National Reports

Missouri by Hartley Wright

Missouri by Hartley Wright

Any playwright who doesn’t belong to the Dramatists Guild is a damn fool, because it is the only protective organization we have who tells us how to fight against these forces of darkness, and will protect us and will help us retain our integrity.” The words of Edward Albee (captured in a promotional video several years ago for the Guild) provide comfort for so many Guild members in this region who write with the confidence of knowing our work will be produced. This is a region of successful playwrights, advancing our work through means of self-production in addition to being awarded premiers of our newest work on a continual basis.

To celebrate and help support this, our regional programming will be focused on developing and protecting our work, including self-production primers, seminars related to business affairs, and public readings and talkbacks for regional playwrights.

In line with the theme of keeping our form vital in an ever-changing technological and cultural landscape, this region continues to offer opportunities designed to help us write for the changing world. Many of our Guild members attended July’s Scriptwriting 101 Workshop offered by Missouri Stories. While this program focused exclusively on screenwriting, Guild members need to take advantage of the playwriting tract offered at the third annual ShowMe Writers Masterclass at the end of October. It is my hope many of you will want to take part in an upcoming Writing Wrongs initiative in the St. Louis area to help an underserved and at-risk community find creative ways to tell their story.

Here in Kansas City, DG playwrights from around the country will be featured in the first Midwest Dramatists Conference taking place September 28-30. Five hundred playwrights had an opportunity to submit one ten-minute play for consideration to be among up to 55 playwrights selected to attend the conference hosted by the Midwest Dramatists Center—a playwright collective established in 2014 which includes four local Dramatists Guild members in residence.

The Midwest Dramatists Conference will provide actors and directors for a reading of their play attended by personnel from New Dramatists and the Midtown International Theatre Festival, and producer George Simon from Black Coffee Productions. These professionals will also conduct 50-minute workshops for the playwrights. Playwrights will also receive feedback on their plays from the Midwest Dramatists Center’s literary manager. Beyond receiving artistic criticism and comment, playwrights at the conference will attend breakout sessions focused on providing the writer with tools to improve dramatic structure and storytelling. As members of the Guild, we should take interest in The Midwest Dramatists Conference because the three-day event concentrates on developing the playwright’s work. Those playwrights whose plays have been selected for the conference will benefit from professional advice, instruction, and support they need to grow themselves as artists and impact the creation of new theatre. Guild members in this and every region can take advantage of this opportunity in future years.

Because we write for the stage, we all are vulnerable to those dark forces seeking to corrupt and undermine our words and imagination. Through working together as dramatists in this region, we provide a community of integrity to meet and support one another as artists, command respect and secure equitable treatment by other artists and producers wishing to remain in the good graces of the theatre community. We should all feel proud to be a part.