Update from Jacqueline Lawton, Regional Rep for North Carolina:
This was the summer of COVID-19, economic strife, and a reckoning for racial justice in our streets and in the American theatre. It was also the summer when North and South Carolina dramatists gathered together as part of the Footlights Summer Readings Series to hear each other’s plays. In all, we heard nine new plays!
Our dramatists included KEITH BURRIDGE, SHARON BAKER, Amanda Alomdovar, JANE ALLISON JONES, KATY KOOP, LOUIS PANZER, RORY SHERIFF, Pete Turner, LARRY BLISS, ERICA ALLEN MCGEE, and TRIZA COX. The writing was as varied in style as they were in theme. There was a musical, a one-woman show, two adaptations, a time-bending drama that took place on a train, and a healthy dose of realism. The themes focused on family, betrayal, family planning, coming-of-age, and personal growth. Speaking to this moment in history, some of the play also addressed issues of racism, sexism, classism, gender expression, and abuse of power.
What I love most about this program is that it offers a great opportunity to teach dramatists about how to be a producer. From gathering an artistic team to marketing their plays to managing schedules, this program places the playwright at the center of the work in a powerful way. In order to prepare our audience for the experience, I introduced content warnings to our process. This way, the playwrights were aware of the potential impact of their work and did what they could as producers to prepare their audience in advance for the experience.
All in all, it was a rich, wonderful, and engaging experience, and I learned a lot about what it takes to be a Representative working to support the dramatists of my state and also challenge them to learn, grow, and strengthen their professional development skills.
Update from Erica McGee, Ambasssador for North Carolina:
The Footlights Series this summer was a great undertaking for us here in North and South Carolina, and one learning we took away from these events was the power of collaboration! In presenting with two area groups, Triad Stage, a regional theater out of Greensboro, North Carolina and a new play reading group called “Sips and Scripts” out of Raleigh, North Carolina, we were able to have much larger audiences (albeit remote) for our playwrights! Also, having our playwrights offering up their plays in front of these groups that cultivate new work, is a great exposure opportunity for them as well!
Moving forward, something along these same lines, that could be good for presenters and playwrights would be a Playwright/Producer Partnership Program (PPPP), where area playwrights are matched with producers in their area who would be willing to read that playwright’s new play and meet for a single “one on one” with them for a casual conversation offering valuable critique! In return, the playwright might offer to volunteer for the organization in whatever capacity they might need assistance. A win-win!
Update from Triza Cox, Ambassador for South Carolina:
South Carolina Dramatists Guild playwrights were fortunate to participate in the 2020 DG Footlights™ Summer Reading Series. This event served as a rare opportunity for South Carolina writers to feature their work in programs co-hosted by august collaborators such as Triad Stage and Sips and Scripts. The virtual readings were also an opportunity to support community and artistry in the age of social distancing.
South Carolina theatre houses currently remain dark to in-person performances, but many companies have embraced online performing. Two unique opportunities present themselves through the ubiquity of online performances: first, participants need not be in the same geographic location for an event; and second, more new works are being presented. The latter opportunity is due to many theatre companies needing to produce work which will not have performance rights fees.