Thursday, July 6, 2017

Playwrights' Festival's Angela J. Davis

The Road Theatre Company Proudly Presents
The Eighth Annual

8 Days! 30+ plays!
Receptions and live music nightly!
This year’s festival will include a 50/50 parity of male and female playwrights and runs Sunday, July 3Oth through Sunday, August 6th at The Road on Lankershim, in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and at The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony!
 We will feature spotlights on all the playwrights of full length plays over the next few weeks. This week the spotlight shines on Angela Davis, author of The Spanish Prayer Book*.

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?

As one who aims to be both a playwright and a good "consumer" of theater, I see The Road as a Los Angeles treasure -- actually, a national treasure, given the number of playwrights from outside California who are represented.   The Road has a track record of excellence and a longstanding commitment to new work, and the company has  -- knock wood -- managed to weather challenging times for the LA theatrical community.  It's also important to me that the The Road has a social conscience, as demonstrated by its community involvement, its outreach to senior and lower income LA residents, and its aims for gender parity. AND, the company members are, like, um -- really, really hard working and smart! In addition to being talented, that is. I'm really delighted to have my work performed here and to work with and get to know such a great group. 

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.

I'm firmly in the camp that holds writers have to be readers.  I try to read constantly and also listen to tons of books, novels, and stage plays on digital audio files. (I commute to downtown LA daily.)   Of course, one of my greatest challenges is the reality that there are only 24 hours in a day.  (I work full-time as an attorney, teach at a local law school, and also have kids, dogs, a loving spouse, and sometimes above-normal levels of mess and chaos.)  A lot of writing gets done on the weekend and in the very early a.m. hours, and I'm compulsive about taking an Ipad mini and/or laptop everywhere.

I'm also compulsive about revising and always emailing myself copies of my latest scenes and revisions.  Aside from being insurance against a computer snafu, having my latest scenes and drafts in emails to myself makes it possible for me to look over my work when I'm on the go, which is, well, pretty much all the time.  

All of that said, I'm a firm believer that theater is a collaborative process, and that plays reach their highest levels after the input and response of talented, hard working directors, actors, and dramaturgs.  I'm extremely grateful when someone like Steve Robman [the director of the SPF8 reading of the play] puts in the time and effort to read my script closely and carefully, and then tells me, "hey, these are some things you need to look at (i.e., fix / revise, or in some instances just ditch entirely)."  My mentor and NYC-based dramaturg, the playwright Bob Montgomery [who, in an uncanny coincidence, was Robman's classmate at Yale Drama School] has always emphasized that this collaborative process is essential to making plays go from "rehearsal ready" to "audience ready." 

What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?

Preliminarily, the play has received some very nice attention in the past few months.  After being a semi-finalist for the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, it went on to become a top-12 finalist for PlayPENN''s 2017 National Development Conference and one of six official selections for FutureFest, the new-play festival hosted by the Dayton Playhouse, where it will be performed just shortly before SPF-8.  I also learned, just this past week, that the play was also a finalist for the national play competition hosted by the HRC Showcase Theatre [in Hudson, NY], and their artistic director sent me a very gracious note asking me to please submit the play to them for their 2018 season.  

This is, of course, all very gratifying, but -- see the responses to the above questions -- I've no doubt that working with people at The Road --- even during the compressed time periods that the festival format requires -- will be invaluable to my efforts to improve and refine the script, and that process is critical.  

My hopes for the play in the future? I have a lot of them! I'm hopeful that the story and characters genuinely move people -- both the audience and the creative team.  Also hopeful that the questions the play raises --  about the power of art to forge human connections, about the moral issues generated by cultural treasures displaced during wartime, and about the perils of passing judgment on those who came before us --  have some resonance. 

It's tremendously valuable for me to have my work performed and developed at The Road, and my hope is that SPF 8 will mark the start of a much longer relationship with the company. 

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50! 

*To be read Sunday July 30 at 8 pm at Lankershim.

No comments: