Friday, November 8, 2013

AAPEX 300 Playwrights

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Who knew six years ago and 1,592 posts later that today we would be listing the 300th active* African American playwright? That's when dramaturg Jaz Dorsey, founder of the African American Playwrights Exchange (AAPEX), published the first AAPEX post on April 4, 2007 to promote the works of African-American playwrights, playwrights of African-American stories, and African American theatres across the country. 

Did you know there are at least 91 African American theatre companies? Neither did we but-- like our playwrights who we added over the years to our roster once we discovered them-- you can find these theatres with just one click on the right below our playwrights list.**. 

That's why we consider this to be the "Golden Age" of African American theatre

Of the 300 playwrights, 256 have direct links to their websites/play publishers so that anyone looking for a playwright can find him or her with just one click-- and hopefully buy a play or arrange a reading or full-production. 

Over 40% of the playwrights are women and some, like multi-hyphenate Petronia Paley, are also actor/directors.

AAPEX promotes new productions across the country (and now London, England with Michael Bradford's Olives And Blood) and acts as an open forum for discussions on theatre (as an example, see Owa's call for a Theatre Central here).

AAPEX also permanently lists 4 African-American Theatre college programs, over a dozen black cultural organizations, and over 50 resources for playwrights ranging from links to playwriting contests to play publishers and groups associated with playwriting and theatre. 

All of these free offerings are just one click away. 

Since 2007 AAPEX has posted 36 AAPEX Interviews spotlighting playwrights, producers and other people involved in theatre. These interviews are just a click away when you click the AAPEX Interview "Label" below each AAPEX Interview post.

Considering AAPEX has never charged anyone for anything and has never received any kind of grant whatsoever to support its work, it's quite remarkable-- and a testament to its founder Jaz Dorsey-- that AAPEX has been responsible for over a dozen productions from NYC to London. It's also pretty amazing when you realize AAPEX is based in Nashville, TN and Jaz is the ONLY one setting these things up.

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I have been a recipient of that largess with two NYC readings for my dancical Jitterbug!, none of which would have been possible without AAPEX. I use AAPEX to stay on top of the latest news re African American theatre, call for plays, and to make connections. I encourage all playwrights to do the same.

To paraphrase the words of that late great Spartan leader: prepare for glory, playwrights!

DC Copeland
AAPEX Blogboy

*Active in the sense that, although he or she may be dead, their plays are still being read and performed.
**There may be more AA theatres, but without a website it's pretty hard to find them. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

21st Century Comedy: Aurin Squire's DEFACING MICHAEL JACKSON 11/7-24th (NYC)

Aurin Squire
"This month my comedy "Defacing Michael Jackson" is at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I'm really excited about this because the actors are great and the production is sharp. Come check out a new comedy on race, pop music, and hero worship. Please click here to read my interview on Culturadar."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nathan James' GROWING PAINS encore performance this Thursday (NYC)

Please click image to enlarge.
"What makes a man? 
How do we as a society re/act to media? 
How does it shape you?"

Nathan James, one of AAPEX's favorite multi-hyphenates (actor/playwright/poet/dramaturg) whom the New York Times has lauded as a "standout" performer, will have an encore performance of his hit one-man show GROWING PAINS this Thursday, November 7th as part of the United Solo Festival in NYC. Please consider buying tickets to his show through the link provided above. You won't be disappointed.

Check out the short video below to see James' process and inspiration for GROWING PAINS.

World Premiere of FEAR UP HARSH at Zoetic Stage this Friday (Miami)

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Christopher Demos-Brown's FEAR UP HARSH has its world premiere at Zoetic Stage in Miami this Friday. Although Demos-Brown is a white playwright, it's interesting to see the thought process that made him change a pivotal white trash character to black:

Demos-Brown says that originally, he wrote Mary Jean as “a trailer trash white girl.” But soon he began tailoring the part for Karen Stephens, a Carbonell-nominated black actress, transforming the character into “a very, very bright person who happened to grow up without a great deal of formal education. When she gets emotional, she gets more articulate. She has a very complex soul. She has had some real hardships in her life.”

Stephens brings humor and edge to the play as Mary Jean. She has admired Demos-Brown’s past work and is enthusiastic about bringing the character to life through Meltzer’s collaborative rehearsal process.
“Chris’ command of language is stellar. He has a way of elucidating a character’s point of view in a really smart and precise and incisive way. And he finds the right balance of levity and drama,” Stephens says. “Mary Jean delivers so many funny lines. But there’s so much pathos there. Just like real life.”
You can read more about the play and its returning Iraq War hero with secrets he wishes to keep buried here.

Read more here:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lessing and Dramaturgy Lesson

For 35 years, I have been repeatedly asked the obvious question - " What is a dramaturg?" It's the obvious question because in this country, when you tell someone that you are a dramaturg, they have no idea what you are talking about. 

And it's a strange word; definitely suspect. Sounds communist. 

There is one country, however, where almost any 15 year old could tell you what a dramaturg is. That's Germany. 

Germany is the homeland of the ur-dramarturg, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Honestly, dramaturgy has been around as long as theatre has been around. It took dramaturgy to get Oedipus Rex on it's feet because what dramaturgy is is the process of getting the script ready. Ready for the actors, ready for the audience, ready for the critics. The two primary divisions of dramaturgy - script development and production research - are inevitableBut in Lessing they jelled and became a profession - in Germany, a very honored profession. (I can think of worse things to be referred to than Herr Dramaturg. And over here, I have heard some of those "worse things" beginning with dramaturkey - and you can take it from there.) 

Here's what happened. 

In Lessing's day, Paris ruled when it came to theatre, much like the influence that Broadway and NYC have on theatre in this country today. If theatre wasn't "frenchified" back in 18th century Europe then it wasn't valid. 

This did not sit well with Herrn Lessing, who saw perhaps a deeper purpose to the theatre than his colleagues. Lessing wanted to see a theatre which was rooted in the German language, and so, among other steps, he wrote some very interesting plays of his own in a style that had it's rhythm, meter and syntax taken from the German pallet. Soon Schiller and Goethe would follow. 

Lessing also generated what has come to be known as The Hamburg Dramaturgy. As a German major at Chapel Hill, I read excerpts in German when I took a course on Lessing, but it's not the kind of thing you'd find on the New York Times bestseller list. 

Or is it? Because now, thanks to Dr. Wendy Arons of Carnegie Melon and Dr. Sara Figal of Vanderbilt University, there is about to be an annotated, English translation - and before the book, these two scholars are, thanks to this marvelous age of the internet, sharing their project with the rest of us as it evolves, via this link: 

Highly recommended reading for anyone who wants to ask that question - 

"What is a dramaturg?" 

Jaz Dorsey 
Director of Education 
The Actors' Reading Room 
Nashville, Tennessee 

Come to Nashville and Go to the Theatre! (I'm pretty sure that's what Lessing would say.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Call for plays (11/4 deadline)

New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellowship 
Deadline: Nov. 4th 

The United States is rapidly changing. The U.S. Census Bureau expects that by the year 2050, there will be 439 million Americans (there are 312 million of us now) and for the first time, there will be no single racial or ethnic majority. 

These projections provoke thoughts about the transformations that will take place in the American landscape over the next 37 years—technologically, environmentally, demographically, and artistically. They are a catalyst for broader questions about our moral and artistic future. How do we define diversity? Whose stories aren't being told? What lies ahead for our world? 

In response to these questions, NYTW has expanded its Fellowship program to support the diversity of voices that will make up this new minority majority. NYTW is re-affirming our responsibility to nurture artists who reflect this multiplicity of perspectives, challenge the dominant paradigm, and give voice to those whose experiences are not often heard. 

The 2050 Fellowship is an expansion of NYTW's Emerging Artists of Color Fellowship, established in 1995 out of NYTW's fundamental belief that a diversity of thought, experience and culture is crucial to theatrical innovation. We remain committed to this conviction by expanding the way we identify an artist who is eligible for our Fellowships toward a more inclusive and wider range of artists of varied backgrounds and aesthetics. 

As an institution, NYTW is constantly interacting with and being informed by the diverse body of artists we serve. We seek to listen and respond to untold stories and underrepresented voices, and our roster of artists has always embodied a multitude of communities. In addition, as both a laboratory for theatrical exploration and a producer of plays, NYTW supports projects that are aesthetically, thematically, and methodologically varied. We seek Fellows who reflect, celebrate, and practice this diversity, and who are dedicated and motivated candidates wishing to develop their talents and craft by participating in a dynamic, artist-centered creative community.

To apply, please click here.  

Thanks and a tip of our backward wearing Kangols© to Aurin Squire

Call for plays

Each July, St. Louis Actors' Studio will produce the "LaBute New Theater Festival." The Theater Festival will run yearly at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63108 (Inaugural event July 5-28, 2013) Submissions will be accepted October 1 through December 31st .Successful entries will have no more than four characters, and be crafted specifically to exploit our intimate performance space. (18' x 18' stage) Changes in scenery or setting should be achievable quickly and with few major set moves. Our focus is on fundamental dramaturgy: plot, character and theme. Professional, new and previously unproduced one-act play submissions should include a letter of inquiry, a synopsis and a 10-page sample from the script. Eight plays will be chosen: four to be performed in the first two weeks, four in the second two weeks. Check website for more information. Submissions should be sent to: 
 LaBute New Theater Festival 
360 N Boyle Ave 
St. Louis, MO 63108

Thanks and a tip of our backward wearing Kangols to Aurin Squire, Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwright Fellowship at The Juilliard School