by Padraic Lillis · January 30, 2014
Last week I had an introductory web/tele conversation with the theater department of Ashland University. As I joined the conference call the room was finishing watching the launch video of The Farm Theater. The final part of the video talks about the value and idea of the college collaboration. This college collaboration is the foundation program modeling the goal of The Farm Theater. And as of today that program has officially begun. We spoke about The Farm Theater's mission to cultivate artists, companies, and projects. It became clear how important the school's participation was in the development of this 'project'. The script. However, it was more relevant to talk about how creating an opportunity for the playwright to have their play produced three times was key to the development of the artist. It was an incredibly valuable experience, not only for the play - but for the artist.
We then touched upon the connection between the development and life of the play with these students/artists that are going to be part of the process. They will be in the DNA of the play for its entire life. Which is cool. Another cool thing is what really came out of the conversation, which is the value of community. A community of artists focused on developing one project. Which will connect each of the three schools to each other, The Farm Theater, and the playwright. I shared how the blog will be hosted on Indie Theater Now…and explained how Indie Theater Now is a valuable resource for all of us and what an amazingly tight, driven, talented community the Indie Theater Community is.
During the discussion with the theater department it became clear that the scope of the project will be much larger than originally envisioned. The play is the center. But from there comes the inspiration and integration of other artists. Each of them will bring something to it. Understanding what it is to bring a new play to life. We will find ways to share information and the experience - but through the process we will be building a strongly connected theater community. That excites me.
At one point DeAndre, a student, shared his gratitude for having the students' voice be included in the theme that is being explored for the play. Nic, another student, shared his gratitude for Ashland being part of this program, and having this opportunity. I assured both of them that The Farm Theater was equally grateful for their participation. It is going to be amazing because of them. Teresa, the department chair, asked if the playwright had experience with this kind of work - it may have been a smart prompt to talk about 'why this playwright?'
I was grateful for Teresa's question because I was able to share about Lindsay's experience of interviewing people to write a play. Her interest in contemporary issues. Her teaching and working with colleges on new play development experience. All of this made me realize why Lindsay is the right fit for this collaboration and made me excited to introduce her to the three campuses.
I also suggested the students read her play(s) which are published on Indie Theater Now. While talking about this I became aware, in a new way, what a wonderful resource ITN is for all of us. By chronicling all of the innovative plays it does - it connects a generation of artists to what is happening on at a grassroots level. Fantastic.
We spoke about the bookending experience possibly happening in New York. A reading/presentation of the finished script at the end of the process - which if possible all three casts will participate in. And the beginning process of a workshop reading of the play by professional actors, director, and dramaturge in August before the script is sent off to the schools. Eryn, student at Ashland, asked if they were invited to the workshop in August. I was caught off guard and excited by the interest to join the process as early as possible. It reminded me that I had to be clear - all three schools are welcome at any point of the process. Thank you for your interest Eryn. I hope to see you in August.
I am so thrilled for the playwright and for connecting the three schools. I am grateful to my friend and collaborator Scott Hudson for starting this off today at Ashland, and also to keep reminding me of the larger implications of this program in its artistry, community, and overall scope. I am grateful for our partnership and friendship. Fifteen minutes after our call, Scott called me to let me know it went well, which was clear to both of us, and then shared how he and Jason, a designer for the program and friendliest tech person I've met in a while, had already spoken about ways to improve the technical/web communication for the students and playwright as we move forward.
I am grateful for all who have inspired this program along the way. I am thrilled for those that are making it a reality.
Talk with you soon. Padraic