Tag Archives: Arena Stage

A New Play From The Other Side

Out of nowhere I got a directing job.

The last couple of years I focused on my outreach and writing, with a few small self-produced  projects along the way. I purposely wanted a break from the rehearsal room and it was a good one. The last year I’ve written more than the five beforehand, and in that time fell in love with the whole idea of the new play.

Howlround and the formerly-Arena Stage-now-Emerson-College newplay initiative did a lot for me. So did the myriad of new work I saw during the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Part of my own odyssey involves ongoing class with the LA Writers Center, an inspirational incubator for new works. Not to mention being part of creating genre-defining projects last year while at The Indy Convergence. And of course, finding a community among this group, the Los Angeles Female Playwright’s Initiative.

So out of the blue is this opportunity, and it happens to be a play I really dig. I thought long and hard about what it would take for me to want to direct again, and I’d say 90% of my personal requirements are met.

In between meeting the wonderful playwright and making my decision, I saw friend Brian Polak’s reading as part of EST-LA’s Winterfest. I walked into the large black box with hidden rooms that create magic. I walked across stage and took my seat, turning off my phone. As I got comfortable, saying hellos and catching up with colleagues, I breathed it all into myself. I missed the potential inherent with only a space, actors, music stands, words and people to listen to them.

So here I am, flexing my directing muscles again, bringing a new play to life.

This afternoon I hear a new draft out loud for the first time. It’s more exciting a prospect than I thought, even after I’d made the decision.

Raise a glass to new works, folks. Keep the juices flowing.

Entry Level

Yesterday I published an article for Bitter Lemons on the amazing way that Arena Stage, 2amtheatre and LA Stage Alliance* are working together to widen the dialogue on new plays.

That’s fascinating in and of itself – not my article, but all the detail and coverage that Arena Stage created and is creating, so that artists know what people are talking about and can contribute in a meaningful way.

Remember that.

Cut to later that day, and Dennis Baker announces that the LA satellite convening was relocated because of high attendance. It happened to be relocated to four blocks from my house, the site of the new Atwater Village Theatres, home to EST-LA and Circle X.

Not just convenient for me, but I amended the original article and then could post it on Atwater Village Now, gaining more exposure for both the event and the neighborhood. While writing it, though, I thought of my audience for Atwater Village Now and decided they might have no idea why a convening on new plays is important. If my goal was to interest those outside of theatre practitioners to find interest in the art and the craft, then I needed to write an entryway into the article. The Editor suggested I give some history, a small idea of how important this dialogue is for the national community, the theatrical community, and in some way give a larger importance to our community.

This was my introduction. I welcome feedback and suggestions in the comments:

With Broadway focused on revivals and musicals based on movies and star vehicles, new plays often go by the wayside. If you are an unknown playwright, it’s nearly impossible to be produced.

Not so at The Arena Stage, however, and they’ve been working intensely for a national dialogue that includes all voices – new playwrights, established playwrights, and the people who decide which plays are produced. Arena Stagey began a New Plays Convening yesterday in DC, and Los Angeles participates on Saturday, in our brand new Atwater Village Theatre!

*Full Disclosure: I also write for the LA Stage Times.

How do you invite laymen into the theatrical experience?