by Gino DiIorio · June 13, 2015
Clark University was thrilled to participate in the College Collaboration this past year. New play development is something we do on a regular basis. We produce a new play festival for our undergraduate playwrights every other year. So our students are used to watching plays grow from page to stage. We also commission a new work by a female playwright of color in accordance with this festival. For example, in 2013, we produced a new play by Lenelle Moise, K.I.S.S.I.N.G. And the same parameters apply: we don’t call it a world premiere, we call it a workshop production. And this allows the playwright to see the work on its feet, and get a sense of what works and what doesn’t, at a better level than the staged reading.
So we were especially pleased to participate in this inaugural year of the college collaboration. I think the idea of involving three separate schools in the same process is ingenious. And kudos to Padraic Lillis for putting this together. This is exactly the kind of thing colleges should be doing and I’m looking forward to not only participating again but seeing how the whole deal develops.
In the Event of My Death came a long way from the first draft. Lindsay did a lot of good work on it and hearing it read at the Cherry Lane was a hoot. It was especially cool to see reps of all three schools on stage, reading it aloud and sharing their experiences.
I think having to write for young actors is probably a challenge. Lindsay asked the students at all three schools what was on their collective minds and while that’s a cool idea, it presents a hard challenge for the writer. While this play was not written by committee, taking in the ideas of a lot of different college minds in separate parts of the country may have presented some tough road blocks for Lindsay. (I don’t know if this is true, I haven’t asked her. But it did occur to me a few times throughout the process.)
It’s amazing to me how often young people think about death, especially the death of a young person. A friend of mine runs a theatre camp in the San Francisco area and he basically made the same point. So many of the plays written by his students involve young people returning after the funeral of a loved colleague. Lindsay was tapping into this in a very good way.
I’m not sure what else I can add, except that we were very proud to be involved in this and we look forward to doing it again. I loved being at the Cherry Lane that night because there was such a great sense of collaboration. Can you imagine what play will be produced through this venue some ten years from now? And won’t it be great to say “Hey, I was there on day one?” It certainly will!