MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Welcome back to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir and today we're talking about something you can buy, spend, waste, lose, make, kill and sometimes race against, time. In this next story, we'll deal with that last one, racing against time, through a little something known as speed dating. But this speed dating isn't your typical two potential lovebirds have until the bell dings to decide whether they're sitting across from the one they want to spend the rest of their lives with speed dating. Now, in this speed dating, a good date might sound something like this.
MS. ALLYSON CURRIN
So tell me about your work? How would you characterize your voice?
MR. GWYDION SUILEBHAN
I think my voice is a little bit experimental. Lately I've been trying to push the boundaries of form. I was feeling limited by a sort of traditional restatillion unities and the, you know, 90 minute no intermission format and I saw the last show you did, which I really loved.
I have some questions about some of the staging choices your director went for. I was really...
And a bad date might sound something like this...
Okay, Allie, we got four minutes, I want to tell you about this new play I'm working on.
Okay, well, we focus exclusively on gender issues at my theatre and we're very small.
This is a play about baseball, it's really about baseball. Yes, I could put a woman in there on the dugout if you really wanted but it's really about baseball.
Well, yes, that sounds intriguing but for the purposes of my theatre it's actually probably not an ideal fit. Do you have something that does focus a little more on gender issues?
I have thing about football.
Ding, well, it was nice to meet you. I won't be calling that person.
That was a pretty good improve, though, wasn't it?
I made my first money as an actor on improv.
Okay. Let me just explain what's going on here. We're in Columbia Heights in Northwest D.C. at Tynan Coffee and Tea, a favorite hangout for our improvisers in these two scenarios, Allyson Currin.
I'm a playwright and an actor and I've been writing plays in D.C. for about 20 years.
And Gwydion Suilebhan.
I'm a playwright here in D.C. and one of the cofounders of the D.C. Area Playwrights Group.
And this Sunday the D.C. Area Playwrights Group will gather 20 D.C. area playwrights and 20 D.C. area directors, artistic directors, dramaturges and literary managers, and pair them up for D.C. Theatre Artists Speed Dating. Each duo will have four minutes to determine whether they have chemistry, and I'm not talking romantic chemistry, so much as creative chemistry.
We wanted to help the other playwrights in the city and all of us, help ourselves connect, make new artistic dates, find people to collaborate with, make that artistic love connection.
And you don't do that by using your four minutes to pitch a particular script, as we heard with our pushy sports-writer in the bad date scenario.
So why was that a not so ideal date?
MS. REBECCA GINGRICH-JONES
We want both artists to be talking, as opposed to just about one or two plays, for example, talk about their work more in depth.
Rebecca Gingrich-Jones is another cofounder of the D.C. Area Playwrights Group.
And talk about their esthetic and how they work and what kind of theatre they would want to be working with long-term, so not just narrowly focused on please produce this one play whether you like it or not.
Gingrich-Jones says the idea for the D.C. Area Playwrights Group actually started here at Tynan this past summer when she and Gwydion Suilebhan were chatting about being playwrights in the D.C. region. And by Suilebhan's last count there are more 200 of them.
So these 200 playwrights and possibly beyond, are we talking like all ages, all genders, from everywhere?
Slightly more than half women, right, didn't we figure that out?
Yes, I think so.
Slightly more than half women. We have people doing solo shows, people writing funny stuff, people writing really experimental stuff, people writing short plays, people writing long, full-length plays. People who have written one play, people who have written 15 or 20 plays. People who have been produced all over the country, people who haven't been produced at all.
And all of those playwrights he says, have one thing in common.
We all want work at home, alone, for hours and hours. We're in a coffee shop alone or wherever you are, you're still alone and that can be not crushing...
But it sure can weigh on you and Allyson Currin seconds that motion.
You know, we live for those periods that we get in the rehearsal hall with, you know, directors and actors and when the wonderful chemistry is just boiling in the room but those opportunities are unfortunately, statistically few and far between.
Which is why the D.C. Area Playwrights Group hosts a Facebook page where members can bounce around ideas and ask questions. It holds readings and happy hours and now, of course, it's giving this speed-dating thing a whirl. Anything to reduce the isolation experienced by playwrights in the region, a region which, both Allyson Currin and Gwydion Suilebhan agree, is a most excellent place to be a playwright.
There are increasing numbers of new play development projects around the city from the inkwell to the Theatre of the First Amendment to First Draft to Artist's Block. It's a really great place. If you're graduating from a MFA program in, I don't know, St. Louis, you should consider moving here, seriously.
Washington is actually a real force to be reckoned with in new play development. We know that, other people don't know that outside the city and that's our goal to really spread that word.
To really spread that word and of course make some artistic love connections in the meantime. D.C. Theatre Artists Speed Dating takes place Sunday night at Theatre J. all places are closed but there's been talk of holding another event somewhere down the road so stayed tuned. In the meantime, to learn more about the D.C. Area Playwrights Group and some of those play development projects you heard about, visit our website, metroconnection.org
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