Professor Researches for New Book

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Director of Creating Writing, Michael Wright, travels to Baltimore for research in the development of a new edition to PLAYWRITING AT WORK AND PLAY.

Michael Wright

The focus of the book is on the methods and missions of new play development programs around the U.S., such as Sundance, the O'Neill Conference, and more. Wright’s research explores the idea that playwrights need to have a chance to explore their plays away from the production environment, where it's hit or miss, and play development programs provide that. Depending on the program, the playwright has a chance to have his/her material worked on by a director and actors, often with the help of a dramaturg (an expert on plays, playwriting history and the ways directors work, who serves as a support person, a middle-man, and/or researcher). Each program is unique but the purpose is the same: to help "open out" the play for the playwright so that he/she can make it the best possible work of art it can be, and have it ready for production. Wright has witnessed plays in this context including PASSING STRANGE, which ultimately ended up on Broadway, and SIDEMAN, also on Broadway, among dozens of others that reached various levels of production. Wright’s book is largely based on interviews and conversations; in its initial development, he made a series of site visits; in this incarnation the focus is on interviews.

Wright chose the trip to Baltimore to interview David White, who heads the WordBRIDGE Playwrights Lab, now housed at Towson University. WB is a program for "emerging writers," meaning writers of any age who are at the start of their careers and have had little to no production of their work. Wright interviewed David at the historic Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore, seeking to get insights on not only his program but an overview as well of play development. Professor Michael Wright praises Mr. White in his ability to get anyone excited about concepts and provided excellent insights for undertaking this new version of the book. Mr. Wright recorded the conversation and will do a follow-up interview via phone through KGWS radio for a second recording.

In addition, Professor Wright was in contact with Molly Smith, Artistic Director of the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and has also arranged to do a similar phone interview as with White. Also in D.C., Wright met with actress, Rachel Zampelli, about her experiences with play development.


Ashley Etter