Friday, July 24, 2009

Fresh air - its pretty awesome.

Endstation's New Playwrights Initiative

Here at Endstation, we happen to believe that the Sweet Briar campus is one of the most beautiful places in the country. So beautiful in fact, that people travel from afar to enjoy its splendor. So peaceful, that one can wander the campus lost in thought all day without interruption. So inspiring, so breathtaking, that one cannot help but feel more optimistic and creative whilst traveling its paths.

And so came about this super awesome idea.
Here to tell us all about it is the program's director, Michael Stablein Jr.

M: How did the idea for this program come about?
A: There were two primary factors. Initially, we all liked the idea of a resident playwright, and discussed that possibility for a while. Then, as we thought about the abundance of space on campus, and about VCCA and how they use Virginia as a retreat for city writers, we asked ourselves - why couldn't we use this space for a similar purpose? Second, Josh [Mikel] told us that the Kennedy Center's alliance program was shutting down due to the economic downturn, and many of his fellow playwrights needed a place to work on their existing pieces.

Thus, Endstation's New Playwrights Initiative was born. The week-long intensive is designed as a respite for working playwrights from around the country, and provides the artists a chance to leave the city behind, leave work behind, leave life behind, and focus solely on their art. The serene setting of the Sweet Briar campus provides an ideal retreat.

OK...back to the guy in charge:

A: So far, what has surprised you most about this experience?
M: How varied the playwrights are. We have one from St. Louis, one from Baltimore, one from Chicago - all have completely different writing styles. American realism black drama. Quirky/clever/contemporary dialogue. Futuristic/surrealist writing. Metanarrative. The diversity is wonderful.

So, in this inaugural year of the program, 4 playwrights are with us for one week, during which time they are working on two pieces:
  • Ad-hoc - Pre-existing works in progress. This component allows playwrights to work on and then present "works in progress," and are immediately followed by an open dialogue between playwright, actor, and audience in order to offer new perspective to the playwright prior to further revision and review.
  • Postehaste - A Marathon. The marathon begins with a series of variables (ie: properties, characters, phrases, settings) all chosen at random which establish a bedrock for each play. The playwrights are given the next twenty-four hours to author the skeleton of their work. Then there is a closed reading followed by comments and criticism before the playwright returns to revise the script.
Back to the man with the plan.

A: What are your plans for the future of the New Playwright's Initiative?
M: I would love to increase the length to
a 3-week program with one week dedicated to marathon work and 2 weeks of free writing. I would also love to get the community more involved in the process - as actors, observers and critics.

A: Thank you Michael.
M: Ashley you are super awesome. Awesome. Just Awesome. (Blog author failed to transcribe this portion correctly so some paraphrasing/exaggerating may have occurred)

So, just who are these guys?

Daniel Caffrey

Dan is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Tympanic Theatre Company, a Chicago-based ensemble dedicated to new work. His play Folkfire received a staged reading at Chicago Dramatists and will be produced as a part of Tympanic's upcoming short play festival Bastards Of Young. He holds BA degrees in Theatre and Creative Writing from Florida State University and is a graduate of the Training Center at iO.

Josh Mikel

Josh is from Conyers, GA and graduated in 2007 with honors from Florida State's Theater and Creative Writing programs. His play The Monster Hunters won the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Theater for Young Audiences award in 2007, and was published by Playscripts publishing in 2008, and his play, Quentin G, was a runner up for the 2006 John Cauble Short Play award at the KCACTF and was recognized by the Atlantic Costal Conference as one of the best undergraduate honors thesis projects of 2006. Aside from writing, he acts, does freelance art and design (, and tours full time as the drummer for the rock band Look Mexico on Suburban Home Records.

Erik Kalman Levitz

Eric was born and raised in Glastonbury, Connecticut, home of the oldest continuously running ferry in the United States. He is going to enter his senior year at Johns Hopkins University this fall. He was a two-time winner of Stephen Sondheim's Young Playwrights Inc.'s national award for best new work by playwrights under 18 , in 2005 for his one-act "Penny" and 2007 for his first full-length play "The Sweet Agony of the Frozen Summer". In 2008, his play "Without Parachutes" won the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's award for Best Ten-Minute Play.

Tearrance A. Chisholm

Tearrance was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and went to school at the University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou), where he received a BFA in Graphic Design. He has written two full-length plays: Burning Books, which was given a staged reading as part of the Mizzou New Play Series, and Niggerville - which was a finalist for the KCACTF one act play contest.

If you would like to check out what these guys have been working on this week, come to a reading!

Posthaste readings of week-long marathon work
Sat. (25th) & Sun. (26th) from 3:30-5pm (two playwrights per day)
The Babcock Performing Arts Center Lobby and Gallery

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