A few weeks ago, my friend and kick-ass playwright Eleanor Burgess tagged me in a twitter conversation between her and Paula Vogel, in which Paula called for a national new play bake-off, blending the themes of Ubu Roi and the Current Political Unpleasantness. I leaped before I looked, and thanks to the passion and committment of two ambitious young producers, Raye Levine and Sawyer Spielberg, three new plays were born, along with hundreds of others across the country and around the world., h
This particular Bake-Off, presented by Raye and Sawyer’s Where Are They Going Theatre Co., went a bit rogue, writing one-acts instead of the 5-minute plays Paula had called for, but were assured by her team that there were no rules except to get writing! So we pushed on. We recruited two other writers, Siobhan Gilbert and Ricardo Pérez Gonzáles, and each of us sat down at the beginning of the weekend and wrote for 48 hours. No edits, no rewrites, just the raw creativity of intelligent and talented alums of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing program. Then, we joined playwrights at theatres across the country who walked into theatres on Monday night with a stack of scripts, an eager ensemble of actors willing to risk their dignity if not their mental health by cold-reading some of the strangest pages of theatre some may have ever seen. But that is the spirit of Ubu! I am happy to say it worked. All three plays were compelling and entertaining. I gave myself the award for “Most Pretentious Title” (the race was uncontested). And then we all had a great time recounting the events of the evening over beers.
This how a life in the theater should be, as far as I am concerned: a group of gifted artists getting together to make something new, something a little political, possibly important, and so wildly inventive you couldn’t help but love it.
My deepest gratitude to all the actors who joined us, to Raye and Sawyer for making it possible, and to the inimitable, inspirational, sartorially splendid Paula Vogel for calling it into being.