by David Dower
So, since you are here, you have likely already heard we end 2011 with some #newplay news about what's to come in 2012.
You may have already read the main headlines.
You can read Molly Smith's thoughts on this transition at Howlround.
Depending on when you come into this conversation, you may also find the new Howlround website behind that link. The site reflects the evolving vision of what we've come to call the #newplay initiative.
In this post I am going to take you through the details of the developments which will be unfolding over the coming months.
First, a moment of personal digression. I enter the New Year with a whole range of emotions, but the overriding one is gratitude- for the many important ways Arena Stage has been working to ensure this work thrives, for the folks at Emerson College who have joined the campaign to advance the whole #newplay initiative, and for the many people around the field who have thrown their energies into this quixotic project. What we're experiencing now is the result of the gathering momentum around the drive to create a "commons" approach to the national infrastructure for new works of theater and the people who create them. I am deeply grateful that Polly Carl has jumped behind the wheel of the unwieldy effort, indebted to Molly Smith and Edgar Dobie for their support and commitment to the programs and their evolution, and excited to see what comes next.
Here's the rundown of what is now in motion.
I will begin my new role at ArtsEmerson in April. The timeframe we are all working on has the current staff and #newplay programs remaining in place at Arena through the end of June.
Then, once underway, the current #newplay program will branch in two directions.
The first branch focuses directly on new play development and production at Arena Stage. The American Voices New Play Institute will remain an initiative of Arena Stage focused on the development of new plays and effective avenues of support for American playwrights at Arena. In addition to the whole Resident Playwrights program, the AVNPI will evolve to include Arena's commissioning initiatives, the project residencies, the Writers Council, and the new play development activities of the company. These activities will be reported on this blog and connected to the #newplay energies by maintaining a presence on the New Play Map, New Play TV, and on Twitter. This blog will be driven by the Artistic Development team at Arena Stage, focused entirely on the AVNPI.
The second branch focuses on the tools and initiatives designed to advance the national infrastructure for new work and the people who make it. So, where the AVNPI will house Arena's activities, this new entity, The Center for the Theater Commons, will develop and maintain the tools of the #newplay commons and act as stafff to the nationwide effort. The map, the live stream channel, the journal, the research projects, and the activities of Howlround will be housed at the new Center, situated in the Office of the Arts at Emerson College. The web portal for this platform becomes Howlround.com (link). Polly, Vijay Mathew and Jamie Gahlon will continue to manage and develop this platform and all of its activities. The coverage of national #newplay news that has been regularly reported on this blog will now be found at Howlround.
The Commons will produce the convening activities that have become such a key component of the #newplay movement. Arena Stage will frequently play host to these gatherings, though in the New Year you will start to see them produced in other communities around the country as well. The Center will also manage the #Newplay Producer Fellowships, integrating the program into its campus setting at Emerson.
This transition is, itself, evolving at this writing. We will share the whole process with you as we go. In the coming months there will be many more announcements. Those will continue to be released through the #newplay channels, so stay put, stay tuned, and may you stay forever young.
Happy New Year, everyone!