Student Playwrights Selected for Kennedy Center Intensive

Posted: July 3, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

It’s safe to say that the most famous playwright of all time is William Shakespeare, whose classic tragedies, comedies and histories are still being performed hundreds of years after they were written. Mason, however, may have its own “Shakespeares” in the making after their participation in a playwriting “intensive” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The Kennedy Center has invited university students, faculty and professionals from across the country to participate in a two-week session of writing workshops and discussions of the art, craft and business of playwriting beginning July 7.

Three Mason students, theater major Andrew Hawkins, English major Dane Styler and individualized study major John Tuohy, have been accepted to the playwriting intensive.

“The playwriting intensive program is similar to boot camp for aspiring and accomplished playwrights,” says award-winning playwright Heather McDonald, Mason associate professor of theater who has taught sessions at the program for the past five years. “I don’t know anywhere else where students can be exposed to this many professional playwrights in such a short period.”

The program is led by Gregg Henry of the Kennedy Center and run by Gary Garrison, a playwright, author, production supervisor and master teacher of the Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing Program at New York University.

Other guest playwrights, dramaturges, artistic directors and set designers from the Julliard School, New York University and Columbia University will be teaching some of the sessions, which will focus on character and plot.

Over the two weeks, informal concert readings of participants’ work will be scheduled. Participants will also visit the Contemporary American Theatre Festival (CATF) in Shepherdstown, W.V., for sessions with the artistic director and playwrights-in-residence. The students will also attend two plays premiering at CAFT.

In addition, representatives of member theaters of the National New Play Network, a group of nonprofit professional theaters that supports the production of new plays for the American theater, will spend several days at the program to develop a new play being considered jointly by those institutions. Participants in the intensive program will observe the process and have access to and sessions with the artistic team.

To be considered for the playwriting intensive, participants were required to submit a writing sample or teaching résumé, a letter of motivation for attending and a 10-page playwriting sample.

For more information, contact McDonald at 703-993-1119.

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