Because playmaking is so ephemeral, we can lose sight of all the work we've done. Here are some highlights from 2016...
The Lark Play Development Center in NYC has continued to shower me with resources. In February, I participated in their Winter Writers' Retreat, where I worked on THINGS THAT ARE ROUND; then in September, they gave me a Project Residency where I worked on THINGS THAT ARE ROUND with Shelley Butler Hyler and Tessa LaNeve. I'm now looking for further development opportunities that will get it closer to production.
SOFONISBA continued to do very well, winning the Clauder Gold Prize at Portland Stage Company, where I workshopped it for a week. It also was a Finalist for the O'Neill, and a Semifinalist for the Princess Grace Award. Its inclusion on the Kilroys' List this year helped me get an agent, Mark Orsini at Bret Adams Ltd. The play just had a workshop production at Dramatic Repertory Company in Portland, Maine. The picture above (by Craig Robinson) is from that production. It's after Isabel (Marjolaine Whittlesley) has died and it makes me cry every time. It was directed by Sally Wood and the set was by my dream designer Meg Anderson. The play has been nominated by two theatres for the Susan Smith Blackburn, and we're trying to place it somewhere for its world premiere.
In March I had the joyful experience of traveling to Chicago to see Halcyon Theatre's production of DREAMS OF THE PENNY GODS. They did a marvelous job and I spent a magical 10 days with them. Tony and Jenn Adams are some of the best people I know, with so much heart and a deep conscience about the work they're doing in their community. I continue to be grateful for our relationship. If you're in Chicago, check them out!
Chalking one up in the plus column for Facebook, one late night I saw that one of my former professors at Hunter College, where I got my MFA, was looking for recommendations of contemporary Aristophanes' adaptations, specifically PEACE. Well, buried deep in my Play Graveyard was exactly that. I had written a commission for Washington Shakespeare Company for the 2008 election, but it was so full of topical references I had retired it. Hunter liked the play, and so I updated it, and a truly fantastic production of COWS OF WAR opened the day after the election. It's straight-up political satire, and pushes the boundaries of silliness and theatricality. Director Alex Correia and the team of designers did an amazing job bringing a stylized Commedia vibe to the play that worked wonderfully. It was powerful to watch a diverse cast of 20-odd undergraduates go full-out in the weeks following the election. They made the play seem as urgent and relevant as ever. And four students were nominated to the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival next month!
Last but not least, ALLIGATOR ROAD has had some renewed interest of late. It had a terrific reading in Boston a few weeks ago at Hub Theatre (coincidentally run by John Geoffrion, who was in the original production of my Aristophanes play!). It also just this week had an in-house reading at a certain theatre in Minneapolis (no, not the Guthrie) for consideration for their season. Fingers crossed for that one.
So with all of the challenges of sustainability that have pushed me to try this model of patronage for my writing, I have truly been a machine this year, revising, revising, and revising to make my plays as good as they can be. I figure if I'm not taking another corporate job, then I have to buckle down to get more solid footing in my career. And I feel like my 2016 artistic goals were accomplished.
2016 has been challenging for so many of my friends and loved ones. May the new year bring us all more beauty, love, and opportunity.
Thank you for your support.