Alabama Shakespeare Festival Intern Acting Company member Tirosh Schneider continues his inside look at the Southern Writers’ Project Festival of New Plays. This time, he explains how the audience becomes part of creating new plays.
People love to watch things grow. Plants, children, those little fuzzy shapes that you put in water and they turn into dinosaur toys. Imagine how exciting it is to watch a new play grow from a collection of ink and paper to a living, breathing work of art. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Southern Writer’s project (SWP) offers this rare opportunity.
After a rigorous selection process, four or five playwrights each year are given elite teams of actors, directors, and dramaturges (they’re kind of like a coach for the playwright) to read and further develop their new plays. These readings are then presented to the public, making you an integral part of the playwriting process. You’ll get to watch brand new characters come to life, hear brilliant scenes read aloud for the first time, and voice your own thoughts and responses in a feedback session after the reading.
During SWP, a playwright will often rewrite enormous sections of their plays overnight, and you play a vital role in helping to shape their young play. Some audience members come to every reading and talkback, and even have dinner with the actors at night. But you can come to as many or as few readings as you’d like! Find a new play that sounds interesting to you, and come check it out for only $15 ($10 for students). What have you got to lose?
The mission of the festival is to “foster new plays that delve into southern issues and the experience,” and what better place for this to occur than Alabama’s beautiful capital city, Montgomery? Many of the plays chosen for SWP have gone on to be produced at professional theaters all over the country, but they all began here. I could not be more excited to be in Montgomery for those two weeks in May, and I hope you’re excited too.