August 11, 2020

New Works Lab

If you set foot in the Riverdale Y now and then it’s hard to miss the fantastic productions that go on year-round in the mainstage theatre right off the lobby. Recently the Riverdale Rep “succeeded” wildly with HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, and next the teens of the Riverdale Rising Stars will show us what they did for love when A CHORUS LINE opens.

But did you also know that upstairs, once a week, a fearless band of playwrights meets to develop new works for the stage? Funded by the Bronx Council on the Arts and supported generously by the Y’s Performing Arts Department, the New Works Lab is in its third year. This fall our four participating writers are Don Creedon, Aileen Kilcommons, Joe Kolinksi and Maryrose Wood, along with a rotating cast of generous actors who pop in to read for us upon request. Maryrose serves as moderator,

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and we also rely on the indispensable Shawn Renfro, who supports our activities in ways both artistic and practical.

The sessions are process-oriented, designed to nurture first drafts and revisions of the writers’ current works in progress. Our playwrights bring in whatever they have, whether it’s a monologue hand-written in a journal, a song lyric for which the music has not yet been written, or a complete first act of a play. The work is read aloud by our stalwart acting talent (which often includes the playwrights). After the shock wears off, the group offers feedback designed to support and clarify the writer’s vision for the piece. Questions abut the writer’s intentions, specific comments about what felt missing or superfluous, and impassioned conversations about the ideas explored in the text are likely to ensue.

We’ve had a terrific autumn in the Lab, and the works in development are varied. Currently our writers are developing a large-cast play set in a Yonkers nursing home, a musical adaptation of a classic children’s book, a dark and hilarious family tale set in Dublin just prior to the economic crash, and an intimate one-man show about a crisis of religious faith.

Our fall meetings will conclude with an “Open Lab” night on Tuesday, Dec 9th at 7:30 PM, upstairs in the multipurpose room. Adding an audience to the mix will give our writers a whole new level of insight into their works in progress. We invite all of you to join us. You can expect to hear new and revised excerpts from pieces by each of our of our four playwrights, and we’ll welcome your feedback too.

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