Now in its 16th year, the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group brings together a group of emerging playwrights each season to create new plays for the American theater. Under the direction of Primary Stages Associate Artistic Director Michelle Bossy, these playwrights attend weekly meetings in the fall and spring, where they bring new pages to each session and receive feedback on their works in progress. At the end of the season, Primary Stages presents the first public reading of these plays in The Dorothy Strelsin Fresh Ink Readings Series.
Last week submissions were due for ESPA Drills, and it’s a busy time for our writers. ESPA Drills is an annual new play development program providing staged readings to four Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA) playwrights, selected each year from dozens of submissions. Long-time student and playwright Kat Ramsburg offers a peek into a busy but creative week at ESPA, as she works on perfecting her own Drills submission.
Sunday: The Rewrite with Josh Hecht
My Rewrite class with Josh Hecht is probably the most eclectic group of playwrights I’ve ever had at Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA). Their plays include a comedy about a vampire looking for love, a May-December romance, two brothers in the Bronx heading in very different directions, an American figuring herself out while teaching English in Thailand, and my play.
It makes for a very lively discussion because we are all such different writers. What impresses me each week, however, is the respect that is shown to one another in class. When you share a room with respectful, intelligent, creative writers, the feedback can get very deep and detailed. Personally, I wasn’t feeling too great about my pages this week. I had changed a major plot point and hadn’t had enough time to fine tune and work out all the new issues that arose from the changes. Frankly, I was embarrassed to present my work, but I shouldn’t have been. Josh employs a great system of giving feedback that allows you to take risks. The feedback isn’t based on the risk, but on breaking down the outcome so you can see where you went astray. I left class with a great map of how I would tackle the scene the next time through.
Monday: Writer’s Group
I have the best writer’s group! I’m fairly certain that some of you may argue that point, but I assure you, yours may be swell, but mine is the greatest!
The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group is a Primary Stages program that cultivates new work for the stage by bringing together eight emerging to mid-career playwrights annually. Each playwright develops a new full-length play (and in some cases, more) and presents their work at the end of the year in the Fresh Ink reading series. The prolific Adam Szymkowicz has been a member for several years. We invited Adam to share a look into his unique playwriting process.
What Am I Working On Now? or The Confluence and Fluidity of Ideas.
Like many playwrights I am always working on multiple projects. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of ideas of projects I want to do and there is never enough time to do them all. Sometimes when I’m between writing scripts I will make a list of the things I plan to do.
A recent list like this contained 20 play ideas, 15 film ideas, 3 graphic novel ideas, 6 novel ideas and a few other-hard to-classify projects. Sometimes I will combine a couple of these ideas to make something. Sometimes I will have a new take on an old idea that suddenly makes it come into focus. And then sometimes completely new ideas appear and demand to be written.