I hope the first few months of 2016 have been going well for you. For those who couldn’t make it to the conference, we missed you! We’ve also made a point of sharing some of the highlights of the Conference in this newsletter.
We are in the planning stages for next year’s conference December 2-4, 2016. A visit to Brooklyn theatres on Friday afternoon is already in motion, and committees are beginning their work for Stavis and Outstanding Theatre selection. You should have already received a call for nominations for Outstanding Theatre and for new members. If you have not received these materials please email Jeni at email@example.com.
If you have ideas for Person of the Year, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you have particular places you’d like to see us visit in Brooklyn, please contact committee chair Donna Walker-Kuhne at email@example.com.
Thank you again to Jeni, Anita and the Community Engagement Committee for publishing these newsletters! We will be back in touch soon.
Best wishes on the rest of your season.
Risa Brainin, NTC President
IN THIS ISSUE
Meet Our Members
What is Robert Schenkkan reading?
2015 Conference Highlights
10 Great Plays
April 18: Outstanding Theatre Nominations Due
June 3: New Memeber Nominations Due
December 2-4: 2016 National Conference
Have news to share RIGHT NOW?
Why wait? Post it on our FACEBOOKPage!
In the coming weeks, you will notice some exciting changes on the NTC Website, including more interactive content, resources, and a private "Members Portal."
In addition to paying dues and registering for the annual Conference, the Members Portal will include a searchable Member Contact List. Our goal is to continue building and expanding the site, so it can serve as a virtual meeting place where we can connect potential collaborators, instructors and resources within our NTC community, while also building a broader awareness of the National Theatre Conference within the theater community as a whole.
The password for the Members Portal will be: NTC. Please do not share this password!
MEET OUR MEMBERS!
We're featuring two of our members in this newsletter: both designers working on fascinating projects that we're thrilled to share.
Susan Mickey is an accomplished costume designer with over 30 years of experience. She is the senior associate chair and head of the production area and the design/technology program at the University of Texas at Austin. Susan is the recipient of the 2014 Michael Merritt Award for a lifetime of excellence in Design and Collaboration, winner of the 2012 Regents Teaching Award, the 2010 College of Fine Arts Teaching Award and the 2008 Department of Theatre and Dance Teaching Excellence Award.
CURRENT PROJECT: Susan Mickey is the costume designer for Tug of War: Foreign Fire at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre May 11-June 12. This is the first installment of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines' electrifying adaptation, Tug of War, which distills six Shakespeare plays into two action-packed dramas that trace the rise and fall of kings, and the uncommon courage of common men. In the spirit of addictive epic sagas, like Scandal and House of Cards, tensions build as the origin stories of Shakespeare's most iconic rulers unfold—underscored by stunning staging, live music, surprising poignancy and humor. The adventure begins with England’s war with France in Edward III, Henry V and Henry VI, Part 1, and it’s very personal consequences on all who bear arms. The action continues in Fall 2016 with Tug of War: Civil Strife. More information HERE. Rick Thomas is a professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue University, where he heads graduate and undergraduate programs in sound design and engineering. A composer, sound designer, author, playmaker, and educator, he is a Fellow of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, where he was honored with the Founder’s Award in 2008. Rick has composed scores and designed sound for over 100 productions.
CURRENT PROJECT: on sabbatical from Purdue University this semester, Rick is writing a book that sums up what he’s learned about the art of sound and music in theatre. The book is based on a series of lectures Rick developed for presentations in Seoul, Bregenz and Berlin, an international webinar he delivered on “Listening to Theatre” in 2009, and a chapter in Ross Brown’s book “Sound, a Reader.” Rick has worked over the last 15 years to meld core ideas in this research into a cohesive aesthetic that asserts that music is a foundation element in theatre that has biological, neurological, anthropological, historical and philosophical origins. He’s attempting to combine these many fields into a cohesive story about how and when music evolved, how it contributed to the origins of theatre, and how it fundamentally works to transport us into the world of our plays. He has developed a series of 14 lectures for his Introduction to Sound Design course at Purdue University, and is in the process of condensing that class into a three-week intensive workshop that helps students not only mentally understand concepts outlined in the book, but gain practical experience in applying the concepts in real world projects. He is working hard to simplify complex concepts in a manner that will be readily understood and valued not just by sound designers and composers, but by directors, playwrights, actors, designers and anyone who generally has an interest in how we use music to transport an audience into the worlds of a play. No set publication date yet, but Rick hopes to have a first draft completed by end of summer, and will be teaching a test “lay-person’s” version of the course to general honors students at Purdue in Spring of 2017.
WHAT WE'RE READING NOW We asked NTC member Robert Schenkkan what he was reading these days.
THE NEW JIM CROW - Michelle Alexander. A searing indictment of the racial implications of and call to action to dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex.
WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO TO WAR- Karl Marlantes. In our time of endless war, a compelling examination using myth, science, and religion, of what it takes to send our young men and women to war, and then to bring them home again.
Thanks for the great recommendations, Robert! Do you have three books you want to recommend? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have news to share? Email it to: email@example.com. PLEASE NOTE: material should be 100-200 words per event and written as you would like it to appear. Please include links to supporting material (theater, box office, websites, articles, etc.)
Risa Braininwill be working on a new play by Idris Goodwin called We Want the Funk, a rustbelt lullaby on the one! through UCSB's LAUNCH PAD program. LAUNCH PAD is the subject of a film by documentarian Chris Jenkins and 16 UCSB students that was screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 12th and 13th. The film features some great writers including NTC's own James Still.
Produced by Sherry Eaker and directed by Shellen Lubin, the 2016 Bistro Awards took place on March 8th at Gotham Comedy Club in New York. Find out more about this event and check out the Red Carpet photos for this event HERE. Angelina Fiordellisi commissioned Israel Horovitz to write a play, OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES, which will have its world premier in June. The play, which features Estelle Parsons, Judy Ivey and Angelina herself, has already received a workshop at the Westport Country Playhouse and a reading at Cherry Lane.
David Fuller played Fredrik A Little Night Music with Theater 2020 in Brooklyn Heights. His wife and partner, Judith Jarosz served as Director/Choreographer. Their stellar cast included Broadway veterans and some recent college grads. Read a great review in the Huffington Post HERE.
Jeni Mahoneydirected developmental workshops of WAR STORIES by Richard Dresser and ESCORTING TOM by Duane Kelly at Key City Theater's PTPlayFest20 in Port Townsend, WA where she also led a panel on Playwriting (The Kernel of an Idea) and an Insta-Play writing event.
Charles Morey’s new play The Salamander’s Tale enjoyed a terrific, well attended staged reading in February at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre in New York City. The play is “an intense and suspenseful new play about faith, fact, forgery and murder. Based on the true story of Mark Hofmann and the Mormon Church.” Jim O'Connor directed APPROPRIATE by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Trustus Theatre. The cast featured NTC member Erica Tobolski. Read a review HERE.
Native Voices, Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz, Producing Executive Director Jean Bruce Scott is presenting THEY DON'T TALK BACKthru March 20, directed by Randy Reinholz.
Alma Martinez's article "Both Feet On My Ground: Forging a Path Toward a New American Theatre” in (Re)Positioning the Latina/o Americas:Theatrical Histories and Cartographies of Power, Southern Illinois Press, will be published this year.
Jim Volz has signed on as a Series Editor for Methuen Drama in London with plans for a seven-book “Introduction” to various areas of theatre including Scene Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design and Writing for the Theatre. Denver Center Theatre Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson has already been signed for a new book on Directing/Artistic Direction, Los Angeles’ production manager and stage manager has signed on for a new Introduction to Stage Management and Volz is authoring a new Arts Administration book.
Bob Schanke, Dean of the College of Fellows, reports that The College of Fellows of the American Theatre has created a new website that we should all check out www.thecollegeoffellows.org. The site includes nearly 50 major addresses that have been presented by Fellows since 1965! These are addresses by such notable academics as Oscar Brockett, Harry Elam, Jorge Huerta, Margaret Wilkerson, Helen Chinoy, Vera Roberts, and Richard Moody and by such professionals as Jennifer Tipton, William Ivey Long, Jack O'Brien, Romulus Linney, Norris Houghton, Gerald Freedman, and Edward Stern. The complete texts of these speeches can be found on the website listed under "Stevens Speeches." Most of them have never been published. These would be valuable readings for any students and scholars studying American theatre.
NTC member Ms. Frankie Day passed away in October of 2015. Read more about her life and work HERE.
2015 CONFERENCE UPDATE
by NTC President, Risa Brainin
After welcoming our new members, we had a lively and informative session with Nan Barnett, Executive Director of the New Play Network moderated by John Eisner. In particular, Nan shared NNPN's very successful New Play Exchange http://nnpn.org/programs/new-play-exchange, an incredible data base of plays by living writers.
We spent a culturally immersive afternoon in Harlem engaging in dynamic exploration and discussions about the incredible history of Harlem as a distinct NYC community and her rich theatrical legacy given voice by African-descended people, from the past to the present. It began with a lunch and viewing of the 75th Anniversary murals chronicling the history of the iconic American Negro Theatre inside Harlem's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. We then crossed the street to Harlem Hospital Center's Herbert Cave Auditorium to hear presentations by Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad (Director of the Schomburg Center), Historian/Scholar Dr. Barbara Lewis, a conversation with noted black Playwright/Editor William B. Branch moderated by NTC Member Woodie King, Jr., and a discussion with a panel of today's leading Harlem black theatre institutional leaders moderated by NTC Member Benny Sato Ambush. Featured theatres were New Heritage Theatre Group, National Black Theatre, The H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Take Wing and Soar Productions, Inc., Faison Firehouse Theatre, The Movement Theatre Company, Liberation Theatre Company and Harlem9.
Saturday morning, we welcomed Michael Robins and Bonnie Morris, the leaders of our Outstanding Theatre Award winner Illusion Theatre of Minneapolis. Moderated by David Feldshuh and James Still, it was a moving discussion of their 40 years in operation.
The Stavis winner, Jessica Dickey, joined us for a reading of the first two scenes of her play The Guard which had its premiere at the Ford’s Theatre this fall. After hearing the wonderfully funny and moving piece, the membership engaged in a conversation with Jessie, director Sharon Ott and the cast.
Our awards ceremony included Illusion, Dickey, and Person of the Year Polly Carl. Carl gave the Paul Green Award to Native American playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle, and Illusion gave the Emerging Professional Award to Isabel Nelson and Diego Lopes, Artistic Directors of Transatlantic Love Affair.
The day concluded with a rich discussion with Person of the Year Polly Carl. Moderated by NTC Secretary, Jeni Mahoney, this wide-ranging discussion included the mission, development and structure of Howlround and its place on the theatrical landscape, the programming at ArtsEmerson (Emerson's new Creative Producing Program), and the nature of beauty.
On Sunday, our Idea Cafe included updates on the Women Playwrights Initiative and a gigantic brainstorming session on our new initiative NTC Pipeline for New Plays. The Pipeline Committee will be meeting soon and report their recommendations for next steps.
A special note of thanks to Sara Rademacher and Seta Bairamian for all of the work they did to make the conference run smoothly!
10 GREAT NEW PLAYS
10 contemporary plays and playwrights recommended by
Jeni Mahoney, Founding Artistic Director of the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference
Everyone is looking for great new plays: here's ten! Many of these wonderful, talented writers are also experienced teachers and mentors (you'll find an asterisk by those I know have teaching experience.) Where possible I have included a link to more information about the play or playwright. I'm glad to answer questions about any of the plays and playwrights, just email me here.Wetiko by Greg Paul* - Russ, an ex-marine, decides to adopt "Jack", a pit-fighting dog putting his already shaky transition to civilian life to the test. But when the animal's owner shows up with a plan of his own, will Russ' determination to rehabilitate Jack salvage his broken life, or destroy it? - 3M, 2W - all powerful roles, can be played by college students, very current
Concealed Carry by Joshua Rollins - When seven students die in a campus shooting, a Colorado campus becomes ground zero for the concealed carry debate. Ben, a young graduate professor caught in the crossfire, struggles to make sense of his own actions, discovering that the most harrowing ground zero is the one within. - 3M, 4W - powerful challenging roles and subject matter. READ EXCERPT HERE. - Joshua is also a film actor and screenwriter. He is based in Colorado.
Listen for the Light by Kara Lee Corthron*
The word of God has been revealed to Joseph Smith. In Nauvoo, Illinois in 1844, two of Joseph’s flock await their revelations: Eli, a free man tormented by a tragic past and Lula, a precocious young woman newly – and reluctantly – betrothed to the prophet. But when only Lula receives a revelation, it changes her life and challenge Eli’s faith to its very core. - In development, casting has varied. It would be great to see what she could do with a college's resources. This play has scale, vision, poetic language. A truly American story.
Wrecked by Mary Portser
A remote lighthouse. A warring couple. Will the arrival of a mysterious sailor, the sole survivor of a wrecked ship, offer salvation or catapult them all to inevitable disaster? This Hitchcock-like mystery/psycho-thriller is as smart as it is scary. - 2M, 1W - Perfect for a smaller company, a great summer rep play, with 3 great roles. - Mary is based in Southern California and is also an amazing film and stage actress.
The Making of Modern Folk Hero by Martin Zimmerman
Having failed utterly as an actor, Renzo finally finds his calling playing superhero Volo Publicus, a character created by Congressman David Dover, to stop the unjust bulldozing of a public housing complex. But as Volo's popularity grows, Renzo realizes that he's not playing a superhero...he is one. A graphic novel for the stage that leaves us all yearning for and believing in the possibility of a superhero. - 2M, 2W, 2 Puppeteers - great design opportunities, fun, strange, great roles.
- Martin is based in Chicago.
Milo at the Movies book by Tom Diggs*, music & lyrics by Mark Gaylord
Milo and Dexter thought they’d make a killing in vaudeville, but thanks to silent movies they’d have better luck getting arrested than getting on stage. When Milo’s gumption lands the duo an unexpected gig, they find themselves back on the road to success… as long as they can avoid the censor, the cops, the fiancé and each other. - 4M, 3W (I think) An original musical, recent workshop at Goodspeed, still in development. Terrific, smart, crowd-pleasing.
- Tom is based in Southern California, Mark in NY.
The Garden of Monsters by Mara Lathrop
Follow the last shred of hope in the world on its perilous journey from the liberation of Dachau, to a wine bar in present-day London, to the year 2045, where a new plague threatens everyone. In a world full of fear, remorse, and a mysterious two-headed clown, can hope -- and humanity -- survive? - 3M, 3W - all play multiple roles, play with scale and vision, a big, bold theatrical experience.
- Mara is based in Port Townsend, WA (near Seattle)
The Tragedy of the BrothersLafferty by Ben Verschoor
A group of brothers descend into religious fundamentalism, pitting them against their youngest brother's wife, and each other, in this Shakespearean-styled latter-day tragedy written in iambic pentameter. - Big cast. 13 at least but could be more. Shakespeare big, bold, uniquely American story.
American Midget by Jonathan Yukich* The mysterious Mr. Much convinces ordinary Albert that he is a midget…but is he? Join one man’s struggle to distinguish reality from delusion in a world far more outlandish, but only slightly more absurd, than our own. - 3M, 2W - wild, quirky, great design opportunities, a truly unique voice and vision.
The Martyrdom of Washington Booth by Jeni Mahoney* (I can't be totally selfless... can I?) Virgilia’s plan to impress a local militia hero is thrown into jeopardy when the lethal virus she's arranged to purchase from a mysterious African nationalist is accidentally unleashed on her own father. As she struggles to find a way to salvage the deal, she is forced to ask herself: who hears the voice of God? And who is qualified to decipher it? - 1W (White), 1W (Black), 2M (White), 1M (Black) - funny play about serious stuff, meaty roles, 4 of which are under 30 yrs old, one set.
Seven Devils has developed over 150 new plays since 2001, and I work with a number of organizations that support new work so if you are looking for something specific, let me know. I may have an idea. You can find out more about the plays we've developed here.