In theater, typically the way things work is a playwright writes a play and then a theater company puts it onstage. There is one group helping Atlanta artists with all of the stuff that happens in between. They’re called Working Title Playwrights.
“The playwright has to create the egg of an idea and then they have to release it to a support team of artists that help them sculpt it,” WTP Managing Artistic Director Amber Bradshaw told "City Lights" host Lois Reitzes. “That is a process that can take years. And that’s where we come in.”
Working Title offers a number of programs meant to spur that development, including weekly critique sessions and classes. They also run an annual workshop series, the Ethel Woolson Lab, which gives up to four playwrights that aforementioned support team of artists for a week-long development process. That lab culminates in a reading of the show given by professional actors.
“That is a really rewarding process,” Bradshaw said. “They work with the dramaturg for two months before the lab. It’s all about the potential for the play and what the playwright needs.”
Bradshaw hopes that Working Title helps develop both theater artists and theater audiences. She points toward a trend in Atlanta toward productions of new work by local and national playwrights.
“It is a dangerous deal," she said. "If you don’t have name recognition, you could lose your shirt on a show. What I would love to see for the theater community is growth of our audiences and their desire to see new work and to hear new work.”
“It’s not that we’re saying there’s anything wrong with Shakespeare,” she asserts, “it’s that we’re saying ‘how does the work that’s happening now really get us going?’”
One of WTP’s new voices will have a reading this weekend. Sonhara Eastman’s play “The Club” will be presented in the Alliance Theatre's third floor black box theater space. That reading takes place Sunday March 26.