Friday, May 2, 2014

Session 2: 4/29/14

This week, we had six visitors —
·      two recommended by one of last week’s attendees;
·      two who heard about the project through the NYCPlaywrights blog;
·      one recommended by a colleague;
·      one acquaintance

Five identified as playwrights (one also as an aspiring dramaturg, and another as a literary scholar), and one as an actor/producer.

I was leading it solo, although Janice Paran (last week’s guest dramaturg) stopped by between appointments, and again shared some of her insights. There were between one and four artists present at any one time, all participating in the same discussion, which seemed to work effectively. (If anyone who was present is reading this, and thinking they would have preferred a different method—say, a sign-up sheet when they arrived for one-on-one slots—I’d be happy to hear what their suggestions are, and why.)

The artists’ questions included some of the same ones from the previous week, among them, more about writing personal statements. Does this mean organizations need to do a better job of articulating what they’re looking for in these? Two weeks in, it’s become a (surprising, to me) recurring theme. I expected to get questions about submitting work to theaters and finding means to get your plays put on—which did come up again. The actor/producer brought up a discussion about some of the challenges inherent in producing world premieres, and we chatted about less traditional forms of finding new work (than primarily through open or even agent-only submissions) that could take particular advantage of her strengths and goals.

One writer spoke of being mid-process on a play in which he’s incorporating absurd elements, but which he wants to remain emotionally accessible. We named other plays he could reference which had accomplished that, and how getting into a room with actors and directors (as he was about to) was probably the best way to address the sorts of tonal questions he had—that rather than try to figure things out alone at his computer, the next step would be to use the workshop process to explore. Simply having those questions sounded like a great position for him to be in as he was starting this next step.

A writer working on a two-character play talked about having some trouble making it feel active. I mentioned the sorts of things I would look for when reading a script (the general basics—want, conflict, and change—and some things that tend to be challenging in extended two-character dialogues, such as having the power dynamic regularly shift between characters). He also asked for suggestions of other two-character plays to read, and the group brainstormed a few.

Again, we didn’t use the time to read anyone’s play—nobody seemed to come with that expectation, and as I mentioned in the last blog, I feel that this project is better suited to other things.

I’m glad to be having this time weekly to hear what is on the minds of a number of artists—including and in addition to their specific projects—because it’s forcing me to think about how I engage with them, and how effective or rightly-focused the things I’m doing that seem helpful to or supportive of generative artists, really are. I keep jotting down notes for this blog about what it’s making me think of, but I’m going to save any big picture-drawing for later.

New location next week! We will be at the Chelsea Le Pain Quotidien, on Seventh Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets. I'll be sitting at the communal table with my iMac and a theater book (TBD) so you can easily find me. The basement theater space at The Drama Book Shop was a short-term solution while we figured out how many people would be showing up; and it seems our needs might be just a tad bigger than the main floor of the shop (which was a potential long-term solution) could accommodate. But I couldn’t think of a better birthplace for this project. If you didn’t know The Drama Book Shop had a space for rent, and are on the lookout for one, stop by the shop and talk to Ric about bookings. And please, if you haven’t already, let the staff know how much your appreciate all they offer by shopping there, and clicking ‘Like’ on their Facebook page.

Take care,


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