The last time I taught Freehold’s New Play Lab I explained up front what I think makes this particular course unique: it gives the student playwright the opportunity to explore the politics involved in actually taking a play from page to stage. One of my students muttered, “Politics? I don’t like the sound of that.”
I understand the feeling, but making plays has always been, and always will be, an inescapably political process. We can savor that fact, or bemoan it, but we cannot abrogate it. Now to be plain, the kind of politics I am talking about are usually little more than the affable affairs of a small town assembly; but, in my quarter century-plus producing new plays, there have been times when the struggle took on a much more Machiavellian flavor. I even admit now that on rare and retrospectively embarrassing occasions I have both threatened, and have been threatened with, physical violence. Let’s be honest: the deceptively innocuous sentiment “the show must go on” contains at its core the quintessence of a Corleone threat. Plays, like revolutions, get perpetrated by the tenacious.
Freehold’s New Play Lab helps fill a playwright’s tool box with some of the more pragmatic (and peaceful) implements needed to push through production log jams. It also helps a playwright understand: (1) what is possible to do in the theatre; and, (2) what is not. (Answers: (1) everything you can imagine; and, (2) nothing you aren’t willing to fight for.) Here’s the skinny straight from the Freehold horse’s mouth:
This dynamic class is designed for eight writers who are in the process of writing the first draft of their play and are ready to explore the rewrite and rehearsal process. Working with a produced playwright throughout the month of August, you'll shape, refine, rewrite, and hone the story you're telling. Then, in September, you'll meet with an experienced director and actors for four hours of intensive rehearsal, culminating in two public staged readings of a portion of your play, as a part of Freehold's New Play Lab Showcase in mid September. Auditions and rehearsal will be scheduled in two weeks prior to the showcase.
This could be the last class in writing for the theatre I teach for a long while, maybe ever. Many are my reasons for my impending step back from theatre, not the least of which my own personal need to take a break from the politics: good, bad and indifferent (mostly indifferent). However, if elected as your Play Lab instructor, I promise I will make it my mission—and pleasure—to help you navigate the Machiavellian machinations to make your good play great.