Cover artwork of the Season in review 2020/21: A group of friends open a time capsule labelled 2020.
New England West Season in Review 2020/21
New England West Banner for Season in Review 2020/21
Artwork by Bekka Lindstrom, Drawings by Ian Sklarsky

Season in review.” The phrase takes on a whole new meaning this year. At the time of this writing, there is hope and confidence that we will be heading back into real, live theatre spaces in the very near future. Looking back on the year, it is clear that dramatists throughout western New England took matters into their own hands to make sure theatre—and new plays in particular—continued, against the odds.

Dramatists are creative by nature. This year, that creativity was necessary, not only in writing but also to find opportunity. Despite the shuttering of theatre venues around the globe, playwrights continued submitting their scripts; awards and grants were distributed; readings and productions went virtual; and theatre-makers everywhere persisted. They weren’t always happy with the results, as they battled technology and bandwidth issues, but they were creating something.

Despite finding creative ways to be creative, some dramatists also struggled with not feeling like writing at all. At more than one regional virtual gathering this past year, attendees talked about not being inspired, not feeling like writing, despite having the extra time they always dreamed of, and feeling challenged to come up with a storyline more dramatic than anything happening in real life. With the pandemic, political upheaval (not to mention a storm on the nation’s capital that many watched unfold before their eyes in real time), and anti-racism protests around the country, there was a lot to process. While it was perfectly natural to be processing the events unfolding around us, it didn’t necessarily lead to a creative burst.

Yet, theatre was created. There was possibility. There was a no-holds-barred feeling of breaking new ground. At the same time that our theatrical systems were broken down, barriers to producing were removed. It just had to be done differently, that’s all.

That sometimes meant self-producing a reading on their laptop from the comfort of their home office. Sometimes, it meant bringing their latest work-in-progress to the neighborhood theatre. Sometimes, it meant being able to partake in a virtual production of their play, taking place across the country, without having to hop on a plane. Sometimes, it brought a group of local playwrights together to produce a festival highlighting their latest work. Sometimes, it even meant being able to see a production of their play taking place on another continent.

All that and more is reflected in the listing of works produced this season.

Congratulations to our regional members who kept theatre alive this year. Looking forward to seeing you all in our local venues in the season ahead!


View this Region's latest additions to the Dramatists Diary

Emma Palzere-Rae
Emma Palzere-Rae

is the current Western New England Regional Rep. Plays currently available for touring: Aunt Hattie's House and The Woodhull Project.