From DORI SALOIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VANTAGE THEATRE
If you don’t know what RIPP: Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project, please click here to get some context before reading. I have a feeling not everyone is doing this, as I keep getting emails from playwrights wanting to send me their plays or asking how to get produced which, again, is not the point of RIPP.
We were founded by a playwright and in his memory we always try to honor the playwright. Here is my process. When I get a break from productions, directing, etc., I read. I read emails scripts and hard copies, but I usually like hard copies better. (They are piling up right now, as I have recently passed the wand of artistic directorship to another but I remain as executive director.) If I read a play and like it, but know it isn’t for us, I get back to playwright usually via email and suggest where they should send it, or I will pass it on to other artistic directors if it might be right for their companies. I try and send a response after I read a play, sometimes making a suggestion or two. I choose plays that move me and fit our agenda. I get lovely responses from playwrights I have had to pass on, as they appreciate the time I took to read, my offer to pass it on, or my suggestions regarding a change or two. From our New Works in Progress series, several playwrights have gone on to win more awards, and larger productions.
All that said, we are small company and only do a few projects a year only along with some staged readings. Our last big thing was bringing Anna Deavere Smith to town in Let Me Down Easy in partnership with La Jolla playhouse and San Diego Rep. Our current event is Cadenza: Mozart’s Last Year, which was presented in conjunction with the Mainly Mozart festival and the Timken Museum. We are a site specific producing company. We tend to take over spaces that fit the play. I am currently looking at a new play by Marc Berman that speaks to me and most likely will do it in conjunction with another company. What happens to me is as I read, I get passionate about it, and if it moves me to an “aha” moment, then I will move mountains to get it done.”
My nutshell takeaway: A couple of things. One, small companies very often do big things. If you know that a small company routinely collaborates with another, bigger, company, then you’ve got two theaters to research before pitching your work. If you’re really familiar with the companies, you might even suggest, or foster collaboration if you’ve got a relationship with another theater. So often, creativity is the key.
Two, site specific is becoming huge. This summer, I’m producing Buffalo Car Plays and everybody I talk to is so excited about it. There’s something about seeing a play take place in a real place as opposed to a fabricated one. There is a Buffalo theater company, Torn Space, that is huge on site-specific performance, and has done some incredibly innovative things, including performances at Buffalo’s historic grain elevators. I admit, I have no given specific thought to ability of my plays to take place in specific spaces that might enhance their theatricality, but imagine if you could write to a company like Vantage, and suggest a really cool venue? Maybe you’ve even vetted it. I don’t know what that might do, but it’s certainly something to consider. What do you think? (As always, please leave comments directly on blog, so all can see them.)
Until next time,