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Friday, May 13, 2011

Playwright Patrick Gabridge on the Boston Theater Marathon

Playwright Patrick Gabridge
I'm a Boston Theater Marathon enthusiast.  It's my favorite theatrical event of the year in Boston, by far.  I love its energy and how the day brings together so many members of the Boston theatre community into the same building work together and see each other perform, all while raising money for a charity that's all about caring for members of that community.  How do you beat that?

I try to see every play.  I don't manage it every year, but I usually come pretty close.  Back in the old days, this required a bit more of an ass of iron--nowadays, the Wimberly seats are a bit more conducive to making it through the whole day without numbness and possible nerve damage.  For me, the Marathon is a way for me to check out work by some 150-250 actors, many of whom I might want to work with someday.  I scribble little notes all over my program, highlighting actors, directors, or companies that I want to start following closely.  (And I really do use these notes.)  The Marathon is a theatre smorgasbord where I just keep on feasting (though my brain gets a little fuzzy after watching the first 40 plays or so).

Over the years, I've been lucky:  this will be the eighth time my work has been included in the Marathon.  I've been matched with five different companies, and with three of those companies, that relationship has led to the chance to work on other projects.  That's the thing--in some ways the Marathon is like an enhanced speed-dating service for playwrights and theatres, but instead of just getting matched up, we go out on an actual date.  And the date comes with lots of support--we don't have to focus on many of the production details (finding the space, publicity, box office, etc.) that are taken care of by the BTM staff.  Instead, we get to focus on the play and performances and getting to know each other.  I wonder how many productions around town have gotten started by the Marathon matchmaking that's been played by Kate and everyone at Boston Playwrights?

So in a little more than a week, you'll find me in the seats, holding my breath when my play begins (having your work on the Wimberly stage in front of a couple hundred theatre community peers can be a daunting rush), crossing my fingers for my friends' plays to go smoothly, eagerly writing notes about what I like, and already coming up with ideas for next year's script.


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