Sunday, March 28, 2010

In the Works: Intellectual Property

On Thursday March 25, we finally had out first reading of Intellectual Property. Reading for us were Chris Carfizzi, Margaret Champagne, Jill Gould, John Gregorio, Kate Erin Gibson, in addition to Playlab NYC alumni Todd Courson, John Pieza, and Bob Leeds. We were fortunate enough to have as our guests two of our contributors, Ted Wenskus and Alex Kozak. We were also lucky enough to be joined by Coffee Black Productions' Mike Bloom and Carrie Boehm. There is an inherent hit and miss quality to any anthology, and this was no exception. While some of the individual pieces are ready to go into production, the collection as a whole is not. A couple of the short plays would be well served by simply tightening the script, but others feel like their moments of topicality have come and gone. the strongest selections seem to be the ones that combine a classic story or play to popular culture. We had riffs on William Shakespeare, Nathaniel Hawthorne, David Mamet, and Samuel Beckett.

Reflecting on the collection as a whole, perhaps the opportunity to produce the evening has passed. intellectual property seemed to me like the perfect second show for Playlab NYC. It was conceived to be a collection of funny new works that would move us from the outdoor venue of our first show (The Tempest) into a little 60 seat Off-Off-Broadway space. We actually accomplished exactly this sort of show with our second production, Perfectly Natural. I'm less sure these days how Intellectual Property contributes to Playlab NYC's continued growth.

I had hoped that this project might appeal to Coffee Black Productions, and that by being Playlab NYC's first co-production that it would help our growth by building bridges to another company, and letting us put a toe in Brooklyn. Coffee Black had been producing a variety of readings in coffee shops around Brooklyn. given their collections of monologues and their plans for a multiple author retelling of the story of Persephone this seemed like a good project for us to pool resources. Alas it does not appear that Mike or Carrie would be interested in the project.

If there is to be a future for Intellectual Property I need to use this casual reading to find some clarity. Rather than focusing on fan-fiction and mash-ups of two different pop culture phenomenon, I need to stick with pieces that marry pop culture to a specific playwright or theater style. I will need to let some of the less focused contributions go, and will need to seek out some new selections. Because I didn't think that enough of the submissions that resulted from our playbill ad back in 2008 hit the mark, we will need to try a new tactic. I would like to get in touch with some playwrights whose work Jennifer and I enjoyed at last year's New York International Fringe Festival and see if they would like to contribute. There are also a couple short plays that I had been avoiding because they were published and I wanted to focus on newer works.

Given the success of recent shows like The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski at the Kraine Theatre, I still think that there is an audience for this project. Playlab NYC will continue to develop Intellectual Property until the time comes that it is ready to hit the stage.

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