GSPW2 Thank You!

It’s hard to believe how fast time has flown by since the second Granite State Playwrights Workshop!  Bringing these two new plays to life was truly an amazing way to kick off the New Year.

As things have slowly begun to go back to “normal” after the rush of tech week and performances, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you again to all who helped to make this second workshop a success!  We are happy to say that we were able to double our audience this year -and we hope we continue to see positive growth for future workshops.

A scene from THE TROPHY WIFE
THE TROPHY WIFE by James C. Ferguson. From left: Karielle Anzaldi as Gianna, Katy Carter as Talia, and Amy Agostino as Amanda.

We have been blessed by all the support we have received for this project from friends, family, and the theatre community at large. In particular, we would like to thank our panel of readers: Gail Syring, Andrew Matte, and Erin Striff for dedicating their time to reading and scoring our top five scripts. Thanks to Julianna Wiele for her wonderful logo and poster design. Thank you to Wesley Foster for lending his voice talent to the intercom in Awful People Pray.

A scene from AWFUL PEOPLE PRAY
AWFUL PEOPLE PRAY by Leila Teitelman. From left: Kenon Venon as Tom and Michelle Jones as Lena.

A very heartfelt thank you to Andrew Pinard, Kevin Barrett, and everyone at the Hatbox Theatre for giving us the space and support to both launch and continue this project.

Thank you to our amazing actors -Amy, Katy, Karielle, Andrew, Kenon, Evelyn, and Michelle, our directors Jonathan and Jackie, our stage manager Chrissy and assistant director Jacob, for dedicating their time to bringing these plays to life!

Thank you to Becca Beaulieu for dedicating your time and lighting expertise to the workshop. You rock!

Thank you to Jackie for being the “other half” of Working Title and for all the hours you put into the Workshop -including hours driving from Burlington, VT!

Thank you to our audiences for coming out and supporting these new plays.

Thank you to everyone who filled out a play response form and took the time to provide thoughtful feedback to our playwrights.

Thanks to everyone who supported those in the cast and crew as well as those who shared our event and helped us to spread the word!  We couldn’t have done it without you!

Last, but certainly not least, thank you to our playwrights, Leila and James, for giving us the opportunity to bring their work to life and sharing their plays with us!

It has been an absolute blast working on this project!  Stay tuned for more information about our next one!

Sincerely,

Amanda Pawlik

Co-Artistic Director, Founder

Working Title Productions

Second Annual GSPW Cast list Announced

Thank you to all who auditioned for us (both in person and via video)! The cast for this year’s Granite State Playwrights Workshop is as follows:

Awful People Pray by Leila Teitelman

Jade -Evelyn Shea

Lena -Michelle Jones

Tom -Tennyson Brea

Keith -TBD

 

The Trophy Wife by James C. Ferguson

Amanda -Amy Agostino

Talia -Katy Carter

Gianna -Karielle Anzaldi

 

We are still looking for directors for these amazing shows.  If you are interested please check out our call here and reach out to us.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Otherwise, please join us for the workshop weekend January 5-7th, 2018 at the Hatbox Theater in Concord, NH!

GSPW 2017: Plays and Playwrights Announced!

Thank you to everyone who submitted!  Our readers were given the top five plays to read without the playwrights identifying information attached and were asked to rank the plays 1 through 5, with one being their top choice and five being their last choice for the reading.  They were asked to consider following when creating their rankings:

1. The strength of the story itself and strength of the characters built.  Does the story make sense?  Are the characters well rounded? etc.
2.  How do you think the story would play out as a reading?  -The play will not be shared in the traditional sense of seeing the play entirely on its feet with sets, costumes, and complete staging.  Would the story still be entertaining without those elements?
3.  Do you believe the playwright would benefit from the workshop experience?  Remember that these plays are still a work in progress and we expect some work to be done as the workshop progresses.  That being said, is there too much work that needs to be done that the playwright cannot expect to have addressed the issues in a short rehearsal period?

From there, we assigned points to each ranking and added the points up.  The two plays with the most points will receive the workshop and performance January 5th-7th, 2018 at the Hatbox Theatre in Concord, NH.

Without further ado, the plays selected are (drum roll…)

Awful People Pray by Leila Teitelman

Awful People Pray follows the lives of three camp counselors at a summer camp in Maine. Jade, a new counselor, befriends Lena and Keith, two seasoned and careless counselors who grew up in the town. Jade is a trans woman and, though a strict rule follower, is weary of the negative reactions this could garner from parents and campers alike.

The Trophy Wife by James C. Ferguson

-After the unexpected and untimely death of her husband, Amanda Thorpe and her daughter Talia try to determine what should be done with her husband’s store, a trophy shop called – appropriately – The Trophy Wife. When the duo are joined by a real life trophy wife, things get complicated as secrets are revealed, destinies are intertwined and questions abound while answers remain … elusive.

We are so excited to be producing these shows!  We also would like to take a moment to identify the two plays that were also in our top four as well as two honorable mentions.

Other Plays in the Top Five:

Moon Kids by Ryan Drake

The Growing Stone by Peter Snoad

The Ontology Ward by Pete Riesenberg

Honorable Mention:

Una Me Da Leche by Cassie M. Seinuk

We will not Describe the Conversation by Eugenie Carabatsos

Thank you again to all who submitted plays to us and we can’t wait to put together this workshop weekend!

Amanda and Jackie

GSPW: A Playwright’s Perspective

Lesley headshotSo 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 Boy in the Box
A scene from The Boy in the Box by Lesley Anne Moreau. From Left: Sierra Jones as Kayla, Amy Agostino as Audra, and Spencer Costigan as Cal.

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.

GSPW 2017 Call for Scripts

Calling all New Hampshire and New England playwrights!  Working Title Productions will be hosting its second annual Granite State Playwrights Workshop (GSPW) weekend.

We know that finding the time to get people together to read out new work can be difficult.  Under the inspiration of 24 Hour Theater festivals, the Granite State Playwrights Workshop is intended to give New Hampshire and New England playwrights a condensed period in which their work is rehearsed and given a reading in order to garner feedback and aid in the editing process.  Approximately 2-3 playwrights will be selected for the workshop weekend.  Directors and stage managers will be recruited prior to the weekend and audition nights will be held in June.

Directors, playwrights, and our artistic directors will meet at least once prior to the beginning of the rehearsal period to discuss the process and what the playwrights hope to gain from the process.

This year the performance weekend is January 5th-7th, 2018  (Location/Date final but we’re not yet able to make the where public knowledge yet).

Due to the date of this year’s event we have changed our format.  Instead of rehearsing a single weekend, we are spreading out our rehearsal period.  We anticipate having casting in place by September at the latest.  On a Saturday in October and a Saturday in November (specific dates and locations to be determined) we will have a rehearsal period from approximately 10am-6pm.  Then, there would be final rehearsal(s) at the theater on Tuesday and/or Wednesday night (1/2 and 1/3/18), a tech/dress rehearsal Thursday night (1/4/18), and then performances during the weekend (Friday Night, Saturday Night, Sunday Matinee).

The reading will allow for minimal blocking but no sets or major costuming.  In addition, we intend to split any profits amongst those who participate (ie. Playwrights, Directors, etc.).  Preference to NH playwrights will be given during script selection, with possible exceptions being made for New England playwrights who are willing to travel to NH for the weekend and understand that they are responsible for any costs incurred.

If selected, playwrights will be required to attend the Saturday rehearsals in October and November and the performance weekend.  If possible, the playwrights will be encouraged to also participate at auditions, the final rehearsal(s) on Tuesday/Wednesday, and tech/dress rehearsal on Thursday.  All who ultimately participate (Playwrights, Directors, Actors, etc.) in the weekend will receive some monetary compensation though the particular amount will depend on house sales for the performance.

Requirements and Additional Information:

  • The playwrights who are selected must be in attendance for the Saturday rehearsals in October and November and the performance weekend January 5th-7th, 2018.
    • We would like playwrights to be in attendance at the audition night(s), the final rehearsal(s) on Tuesday/Wednesday, and tech/dress rehearsal on Thursday as well but is not a requirement.
    • The performances will take place in Concord, NH. The Saturday rehearsals in October and November will take place in either Concord or Nashua, NH (specific dates and locations still being determined).
    • Preference will be given to New Hampshire playwrights but New England Playwrights are welcome to participate if they are willing to take on housing and travel expenses.
      • For this call we are including New York in our definition of New England.
  • Playwrights will receive a portion of the house sales. It is the goal of Working Title Productions to provide some monetary compensation to all who participate in the workshop weekend (Directors, Actors, Playwrights, etc) even if it is only a small amount.
    • We hope that those involved will invite and bring patrons to the performance though we set no requirement in ticket sales. However, the number of tickets sold directly influences how much money can be split amongst the company.
  • We are accepting full length and one act scripts. No ten minute plays will be selected and at this time we cannot accommodate musicals.
    • Please read your script aloud to yourself and time it (include reading out important stage directions), if your script runs anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes then please submit!
  • In order to ensure that actors have the opportunity to thoroughly build your characters, your script should require no more than 7 actors.
    • If your play can take advantage of doubling actors, please do not double more than 3 and let us know on the script that the doubling should occur with those specific characters.
  • Some minimal blocking and costuming will be allowed for the performance. Chairs and a table will be provided (Directors will be provided; this information is just for your knowledge).
    • It is intended that this will be a script in hand rehearsed reading performance at the end of the weekend. The blocking and costuming is meant to give the audience an idea of what the show may look like and clarify dialogue and/or action.  It is not meant to be a fully staged performance.
  • Plays need to be complete but at a point where they still need to be finalized. For example, having a scene that you believe needs work or wondering if your message gets across.
    • For an idea of how Working Title likes this process to function please review our Rules of Collaboration post.
  • No more than 2 scripts may be submitted by a single playwright
  • All playwrights will be contacted about whether or not their play was selected for the weekend by the end of May 2017.
    • All plays will be read and reviewed and a top five will be selected.  The top five will then be blindly distributed to a panel of three that will determine what plays are ultimately selected.
  • The submission window closes at 11:59:59pm on May 1st, 2017 *Please note this is an extension to a previously shared deadline*
  • In the body of your email submission to us please include:
    • The title of your play
    • Character age and gender breakdown
    • Any special casting requirements (for example, a character who plays the guitar or of a specific ethnic background).
    • Where you are from
      • If out of state, a sentence letting us know you understand you are responsible for travel expenses and finding lodging for the weekend.
    • Your contact information: Name, phone number, and email address
    • Finally, please attach your play in either PDF or Word format
      • Standard play format please.

You can submit your plays at workingtitleproductionsnh@gmail.com

Thanks so much and we look forward to reading your work!

Rules for Collaboration

Everyone has their own idea of what exactly it means to collaborate on a project and what their role is in the process.  For us here at Working Title Productions we have some guidelines that we would like those who work with us to keep in mind.

Treat Everyone with Respect

We all know this to be the Golden Rule we’ve heard many times, “treat others the way you want to be treated”.  While we may have heard this phrase time and time again as children it has not lost its potency.  Everyone is here to make great theater and we need to respect their views and processes.

Establish How the Group is Going to Collaborate

What is the goal for this workshop?  The playwright and director will have the opportunity to discuss this together prior to the rest of the cast/crew’s involvement.  Goals may involve further developing characters, working on dialogue for a specific scene, or simply observing what a director and actors take from the script and how an audience responds.  However, it is important that the goal is shared with everyone involved once it has been identified by the playwright and director.  This will guide the rest of the process.

How will you communicate in rehearsal?   Directors and playwrights should establish how they will communicate with each other during rehearsals.  Once the cast/crew has been gathered for the first time, directors should establish how communication will work throughout the process with the help of the playwright and stage manager.  For instance, if a director is focusing on staging a scene or working with an actor on a specific moment, they may welcome feedback from others, but may not wish to be interrupted while working.   If the playwright wants to speak with the director about blocking questions they will have discussed prior whether they can say something while the scene is being worked or during a break time.  If the actors are having a problem with the dialogue it will be established who the actor should go to about the issue, the playwright or the director.  Of course every communication hierarchy cannot be planned for but the goal of this discussion is providing enough structure that one can figure out the best route without overstepping boundaries.

There is a time and place for everything.  The director will establish intentions for each session of rehearsal.  These will involve both time for actors, director, and crew to share their feedback and ask questions of the playwright, time to explore scenes in greater depth, and time for the director to focus on the staging for the performance.  As a collaborator, it is important to work within these intentions.  For instance, if you as an actor have questions about your character’s dialogue, it is not appropriate to bring those questions up in the middle of a tech rehearsal.

Someone has be the one to make the final decision.  This person will, more often then not, be the director but it is important to discuss the makeup of the chain of command before any real work begins.  When creating this chain we must remember the people involved and what stakes they have in the outcome.  It is also important to remember that the context of the issue may cause a different order in the chain.  Some examples: an issue with dialogue should have the playwright as the final decision maker, an issue with blocking will likely have the director at the end of the chain though it could be an actor if it is something they are not comfortable or capable of doing, and an issue with props may have a stage manager at the end of the chain but it could also be the director or a props master.

Use Your Voice  (Embrace Your Part in the Process)

Theatre, by nature, is collaborative.  Everyone is bringing their own gifts and talent to make a production great.  As a collaborator, embrace your role.  If you are acting, advocate for your character -their intention, their physicality, their voice.  Make strong choices and do not be afraid to share your take on the character.  Be generous and honest about what you are taking from the page.  If a line of dialogue feels off, ask about it.  If you character feels an impulse to move, try it!  If you are directing, work with the playwright to make sure you understand the story they are trying to tell, then advocate for the audience. Is the storytelling clear?  As a director of new work, you are the first person to bring a playwright’s story to life. Be generous and honest about what you are taking from the page.  As the playwright present in the room, observe what is happening.  Watch how your words and characters are being interpreted, does what you are seeing reflect what you had imagined?  If not, ask questions.  The actors are a resource for the characters, the director is a resource for the audience. They are there to help you tell the story you envisioned and make your script stronger.  If you are a stage manager, own your role in helping the process run smoothly.  Handle the logistics so they do not interfere with rehearsals.  As an objective observer, what feedback can you contribute when appropriate?  Be generous and honest about what you are taking from the page.        

Keep an Open Mind

As playwrights, it can be hard to hear critiques about our work.  One must be willing to listen and hear out suggestions and opinions regarding the play being worked on.  It can be hard to give up control of your piece but more often than not those suggestions ultimately lead to a better and stronger piece.

This is also important from a director’s perspective because sometimes suggestions will change and shift their view of the piece.  Be willing to test out any suggestions given.

Be Flexible

It is theater’s nature to go awry, both during the process and during performance.  One must be able to move with the changes.

Enjoy the Process

This theater thing is supposed to be fun!  Enjoy yourself as you explore these new pieces of work.  Enjoy learning new things about the characters.  Enjoy working with your fellow cast and crew members.  Enjoy!

Take Notes (but not in the way you’re thinking)

Every time a new piece is put on its feet new things are discovered.  Take note of what works and what didn’t work.  Share those discoveries with the person who could benefit from hearing them.  Was there an issue regarding a character that was never resolved that you think should have been?  Mention it to the playwright.  Was there a moment in the script that you think the director missed out on illuminating?  Share your view with them.  Did you starve throughout the process because we didn’t give you enough time to get food?  Tell us!