contributed by Lisa Timmel, Director of New Work
Picture a playwright. If the person you picture is dead, white, and male, I have news for you. Playwrights walk among us, living, breathing, and creating. One may be sitting next to you right now. (Generally speaking, they tend to love theatre) Unlike actors, they can be hard to spot, but if you look carefully, you can find them in warm hospitable places — mostly small, black box theatres — where these rare creatures grow. A few tips for exploring your own theatrical backyard:
- 1. Bring your sense of adventure. The uncertainty of what you will find when you get to the theatre is half the fun. The next new play you see will not be exactly like one by Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, or even Lydia Diamond. The playwright may throw Aristotle out the window and start a whole new form. Surely, some plays won't suit your taste; however a play written and developed in your own community is likely to speak to truths of your own life. Occasionally, a homegrown play or company makes good in another city — the Huntington's Stick Fly and Sons of the Prophet have New York productions this fall — and it gives you one more reason to be proud of the Boston theatre scene.
- 2. Go on a new play binge. Local theatre festivals and reading series are great ways to accumulate a lot of knowledge about the local theatre scene very quickly. The Boston Theater Marathon is a great place to start. The Marathon stages 50 ten-minute plays in one day. Nearly the entire theatre community participates. Just like samples at the farmer's market, the festival is a good way to learn what suits your palate. This year's Marathon will be May 19 and 20 here at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.
- 3. Forage through the internets. I recommend Twitter. Playwrights like Huntington Playwriting Fellow Patrick Gabridge (@patrickgabridge) tend to be "in the know" about where to go. You can also follow theatres like the Huntington (@huntington) to get the latest updates on readings and new play productions. If you, like many people, are horrified by the idea of going on Twitter, you can sign up for mailing lists. The websites for Central Square Theatre, The Factory Theatre, and Company One are good places to visit. Visit the StageSource website and sign up for StagePage, a quarterly listing of area productions that highlights work by local playwrights.
- can4. Follow the youths. Hordes of talented young people move to the Boston area to study and many of them stay and start new theatre companies. I am really curious about Fresh Ink Theatre (@FreshInkTheatre), a company whose mission is to develop new work with emerging theatre artists in the New England area. Their premiere production opens this December.
- 5. Join us! Do you have a story to tell? There are lots of places to start. The "great granddaddy" of local playwright organizations is Playwrights Platform. Anyone can become a member and receive readings, feedback, and other support. The Huntington Playwriting Fellows has implemented an open application process every spring. StageSource is a local theatre networking organization that sponsors writing workshops. A new kid on the local cultivation block is Playwrights' Commons. They aim to provide retreats and other kinds of support to local writers.