As the leading producing theatre in the Southeast, the Alliance has spent more than 50 years working to carry out its vision of “Making Atlanta more connected, curious, and compassionate through theatre and arts education.” The connected part was made manifest to local dramatists when, in 2013, the Alliance launched the Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab. As it was first described to me by Celise Kalke, who was then Director of New Projects, the idea was to provide opportunities for local artists to explore new ideas (scripts didn’t have to be completed for submission) and also, through the application process itself, to encourage artists to reach out within their own community and find new creative partners.
With this in mind, each year the Alliance puts out an open call for Atlanta-metro based artists from any theatre discipline to submit a project for consideration. Each of the three selected project teams receives $10,000 to help support development over the project year which ends with a public presentation of their work in progress. Project artists also get use of rehearsal space and have access to other resources such as design and casting staff.
From the beginning, selected projects have shown great breadth and diversity of style, subject, delivery, and team make-up. Following is testimony about the experience from two recent Reiser alums.
Actress/Playwright Hannah Church (The Yellow Wallpaper musical): “What was most helpful is you get money upfront and can use it however you decide…. Also, halfway through you do a reading for AD Susan Booth and she sends pages of notes with helpful feedback. Everything else is up to you as an artist, and what you can put together. No one is holding your hand, other than financial help and a little feedback here and there.”
Playwright/Actor Lee Osorio (The Modern Prometheus; Lumpkin): “I have had…two projects accepted…Not only did the pieces grow exponentially through the time and funding provided…but I grew so much as a theatre artist. The ability to work intensely with incredibly talented dramaturgs and directors and then hear an audience’s reaction…was a gift that took my work to the next level. And the vote of confidence from a theatre like the Alliance that my writing was worth investing in has been a game changer. I would not have the confidence as a writer that I have without the program.”
The Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab now heads into Round 9 (the Spring 2022 date for submissions was not yet available).