Birthing Theatre by Kristen Coury

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It is truly miraculous to play a part in a birth.  I’m sure if I were ever present at the birth of a human being I would feel the same way.  But in this case, I am referring to the birth of a play.  A piece of theatre.  Part of an oeuvre, a canon…a masterwork.  And sometimes the gestation period is a lot longer than 9 months!

The hope is that this baby will grow up, have a myriad of productions and change peoples’ lives.  Yes, that is the business we’re in.  It may feel as though we’re in the business of words, or “histrionics” or theatricality….but the truth is, we’re trying to change the world.

In the quest to find meaning in our lives, where better to go than to a theatre, where art imitates life and causes us to think, to feel, to connect, to remember our human story and, sometimes, to change our minds or expand our horizons.  How wonderful.

With these three plays, written by three brilliant playwrights, we have the ability to do all of those things and more.  In this case, not only will the words brought to life by these talented actors move us and cause us to question our own life choices, but we will have the ability to voice these opinions in a variety of ways: through the post-show questionnaire, through dialogue with the playwright, or a Q&A with the actors.  This is a unique experience, one in which I am proud to play a part.

My hope is these three plays will go on to have a rich production history.  But I am grateful to be present for this part of the process…the honing, re-writing, discovering, and then portraying these wonderful works out loud for the audience, whose feedback at this stage is invaluable.

It is every theatre-maker’s dream and dare I say responsibility to contribute to the expansion of the American Theatre.  It certainly is mine.  I had worked on my share of plays in development when I was living and working in New York City.  Since founding Gulfshore Playhouse, we haven’t had the means or the resources available to us to delve too deeply into New Works.  Those of you with us for quite a while will remember a summer reading of “Mask of the Jaguar King” and our bold move of staging a reading of “Significant Others” at Café Lurcat.  But this is the first time we’ve made as concerted an effort as a free-standing festival…and in August no less.  I thank Cody Nickell for his passion around this and new works in general.  He made me realize that my statement “we’re not ready” was completely false, and then did everything in his power to make it happen, which included reading every one of our submissions, booking flights, finding actors and negotiating with Equity.  I got the fun part.  Read the short list of wonderful plays and pick the ones that rose to the top.  How exciting that our top three choices agreed to come play with us.

And so here we go.  Into our first New Works Festival.  Into the season that will see our first World Premiere.  And into the history books for doing our part in fostering the growth of the American Theatre.

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