by Padraic Lillis · July 12, 2014
The Farm Theater in collaboration with three colleges, Ashland University, Clark University, and Centre College, will commission an emerging professional playwright, Lindsay Joy, to write a play. The playwright will identify a topic she wants to write about and then have a discussion with students from each of the schools. The playwright will then have eight months to write a first draft of a play. The Farm Theater will workshop the play in New York with professional actors, director, and dramaturge. Then each of the schools will produce the play independently throughout the academic year. The playwright will have opportunity to rewrite throughout the process.
An artistic director of an off-Broadway theater once said to me, “Getting into the theater is easy, staying is hard.” My goal with this collaboration is to offer an emerging writer a vital experience that fortifies their engagement with their art, while offering them the practical experience to develop and strengthen their voice.
The goal of having three separate productions for the playwright is to have them engaged thoroughly throughout the process with a variety of collaborators. Each collaborator will contribute something unique to the process and it will offer the writer a full three hundred and sixty degree examination of the world and story they are creating. After each production the playwright will be able to rewrite based on what they discovered, and then rewrite again, and again. The process will give the playwright an incredibly strong script that is ready for production in a professional theater. However, more valuable is that after having been through the production process three times they will have a deeper understanding of the possibilities and practicalities of bringing a script to life. This will serve them in their next script, and all the ones that follow.
This project also engages students with the process of creating new work. Most projects that early career theater artists will work on are new plays. Through this experience they will see how their personal contribution shapes the life of the play. Also, the process will build community. The students will build a relationship with the playwright. They will also have a community of two other schools that have helped create this play. It is my hope that they will carry this larger community with them as they venture into their post collegiate careers.
I envision each production being independent in its creation. However, I am thrilled by the idea of production teams talking with one another and learning from each other as the process unfolds. And, I believe, this extended conversation between multiple collaborators around the production of a play will generate an invitation to the audience to pull up a chair and participate as well.
The idea for blogging throughout the program is to share the process of creating a new play from inspiration to fruition. Also, the blog is a place to share discoveries about the artistic process, ideas about the theme, and a place for all of us (writer, directors, actors, audience, friends, parents, everyone) to join the conversation that the work inspires.