We successfully produced a reading series of new plays written by emerging playwrights. We shared 5 plays by 5 playwrights (from all over the country), worked with 3 new directors (not including our very own artistic director, Jonathan), heard the generous work of 14 actors (including a Bacchic ensemble member and a staff member), and, most importantly, met so many of you!
We are so lucky to have had such attentive and articulate audiences. Our audiences were the greatest gift we could’ve given these playwrights. Throughout the rushing from venue to venue to make sure everything was just right, I was most intoxicated with the joy shared between playwright and new audience member. My favorite moments of the whole experience were when we would introduce the playwright to the audience. This would either be when we invited them up on stage for the post-show discussion or when we turned that laptop screen around and introduced the digital version of our playwrights living outside of New York. A sense of bubbling excitement filled the room in these moments because we all agreed to serve the play as best we could for the next 20-30 minutes.
It’s amazing how a simple observation from a stranger can crack a play open. As our audiences dared to challenge these playwrights, everyone in the room’s storytelling muscles grew and changed. As the moderator for most of these post-show discussions, I was always amazed by the risks our audiences took in a genuine attempt to improve the play and fill its potential.
Speaking of risks, this whole project was quite the big one. Despite this being our inaugural reading series, I believe we held onto our top priorities. We put the playwrights first. We focused on the development of these scripts. We asked our audiences to be specific and productive with their feedback. We treated each reading like a cocktail party that happened to have a play being read aloud in the middle of it. We wanted our audiences to feel invited into the process. I think we did those things really well. For that, I’m very proud of us.
For those of you that joined us, I would love to hear your feedback. Feel free to reach out to us in the spirit of Liz Lerman’s critical response process: moments of the reading series that compelled you or stuck with you and questions you have for any of the producers or artists involved. My question to you is how we can invite people from all different backgrounds, career paths, and worlds into the conversation around play development and storytelling. I was struck by so many of the questions and comments offered throughout this process and am hungry to involve more people in powerful conversations like the ones we had these past two weeks.