I’m only one day back from the 2012 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and my head is still spinning. I had some thought of blogging while I was there but, heh, that didn’t happen. They kept us busy from morning to night.
I was there to receive the Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award for Absence (which was actually co-winner of the award, along with Deborah Yarchun’s The Man in the Sukkah), but before the award ceremony, there were four days of workshops with playwrights (Kirsten Greenidge, Sam Hunter, Carl Hancock Rux), directors (Evan Yionoulis, Daniella Topol), plus Curt Columbus (artistic manager of Trinity Rep) and agent Beth Blickers. We also got to tour the Woolly Mammoth Theater, courtesy of artistic director Howard Shalwitz, where we had a session with Jason Loewith, of the National New Play Network, the sponsor of the MFA Playwrights’ Workshop (which will bring me back to DC in July). For me, the most intense session happened on the first day, where with three other playwrights, I met with dramaturg Jocelyn Clarke. We each had to talk about a work in progress for 30-40 minutes, explaining what we thought it was about, and asking the others (we’d all read each other’s pieces beforehand) three questions about the piece. It surprising how difficult it can be to be articulate about your own work.
The best part of the weekend was not the workshops, though, and not even the awards ceremony. It was getting to know a group of scarifyingly talented playwrights from across the country. Just being in their company was an honor (though I was always tickled when we were collectively referred to as “young artists” and “the newest generation of playwrights). There were too many for me to mention everyone’s name, but I do want to mention Jonathan Fitts, whom I’d originally met at the KCACTF Region 1 Festival back in January. His play “White, or The Musk Ox Play” and my play “Beleaguered” were both in competition for best one-act play. His moved on to the national semi-finals; mine did not. After another great reading at the Kennedy Center, “White” won the John Cauble award for best short play. Yay, Region 1!
The Kennedy Center is a fascinating place; it’s also huge. I don’t think I got to see more than a small part of it. (As a history buff, I was also interested to note that it was across the street from the Watergate Hotel.) The Center is a government building, so there are guards in orange vests everywhere, and it took a day or two to shake the feeling that they were giving me suspicious looks. I was also told that the donuts made on site at the Center’s cafeteria were quite delicious, but I alas never got to try one. Something to look forward to in July, I guess…