Cover artwork of the Season in review 2020/21: A group of friends open a time capsule labelled 2020.
North Carolina Season in Review 2020/21
  • North Carolina Banner for Season in Review 2020/21
    Artwork by Bekka Lindstrom, Drawings by Ian Sklarsky
  • Sips and Scripts Logo
    Sips & Scripts Logo

While Covid-19 kept most of our North and South Carolina theatres shuttered, many found ways to present virtual readings, radio dramas, and productions. For these events, we found that theatres programmed new plays and classics, which is exciting. Additionally, they hosted community conversations and education programs. Many theatre administrators and practitioners also used this time to address issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Throughout this time, our dramatists have been busier than ever. This past fall, several of our members participated in the Play Swap Initiative, which pairs dramatists with their peers to receive feedback on their scripts in development. This round included Marilynn Anselmi, Larry Bliss, Keith Burridge, Bonnie Milne Gardner, Jacob Gordner, Rose-Mary Harrington, NYI, Adrien Royce, Bob Seigel, and Breana C. Venablé. What inspired me most was the care and attention that each play received.  

Additionally, many of our North Carolina dramatists worked with Yvette Holder’s DG Affiliate company, Sips & Scripts, which is a service platform that supports, promotes, and produces work written by NC playwrights through public and private readings and through additional nurturing opportunities. Holder has been an excellent and enthusiastic partner to us in the region.

Update from Erica McGee, North Carolina Ambassador:

While things have been relatively quiet here in North Carolina, we welcomed back the beloved End of Play initiative for our playwrights here in the Carolinas with much gusto.  Over a dozen writers are working diligently to try and finish these works by the end of April.  We are pushing and supporting each other through this event and are looking forward to coming together at the end of the month to find out what we were all working on and where we landed with this challenge.

Hopefully, we will be able to meet in person soon for future events. With the way that vaccinations are going, that could be a real possibility by the end of this year in some form or fashion.  Fingers crossed and we will continue to work as a community, whether it be with the click of a mouse or, hopefully, with a shake of a hand, soon!

Update from Triza Cox, South Carolina Ambassador:

South Carolina theatre groups have found resourceful ways to pivot during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Most companies have resorted to Zoom productions or pre-recorded staged productions. For larger organizations with hefty operating budgets, the integration of technology proved to be easily accessible due to their financial resources. However, many of the theatre groups, especially in the more rural parts of the state, are grassroots organizations without that level of funding.

Several grassroots organizations found options for live performances. The Flo-town Wisdom Players, a small theatre company comprised of senior citizens, recently had their first show post-pandemic in an amphitheatre in Southern Pines, North Carolina. The increased vaccination rates and the expanse of space of the amphitheatre allowed for the show to be in compliance with public health regulations. These grassroots companies may be the innovators of new work presentations, which will not have the immense infrastructure cost of technology.

Looking Ahead

From what we can tell, local theatres are preparing to return to in-person performance. As we get new guidance from the CDC, theatres have been able to adjust audience sizes and spaces and they are imagining new ways of staging that allow for social distancing and the dramatic narrative to work. We’re also looking forward to an upcoming new play festival. In September, Sips & Scripts, in collaboration with Capital Arts Theatre Guild (CATG), will host a New Works Festival celebrating the development of original plays by NC playwrights. This will be an exciting opportunity to engage with new plays, uplift local dramatists, and support each other. I remain inspired by the new play activity that is happening in this region, and I look forward to being able to gather in community with my fellow dramatists once again!


View this Region's latest additions to the Dramatists Diary

Jacqueline E Lawton

has taught theatre residencies and professional development workshops to adults and teachers wanting to integrate arts into the classroom. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.