By Tiffany Antone
So many plays!
Arriving at the Great Plains Theatre Conference on Saturday, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. The itinerary was so intense and so interesting and my head was absolutely spinning at the week I had ahead of me – 29 playwrights, a bevy of workshops and readings, plus evening play festival shows – Oh My!
But here it is Thursday already, and I’m so bummed that this orgy of new work is coming to a close.
There are a lot of talented people here, a lot of passionate writers, and a lot of really cool, innovative, and engaging work being shared.
And while there aren’t any female playwrights in the conference’s mainstage line-up (tsk, tsk), there were certainly a host of super talented female writers showcased in the event’s Playlabs.
So, how about I give a little LAFPI shout-out to some of the fabulous female playwrights whose work I’ve had the privilege to enjoy this week? (FYI, there is no way to see every play at this conference. There are multiple readings going on at once – so what I was able to see is but a sampling of what was available.)
First up, let’s talk about Minneapolis playwright Anne Bertram. What a cool writer! Anne’s play, The Good Fight, takes place in London, 1913, and is about the women’s suffrage movement. Drawing from history, Anne colors in this frustratingly fem-closed world with panache. I was so into this play! It’s smart, funny, and poignant – Brava, Anne!
Another historically inspired piece is Nancy Cooper Frank’s absurdist play, Daniil Kharms: A Life in One-Act and Several Dozen Eggs. I so enjoyed this weird and wonderful play! I *believe* Nancy is still developing the piece, but it’s really super interesting and introduced me to the Russian absurdist writer in highly theatrical fashion.
I also got to see We Only Go Home in Retrograde, by Eva Suter, a UT Austin MFA candidate with a serious lyrical streak. She’s written a poetic and super visually engaging piece. I was particularly interested in meeting Eva and seeing her play now that I too live in Texas (I just keep moving further and further away from LA, don’t I…) – So how cool to meet a Texas artist at this conference in Nebraska!
And speaking of Texas, another cool writer I’ve had the pleasure to meet is Murphi Cook – creative mind behind the horror play, Birds of America. With Hitchcockian flare, Murphi has created a seriously creepy (in a good way) play about grief and relationships… and birds. I was super intrigued by this piece, and – now that I know she’s also a puppeteer – I’m really hoping I can see one of her shows in San Antonio!
I also had the pleasure of seeing Tira Palmquist’s play, Two Degrees – a fascinating look into one woman’s grief as she battles for the climate at a senate hearing. I was so into the metaphorical landscape accompanying this woman’s real-world battles! And it was great to meet a fellow LAFPI’er – one whose name I had seen and heard mentioned more than a time or two before. What a cool person and writer!
And last but not least, I had the pleasure of sitting in our very own Jennie Webb’s Crazy Bitch. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Jennie’s, so I won’t spend too much time gushing, but what a cool piece! I loved her characters – one of which is an immortal jellyfish! What? Awesome! In typical Jennie Webb style, she’s given us a world in which our imaginations get to settle into something genuinely unique. Kudos, Jennie!
I’ve still got four more readings, a workshop, and one more production ahead of me – this truly is an extraordinary opportunity. Huzzah to GPTC for creating such an awesome event for playwrights, and for facilitating so many cool new creative connections!