Stuff three apartments with hard-working writers for ten days of nothing but art, discussion, and exploration, and what do you get? For three years RADAR Productions has hosted a writers' retreat in Mexico to find out. This Friday, a group of the Lab's artists will share their experiences -- and some of the work they developed during this year's lab -- in a gathering at Dolores Park Cafe.
Those paying attention know that RADAR is really hitting its stride right now. With Beth Pickens assuming many of the responsibilities at the helm, RADAR's founder, Michelle Tea, has been able to augment the recurring reading series with preview profiles and interviews on RADAR's new blog, an invaluable expansion of the group's mission to "give voice to innovative queer and outsider writers and artists whose work authentically reflects the LGBTQA community's diverse experiences."
With Tea's charisma spreading like watercolor through the organization and now the internet, we get to really know the artists RADAR features -- what they're doing, why, and where they're coming from.
Jill Soloway, former writer and producer of the HBO show Six Feet Under and author of Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, said the Lab "reminded me how to make my art the focus of my day in a way that I carried home with me. It feels like I really reinvented myself and my relationship to my work."
I also asked Jill about RADAR in general and how she thought the organization was coming together. Her response: "What Michelle and Beth are doing with RADAR is the kind of organizing that the queer community is starving for. Absolutely grabs the sort of work that might be considered fringe and places it squarely in the center so that queer artists have the chance to experience something like Yaddo, but as the insider instead of the outsider."
Bay Area sweetheart Beth Lisick joined the retreat this year, and said the experience was "definitely a highlight of my life writing-wise and otherwise!" Lisick also gave a rundown of the trip's activities: "There's lots of writing time structured into each day, and plenty of time to share your work with others if you want to do that. It's so beautiful that you just feel elevated and electric being able to be there. To write for hours and then witness sea turtle births and take snorkeling breaks and swim through caves and attend a shamanic sweatlodge ceremony, and then be rewarded with people cooking the most delicious food for you and being so warm and hilarious and smart. It borders on the ridiculous, the perfection of it does. It's an amazing feat to provide this for people, and they are excellent at every aspect of it. Superheroes."
To see the results of RADAR's experiment in treating artists well, check out the RADAR Lab Showcase this Friday, September 9, 2011, 7pm at Dolores Park Cafe in San Francisco. The event is $5-$10 to support the 2012 Lab retreat. For more information visit radarproductions.org.