The LTA Millennial Committee is sponsoring the second installment in our New Voices series and we need your Halloween themed short plays! We want to provide a platform for unknown playwrights and new directors by staging original shows directed by Millennials.
New Dramatists Residency
New Dramatists pursues a singular mission: To provide playwrights time, space, and resources to create work, realize their artistic potential, and make lasting contributions to the theatre. We offer our playwrights an artistic home and self-guided laboratory for seven years, free of charge, in the company of their most gifted peers. Our playwright company consists of emerging and mid-career writers collectively embodying an artistic, cultural, ethnic, and geographic diversity rarely found in the American theatre.
The National Young Playwrights in Residence Program is designed to nurture the next generation of playwrights through professional mentorship, staged readings, and the sharing of their work through digital platforms.
Six playwrights between the ages of 18 to 25 will be selected for a year-long mentorship with an established professional writer toward developing a new work. This will culminate in a staged reading of the young playwright’s work in August 2018 at The Echo Theater.
*** FOR MORE INFORMATION about these and other opportunities see the web site at http://www.nycplaywrights.org ***
*** ADVICE FOR PLAYWRIGHTS ***
Before (Rebecca Lenkiewicz) leaves, I ask what advice she would pass on to a playwright starting out. I intend it as a question about craft. But I should have guessed that her answer would be about emotion. 'Write from the heart. Write about what moves you. It has to be about truth, really. Don't try to be clever.’
How I Learned to Drive playwright Paula Vogel traveled to the Minneapolis Playwrights’ Center in recent weeks as part of the Dramatists Guild Fund’s Traveling Masters Program.
The two-day visit offered writing development opportunities between Vogel and local playwrights, as well as a public symposium in which Vogel shared her personal thoughts on collaboration, theatre, insights on the writing process and the art of playwriting.
PAULA VOGEL ON HER NEW PLAY INDECENT AND ITS HISTORIC CONTROVERSY
Over the years, learning the craft of playwriting, I’ve gotten all kinds of advice. Some of it was actually good advice. But when the creative juices are flowing, the concept of viability — whether or not my plays are “producible” — is the furthest thing from my mind. I want to write, write, write, and write only what I want to write. When I’m not actually writing, I want to daydream about the writing and take it to bed with me and make out with it and fall asleep with it and then wake up with it and do it all over again. This other “nuisance” — the practicality of playwriting — is a damned buzzkill, frankly. It is, after all, my whole heart and soul on the page. Don’t depress me with your logic!
What advice do you have for playwrights starting out?
I actually really struggle with this, in the same way that I struggle when I’m asked to teach playwriting. Because the fact is, often times the best work is made in the least orthodox ways. But if there’s one concrete bit of advice I can give that I’m pretty certain I can stand behind: write ten full-length plays. And more than write them, really work on them. Suffer through readings and talkbacks that make you want to crawl into a hole and die. Get used to being the one person in your writing group who is always met with awkward silence after your pages are shared. Prepare for your first major review to be very mean. Expect early collaborators of yours to leave you behind because they perceive you to be dead weight. All of these things happened to me, and some version of them will likely happen to you. But keep going, write those ten plays, because in all likelihood those first ten plays won’t be all that great, but the eleventh might be doing something interesting. (And yes, I’m speaking from experience. In all honesty, it took me way more than ten plays.)
Any advice for playwrights about to submit for the festival?
Ramón: Two things. First, start writing early. That way, you can sketch out a few ideas before committing to one. Choose the idea that really gnaws at you, especially if you don’t really know what to think about it, or how you’re going to do it, or if it’s going to work at all. Second, make time to revise in December and January. When you get feedback, first from your peers in workshop and later from your director and actors, accept it graciously and use it to really examine your script, wrestle with it, rewrite generously, and then cut viciously. Plays aren’t written; plays are wrought.
WRITING ADVICE FROM EDWARD ALBEE
When I was 17, I took part in California’s Young Playwright’s Project. One of the highlights of the Project, was a visit by award-winning author Edward Albee to various high schools to discuss writing and critique the works of one or two students. When I heard about that opportunity, I was determined to have my work critiqued. Even then, I knew this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I knew of Edward Albee because my Mom had the LP of the Broadway performance of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. In advance of Albee’s visit, I read Woolf, although I did not fully understand the innuendoes and the ironies in the work.
I'm sure that you've been asked a lot of questions around the recent cancellations of Boys, Girls & Other Mythological Creatures by the NCDSB, so I won't ask you the same questions. I personally felt very disheartened and angry when I learned about the cancellations, but it helped me realize how easy it is to become comfortable in our own bubbles and think that bigotry, racism, transphobia and homophobia only happen at an arm's length. You're an inspiration to a lot of us, especially playwrights, so what is your advice to aspiring playwrights and creative professionals who are trying to make impact though their work on how they can remain resilient in the face of stigma, backlash and negativity considering the current political climate?
That's awfully nice of you to say, but I assure you, there's a myriad of folks fighting the good fight harder and better than I ever could.
At the same time as the story about the performance cancellations was being covered in the media and shared all over social media (speaking of bubbles), the play was still being performed in school gyms all over Niagara. The cast and stage manager kept me updated with beautiful, affirming, positive, and often hilarious reactions from the audiences. Most of the noise around those school cancellations had little (or nothing) to do with my play. Very, very few people writing about it, commenting on it, or making decisions about its appropriateness had seen the show or read the script. I tried to focus on the genuine, wonderful reactions of the children for whom it's intended.
What advice would you give your 18 year-old self?
I would tell myself that being able to sing in a really high pitch voice was OK and that once I hit 40 it would be looked upon as being cool. I would advise myself to not worry and try to please others. My true power as a performer lies in my ability to develop myself even when I'm not working on a project. I would tell myself that the work doesn't start once you get a job.
What's the best advice someone has given you?
I remember my principal at RADA, Dr Oliver Neville, quietly and thoughtfully telling me: "You can do all of these things… If I wanted your character to sing on one line or dance at another line, maybe even do a gambol or a flip at some other moment… I know you would be able to do it. But the question you must always ask yourself when doing these things is - why? What will it or could it mean?" This really sunk in when I was 18 and at drama school.
Playbill Poll: Your Advice to Playwrights
JAN 30, 1997
A lot of playwriting gets done in February, when writers are holed up against the cold. What advice would you give them? What themes should they explore? What sort of characters would you love to see? What could they write that would make you want to line up at the box office to see?
My advice is simple: young and intense. Grab the audience's attention with current subjects. Get younger audiences with intense feelings and a young cast (i.e. similar to RENT and NOISE/FUNK).
Todd Andrew Barnett
I have four words to say to a newcomer who wants to enter this profession: "Write a detailed storyline." Before you write any dramatic piece whatsoever, write an outline of what and who the characters are. Also detail and structure your synopsis so that the actors can understand the characters and that the audience can identify with and interpret them. Then start composing your story. The backbone of any piece is the plot, the storyline; not the lines. The lines are the icing on the cake. Let them come later.
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