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Do You Still Miss New York?

Playwrights’ Corner
Headshot of Daria Polatin
Daria Polatin. Photo by Elisabeth Caren.

The theater was my living room. As a playwright, for the many years I called New York City my home, I was at a show, rehearsal or reading nearly every night. I went to rehearsals for my own plays, saw friends’ work in previews, and said yes to whatever affordable tickets I could get my hands on.

When I moved to Los Angeles for TV writing work a few years ago, I missed seeing my theater community on a daily basis. People always asked me if I missed New York. And the truth was, I did. I enjoyed LA for the hiking, great produce, and not getting my shoes completely mauled in transit—not to mention the exciting work in the expanding TV industry. But the quiet evenings out with a friend, or passed in front of the TV, weren’t the same as going to watch a new work enacted by some of the finest of performers of their craft nightly, then going out to a bar after with five-to-fifty of my closest acquaintances.  

Over the next few years as I kept writing for television in LA, I continued crafting plays, always with an eye out for what was happening in the New York theater community. But as I started talking to other NYC theater ex-pats who had also moved to LA, it dawned on me that I wasn’t the only one missing that sense of community that I got from the theater. My dear friend Kelly Miller and I decided to organize a theater ex-pat party and invited all the theater people we knew in LA. We wanted to be inclusive and encouraged friends to bring other theater friends, integrating newbies and natives. Soon after this, in an effort to strengthen the national theater community, I became a co-founder of the Kilroys (along with the lovely Ms. Miller). In addition to our mission of advocacy for plays written by female and trans writers, one of our goals became to galvanize the theater community in Los Angeles. We co-hosted holiday parties with expansive guest lists, promoted LA theater events, and organized our own. dawned on me that I wasn’t the only one missing that sense of community that I got from the theater."

In my personal playwriting life I became a member of the Center Theatre Group Writer’s Workshop where I developed a new play Palmyra, about a young woman who joins ISIS, and I participated in the Echo Theater Company’s Playwrights Lab, beginning another new work there. I had readings with IAMA Theatre CompanyMalibu PlayhouseTheater of Note, and The Blank Theatre. I started buying tickets to theaters in LA, going to readings and shows at The GeffenCircle X, and Rogue Machine to name a few. Despite being in the world capital of blockbuster films and groundbreaking series brought to anything with a screen, the theater scene in LA has been tenaciously at work for years, and it had been sitting right in front of me. I dove into becoming part of the LA theater community.

Integrating myself into the theater world has enriched my experience of living in Los Angeles. Do I still go to the show every night like I did in New York? No. But do I go once or twice a week and have a great time? Yes.

So when people ask me, “Do you still miss New York?” the answer is still yes. Nothing can compare with how the theater thrives there. But I love building community where I am and being a part of the LA theater community—and taking a red-eye back to New York for a visit whenever I can.