Writer-Led Community Initiatives

 

When asked, "What is the most important benefit of New Dramatists?" writers most often answer, "each other," referring to the peer conversation and support found within the ND community.

Each New Dramatists' season includes writer-driven events that range from writer-to-writer meetings, executive committee discussions and decisions, informal conversations and community celebrations held at our West 44th street home.

For more information about individual writer-led events, please review our Playwright Support Activity Report.

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The company meets during the 2016 Composer-Librettist Studio.
The company meets during the 2016 Composer-Librettist Studio.

Writers’ Executive Committee

The Writer’s Exec is a central advising and governing body for New Dramatists: a collection of resident writers who self-select to participate in the annual review and revision of programming, the planning of company meetings, and other general advising to the ND staff. This group also selects four of its body to serve on the organization’s Board of Directors as full voting members. The group meets periodically throughout each season.

The 2015-16 Writers Executive Committee included: Christina Anderson, Andy Bragen, Sharon Bridgforth, Mia Chung, Kara Lee Corthron, Mashuq Deen, Clarence Coo, Erin Courtney, Kristoffer Diaz, Jessica Dickey, Matthew Freeman, Madeleine George, Barbara Hammond, Lucas Hnath, Sibyl Kempson, Basil Kreimendahl, Aditi Kapil, Mona Mansour, Laura Marks, Peter Nachtrieb, christopher oscar peña, Ken Prestininzi, Lynn Rosen, Mark Schultz, Betty Shamieh, Karinne Keithley Syers, Cori Thomas, Andrea Thome, Melisa Tien, Francine Volpe, A. Zell Williams, Stefanie Zadravec.

Company Meetings

Twice a year, the playwright company of New Dramatists gathers at the building for a four-hour meeting known as the All-Writers Meeting. This season’s meetings took place on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, and Friday, May 13, 2016. The format and content of these meetings are designed by the Writers Executive committee. Meetings typically focus on issues of art making, craft or career, resource sharing, getting to know the other writers and their work, and/or discussing major programmatic and institutional initiatives. This is one of our primary mechanisms for actively facilitating community within the resident company.

Bake-Offs

Bake-Offs are a tool to help writers write a first draft quickly – or as some writers have said, “it’s a method for getting out of your own way.” A system of work development largely credited to Paula Vogel, Bake-Offs are famous for their simple design and ingredients... and, for bringing forth many incredible and beautiful plays.

A Bake-Off distills essential components of artistic creation: a deadline, a few pre-set aesthetic ingredients shared with the whole group, commitment, and the warm support of fellow artists. Participating writers generate a draft of a piece using pre-set Bake-Off ingredients, and then gather on the deadline date for a group reading/sharing of the work created.

Playwright-led Classes

Throughout the season, playwrights schedule and run writing classes at New Dramatists, based on space availability. With many of our writers also working as full-time educators, these classes bring scores of writers of all types into the New Dramatists building. There were 13 such classes held at New Dramatists this season.

Emergency Fund Workshops: A particular type of playwriting class, Emergency Fund workshops are multi-hour Saturday classes hosted by residents – the class fee is low ($40 per person) and all proceeds are placed in the writer-run Emergency Fund. The Fund is administered by the Writers’ Executive Committee, with grants made to residents or alumni playwrights who find themselves in sudden, significant need (e.g., for unexpected living, work or medical expenses). Emergency Fund Workshops were conducted by Mona Mansour on October 24, 2015 and by Kara Lee Corthron on November 21, 2015.

Various Writer Convenings

Pen & Swills: These informal gatherings among the playwright company (with public component or without), are designed to stimulate discussion on artistic and professional issues. There was one “soiree” designed Pen & Swill event this season for resident writers. Mashuq Deen hosted a Pen & Swill on December 4, 2015 on the topic of women’s spaces and gender parity in the theater.

Bagels and Breakouts: Another informal gathering among the playwright company, these sessions are usually scheduled during the day in order to accommodate playwrights with school-aged children. These are without a public component, but like Pen & Swills, designed to stimulate discussion on artistic and professional issues.