So I had a play that was in what we’ll call the rock and the hard-place. It was solid enough that it had had a few staged readings, but not quite ready for a full-blown production, and the Granite State Playwrights workshop was the perfect fit for this play.
What is so great about this program is there are not a lot of opportunities like it in the New England area, and it is vital for playwrights, we all struggle with plays that are in stuck in this “in-between” place. I liken it to that stage growing up known as “tween-ager.” You’re too old for many of the things attributed to childhood like Santa and the kid’s menu at a restaurant, but physically are not yet a teenager. The Granite State Playwrights workshop embraces the spirit and embodiment of what plays are meant for. They are called plays for a reason-they are meant to be played.
The Granite State Playwrights workshop allows you the opportunity to see what a fully realized production of your play could look like; minimal set, costumes, props, lighting, and sound cues, with significant staging. There is a team of a director, stage manager, and actors who are all committed to the process of further developing these plays. The directors and stage managers are selected beforehand and auditions are held a couple of weeks prior.
On the first night of the workshop weekend, everyone meets for the first time, the plays are read and a plan is laid out for the following day. The following day is where a majority of the work really happens. Intensive rehearsals and edits are made. It was incredibly helpful to experiment with trying different approaches, some via improv, or having the actors input their own thoughts on their characters. It is a period of trial and error for sure. The scramble to get the edited play sent out for printing was quite the adrenaline rush, so if you’re the type who works well under pressure, this is the workshop for you.
The following morning is devoted to ironing out any last minute changes, like selecting curtain call music. But it is the day of the show so there is a great deal of buzz and excitement knowing that this event everyone has worked so hard on and devoted all of their time to for the weekend is about to come to fruition. There are two performances, a matinee and evening show. Audience members are given forms with very specific questions about the shows that they have just seen, with questions about what worked, what didn’t, their thoughts on the characters and the conflict. The forms were then given to the playwrights to read after the weekend to take into consideration the feedback that was given by the audience.
I can honestly say that this was an incredibly helpful event with how I then approached my next draft. I learned a lot from the experience about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to take my play with revising my next draft from observing the rehearsals and reading over the feedback multiple times. It is of course impossible and unrealistic to take absolutely every opinion into consideration, but there was a good amount of it that brought fresh insight into how to maneuver or revise tricky spots.
While the Granite State Playwrights Workshop is an incredibly fast-paced, intense weekend of non-stop theatre, it is incredibly beneficial for playwrights. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to participate in the inaugural event, and would sign up again in a heartbeat if granted the chance again.
This post was written by Lesley Anne Moreau, one of the playwrights who participated in the last Granite State Playwrights Workshop (GSPW). If you are interested in submitting a play for the next GSPW please visit this post outlining submission guidelines and how to submit.