Friday, June 7, 2013

Business Profile: Independent Playwrights

1. How did you get into what you do?

I work as the Director of New Play Development for a small Chicago based theater company. Through my work with playwrights, it has become increasingly clear to me that unpublished writers need a better way to have their work read. There are lots of great plays out there that never get performed because there is no way for directors to find and read them- we’re hoping to change that!

2. What education have you received and how has it helped you do what you do?

I studied theater at Dartmouth College. The great thing about the theater department at Dartmouth is that the professors and administrators are really committed to being mentors and friends to their students. They were always encouraging me to do more. Peter Hackett, who was the chair of the department while I was there, is tremendously good at developing new work and new voices. He was, and is, a fantastic role model and was one of the first people we sent the Independent Play(w)rights business plan to.

3. What's your biggest achievement?

Launching our website was a pretty great moment for all of us. There was so much time, paperwork and effort invested in it that seeing the final project come together was pretty exciting.

4. What is your biggest goal?

The way we see it, plays get produced because of people. People who love plays. Our biggest goal is to provide a platform where people who love plays can find amazing work to produce.
5. If you were a piece of furniture what would you be and why?

A nightstand. Mostly because mine is broken and I’ve come to realize how necessary they are.

6. What are you reading right now?

Lots of fantastic plays for Independent Play(w)rights and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman.

7. Who was your biggest mentor?

Peter Hackett, former Artistic Director of the Cleveland Playhouse and a professor at Dartmouth College. No one encourages, mentors, and teaches like Peter does. He got me my first job out of college, interning with the National Theatre in Budapest, Hungary- pretty great!

8. What's your next big project?

We have a few things coming up: first, creating a stronger networking component for the website, second, developing a playwriting class to help writer’s hone their skills and third, bringing a few bloggers on staff to contribute more great content to our blog.

9. If you could give a tip to anyone in your field what would it be?

Every play has something pretty great in it. Read to discover what those great things are!

10. If I gave you a thousand dollars and told you to do anything today to better your business what would you do and why?

We want to start creating a community of directors and writers who are working together to produce new work. Our next big project is to develop a networking part of the site that will allow producer, writers and directors to make connections and collaborate.

11. What is your strength in this business?

Our playwrights! We work with really talented writers who are truly pushing the boundaries of what’s being done on stage. We’re continually drawing inspiration from the great writers we work with. And the support and encouragement they have given us has been completely amazing. We are very appreciative of the fantastic group of people we've brought together.

12. What makes you unlike all of your competitors?

At Independent Play(w)rights, we want to give new writers a chance. We don’t care whether or not your work has been performed or workshopped to death. If you’ve written a great play we want to help you get it performed. We have an open submission policy, we receive scores of great plays, and we read every single one of them. The one and only thing we take into account is the play. We care about our writers and are constantly trying to create opportunities to promote their work

13. What can you do for playwrights that they can't do for themselves?

Exposure and development opportunities. We’re working to create a great platform for unpublished writers to share their work so they can reach a wider audience. As our business expands, we’ll be adding classes, more opportunities to participate in the community, and development events in some major US cities.

14. What is "good theatre"?

Good theatre makes you say “I’ve been that person, I’ve had those feelings, I see myself in this play.”

15. Where do you feel you have been "innovators"?

We’re trying to change the way people make connections and find projects. As a student, I was always interested in directing new work but didn’t know where to go to find pieces to work on. In the future, we hope producers will be able to visit our site and find the perfect project for them. We’re developing directors, writers and new work. We are also working to meet the playwrights individual needs, rather then forcing them to conform to ours.

16. Where do you see the business going in ten years?

Ideally, we’d love to have created a strong community of artists who are working together to produce and share their work on both a global and a local level.

To get in touch with Independent Playwrights find them at their website here.

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