Obituary

A poem by Jamie Rosler
I hold grudges
Or maybe
they hold me

Time and again
I remember
The things I didn't say
The points I didn't make
The wrongs I didn't right

Or you didn't

Or we

Forgiveness
without an apology
Forgive you
For me

Old friends & ex-lovers
visit dreams
Surreal impossibilities and mundane meetings,
in the world
in my head
Interrupted sleep
Startled by imagined moments

There was a wake yesterday
I've been sleeping better

One less grudge
One loss I'm not sorry for

Not sorry for me
Though
sorry for a mother's loss

Forgiveness
without an apology
Forgive you
For me

I hold grudges
Or maybe
they hold me

Right of Way

By Jamie Rosler

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, over fifty years since his assassination, and American politicians are making excuses for white supremacist rioters’ invasion of our government buildings.

There’s a general rule (laws, actually, all over the United States and in several other countries around the world) that pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections and crosswalks (marked or unmarked). As a pedestrian, though, one knows how rarely that rule is adhered to by drivers.

Regardless of legal standing, the responsibility ultimately rests with the person most likely to sustain a life-threatening injury, assuming they care to keep living. It’s not fair, but it’s true.

Also not fair but true, as with many other statistics in the USA, people of color are more likely to be injured or killed in a vehicle-pedestrian accident. This is the result of various factors, all of which could themselves be written about at length (and indeed have been and should be). Those factors are not inevitable facts of human existence. They are entirely within our control if only we (white people, those in power anywhere, you who are reading this essay) would stand up every day and speak these truths out loud.

___________________________________________________

As I sat in a Jayco-brand camper in a Dallas wood lot less than a ten-minute drive from where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, I wondered why messengers of peace are murdered but messengers of murder aren’t.

Not wanting to be a messenger of murder myself, I have to acknowledge the innate hypocrisy of having little to no objection to someone assassinating the 45th President of the United States. For people who care about humanity, and have been paying any attention to American politics, it seems hard to argue against the idea that innumerable lives would be better, if not outright saved, had he been disposed of a few years ago.

Of course there’s no knowing what his most rabid supporters might have done in reaction, just as there’s no reason for progressive liberals to think a Pence presidency would have been kinder (the modern Republican party has been heading down this road for decades, after all), but the mob that stormed the Capitol earlier this month would certainly have been fed less fuel by their narcissistic dear leader.

As I was writing this, an historic second presidential impeachment came to pass, and of a one-term president no less. The likelihood of a conviction in the Senate is sadly not guaranteed. We’re looking at the very real possibility of a second American Civil War, fought over much of the same ideologies (hint: it has nothing to do with federalism or states’ rights). 

People are posting on social media to help their community prepare for the worst possible scenario. I changed my travel plans (don’t @ me, I’m being Covid-safe) from driving from Texas to New York right now, to waiting until after Inauguration Day to avoid a potential spike in nationwide violence. It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, over fifty years since his assassination, and American politicians are making excuses for white supremacist rioters’ invasion of our government buildings.

____________________________________________________

Walking my dog in west Dallas the other day, a pedestrian in a city of drivers, I stood on a corner across the street from a park and at the entrance to an interstate on-ramp. There was no traffic light to wait for or obey. Cars from two different directions were taking their turns, as they saw it, disregarding the person standing and waiting to cross, until one driver stopped. Instead of making a left turn onto the highway when traffic stopped coming from the other direction, they stopped and waited for me to cross the street.

This simple act resonated so deeply, in a way it might not have in a different time or place.

We all have the power to change patterns of behavior that seem otherwise ingrained in our society. We have the power to see, to decide, to act for change. We have this power every day in everything we do. We can be the government official supporting sedition, or we can actively stand against it and protect our fellow humans.

Which do you want to be?

2020: A Work in Progress

By Jamie Rosler

When I signed up for this blog slot, it was a choice made entirely absent of the realization that this is the last Undiscovered Works blog post of 2020. One might expect the writer of an essay published on December 27 to wax poetic about the year past and the possibilities that lie ahead, to reflect sagely on where they’ve been and where they hope to go, or at the very least to recognize the responsibility inherent in an end-of-year reflection.

I have no waxing and no sage reflections, with just the weight of an unmet deadline on my shoulders. There are people whose job it is to recap past events, report on present circumstances, or predict future possibilities (though that last group rarely does us any favors with their forecasts), and I am not one of those people. Sometimes I turn those events into trivia questions but my editorial expectations regarding the public good are confined to the small spaces and networks of people that make up my individual world. My dog tends to agree unconditionally which is good for the ego but bad for perspective.

It’s hard to write about the last year (or the outgoing presidential administration) without using the word unprecedented. Can we all agree to shelve that word for the next four years? In fact, let us just scrap the entire concept of unprecedented actions, instead leaning into choices that have been tried by other societies and proven positive for years. Things like universal healthcare regardless of individual wealth, financial reparations to those that our government has directly harmed through generational enslavement, taxing the absurdly rich and seating more women in places of power.

Appearances and content aside, this essay wants to be light and funny. It wants to bring you a moment of delight to help counter the weight and the worry that you’ve carried with yourself since March, or since you came out, or were born Black in America. Does that make me David against Goliath, but my slingshot is broken and the sun’s in my eyes?

I don’t have the skills, or perhaps just the distance from our present moment, to offer viewpoint-changing revelations that provide answers to all (or probably any) of your questions. What I do have is sympathy for your worries, a shared sense of confusion about humanity’s expression of both its best and worst traits, and a wish that any harm this year caused you can and will be reversed in the months to come.

The problems of our world can feel insurmountable in even our most plentiful of times, let alone in our current state of widespread half-truths, authoritarian power grabs, and white supremacy teeming all around the nation. Yet, in this same year that saw the ultimate politicization of public health, we saw innumerable protests across the country and the world decrying the ongoing violence against our Black brethren at the hands of the state. We saw record numbers of queer people and people of color running for public office and winning. We saw neighbors helping neighbors eat, vote, and stay healthy. Teachers, healthcare workers, and stay-at-home parents may soon finally receive the credit, respect, and pay that they deserve for raising our children, caring for the unwell, and educating the next generation. If your eyes were previously closed to these inequities, it is not too late to stand up for a better future.

One thing I believe we can all take away from this past year is that nothing, literally nothing, is guaranteed. We can view that through a lens of nihilism, or we can see the beauty and promise of a world that has yet to be created, but for which the seeds already exist in all our hands. When enough of us understand that we truly are Stronger Together, we will then be ready to Make America Great.

Testimonials


Working with the team at Undiscovered Works is a constant pleasure. The real support and sense of creative community that comes with presenting for and being an audience member at UW events, is priceless. Hearing stories from so many different points of view inspires compassion and empathy, two sorely needed emotions in the present day, and that compassion is also available when you’re an artist developing new work for the UW stage.

-Jamie Rosler, Broadly Entertaining

“I wrote the one-woman show adaptation of my yet-to-be-released second memoir ‘Queen of the Jews.’ I am a bit of a ham and love public speaking, but I am not an actress and have never performed a one-woman-show before. UW gave me the opportunity to perform the piece at Dixon Place. It was a spectacular experience. A sold-out, standing room only crowd, filled with love and applause and laughter. I got to live that expression, “Brought the house down,” and it was glorious. I left that night feeling empowered and floating on air and filled with inspiration to keep on writing.”

-Chef Rossi of The Raging Skillet, writer/performer



“Undiscovered Works fulfills an increasingly rare but perennially vital role in New York City theater: giving artists an opportunity to present brand new work, in a legit theater, to a live audience, at no expense. I know I’m just one of many writers and performers who’ve gained clarity and direction through this wonderful series.” 

-Adam Strauss, writer/performer, “The Mushroom Cure”



“Undiscovered Works is, in a word, community. At any given performance, you’re likely to experience everything from films and plays to songs and solo works. It truly represents the entire range of creative possibility. And you’ll think, as I do: ‘I belong here.’”

-Nathan Christopher, Playwright


“Undiscovered Works gave me my first stage time as a newly-minted NY resident, and that opportunity gave me a chance to feel connected to other vibrant artists and the exhilaration of performing for a supportive crowd. This foundation is invaluable and has given me the confidence to pursue more performance opportunities.”

-Jessie Wayburn, writer/performer



“Seeing our verbatim play, “The Mama Dragon Monologues” performed by brilliant professional actresses was a revelation. Undiscovered Works plays a crucial and unique role in unearthing and nurturing new work that would otherwise never be seen in New York City.”

-Sue Bergin & Scott Sublett, writers / educators

I so appreciate the opportunity to meet and audition for you both, you are so kind and it was such a wonderful and welcoming experience.”

-Auditioner



When Corona blew into my world, it felt for a moment that fear, sadness and anger would be all that filled the void. Then Undiscovered Works discovered Zoom theater. They produced two of my short plays both with the pandemic as a central theme.
It was a sold-out crowd! Who knew you could sell out on zoom? Everyone loved it. So validating. So encouraging. Rehearsing with my director and actors felt fun and so very nourishing…I feel inspired and ready to keep writing and telling my story. Thank you, Undiscovered Works, for giving a home to my voice. Thank you for making me feel NOT alone.”

-Chef Ross, writer/performer, chef/caterer, The Raging Skillet