reading in subject line(
Friday, May 27th @ 7pm). We will email you back ONLY if there's a problem.

"Our bareNaked Reading Series (no sets, no props, just words) is BACK and better than ever!!! The first round of 2016 plays will take place beginning May 23rd, presented by Hi-ARTS at El Barrio's Artspace PS109 in NYC. We are thrilled to be hosted by one of our favorite companies in this gorgeous, new venue. "

Hi-ARTS (formerly known as the Hip-Hop Theater Festival) is a leading organization within the urban arts movement. For fifteen years, Hi-ARTS has consistently broken new ground, advancing urban art by empowering artists to develop bold new works, while creating a lasting and positive impact on urban communities. Hi-ARTS is adding to the legacy of the HHTF at an exciting stage of growth that engages Hip-Hop while creating the new urban arts. With the move to our new home at PS 109, Hi-ARTS is poised to grow into new realms of artistic creativity, advocacy and service to the arts and the communities in which we live.

Our commitment to this work has developed an audience that is equally unique within the landscape which is young and ethnically and racially diverse. Located at the center of creative and community practice in El Barrio’s Artspace PS 109, Hi-ARTS engages arts and culture both locally and nationally. Our work is focused on:

Developing and produce new work through performance and the visual arts,
Serving as an incubator that provides a platform for artists while showcasing innovative work of the future,Facilitating educational programs and opportunities that increase access, participation and diversity in the arts,Creating a pipeline that produces important works for the field of urban arts."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Inge Fest 2016 Pt. 1:


Out of Los Angeles in the morning, everything completely uneventful, except for my brain whirling wondering if I'd brought enough underwear, did Lionel's homework get put where it needed to be, where was I changing planes? DFW?

I arrived in Tulsa, and was spotted (probably because I stood out like a sore thumb in my bright pink Converse and backpack. I like to keep track of myself) by a very nice gentleman by the name of Norman. It was a small enough airport that he found most of us right away. Turns out I had been on the same plane as Lee Blessing and Caridad Svich and we were being ferried to the festival together. THAT put me in paroxysms of shyness, especially since I had been reading her "GUAPA" on the plane, and because I had played Kimberly in his "Patient A." I'd long admired them both. Of course they were warm and funny and we all had a nice chat about what was wrong in the American theatre while driving the 75 miles from Tulsa to Independence. We also picked up a fellow Angeleno named Karen JP Howes, a projection designer, Matthew and a frazzled gentleman whose name was mumbled to me as McMurtry, so I assume he is some sort of a cowboy.

Arriving in town, the bigwigs went to their hotel, and church mouse me ended up in the dorms with a GREAT roommate, L.C.. Of course I was starving, and nothing was open so so I whined in my best Angeleno and got ferried into town for a meal at Jack's where I met a couple of other playwrights, and a very dry Martini.
Day one proper of the festival, I awoke (Awoke being a relative term since I hadn't slept in my overexcited exhaustion.) Went to the school cafeteria, chattered excitedly with other sleep deprived playwrights, and entered the Inge theatre for our orientation.

This is the 35th Inge festival, but the very FIRST Playlab. Karen Carpenter the AD and captain of the ship, explained that it had long been her goal to bring working playwrights to the festival, and here we were!

Felling honored, but queasy (My play "Picture Me Rollin" was first in the line up along with James Trivers, "Drinks With Mother Teresa.") I trotted off to a master class taught by Lee Blessing.  I use his material, (Two Rooms, Walk in the Woods, Eleemosynary) in my acting classes.  A brilliant, literary giant, he is also warm, engaging and nurturing of other playwrights.

After lunch the PlayLab started. I hadn't met the actors or the director until I walked into the green room to say hello. My piece is VERY new. It is a baby first draft, and I don't know what-the-hell impulse made me send it in. Except, I'm nothing if not impulsive.  Lee is my respondent as is Beaufield Berry and Catherine Trieschmann, which didn't make nervous at all.

I was delighted and astounded at the amount of work and care that the actors took with my piece. These were a group from Kansas City, The Living Room Theatre. All of the playwrights have been commenting what a delight it is to have our work read by such a high caliber of performer. 

To be honest, I barely remember what anyone said, except that they related to the subject, liked it, and thought I should expand it. I don't think there is anything worse than being brought onstage and asked to talk about your work. Or anything better. But I should have written everything down. My new playwright friends are all more or less in the same pickle. Mostly I wanted to leave and do rewrites, I was so jazzed by the work I saw. You'll have to ask someone else, but I think it was pretty good.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Reposted from

Diana Burbano

Name:  Diana BurbanoHeadshots Diana Burbano
Hometown: Neiva, Colombia
Current Town: Long Beach, CA
Affiliations: South Coast Repertory, Teaching Artist
Q: How do you self-identify? 
A: Latina, Nerd. I was raised on Star Trek and David Bowie.
Q: Tell me about Fabulous Monsters.
A: I wrote Fabulous Monsters because I had just recently seen Joan Jett in concert  and I heard an NPR interview with Linda Ronstadt about her Parkinsons diagnosis and Melissa Etheridge, who had breast cancer, said in an interview that women guitar players seemed to get a lot of cancer. It sparked an idea about writing a play about rock and roll survivors from the female perspective.
The play takes place in the 70’s and the present, it’s not what I would call a musical but there is a lot of music in it.  I got to work with Moises Vasquez, who wrote me some pretty awesome punk songs. I’d like to add more!  It’s like working at a smelly punk club, which was my happy place as a teen.
Q: What else are you working on now?
A: I’ve been working on a play about a young cousin who was recently killed by a drunk driver. It’s named after a Tupac song: “Picture Me Rollin.” It’s a very simple piece and I’ve gotten very good response for it. It’s going to be featured at the 35th annual William Inge Festival in Independence, Kansas.
Q: What have been the defining moments of your journey as a playwright?
A: I have been a mildly successful actress all of my life, nothing too flashy, but I always worked. Then the time came where there were no roles for me! None. I’m not THIS enough, I’m too much THIS, I’m too old, I’m too young.  My face is so, so… LATINA. Meh.
I decided to write for myself. I wrote the play SILUETA (With Chris and Tom Shelton) as a two hander that I could do with my partner, we could take our young child on the road, I could work as an ACTOR, you know? (Don’t get me started on childcare in the theatre!) It’s about the life and death of Cuban artist Ana Mendieta and her husband Carl Andre who was accused and acquitted of her death. On a whim I submitted it to The Great Plains Theatre Conference and we were accepted. That started me on the road to thinking I could pursue writing, as I found I loved it, and I had so much more power in the room than a mere actor.
My mandate is to write great roles for women.
Q: Who have been your playwriting mentors and heroes?
A: Playwrights I love: Caryl Churchill. Tom Stoppard. Sarah Ruhl, Octavio Solis, Jose Cruz Gonzalez, Stephen Adly Gurgis, Luis Alfaro, Mickey Kessler, Joslyn Housley McLaughlin, Jonathan Payne, Tanya Saracho!
Also I have to praise the actors who have played roles I’ve written and made them better in the process: Mercy Vasquez, Jennifer Parsons,  and Julianna Stephanie Ojeda. Having a great actor tackling your work will only make the work better.
The Latino Theatre Alliance of Los Angeles for believing in me and giving me space to write.
William Mittler, Eric Eberwein and Karen Carpenter for giving me a chance to be heard by a wider audience.
Q: What advice do you have for Latin@ playwrights at the beginning of their career?
A: Write what you want. Write what excites you. Pass the Bechdel test. Meet other playwrights and listen to their work with an open heart. Breathe when you write. Questions are the weakest form of dialog. Don’t give up! Don’t be shy. Submit, submit, submit your work! Be your own best advocate. Join the New Play Exchange. Write great parts for women. If a good actor has a hard time memorizing something you’ve written or if they bump up against something. reexamine it. Maybe by changing it, you can make it work. Listen to them when they say, “But would she do that?” They are deep in the character’s skin. Take an acting class.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: That you can ask me anything and I will try to answer to the best of my ability. I love mentoring. I am a passionate teacher. I’m insatiable. I’m shy. I’m very self critical, but I’m pushy. Yoga helps.
***For more on Diana Burbano, see:

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie became a part of my life, one summer, in San Francisco. I was doing a summer program at San Francisco State with other young actors. I was enthralled and terrified. Margaret Cho was in my class. These kids were hardcore. I thought I was awful. And I was pretty awful, we were devising and self generating and I felt very much at sea.
There was another kid who was in the same boat as me. She went to school with Margaret in SF and I could tell, we were both, aliens in this strange new land. She was tall, had her close cropped hair dyed bright orange and wore scads of glitter makeup. She was shy and funny and cool and she invited me to visit her house in the Mission district, which back then was where the poor people lived. It was run down and a magnificent place to get into trouble. She lived with her dad, they both smoked tiparillos, so the house smelled strongly of tobacco and incense. And cat. 
Up in her room we chatted, did our hair, putting on so much Aqua-Net that we burned our very own hole in the ozone layer. She put the needle on “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” 
I couldn’t move. I almost didn’t breathe. What was this sound? This otherworldly sound, this sound that glittered before my eyes like a mirage! I saw that sound. I remember it as clear as anything. It was gold and silver and ohmygod…
Bowie came into my life, he invaded my soul. A life giving parasite alien presence of fun, and naughtiness and brilliance. He didn’t care. Or he did. Or he cared so much. Oh he was so much. So original, so beautiful.
And brilliant. The Pied Piper of the freaks and weirdos. Our patron saint.
Saint Bowie, the man who fell to earth.
Bowie has always had a place in my life. A perfect song for any moment. An exhortation to be brave and fearless and do things with style and wit and grace.
I don’t believe in heaven or hell. But I believe in Bowie. As his massive energy takes its leave from us and back into the star stuff, I sit with tears in my eyes and say thank you for letting me be a part of your life. You taught me so much.To lead a theatrical life. To lead. To innovate. To never stop dancing. 

There's a Starman waiting in the sky
He'd like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a Starman waiting in the sky
He's told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it's all worthwhile
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie.

Friday, January 08, 2016

An interview on Grand Central Stage
What does it take to be a writer? As an actor, how do you create your own projects? We asked accomplished and award winning writer, actor, and producer Diana Burbano (Silueta, Fabulous Monsters) about her creative process and what it takes to be a successful playwright. 
Diana teaches playwriting and acting at South Coast Repertory check out her classes at
You can also check her out at 
1. What started your passion for writing?
I started to understand that if I wanted to act in spectacular roles written for women like me, I was going to have to write them. My first play, Silueta, a collaboration with Tom Shelton and Chris Shelton, was written expressly as a two hander that Tom and I could perform together. The play took on a life of its own as it started to win awards and get readings around the country. That led to my becoming a part of the inaugural writers circle for the Latino Theatre Association/ Los Angeles. For them I wrote a play about women in Punk Rock, “Fabulous Monsters”, And my writing career took off from there.
2. When people give you feedback on your writing, how do you decide what notes to incorporate? 
I try to listen and absorb. I will take feedback from a dramaturg, from a fellow playwright, from a seasoned actor, and if it rings true to my ultimate vision for the story I am trying to tell, I will incorporate it. I’m always especially excited to work with actors who can really get into the skin of the characters. I take it seriously if someone says, “Would she really say that?” Because they are inhabiting and breathing the life. Sometimes one of my actresses will say something, and I realize that the character needs to go in a different direction, so that she can be truthful to her intent. Audience feedback? I’m a bit less eager to receive. Everyone wants to rewrite your play and tell you how to make it better. It’s cool! Write your own plays! I was once at a audience talkback for Silueta and a lady said she didn’t believe the story was at all plausible. I had to tell her it was a true story. She was mad. I do have certain people I LOVE and will always ask to be in my plays. A good actor gets under your skin and you realize that you are writing roles just for them.
3. How important are festivals like the Fringe? What are the best festivals you recommend? 
I absolutely LOVE festivals. I think they attract the smartest, savviest audience members. (Young ones too! Not knocking our older patrons, but…) The Hollywood Fringe is exciting, as is New York, Edinburgh of course, is the gold standard. (Tom still talks about his time in Edinburgh, drinking and telling stories in a pub and realizing his show was about to go up, he had to pelt through the streets to make curtain.) This is where the fearless work is done.
4. How important is following a structure/formula rather than trying to create your own story telling style? 
Plots are important. Plotting plays might be my least favorite part of it, as I like to write, write and over write. But I learned a lot from Luis Alfaro and the questions he asked me as I was working on “Monsters.” Why? Why is this happening, What does the character want? Is she going to get it? You have to have a good idea of where to begin and where to end. And for pete’s sake, get that inciting incident in there! Audiences aren’t too patient with the meandering playwright anymore. O’Neill would be in trouble! I kid, I kid. 
5. Is self producing a project the best way for a new playwright's work to be seen? If not, what would you recommend?
Ya know, I don’t know. I put a lot of my energy into submitting plays to theaters that i think might be interested in my work. I am so collaborative, I wouldn’t want to be the lead on one of my own projects. On the other hand, self producing is autonomy, and you can do EXACTLY what you want to do. However there is the sad fact that it is so damn difficult to get press for your play. I know projects where that’s where the majority of the budget went, and it still didn’t bring in the audience. If I could figure out the secret to getting butts in seats? Then yes absolutely I would self produce.
6. What do you do when you personally get writer's block?
I am an avid and obsessive researcher. Usually if I don’t have inspiration I read everything I can get my hands on on the topic. If that still doesn’t spark anything I write the worst, lousiest, rotten, cringe inducing whatever, just to get something down on paper. I write arguments with myself, or with people I love. I keep going through the muck. Writing seems to breed more writing and eventually I can get on track.
7.What piece of advice or information do you wish someone had told you when you started writing? 
I think I was pretty lucky. I’ve done MANY original plays and musicals as an actor. I’ve been on the other side of the table and observed how the writers and composers behaved in the room.Also, I have had a lot of people helping me out, and have some unbelievably generous fellow writers that i consider friends. One piece of advice I would give; find a community, a writers circle, people you trust. Writing is really lonely and tedious. Getting in a group imposes deadlines and gives encouragement where needed. Good friends can also be gentle when something is not as good as you want. Always work with people you like and trust. I can’t give you any better advice than that! 
8. As an actor, what are your feelings on writing for yourself or creating your own project? Any advice for those wanting to take that leap? 
DO IT! It is unbelievably empowering. Especially since as actors we tend to be at the bottom of the totem pole. Nothing but good comes of embracing a topic passionately and creating the perfect role for yourself. The surprise for me was that OTHER people wanted to play the roles i wrote for myself! So clearly there was a need. There are lots of examples. You could do a play about your favorite historical personality, a news item that gets under your skin, based on music you love. If it feeds your passion. It is the right thing to do

What does it take to be a writer? As an actor, how do you create your own projects? We asked accomplished and award...
Posted by Grand Central Stage on Friday, January 8, 2016