Saturday, November 9, 2013

Finding the Perfect Script

By Victoria Chatfield (Executive Director)

First of all, check out our article in Samuel French's online magazine, Breaking Character: The Path of a Young Artist. Samuel French worked with us every step of the way on our August production of Circuits Clipped, and we're honored that they decided to feature us on their website. They're the absolute best, and we cannot wait to work with them again soon! (Thanks, Abbie!)

We're in the middle of script selection for our August 2014 production. It's a fantastically rewarding process. It's also a process that will inspire self-doubt in the toughest and most seasoned of producers. You've reached out to playwrights across the nation. The submissions have flooded your inbox. Now, you get to read through all of them and choose THE ONE. The one that will spark the creativity of your director, designers, performers, technicians, and administrators. The one that will forge an emotional connection with your audience members. The one that will appeal to critics. The one that will break new artistic ground. When you think of all of the qualities that make up the perfect script, it makes finding one seem downright impossible.

While Circuits and Clipped might have seemed like obvious choices for August 2013, we actually spent weeks debating which one-acts we wanted to feature in our pilot production. We consulted our student-led dramaturgical committee. We requested feedback from theater professionals. We even called our parents for their input. Finally, after much debate (and long, restless nights of soul-searching), we decided that we had to go with Rachel Lepore's Circuits and Sam Van Wetter's Clipped. They were thematically compatible -- yet tonally different enough to keep the audience interested. (You can find out more about how we selected Circuits and Clipped in our Samuel French article.)

I'm still reading all of the submitted scripts for this season but, so far, the difference between a strong contender and a weak one has been the storyline. I've seen some fantastic characters plodding through ill-conceived plots; I've seen some witty banter featured in incomprehensible narratives. Playwrights: remember that you only have about 5-10 pages to hook an audience member. After that, they start flipping through their programs or subtly checking their cell phones. The scripts that have really hooked me have started out strong. Something unbelievable happens in those opening moments, and I can't help but want to find out what will happen next. (Of course, if you set up a mind-blowing scenario and then can't close the deal at the end of the play, that's an entirely different problem.)

We'll be announcing our August 2014 production at the end of next week. We can't wait to share the news!

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