An Interview with Zury Ruiz: Aging, Grunting, and the Grotesque on the 101

So, tonight is the first reading of !What a Piece of Work is Man!, and the final interview of our trilogy is long overdue. We’re gonna go with a podcast for the last one, and if you listen, you’ll get to hear about Zury’s inspiration and plans and process. (You’ll also get to hear me try to drive and interview, and speak in a weirdly grating monotone, and say, “cool” a lot. Who knew?)

Zury talked about working with images for this play. Here are some of them below!

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Facial Hair, Writing & Success Baby: My Interview with Madhuri Shekar

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Feels like I’ve been spending a lot of time with Madhuri Shekar these past couple of days. More so than usual, actually, at least during the course of this crazy semester. It all started last Monday evening when I was her date/arm-candy  to the East West Players Gala. Table 60. What a night. We saw awards handed out, performances, ate bread rolls like kings (had to–didn’t know if there was going to be a vegetarian option or not), and of course– heard the line up for EWP’s upcoming season. They’ve got some good plays in the mix 😉

Since Madhuri and I had all this time to share together, I figured I would update my portion of the blog (because I’ve been slacking off, huh?) and interview her.

To spice it up, we went ahead and recorded the interview. Below is the link where you’ll see us discussing her work, her sense of style, hating on Megan Kelly, and other topics.

-Zury

Happy & Sane

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(Picture in the dining room– Tlacolula, Oaxaca.) 

I didn’t work on my thesis play today—and this has made me a happier/ saner person—at least for today.

As of late, I’ve been stuck in the writing of my thesis play—specifically one scene, which for some reason I’m stressing over like crazy. If you don’t finish this scene you can’t keep going! Well, this weekend I spent time working on this scene, re-writing it and re-writing it like mad. Then at one point, Saturday night to be exact, I thought—COFFEE! COFFEE WILL MAKE IT BETTER… Not the case. I got a gnarly headache, threw myself on the floor and whined to my dogs. 

 

NOTE TO SELF—NO MORE COFFEE

 

But it wasn’t all downhill—I ended up making pizza (from scratch, yo!—Madhuri’s last post inspired me) while blasting music in the kitchen. I rolled that mother-flipping dough like it deserved it. Then I enjoyed said pizza while watching Trainspotting with my baby bro and his girl because I love being the third wheel.

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Sunday continued said struggle—the fucking scene just didn’t suffice. Finally, I was like: Just write the scene, Zury. Let it be shitty. Shitty as shitty can be.

And guess what—it is.

 

I decided that for today I would work on something else. So I’m here, in the dining room, taking a small break from having spent a good part of the day working on another piece I wrote last year/second semester. It’s nice to be working on this older piece—It’s nice to actually feel like I know what I’m doing and that I’m being productive. Of course, last year/ second semester this was not the case. I needed a break from the piece. So, I’m hoping that giving myself this small day break from my thesis play will allow me to go back to it tomorrow and feel good about it (doesn’t have to be great, just good).

 

Jorge is now telling me about his day and his new shoes. The only ones listening are the dogs. It’s hard to multitask, so I’m going to stop being disrespectful and listen to what he has to say. 

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Baby Megan Kelly & Friends <3

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Baby Megan Kelly is a cutie. Did you all see her last blog post? If you didn’t you really should, because there you will see the cuteness that is Baby Megan Kelly. I kept telling Madhuri– “I want to draw her” and she was encouraging about it but I wasn’t inspired to do it quite yet. BUT THEN Megan went ahead and made the bear cub comment (please refer to Madhuri Shekar’s last entry to read that little gem) and that changed everything.

Above is the result. It was effortless, really. I drew it late saturday night after the three of us (Madhuri, Megan and I) went to South Coast Rep to see David Henry Hwang’s “Chinglish”–which was really funny, btw. 

I wanted to keep the drawing a secret, make multiple color copies, and use them for Valentine’s Day cards (hence the hearts), but then I remembered that required effort, so… that wasn’t going to happen. 

Madhuri and Megan already know about this drawing, btw. I showed it to Madhuri on Sunday afternoon (via email) and to Megan in class earlier today (Madhuri and I both wanted to see her reaction, so we had to wait). Megan’s reaction wasn’t what we expected. She was confused. 

“It’s Baby Megan Kelly”, said Madhuri.

“Is that a rolled up piece of paper?” asked Megan.

“No. It’s Madhuri “Cinnamon Stick” Shekar. See, she’s wearing her green coat”, I said. 

“Oh”, Megan replied– still confused.

“Zury’s supposed to be the bear cub. See, the glasses”, Madhuri added.

“Oh”, said Megan, clearly still processing it.

Well, that was a bust. 

 

 

The Oddities of My Quarters… because a Writer Needs A Room of One’s Own (Whether they Like it or NOT!)

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I hate writing in my bedroom and I wouldn’t recommend it. Oprah would agree with me.  I once saw an episode of her now defunct talk show dedicated to Feng Shui. The guest interior designer stressed that the bedroom should be a place of relaxation, and that work should have it’s own site.  Unfortunately, no matter where I go to write, it just never happens. If I’m at the library, I worry I might need to use the restroom and someone will take my stuff. If I’m at my local café, I become too invested in the music that’s playing or I stare at my favorite barista who I’m convinced has had a sex change, but I just can’t tell. At the end of the day when I’m hitting a deadline and I’ve no work to show for myself, I end up in my room and become the crankiest writer ever. No relaxation takes place here. Oprah would not be pleased.

How can relaxation, and for that matter writing, take place here when it’s chaotic, both inside and out? Despite having installed a chained lock, family members continuously attempt to enter for no good reason. Even our three Chihuahuas—Lita, Koki and Lucky, come by hoping I’ll let them borrow my bed for a good forty winks. When I lived alone I used to dream of this attention, but from one individual, not my entire family. Coming from them, I somehow resent it.

The desk is no good to write on. Not only is it small and wobbly, but also it’s become the crash pad for all the trinkets and toys that haven’t found their proper place in my room, a sort of Island of the Misfit Toys. Rebecca Nutcracker lives there. She hates it, but she hates most everything. She’s lived on my desk since Christmas 2011, when my parents got her on sale. She used to be a simple beauty, sporting glittery heart shaped glasses and head full of brown yarn for hair, but my youngest dog, Rocky (R.I.P., My Love) got to her. Now she reminds me of Little Edie of Grey Gardens—balding, detached from reality, and full of regret. She knows she could have been something better, maybe a pencil, but that was never in her cards. 

Back outside, the neighbors do their best to provide my room with a continuous soundtrack. I know their lives without actually knowing them. The wife and mother, Vera, is always home with the couple’s toddler, Jesus. Jesus is becoming quite the little asshole. I don’t know where he’s learning curse words, but he’s been using them to insult his mother and I don’t like it. I would gladly spank him, if she let me, but she doesn’t know I exist.

Despite the chaos, there is a level of comfort. I’m a nervous person in general– I over-think things in life and in writing. In my room I don’t have to think about theft, music or sex changes because I know the oddities of my quarters. That has to be some form of Feng Shui.

 

 

Table read

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Zury, in sexy lighting.

We had our first table-read of Zury’s thesis play last night, and you guys- it was amazing. I’m so excited. Our professors called it “Cheech and Chong meets Dexter”. At points we had to stop reading because we were laughing too hard. It’s going to be the funniest, weirdest, sweetest play about illegal organ harvesting that you will see this year.

(Zury, don’t punch me.)

Megan and I typically can’t get through a draft (or even go ahead with an idea) unless we talk it out completely with each other, and so while we’re very familiar with each other’s work in all its stages, Zury works alone. And so we won’t really know what she’s up to. She’ll work on an idea and live with it, and emerge a few months later with a story that is absolutely delightful and funny and surprising- like herself!

Last year we had a staged reading of Zury’s play ‘Señorita Monthly Juice’ (just as amazing as it sounds) directed by Jesus Reyes of East LA Rep, and I’m sure everyone who was there will remember it as one of the best readings they’ve seen, not just at USC, but anywhere. It was a delightful wicked, uproariously funny satire, and last night our professors said that this new play was similar, but had even more depth to it.

Basically, it best represents Zury as she is, and I can’t wait to see how this play develops over the course of this semester. I can’t wait for everyone to see it up on its feet in May!