Audrey Zielenbach is the Artistic Assistant at Gulfshore Playhouse.
Often when I tell people that I am the Artistic Assistant at Gulfshore Playhouse I get the response, “What does that mean?” Well, it certainly changes from day to day. It could mean writing dramaturgical notes for our program, reading a play submitted to our New Works Festival, or a whole variety of other things. But one of the biggest components, and certainly one of my favorites, is managing GP’s Synergy Series.
Often when we see something, be it a movie or a play, it’s out of our heads as soon as we’re out of the theatre. The goal of the Synergy Series is to provide a variety of ways to engage more deeply in what we put on our stage. We believe that theatre can change the world and that begins with our audience. Our programs give you a chance to interact with what’s on our stage both before and after you see the play.
At the beginning of our 2015-16 season, we launched a revitalized version of our book club, now known as Script Club. For our book club, we would choose a novel or nonfiction book that lived in the same universe of the play we were putting on. Script Club, however, brings you one step closer. Instead of a traditional book club, we study the script of the play currently being presented by Gulfshore Playhouse. And who better to help us bring this idea to fruition than the Collier County Public Library? It’s a perfect partnership.
While most of us have had some experience reading scripts in school, not many of us read them with the same frequency as we do novels, newspapers, or other kinds of print media. Throughout the 2015-16 season, we’ve had a great variety of contemporaries and classics so those who attended Script Club were able to see that there is no “standard” script. For instance, The Glass Menagerie script, filled with Tennessee William’s own notations and meditations, was completely different from the very new Informed Consent script that provided almost nothing but the dialogue. By reading the script, our attendees were able to become the director and envision what kind of person they would cast in this role and how their own production might come to life.
For me, reading a script illuminates the magic theatremakers are capable of. How we can adapt paragraphs of Tennessee Williams’ ideas into a beautiful and haunting set design or how we can create the abstract world of Informed Consent with absolutely no guidance from Deborah Zoe Laufer’s script. We had the opportunity to share with our attendees just how much freedom we are given as theatre artists to bring these words to life.
Delving into the script also helped readers understand the plays in new ways. One of my favorite moments was from a recent Script Club for The Who and the What when someone pointed out that we so often see Middle Eastern and South Asian people on television and in films playing stereotyped roles. This play, however, has a more positive representation and demonstrates that the family in the play is a family just like any other, despite their different cultural background and religion. At every Script Club we manage to have an exciting and oftentimes enlightening discussion. I think I learn something new about the play following every session.
We have our last Script Club of the season next week at South Regional Library and you can sign up by clicking the Synergy Series logo below. And don’t worry, we’ll be continuing the program so if you haven’t come to a session yet, I hope you’ll join us next season!