Eight Local Playwrights Have Been Chosen For Annual Nine-Month Workshop
Center Theatre Group has announced the participants for the 2012-2013 Writers’ Workshop. Administered by CTG’s Literary Department, the Writers’ Workshop consists of eight Los Angeles playwrights who meet once a month over nine months to share their work and assist one another in the creative process of developing a play.
This year’s playwrights are Zakiyyah Alexander, Sheila Callaghan, Jonathan Ceniceroz, a musical composing team of Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, Meg Miroshnik, Tanya Saracho and John Sinner.
The Writers’ Workshop provides an opportunity for CTG to foster relationships with local playwrights, to facilitate progress by providing resources and to bring together the local playwright community. The writers are welcome to work on plays commissioned by or scheduled for production at other theatres.
Literary Manager and Resident Dramaturg Pier Carlo Talenti and Literary Associate Joy Meads follow numerous local playwrights and invite approximately seven to participate each year. All writers must reside in Los Angeles and be either starting or interested in starting work on a new play. Talenti and Meads look for local writers from diverse backgrounds with varied writing styles who are challenging themselves and their audiences, and this year’s writers are no exception.
“What’s exciting about these writers is that they all write extremely differently, and that they all write especially theatrically,” said Talenti of this year’s writers. From playwright John Sinner who writes “very expressionist pieces” to Meg Miroshnik who “recently wrote a hybridized contemporary Russian fairytale.”
Of Sheila Callaghan, Meads said, “She’s a bold writer who creates these images that just explode in your mind. She dreams up idiosyncratic characters and drops them into strange theatrical worlds with the highest possible stakes.” Talenti explained that this is the first year that the Writers’ Workshop has taken on a musical composing team. “Matt Gould is the composer and Griffin Matthews is the lyricist. I got to know their work through a piece called ‘Witness Uganda’ that was workshopped at Boston Court last year. It was a beautiful piece, and I think that Matt’s songs are incredibly theatrical and lush and big and powerful.”
Tanya Saracho, unlike most of the other playwrights, is new to L.A. “She had founded a company in Chicago called Teatro Luna,” said Talenti. Meads added, “It was a Latina female ensemble and she wrote with them for a long time. She writes people that you feel like you know intimately and that have depth and complication.” Zakiyyah Alexander “writes deeply human work with grand imagination. She takes an unflinching look at vitally important social questions,” and of Jonathan Ceniceroz’s most recent play, Talenti said that “it’s got these wonderful, grand emotional gestures; it’s full of delicious, old-fashioned pathos.”
Meg Miroshnik is a recent winner of the $50,000 Whiting Writers’ Award, which recognizes exceptional writers who have yet to achieve national prominence.
The Writers’ Workshop began with a weekend-long salon in October. Each playwright identified local experts on the subject of his/her play and invited these experts to join the group for a discussion during the salon. Past guest experts have included an LAPD homicide detective, the creator of Kwanzaa, a Cal Tech seismologist and a Los Angeles Times writer. Guests for the most recent salon included sculptor Alison Saar, thanatologist David Kessler, Assistant Professor of Cinematic Arts at USC Laura Isabel Serna, divorce attorney Daniel Jaffe, founder of the Vet Hunters Project Joe Leal and USC assistant professor of American Studies Shana Redmond.
In the monthly meetings, the playwrights can hear their pages read aloud by colleagues, invite additional experts, discuss relevant issues, or work with other members on improvisation exercises to further scene development.
In June 2013, members will gather for a three-day retreat during which they hear all seven plays that were written over the course of the workshop. CTG hires professional actors to do cold readings throughout the retreat.
Several of the plays written and developed in the Writers’ Workshop have been produced around the country, including Lisa Loomer’s “Distracted,” which had its world premiere at CTG/Mark Taper Forum, Julie Marie Myatt’s “My Wandering Boy” (South Coast Repertory), Adriana Sevahn Nichols’ “Night Over Erzinga” (Golden Thread/Silk Road Rising co-production) and Brett Neveu’s “The Opponent” (A Red Orchid Theatre). Julie Hébert’s dance-theater piece “Night Falls” was performed in San Francisco this fall and Lila Rose Kaplan’s “Entangled” premiered at UC Santa Barbara’s Launch Pad in 2012.
In addition, CTG is also producing the world premieres of Jennifer Haley’s “The Nether” and Marco Ramirez’s “The Royale” in its current Kirk Douglas Theatre season. Haley was a member of the 2011- 2012 Writer’s Workshop, and Ramirez was in the 2010-2011 workshop.
December 19, 2012