August 11, 2020

Playwriting Lab at The Y

Today we hear from Maryrose Wood about the new Playwriting Lab at the Y

Maryrose Wood

What made you want to start a playwriting Lab at the Y?

I started my career many years ago as an actor, but quickly realized that my real passion was the creation and development of new work. It didn’t take me long to take up writing as my profession, and my writing career has also kept growing into new territory for over twenty years now.

A home for playwrights who are creating new work for the stage seemed a perfect addition to the already rich theatre community that has flourished at the Y since Laurie Walton founded the Riverdale Rising Stars thirteen years ago! I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to make that happen.

What was the grant process like?

It was a useful experience to apply for the BCA grant to help fund this program. Not only did we get the grant (thanks, BCA!), but the application process gave us a chance to fully articulate why a Playwrights’ Lab would be valuable to the community. It’s not just about supporting the writers, although that is primary. Actors, directors, technical artists and even audience members have a totally different relationship to to the experience of theatre when they are involved during the creation of a piece. It’s quite thrilling to see new plays come to life!

What is your dream/vision for this Lab?

We have such a remarkable group of writers involved! I am really excited about the plays that are being worked on. I’d like to see these pieces grow into finished drafts and move on to the next stage of development. Often that means a rehearsed, minimally staged reading under a director’s guidance as a prelude to full production. I envision the Lab taking root as an ongoing community of local playwrights who support each other’s progress. And I’d love our community to develop a keen appetite for new work! It’s the most exciting part of theatre, to see brand new plays on their feet for the first time. I think once our local audiences realizes what a privilege it is to be “first” to see these fantastic new plays and hear what the writers themselves have to say about the work, they will get hooked.

What do you hope the playwrights will gain by participating in this Lab?

The ongoing structure and support of a community of fellow writers is so energizing. Just knowing that their work will be read right away by gifted actors and discussed by supportive colleagues makes writers eager to get new material on the page. I’m also thrilled by the really insightful level of discussion that goes in our Lab. This kind of feedback from fellow writers is invaluable. They’re able to say what they got and didn’t get from a draft, and ask probing questions that help the playwright clarify his or her own vision for the work. And writing does tend to be a lonely job, so being able to bring fresh pages in every week to share is hugely encouraging and a lot of fun, too!

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