National Reports

New Jersey by Stephen Kaplan

Stephen Kaplan presenting a workshop

New Jersey by Stephen Kaplan

This past spring we had two of our most successful events yet!

To start things off, in April we had a panel on Writing for Musical Theatre featuring three amazing DG writers: composer/lyricist Adam Gwon (Ordinary Days, Cake Off), composer Keith Herrmann (Romance/Romance), and lyricist/librettist Mindi Dickstein (Broadway’s Little Women, Toy Story: The Musical). A great discussion ensued about everything from inspiration (including source material and original concepts), collaboration, and what to do when a show isn’t working, to recording demos, workshopping material, and negotiating agreements.

Following the conversation, attending members chatted with each other to find potential collaborators and I already know of two connections that have resulted in starting work on new musicals!

The evening culminated with the New Jersey Composer’s Showcase presented by 4th Wall Theatre which included excerpts from shows and standalone songs from writers across the state, including ridiculously talented DG members Gonzalo Valencia and Michael Campbell (showcasing their shows The Great American Whoopee and Goblins and Gates), David Maglione (whose musical Fitted Up was featured), and Kevin Lynch. Reach out to 4th Wall if you’d like to be considered for a future showcase.

Then, in June, I was excited to be able to offer a workshop on submitting (or, our new preferred word, “sharing”) your work smarter. The seminar was adapted from a workshop originally created by Regional Representatives Donna Hoke and Aoise Stratford and then presented at the National Conference in La Jolla by Donna, Nancy Gall-Clayton, and me. So much is talked about the writing process as far as developing dimensional characters, structuring inciting incidents and climaxes, and crafting realistic dialogue, but no one tends to talk about what you do with your play once you’ve finished writing it. That part of the process.

While the main thrust of the workshop dealt with finding the best homes for our plays and all of the varying components that different opportunities ask for, what was most exciting for me was the sharing of hints, tricks, tips, and strategies by everyone present. The excitement and support expressed by all attending to help each other out is the very essence of being part of the Guild and what I love most about being a member and Regional Representative.

And I loved the fact that I got to meet so many members from all across the state in one day! I started the morning off with a presentation in Burlington (and got to meet some of our awesome South Jersey contingency, as well as some neighbors from New York and Pennsylvania) and we were hosted in the gorgeous Lyceum Hall Center For The Arts. For the afternoon session, I drove north on the Turnpike and repeated the workshop at Jersey City Theatre Center (JCTC). Due to the high demand to attend (we had to institute a wait list for the Jersey City session), we’re looking to present the workshop again soon, hopefully including a webinar version so anyone can attend. (And be sure to reach out to the Lyceum and JCTC if you’re looking for a space for a reading or production – both venues love writers and new work and want to work with you!)

I can’t wait for our next events, so keep your eyes on the e-blasts, and be sure to join our New Jersey Dramatists Guild Facebook page if you haven’t already.