Seven Devils Playwrights Conference Goes Virtual in 2020
The future of the American Theater may suddenly be top of mind for theater makers, everywhere, but for the team at Seven Devils New Play Foundry (Formerly id Theatre, Inc.), the future of the American Theater has always been the focus. In the past 20 years, the team has developed more than 250 new plays through a variety of programming, the largest being their annual Seven Devils Playwrights Conference. This summer they intend to keep doing what they do best.
"Theaters may be closed, but the playwrights whose work will nourish, challenge and inspire us as we emerge and reclaim our lives, need us now," says Seven Devils New Play Foundry's Producing Artistic Director, Jeni Mahoney. "That Shakespeare wrote three of his most famous plays when all the London theaters were shuttered during the bubonic plague is an important reminder of the enormous impact a play can have on its own generation and for generations to come."
This year the Conference will develop eight plays. Seven were selected for development out of over 600 submissions. The eighth play, "The Birth of the Pill," is by 2020 featured playwright Jessica Huang, an award winning playwright and recipient of the first Four-Seasons Residency, which was developed by a coalition of five play development organizations with the goal of creating new and innovative models for providing playwrights with sustained and meaningful support.
The 2020 Plays and Playwrights include "The Alligator Gospels" by Matt Pelfrey, "The Killing Fields" by Anya Pearson, and "You Will Get Sick" by Seven Devils alum, Noah Diaz. Each playwright will explore their work with the support of a director, a dramaturg and a full cast of actors from across the country in an online rehearsal process. They'll also benefit from virtual design meetings with renowned set designer Skip Mercier to engage the physical world of their plays. Each playwright's experience will conclude with a live, online reading for an invited audience of 100 people.
Gay Smith and Bob Bartlett will work on their plays, "The Bartender's Tale" (Smith) and "The Regular" (Bartlett) through Seven Devils' self-directed Writers-in-Residence process, while Jenny Sternling's
"Madam Euphoria Reveals Your Future" and Marshall Botvinick's "The Hero and the Scholar" will each conclude their week-long Playwrights Intensive processes with a rehearsal-style read-thru.
More than 60% of the plays developed at the Conference have gone on to enjoy full productions on some of the nation's most prestigious stages, including the Broadway run of Eric Coble's "Velocity of Autumn," and Kimber Lee's "brownsville song (b-side for trey)" at Lincoln Center.
"We don't know when we'll be able to gather in the theater again, or what it will look like when we do," says Mahoney. "Moving forward with the conference this year is sort of a promise to these writers, as well as all the theater artists who are out of work, and the audiences who miss them, that the theater will persevere."