Within the Community of Theater that is Village Players, there is a hardworking, down to earth and most unique element: the Playwrights at Work (better known by their moniker P@W). P@W is, as the name implies, a group of individuals dedicated to writing new works, and to exploring the art and science of bringing characters and situations to life on stage. The group started out some 8 – 10 years ago as a funded workshop led by two women from the Hartland Theatre, Jan Radcliff and Mary Rychlawski. In its early days, the group met in a Berkley store front. VP members Barb Schmidt, Myron Stein, and John Reddy, were involved in the group early on and saw a fit with VP’s mission. When the group needed a new home, it was invited to join VP.
Since then, the partnership has blossomed and has been inspiring for everyone involved. For the playwright, it is a chance to work in a collaborative environment, and with the help of VP’s acting corps, to hear the voice of their characters for the first time. For the actors, nothing is quite as exhilarating as being the “first” to breathe life in to the written word, making a character rise up off the page and interact with the world.
The experience options don’t stop with actors and writers. P@W puts the new works on stage several times each year. One format, “Shorts & Sweets,” is a sort of scene-study event, where new works are trotted out in 10 minute segments. Here, actors try on new characters, directors organize the action, and even stage managers and other theatrical technicians (lights, sound, props, set dressers, etc.) get the chance to test new skills and build experience. In the summertime, the grand One Act Festival is staged. From humble beginnings, this event has grown to several sold out nights in late July where the best of the P@W new works are performed. These productions are fully staged and represent the cream of the year-long efforts of members of the group. Founding member Myron Stein notes that the collaboration between the playwright and the entire VP family is one of the most unique and exhilarating experiences he has had. Myron feels that this process is absolutely essential to success as a playwright.
P@W meets twice per month, usually on Mondays, and usually in the VP Playhouse Green Room. New members and the curious are welcome to attend. Check the weekly “VP Postings” for the next meeting date. P@W might just provide the inspiration you’re looking for. –Gary Mach
Note: P@W’s 2013 “Shorts and Sweets” will be held on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the VP playhouse. Admission is free.