A Guest Post from Julie Crosby, Producing Artistic Director of Women’s Project
We’ve been playing with a very hot hand this season at Women’s Project, with Kirsten Greenidge’s Obie-winning MILK LIKE SUGAR and Catherine Trieschmann’s HOW THE WORLD BEGAN. Next up on our stage is WE PLAY FOR THE GODS, a world premiere play that has been entirely conceived and created by 14 artists of the WP Lab, a free two-year residency program for early to mid-career women playwrights, directors, and producers. It will run at off-Broadway’s Cherry Lane Theater from June 1-23.
The journey to the GODS started about two years ago, when I was told—many, many times and with varying degrees of good humor—that I was crazy. People in my circle (and in my corner) could not wrap their heads around the idea of handing over a main stage production to a group of artists that I did not know (because they had not yet been selected for the 2010-2012 WP Lab) to create a play that had no specific ideas attached in terms of content or form.
While initially terrifying, WE PLAY FOR THE GODS has proven joyously liberating. Read More
Interview with the Lab’s Aussie Import, Alexandra Collier: “I can write plays set in America, but my voice, my ear is Australian”
This interview originally appeared as part of the Australian Writers Project.
Alexandra Collier is a member of the Playwrights Lab
I’d like to ask you about living overseas. Has that impacted you as a writer, either logistically in terms of language or in a more spiritual way?
That’s a really fantastic question, and it’s something that I think about all the time. Yes. Definitely, it has impacted me.
On a superficial level, there are colloquialisms that I’ve had to adjust. But, I think it’s a bigger shift than that: That only starts to open the can of worms, which is there’s something going on which I haven’t quite worked out yet, but it’s to do with the shift in geography. It interrupts your writing in a way that is simultaneously interesting and sometimes frustrating. Sometimes the interruption is the producer voice in your head saying, “this is not produceable on an American stage. Why are you writing an Australian character?”. Then sometimes the interruption is – you’re writing an American character, but you are an Australian, so you are searching around in this weird void trying to place the person and it’s really ephemeral. It’s hard to explain, but I think what I do often as a way to solve that (in my attempt to write plays that can be performed in America, that could be potentially American characters) is that I write plays that are set in other places. Read More
Post by Directors Lab Member Mia Rovegno
Directing in the theater can be a bit of a lonely job. At the end of the day, the actors go home, the designers plug away in their studios, and the stage manager sends the rehearsal report and puts away his prompt book. It is 2am on a Tuesday, but the director finds herself still awake, surrounded by her script, her image research, and the chicken scratch that eventually translates into notes to be disseminated and staging to be implemented. In her dreams, her morning ritual, her steps to the subway, her ride in some elevator, the wheels are still turning. Charged with the task of holding the big picture product in her head while tending to all the minutiae of the rehearsal room process, the director never clocks out. She strategizes what she hopes will be a perfect collision of the creative team’s efforts to realize a production in its most truthful and rigorous form. The director lives and breathes the play well beyond the final minutes of her rehearsals and production meetings, attempting to find the balance between pre-emptive logistical efficiency and creating space for beautiful ideas to crash and burn or break through to their greatest heights. And in the moments spent struggling with the big questions—Is this the right choice? The best choice? The safe, the obvious, the lazy choice? - she sighs with relief when she remembers that the amazing minds of her artistic team struggle alongside her, chipping away at that illusive, unwieldy animal that is the creative act. Read More
Post by Directors Lab Member Jessi D. Hill
A few months ago I started calling our director team “the friendly-4-headed-director-monster.” It still feels like the most accurate description of our team to me. We are all striving to be of one mind about the direction of the play each time we receive a new draft, but the concept of having 4 directors equally controlling the creative process can seem frightening and maybe even like a recipe for disaster to any outside eye. There is, of course, a lot of risk involved as this experimental set-up, but I think the challenge is something that excites and whets our theatrical appetites.
Our director collaboration will demand constant communication so the actors and design team consistently feel like we are a unified front. So far, what’s been a real surprise to all of us, is that we are not only open to experiencing what it will be like to fully collaborate as directors; but that we have already been able to experience the joys and benefits of having 3 other directors eyes on every moment – we all see something the other may not see. Read More
Post by Writers Lab Member Melisa Tien
What has struck me about this journey is that new play collaboration might be analogous to having a child. When the subject first comes up, it’s scary, exciting, and new. The decision to actually do it is heady and fraught with doubt, but buoyed by hope and the idea of making something beautiful together. The child’s conception—the messing around, the playing with ideas—is fun and passes all too quickly. It’s followed by the gestation process, which conversely feels like self-imposed isolation. (In this creative process, I’m referring to a period when the writers go off to work, apart from the rest.) And then finally, the birth occurs—the moment when the writers release the work into the hands of all of the collaborators, which for this project includes the directors and producers. The product is out there for those who took part in its conception to witness. It is out there in all its ugly, screaming glory: the first draft. After a short while, the ugly baby grows into itself a bit more. It becomes more refined and defined. Everyone starts to provide feedback on how best to raise it; everyone wants what’s best for the child. We are now the collective custodians of a communally conceived child. Read More