Dear Prospective Theatermaker

 

Read a Letter from Alum Harrison Harvey (Theatermakers-Playwright 2014)

Dear Prospective Theatermaker,

 

The six weeks I spent as a playwright at NTI’s Theatermakers Summer Intensive were demanding, invigorating, rigorous, instructive, enriching, and joyful. I couldn’t have anticipated how transformative the experience would be.

 

Before coming to the O’Neill, I identified as an actor who liked to write, and not as a playwright. It was easy for me to write without any eye trained toward performance. I didn’t have to share my work, so I often kept it strictly for myself. At Theatermakers, withholding wasn’t an option. Having three days to a week to produce text before handing it over to an ensemble of actors and a director forced me to share my work, to write for performance, to remain flexible, to enter the room proud of where I am “in-process,” and to leap before I’m “ready." I learned that “readiness” and “satisfaction” and “completion” are antithetical to the spirit of collaboration and the drive to keep working, cooking, and interrogating.

 

My instructors (professional playwrights Donna Di Novelli and Jake Jeppson) gave me the tools to keep producing, to get inspired, to find heat, and to ask, “how can I make this better?” Conversations and workshops with guest artists like Samuel D. Hunter, The Debate Society, David Auburn, and Hilary Bettis opened my eyes to the reality that there’s no one path to becoming a working playwright. Everyone arrives at that place differently. The important thing is to keep making, keep writing, keep reaching. To those ends, I haven't found a more supportive environment than the O'Neill, nor a more supportive group of people than the actors, directors, and playwrights in my ensemble who challenged me to examine how I think, how I work, and how I collaborate as an artist. It’s a dance, a constantly evolving conversation, a journey that's just beginning.

 

I learned more than I could have imagined as a Theatermaker. I cherish the lessons I've taken with me, and I hope for many more visits to the O'Neill.

"I couldn’t have anticipated how transformative the experience would be."

 

 

Read a Letter from Alum Colleen Hughes (Theatermakers-Director 2013)

Dear Prospective Theatermaker,

I enrolled in NTI's Theatermakers Summer Intensive two years after I had graduated college, after feeling artistically unfulfilled and personally lost, and it was one of the smartest decisions I ever made.

NTI provided me with one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. With Theatermaker’s 7 day a week, 10 hour a day schedule, I was pushed to my artistic limits and forced to overcome my self doubt and fears. The weekly staged readings provided me the opportunity to grow as a collaborator, leader, organizer, and artist. The extraordinary classes and workshops exposed me to a multitude of internationally renowned artists and gave me the opportunity to explore new theatrical techniques and theories and delve further into those I had already studied. Specifically, our work with The Debate Society and Greg Allen of the Neo-Futurists taught me that even a postcard can be the inspiration behind a piece of theater, and that my own experiences are inspiring and dramatic enough for a lifetime of shows.

Also, with Theatermakers running simultaneously with the O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference and National Music Theater Conference, I was able to see performances and observe rehearsals for a huge variety of new plays from established playwrights, whom I had studied in school, as well as emerging playwrights, who are the future of American theater. Exposure to these conferences and the opportunity to observe the development of great new works gave me a unique perspective on the evolution of American theater and helped me to realize my own love of and desire to work on new plays. I never knew that there were organizations like the O’Neill who are so dedicated to the development and creation of new theater, and now I only wish to work at organizations with this type of mission.

Finally, one of the greatest gifts that NTI gave me was an ensemble. My fellow Theatermakers and I lived together, ate together, trained together, and created together, and, from that original class, I continue to collaborate and create with several of my fellow Theatermakers. The support and safety of our group was integral to my Theatermakers experience, and this is thanks to NTI’s unique emphasis on creating and fostering ensemble.

NTI truly immersed me in the creation, study, and development of theater, pushing my limits of exhaustion, creativity, patience, and craft, and yet, when the time came to leave I could not have been more sad. NTI provided me with the opportunity to realize that directing and creating theater are what I want to pursue for the rest of my life, and that I have the capacity and the passion to do it. I may fail at times, but as long as I am willing to risk again, I will always be a theatermaker.

"NTI provided me with the opportunity to realize that directing and creating theater are what I want to pursue for the rest of my life, and that I have the capacity and the passion to do it. I may fail at times, but as long as I am willing to risk again, I will always be a Theatermaker."

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