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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Playwriting in the fast lane

Peter M. Floyd spent last week in Washington, D.C., at the Kennedy Center, where he… Gah, I’m totally stealing his whole first paragraph here. I should just let him tell it. Take it away, Peter:

I've just returned from the MFA Playwrights' Weekend at the Kennedy Center in Washington (it's co-sponsored by the National New Play Network) and my head's still a-spinning. I went there with my horror play The Centipede King, which is something like The Turn of the Screw by way of The Glass Menagerie. With centipedes. My first day there, I met my director (Stefan Brun of the Prop Thtr of Chicago) and my dramaturg (Gavin Witt of Centerstage, in Baltimore), both of whom were bubbling with enthusiasm for the play, which was gratifying. We had a week to rehearse, and had at our disposal four actors, an assistant director, two assistant dramaturgs, and a sound designer, who would create the weird and unsettling ambient sounds that would play during the reading.

Peter M. Floyd
We would rehearse in the afternoon, and then I'd go back to my hotel and spend the evening and the following morning trying to kick the play into shape, and bring new pages in for the next rehearsal. This was playwriting in the fast lane, and as one who usually writes at a poky pace, I found it a bit of a challenge to keep up. But by presentation time, this past Saturday, we were ready to scare the pants off our audience. (Or at least give them a major case of the willies.) My cast, all local D.C. actors (Kimberly Gilbert, Rana Kay, Alexander Strain, and Lee Mikeska Gardner), were wonderful, and were able to carry our audience with them into the realm of the Centipede King. (I'm not sure all of them returned.)

Over the week, I saw seven other play readings, and each one was a jewel. I hate throwing clichés around, but it was truly an honor to be part of a group of such gifted and promising young (and not-so-young) budding playwrights. Much kudos is due to the organizers of the event -- Gregg Henry of the Kennedy Center and Jason Loewith of NNPN -- who brought together such a talented group, and kept things running with no major, and very few minor, snafus.
                                                                                                                 -Peter M. Floyd

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