Working Title Playwrights Student Mentorship Program

Working Title Playwrights is pleased to revive our blog and to welcome the 12 students selected for the Working Title Playwrights Atlanta Student Mentorship Program, funded through a grant from the Rhame Family Foundation. The program provides structured support for student playwrights, or playwrights who are recent high school or college graduates, as they develop their craft and enhance their professional identification and development. Students selected for the program receive one year’s membership in Working Title Playwrights and free admission to all WTP classes, workshops and events.

Our first year’s participants are:

Margaret Elizabeth Beker

Tramaine Brathwaite

Tad Cameron

Kyra Cohen

Tameron Colbert

August Compton

Sonhara Eastman

Mariah Manoylov

Dalyla McGee

Amina McIntyre

Dakotah Michaels

Participants in the Student Membership Program will also be posting to this blog throughout the year. They will be describing their experience with Working Title Playwrights and their responses to the theater they see or participate in.

The Rhame Family Foundation was launched in 2012 by Tyson “Ty” A. Rhame

“to enrich the educational experience of k-12 students in Atlanta public schools.”

– posted by Tisha Whitaker, WTP Volunteer

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March/April Update from Artistic Director Jill Patrick

Artistic Director Jill Patrick

Artistic Director Jill Patrick

2015 promises to be a banner year of new play development in Atlanta.  We are seeing new plays and emerging playwrights being nurtured throughout the city, not only within WTP, but across our community by such theatres as small as Rising Sage, Fern, and Found Stages theatre companies, and every level of production company on up to Alliance Theatre. Within WTP so far this year, we’ve had four Monday Night Critique Sessions (MNCS), and each has brought out larger than average crowds and WTP members are utilizing this nuts-and-bolts play development program to its greatest capacity.

Next up, is Patricia Henritze’s The Nightingale Rose or The Bitch of Balaclava as the final presentation in the 2014 Ethel Woolson Lab (EWL) series. On March 9th, 2015, WTP presents this singular experience that is sure to upend your every elementary notion of Florence Nightingale – A saint, a tyrant, an adversary, a friend: Florence Nightingale restlessly inhabits this play about the casualties of war and the high price of high tea.  As Vincent Murphy stated in response to our first formal announcement of this EWL reading: “[I] Got to work on Bitch at Emory Brave New Works- Patricia [is] the most game writer in town-GO!”  March 9, 2015, 7:30 p.m., Alliance Theatre, Third Floor Black Box. To RSVP, email me at managing@workingtitleplaywrights.com.

On the heels of this EWL reading will be our much-anticipated workshop with the incomparable Erik Ehn! If you are remotely interested in developing your skills as a writer – across-genres, not just playwriting – this is the one investment this year that you need to make in your self. Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/events/794798830604587/
Going forward into 2015, based on feedback received from numerous WTP members, we will be conducting our own gender parity study within our MNCS program, by offering a men-only session, as well as a women-only session. On April 6th and April 20th, respectively, these special critique sessions will split along the gender divide. We don’t know what we will discover in this experiment, but enough of our members have expressed an interest in this that we were compelled to give it a try.

And I am extremely happy to announce we will be re-launching two of our past programs: Playwrights & …, and the Second Sunday Play Reading Group!  Playwrights & … provides grants for WTP member playwrights who are published in genres other than stage, academia and journalism, to present a reading of their original works. The Second Sunday program offers informal readings of extent plays followed by discussion amongst participants. This is a great opportunity to expand your theatrical library with your peers. It might also be a potluck, and who doesn’t love a good potluck?

 

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Director Elisa Carlson on THE NIGHTINGALE ROSE or BITCH OF BALACLAVA

 

Bitch2I met Patricia when I served as Working Title’s dramaturg for a workshop of her fascinating collaboration with Shawna Tucker, ANTHONY + CLEOPATRA Remix.  As sometimes happens when artists are brought together, I felt an immediate kinship with Patricia and her work and although it has taken a few years for us to find a way to work together again it seemed to me inevitable that we would connect on a future project.  Just as A + C Remix allowed me to see and hear Shakespeare in a new way, The Nightingale Rose has opened my eyes and ears to the story of Florence Nightingale.  Like most women of my generation, I was raised on “the Lady with the Lamp” Nightingale: that soft, sweet, caring young woman, tending to the sick in the night.  That image, only steps away from the Ideal Victorian Woman (tirelessly and chastely sacrificing herself to the needs of others) was anything but fascinating to me.  As I read Patricia’s play for the first time, I saw how wrong I’d been about Florence.  In preparation for the upcoming workshop, I’ve taken time to immerse myself in Florence’s life story and the Crimean war.  Patricia’s biting wit reveals a truer, living and breathing Florence than came to life in my high school history books: a modern woman saving lives and raising Victorian consciousness, whether in the chaotic environment of war or the rigid restrictions of the traditional Home.  She’s a force to be reckoned with, and Patricia’s just the playwrighting force to do it.  I’m lucky she’s asked me to be a part of the reckoning.

Join us for our next Ethel Woolson Lab reading: THE NIGHTINGALE ROSE or THE BITCH OF BALACLAVA by Patricia Henritze!

Moving seamlessly between the devastation of the Crimean War and the luxuries of Victorian London, this play explores the inner life of one of history’s most renowned women. Florence Nightingale restlessly inhabits a world where she heals the sick, challenges the powerful and discovers the limits of her own brilliance.

Directed by Elisa Carlson, with Rachel Garner, Alex Rose, Brian Kurlander, and Bobby Labartino.
Dramaturgy by Michael Evenden

$10 at the door

About the Ethel Woolson Lab:

Each year, up to four plays by WTP affiliate playwrights are competitively selected by an outside panel to be given readings as part of the Ethel Woolson Lab. Each chosen play/playwright is given a 15- to 30-hour developmental workshop through the course of one week, culminating in a rehearsed, staged reading for the public. Each selected playwright works with WTP’s current dramaturg-in-residence for the EWL, and workshops are lead by the WTP director-in-residence. https://www.facebook.com/events/648319921958159/

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What’s in a name, right? by Patricia Henritze

Playwright Patricia Henritze

Playwright Patricia Henritze

A number of years ago I started writing a piece inspired by Florence Nightingale. It started as a twenty-minute monologue, and over the next few years it began to emerge as a play.  As the work took shape I would talk about it from time to time.  Personally, I don’t talk much about my work when I’m in process, but sometimes when you’re hanging out with a friend the inevitable question of “what are you working on?” comes up.

Well, it turns out that nothing puts a listener to sleep faster than telling them you’re working on a play about Florence Nightingale.  Even as you say her name you can see their eyes glaze over.  “And what else are you doing?” they ask as they head for the bar and no amount of explaining that the play is really about war or science or that it’s not a lesson in history will regain their attention.  I tried floating different titles, but the effect was the same.  “Oh, really?” they’d yawn.

Then, a little over a year ago I went to a Working Title Playwrights workshop on adaptation led by Vincent Murphy at Emory.  I read him a bit of my play and told him that Florence was sometimes referred to as the “Bitch of Balaclava” by those who, perhaps, did not appreciate her meddling in the status quo of the army hospitals.  We joked that I should call the play that and I submitted it to Emory’s Brave New Works series under that name.  And they took it.  Suddenly Bitch, as it is often referred to, was actually being read.  Was it possible that just because I changed the title people found themselves eager, or at least willing, to open the script?

Okay, maybe it wasn’t just that.  Maybe I had some luck and the topic was more amenable to a university, but I do know that titles have power.  I remember a bunch of years ago a screenwriting teacher told me that the perfect movie title was “Hot Tub Time Machine.”   His point was that it exactly told us what to expect from the movie.  And when you think about it, even Shakespeare kept it pretty simple when it comes to titles:  Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet.

In a twist that I didn’t see coming, many people mispronounced the working title of my play by confusing Balaclava with the Middle Eastern pastry baklava (which is hilarious, but not ideal…) Partly because of this unfortunate confusion, I’m currently calling it The Nightingale Rose or The Bitch of Balaclava, which was suggested as a nod to 19th century double titles (think Gilbert and Sullivan.)  Plus, the Nightingale Rose is the name of the famous graph that Florence created to demonstrate the number of preventable deaths in the Crimea and this graph figures in the plot of the play.

So, we’ll see.  Will the new title take? Or will I have to start again from scratch? I’m just trying to find ways to make people excited to read or see my play, but as they say, it’s a process.  Whatever happens, I know there’s a lesson in this somewhere because I just read recently that “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” is coming out later this year.

Join us for our next Ethel Woolson Lab reading: THE NIGHTINGALE ROSE or THE BITCH OF BALACLAVA by Patricia Henritze!

Moving seamlessly between the devastation of the Crimean War and the luxuries of Victorian London, this play explores the inner life of one of history’s most renowned women. Florence Nightingale restlessly inhabits a world where she heals the sick, challenges the powerful and discovers the limits of her own brilliance.

Directed by Elisa Carlson, with Rachel Garner, Alex Rose, Brian Kurlander, and Bobby Labartino.
Dramaturgy by Michael Evenden

$10 at the door

About the Ethel Woolson Lab:

Each year, up to four plays by WTP affiliate playwrights are competitively selected by an outside panel to be given readings as part of the Ethel Woolson Lab. Each chosen play/playwright is given a 15- to 30-hour developmental workshop through the course of one week, culminating in a rehearsed, staged reading for the public. Each selected playwright works with WTP’s current dramaturg-in-residence for the EWL, and workshops are lead by the WTP director-in-residence. https://www.facebook.com/events/648319921958159/

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January/February update from Artistic Director Jill Patrick

Artistic Director Jill Patrick

Artistic Director Jill Patrick

2014 is behind us now, and what a year it was! WTP members celebrated more awards, productions, and publications than ever before in our history. WTP’s board of directors diligently worked at accomplishing all the goals set by feedback from the membership, and we loved seeing everyone at our annual holiday party on January 18th.

Personally, 2014 was a year of many travels as I journeyed to the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky, the Fringe Festival in Orlando, Florida, PlayPenn’s 10th Anniversary symposium in Philadelphia, and a conference of St. Edward’s University Theatre Alums in Austin, Texas. Two of these trips were personal to me, but I always make sure WTP is properly represented wherever I go. It is important to make our presence known beyond the Atlanta theatre community, as we grow our brand and membership, to not only keep our awareness of national theatrical trends high, but to also ensure people beyond Atlanta know Working Title Playwrights is alive and thriving, and helping create some of the best new and emerging playwrights in America.

The 2014 Ethel Woolson Lab (EWL) has been the single most rewarding season of our signature series to date, with plays by Annie Harrison-Elliott, Penny Mickelbury, and Theroun D’arcy Patterson so far. The 2015 recipients of the next EWL season will be announced at the final EWL reading of the 2014 season, Patricia Henritze’s The Nightingale Rose (fka The Bitch of Balaclava), Monday, March 9th. The work the playwrights committed in each of these labs, with the masterful dramaturgical eye of Neeley Gossett working with them in advance of individual labs, brought about scripts that made giant strides from the draft(s) they initially submitted to the lab, to the product presented to the public in their individual staged readings. Collectively, this has been the best group of plays and playwrights selected for this process, and I can hardly wait for the final presentation in March. It’s a good feeling to have heading into the new year!

We are also looking forward to having Nichole Palmietto take over the helm of Resident Director for the EWL. Nichole brings with her a background in dramaturgy, and a passion for helping develop new plays. Based on the terrific work she did with Annie Harrison Elliott’s Empty Rooms for the EWL, I think we may just have a Batman-and-Robin dynamic with the team of Nichole-and-Neeley – and how neat is that?
Also in March, WTP is excited to offer a master class with Erik Ehn, head of the playwriting program at Brown University, author of numerous plays, and recipient of awards such as a Rockefeller Grant, a McKnight Fellowship, and a Whiting Award, all significant recognitions in the playwriting world. SAVE THE DATE! You won’t want to miss out on this opportunity! Saturday, March 21st!

 

 

 

 

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Erik Ehn Workshop

Playwright Erik Ehn

Playwright Erik Ehn

Erik Ehn, the head of the playwriting department at Brown University, will be leading a day-long seminar on March 21st. The topic: “Writing Suddenly and Abundantly — a process without blocks from inception to editing.”  This promises to be one of the most amazing workshops we’ve ever hosted.

Playwright Hank Kimmel traveled to Philadelphia last December to take this workshop through Play Penn and came back with this glowing review:

“The was a transformative experience for me, not just as a playwright but as a person. An absolutely exhilarating experience.  More than anything else — at least to me — Erik guiding us into find the heart and soul of our voice. And, yes, if you’re a structuralist, you might be amazed how Erik pulls it all all together.  I can’t imagine any person, playwright,or artist who couldn’t grow from the experience.”

More information about this workshop will come.  Because this is an intimate, hands-on workshop space will be limited.  We will offer an early-bird discount to WTP members before we open the workshop up to the public at large.

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Resident Dramaturg Neeley Gossett on THE CANNIBALS- An Ethel Woolson Lab

 

cannibals-squareWe only have one TV in my house, so every Sunday night, my husband and I learn to share. He religiously watches The Walking Dead, and although I am ashamed to admit it, I am addicted to The Real Housewives (of any city). The reason that I bring this up is because, as I see it, The Real Housewives is easy to stage. I’m not comparing Tracy Letts to Bravo, but much of what we see in the theatre is family feuds and internal turmoil. However, Theroun Patterson’s post-apocalyptic play, The Cannibals, has the excitement and suspense of The Walking Dead. There are no zombies and only PG-13 gore, but contrary to many contemporary, character-driven plays, Patterson’s play is an action-packed deconstruction of humans in their most brutal state.

The Cannibals is an important and timely allegory, as we try to survive the changing definition of The American Dream. Something that makes this script unique is its masculine energy. I know, I know, playwriting is dominated by men, so it may seem odd for me to point out the masculinity of a play. But this is not the sort of pseudo- masculinity that is acted out through misogyny and crud verbal banter. It is raw. It is about survival. It has grit, and women too are savages.

Join us for the Ethel Woolson Lab Reading on Sunday, December 7th at 7:30pm at The Alliance Theatre.

1280 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30309

$10 at the door

About the Ethel Woolson Lab:

Each year, up to four plays by WTP affiliate playwrights are competitively selected by an outside panel to be given readings as part of the Ethel Woolson Lab. Each chosen play/playwright is given a 15- to 30-hour developmental workshop through the course of one week, culminating in a rehearsed, staged reading for the public. Each selected playwright works with WTP’s current dramaturg-in-residence for the EWL, and workshops are lead by the WTP director-in-residence.

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Playwright Theroun D’arcy Patterson on THE CANNIBALS

Playwright Theroun D'arcy Patterson

Playwright Theroun D’arcy Patterson

The Cannibals began as I was thinking about the future as it relates to America, and what it might look like if current global tensions played out to their possible conclusions.  What if our enemies align themselves against us for their mutual benefit?  What if a war is waged, and the unthinkable happens:  What if we lose?  What if the very boundaries of our nation shift dramatically and what we own is no longer ours?

Much of our American identity is rooted in our ability to choose, as well as the ever-present notion of possibility.  All things being equal, we can choose the path our lives can take.  We can be as successful as much as we are willing to sacrifice and work hard.  The Cannibals asks, what happens when the free market economy is collapsed?  What happens when the classes are equal again, when we are all have-nots, and buying power no longer guarantees life in a “safe neighborhood?”  Who do we become when the country has to resettle herself?  What are we when choice and possibility are taken away?

As always, I am interested in how a larger issue affects the personal.  In this case, the play deals with a family working hard to restore a “normal” way of life.  They have taken residence in a mountain cabin and isolated themselves from seeing what life in the new America has truly become until friends from their old life visit, bringing the scars of migration and resettlement in the New Colonies with them.  This provided me a great opportunity for dramatic tension and conflict:  Old life versus new.  Savagery versus civility.

I’m always interested in what’s at work beneath the surface.  Who are we at our very core as human beings?  When self-interest could mean survival, what do we do with the attributes that we use to identify ourselves as good people?  Do we cling to them?  Do we abandon them?

The great joy in being a Playwright is that I get to take these elements, these questions, these people, lock them in a room, turn the lights off and see what walks out.  Ultimately, I simply want to present a piece of entertainment that begs further conversation and contemplation, heated debate and self reflection.  None of this can happen without an organization that supports your work, a director that believes in your voice, a dramaturge that helps you see the whole forest again, and strong, smart actors that trust you enough to say yes, and then give you everything they’ve got to bring your play to life.  That’s never been lost on me, and none of it is ever taken for granted.  My thanks to Working Title, Neeley Gossett, Amber Bradshaw, Kevin Stillwell, Tess Kincaid, Tiffany Morgan, Elin Hill, Robin Bloodworth, and Barrett Doyle.  Come out and enjoy the play.  It’s going to be a wild ride!   –Theroun Patterson

Join us for the Ethel Woolson Lab Reading on Sunday, December 7th at 7:30pm at The Alliance Theatre.

1280 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30309

$10 at the door

About the Ethel Woolson Lab:

Each year, up to four plays by WTP affiliate playwrights are competitively selected by an outside panel to be given readings as part of the Ethel Woolson Lab. Each chosen play/playwright is given a 15- to 30-hour developmental workshop through the course of one week, culminating in a rehearsed, staged reading for the public. Each selected playwright works with WTP’s current dramaturg-in-residence for the EWL, and workshops are lead by the WTP director-in-residence.

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December Update from Artistic Director Jill Patrick

Artistic Director Jill Patrick

Artistic Director Jill Patrick

I’ve been sitting on pins and needles waiting for some big and bigger news to arrive in my mailbox to share with everyone, only to have to sit a bit longer. During this time, I have been polishing a couple of poems, a short story, and a personal essay, when not coordinating the upcoming Ethel Woolson Lab of Theroun Patterson’s The Cannibals, or buckling down for final exams at uni. I am not sure one can tell the difference between one of my short stories and one of my personal essays unless they are very familiar with my work (or family), the reason being my penchant for navel gazing. In my own defense, I have an almost iridescent navel. Sometimes at night I have to wear a memory foam sleep mask, for without it the light of my navel would keep me fully awake, all night long, I swear! One might think I would be accustomed to late nights, being a theatre professional, but the truth is the universe was having fun when it gave me a navel through which I can, at 49, still touch my umbilical cord with the tip of my finger. This keeps me grounded as I am bouncing off the satellites. Okay, maybe not quite iridescent, and maybe not quite as far as the satellites, but gosh darn it, it keeps me awake at night!

Which brings me back to our upcoming Ethel Woolson Lab reading of The Cannibals by Theroun D’arcy Patterson. With dramaturgy by Neeley Gossett, and directed by Amber Bradshaw, we have a dynamic cast with Tess Malis Kincaid, Robin Bloodworth, Kevin Stillwell, Elin Hill, Barrett Doyle, and Paris Crayton III. The Cannibals looks at our country and ponders our future based on the choices we make in our today. Which parts of our past continue to dictate our present behavior? How much of our present circumstances can we blame on our past before we simply must take responsibility for ourselves? This is a question I have asked myself throughout my lifetime, and one I believe every storyteller needs to address in his/her own way.

Last month, WTP launched its annual fundraising endeavor with the enormously successful sixth installment of its 24 HR Plays. By far, this was the most successful launch in our history – with more help behind the scenes ensuring we were well equipped to meet deadlines, as well as having community support to provide all the creative teams round-the-clock nourishment and collegiality to keep their energy up and flowing in the right direction toward getting the job done. Though the 24 HR Plays were a resounding success, the job of fundraising is not over. We will happily accept your emotional and/or professional endorsement, your contributions of time, throughout the year, and most importantly right now, your monetary gifts, to help make new plays happen by developing playwrights all the more lasting. — Jill Patrick

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Upcoming November Dramatist Guild Event: Friday Night Footlights

November Dramatists Guild Event Free and Open to the Public

DG Friday Night Footlights Atlanta-Style

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fabrefaction Theatre Conservatory

999 Brady Avenue NW – Atlanta, GA 30318

Parking on street or valet in parking lot

Plan to attend this quarterly presentation of two new play readings by regional Dramatist Guild member playwrights in the beautiful Fabrefaction Theatre complex.

6:30 pm           Bar open for drinks, snacks, and some professional networking

7:00 pm           Coyote Hour – by Margaret Baldwin – directed by Karen Robinson

Annie and Jonathan Everett are married urbanites in a suburban city struggling to stay connected after an unexpected loss. When their dog goes missing amid reports of neighborhood coyote attacks, Annie enlists the services of a wildlife relocator, McCann, to rid their yard of late-night intruders. McCann’s arrival and the encroaching wilds collide with a baby shower at the Everett’s house, shattering pleasant appearances and forcing Annie and Jonathan to confront their deepest fears and wants.

9:00 pm          And She Was Not – by Laura Thompson

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For more info, contact Pamela Turner at pturner@dramatistsguild.com

 

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