Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy


New Play Development in Italy

Margaret Rose was kind enough to serve as a guest columnist in the latest issue of ScriptForward!, where gives us insight into new play development in Italy.

Margaret is a Scottish national who works as a professor in Milan, and actively pursues her career as a playwright in the UK and on the continent.

You can download the article here: Margaret Rose’s Article on New Play Development in Italy – SF! #26

Excerpt:

When Anne Hamilton wrote to me, asking for a short piece dealing with “the new play development process in Italy”, I immediately translated the word ‘process’ into a very definite plural. While Italy this year is celebrating 150 years as a single nation state, in many fields any sense of unity is still tenuous. Theatre and contemporary playwriting are no exceptions to this rule.

Associations for the support and development of playwriting are fairly recent and and thin on the ground. Teatro delle Donne. Centro Nazionale di Drammaturgia (Women’s Theatre. National Centre of Playwriting), founded in Florence in 1991, includes an archive for plays written by women (today numbering nearly 1,000). It also runs a cutting- edge theatre season at the Teatro Comunale Manzoni in Calenzano and in 2004 writer Dacia Maraini set up a National School of Playwriting at the theatre…



THE STACY PLAY on May 19th

THE STACY PLAY was given its first public staged reading on Saturday during a spectacular spring day in Central Park. Eleven audience members for each show followed Stacy to three locations as she shared her challenges, triumphs and hopes. It was an AEA-approved showcase with a limited audience in order to provide an intimate viewing experience.

The audience started at 67th Street and Fifth Avenue, continued up through The Mall, whose American elm trees provide a cathedral-like canopy, and ended up near the Bethesda Fountains where sounds of the splashing water mixed with that of violins played by park musicians.

Act One was staged on a rock promontory overlooking the fountain. The audience then moved into place  on a grassy plain overlooking the Lake filled with boaters for Act Two. Act Three was played in the safe haven of a grove of trees filled with sounds of birds and children playing, overlooking both the Fountain and the Lake. Dramaturg Walter Byongsok Chon led an audience talkback after the 2pm show.

Soraya Broukhim* starred as Stacy Lee Madison and Brent Wellington Barker III portrayed Jonathan, her dead love interest, in a story which brought the audience to such diverse locations as Paradise, the Upper West Side, Limbo, the Italian Riviera, Limbo, and the Womb. The actors gave passion and commitment to their roles, evidencing an onstage familiarity with one another which was developed as company members of The Living Theatre.

My Director’s Notes in the program detailed the origin of the piece, since starting out on a “deliberate journey of healing” three years ago, and Walter Byongsok Chon’s dramaturgical notes explain the form and content of the medieval pageant play and how it relates to THE STACY PLAY.

In response to the experience, New York playwright Robin Rice Lichtig comments, “When Stacy describes all the men she encountered in life, had experience with, then left behind… that works well with the audience actually physically moving along with her. It’s a sort of search, this journey — a search for the one true love she yearns to recapture. It’s interesting that she had that love early on in her life, yet she has to travel far to find it again in a different place…Birth and death are so close — both coming from and going to an unknown place which may be called “heaven.”

Many thanks to all to attended the staged readings. The 2pm performance was an official event of the League of Professional Theatre Women’s 30th Anniversary – “30 Plays in 30 Years”.

You may download the program here: THE STACY PLAY by Anne Hamilton Program May 19, 2012

*This Actor is appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association.

The audience prepares to enter Central Park

Khenpo Tenzin Dargye, Anne Hamilton (Director and Playwright) and Maya Cantu

An official event of "30 Plays in 30 Years"

Deborah Savadge and friends with the LPTW Banner

THE STACY PLAY - A LOVE SONG - VOLUME I

Stephanie Wessels watches Soraya Broukhim as Stacy Lee Madison in Act One

THE STACY PLAY - A LOVE SONG - VOLUME I

Soraya Broukhim as Stacy, Brent Wellington Barker III as Jonathan, and Walter Byongsok Chon reading stage directions

THE STACY PLAY - A LOVE SONG - VOLUME I

Soraya Broukhim in Act One, Part II – AND THEN I WENT INSIDE

For more information about THE STACY PLAY, please email me at hamiltonlit@hotmail.com



THE STACY PLAY – SOLD OUT

I’m very excited about directing a staged reading of THE STACY PLAY – A LOVE SONG – VOLUME I for two performances in Central Park this Saturday. The cast consists of Soraya Broukhim* as Stacy and Brent Wellington Barker III as Jonathan. They are both members of The Living Theatre’s acting company, where I recently saw them perform in Judith Malina’s HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

Our rehearsal last Saturday was full of challenges. I had to rework the route for the walking tour because of loud music coming from events based near the sites I had chosen. I moved the action to three spots surrounding Bethesda Fountain: an outcropping of that great, bold gray rock for Act One, a site overlooking the Lake for Act Two, and a grove of trees overlooking both for Act Three. I  hope that the audience will feel a connection with nature and a large sense of space while listening to the story of a woman’s spectacular life which spans over a century.

Stay tuned next week for news of the reading, and some audience responses.

*This actor appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association.

Soraya Broukhim and Brent Wellington Barker III

Stage Manager Ben Rodman, Playwright/Director Anne Hamilton, Soraya Broukhim and Brent Wellington Barker III

Soraya Broukhim and Brent Wellington Barker III rehearse as Jonathan and Stacy

Soraya Broukhim, Brent Wellington Barker II, and Dramaturg Walter Byongsok Chon



Judith Malina on Erwin Piscator

The Piscator Notebook, Judith Malina’s life long work on her teacher Erwin Piscator, has been published in the US by Routledge.  Piscator created modern political theater with Bertolt Brecht. The book was launched May 10th at Tishman Auditorium, the very same place where Judith underwent her studies in 1945.  It was where Brando first studied, and where Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg and Herbert Berghof all taught in the same acting department before they went on to form The Actors Studio and their own studios, and create the industry as we know it today.

Congratulations, Judith!

You can purchase the book here.



BETWEEN TIME AND TIMBUKTU in L.A.

One of my favorite Theatre Artists I Love to Follow (TALFs) is having a reading of his new musical in Los Angeles on May 21st. Andrew Barrett and I have been working together since 1998, and I’m proud to say that I’ve often served as his dramaturg on both stage plays and musicals.

Here is a short article in which he describes the development of the piece, including its being one of four new musicals selected for development in the ASCAP/DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop in LA this past February under the mentorship of Stephen Schwartz.

Details for the Blank Theatre’s Living Room Series

Monday May 21st, 8pm
Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA

BETWEEN TIME & TIMBUKTU: A VONNEGUT MUSICAL
Book & Lyrics by Andrew Barrett
Music by Ira Antelis
Directed by Kirsten Sanderson

For more information and to RSVP: http://theblank.com/pages/livingroomseries.html

Anne Hamilton: Congratulations on this new development in the life of this musical. What are the new features you’ve added for this reading?

Andrew Barrett: The ASCAP/DreamWorks workshop is an astonishing experience for writers of the musical theatre.  You perform in front of an audience of 150 theatre lovers, mostly writers, and then a distinguished panel critiques you in front of everyone.  You need a thick skin!  The panelists who listen to your work and critique it are simply the best of the best.  In addition to Stephen Schwarz, we were fortunate to have such intelligent minds as Irene Mechhi, Bill Damaschke, Paul Lazarus and Mark Saltzman.  All offered invaluable insights.

However, they are only listening to up to 50 minutes of your show.  If you understand the structure of musicals you know why they do this.  A musical must have certain elements at very specific moments in the show.  I do not know one successful musical over the decades that has not followed these rules.

What makes a show unique is how it plays with this format.  But you must follow this format.  This includes the opening number that sets the audience on the path with the show (“I Hope I Get It” from A CHORUS LINE and “Comedy Tonight: from A FUNNY THING HAPPENED…).  Shortly after, your leading character must have the I Want song.  This is often mocked by haters of musical theatre (or lovers, such as the Orlando theme in BOOK OF MORMON).  Within the first hour, that leading character must face some sort of revelation that gives new perspective to what they want.  (“And I’m Telling You…” from DREAMGIRLS).

So we did our 50 minutes and we learned something important.  Our opening was spot on, and we had the audience with us right away.  But then we lost them because we were not clear about what our leading character wanted.  We waited too long to state it.  In addition, once he was off and running, he suddenly went from being very active to being passive, an observer of action he would later act upon.

All of the panelists picked up on this problem and gave us invaluable feedback to help improve things.  This new version of the script addresses those two major adjustments.  It also meant cutting one of our beloved characters.  But sometimes, as they say, you have to kill your babies.

AH: How did you come to write this musical?

AB: The truth is, I’ve been writing this musical my whole adult life.  I first fell in love with Vonnegut, like millions of others, when I was a teenager.  When I was 15, I discovered the published teleplay our musical is based on and I began trying to adapt it.  The longer I live the closer I get to understanding how to successfully tell this story.  More than anything else I have written it is so closely aligned dramatically and thematically to who I am.  This version has been in development since August of 2009.

We did an informal reading in Chicago, where my brilliant composer/ collaborator Ira Antelis lives.  That reading provided us with one of the most crucial components for moving forward – a producer!  A dear friend, Josh Felderstein, had done well with investing in the Broadway production of THE COLOR PURPLE.  He offered his financial support to develop our musical.

So we were able to do a big, fancy Broadway staged reading in January of 2010.  That afforded us two fantastic development opportunities.  The first was in November 2010.  We did a student workshop at The Boston Conservatory.  If you ever lose faith in musical theatre simply spend one day with the brilliant students and faculty at my undergrad alum.  That was a real privilege.

From there, Peter Flynn at The Hanger Theater in Ithaca, NY offered to develop the musical in their gorgeously renovated theatre in the heart of Kurt Vonnegut country (yes, he’s from Indiana, but he went to Cornel).  Kirsten Sanderson has since come on board to help us develop it further and her artistic home is The Blank Theatre in LA.  And so…here we are!

AH: What do you hope that people will take away from this reading?

AB: Kurt Vonnegut wanted as many people as possible to read his books.  He made his books easy to get into and an absolute joy to get through.  He did not use big, fancy words and sentence structure.  But underneath his hugely accessible style were strong Humanist ideas (Vonnegut was a Humanist).  His love of the idea of America was only second to his fear of its inevitable fate.  These are the same things Ira and I think about and feel.

We want audiences to have an easy time getting into our show and then have an absolutely joyous experience throughout.  But when they get home, perhaps something begins to stir.  They think about Stony and his mother and the world they live in and they start to think about their own world.  We hope they are completely entertained, and then surprisingly provoked after the fact.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share our history and thoughts.  I hope this has proven informative and in some way to useful to anyone reading it.

AH: Thank you, Andrew. It’s always a pleasure to learn from you.

Download the interview here: Interview with Andrew Barrett – BETWEEN TIME AND TIMBUKTU



ScriptForward! #26

Greetings!

Welcome to the May issue of ScriptForward!, a specialty E-newsletter prepared for professional and aspiring scriptwriters by Hamilton Dramaturgy. With over twenty years of experience in New York, across the nation, and internationally, I offer this newsletter as a means of support and information to the worldwide scriptwriting community.

This month’s guest columnist is Margaret Rose, who shares her experience regarding new play development in Italy.

We also introduce you to 17%, a new organization formed to support and promote female playwrights in the UK.

Please look over the “Recent Successes” section to see all the exciting events which are taking place, especially my direction of a reading of THE STACY PLAY in New York City’s Central Park this month. We also have a great quote of the month from Jennifer Tipton.

And the Burning [An]swer section features advice on how to decide between a stage play and a screenplay when writing about a celebrity.

I hope that this issue of ScriptForward! will be useful to you and I welcome your feedback.

-Anne Hamilton

Read the issue here: Hamilton Dramaturgy’s ScriptForward! #26



Announcing TheatreNow!’s Third Season

Announcing Season Three, coming soon:

Kate Valk, Actress, The Wooster Group

Rae Smith, Set and Costume Designer, WAR HORSE

Maria Alexandria Beech, Playwright

Margo Jefferson, Theatre and Cultural Critic

TBA

TBA

Hamilton Dramaturgy’s TheatreNow! is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of Hamilton Dramaturgy’s TheatreNow! must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.