May 2012 Archives

Sunday, May 20 at 5 p.m., The Inkwell will present a SHOWCASE READING of three new plays. Join us for MAROONED AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, and dive deep into worlds where the water keeps rising, threatening to engulf people set adrift by their own lives and choices. 

SHOWCASE: MAROONED AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
Sunday, May 20 at 5 p.m.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Classroom
641 D Street NW
Admission is free 

JOE WAECHTER will present an excerpt from his latest draft of Lake Untersee. Read on to learn more about Joe and his work!

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JOE WAECHTER 
Lake Untersee

A troubled teenager longs to leave his parents and their twisted relationships behind to find Antartica's Lake Untersee -- where the love of his life is trapped beneath layers and layers of ice.

"It's hard to be in love with someone and feel as if something is hidden." - Gale in Lake Untersee

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JOE WAECHTER's plays include Lake Untersee, PROFILES, Good Ole Boys, The Strangler, Hidden People, and Memory Library. His work has been developed or produced at Playwrights Horizons, Ars Nova, American Repertory Theatre, McCarter Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Red Eye, Clubbed Thumb, Perishable Theatre, and The 25ยข Opera of San Francisco. He is the recipient of a 2011-12 Jerome Fellowship at The Playwrights' Center, a 2008-9 Lucille Lortel Playwriting Fellowship, a 2011 Emerging Artist Residency at Tofte Lake Center, the Weston Award, and will be Playwright-in-Residence at Hangar Theatre for summer 2012. Joe also creates work for other medium, including a headphone opera titled The Hoot Owl, an interactive chapbook titled NEGATIVE | SPACE, and an immersive virtual reality piece titled Antarctica. In 2010, he founded Awesome Collective, an interdisciplinary performance collective that explores new methods and vocabularies for collaboration in Providence, RI. His play Dragonflies is available from Dramatics Publishing. MFA Playwriting: Brown University. 

Sunday, May 20 at 5 p.m., The Inkwell will present a SHOWCASE READING of three new plays. Join us for MAROONED AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, and dive deep into worlds where the water keeps rising, threatening to engulf people set adrift by their own lives and choices. 

SHOWCASE: MAROONED AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
Sunday, May 20 at 5 p.m.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Classroom
641 D Street NW
Admission is free 

JENNIFER FAWCETT will present an excerpt from her latest draft of Atlas of Mud. Read on to learn more about Jennifer and her work!

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JENNIFER FAWCETT 
Atlas of Mud

A decade after the world floods, humanity remains adrift. One boat floating among the millions holds special cargo: seeds to plant when land is found, birds to find the land, and a child called Mud.


"In my dream I was flying. I saw land. It looked just like the Reverend told me it did. And there were people - so many people. They were all moving towards the water... People on the decks were yelling but their screams were turning into caws and the air filled with birds. I knew you were there. And as the boats moved farther away the water rose over the harbor and towards the city and I knew it was going to cover them all." - Mud in Atlas of Mud

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JENNIFER FAWCETT is a co-founder of Working Group Theatre. Her plays have been produced at Riverside Theatre (Iowa City), Available Light Theatre (Columbus), the Adirondack Theatre Festival (Glens Falls, NY), Alcyone Festival (Chicago), Tennessee Women's Theatre Project (Nashville) and presented at the National New Play Network Showcase, the Kennedy Center, the Lark Playwright's Week, Cultural Conversations (Penn State), the Little Festival of the Unexpected, and in festivals across Canada. Last summer she co-directed the creation of an original play, We Stood Up, at the Centre X Centre International Theatre Festival in Kigali, Rwanda with students from the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. Originally from Toronto, she is a graduate of the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and winner of the National Science Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center.  Up next, Jennifer is developing a new play about midwives and witches in collaboration with Riverside Theatre, scheduled for a workshop production at Northwest Missouri State in October.  She's also getting ready to co-write and direct Telling: Des Moines, a play that puts veterans and their stories on stage, and is developing The Broken Chord with Working Group, a year long project that examines memory and aging. www.workinggrouptheatre.org.
Sunday, May 20 at 5 p.m., The Inkwell will present a SHOWCASE READING of three new plays. Join us for MAROONED AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, and dive deep into worlds where the water keeps rising, threatening to engulf people set adrift by their own lives and choices. 

SHOWCASE: MAROONED AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
Sunday, May 20 at 5 p.m.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Classroom
641 D Street NW
Admission is free 

DC-based playwright, director and teacher RANDY BAKER will present an excerpt from his latest draft of Forgotten Kingdoms. Read on to learn more about Randy and his work!

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RANDY BAKER
Forgotten Kingdoms

Two men at the end of a jetty - a Christian missionary and the Muslim son of an Indonesian chief - find themselves drowning in an abyss of uncertainty in a harrowing instant that brings an unfathomable mystery to the surface.  




"I looked up at the sky before I started to sink. There were no stars. You know how it is sometimes when it's real late. That time of night when the stars have moved on. And so I started to sink. Slowly beneath the surface into the salty silky black. And as I fell I kept my eyes open. I don't know maybe I thought I would see him there, my son, falling with me. But I didn't seem him, I only found the missing stars. There. Underwater with me. All around and streaming behind me as I fell." - David in Forgotten Kingdoms 


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RANDY BAKER is the co-Artistic Director of Rorschach Theatre and with Jenny McConnell Frederick founded the company in the summer of 1999. Plays he has written and had produced at Rorschach Theatre include the full-length plays Dream Sailors and After the Flood and the short plays, Paolo and Francesca, Beit Jala, and Crunch. Other produced plays include the full length plays Circus of Fallen Angels at the National Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts and the short plays The Rabbit and The Snake andCassandra Dances with the Devil at Source Theatre; A Lonely Dictator on the Eve of Revolution at Forum Theatre, The Boy Who Knew No Fear at Three Leaches Theatre (Colorado), Sam the Prophet, Veronica's Omelet andThe Wind at Their Backs at Extreme Exchange and The Ballad of Saint Valentine at the Washington Theatre Festival. Readings and workshops include Forgotten Kingdoms at National New Play Network, The Inkwell, The Arts Club of Washington and Wordsmyth Theater (Houston), The Burning Road at Primary Stages, The First Disobedience at American University and Rorschach Theatre, Gilgamesh at Rorschach Theatre and Vox at Theater Alliance. He has been commissioned to write a play for George Washington University that will be produced in 2013 and is currently developing the plays Forgotten Kingdoms, The Burning Road, and The First Disobedience. As a director, he has staged productions at Rorschach Theatre, Source Theatre, The Inkwell, First Draft, Young Playwrights Theatre, NCDA's Actors Repertory Theatre, First Draft, Wayward Theatre, Cherry Red Productions, Theater J, Woolly Mammoth's Playground series, The Seattle Fringe Festival and the Washington Theater Festival.


On Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28, The Inkwell presented excerpts from twelve DC-area playwrights' work to two Standing Room Only crowds at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's classroom space. Because the excerpts were brief (only ten minutes!) and the rehearsals were short (only an hour per play!), we decided to give this spectacular miniature newplayapalooza an appropriately Inky name: Inklings!

Over the next few weeks, right here on INKBLOG!, we'll introduce you to the local playwrights whose work we were proud to include in our Inklings event. The Inkwell's crack team of dramaturgs will tell you a little about the excerpted script. And we'll even going to give you some highlights from our fabulous Inkwell readers' responses to the plays! So stay tuned. We can't wait to share!

In the meantime, we'd like to give a shout out to the amazing folks who shared their time and their talent with The Inkwell!

gorgeous audience inklings small.jpgHere's the impressive list of the twelve plays and playwrights, as well as their dramaturgs and directors!

The Great Dismal by Gwydion Suilebhan, directed by Raymond Caldwell and dramaturged by The Inkwell's Anne M. McCaw

More Than Before by Kathryn Coughlin, directed by Heather Benjamin and dramaturged by Jamel Daugherty

The Shaman, The Virgin, and the Crone: a Winter Solstice Fantasy by Pat Montley, directed by Renana Fox and dramaturged by Brent Stansell

Sounds in the Bowery by Brian Doyle, directed by Katheleen Alvania and dramaturged by Jamel Daugherty

Long Black Veil by Julie Lewis, directed by Jason King Jones and dramaturged by James Hesla

Following Sarah by Rich Espey, directed by Ty Hallmark and dramaturged by The Inkwell's Jenn Book Haselwerdt

Wondrous Machines by Tia Shearer, directed by Cecilia Cackerly
and dramaturged by Taylor Hitaffer

Terminals by David Robinson, directed by Ryan Maxwell and dramaturged by Taylor Hitaffer

Reconstruction by Tom Minter, directed by Gus Hagerty and dramaturged by The Inkwell's Meghan Long

Street Life by Mary Hanley, directed by Angelisa Gillyard and dramaturged by Hannah Hessel

The Terror Fantastic by Nicole Jost, directed by Jessica Jung and dramaturged by Hannah Hessel

Forgotten Kingdoms by Randy Baker, directed by The Inkwell's Lee Liebeskind and dramaturged by Alan Katz

And we cannot thank our amazing corps of versatile actors enough! Here's our team of Inkwell newcomers and veterans whose work made our playwrights' inklings sparkle:

Inklings Actors Perform.jpg
Ariana Almajin

Luke Cieslewicz

Elliott Davis

Joy Jones

KyoSin

Steve Lee

Carol McCaffrey

Theo Hadjimichael

Betsy Rosen

and

Devron Young!

It was a hugely successful duet of evenings. Thanks to all who attended! Stay tuned for our Inklings Updates right here on our blog to learn more about these plays and the folks who made them happen.



Kristopher Frithjof Peterson is the playwright of WHERE THE WHANGDOODLE SINGS.  He's a playwright from Saginow, Michigan who believes in the truly transformative place of theatre.  In articles about Kristopher (who goes by Kris to those who know him), he has spoken about the effects theatre can have on an audience in comparison to the effects that film can have on an audience. Kris is a bartender, playwright, and philosopher.  He has received his Masters degree from Western Michigan University, his plays have been performed in DC, Chicago, NY, and Saginow, as well as winning the Jury Prize from Fusion Theatre Company in 2009 and being a finalist for the Kennedy Centers ten minute play award and the 2010 Heideman Award.  He is a tall, bearded, tattooed guy who can not only speak eloquently about the state of new play development and theatre in this country but can sling a good beer down at the local bar and talk about life and love with anyone that sits down. This is our kind of guy.

Below are Kris's thoughts about the showcase reading and the first date comparison (something that THE BODY playwright Steve Moulds also wrote about), but what Kris examines here is the honesty factor.  Not just how you present the idea to others, but how you look at a process that could be different - and even a little scary.  The mentality and thought process of going out on that first date, or first step in development, and how to do what we hope the person sitting across from us at the table will do: trust.

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When the Inkwell approached me about doing a Showcase Reading of WHERE THE WHANGDOODLE SINGS for the Kennedy Center's Page 2 Stage festival, I was a little leery about the format. The Showcase Readings call for a playwright to choose a 20 minute excerpt of their work for a development process and staged reading. It's also described as a sort of  "first date" between the playwright and the company. I'm not a great dater. On dates, especially earlier ones, I think the notion of honesty is a nebulous one. It's usually more dangerous to be completely honest than to take slight editorial liberties. It's not that different being a playwright for these Showcase Readings. Like a perfect dinner companion, the artists at the Inkwell seem genuinely interested in you. They want to know all about the history of the play, the seeds of inspiration, the trials that have helped shaped what it's become. Then they ask you to be honest with them, "What 20 pages would you like to work on?" And then you're faced with Nick's dilemma at the opening of DARK PLAY, "Do I tell the truth / Or do what I do so well: / Make some shit up."

I knew the problematic areas of my play going in. I'd even pin-pointed them down to the crucial 20 pages. So, the answer should have been easy. But like being on a first date you A) want to look a little bit better than you probably are, and B) wonder how much of you they really want to take on during that first date.

Here was my thought process - "If I give them the 20 most problematic pages, the play will look really bad and probably won't make sense thematically, tonally, structurally. Also the problems aren't really contained neatly within those 20 pages so how much will I really accomplish by working on them. This theatre is also inviting people to come see the reading. Do they really want my shittiest 20 pages on display? Aren't donors and supporters of the theatre going to be like 'we wrote a check last year for that?'. Maybe I should just make some shit up about what I want to work on for 20 good pages and then people will laugh and understand what's going on and they'll fall in love with me and invite me back and then I can really work on what I want to after they don't hate me. Maybe I'll pick 20 pages that need a little work. Stuff that I know the next move on so that the development will be easy and I know the finished product won't be terrible. Or maybe... god forbid... I trust these people I've never met. I trust their mission and the words they are saying to me over the phone right now. I trust the way they are handling these other playwrights in the conference call. I trust their impressive track record of taking risks with new plays and playwrights and I look them in the eye and I say I'm a bit broken, I'm a bit of a mess, but I'm going to trust you not to make a break for the door and give this thing a chance."

Heart in the Mud.jpegI ended up reminding myself how all those dates I've screwed up ended over the past decade or so. My car was never as clean as that first dinner in Detroit. They never saw me in a suit coat again. My coffee table didn't have papers and books and overflowing ashtrays. So, ultimately, I either ended things because I got tired of keeping up things I didn't care to keep up, or they woke up one morning, sick of navigating the blast radius of dishes and mail to make a simple cup of coffee, and walked out the door for the last time. Inkwell got my 20 most problematic pages. I was terrified. I rewrote like a bastard. Jenn Book Haselswerdt, my dramaturg, kept up with my steady stream of new pages - new pages that extended well beyond the confines of my 20 pages - and my paragraph long strings of new questions that the rewrites were sparking. Over that month of online discussion and rewriting, I had a substantial rewrite of the whole play and questions that I couldn't ever quite pinpoint or articulate had gained clarity.

 
What I realized is that by focusing on those 20 pages I was better able to triage issues in my draft. There were some larger issues in the work, some big questions that I didn't worry about answering right away. I kept my focus on those 20 pages. What I found was that the macro issues had been clouding some smaller issues that were actually right at the heart of the big questions and also much more manageable to conceptualize. Instead of asking the "right" one or two large questions about the draft, I asked a couple dozen smaller questions that put those larger issues into focus. After those 20 pages shaped up, the more extensive goals for the next draft took shape and I had a clear plan to tackles those.The excerpt that was read wasn't entirely tonally or structurally cohesive with the feel of the entire piece. But Jenn set up the excerpt effectively before the reading and my actors and director gave me a wonderful look at what I had on the page which is the best thing for development. They didn't try to smooth everything out or make everything work or keep everything tidy. They showed me what I had and let me see what work still needed to be done. They never expected me to overhaul my living room or take my car in for a complete detailing, but they got me organized enough to not risk bodily harm while trying to make my morning coffee.

And they left me hopeful for a shot at a second date.


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