At our summer conference, we're busy from dawn to dark. There are, in fact, twenty-five workshops across genre that conference participants can choose from - fiction, poetry, memoir, creative nonfiction, screenwriting and more. So, it's remarkable that those in the Play Lab are also attending other workshops during the day as well. It's a stretch – but one they always rise to, to revise every day and return with a fresh script in development.
During the first year of the Play Lab, I knew the participants would greatly benefit by a reading of their script in front of an audience, by actors and friends available and willing to jump in to the creative process. Conference director, Dixie King, gamely agreed to squeeze time into our overcrowded schedule to offer the readings to the entire conference on Wednesday. It was standing room only and a huge gain for everyone: This is the learning process of moving from page to stage; hearing your words lifted off the page by actors, (some truly professional ones are always present, available and willing), hearing the laughter and applause and gasps of an audience, and then being able to hear feedback and comments and encouragement from everyone afterwards.
The first Play Lab readings were a huge hit; the rest of the conference attendees crowded into the Red Door Lounge to see what their friends had been working on all week. And the playwrights were awed and thrilled and helped immensely by understanding the art of the collaboration and the elements of production they were exposed to.
We're a unique conference, in that dozens of women writers are present all week, and many are eager and willing to share acting talents; some who had no idea they even have acting talent. Every actor, experienced or otherwise, was willing to take a risk on stage to support the writers. This is truly one of the most generous, fun, collaborative communities I've ever been involved in. And I really look forward to seeing where the scripts go from here; into production on stages around the world, and then into published scripts. I'm honored, once again, to be part of the development of women's stories for the stage.