Ten Years Ago
My first exposure to the professional playwriting scene in Atlanta was in 2002. I had returned home from my first year of college for an internship at Horizon Theatre Company. I spent the summer making calls to literary agents, copying scripts, and buying highlighters. More importantly, I was allowed to participate in the Young Playwrights’ Festival and attended all of the workshops and discussions.
A few moments from this week stick out clearly in my mind— I met Lauren Gunderson, an Emory student who was working on a wildly imaginative play about Isaac Newton. There was an art history buff, Noah Charney, who stirred things up one afternoon by writing a scene about Mary and Joseph eating in a Waffle House on their trip to Bethlehem. And Kt Kilbourn, a transgender, feminist performer, presented a new piece called Underground TRANSit. Little did I know that years later I would be anxiously waiting for the curtain to go up on Lauren’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear, buying Noah’s book, The Art Theft, from Amazon, and laughing with Scott Turner Schofield (formerly Kt) about the similarity of our last names.
It’s impossible to ignore that I also came into contact with the work of three other Atlanta OMPF writers that summer. Margaret Baldwin was working on Her Little House, as part of the New South Play Lab. Eddie Levi Lee and Larry Larson had a reading of A Survivor’s Guide to the Apocalypse. And I’ll never forget my onstage experience in Phillip Depoy’s detective play, EASY. I had a walk on role as a strip club patron. I spent every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night putting on a pair of leather pants and waving bills at a scantily clad actress, Atlanta’s own Lala Cochran.
As I think back on that internship I am amused by how those brief encounters introduced me to a larger community of writers, many of whom still claim Atlanta as their home ten years later. I’m impressed by the strength of our playwriting community and encouraged by the new names that I see on the list. Events like the OMPF can help define a city. I am particularly grateful for the opportunities that tie us together year after year, such as Working Title Playwrights’ 24 Hour Plays and Xperimental Puppetry Theater (XPT) at the Center for Puppetry Arts. These two events, along with the OMPF, bring writers, directors, and actors together in the same room. It is theatrical speed dating at its finest!
As an artist who works in Atlanta and Los Angeles, it is comforting to know that geography is no longer a limitation. The modern writer can submit plays electronically, participate in playwriting webinars, collaborate over Skype, and even attend productions in other cities with the help of streaming video (as I will be doing the nights of the performance). “People” and “Place” are essential to my work and I am thankful for the tools that allow me to participate from a distance. It is an honor to be a part of this rich and complex gathering of writers, directors, actors, and artist who consider Atlanta home. As long ago as my first introduction was, it still feels like a minute.
The First Atlanta One-Minute Play Festival in partnership with Actor’s Express will take place Sunday June 10th and Monday June 11th at 8PM. Tickets are $20 and availablehere. The Monday June 10th Performance will be livestreamed on New Play TV.