The week-long playwriting intensive hosted by CCM Summer Programs will come to a dramatic close Saturday (May 14) in a series of 10-minute plays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m in the Cohen Family Studio Theatre.
Fourteen playwrights have spent the week learning from industry professionals in master classes to write and develop original works. The inaugural Playwrights Conference was organized by CCM Assistant Professor of Drama Brant Russell. It gave participants the unique opportunity to work closely with leaders in the field — including internationally known playwright and composer, alumnus Todd Almond (BM, 1999) and dramaturg Lisa Timmel, director of new work at the Tony award-winning Huntington Theatre Company in Boston.
“[The participants] are working with levels of expertise and talent that they would not otherwise have access to,” Russell said. “Lisa and Todd represent the very best of what the industry has to offer and I don’t know of any other situation in which playwrights at this level with their engagement with the craft would be able to work these people.”
Each participant has written a short play to be performed at the 10-Minute Play Festival on Saturday. Almond was commissioned to write and develop a new play specifically for this conference, which will premiere at the close of Saturday’s festival around 8:15 p.m. Each play will be performed by CCM’s own drama students.
“Todd’s play is part of a commissioning initiative that I’ve launched here that brings plays to CCM to be produced, the world premiere version of that will hopefully then go on to have a professional and academic life of its own for years and years and years,” Russell said.
The playwrights, including Almond, have rewritten and edited their works throughout the week to perfect them for the stage. Almond said the conference feels like a “Sundance retreat where you come every day with new pages.” Almond drew from his memories as a CCM student when writing and developing the play, he added:
“It’s about wrestling with identity when you go to college. There’s a bit of a tragedy early on that kind of derails the main character and he has to wrestle with getting back on track. The actors are helping me figure out what in that is honest and what in that feels forced. I think our process is making it more honest, we’re making this play actually feel real and not devised.”
The 10-Minute Play Festival is FREE and open to the public. Join us for an evening featuring all-new works by playwrights from across the country brought to life on stage with the talents of CCM student actors 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Photos and Video by Arielle Kruger