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Artist Updates: A Tidal Wave of Awesome

28 Jun

This summer, I reached out to past Freedom Art Retreat participants with the following prompt:

“Tell me one awesome thing you’ve recently done, or about to do.”

The responses are overwhelming in their variety, and I’m excited to share them with you…

Meron Langsner: Three playwriting things: Over Here will be in the NY Fringe Festival, The Devil’s Own Game will have a workshop reading with Turn To Flesh Productions in NYC, and Legacies is being developed through One Bird Productions. (As an aside, fellow Retreatant Angel Veza is likely to be involved in Legacies). I also recently had my play, Bystander 9/11 included in a major documentary theatre anthology published by Bloomsbury.

Lia Romeo: My play Reality won the HotCity Theatre New Play Contest last summer, and I am looking forward to the world premiere in St Louis this fall!

Nina Louise Morrison: I’m a new member of Project: Project and Accomplice Writers Group, and I was a 2014 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference Semi-Finalist.  I’ll be writing for The Mad Dash on July 12th.

Emily Kaye Lazzaro: I had a small role in Olive Kitteridge, which will air on HBO some time this year. Also I’m in Boston Public Works and we will be producing my new play Three next spring. Just finished the first draft and it’s coming together really nicely!

Corianna Moffatt: I devised and completed an oral history project, called The Impossible Questions Tour, spanning eleven states and gathered over 50 interviews about people’s personal philosophies on life, love, and loss.

Phil Berman: I’m running a Kickstarter to record my first album!! The album features songwriting from the last five years, many of them performed/tinkered at Freedom Art, fully orchestrated by Somerville guitarist/producer Brendan Burns.

Steve Bogart: Devised two theater pieces, Interference, and Lunar labyrinth with Retreat alums John King, Phil Berman, April Ranger, and Corianna Moffatt, that performed at the Oberon.

Amanda Coffin: This past year I served as the Artistic Intern at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, MD, did some great new-play dramaturgy/directing work with the DC based company Field Trip Theatre, and served as Dramaturg for the Plimoth Players, the Shakespeare Theatre Troupe at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA.  In the fall I’ll be attending Villanova University to receive my MA in Theatre.

Jason Weber: I recently completed phase one of an ongoing practice-based research project in collaboration with a post-doc researcher at Yale (Mary Isbell) where we worked with students to explore the theatre rehearsal process aboard 19th century warships. We performed phase one aboard U.S.S. Constitution for an audience of museum staff and historians and are currently looking at phase two which will involve an expanded script for a public metatheatrical presentation.

Allie Herryman: I’m the managing director at Open Hand Theater. That’s amazing enough considering where I was at retreat.
But just for fun I’ll add that I also got to invent and propose to the staff some new programming for the theater for the fall, and everything I made up was accepted for implementation (!!!)

Colleen Hughes: My play Directive 47 will have a staged reading as part of Fresh Ink Theatre’s Ink Spots reading series this fall.

Barbara Whitney: Just finished up my first year as chair of the theatre dept at cambridge school of weston! Maybe now I’ll get to some of them other projects.

Peter Staley: Just wrapped up my role as Producer and Actor in the world premiere of The Brink of Us, by Delaney Britt Brewer, in Brooklyn this past spring, supported in part by the fantastic New Georges, an Off Off Broadway company specializing in new works by female playwrights with female directors.

April Ranger: Just had two poems published in a rad anthology called Courage: Daring Poems For Gutsy Girls, and I am currently booking myself a Northwest Poetry Tour for the fall!

Lenelle Moïse: As some of you already know, my book, Haiti Glass, is here. I’ve been touring the U.S. and Canada sharing selections, live. Enjoy the book trailer!

Basil Considine: My comic opera The Frat Party is appearing in the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival, mixing a team of Boston-area opera professionals with local talent.

Amy Brooks: In July, I will return to West Virginia to serve as the Humanities Director for the Contemporary American Theater Festival. 

Rosa Nagle: I’m self-producing my play October in October, 2015, at the Broadmoor Sanctuary in Natick, MA, with help from the Massachusetts Audubon Society. 

Keith Trickett: I am once again acting this summer as Lancaster in Theatre@First’s production of Henry IV.  

Alison Ruth: This fall I’m moving to Iowa City to start an MFA in dramaturgy at the University of Iowa!

Morgan Goldstein: I recently worked as the dramaturg for a year-long development project Sean Graney’s play All Our Tragic through the Radcliffe Institute, and as the dramaturg and line producer for a reading of Sextet by Tommy Smith.

 

Rounding Up #TheSummit

16 Mar

On Feb 17, 2014, Peter Marks of The Washington Post hosted an event called The Summit — it was a public conversation with several of D.C.’s leading artistic directors. As Peter noted in an article for The Washington Post, “Several months ago, Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage, approached me with an intriguing offer: organizing and moderating a series of discussions, with theater people and topics of my choosing, onstage before an audience at her theater.” It was the first of three planned public fora — the others are scheduled for March 24 (focusing on actors), and April 28 (playwrights and directors). The event with Artistic Directors was not livestreamed, but it was live-tweeted by several attendees, chief among them Elissa Goetschiusartistic director of Baltimore’s Strand Theater. It’s probably fair to say that no one involved expected the event to blow up twitter as it did that evening, nor to spark a renewal of the national conversation on gender parity and representation on American stages.

In an effort to capture the vast amount of conversation that evening on twitter, and to bank Elissa’s excellent live-tweet reportage, I created a Storify (a kind of twitter narrative) of the tweets using the hashtag #TheSummit, which you can find HERE.

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There was a tidal wave of response to #TheSummit, and I’m using this space to attempt to catalogue it for future reference. If I’ve missed an article of note, please let me know in the comments section.

• Elissa Goetschius wrote a narrative account of The Summit for 2AMT: “Climbing #TheSummit”

• DC Theatre Scene’s account, by Brett Steven Ableman

• Brett Steven Abelman continued on the subject via his personal blog:  “Season Programming and Personal Agency”

• MD Theatre Guide: “Through Lines: The Summit Part 1 — The State of Washington Theatre”

• Christine Evans: “Cumulative Advantage and Women Playwrights”

• WE EXIST, an open-source list of female playwrights, initiated as a response comments at The Summit that women playwrights weren’t “in the pipeline” that runs to major stages for production.

• Holly Derr for HowlRound.com: “The Myth of the American Theatre Pipeline”

• It was already in the works when The Summit happened, but Boston playwright Patrick Gabridge’s count of the Boston area theatre season (looking at gender and ethnic diversity for playwrights and directors) was well timed for this conversation. It’s in three parts: Part 1 (large and mid-sized theatres) — Part 2 (small/fringe scene & overall numbers) — Part 3 (New England theatre).

• This one preceded The Summit by about 2 weeks, but is topically related: Ms Magazine’s “Binders Full of Women and People of Color Playwrights”

UPDATE 3/17/14: Here are some additional, pertinent articles. Thanks to everyone for the links.

• Chicago Tribune: “In Chicago, Plays by Women, Bucking the National Trend”

• Philadelphia’s genre-defying performance group Swim Pony also took on #TheSummit

• Some context for Pat Gabridge’s Boston count (linked above)  — here’s a count I did for Boston’s 2012-13 Season.

• Mike Lew was prompted by #TheSummit to address how “Arts Education Won’t Save Us From Boring Inaccessible Theatre.” And in case you missed it at the time, Mike also wrote wisely on gender parity in the theatre,  back in June, 2013.

• Rick Davis on HowlRound: “Plays by Women: One Theater’s Story”

• Playwright Gwydion Suilebhan asks what we might mean when we say “gender parity.” And, here’s his count of DC theatre seasons regarding racial and gender diversity.

• Patrick Gabridge took on the topic of “Creating a Diverse World: Choices, Opportunity, and Trade-Offs for Playwrights and Theaters”

• Joel Brown in The Boston Globe framed the issues of The Summit in terms of Boston theatre: “Spotlight Shines of Area Theater’s Diversity Gap”

• BOSTON THEATRE TOWN HALL MEETING ON DEFINING GENDER PARITY: SATURDAY APRIL 27, 11A, AT BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS’ THEATRE. Rsvp at the link.

 

— Ilana M. Brownstein, Director of New Work at Company One & Founding Dramaturg at Playwrights’ Commons

[Cross-posted here and here.]

Race & Gender in the New Play Sector: XX PlayLab

21 Mar

Hello PwritesCom friends!

There are some exciting events coming up this weekend for those who care about playwrights and new plays.  See the announcement below. All roundtables are free and open to the public (no reservations or tickets required), and the panelists are really phenomenal. I’m so proud to be producing and moderating these conversations.

…………

Join Company One, the Boston Center for the Arts, and some of the smartest artists around talking about gender and race in the new play sector. The XX PlayLab Festival features public readings of new plays by Kirsten Greenidge, Natalia Naman, and Lydia R. Diamond, as well as two roundtable conversations with industry leaders. Roundtables are free and open to the public, and will be livestreamed on NewPlayTV Saturday, March 23, 10am (ET), and Sunday, March 24, 12pm (ET). Join us in person at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston’s South End, or online (#newplay #xxc1). Details are below:

 

Saturday, March 23, 10am (ET)
THE XX PLAYWRIGHT IN BOSTON
Featuring:
• Lydia R. Diamond, playwright
• Kirsten Greenidge, playwright
• Natalia Naman, playwright
• Shawn LaCount, director
• Megan Sandberg-Zakian, director
• Charles Haugland, dramaturg
• Moderated by dramaturgs Ilana M. Brownstein & Tyler Monroe

 

Sunday, March 24, 12pm (ET)
WHERE WE STAND: RACE & GENDER IN THE NEW PLAY SECTOR
Featuring:
• Jacqueline Lawton, playwright
• Hana Sharif, playwright/producer
• Lenelle Moïse, playwright/performer
• Anne García-Romero, playwright
• Moderated by dramaturg Ilana M. Brownstein

 

Can’t make it in person? WATCH THE LIVESTREAM.

 

XX PlayLab, a program jointly presented by the BCA and Company One, a BCA Resident Theatre Company, supports, develops and propels the work of female playwrights. This season, the BCA and Company One invited three dynamic women at various stages of their careers for a year-long program composed of in-house and public readings, dramaturgical support and artist mentorship, culminating in a weekend long festival in March.

 

 

For a full schedule of Festival events, CLICK HERE.
For more information about Festival panelists, CLICK HERE.
For more information about, and interviews with Festival artists, CLICK HERE.
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Update: Where Boston Stands for 2012-13

22 Oct

{Welcome, HowlRound readers!}

In late April, I posted a report card on the Boston theatre scene and the available numbers on racial and gender diversity for the 2012-13 season. The problem with those numbers were that some theatres I wished to include in the counts had not yet announced their seasons.

In concert with Boston week on HowlRound.com, I wanted to revisit my accounting, and see if things have changed much in the last few months.

Please see the original post HERE, which lists the companies I counted, by name, and details my methodology I used then (and now).

Here’s what’s changed. Unlike in April, there are now other categories “of color” to count. Again, I’d like to reiterate how non-scientific this is. As I said in April:

“And a final caveat about the designation “of color“: […] It’s tricky, since I’m operating largely from names, bios, and photos for the artists I don’t know personally or professionally. This method obviously has its faults.”

That said, we now have several plays in Boston this year by Asian American writers, when we had none as of a few months ago. I’d call that an improvement, especially in light of the national attention drawn to underrepresentation of Asian American voices by AAPAC-NYC, the Asian American Performers Action Coalition.

I’ve been able to add the seasons of Company One and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre to the mix, as I’d wished to do in April, as well as additional information on shows from the ART, Lyric, Trinity Rep, Merrimack, Central Square, and Fresh Ink.

Here are my revised numbers for the 2012-13 Boston theatre season.

Total number of plays being produced: 64 → 74

Total number of world premieres: 10 → 13

Total number of plays by local playwrights: 9 → 13

Total number of male playwrights/lyricists/composers: 61 → 67

Total number of female playwrights/lyricists/composers: 15 → 19

Total number of playwrights/lyricists/composers of color: 6  → 12

Total number of male directors: 29 → 40

Total number of female directors: 15 → 29

Total number of directors of color: 2 → 5

Welcome HowlRound Visitors

21 Oct

Hello there!

How’s it going? I bet you’re visiting from HowlRound.com. Thanks for your interest, and I invite you to come back later tonight for the release of the most updated Boston Theatre Season numbers on gender and racial diversity.

All the best,

Ilana Brownstein

Founding Dramaturg, Playwrights’ Commons

Thanks, O’Neill

21 Oct

Huge thanks to Anne Morgan of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, who joined us yesterday afternoon for our most recent iteration of Playwright Night Out.

Anne answered questions about the submission process for the National Playwrights Conference, and provided advice writers about how to make the most out of submission of this type, at the O’Neill and elsewhere.

Anne and her colleagues would like to remind you that submission for this coming summer close on Oct 26th.

See HERE for more details. You can also contact the literary office — litoffice(at)theoneill.org — or 860.443.5378 ext 227 with further questions.

Retreat Advice

25 Jul

We asked last year’s Retreat participants to share their advice for new retreatants. Here’s the first installment!

✩✩✩

“Bring: Bathing suit and towel. Shoes for walking, and shoes that can go in the water. Art supplies that you love. music device and headphones. Flash drive to get other people’s pictures at the end.
Maybe: computer. you can live without it unless you’re a playwright who wants to spend time writing. games. more like frisbee than monopoly though.
Leave home: bedding, pretty clothes (you’re more likely to be dirty than need to be pretty). I would also say leave home your cell phone if I thought that was realistic…. Look up maps of the region before you get there. Talk to the locals. Ask what their favorite hikes are. Embrace that you are in a region that has it’s own special history and culture.”

✩✩✩

“Get ready to collaborate.  •  2 heads are better than one, 4 heads are better than two, etc, etc.  •  Show where you are shy and dive in!  •  Bring a bathing suit.  •  There are sea monsters in Little Pea Porridge Pond.  •  Sometimes it’s best to stop talking and DO something!  •  The key is saying “yes and…”  •  Ilana’s cooking is amazing.”

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