My Playwright Vanity

As I logged onto the last session of our Artist as CEO online course, my co-teacher Tari Stratton announced my arrival to our Zoom room with I love your profile photo, Roland! My Zoom settings are such that whenever I enter a Zoom room, my profile photo appears for a few seconds before I manually turn on my webcam. Here’s that photo:

at Write Out Front at the Drama Bookshop

I realized in that moment that I kind of love it, too. And think I may know why.

My face is partially obscured by the reflections of the onlookers in the storefront window.

And then I realized that this is sort of true of most of my favorite photos of myself. Like this one, taken in Hudson, NY last summer during a performance of a solo show I created specifically for the setup first imagined by Micheline Auger in her Write Out Front spectacle at the Drama Bookshop: Storefront window. Playwright and laptop inside. Writing. Passersby may or may not stop to observe.

No Place to Hide (A Storefront Spectacle)

It’s not that I hate my face. I don’t.

But I am uncomfortable posing for photos. Still haven’t figured out whether that stems from actual discomfort with not being quite as photogenic as I’d like or whether it’s simply a learned behavior aping my terribly self-conscious mother who routinely cringed at the possibility of a camera lens aiming in her direction.

Here’s a rare picture of her not doing that.

Nechama Tec, post-lunch outside the Smith, NYC.

But the storefront window and the reflection of onlookers provides me just the sort of cover every good playwright craves: the audience and their assumptions, biases, fears, fantasies, needs and projections onto whatever it is we may be putting out to the world.

I’m also quite fond of this one, for obvious reasons, I suppose.

again, at Write Out Front.

And this one, too:

moderating a workshop for the Dramatists Guild in San Francisco

Because, I suppose, although I am sort of the focus of the shot, it’s really about me in conversation with an audience. Without that ingredient, it’s just a kind of idiotic photo of a guy in a blazer with his arms crossed:

And also this one:

Synopsis Clinic at the DG National Conference in Chicago. (photo by: Joey Stocks)

Truth is, I’m happiest when the spotlight is on you, as you respond to my work. (Or I respond to yours?)

It’s your reactions — facial and otherwise — that sustain me.

And that’s why there truly is nothing good about a play that sits languishing in the bottom of a playwright’s desk drawer.

Hence, one of my New Years’ resolutions for 2020. I’m gonna pull one of them out — either out of a desk drawer, or my ass — and share it with the world… in the coming year.

And I suppose by saying so here, right now, on the internet, I’m holding myself accountable. Because, you know, when you post something online, it’s as if you’d put it on a billboard! (Right, Andrew Altenburg?)

I trust you all to hold me to it. And, of course, I wouldn’t say ‘No’ if you insisted on coming ‘round to see whatever it is I manage to mount.

In fact, the truth is, I’d love it.

To end, I’ll leave you with a photo of me, I also quite enjoy. This one does not obscure my face. :)

Comfortably upstaged by the writing on the sidewalk.




Filmmaker, Composer, Playwright, Producer, Teacher and Provocateur. I’m thrilled by new work, regardless of whether or not I made it. HearMeOutMonologues

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Roland Tec

Roland Tec

Filmmaker, Composer, Playwright, Producer, Teacher and Provocateur. I’m thrilled by new work, regardless of whether or not I made it. HearMeOutMonologues

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