Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Pat Alderete

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Pat Alderete

When Terry told us that our workshop, Women At Work, had been invited to read at the Getty Museum, we all said, “Hell, yeah, we want to read!” We felt pretty chingona about this.

The day comes and we’ve been asked to be there hours and hours in advance of the reading, so we can do the tech and rehearse in the space. When we arrived at the entrance to the Getty, we told the guard that we were performing. Instead of directing us to the parking lot, he called to another worker, “Top of the hill! We got an artist here!” A gate opened and we drove up the hill. Angelina Jolie couldn’t have made a bigger entrance.

We got settled in, then went into the auditorium where we would be reading, and it was huge and it was beautiful and it felt like we had arrived at a place that was ours. After rehearsing for a bit, we were starving, and the Getty had catered lunch for us. Terry made sure that the menu included some roast beef sandwiches, so that I would have plenty to eat.

After lunch, Terry decided that rather than have us all onstage from the beginning, she asked me if I would walk down the stairs from the back of the auditorium. During practice, I got a muscle spasm, but I realized that I would have to do it anyway, just keep going, and that was a good lesson to learn.

Just before the performance, we were all saying, “I hope people will come,” and then the auditorium filled up until there were people standing in the back. We were so excited!

When it was time for me to read, I came from the back of the auditorium. I began to read and —boom!—a big follow spot came on me. I was thinking please, don’t let me mess up, please don’t let me mess up, and I just kept talking and reading, an made my way to the stage, and took my place with my fellow writers.

You took us to the other side of the moon that night, and that’s what you do, Terry, you open the door and say, “Come on, you’re welcome here.” You push us and you push us some more, and when I thought it was done, that was just the beginning.