Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Play Lab Opportunities at Freehold by Kathryn Van Meter

Photo: Kathryn Van Meter (left) and Jane Anne Wilder

I recently had the pleasure of being involved with the New Play Lab series through Freehold and I can't wait for the opportunity to audition for the next one.

I firmly believe in the importance of developing new work and new voices and I think Freehold is doing an incredible job with their Playwriting program. I got the email for the auditions and by some miracle of scheduling, I realized I could not only attend the auditions but would be available for the performance weekend as well. It was one of the most relaxed and enjoyable audition experiences I have ever had. Erin Kraft and Meaghen Arnette, the directors of the 4 plays, were gracious and warm in the room. The playwrights had an excitement about them that was infectious. I had convinced a friend of mine to attend the auditions with me and we both commented afterwards on what a great experience it has been.

I got an email later that evening from Meaghan asking me to play the role of Patty in the piece Lily's Birthday Wish - one of the roles I had read for in the auditions. Ann Eisenberg, the playwright got a draft of the script to us right away. There were 2 rehearsals scheduled, each for 2 hours. Meaghan was wonderful in her respect of the process for both the playwright and the actors. It was really great to watch Ann hear her play in a new way and as we began to ask her questions, see the wheels turning in her head. The amount of changes she was able to make between the first rehearsal and the second was pretty amazing and a credit not only to Ann, but Elizabeth Heffron and the Playwriting program.

We met a little bit early on the night of the first presentation to finish walking through the minimal staging of the piece and I felt very prepared. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of size of the audience and I was presently surprised to see it full! I was thrilled for the playwrights' to be able to have the experience of a full house- BOTH NIGHTS! The order was reversed from the first night to the second so we opened the show on Friday and closed the show on Saturday. From a performance perspective- I found it much easier to open the show - the energy of the audience was fresh off the street and a little easier to get right in the palm of your hand. The second night, they had already experienced the emotions of three plays and I found myself pushing the comedy at the top of the play ever so slightly ... but at least I caught myself!

All in all, it was a great experience. I continue to be impressed and grateful for the opportunities available at Freehold!


The New Play Lab class is held during Freehold's Summer Quarter with the New Play Lab Showcase occurring in September following the summer class.

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