2011 Bay Area Playwrights Festival: Dinner With Dramaturgs


When I was asked to blog the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (BAPF) I immediately agreed to take on the task, but as the festival neared I began to wonder what exactly I would write about.

I’m sure many in the 2AMt community have attended and participated in new work festivals like BAPF, so giving a festival play-by-play just didn’t seem the way to go. Therefore, I’ve decided to focus on moments that to me embody this particular festival and its spirit.

Take this evening’s dinner.

After the afternoon reading of Hong Kong Dinosaur by Amelia Roper, after the audience talkback, after saying many hello’s and good-bye’s to familiar faces, I found myself breaking bread with four festival regulars: two dramaturgs and their husbands.

Dramaturgs Nakissa Etemad and Jayne Wenger have more than a few BAPF festivals under their collective belt. In fact, I met Nakissa in 2007 when we were paired together at that year’s BAPF. (Since then we’ve become very good friends and I often refer to her as “my dramaturg.”) At this year’s BAPF Nakissa is working with playwright Dan Dietz on his play Home Below Zero which opened the festival last night to a packed house.

Dramaturg Jayne Wenger, the past Artistic Director of the Playwrights Foundation, is working with BAPF playwright Clarence Coo whose play Beautiful Province (Belle Province) was the final reading today.

Time For Experimentation

Over dinner both Nakissa and Jayne commented on how exciting it was to watch playwrights take advantage of how long the Bay Area Playwrights Festival is—more than two weeks when you count the artist retreat and week of rehearsal that leads up to opening night.

But it’s important to note that this is just the first weekend of the festival. Come Monday the playwrights will have another week of rehearsals to gear up for their second reading next weekend.

That means they’ll have time to work on edits, use what they learned from their first reading, perhaps write new material and even experiment with the narrative itself if they choose.

Time is amazing commodity for a playwright. Time to sit with your work. Time to delve deep into the world of your play. Time with the same artistic team (director, dramaturg and actors) and festival cohorts who can watch your play evolve over the course of a festival, who can provide insightful feedback as they become more familiar with the piece.

Like, I said, Time is an amazing commodity for a playwright. I’m sure this year’s BAPF playwrights are making every second count.

  • July 24, 2011
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