Our Santa Barbara Reading

Katherine JamesBy Guest Blogger, playwright Katherine James

Saturday night – April 12, 2014 – Santa Barbara.

I feel like I had waited forever for this glorious and magical evening.

When my play, The Old Salt, was chosen as a semi-finalist I put the date on my calendar with a wish and a prayer.

Would I be able to put myself first in my own life just for that day?

So much had gotten in the way of that principle I try to center my life around.

I clung to it through the roller coaster ride that has been my life lately.

At one point, when the surgeon who performed my baby granddaughter’s open heart surgery on my 62nd birthday a mere 10 days ago announced, “There are two things that have to right themselves in her heart. If they don’t, she’ll need more surgery and be in the hospital for longer than a week.”

I knew were the baby still in the hospital I just couldn’t.



She came home 4 days earlier than expected.

Strong – feisty – caring.

To be in the presence of someone who cares so much about living every moment of life fully and gloriously makes everything else fall away.

Of course I was going. And my husband, Alan was going with me!

He found the most amazing “last room available” spot for us at the Hotel Oceana in Santa Barbara – overlooking the sea – and off we went on Saturday morning.

What a way to come back to life.

The act of going to the wonderful festival at Left Coast Books would have been enough to affirm that.

Of course, waiting for me was so much more.

The extraordinary Kate Bergstrom – brilliant actor, wonderful director, sensitive writer who was producing this part of the four-city festival.

Emma Fassler – such a talented actor! I had been a fan for years through Theatricum Botanicum.

In addition to Kate and Emma, there was a wonderful ensemble of actors: Phil Levien, Nick Sheley, Jenny Marco, Carol Metcalf, Simon Taylor and Bill Egan.

I was one of four playwrights who were there. Kate Bergstrom (of course), Anne V. Grob, Christina Pages and me. The three other playwrights, Sharon Goldner, Inbal Kashtan, and Jessica Abrams were missed – but we had their wonderful work that we got to celebrate.

And celebrate we did.

There is nothing more sacred than being in the sacred space that is created when a group of theater artists assemble and make art.

We all soared as the pieces soared.

We laughed.

We cried.

We learned something new about ourselves.

We chatted and praised and accepted praise.

I left feeling whole.

Feeling like the next steps in my life were unfolding beautifully before me.

I emerged healed once more.

I thought about Tiffany Antone –

How generous, brilliant, ceaselessly amazing, compassionate and endlessly creative.

How lucky I was to have met her through Theatricum Botanicum’s Seedlings New Plays Program.

How fortunate I have been to both act in her work and to direct her work and to be a part of a circle of artists who get to say their artistic lives have been touched by hers.

I felt us all connected – in all the four sacred spaces where theater is being made by amazing women because Tiffany made it so.

I inhaled, I exhaled.

I won’t physically be in Waco, Ithaca or Sedona – but I will be there in spirit.

Onward and upward!


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