We had the good fortune of connecting with Meghan Magner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Meghan, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I feel that risk is a catalyst to great art. To do something that’s never been done before requires a certain amount of fearlessness and a good amount of crazy. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t take risks. It’s very true the saying, “where there’s a will there’s a way.” I live by that.
As an artist, if you create work constantly thinking about how it’s going to be received you are going to create art in the collectives’ comfort zone. Great art pushes the collective out of their comfort zone. So you have to go there first. It’s a very scary and sometimes lonely place. There have been so many nights where I’ve woken up thinking, “Oh god, what did I just do?…. Did I really write that?… Did I just say that in a meeting?… What was I thinking?…”
People sabotage themselves by pulling back when they should have just kept pushing forward. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what other people might think. But you can’t listen to that and just do your thing. The world will thank you later.
There are plenty of things I’ve written that I thought might get misinterpreted or might not be understood. There are so many circus skills that I thought I couldn’t nail but I pushed and I trained and I got my body there to do the unimaginable. Plays I wrote would get a laugh on a weird night in a place I never expected it to come from.
The biggest risk I took was going full on in a play I wrote a couple years ago here in LA. I had plenty of experience producing theatre, but always with a partner. This show I wrote, directed and produced myself. I didn’t know anybody. Somehow we got it done and sold out the show with standing ovations night after night.
You’re your own biggest advocate. You know full well what you’re capable of. Go for a bit farther than that, work hard and don’t rely on anyone else to make it happen for you. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
You never know how someone else is going to digest or interpret your work; so just do it anyway. Be real about it, be genuine and you really can’t go wrong with that. The real risk is being false about it, playing to the people, or worst of all doing nothing.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Something that really sets me apart from other writers is that I use my body to write. I think that’s the most unique thing about my process. As I’ve developed more as a writer I’ve realized that if I don’t dance or move beforehand – the content isn’t as good. Most of the time as I’m moving I get the best ideas for a script or show. The body and mind are extremely connected. I’ve learned this through working in theatre and circus. Doing yoga and meditation help too. When my body feels good and active, so does my mind.
Over the past year I developed a pilot, wrote a feature and started brainstorming a comedic memoir about my mother. I’m most exited about a couple circus shows I’m writing.
Currently I’m in the middle of writing two. One takes place on an ancient island hidden in the sea, filled with mystical creatures and god-like beings. The movements are very sensual and cohesive, as the ocean moves with all its parts under the waters, so does this play. There is tremendous hidden depth and enchantment.
The other is a bit more in the modern age, but nostalgic. It has to do with the gritty world of circus and live music shows, and loving someone from afar but not being able to communicate that with words. The music of the night and smoke from the performances also lend this otherworldly sensation to the stage that I’m very excited about.
I love the feeling of being transported through theatre. I think that’s the magic that lives on the stage. When the house lights go down and the stage lights go up for a moment we are living in another world. We are seeing things we may have never seen before and we’re hearing stories that might open our eyes to new lives and ways of being.
I’ve struggled a lot with letting go of things I’ve written. My shows to me are delicate beings. They have all the nerve endings of my heart and it’s tough to send that out into the world. It feels like giving up a piece of me.
If you’re working on a show that will be performed, you have to let it go. It is going to transform multiple times in front of your eyes and you have to learn to comprise. The actors are going to have their interpretation and so will the audience.
If you’re working in film then so will the directors, the cinematographer, editors, then the marketing teams, producers and then the audience. Although it feels like your baby and everything you are, you have to learn to lean into the flow of life. That is art and life after all. You can only have so much control and the rest is up to the Universe, God or whatever else you believe in.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If you want a nice sit down brunch situation go to Elephante in Santa Monica to take in the beauty of the Pacific Ocean. Gjelina is one of my favorite spots on Abbott Kinney.
For art in the city check out the LACMA. The Tar Pits sound unwelcoming but depending where you sit have some nice views. The Broad is an amazing free museum that has great exhibits.
House of Intuition is a great place if you want some crystals. There’s a Botanica on Pico, but I don’t remember the name so I’d just have to take you. LA is full of those experiential word of mouth only things. That’s what keeps the spirit of the city thriving.
The Pacific Palisades Park is great and you get to walk down some amazing stairs to the beach. If you skate I would bring your board or blades and you can hit the pathway that takes you to Venice or Malibu.
The diversity and richness of the city is incredible. One day you’re at the shore and the next you’re downtown at a museum. That’s what I love about LA. Each neighborhood has such distinction and personality. Every day is a completely new experience.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I dedicate my shout out to a home in the intentional community network of Los Angeles. There are real angels living in this city. When I first moved here I didn’t know anybody. I met a beautiful human through an online group that was vetting members to become a room mate at this house called The Sugar Shack. They saved my life in more ways than one.
In addition to a place to live they offered me friendship, family and community. Different houses have different intentions and this particular house was for artists new to the city. By living there, each resident would adhere to the rules and mores of the home and do their part to keep it successful.
I weeded gardens, I patched up caulk in old moulding, I nail gunned a couple times to seal in netting that kept critters out of our basement. I painted walls and helped with yard sales. I attended the weekly meetings where we discussed the house budget. I went on bulk grocery runs.
In turn I had an amazing and more than affordable place to live. I saw amazing live rap shows, met other artists using our communal space to showcase their work, and found amazing inspiration through the people I met and things I experienced. If it wasn’t for the kind and creative folx at Sugar I would not be where or who I am today.
There are many other underground networks in the city that offer homes with focuses on sustainability, veganism, yogic lifestyle and so on. You just have to look and you’ll find them. These are the lifeblood keeping the culture of Los Angeles alive. They nurture young minds and only ask that you contribute to preserving them, doing your part and being a good house mate.
3. (R) Jerricka Bolen, (L) Jamie Navarro 5. (R) Janai Dionne 6. (R) Olivia Florence (C) Rei Dantes (L) Gabe Freeman