On the 1st Philly OMPF & The Philadelphia New Play Initiative
I’m looking forward to partnering with Dominic D’Andrea on The One Minute Play Festival here in Philly in August 2013. While InterAct Theatre Company (which I co-founded in 1988 and have since served as Producing Artistic Director) is specifically focused on commissioning, developing and producing full-length plays that explore the social, cultural and political dimensions of the contemporary world, I also care deeply about supporting and nurturing the local playwriting community.
InterAct’s efforts to do this have included: (1) Producing new plays by 16 local playwrights in our first 24 seasons; (2) Hosting an annual Showcase of New Plays (from 1999-2001) that featured many plays by local playwrights; (3) Hosting a Playwrights’ Forum (from 2001-2012) through which 8-10 local writers met monthly to offer feedback on each others’ plays; (4) Serving as a connector between Philadelphia’s new play community and the National New Play Network; and, most recently, (5) Inaugurating a Core Playwrights program, through which three local writers will participate in the life of our organization, while receiving professional and artistic support.
In 2008, I pulled together some of my local new play colleagues – PlayPenn Artistic Director Paul Meshejian and Philadelphia Young Playwrights Executive Director Glen Knapp – and started the Philadelphia New Play Initiative. PNPI is an entirely volunteer, decidedly un-funded campaign to improve the climate for new work in the region. In our first few years we have hosted talks and/or workshops by Paula Vogel, Craig Lucas and Todd London, as well as four rounds of speed-dating for theatre leaders and playwrights. Our focus has been on building relationships and creating a more informed community, with the ultimate goal of generating significantly more productions of locally-written plays by our burgeoning core of small and mid-sized theatres.
Over the past 25 years Philadelphia has experienced a tremendous cultural renaissance, with a theatre scene that has evolved into one of the more robust and diverse in the country. In the absence of a flagship art theatre, which, in other cities, often dominates the local theatrical landscape with sumptuous productions of (primarily) classics, Philly’s theatre community boasts a very appealing range of healthy, modest-sized LORT theatres, mission-driven mid-sized and smaller theatres, as well as devising ensembles. In my opinion, classical work has never been our community’s strong suit, whereas we have slowly, yet steadily emerged as a hub for high quality productions of new and contemporary plays. This evolution has ocurred because of the efforts of a number of producing theatres (InterAct, Arden Theatre, 1812 Productions and Azuka Theatre, among others), PlayPenn (Philly’s professional play development organization), the annual Live Arts-Fringe Festival (one of the oldest and largest in the country), Philadelphia Young Playwrights, and a growing community of serious, professional playwrights.
My hope, in partnering with OMPF, is to continue to galvanize and energize our playwrights by engaging them in this communal event, while at the same time fostering relationships with local actors and directors. The proceeds of the Festival next year will benefit PNPI, so that we can continue to provide professional and artistic development opportunities for Philly’s new play community.
-Seth Rozin, Artistic Director InterAct Theatre Company
Phase one of a year-long collaboration between the OMPF ant InterAct Theatre Company will begin with a Philly Playwrights’ Convening In August of 2012. Throughout the year, several sessions will planned in the Philadelphia community, culminating with the 1st Ever Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival in Aug 2013.