Tag Archives: Great Plains Theatre Conference

The Great Great Plains


I can’t believe I’ve been in Omaha for the Great Plains Theatre Conference for 8 WHOLE days.
I can’t believe I’ve ONLY been in Omaha for the Great Plains Theatre Conference for 8 whole days.

I can’t believe how much awesome new work I got to witness and how many amazing playwrights I had the good fortune to meet.

From left to right are playwrights: Nancy Cooper Frank, Tiffany Antone, Jennifer Faletto, and Anne Bertram

I can’t believe how delicious the food was.


I can’t believe how much socializing my introverted little playwright self managed while I was here, and how thoroughly I enjoyed all of the discussions, laughs, and thoughtfulness.

I can’t believe how comfy the hotel where my introverted self got to reteat to, was.

I can’t believe it’s over.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the conference’s FANTASTIC donors this week, and they looked surprised when I told them how wonderful it was to be treated so well.  That the hotel and food and attention to every little detail made me feel so honored, because playwrights aren’t usually treated to this kind of focus and care.

She looked surprised and so I thanked her again.

I am overflowing with gratitude.

Tonight, after jam-packed days of play readings and workshops and performances, we ended things with a superbly delicious dinner, live music, and artisan s’mores.  I mean, YUMM.

A very fuzzy cell-phone pic of playwright Kia Corthron during a GPTC panel.

We also experienced the magic of Kia Corthron’s monumentally beautiful acceptance speech as she was honored this evening.  It was so poignant and honest that the whole room sat enraptured.

I’m so thankful I was there to hear her words, and I’m so grateful that those were the words she elected to share with us tonight.

So tomorrow I will fly back to my everyday life and I will revel in reuniting with my fella and my furballs, and things will go back to…

Bills will go back to…

Life will go back to…


But I will also bring this week back with me.

This week of inspiration and of creativity.
Of beautiful new connections and of palate-cleansing laughter.

I will return home with the wild little play that got invited here and get to re-tinkering with it.
I will sit down at my desk and re-engage the new play I’ve been growling at.

I will think of Kia’s words on poverty of pocket and I will compare them to her words on the richness of heart, and then I will reflect on the richness of my heart, and I will write, and write, and write.

Because writing is kind of, always, sexily, the thing I need to do.  And after spending a week with others who feel the same way, I can’t wait to get to get back to it.

I also can’t wait to work on my “Something for next year.”



Great Plains Shout-Out Time

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!

Blogging on the Plains

by Tiffany Antone

I’m caressing a wall – feeling its temperature and taking notes on “all kinds of walls”.  I’m listening to a stranger’s stomach gurgling (even though I’m supposed to be pressing my hesitant ear down heavily enough to hear his heart beat) – now this stranger has his head to my belly… listening.  I can feel his breath on my hand which is resting just below my stomach. The sudden and unexpected closeness of this listening exchange is alarming and calming all at once.

Now  I’m watching a man press a lit cigarette into a child’s painting, burning away the colors.

Now I’m shaking hands with a cardboard-obscured (and thus body-less) hand… someone else kisses the hand.  I laugh, I think about germs, I think about intimacy amongst strangers, I think about chapstick and lotion and Purell and calluses.

I think about my laptop, sitting a few feet away and I feel the familiar feeling of yearning to just… write.

I’m at the Great Plains Theatre Conference (#GPTC) and this is Lisa D’Amour‘s Yoko Ono workshop.  I’m learning about the occasions on which D’Amour has performed Ono’s “Cut” piece and how her work as a performance artist has influenced her as a playwright.  Her experience is transformative.

There are playwrights everywhere.

It’s hard to believe that only 8 days ago I was in LA, putting up my Little Black Dress INK Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Project at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.  We live-streamed last Sunday’s play readings, and I will go on to produced each of the plays in Prescott, AZ this Fall.  It’s been a FANTASTIC experience, a wild ride…

But I’m exhausted.

Which is why I’m so ecstatic to be at the GPTC this week.

This week, I get to sit back and just be a playwright.

I’ve taken two workshops and seen five new play readings already, and it’s only Monday!

So while I’ve got to get to bed early tonight in order to try to sleep off the rest of last week’s Producer fatigue (in order to enjoy the accumulation of new Playwright fatigue), I can promise I’ll be blogging again soon about my time spent here on the Plains, enjoying my role in the writer’s tribe.



I hate writing about this. But it should be known that the Great Plains Theatre Conference has become a much lesser plains for the ladies.

I’m a big fan of GPTC. My play KIGALI was chosen several years ago to be one of the mainstage shows. I had an entire week to work on rewrites, working with terrific director Sonia Keffer and wonderful actors like Amy Lane and Terry Brannen. A year later, I was invited back to give feedback to other actors and hear another great reading of my short play TOP OF THE HOUR.

I didn’t apply this year. It’s just as well, apparently.

That first year I participated, more than half the shows chosen for mainstage readings – five of the eight chosen that year – were written by women. This year, there is just one play by a female writer on the mainstage. 26 other writers were invited to participate in the conference PlayLabs. Of them, seven are women.

And this in the year GPTC is honoring the wonderful writer Connie Congdon.

Artistic leaders say the selections are blind.

I don’t argue for a quota system. But when the numbers look like this, it begs a closer look at who is making those blind selections. And what criterea they are using. How blind is blind?

Or perhaps it just means we don’t write very well.

Skyping your way to a finished play

Thank God for technology!

I still consider myself an LA playwright, but I spend most of my time these days in Washington DC. My day job keeps me on Capitol Hill. But the move east came at a cost. I lost not only the glorious year-round weather of southern California and my Dodgers and decent Mexican food, I also lost my theatrical community. Most particularly, I lost my writing group.

For more than a decade, I’ve spent every Thursday night with a group of writers under the umbrella of Ensemble Studio Theatre Los Angeles. I’ve watched plays grow and plays die. I’ve seen playwrights blossom and run with their plays. And I’ve seen writers ignore constructive criticism and their plays just sit there. Or worse, get produced and have critics print the same criticism that was voiced with love in the group. I miss that third ear, that deadline of having to produce pages to bring in. Writing is lonely enough. The Lab was my writing home.

So I’ve learned to improvise.

I was lucky enough to be invited to The Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha, Nebraska twice in the past couple of years. I’ve had two plays read there. But the most valuable part of the experience was meeting other playwrights struggling with the same act two problems, conundrums with directors, and panic about sending out scripts. I found another community. The only problem is that none of us live in the same city.

But then I discovered Skype. Now, every Tuesday night, my Omaha pal Ellen Struve and I have a one hour phone appointment. Every week, we email each other a few pages – a new scene or the rewrite of something we’ve been working on. And for an hour, we discuss the work. Half an hour for her, half an hour for me. I’ve been privileged to watch Ellen’s magical play REQUIRED READING FOR GIRLS grow and mature and take shape. She’s been there to talk me down from the roof when I was ready to hit the delete button and give up. We save time at the end to discuss plays we’ve seen or read – to find out what makes a play sing and shake our heads in wonder at the “hot” plays that do nothing for us. It’s my small theatrical community in cyberspace.

Technologically, we could add half a dozen members or more. And maybe we will when we’re finished with the plays we’re working on right now.

But if you’ve been unsuccessful at finding a playwriting group in your part of town, try a virtual group via Skype. Go see shows and readings to find the playwright whose work speaks to you, the person you could learn something from, the writer who you would trust with your work. Contact them. See if they’re also looking for a theatrical community of writers. And make a weekly appointment for an hour. And write that play.